My mother has had a couple hospital stays and I've started to believe my dad is not an advocate for my mom's best interests. What do I do?
During one hospital stay mom became agitated and disoriented at night. One of the doctors ordered Ativan to calm her, but overdosed her and she ended up in a coma-like state for 48 hours in ICU until she recovered. My dad never asked about her medication schedule and when released from ICU wondered if the hospital should use restraints. I shuddered at his suggestion. I told him I was sure this episode was due to mom's dementia and sundowning and told the staff no more nightime meds and absolutely no restraints. Use other calming methods. He just shrugged.
More recently mom fell at home and dad called 911 to pick her up and they took her to ER where she was admitted for a few nights. When I visited her, she was in the cardiac unit hooked up to a heart monitor but no visible display of vitals, she had an IV, and didn't have any compression stockings even though she wasn't getting out of bed. Dad had no idea what the monitors were for, why she was in the cardiac unit, and no clue what meds were in her IV. He could have easily allowed the staff to administer Ativan again and put her in a coma-like state once again. I only found out by questioning the nurse that she was in the cardiac unit because that is all that was available and her vitals were otherwise all normal. Fortunately, nothing bad happened and mom was released the next day.
I know dad loves mom and is doing his best. He takes care of her laundry, meals and day-to-day needs. However, when it comes to anything more I'm questioning his inability to monitor things which could put mom at risk. I'm worried and so frustrated. How would you handle this? What would you do? Thank you.

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I'm assuming your dad is 75+.
Back in the "good ol' days" a man never got involved with caretaking. It's been a female dominated job for eons. So that would put your dad out of his element.

* "Back in the day", you NEVER questioned a doctor (I've worked as a nurse with some jack a** doctors like that). Who are you to tell anything to a doctor (is the way it used to be).

*Ignorance was bliss in "the good ol' days". You trusted your doctor with your life.

* Hospitals scare most men. (I've witnessed this over 39 years). Totally out of their comfort zone, they tend to be introverted.

* I bet if you questioned your dad on the medicines he takes, he wouldn't be able to tell you the names and what they were for. How, then, is he supposed to know what the doctor ordered, gave and will prescribe in the future? 

YOU sound like the perfect candidate to take over responsibility for your moms hospitalizations. He already is doing laundry, meals and his wife's needs. I'd say you're a lucky daughter.

Give him a break.
Helpful Answer (16)

GingerMay, I add my encouragement to the above posters to 'step up to the plate'. Most seniors can't advocate at all! Last year my BIL was in the hospital. His daughters complained to me that 'mom isn't advocating for Dad.' Well, then the 40-something daughter should have stepped up, IMHO. Not everyone is cut out for every job.
Suggest to Dad that you become the contact for Mom during her hospital/rehab stay. That way he can be her husband. I'd bet he grabs that offer like the golden ring on the carousel!
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Well , here is one more opinion for you. I am 73, a retired nurse, and my husband is 75 and has dementia. Some days I think I have dementia too. I don't think your dad is going to oppose you if you offer to take over some of the things he is trying to do. He may know himself he is not doing the best job of it. I would love for one of my children to take over and recently in the past three to six months they have realized more that I need help. My husband is diabetic on top of his other problems. I have more medical problems than he does but because of where he is mentally, he needs me. I would love to be able to afford to just hire someone to come in and take over everything. I hate so badly for my children to have to help but I appreciate everything they do for us. So just feel around and see how your dad might feel. You might be surprised. Good luck. I know your job is a hard job. I was in your place too with my father.
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Ginger, your Dad sounded just like my Dad. If my Mom was in the hospital, Dad would be like a deer in headlights. He figured the doctors knew what they were doing and Mom would be home soon, as he was getting hungry.... [sigh].

And Sue above is right, my Dad had no idea what pills he was taking, that was my Mom's responsibility to set out his pills and know what they were. When it came to medical information about Dad, Mom was a walking encyclopedia. Mom even knew on what date Dad had his flu shot going back many years.

Not long ago I had my parents change their Power of Attorney. Dad still had Mom as his POA but he added me as secondary.... Mom still had Dad as her POA but she added me as secondary. It worked out quite well.
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Just a note of thanks to those who replied. All good points. I do actually step up for my parents, and when I have, they seem willing to hand over the reigns. I think the aspects of "old school" systems where doctors knew best and patients take their advice without question are indeed the reality. I wish that was true, and wish doctors did always do what is best but they make mistakes and sometimes follow procedure which they wouldn't even follow for themselves. Big sigh... I'm just so tired. Thanks everyone.
Helpful Answer (5)

GingerMay, you hang in there being an advocate for both your parents, but I would suggest that you get Durable Health care POA Is d Durable POA for both your parents in the event they can no longer make choices or decisions. I had a Dr. Put a Do Not Resuscitate order in my Dads chart when he was so very ill he didn't know up from down and because I had no authority I could not change that, I had to fight tooth and nail to be his advocate, by the way, a Dr can not do a DNR without a form signed by PCP and patient. We learn loads going through these terrible ordeals. I am thankful there was no need for that, however, I would be in a major battle if he had died because of the illegal DNR. Sorry I get carried away when I talk about that. Just know, as you have experienced 1st hand, not every doctor is competent nor do they have the patients well being as there motivation. Get paperwork taken care of then if you have to you can fight like a mama bear to protect your parents.

All parents should be as Blessed as yours are to have you. Keep up the good care.
Helpful Answer (2)

I recently asked my DH what he was planning for our "future", He did, indeed look like a deer in the headlights. "Uh, well I'll die first, I'm sure and you can take care of me, at home, right?" I said "What if I get sick first? What if my health issues are more than you can handle". He (too quickly) said, "Oh, I'll pop you in a home". (sigh)

Things don't always go as we think they will. I think it would be great for you to advocate for your mom and I bet your dad doesn't say a peep about it. Heck, I used to take my FIL to the drs all the time and he deferred to ME and I was, literally, nobody in this scheme of things.

Get it in writing, though. My FIL's docs were all happy to talk to me and no one questioned if I had ANY authority (I did not) to make decisions for him, but he couldn't or wouldn't make a decision w/o looking at to me first.
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Girl I've been doing it for 4 years now, since my moms stroke leaving her without cognition or short term memory and dementia is taking over. My dad is relieved that I handle the medications (his included-a month long dispenser was my answer, once a month and done). I NEVER imagined or even thought this is where I'd be at this point in my life. After raising two boys as a single mom, I am the typical sandwich generation. You got this, it's hard some days and it's exhausting EVERY day....but I wouldn't have it any other way. I know somewhere deep down my mom understands that I'm handling it and she appreciates it. Oh we have a caregiver that comes in and my husband is amazing when I'm out of town working for months, but dad it the 24/7 man and he needs and welcomes the assistance. There are moments tho... that sparkle and you'll carry with them you forever. Deep breathe----YOU got this!
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I have a once nurse daughter & take her to any doc appt needed. She has expertise I dont. I schedule to make sure she's available.
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ps I also go to each doctors appointment, he can't hear and they talk too fast so I ask all the questions I want - the doctor are happy that they get accurate information from me as well, and appreciate the effort.
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