I've hit a cross roads in my life where I must decide where & how to care for my elderly parents. I have never really thought about the what, where, when, why & how my parents would be taken care of once they reached a certain age.
My Mom has COPD and her lungs are shot. When it was cool to smoke, she took advantage of it. She is only 70 but is an effective 90 (so says her doctors). She has congestive heart failure, blood loss (normal levels are 12-14 & she was at 6 when she was admitted to the hospital a few months ago). She gets a blood transfusion every month now. She is in a nursing home doing rehab. Why rehab? Her lungs won't get better but they want her to learn how to adjust to oxygen and a c-pap or bi-pap 24/7 and how to take care of herself. Something as simple as going to the bathroom or showering lowers her oxygen levels to a dangerous level (normal levels are around 93 but when she moves around, she drops to the 70's, 50's and even sometimes to 30's or 20's).
Problem is, Mom is not the problem. With her in rehab, Dad is left alone in the house. He is 74 (again effectively 90), has had several strokes, is deaf, uses a walker & wheelchair and is as contrary as can be. He insists on making his own breakfast (forgets about cleaning up after himself though), won't bathe, won't wash his hair (in his defense it is hard for him to raise his arms), won't change clothes & most times will have a bathroom accident because he can't get there quick enough. Oh yeah and he's in early Alzheimer's too, so he don't remember he did it.
When we get older, do we forget what it was like when we were trying to raise our kids, pay our bills, do our chores or do we all regress to a child like stage and not only want, but expect someone to wait on us? I understand the bible says a white head is a crown of glory, and know if they had their choice, they wouldn't want to be a burden (I think....) . I find myself getting mad when I prepare a meal & take it to them, when they criticize the way it was prepared, the amount I bring or the time it took to get there (apparently normal people don't eat past 5pm), the methods I use to clean their house, pay their bills, water the plants etc.... I am not sure after hearing them every day, how I function on my own at all.
It's sad & depressing to see them in this way. It's hard to see them who was once competent and capable become frail and needy. It's pitiful to look back and see my Dad looking out the window just to wave goodbye or my mom wheeling down the hallway of the nursing home. Then it makes me mad that (especially Mom) did it to herself. Who in their right mind smokes 3 packs a day for 40 years and still be in denial for the last 40 years of what her outcome would be? Why would a parent want to make it hard on their children?
How do we make the choice to place them in a nursing home permanently or take them into our own home. The latter will involve someone having to quit work. Taking care of adults isn't any different than taking care of a child except they are more stubborn and use abusive language. They can't be left alone (just like a child), need to have daily activities, exercising, baths, changes (both clothes & bedding). I'm not certain I'm up to the task & along with the guilt need forgiveness for my thoughts about the amount of help I want to give. I am torn between obligation to them and want to be the good daughter and guilt for not wanting to go there everyday. I find myself arguing with my siblings, arguing with my spouse, arguing with my parents, arguing with myself. Plus, I know one day I'll look back with more guilt that I have these feelings now, because they'll be gone.
I'm not looking for physical, financial (I'm not even talking about the burden financially) or mental help (or maybe I am) I'm not looking for advice because I know every ones situation is different (or maybe I am). I just feel like I needed to write it all down or in the least put on my big girl panties & deal with it. I think it'll help to look back on this post as my family will progress/regress. I know that's why God says he helps push us through it. Through it is the key...thank the Lord, we don't stay in it. But what happens when we're not "in it" any more. That's the part that frightens me most.
The mental health of America (MHA) & CBS has articles on the effect of dealing with aging parents.