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My Dad is rapidly loosing his mental abilities and his physical health is deteriorating along with them. My sister is his medical proxy and she makes it very clear that she is the only one who should talk to the doctors so my brother and I are often left in the dark. Mom is no help because she pays little attention to Dads medical details. I'm doing my best to let that go and just take each day as it comes but Mom mentioned that Dad has water on the brain and last Sunday I was alarmed at how frail and out of it he was. My sister has not been forthcoming with information but we are trying to arrange a conference call to include my brother so I am hopeful that I will have a better understanding of Dads condition after that. I think my Dad probably does not have much time left and if that is the case I am thinking of suggesting a nursing home or possibly hospice if his prognosis is less than 6 months. I don't think Mom is able to care for him properly anymore. I know Mom is against any idea of Dad being taken out of the house and I suspect my sister feels the same although I don't know for sure. Hopefully we will cover that in the conference call. Meanwhile I am worried about how his care is being handled.

Mom is is primary caregiver. I try to get over there once a week to bring a hot meal and do small chores. I also call in every day. My brother stops in from work at least once a week and my sister is there more often, she works part time right now and has more free days than we do. Still Mom is alone with Dad most of the time and although she is doing her best there have been medication mix ups, a couple of falls...that sort of thing. My sister is the person they seem to trust the most right now because she is a nurse so it is her they listen to. The problem is I think she is in denial about how bad Dad is. She is actually taking both my parents to work at at their flea market booth every Sunday, leaving them there then picking them up at the end of the day. Dad is so weak he can barely stand and he is too confused to converse. I have so many reservations about this I can't even begin... My question is do I voice my concerns about Dad being home alone with Mom and being brought to the flea market or do I just keep it to myself. My sister does not handle being questioned well at all. Do I keep my mouth shut to keep the peace or say what I am thinking. Help!

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In all honesty Patrice I don't know why they are going. At this point my Dad can't even complete a sentence when I ask him a question. He is incapable of dealing with customers in any way. As for the money, profit is marginal at best. They often pay more for the booth than they bring in. I think Mom is giving mixed signals, she complains to me about going but my sister seems to think it's what she wants.

The whole thing is crazy and there is so much more to the train wreck that my parents business has turned into I can't even begin to explain. I have already decided to let this go but thank you for your thoughts..
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Trying, I read that your mom does not really want to go the the flea market. Have you asked your dad about it? if you honestly feel that it is too much for him, I would try to find out why they are still going? Does dad think mom likes it? Do they need the income? My parents went to church early every morning and breakfast. Not only was this out faith based but it was also social. I finally had to sit my dad down and explain that both church and breakfast were too much for my mom (I found her putting on her makeup at 9pm so she would be ready in the morning) . This was not easy for my parents to give up since they had been doing it for years. After many discussions about God would understand, it was decided that breakfast would be more beneficial to both mom and dad. After a while my moms dementia progressed, they had to give that up too. Decisions and choices that are made as our parents age may not be ideal for all involved, but may be needed under the circumstances.
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Irish, you don't have to take me seriously and with all due respect, I didn't ask for an opinion oh how I prioritize my efforts or time.
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Tryingmybest, Sorry you can forego your church program one Sunday to see exactly what is going on, that is a ridiculous excuse, you co-teach a program at a church, you tell them I have a family situation and can't do it that Sunday. A church should certainly understand that....priorities.

Sorry, I have a hard time taking you seriously when you make a silly excuse like that.
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You are on the right path. Perhaps your mom is not evading and more just overwhelmed . I know with my parents that it got to the point that they would not actually get all the doctor was saying and exactly what doc was saying meant. I haven't read all the posts but I would ask if you can get all doctors reports sent to you. If you don't undetstand what you are reading, then ask your questions from there.
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just wanted to say it's not too late to put things in writing after this conference call to follow up. Confirm what you heard, thank people for information, ask follow up questions and tell them you are interested in hearing more at convenient time. What also works is a very to the point email or voice mail where you have a single question or concern or possible idea to help. Easier to answer one question Keep a copy for yourself. I find it took a while to find out how to communicate with different family members.
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Thanks Nojoy3 and everyone else who responded. We had the conference call last night and most of it focused on my sister and brother planning to file for guardianship of Dad. My sister did give limited info on Dads medical condition it appears he has Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, dead brain tissue and brain atrophy supposedly caused by numerous small strokes. It's not alzheimer. I asked about treatment, a shunt in particular and my sister said the determination was it probably would not help but more testing needs to be done. I also asked about hospice and she said he has nothing terminal so he does not qualify but she said his time MIGHT be limited. No explanation beyond that. I don't know anything about qualifying for hospice except it needs to be a 6 month prognosis, at least that's what I heard.

