Thursday, April 13, 2017

Clarity of thought

R was saying nothing about Mother's situation but underneath he has been stressing big time, as am I. It is not so much about the money to rewire her house but why would we spend $9000 on a house that will be demolished as soon as it sold. It is about Mother's future. Her hotwater service is very old and may need replacing. Her water pipes are also old and have already began to break up and have been patched up. Where does it end?

From friends to professionals, all say she needs to be in a care place and not living alone. As oldest son, I putting my foot down with a firm hand. I have spoken to both my brothers and there will be a family conference at Sister's at Easter. Mother still talks about a bungalow in ABI Brother's back yard, but no, she is past that.

Tradie Brother is going to rig up some temporary fluoro lighting over Easter for Mother and there will be family conference on Easter Sunday.

The next step is to find somewhere appropriate for mother. Her house is worth about $350,000. What might be her options? Mother tried some extreme manipulation on R by asking him to put this device into the car sans basket and was using it to walk around home. She was being ridiculous.R refused and took her shopping as per normal. She now uses a wheeled frame, quite difficult to fit into the car.

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The clincher came when Mother moaned about about cooking her evening meal by torchlightand she also said, maybe it can wait until you return from holidays.

In my last post about Mother, I really appreciate all you have offered and I have taken it all seriously on board. Thanks.

39 comments:

  1. This, to me, is so sad.

    I don't blame your mother complaining because she is forced to cook her dinner by torch-light. I would be complaining, too, if I were in her position. I live very simply and humbly, but that sure would be upsetting to me, to say the least.

    Growing old isn't, as many would have us believe, a lot of fun. If your mother has to use a frame to help her walk, to assist her in getting around without the fear of falling, so be it. Allow her to use one.

    I tossed away pride a few years ago...I use a walking stick because I have arthritis in my hips; and I don't want to fall, either here in my cabin (I live alone, with my two furry mates - and if I fell no one would have a clue). I always use a trolley when I go to the supermarket, no matter how big or little my shop is. The trolley is for me, too, as safety device to assist in easy walking about. I don't want to be falling on my face in the supermarket aisle. And, the trolley saves me having to use my walking stick...using it, the stick, would make shopping a bloody pain in the neck...as well as the hip!!

    It's difficult for an elderly person to have to leave their home...a home they've probably lived in for many, many years, but perhaps it is time to sell up and for your Mum to go into a worthy aged care facility.

    Hopefully, sitting down over Easter and talking this out a conclusion will be reached that suits everyone, most particularly, your mother...it is her life, her existence and comfort of existence that is of most importance here.

    As I say...it's not a lot of fun getting old.

    Hopefully, because your mother has people around her who care for her comfort and well-being, the result will be positive.

    For those who are completely alone, with no one to care about what happens to them...the situation can be dire...and so, so worrying. There is no one who gives a damn whether I'm still breathing or not...so I do have a pretty good idea what I'm talking about.

    I wish your mother all the best...I hope these twilight years of her life cause her no angst...and give her much peace and comfort.

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    1. I object! There are plenty of people here in blogland who do give a damn. You might want to think about getting one of those emergency call buttons to wear in case you do fall. Simply press the button and help arrives asap.

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    2. Lee, she does use a frame nearly all the time now and like you, a trolley in shops that have them. A friend moved to a small country town here and his was without any family or support, and his care was excellent with local services and Federal Aged Care working together. His house was sold and he is now in independent unit with appropriate support. I am not sure why it is so difficult to reasonably priced home care for Mother. Our local council looks after its older citizens very well whereas Mother's local council outsources care to religious organisations and it is far from ideal.

      Of course we care River. Mother has one of those but if activated, the centre notifies one of us in a priority list. My brother who lives and works nearby is top of the list.

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    3. I meant Lee should get one because we all care out here whether Lee is still breathing or not. (her second last paragraph)
      I know that of course you all care about your Mother.

