September 22, 2008,
S.K. asks from Lansing, MI on September 19, 2008
Stressing About Parents
Okay, To make a long story short, I lost my brother almost 3 years ago. He was the one that lived at home and took care of our parents. I honestly thought he would be there forever. I moved 5 hours away after college and now I'm 9 hours away and stressing like crazy. My dad recently was hospitalized for a condition. My parents are divorced and my dad never remarried. I'm really worried about him being alone. My husband's job is here, as well as mine and let's face it, in this economy we take what we can get. My question is how do I deal with my aging parents, living where I do now? They don't complain, they don't ask me to move closer, but I STILL feel guilty constantly. Any advice?
E.P. answers from Saginaw on September 22, 2008
Most areas have a commission on aging which provides many services for seniors on their own such as housekeeping, meals and activities. Social workers are usually there as well to help them through any financial issues such as medicare issues or even lonliness. Also, you said he was recently hospitalized for a condition. Some conditions qualify people for hospice care, such as CHF, COPD or ALzheimers and DEmentia. It's an amazing service that medicare benefits cover fully-no cost to him. I work for a non profit hospice and we have had patients for 5 years on our care. An RN sees them in their home at least 1x a week and there are also home health aids to do light housework and help with daily hygiene.
If you have any more questions on hospice let me know or go to www.hospiceofmichigan.org for a wealth of knowledge. God bless you and your family-you sound like a very caring daughter.
P.W. answers from Grand Rapids on September 21, 2008
My prayers are with you. I know what you are going through. My Mother lives alone now. They were divorced as well. The best thing you can do, besides going home as much as possible. Is checking into what has to be done and how to get him enrolled in the system that sends an alarm somewhere if he needs help or doesn't respond to when they call.
I believe that is the best way. They still have there independence and you can rest easier knowing the system is in place.
From the sounds of things they don't ask for help from anyone for fear of putting a burden on some one. (I am the same way.)
B.K. answers from Kalamazoo on September 20, 2008
I am an occupational therapist; I specialize in geriatrics, and safety with home functioning. I am part of a Senior Diagnostic Clinic that assesses older adults for their health, functioning, ability to care for themselves, memory, etc. I would highly recommend the following to give everyone more peace of mind:
1. Obtain a geriatric assessment, if there is a center near your father. Usually there is a team of a nurse, geriatric physician, social worker, and sometimes a PT or occupational therapist.
2. Have a Lifeline emergency button system set up. Then in an emergency of any kind, he can just push a button and help(EMS, family, neighbor, whatever you want) is alerted.
3. If he was recently ill, inquire into home OT or PT to assess home safety and functioning.
4. Contact the local Senior Services to inquire about local resources. Some people qualify for home health aides, chore services, errands.
5. Do they have durable power of attorneys set up, including health care? If not make sure that gets done, along with an advanced directive regarding your parents wishes for health care.
Hope that helps! Just because you live a distance away doesn't mean you can't be an advocate for your father. Feel free to write me with any questions.
M.C. answers from Detroit on September 20, 2008
I'm in a very similar situation although my mom lives only an hour away, but she's old and gradually declining. I'm going to move my mom closer to me very soon (I hope if everything goes as planned). For now, what you can do is contact an organization called Visiting Angels or Comfortkeepers. Both organizations are very popular and highly respected. What they do is send someone (who is bonded and background checked) who can come over to visit your dad and help whenever and wherever he needs it. These angels usually require that they work anywhere between 3-4 hours a day with your dad. They report back to you how he is doing. I got lucky recently. I hired a private caretaker through a relative. She visits my mom 3 days a week and reports to me. Your other option may be, depending on your dad's finances, health, and age, to put him in an assisted living if he needs lots of help and supervision or an independent living apartment. Most of these can come with a nice price tag, but if he can afford them, that's the way to go. Also, seniors are eligible for low-income government assisted housing. You could look at those types of apartments in your area, so you could keep an eye on him and assist him if he needs it. Usually senior subsidized housings have a waiting list, so you may have a wait. The nice thing about these is they are community oriented where all the seniors look out for one another.
C.B. answers from Detroit on September 20, 2008
You could take some time off, fly home to dad, and enlist someone you both feel comfortable with and trust to take care of him. As his HCP for recommendations. Get a home health assistant in there, and then, if he's affiliated with a church, see if there isn't someone(s) who would be willing to drop in and visit for a while, to make him feel he's not forgotten.
Secondly, you could set him up with a laptop and get a video cam so you could have live conversations over the internet with both him and his medical helper. You could do that on a regular basis. The assistant could probably help with the laptop too.
Thirdly, I'd get one of those Life Alert contraptions so that if he IS alone and falls he can hopefully push a button and someone can come and help him.
Is there a sibling of his that lives nearby?
S.S. answers from Detroit on September 20, 2008
Aging parents is for sure a problem these days. We are all living longer that any generation (unless you look at the Bible!). Will they consider moving closer to you? I'm sure you've thought of that.
I take a dietary supplement to help me with stress and anxiety. You might want to look at that too! Hang in there.