Thursday, August 7, 2014

Eldercare: Almost It's Over!

How did things go so far downhill so fast?

A month ago, I wasn't thinking about my parents going to a nursing home and selling almost all their belongings. But kidney failure put my mother in the hospital and an accident put my father there, too, a few weeks ago. They've since improved and now they're both at a rehab center. Their dog has moved in with me.

Mom and Dad were in the same room, but they had to move my father because he called out for my mother all night and she couldn't get any sleep. Now he calls out to her from the room across the hall. He stops if I'm there--he calls out for me instead. At least my mother has the room to herself so she can learn to drive her new wheelchair, the one I found on Craigslist and bought from a guy at a storage unit way out in Longmont. When Mom said she found it hard to control, I bought a new joystick for it off Ebay.

Ebay wouldn't take my credit card--it said it had expired. It hadn't. The seller's website wouldn't take my address, even though I live in the US. I finally gave the seller my credit card number over the phone and got the joystick. I put the new joystick on her wheelchair the day after I got it, but Mom still can't drive it. This, from a woman who used to get around in a wheelchair that drove like a bumper car. I advised her to practice for a few hours.

Monday, I met with a man who does estate sales. He looked around my parents' house (after I'd taken out about 50 bags of papers and old toiletries) and said it would take him and his crew of six to eight people two weeks to set up. Most houses, he said, took a week to set up. Yes, I grew up in a (borderline) hoarder house. I've watched episodes of Clean House lately and wished the messy houses they show were all I had to deal with.

Among the papers I sorted were several unpaid bills. I take care of my parents' bills, but I can't take care of them if I don't see them. They're paid now, and now that my mother doesn't have to spend so much time taking care of Dad, she has time to deal with credit card companies and her credit union. The way her lawyer set up her power of attorney (with two co-successors) renders it useless with her credit union. She's putting me on her account and I've whipped up a new power of attorney form.

You'd think a nursing home would take care of all needs. Not so. I do my parents' laundry since nursing homes lose patients' clothes left and right; the last time, they sent Dad home with random clothes that weren't even his size and ended up writing me a check for clothing that I had bought for Dad a week earlier. Since both parents have lost weight, I bought them some new threads from Goodwill and ARC.

My mother's blood sugars have been running over 200 since she can't take metformin anymore. She can't control her blood sugar with food alone--I think the kidney failure scared her into being more strict about carbs than she had been. (The doctors said her kidney failure might have been caused by an antibiotic she reacted to.) So along with clean laundry, I brought her some Atkins bars and made sure she had enough coconut oil.

My next project is to scan her photos and letters onto her laptop and send the originals to her sister, who has volunteered to act as curator. (I bought a laptop cable so the laptop doesn't go the way of my Dad's clothes.) If Mom ends up with one more thing that needs to be taken to the post office, she's on her own.

Helping my parents isn't all I've been doing: I got three fillings replaced a few days ago. Between that and having revived my habit of grinding my teeth at night, my teeth have hurt for the past few days to the point that it's hard to eat. But I feel well enough to go to and have a good laugh without hurting myself. And now that things are becoming more stable, I tell myself, "almost it's over."


tess said...

you're a great woman, Lori! your family has a lot to thank you for!

Lori Miller said...

Thanks, Tess. I am in amazement of people who do this sort of thing for a living.

Lowcarb team member said...

Lori , wish I could do more to help ....but my good wishes to you are strongly being sent across the wire.

All the best Jan

Lori Miller said...

I wish people around here could do more to help.

Galina L. said...

Yes, it looks like for better or for worse your worries are almost over. How quikly things changed! Not long time ago you were doing landscaping around your parents house.
I am not sure, would it be comforting for you to know that the situation with elderly care in US in general and your parents in partyicular looks like a heaven from some far away countries? Really, everything is not too bad at all.

Lori Miller said...

True, it could be a lot worse--I'm lucky we live close together without a continent and an ocean between us. Their nursing home is clean and pleasant. But the most stressful thing next to their being so ill has been dealing with all of their clutter.

Galina L. said...

It is not about distance. My mom's partner is in a care facility now, and it is impossible to communicate with his caretakers when their care is causing mostly discomfort for poor guy. My main focus during my visit was on keeping my mother calm.

There is a bright side of people living in small apartments in Moscow - they don't have much space to hoard staff.

Lori Miller said...

I'm sorry to hear about your mother and her partner.

My mom's physical therapy has been causing her pain, but yesterday, I happened to be there when a therapist came to her room and I told her that exercises weren't going to help her bad leg (caused by surgery) or her torn rotator cuffs. The therapist listened and asked us about the wheelchair--the one Mom needs practice to learn to drive. Hurray!

I tried for years to get my parent to downsize and move closer to me.

Galina L. said...

My mom's partner now is often delusional, refuses to eat, and they keep him on IV which requires restraining and odviously causing him discomfort to put it mildly.

Lori Miller said...

How awful--I don't know what else to say.

Karen said...

Hugs! I dealt with so much of this last year when I lost my Dad. Still dealing with it with my Mom.

Scanning old photos brought me the most peace and happiness. Good luck through the next few weeks and months. Karen P

Lori Miller said...

Thanks, Karen. Sorry to hear about your father.