At what point do we compromise the dignity and respect of our advanced age parents in order to protect them? When is it interference and when is it a necessity? This is my dilemma.
My mother and stepfather are 83 and both are still pretty sharp yet their bodies are wearing out.They still want to drive their vehicles, live in their own home and make their own decisions. They do not want to become the child with their children playing parent. Do we stand by and let them harm themselves and others by driving a vehicle with impaired vision? Do we leave them to live in their own homes with unstable mobility and limited hearing? Do we reserve our influence over their decisions?
Both parents are blind in one eye and have limited vision in the other as well as impaired hearing yet they both insist on driving in the daytime. Though their driving is limited, it is still risky. My grandmother was told that she could no longer drive after having a head on collision. The other party said she never even responded to his horn. She cried because she thought she could no longer play bingo. For a period of time, the city provided her with someone who came in every day to help her bathe, cleaned her house, cooked her a meal, and took her to the grocery store and to play bingo. When she had a stroke, she had to go into a nursing home because my mother could not physically assist her. The day she went into the nursing home was the day I began to grieve the loss of my grandmother as I knew her. Mentally, she left this world and never recovered awareness. She lived in a state of hallucination much as happens when someone is on death’s bed. I can only hope that she was totally unaware of being put into a wheelchair and left in a room alone with just four walls and a bathroom as I found her one day. She asked if my grandfather was still hiding in the bathroom. My grandfather was long deceased by that time. The only comfort I got from that period in time was learning how much my grandmother loved and appreciated me. She made sure that it was known that I was to inherit her “hope chest” (a hand made cedar chest) and she gave me her prized family portrait taken when she was a young girl. I treasure the memory of that day.
My mother called me one day and asked if she had just spoken with me on the phone. I told her she had not. She said someone called and she thought it was me. They wanted to borrow money. She said it sounded like a man but she knew my voice has tendency to be hoarse for various reasons. The person told her to go get her checkbook and while she was on the way to do so, she got suspicious. She asked what my birth date was and they responded, “I can’t believe you don’t know my birth date!” She told them she would call them right back, hung up and called me. My parents get scam calls all the time because somehow scammers have found out that they are of an advanced age. I have called the sheriff’s department to see if there is anything they can do but they said these people use robo-dialers so they cannot be traced. I suggested that my parents check into a phone for the hearing impaired. They both wear hearing aids but if someone talks fast (as I do), they have difficulty understanding.
My stepfather just had his second hip replacement. They have a raised house because they live in a hurricane hazard area where bay waters can inundate the house. They have an exterior elevator but if he falls inside the house or outside, my mother is not physically capable of helping him up. They won’t get emergency assistance aids because my stepfather doesn’t want to pay the money.
They are both saving to move into a assisted living facility so that is something but I would feel more comfortable if it were sooner rather than later. Before I moved out of state, I supplied my mother with senior assistance agencies and information, easy recipes and suggested that they hire someone to come in five days a week to clean, cook them an evening meal, run errands and take them to doctor appointments. Because she can’t have the person she wants, my mother hasn’t given further consideration to engaging anyone.
Mom has ADD and my stepfather may be having early signs of Dementia. My sister and brother live in Texas but 3 to 4 hours away. My parents’ neighbors have volunteered to help out in the case of an emergency and have done so. Unfortunately, my mother “hates to ask”. The one thing I have accomplished is to point out to my mother that she feels good about helping other people so she should allow others the opportunity to feel good about helping her.
Both parents have had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance at various times which is not easy because they live in a remote area. I know they are better off in their own home as long as possible because changes in their environment will probably be upsetting to their well being and comfort level. But at what point, do we address the safety of them and others?