dilemma with older parents

Discussion in 'The Club House' started by F4U, Sep 13, 2020.

  1. F4U

    F4U Well-Known Member Supporter

    This is going to be a bit long. My parents spend 8+ months in Arizona every year. When I got divorced 6 years ago I moved into their house. They were getting broken into every winter, that stopped after I moved in. I pay all utilities, only thing I don't pay is the property tax. The place is actually in a trust so that when mom and dad pass everything will be divided according to their wishes. I haven't been able to redirect the tax bill to me, and Dad will not let me pay it. We have 20 acres, nearest neighbor is about a mile away. House was built in about 1885, 4 out buildings, lots of maintenance that is beyond them at 78 years old. Currently repairing some massive carpenter ant damage in the barn. Dad had a lung cancer scare 3 years ago, that involved removing 2/3rds of his right lung, along with parts of 2 ribs and his collar bone. He is indomitable, was swinging a 10 lb sledge today, with a right arm that he can't lift over his shoulder, not well but he was hitting his mark.

    Now for the dilemma, from my earliest memory I was taught to clean up after myself, not leave messes for other people to clean up. I have always done my own laundry, on weekdays I don't get home from work until 7:30/8:00 long after they had supper. So I cook my supper and clean up the mess. Today as we were working on the barn Dad told me I need to leave those supper messes for mom to clean up the next morning, let her do my laundry, etc. She has had both knees replaced and her ankles are pretty much screwed together after a fall. He says she needs to have something to do to get her out of the recliner.

    Intellectually I understand and agree with Dad, but there is a huge mental block that prevents me from dumping my messes on my elderly mother.

    Anybody had a similar experience? How did you resolve it?
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  2. towboater

    towboater Well-Known Member

    I would still clean up after myself. I’d find another way to get her out of the recliner.
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  3. hairbear1

    hairbear1 Well-Known Member

    It's a hard thing and I can see your dad's point of view as well and he is basically right.
    Everybody needs something to do to keep occupied especially in old age as sitting around doing nothing after a lifetime of work is worse than getting a terminal disease as your basically waiting to die which isn't a desired result from doing nothing.
    I'm probably 3- 5 years away from retiring and while it's a great thing to be able to get up in the morning and not have to worry about being on time for work,dealing with bosses and things that go wrong on jobs I'm still going to be looking at needing to do something to keep me occupied luckily I like my hunting and fishing plus camping and 4wding so for a while I'll be able to keep myself occupied but there will come a time when I'll be a clapped out old fart and not be able to get around like I can now and THAT'S when being able to do things to really keep myself occupied will really count.
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  4. G66enigma

    G66enigma Well-Known Member

    I agree with your father and mother, on that point.

    I'd have a chat with your mother. Just be sure you know what she's willing to handle. Asking, it'll let her know you're caring about the load, how it'll seem, thinking of how you were raised, etc. I think she'll appreciate that, but that she'll like the need to get up for minor chores and tasks. Being useful and feeling a part of things is vital to maintaining a sense of being part of the group, pulling one's load, etc.

    IMO, it's little different than, say, Mom taking care of most meals and keeping us kids clothed, while we focused on school and some of the heavier outdoors chores. Splitting the load, each doing what he/she can to pull weight in the group. Nobody sloughing off problems to others, each having his/her tasks to complete. Worked well, growing up. Should still work well, even if the division of labor's different and it seemingly flies in the face of those lesson we were raised with. Particularly if it helps provide a need for getting involved, a reason to get up and about.
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  5. locutus

    locutus Well-Known Member Supporter

    Tough questions. But since none of us know tour parents as well as you do, I'm not sure any of us can give you really good advice,

    Pray for guidance, and go with your gut.
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  6. sheriffjohn

    sheriffjohn Well-Known Member Supporter

    Getting old sucks. No matter who you "were" , what you're done, or what you've acquired in the end if you don't have your family you have nothing. Obviously your parents are "richer than some" because they have you with them. Accepting the limitations of getting old is hard to do but not insurmountable. I'm "there".

    Many friends are dead or incapable of doing things they've always done. "Projects" enable older people to feel needed, so do "chores". IE: Yesterday I needed to cut up several downed trees. Starting my "Stihl Farmboss" chainsaw was almost daunting. Buddy (78) just bought a Milwaukee electric chainsaw. It actually works pretty well, so that's my next purchase. Lots of new stuff available today that makes "chores" easier can keep old folks active. "Lift chair" beats a recliner. Gator/ATV/RTV beats wheelbarrow/deer cart. etc.

    When you get old/retire you must have something to do and somebody to love. Simple.
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  7. buckhuntr

    buckhuntr Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporter

    My MIL is 87 and insists on living alone as long as she is able. She fixes her own meals, takes out her trash, drives herself to beauty shop weekly. We do things for her that she accepts as too much to handle, and the arrangement is acceptable. For myself, I'm about 3 years from SS, and with the farm critters, fruit trees and berry patch, and beehives to tend to, I've plenty of things to keep me moving in retirement. I can relate to your dad's point of view.
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  8. G66enigma

    G66enigma Well-Known Member


    Little different than, say, an injured person coming home on crutches, desiring above all else to get out of the car and into the house under his/her own steam ... crutches and bumps and all.

    If nothing else, such things are necessary to feel needed, feel useful, feel one's contributing, and to feel a part of things. Else, one might as well be unused furniture in the back room. A vile alternative, all things considered.

