Ask Jennifer: Week ending 4/5

Updated: 03/25/2015 5:40 PM
Created: 08/04/2009 11:50 AM WHEC.com

Dear Jennifer, 
My parents need help. They aren’t doing very well at their house. My mother has dementia and she needs watching. My father has to keep an eye on her every minute. She’s tried to get out of the house in the middle of the night because she thinks she hears children crying. He wakes up all night with her. My father is losing weight. And he still doesn’t want her to live anywhere but home. I have called home care companies, but my parents don’t have the finances to pay for more than about a year and then they will be broke. I looked online and checked with other geriatric care managers, but I’d like your opinion. 
Thank you,
Dear Lauren, 
Your parents are at two different levels of care and this is something many couples go through. The first consideration is safety. Your mom and dad must be “safe enough.” Right now, they aren’t. Your mom could end up in the news as a missing confused elder, which would be particularly devastating at this time of year. 
I advise you to make decisions that you will not regret later. It isn’t wise to ignore the problem or cross your fingers that everything will go along alright. (You already realize that, which is why you are writing.) Years in the future we cannot come back to today to make different decisions. So, do you fight with your father, or let things go along “as is?” 
It helps to imagine scenarios and consider how you will feel with the outcomes: 
1. What if your father wears himself out so greatly his health fails and he is hospitalized?  
2. What if there is a crisis and a need to make decisions quickly – will you get the outcomes you wish? 
3. What if your mother gets out of the house and strays away? 
4. Will your father fall apart if they are separated, will he fall apart? 
5. What if they run out of money? Then what? 
It is a lot to consider, and requires a coming together of the minds. Safety has to come first. Keep reading; there’s more in today’s article, the first in a series. 

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