It's hard for me to talk to Mom she evades so many things and tells me to ask my sister. I can talk to her about me speaking with the doctor but I'm not sure she can give me permission. It's worth a try though.
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Why not politely voice your concerns to your Mom privately. Let her know your very concerned about your Dad and feel like your in the "dark" regarding his condition. Ask your Mom if she would mind you going along the next time your Dad went to the doctor or would she mind if you spoke with the doctor (she'd probably have to sign a consent so he could talk with you). Let her know how much better you'd feel if you knew what was going on.
Your plan for a conference call sounds like a good idea, but you still may not get the info you need if it's just with your sis. It's hard to make educated suggestions when you don't have all the facts and it sounds like the only way you'll get that is to talk with your Dad's doctor yourself.
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Put your concerns in writing. It's helpful for you and other family members who may or may not be seeing what you are. It's more neutral and organized and people can see what you are thinking. Your concerns are valid and without more information you feel frustrated. You sister is probably overwhelmed and it is difficult to find the time and patience to explain what is happening in detail to others. Putting your concerns in writing will give her time to think about what she can tell you.
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Will do Babalou :)
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Trying, glad you like my approach; just remember, that sometimes, people get the most defensive when they know the least. Not all RNs know everything. Hydrocephalus means one thing in children; Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus means something entirely different in the elderly. Try to make sure that your sister knows the difference.
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No doctor, just the siblings but I like that approach Babalou.

Sometimes I feel like I'm living in crazy land. Mom and my sister keep alluding to something big and bad going on with Dad but I have to wait until my sister decides to explain what that is. My own observations tell me that my Dad is not doing well at all and deteriorating rapidly and he should be in a safe environment not dropped off at a crowded, freezing cold flea market with my elderly Mom all day. Mixed messages galore but that's nothing new in my family. The other day I heard the best advice "don't try to make sense out of nonsense" Taking the "aw shucks" layman approach will help me with that I think.
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Is the conference call just among siblings or will it include the doctor? I guess I would try to find out what "water on the brain" means to your sister the RN; as someone else posted, normal pressure hydrocephalus can be reversed.

I guess the approach I would take would be an "aw shucks, I'm the layman here Sis, this water on the brain thing, does that mean dad only has a couple of months left?" Or is there treatment for that?

If you're on a conference call with the doctor, I would say something like, Wow, considering that Dad is selling at the the flea market every sunday...
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I love this forum. I love the many perspectives. I may not be able to relate to everything and some things I might even disagree with but the variety of thoughts helps to open my mind to greater options and understanding.
I will try to be more patient with my sister and assume the best of her. I hope she will do the same for me but if not I will try to let that go. I am still not happy with my folks going to the flea market so I will steer clear of that.and I think it's time to begin thinking about Dads care at home, hopefully hospice will be the answer. I am hearing about the need for my folks to feel plugged into the world outside their own. Maybe I can do something like take them to see my Dads sister for an afternoon or simply take them both grocery shopping (I will need to find a wheelchair for Dad). Food is something they get joy out of and they both like grocery shopping.
Thank you all. This thread has helped me a lot.
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You could try flattery. Tell your sister how worried you are and say you're hoping that she, as a nurse, will be able to explain to you in plain English what is going on and what your father's prognosis is. If she does the denial bit and tells you not to worry your pretty little head about it, say "so you're telling me everything is well and under control, yes?" (Try not to sound ironic). If she has any doubts, being asked to state in terms that they're fine might give her pause.

I feel for you about the flea market - what's the weather like around their home town? It can't be good for someone so immobile to be out in it all day, surely, whatever it's like. Perhaps you could remind your sister that pride will prevent your father from admitting he's finding it too much, but other than that you're a bit stuck. She is doing the correct thing of supporting their independence and autonomy and habitual activities, and even if it gives you the heebie-jeebies when you see them tottering around in early spring (it would me, too) there is something to be said for dropping down in harness.

I would also give some thought to the comments about your sister possibly imagining that you aren't really interested. I find it very difficult to strike the right balance between words of one syllable and the entire medical history on the rare occasions when my brother asks a question - but I wouldn't be even slightly surprised if his view of it is that I "never tell him anything." Communication problems can be very hard to resolve. Could it be that your sister complains to her friends that you and your brother haven't a clue about your parents' true state?
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While I understand your reasoning, and certainly respect it, I'm just wondering why they feel like they need to continue going to the flea market. Do they need the money? Is it social? Is it the only time they get out of the house? Where do they get the items to sell, do they purchase items for resale or are they clearing out their own stash of stuff. I'm glad to hear they are in a shed, albeit near the door.

