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mickhock's avatar

Have you taken care of an elderly parent at home?

Asked by mickhock (540 points ) September 24th, 2010

i am about to move Dad into our home because he has recently had strokes and he needs me for the first time in his life.
Any pitfalls to look out for?
He is 84 yrs old and still very happy and has recovered from the strokes to a point although he does get confused and scared about what will happen next to him.
We have converted a room into self-contained accomodation so that privacy is maintained.
Any ideas to fill the days with?

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15 Answers

thekoukoureport's avatar

Nintendo wii. With bowling, tennis, golf, and other activities it may help with rehap as well as occupy. Just a thought I’m not a pro

chyna's avatar

My 80 year old mother loves puzzle books to keep her mind sharp. Maybe he would be interested in those to keep him occupied. It’s really strange the things I would think I would be doing if I were in her position, but that she doesn’t do. She very seldom watches TV, doesn’t want to read anymore, although she used to read all the time. There is an exercise show for the elderly in the mornings that is very easy for them to do such as rotating their wrists, their ankles, moving their knees and arms. If you are interested, I will find out what the name of it is. It’s going to be a life style change for you. Good luck.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Do not put all the burden of caregiving on yourself. If there are other family members, they should pitch in. I see many caregivers give up their life and activities they like because they’re guilt tripping themselves. There is nothing wrong with getting a home aid for a couple of hours here and there just so that you can have time for yourself, regenerate and be able to care for your dad in a more productive fashion. I have taken of my father when he was dying with cancer but I had my mother, his sister and my husband by my side.

mickhock's avatar

Thanks Simone.

marinelife's avatar

Consider seeing if there is an adult day care near you where he could go for activities and you could have respite care.

lillycoyote's avatar

I lived with my dad in the last years of his life, he died at 82 in 2007 but he didn’t really need caring for until the last year and a half. It’s hard to say without knowing more about your Dad as to what interests him and how best to fill his days. I tried to get him interested in a lot of things, even tried to set up a couple of “play dates” for him with old friends but the thing he finally took some interest in was when I start tracking down the ships he served on in the Navy in WWII.

You may just have to go with the flow for a while. You want to pay attention because most parents don’t want to be a burden to their children so he may not always express his needs and wants to you, he may try to be as little trouble to you as possible but you don’t want to push to hard either because, as my father made clear to me on several occasions parents don’t really like being bossed around, told what to do or micromanaged by their children either. But he liked doing a certain kind of puzzle a lot, like @chyna‘s mother, he played a lot of solitaire on the computer, watched a couple of hours of TV in the afternoon (Walker Texas Ranger and Married With Children reruns). It’s going to take some time for you all to adjust. It’s a life changing event for him too. And it will take some time to figure out how to fill his days. Old people don’t become generic just because they’re old and what interest other people his age may not interest him. It will also take some time for both of you to figure out what he is capable of doing, both physically and mentally. Also, as other’s have mentioned, if you don’t already have a good support system in place try to set one up. You need to take care of yourself too. Anyway, good luck. Keep us posted and, BTW Welcome to Fluther.

Aster's avatar

I stayed at my dad’s house for 3 days and although he appeared normal at first, I found out that he needed help to walk to the restroom at all hours. He almost fell to the floor; his legs were weak, and I almost fell down too. After 3 days he became so dependent upon me we both felt nervous about my leaving. I was exhausted. Then he had a big stroke and had to go off in an ambulance.
Something else that was very worrisome when I was there and when he got better was he insisted on driving without a license. He said “all my buddies do it.” Each day he’d drive into town and shuffle around the grocery store; I saw him there once. He insisted on doing it; I did it a lot but he still felt he had to get out. Luckily, he never had an accident nor did he fall down in the aisles.
So other than driving during strokes and having weakness in his knees it wasn’t terrible but it’s amazing what comes up you’d never anticipate. Oh; he also left a pan on the stove and it caught fire. I don’t recall if I was there at that time or not. But I didn’t have anyone volunteering to help out.

chyna's avatar

@Aster My mom still has her car, but doesn’t drive, thank goodness. But she wants me to run it every weekend to keep the battery charged. I think she likes the idea of being independent with a car, even if she doesn’t use it.

Aster's avatar

@chyna I agree. I’m glad she doesn’t drive!

harple's avatar

A potential pitfall may be thinking he needs more help than he does, but that balance will come with time. I can’t imagine it’s easy for a parent to realise they need help from the child (even though you are, of course, not a child) so patience is going be an attribute you will need in abundance. How did he like spending his days before he had the strokes?

I think space – for both of you is going to be hugely important too, and quality time for you and your family.

mickhock's avatar

Thanks folks. Dad is 84 years old and served with The Royal Navy during WW11 in the Far East when the Japanese surrendered.
He brought three boys up ON HIS OWN!! from 1958 onwards and in a nutshell gave up his life to make sure we had a roof over our heads.
He held down a full time job for all of our school years and never once have i heard him grumble about the cards he was dealt.
He is a true gent and deserves better than being parked up in a high chair in some clinical nursing home and i for one will not let that happen.
Once again i thank you for your input.

Frenchfry's avatar

I took care of my dad when he got diagnosed with pancreatic cancer for 6 months.
I made his meal and cleaned his house and took care of my kid all at the same time.
I was busy busy, I watched TV with him his favorite shows. Mash, NCIS, and Little House on the Priarie. I would play video games as well at night. I eventually moved him into my home and then he shortly went to hospice where he passed away. I am sure you will have plenty to do. I just did what I would do at home really.

YARNLADY's avatar

So much has changed since I took care of my Mom her last few years. She had the mind of a three year old, and enjoyed listening to music and dancing and watching TV. She also enjoyed going to the grocery store and the mall. She was completely ambulatory.

My elderly in laws seem to enjoy the computer for hours on end, and that solves most of the issues. They had to be reminded to visit the restroom, and they had to wear adult incontinence products. My FIL passed on. My MIL seems to be stronger now that she no longer has to worry about him.

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