Thursday, August 25, 2016

When Parents Move Back Home

This blog has covered many topics over the years. Those topics include independence and activity, even in late retirement. My mother and father in- law have been the topic of those discussions on more than one occasion.

During their retirement, husband's parents were generally active, his father especially so. They traveled (including a  cruise all the way down the Amazon), they entertained, they were involved. My father in-law volunteered and mentored homeless and abused children. He was taking Zumba and walking the track at the rec center well past eighty. Also after eighty, he was completely rebuilding a Triumph Spitfire. I've shared more than once about the Christmas that he brought me into the garage to see his car and told me that he planned to change out the engine the next day.

They had paid off their home and planned to retire in place after doing some renovations, thinking that if they had to  have someone come in, that would not be a problem. Unfortunately the best laid plans and all that. A few years ago, my mother in-law had a stroke. This meant that John's father had to care for her. It soon became to difficult and at the (admittedly mildly aggressive) urging of their children, they sold their house and moved into independent living.

Two years ago, my mother in-law passed away in August. In the beginning, my father in-law seemed to be doing well. When I traveled to Texas the Christmas afterward, I took him to church (he was going on his own), on Christmas eve. He was going out and about on trips, exercising in the facility and more. I suspect now that he was putting on a good show. His daughter  lived two hours away and is still working in a position that requires long hours. Another daughter lives three hours away, and his son lived five hours away and also holds an executive job. They traveled to see him, they took him to his medical appointments and they visited as much as it could, but unfortunately it was not enough. While I was not there, I suspect depression had set in as well.

One year ago, my sister in-law's husband suggested that Jim move in with them, in their house, three hours away. That is what happened, and it has been a blessing all around (from what I see and hear as an occasional visitor). While I traveled last Christmas, I saw my Jim in Dallas as he had taken the train up for the holiday. This time, I managed to travel to Killeen with my daughter, and spend some quality time with all three member of the family down there.

I am happy to say that it works and it works well. Admittedly my father in-law has deteriorated. He's been in the hospital with sepsis a couple times, and his balance and energy have gone downhill a bit. He has chronic low grade diarrhea which limits his ability to go out much these days (although I was there when his nurse came and he is still very strong). His goal is to get his strength and balance back so he is able to walk his bulldog puppy. He has been diagnosed with some dementia (he told me three times in a morning that he still does the hard crossword puzzle every day, and yet he remembered every single street he lived on as a boy).

 In short, he is very, very happy. As are my sister in-law and her husband. Admittedly, they have unique circumstances. He is retired military and going to school part time. She is retired and enjoys being at home, even though for now he is close to a full time job. They still go out, in fact they went on a cruise and had a provider in to care for him during that time. Mainly they are homebody's in retirement who decided to build a pool so that all their friends could come and visit them. They have a routine, and it works for them. We all went out for dinner while I was there, and dad being dad, paid for it all.

Every situation with an elderly parent is different, as is every family. This particular parent is financially secure enough to contribute (and his daughter is a tiger when dealing with insurance and other issues). He and my sister in-law and her husband have always had a close relationship. Their house is laid out in such a manner that he has his own bedroom and bathroom. They live in a neighborhood where friends drop by often, and he has become part of their group and welcomed by all the adults and children that visit. He's an intelligent guy who can self entertain for the most part.

We all have to do what's right for us and our parent. In my case, looking at my in laws, I suspect were my parents living, that I would need to make the same choice. 

There is no right or wrong though, when it comes to caring for our parents and other family members.

Would you have a parent live with you at this point in your life?

18 comments:

  1. Great post Barb. My mom is the only living parent between the two of us. She has always maintained that she wants to live independently as long as possible. She gets a lot of help from me, as she does not drive any more. We'll see what things look like in another year or so. Her health is frail, and is continuing to decline.

    Saw your comment on Thrifty at Sixty. Couldn't agree with you more. Sorry you had to be the recipient of such harsh words :-(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually haven't been back for the followup. My next post is on medical care. Things can change so quickly for the elderly.