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  2. I was lucky. When it was time for my mother to go into professional full time care her Alzheimers had progressed to the point where she accepted my decisions without question.

    That didn't stop my mother from becoming emotional when we arrived at the nursing home for her admission and she was still emotional the next morning when I arrived there to see how she had fared on her first day/night. I think my visit on that next day demonstrated that I hadn't abandoned her and thereafter she settled into the home very quickly. Not everyone does settle but thankfully she did.

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    1. Victor, it must be a terrible wrench to leave your long time home and we all know how awful it will be for Mother, but we have to be firm. Thanks for your story.

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  3. Like Victor, my mother cried for a week thinking we had abandoned then she discovered, pain killers, meals served up to her, no washing clothes and bought a $6,000 wheelchair to be taken out for coffee and shopping. You know the rest, 7 years later, still driving me nuts.

    And don't tell you mother she won't be able to smoke, you'll never shift her but the pleasure she'll have telling her new mates what a crappy family she has will outweigh everything.

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    1. Thanks JT. I know there will be many tears but I do think she will adjust. As she is still mobile, she can I suppose smoke somewhere outside. But she does give it up easily when she has to, such as during a hospital stay.

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  4. Your mum will want to maintain her independence, but the independence is coming at a great cost to her health, safety and finances.

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    1. Hels, our finances too at the rate she is going. In fact she is quite dependent rather than independent. Without us propping her up, she would have had to do something years ago.

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  5. This will be emotionally hard for everyone concerned, but your Mum's health and safety, plus peace of mind for all of you is the main concern. Once she moves and adjusts, she will eventually come to see it was a good idea and necessary.

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    1. River, you in your way have set yourself up well for your old age and assuming reasonable health, you can live there until you are very old. Mother never thought about the future.

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  6. It's hard to move, but harder the older one gets and if alone. There's nothing familiar, about a new place or the people or routine. It's like relocating a feral cat alone, the cat won't stay, but if she does, will be terribly lonely and unhappy without anything familiar. I feel for your mom in this regard. Being uprooted from all things familiar, at her age, might be as good as death. I'd rather die than go to a care home. I hope I do die before ever I have to enter one of those awful disgusting smelly places.

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    1. Strayer, while the abode won't be familiar, she will still be in her own town and with her own shops, so that will help. R will still take her out Thursday and ABI Brother will do what shopping she needs on the other days.

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  7. I've sent you a gratuitous email.

    Good luck and happy Easter!

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    1. Thanks Marcellous. Did you send the email using Australia Post? It hasn't arrived yet. Ah, maybe an older email address. I will check.

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    2. The yahoo one you use when you comment on my blog. Otherwise I can comment in instalments here.

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    3. Part I:

      My childless maternal aunt died last year in a country town in WA, aged 87.

      She had a similar dilemma to your mother: she wanted to stay in her own home, which was falling down around her. With assistance, she could have done so. Problem was she didn't trust tradespersons not to rip her off to do repairs. She spent the last three years of her life with no gas (disconnected because of a leak caused by faulty outside hot water service), therefore no stove or hot water or heating other than a couple of very low wattage electric heaters. She would turn the water on only intermittently at the mains on account of leaking pipes. She cooked with an electric frypan and microwave and relied on a bank of 4 electric jugs and about 12 4 litre plastic bottles filled up by hand when the water was on.

      For over a year the sound on her TV was not working and so she just watched SBS or QandA for the twitter feed alone.

      She couldn't manage the house which of course was made all the more difficult by the lack of running hot water. She was too ashamed to let anyone in to help her and anxious that if anyone officious came in they would remove her. This meant she was not getting any assistance within the house.




      She had been living (incl sleeping) on the sofa for a few years, I think: she already had that habit when she came to stay with me in 2013. My sister visited mid 2015 and tidied everything up but obviously my aunt couldn't maintain that.

      There were neighbours who took her shopping etc but she would never let them in.