    I'm nowhere near as old as some, but I'm editing into "old phart" territory. Walk-in tubs are looking might good, these days; and I cringe at the idea of wielding a chainsaw to build up a pile of multiple cords of wood. To say nothing of how lovingly I look at the bottle of ibuprofen more frequently these days. Ain't for sissies, or so they keep telling me.
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  9. sheriffjohn

    sheriffjohn Well-Known Member Supporter

    Old folks last longer at home, so does their money.
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  10. JTJ

    JTJ Well-Known Member Supporter

    1st of all I resent the term elderly. I am older than your parents. She does need to get up and move. When you are not moving the buzzards start circling. Is there some activity she enjoys that you can encourage or get her the items necessary? Cooking, baking, sewing, painting, pet, ATV, anything? Only partially joking on the ATV. A motorized scooter would get her up and outside if her legs are as bad as you indicate.
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  11. Ghost1958

    Ghost1958 Well-Known Member

    I can tell you this much.
    Being disabled and now alone , your mom needs something to do.
    Her condition will have alot to do with what it is.

    Instead of just " leaving the mess" try another tact.
    Like asking her if she would mind doing " fill in the blank here" , for you because your just a little overwhemed.

    Pick something you know she can easily do.

    That will make her feel she is contributing and useful and her decision instead of just having stuff left for her to do.

    Make clear if it hurts or gets uncomfortable for her to do that you can pick whatever it is back up.

    I say this because since my wife passed in April, I'm 62. And alone , that I catch myself tending to become a hermit not venturing out much, because I see no reason too.
    Something I consciously try to correct.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2020
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  12. alsaqr

    alsaqr Well-Known Member Supporter

    Your Mom should be as active as her physical condition permits.

    My wife is 66, i'm 81. Despite some severe medical issues, i'm doing well. My friends are either dead or eating, sleeping and waiting to croak. Ain't going there. Every day i get out and do something. On Wednesday i'll be planting game plots.

    My chainsaw with it's long bar is much safer. Wear chainsaw pants when using a chainsaw, every time.

    At some point i won't be able to care for this place. My wife can rent the place for good bucks and buy a condo. When i can't get around, i'll take up residence in the OK veterans home.
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  13. G66enigma

    G66enigma Well-Known Member

    At the risk of offering up a suggestion that might seem out of place, here ...

    One thing that might well help, and which should have been part of her PT/recovery: cycling.

    Perhaps due to general infirmity, getting on a bicycle and avoiding falling while tooling about the town might not be the best option. If not, then an in-home stationary bike might do nicely. It'll challenge the knees, work on flexibility and strength, and allow her to get a bit of a sweat. Done at a modest pace several times daily, it might well be the route out of a sedentary, in-the-recliner type mode.

    It'll be one thing she can do that'll help improve strength and general fitness. It'll help with improving ability to do other small things around the property.

    Or perhaps swimming. A relative with stiffness and infirmities installed a small, one-lane "lap" pool that allowed for good exercise several times a day. Improved cardio, strength, range of motion, flexibility. (Wasn't a yoga type of person, but that would have seriously helped as well.)

    Sounds like work. Sure, it is, a bit. But it'll help with the other things as well. It's also an activity that can be done with others. If ready to head out into town, there's always a "real" bike, or a three-wheeled bike (if there's risk of falling).
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  14. danf_fl

    danf_fl Retired Supporter

    From personal experience, the worse thing to do is let someone sit in a chair.
    "If you don't use it, you lose it" idea.

    Prior to Covid, Mom was active and walking (not much, but some). Now she sits and wastes away. I can tell when I see her move around now. She complains that so much hurts. Well, she does not use the muscles and her joints have arthritis that forms. Movement helps.
  15. mrm14

    mrm14 Well-Known Member

    My experience in what I did was to go so far as to rinse my plates, silverware, glasses, and leave them in the sink to they could put them in the dishwasher and they put them away when done.
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  16. partdeux

    partdeux Well-Known Member Supporter

    Can you do things like dishes with her?
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  17. F4U

    F4U Well-Known Member Supporter

    Lots of good thoughts here, Thanks.

    Dad is easier, I have to hold him back because of his lungs. I bought a battery powered weedeater, hedge trimmer, and chain saw. When the battery is dead he is done, it works out perfectly. Plus they are much lighter than the gas powered ones and he doesn't have to mess with gas oil mixes. On weekend projects depending on how labor intensive ( we are on an ugly one right now) I "sleep in" on saturday mornings, so we don't start too early because he won't quit till I do, and he won't believe I am quitting at 2:00 in the afternoon. By suppertime we have 4 to 6 hours in and we can quit for supper. I go back out to "clean up" after supper.

    Mom is harder because she never really had any hobbies, except for a couple of brief stints in the work force to help out when things were tight, she was a stay at home mom. A mom to her 3 boys, and well over 100 foster kids. It kept her busy till she gave it up in her mid 60s. When they are in AZ she is much more active.

    Thanks again for your ideas.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2020
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  18. winds-of-change

    winds-of-change The Balota's Staff Member Admin Moderator Lifetime Supporter

    I have an adult tricycle I ride around the neughborhood.
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  19. dango

    dango Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporter

    We want pics Winds ! Nothing wrong with keeping the body going as much as is comfortable so keep at it Winds and may you live much longer for it ! :)
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  20. sheriffjohn

    sheriffjohn Well-Known Member Supporter

    One project possibly only a mom can do (and it's important to future generations) is to go through all the old family photos and label them on the back as to what the photo is and who's in it. Really fun, jogs the memory, and I'd bet when they're gone no one else could do it. Likewise, people save things "for the kids" which the kids don't want. Perhaps she'd enjoy going through things, giving certain items to certain ones, etc. It works for us and generally has made the kids happy. ...better than having a bunch of green toothed people picking through family heirlooms at an estate sale. We have plastic totes full of old photos, some 100 years old, with no clue as to who they are, etc.