Should I let my father return to independent living? - AgingCare.com

Should I let my father return to independent living?

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My father who is 84 called me in December and said he could not live alone anymore. My sister did not have time to go to Florida and get him so I went and drove him back. The plan was for him to live with my sister but they had a falling out and are not speaking to each other since December. He moved in with my husband and I (my husband has health issues -- kidney transplant, heart condition, limited mobility) and I work full time. I have been taking my father to all of his appointments because he forgets things (has not been diagnosed with dementia or alzheimer's) just forgetful at times. We live in the city so I have not wanted him to drive because he is not sure of where he is. He says he has lost everything (my mother died in a car accident 6 years ago in Florida). He still owns a double wide in a community in Florida and wants to go back. I have helped him with all his doctor's appointments and his diabetes (undiagnosed until he came to New Hampshire in December) is now under control but he needs assistance with his meds as the instructions get confusing when the doctor changes doses, etc. so he is unable to go to his appointments himself. He and my husband clash during the day when I am not there and he just sits and waits for me to get home. I feel like I am burning out taking care of both of them. My father refuses to go to assisted living -- hates the weather in New Hampshire and won't spend the money. My weekends are spent taking him shopping, getting medications, etc. and I don't know how much time my husband has so I want to be able to spend time with him. My question is how do I let my father return to Florida without feeling like I am deserting him and leaving him to die alone?

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I advocate for independence as much as possible for family members. I hear so many times that seniors do not want to be a bother to their families and want to remain at home or somewhere so that can remain in charge of their lives. Independent facilities or ALF's offer so much for the older person. I have seen seniors move to ALF's as if it were the last place, but after a few months that same senior has begun to flourish--why? Because they are no longer alone and have things to keep them occupied with their free time. Seniors have said to me" I wish I would have moved in sooner because now I feel so good and enjoy my time." So give your father that opportunity to still make decisions about his life and let him stay in Florida. I know that life will be easier for you since you do have responsibilities with your spouse. Making Dad happy and keeping peace in the family can be obtained with this move. Good luck and thanks for being such a great caregiver!!
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If your father can afford it, I suggest you check out some senior center and/or assisted living facilities near your home. They are totally different than nursing homes and not a bad place to be. Tour them and check out the top 2-3 that you like. Then take your father to see them. Personally to me, it sounds like he should not be sent back to live by himself or he will be back in the same shape as before. If he is adamant about going back, you may want to suggest he get a roommate or caretaker or home health to help him with his medication. Good luck!!
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You sure have a lot to deal with, your husband alone is enough to keep you balancing your health, emotions and sanity. My take is your dad loves Florida and does not like the weather in NH. I can understand his need for light and sun, it probably works in his favor for his mental health. He does not have dementia, and you have gotten him straightened out on his health issues. Sounds like he misses very much your mother. Does your sister live in Florida? Maybe a reconcilliation if so is in order to help. I'd go back to Florida if this is possible given your husband's health, but if it is, I'd go back and set him up in his trailer with a health aide, or I'd take him to some Florida Assisted living facilities. I think he'd be happier that way and you would get some sort of relief.
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Personally I would NOT send him back to Florida. I would put him in an assisted living facility in New Hampshire where you can look in on him when the need arises or on regular days. Your father does need assistance and even though he has not been diagnosed with dementia or alzheimer's, I bet he has it. You need to get on the phone with your sibling and tell them basically "the crap stops now!" You need help and you need to take control of your father's needs, and estate. Does he have a trust? Who has Power of Attorney? It is hard to do but you have to get to that point where, enough is enough and you realize there is only so much you can do on your own. You need to take over even against his wishes and set up what works best for you and him. You need time to be with your husband and you need time to recuperate yourself. If you keel over who is going to handle everything then? I have been going through this myself and yes there are objections but you develop a tough skin and know it is for the best and whip on your big girl panties and do what you HAVE TO DO. Keep him close to you but in a facility. If you send him to Florida there is NO WAY you can check on him or help with his care if need be. That will cause added stress.
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You're doing a great job with your dad! While I would agree that independence for as long as possible is preferred, the nagging question is how to determine when help is needed. You Dad does seem to need some help with meds and appointments and going places. If he were to go back to Florida that would all need to be arranged and managed, by you. Once arranged, do you feel comfortable handling those helpers from afar? While it's true he would no doubt prefer Florida, is it really feasible? Would you continually need to be going to Florida to check on things? It may seem to be less stressful for everyone if Dad were to go back, but ultimately it may not be if you're having to check up on everything continually. Perhaps an assisted living facility nearer to you would be better. He would get the care and safe environment he needs and your family would be less stressed. There is no perfect answer. Best wishes.
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I, too, agree with Sue. You have to let your dad go. He sounds like he is mentally healthy so he should have the right to make up his own mind on where he wants to live. Good luck. I know it is hard to let them go so far away!
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I think you have too much to handle and it is a credit to you that you are balancing the job, your husband's needs and being primary caregiver for you elderly dad. I am sure they are each getting excellent care from you but how long can you keep this act up??

I would see if you can get a health care worker for your dad either at your place or if he has money enough for an apartment, perhaps he gets a nearby apartment. This may reduce some stress but he is likely to want to see you frequently and with NH winters perhaps keeping him with you might be better.

If your husband is improving at all that would be helpful but if he continues to need lots of assistance, I think caring for both of them may take your health down. If you are working full time, I realize you may need to continue to work to keep things going. So you need to safeguard your health. If you go down, your husband and father will be hanging out there. Be careful.

Good luck.
Elizabeth
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Take your father back to Florida. Set him up with caregivers and full instructions on his health procedures. Keep close verbal contact with his doctor also. Make a trip to Florida about three times a year, or no less than twice a year to check on him and converse with all those who are connected to him. Good Luck!
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I use that "pill case" ruralwannabe is referring to. It's called MedReady and can be found on the Alzheimers' site. My Mom was living independently within an independent complex. I would set up her pills in the little plastic weekly containers. Things seemed to be going fine, when suddenly I would go over and notice that all of Mon, Tues, and Wed were all gone, and it was only Monday!! Yikes! She was overdosing. That was really a big deal, since she was on Coumadin. So, we quickly got that under control. We looked at having a nurse or aide within the complex dispense her pills to her daily, but they wanted to charge an exorbitant amount of money for that service. So I found that MedReady pill dispenser, which can be filled with up to a month's supply of pills. It has worked like a charm. A loud alarm goes off, with a blinking light. There's a little compartment that contains each day's supply of pills, and the pill taker just slides the little door open, the alarm goes off, the pills are taken, and the rest of the compartment doors remained locked until the alarm signals the time for the next dose. It's fool proof. The only thing, as time went on, we had to check that Mom was indeed taking those pills when she retrieved them from the compartment. Sometimes she would go to get a glass of water, and then forget or get side-tracked, and the pills would just sit there. But there was still no chance of over-dosing, because when the next dose was ready, the turn table slides around, and the ones that were forgotten go into a locked up mode, so the pill taker can't overdose. It worked very well for us for a long time. But now Mom lives with us, and when the pill machine goes off, she sometimes doesn't know what to do. She's much more confused and clueless these days. However the pill machine reminds ME now that it's time for Mom's pills. Otherwise, I may get busy and forget too. :( Anyway, I highly recommend it!
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I agree with Sue Maxwell. Sound and GOOD advice.
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