I wasn't thinking of it in terms of enabling a bad behavior, only as keeping an eye on your parents and possibly assisting. I certainly understand why you can't do it and why you don't want to. I'm not sure I'd want to either unless it was something of a "family thing" that I had been a part of in the past.
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As a person who was sole caregiver for my Mom before she went into a nursing home I would of welcomed help, even just an opinion from my siblings. I think they just assumed I was taking care of things and I didn't think I needed to ask cause after all she is their Mother too.

I would take a chance and offer your opinion. If your sister balks, well at least you tried.
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Thanks Malloryg8r I appreciate the response. After I hear more about Dads prognosis I hope I will know better if I should act on my concerns.
Pamstegman - I won't be going to the flea market for the reasons I gave in my last post. I respect your point of view but I choose to be of service to my parents in other ways. I would no more support my parents going to the flea market than I would give candy to a diabetic.
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What if you stayed with mom and dad at their flea market booth? It's really more of a social thing for them than anything else. It lets them feel in control and useful. If you take that away, what would give them the same good feeling?
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Your dad simply should not be at the flea market, and probably not mom either. They need help telling sister "no." If sister won't listen to them, or to you, I'm afraid you must do the only other option which is to call Adult Protection Services in your area. I know you catch more flies with honey but all the flies and the Bees too will.die if it's freezing. (Maybe that analogy doesn't work here....) (but anyhow your elderly parents are gonna freeze!).
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I appreciate the suggestion but not really TX, for a few reasons. I co-run and teach the RE program at my church on Sundays but also I really don't want to enable this. Last Sunday I brought dinner to my folks after they got home and Dad was alarmingly confused and unstable on his feet. He was also freezing cold and could not get warm. I had to pile blankets on him. The market has a poor heating system and they are set up by the front door (it's still winter here) Mom says they freeze the whole day.
Mom told me she would rather not be going at all. They are doing this because somehow they think it's good for my Dad. I've decided to stay out of it and not voice an opinion.
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To allay your concerns regarding the flea market, would it be possible for you to go there next Sunday (well probably not Easter, but the next one) and spend some time with them? They might enjoy the company, the help and BONUS you'd get to see them in action. Maybe you could spell them a bit or help take Dad to the bathroom or to get a snack. Mom would probably be very appreciative and it wouldn't be stepping on anyone's toes.
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OK so hospice sounds like a good thing, if Dad qualifies. I will suggest it carefully.

Blainnie - I don't know what kind of "water on the brain" because Mom does not know and my sister has not communicated about that yet. I will hopefully learn more during our phone conference. I appreciate the info though. Thank you.

Just to clarify my sister is not the caregiver, my Mom is. My sister is health care proxy (not POA) and very involved with the doctors visits. She also has been driving my parents to the flea market and picking them up on Sundays. I don't think it's such a good idea but the more I mull it over it's not my decision so I will probably not mention that.
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You need a heart to heart talk with sis. Don't know, but you may have to work on your relationship with sis before coming to any resolution about your folks. It must be approached with kid gloves. As they say, you'll catch more flies with honey....
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When you say water on the brain, do you mean normal pressure hydrocephalus or NPH? Did they put a shunt in your dad's brain? That can make a huge difference and bring someone back from what appears to be the brink of death.

I have a neighbor who was very frail and had dementia-like symptoms. NPH was diagnosed, he got a shunt and now he's back to his old self. I don't mean to change the discussion, but NPH takes a skilled doctor to diagnose and treat. If you go to youtube, and search for "60 Minutes" and NPH, you'll see a segment they did on it.

And good luck with your sister - she sounds like a pill and hard to deal with.
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I was in your sisters position. I wish I was asked how I needed help rather then others just doing things they thought I needed. I was the one who was with my parents the most . Some of my family had no idea what a normal day was like.
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Trying, it sounds like hospice could help them tremendously right now. Dad would be able to stay at home, which is something everyone wants. Since you're sister is in charge and could be easy to offend, perhaps just asking her if she has considered calling in hospice to help Mom would be the way to go. Even if you don't have the POA, he is your father and you can see there is need. You can say something and still keep the peace if words are chosen well. The goal here is to help you mother and father get through this hard time. Big hugs.
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You really need to find out what your dads prognosis is. If it was me, I would definitely speak up, but you need some type of plan of action to back your concerns. Sometimes those closest do not see the decline. I would not go into this discussion with an accusatory attitude but one of more, what can we do to help. Let me add one more thing. If hospice is offered, take the services, they are wonderful. Good luck you are in a hard place right now. Remember to do not only what is best for your dad but to respect your moms wishes too.
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