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Thread: Aging loved ones struggling to care for themselves

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    Senior Member jp1's Avatar
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    Aging loved ones struggling to care for themselves

    A question for everyone who has had a loved one still living independently but having difficulty managing day to day tasks (cleaning, cooking, etc.). A very dear friend of mine who lives in southern California is in his mid-70s. He's lived alone for many years and is not particularly social and prefers living alone. Over the past couple of years arthritis, coupled with a heart attack 3 years ago, has resulted in him now needing a walker to get around and no longer able to do too much. For instance the last time I went to visit 4 or 5 months ago he had a massive pile of amazon boxes and other recycling piled up in the kitchen and he sheepishly asked my help filling the recycle bin with it since that's difficult for him now. Plus he's started using instacart because even just carrying a bag of groceries from the store to the parking lot resulted in a painful fall with a black eye and other bruises, etc. And his house was absolutely filthy since using a vacuum and scrubbing the bathtub are pretty much outside of his abilities now.

    A couple of years ago, prior to it getting to this point, I'd suggested hiring a housekeeping service. At that time he dismissed the idea because he's always been determinedly independent and not the type of person to admit that he might need assistance. I'd like to suggest again that he look into housekeepers because I can only imagine how dirty his house must be by now. This time with links to make the task of hiring someone as easy as possible. (money is not the issue. He has plenty to cover whatever expenses he may have for the remainder of his life including an assisted living or skilled nursing facility for however long he might need one.)

    I'd like to help him stay in his home as long as he possibly can. After mom died my father attempted to learn to cook (a skill he'd never had before) and after four years of stressing over it he moved himself to an assisted living place just for the fact that they would cook all his meals. His decline after moving there was steady and frustrating to watch. The same would likely be the case with my friend. Has anyone here successfully gotten an older relative/friend to admit the need for help like this? It seems so obvious to me that if my friend had a housekeeper every two weeks that also did laundry (his laundry machines are in his detached garage so that task is undoubtedly also very difficult for him) he'd be doing better and would probably really like having clean clothes and a clean home again. In the wayback times before the pandemic and his heart attack he always kept his home quite clean so I imagine that that is something important to him.

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    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    I don’t have any words of wisdom, but it’s great that your friend has the money to pay a housekeeper.


    He needs to hear from you that his house is dirty. he may need to hear that from you and a couple other people before he does something about it.

    Also, I would not assume he’s going to go downhill if he moves to assisted living like your father did. People often do better in a lively community with people around, but then I do not know if your friend is getting out of his house or not, but it sounds as though he may not be.
    I am not a serious person.

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    Senior Member jp1's Avatar
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    He's always been a bit of a loner type person. His idea of an enjoyable day is to get in his car and do a 14-16 hour roundtrip day trip to Death Valley. His idea of hell is having to interact with anyone other than the relatively small number of people he considers his friends. Beyond that he does still get out for lunch several times a week and has casual (and appropriate) customer/employee relationships with the workers at all his favorite lunch spots. They know him and are friendly with him since he's always polite and tips well, etc. Other than that, no, he doesn't have much social life. Most of his friends his age died long ago from HIV or have since died of typical older person diseases. He does get together with the few remaining ones once in a while but that's not a frequent occurrence.

    I like the idea of others having to tell him his house is dirty, in a polite way of course. What brought this up in the first place is that two other mutual friends were trying in our four person group chat to arrange a get together at his house in early May (since that's where we always get together for a variety of reasons that aren't meaningful to this conversation.) Elderly friend was supportive of the idea but mentioned his housekeeping issues which caused one of the mutual friends to suggest to me and the other mutual friend separately that perhaps his message was intended to be a polite way of saying "please don't come". I don't think that's the case since friend REALLY enjoys when the four of us are there and would probably be devastated if the four of us never came there together again, but that it was more just admitting that when we arrive his house will be filthy. (It's so filthy that the last time I was there I admit that I wore flip flops in his bathtub when I was showering...)

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    I wish it were easy. My "aunt" (extended family, not technically family) just finally had to go into assisted living, as she walked out of the grocery store (using walked loosely) and then she just dropped and couldn't walk no more. She did damage to herself a little more then a year ago, and never really recovered (kept doing rehab, but would slide back), so she hadn't been able to do her own laundry, etc. So now my cousin is having to deal with her house, and a whole lot more I am not going to go into.

    Now the idiot from the restaurant, gave up going to some of his medical treatments (diabetic retinopothy), when his brother died and the mess of an incomplete estate his brother left. The family I have known for 40 years, wanted me to end up with the lions share of stuff, and the idiot had his hissy fits, thinking he could just keep everything and the house, and have me move in and then him bring yet more crap and have me care for it. I had never had a roommate, and all of a sudden I had two intermittent ones.
    Well, he got worse of course, hasn't had his diabetic shoes replaced in six years, they have wanted him on oxygen for five and he only started around January of this year and keeps loosing/breaking his oxygen stuff (empty cylinder hitting the accelerator is what caused him to flip the truck, Wednesday). Doesn't really clean himself, or his vehicles (looks homeless and it looks like he had been eating soup poured into the truck center console).
    His girlfriend stuck him in a nursing home/rehab today. Will see how this plays out.
    I worked my first 13 and a half hour day today, and expect he is expecting me to work 100+ hours next week. I don't think I have the stamina for that.

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    Senior Member jp1's Avatar
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    Ugggh. TMS, that sounds horrible. So sorry you're going through all that. My problem seems minor in comparison.

    I just suggested a housekeeper to friend. We'll see how it goes. He finally hired a lawn service a year ago or so so hopefully he sees the wisdom in this. I tried to keep it lighthearted by reminding him of a story about my mother from years ago. When she was around 60 she broke her ankle due to osteoporosis. Dad took on the task of vacuuming but she was a major neatfreak and apparently he wasn't doing it to her standard. So she had him situate her on one of their kitchen table stools and she vacuumed around it. Then he helped her move to the other stool nearby and she vacuumed around that. He moved the first stool to a third location, and so forth, eventually working their way through the entire condo every week. Knowing her I'm sure she didn't think this was at all absurd...

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    TMS, I'm so sorry. I have enough trouble working 10 hour days in the summer; I can't imagine doing even a minute more!

    jp1, I hope you (and others) are able to convince your friend to get some help so he can still living a bit independently. This is something I wonder/think/worry about and both dh and I get older.
    To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer." Mahatma Gandhi
    Be nice whenever possible. It's always possible. HH Dalai Lama
    In a world where you can be anything - be kind. Unknown

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    I have two friends who are in a similar circumstance, but worse because they don't have money. One friend has lost mobility and is mostly stranded on the 6th floor of a walkup apartment. She can't afford help, she absolutely can't afford assisted living. No family. Another is in her mid-80's. No savings. Very frail. Family is scattered and mostly out of touch. Can't drive. It's very sad.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rachel View Post
    I have two friends who are in a similar circumstance, but worse because they don't have money. One friend has lost mobility and is mostly stranded on the 6th floor of a walkup apartment. She can't afford help, she absolutely can't afford assisted living. No family. Another is in her mid-80's. No savings. Very frail. Family is scattered and mostly out of touch. Can't drive. It's very sad.
    I'm watching something similar with two friends, one in her nineties, who live far from me. Same money issues and no families to help. I'm afraid this is a story I hear more and more often.

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