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    4. PART II

      Her last year or so was quite wretched and her mind also probably giving way under the stress as well as pain which I expect was from the cancer which was undiagnosed (because she didn't trust any doctors either) until a fall brought her to the hospital. One lung was totally white. My last conversation with her was terrible as she was "air thirsty" and could manage about two syllables at a time.

      I was probably her relative closest to her. Three years before her death she came and stayed with me for about 5-6 weeks which was I think a respite from her difficulties at home. I spoke to her on a scheduled weekly basis (at least; rarely less than an hour each time) but couldn't get over there because I had to visit my elderly (in his last year and a half widowed) father in Canberra whenever I could get away. I was planning to go to see her and hopefully help her resolve some of the issues later last year after my father died, but she died before that could happen.

      In these conversations she mostly wanted to talk about whatever Philip Adams or Radio National issues were current, though from time to time I was enlisted to research various issues concerning her (assessment of her rates; finding a bulk-billing doctor; her scheme for getting leak detection equipment for use by plumbers in her town because she was worried a plumber would drill into her asbestos walls; etc etc). I could never convince her that it was worth risking being ripped off by the tradespeople and indeed these problems were so intractable she didn't really want to talk about them: I now see that she looked to her calls to me, apart from using my internet searching abilities, as a relief to her loneliness.

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    5. Part III (one more to go!)

      She had the money to pay for the necessary repairs (I found out after her death that about $2K would have fixed the gas and hot water problem). Even without hindsight (that is, of the cancer which swiftly did for her), she wasn't going to run out of money. It would have been worth it to her to spend the money even though the house would most likely be knocked down once she left it.

      Ditto with the domestic assistance: the problem was that, having been out of the workforce for many years, she perceived any paid services to her as unreasonably expensive and always went on about people's "business plan" which she saw as a conspiracy to overcharge her. A brief episode of in-house domestic assistance came to an end a few years earlier because of this.

      Ironically, she was happy to spend quite large amounts of money (substantially more than the $2K for the gas and water) having trees lopped etc. This seems to have been OK because the men didn't have to come inside and I also think it gave her a feeling of still doing something to be in control.

      She did engage with some "helping" advice agencies (sometimes to complain about other helping agencies) but these engagements likewise came to a recriminatory end such as when, for example, she discovered they were keeping files on her (how could any agency not have a file?) which she demanded they destroy.

      She lost her driving licence about a year before she died, which she considered most unjust. I found a sad little note in her wallet after her death: "I have never had a demerit."

      Smoking was an issue for her which definitely made her disinclined to contemplate going into any institution.

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    6. Part IV and hopefully final

      In the end I think she got what she wanted, which was to remain, however wretchedly, "independent" in her own house until within a week of her death. The great pity to me is that she could have had that with a lot more comfort if only she'd spent a relatively small amount of money which she certainly had (including a certain amount in cash hidden in the house: this may have been another reason she didn't want to let anyone in).

      Your mother is, comparatively, fortunate to have her children she is able to turn to for assistance. As you say, she has options and they need to be explored. One of them would be a "reverse mortgage" - either in a formal way with a financial institution or informally by loans from her children (preferable if affordable) as I suggested in my last comment on this topic.

      I personally would not discount the value to her of (objectively) economically wasteful expenditure to make her house liveable while she can remain there even if that is only for a short period. In other words, I don't think the expenditure would be a waste for her just because the house will soon be knocked down, even though as you point out the wiring is probably just the start of it.

      What would make it a waste is if spending the money on the house will be to her disadvantage if she does get to a point where she needs to go into care. That really depends on an assessment of what assistance the state will offer at that stage and on what terms.

      Of course, the extent to which your mother can fairly and achievably rely on you lot and R to enable her to stay in her own house is also a factor

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    7. Terrific Marcellous. I really appreciate the time you put into this. I forgot that about the old email address when I comment on a Word Press blog. We have considered a reverse mortgage, but she is so irresponsible with money, it would soon be spent. The is another bank scheme which I think is better, where the bank buys a percentage of the house, which they do so for the increase in value over time. But her house is not in a high capital growth area, and the result would be the same, that is she would have her hands on the money. As your tale shows, overcoming the stubbornness of older people can be very, very difficult.