      Delete
  2. Also agree, as well I agree with your comment on that other blog could never be with you more as a social worker working at the Department of Veterans Affairs I see the benefits that our servicemen women's receive and I'm glad for them. Sorry you had to be exposed to that vitriol Teri

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I see that AutoCorrect is not my friend I meant that I see the benefits our service men and women receive and I am glad they do. My point was that I agree with what you said

      Delete
    2. I always swear I'm going to get autocomplete off this things but I never do.

      Delete
  3. I've always thought that taking in aged parents was a good thing, where they had the physical aid, emotional support and stimulation of extended family. My mother has a harsh tongue and she often shows it with those closest to her. Her moods are unpredictable. I have a hard time being my best self around her. She can be mean-spirited and admits to it. I would not subject myself to such treatment from any other person yet I tolerate it to some degree from my mother, because she is my mother. She's 83 yrs old and I see the decline in her physicality at the same time the social filters fall away. I think that I have broad shoulders yet I can't see myself taking her into my home.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We are dealing with my MIL who is just 71 with these same issues. She has no money left to live anywhere but we are the bad guys who are making her take her medicine. Her words are punishing and my husband is her only child and it has been soul crushing for him.

      Delete
    2. I think we all have different relationships and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Fortunately dad had a good relationship before with both.

      Delete
  4. Great post. I have considered many times that I will be living with my kids at some point if the option is still there. I think the "Golden Girl" style of living together in retirement is a wonderful idea that my friend and I have discussed also.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the golden girls thing works well if caretaking is not involved. In this case caretaking and supervising is definitely part of the package.

      Delete
  5. After my mom died and Dad slowed down I tried to get him to live with me. The daylight basement of my house had two unoccupied bedrooms, bath and a rec room which wasn't used much as the sons were away at college. If he preferred there was a bedroom on the main floor. He declined, and declined my three other sisters as well. I would have loved to have had him there but he wanted to remain on his own. Eventually he moved into a retirement apartment with access to meals if he preferred that. I can't honestly say I think he was happy. He missed his neighbors and his walks around the neighborhood. We revisited our offers but no deal. I think it would have worked but we felt we needed to respect his choices. He always was kind of a solitary fellow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometimes we are so used to being independent and alone that the alternatives don't even enter our minds as good ones.

      Delete
  6. I was a caregiver till parents both passed away. I was young- in my twenties. I would not want them to be caregivers if at all possible. I too think the go,den girls style would work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I meant I would not want my kids to be caregivers.

      Delete
  7. We had a similar situation with Celia, who replied above. We asked our parents to live with us, but they preferred to either live alone or with peers in a retirement home. My mom said our lives were too "busy" for her. My father died in his own home; my mom lived in a retirement community for years, eventually moving on to assisted living and finally memory care/hospice. I think they both had times they wished they had agreed to come live with us, but in the end accepted their choices and how things turned out.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yes, I would but sadly that option no longer exists as both of my and my husband's parents have passed. But I have tremendous guilt about my mother who ended up in a horrible place. Unfortunately I was not making the decisions about her care. However, my children know how awful it was and hopefully when the time comes I can at least live near them. I don't want to be a burden but no way will I end up in some kind of warehouse for old people like my mother.

    ReplyDelete
  9. My mother chooses to live in independent living - in a place that is great for her. When the facility was "struggling" they agreed that she would never have to move to assisted care- unless she chose to do so. She bought a two bedroom with the idea that a nurse could live in the second room.
    My kids are planning on house sharing with us. My daughter plans on a bit larger house with a "wing" for us. My son plans on a "granny pod". I am hoping robots get better and better. I want a Big Hero Six (watch the Disney movie ;) )

    ReplyDelete
  10. After Mom passed away Dad moved to a smaller apartment where he lived until a massive stroke caused him to be in the hospital until he passed away.

    I don't think he would have moved in with any of us as he was very independent.

    ReplyDelete