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  8. I am so sorry. My mother (who required 24 hour care after her stroke) flatly refused to go into residential care. She (reluctantly) because I refused to do it hired nurses. She died less than a fortnight after she got out of hospital which cost just over $10000 in care fees (but nearly $20000 in home modifications). We had told her it wasn't sustainable but she said it was. As it happens she was right. Which no doubt pleased her.
    Good luck. I really hope the discussions go well. Really, really hope it.

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    1. Thanks EC. They are alarmingly large sums you are talking about and what a waste. She may have lasted longer and better in residential care, so I am not sure that she was right.

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  9. Gosh Andrew, a real dilemma. Start repairing your mother's house and it will never end as you describe everything is going, then after she passes on the house will be pulled down.
    I presume you have tried to reason with her without success.
    Wishing you R and your family the best of Australian luck to try and talk some sense into your mother - or take the bull by the horn with your mother's Dr's help.
    Here you can't be put in a home for the aged unless the person agrees to go or the Dr. has signed the correct papers.
    Have a lovely Easter and don't you or R worry too much because it will sort itself out, even though you probably can't quite see that yet :)

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    1. Margaret, her doctor has already told her she should not live alone. I may contact him and suggest he press the point. Your words about worrying are wise, but I have spent quite some time worrying and worse, talking on the phone to siblings and the tradesperson. Enjoy your Easter too.

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  10. Andrew I think your mother should not live alone and in my opinion in a home care

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    1. Gosia, that is everyone's opinion, except for Mother's.

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  11. Anonymous6:31 pm

    Having just been through that with my mother, there is a lot you will need to know and do, and the aged care web site is a labrynth to get around. You will ned to get her an assessment and then a different one by centrelink, then she will need to buy into a home, in .qld the cheapest ones start at aroun 400k, and you pay a lot of your pension as well each fortnight. When they die you do get the money back
    Janry

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    1. Janry, I have been looking and it is a nightmare, and it should not be so difficult to understand. It won't cost anything like 400k for her and even when her house is sold she may have about 350000. Thanks heaps for your comment. All information is invaluable.

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  12. It's difficult to admit that suddenly you become the father of your own mother and have to take decisions for her. Of course it would be senseless to put such an amount of money for repairs. Unfortunately not all oldies are wanting to leave their houses. I wouldn't bother my son with that. When it's time we choose a nice home move in and have no worries anymore. With the money of our house we can do high life, lol !

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    1. Gattina, it is a bit like that, but we aren't quite the parents of our mother yet. I expect Europe caters much better for old people, even if they have only ever rented.

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  13. It is such a dilemma for you but living without safe wiring is definitely a no go. Sheltered accommodation would be perfect as it is independent living with someone on hand to help when needed. However that is here and not Melbourne.

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    1. Marie, one place I looked at from my chair was as you describe, complete with meals, but I am unsure if it has a small kitchen or not. I doubt she would go anywhere where she could not make tea in her own place.

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    2. Most places do have at least a kitchenette so residents don't have to trek all the way to the dining room just for a cup of tea and a slice of toast. Some independent living facilities have full kitchens, but the care is still there when needed.

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  14. Not sure what your oppional there is...My stepmother in-law got a senior apt and she was suprise how much she likes it.
    But on the other hand I have a friend who mother had to go to small care place, 7 ladies. And she toss such a fit and got kicked out. Now she in a state run care place. Mattress on floor and she loves it.
    Coffee is on

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    1. Dora, your friend's mother sounds very unusual, being happy with a mattress on the floor.

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  15. aaah, I don't envy you at all. Getting elderly people to give up their independence is so difficult, but so necessary. Good luck xx

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    1. Fen, a mother problem you would love to have, I expect.

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