When Your Parents Become Children

I’ve been a bit MIA lately because I’ve been dealing with another hospitalization of my dad.  If you recall from the summer, my dad was hospitalized due to a toxicity of one of his heart meds.  Well – he was hospitalized for the same damn thing last week.

It started with a phone call from my mom, “Kimmy – I can’t get your father up.”

I sped down to their house to discover my dad slumped over in a chair.  I thought he was dead.  When I started screaming, he responded but was SO lethargic that I thought he was having a stroke.  I started shouting questions like, “What day is it?” “Do you know where you are?” “Who am I?”  He was able to answer all of the questions.  He just complained about being “so tired”.  But he couldn’t walk on his own.  My mom and I basically carried him to his bed and then I called 911.  (Actually – I called my brother and Jeremy… and both of them yelled at me to call 911.)

Long story short – this was another bout of medication toxicity.  I was especially worried when my dad started asking if we were in Illinois (his hometown) and couldn’t recall what day it was anymore.  The docs assured me that it was most likely due to the toxicity.

I was incredibly irritated with my parents.  How could they let this happen again?  I found out from my brother that my dad was strapped to a bed, had a “sitter” (someone that was assigned to my dad’s room 24/7) and was being belligerent to the hospital staff.  The belligerence let me know that my dad was fine.

I received a phone call on Thursday from a hospital psychiatrist notifying me that he was deeming my father “mentally incompetent” and unable to check himself out.  I just thought he meant for that night until…

I got a phone call Saturday night from the attending doctor.  He elaborated on the mental incompetence and said that the hospital would not release him unless I had some sort of arrangement set up to manage the care of my father at home.  The hospital felt that he was unsafe under my mother’s care and that they felt they were both “demented”.  The doc mentioned assisted living. 

Then on Sunday, we went to talk to the doc face to face.  He completely downplayed the previous night’s discussion.  It was no longer “mental incompetence”.  It was that my dad was “forgetful” as was my mother so they couldn’t adequately manage my dad’s medication.  No argument here on my part (or my parents) but he mentioned that they’d be transferring my dad so the psych ward to monitor his weening off of some medication.  I was told he’d probably be in the hospital until Thursday at the latest.  I convinced my dad to stay by saying, “You’re my only dad.  I worry about you.” 

But then on Monday, as I scrambled to get information on in-home nursing care to administer my dad’s meds, the new attending doctor informed me that the hospital will generally set up that type of care.  This is something the weekend doctor failed to tell me.


Monday afternoon, I received a call from the Physician’s Assistant.  They were releasing my dad!  Apparently he didn’t meet the criteria to be transferred to psych (and that’s a good thing).  But sadly, he also didn’t qualify for at home nursing care since from a medical insurance standpoint… my mom was still very capable of caring for my dad.

The PA recommended that I discard all of my dad’s existing meds (he had scripts for new meds) and check in with them every other day.  I don’t have the capacity for home visits every other day.

And this, my friends, is just the beginning of what I know I’ll be dealing with for the rest of my parents’ lives.  I will have to manage their care.  My parents have now, somehow, become MY children.  It is the circle of life.  They raised me and now I must care for them in their elder years.  And let me tell you – I was so not prepared for this but I’m sure nobody ever really is prepared.

I know that when my dad passes, my mom will become my complete dependent.  Jeremy and I have already discussed accelerating our plans of buying a new home but this time we need to find one with enough space for a parent apartment.

And a part of me finds some of this a little funny.  I had been somewhat preoccupied with the idea of having another baby and wanting one sooner rather than later.  I guess the universe thought that this was a better way to give me another baby.

Have any of you had to manage the care of your parents?  Where should I start?



Filed under Charm City Kim Rambles

13 responses to “When Your Parents Become Children

  1. I have not (yet) had to manage the care of my parents (or my husband’s). We have also discussed buying a house with more room because we know, one day, at least one of them will be living with us.

    Good luck!

  2. I’m so sorry… I’m not at this point yet, but it will be coming (since I’m in the medical field, I’m my parents health care proxy and the one who will be dealing with these things when they arise) … All I can say is, I wish you the best of luck!

  3. I’m so sorry. I don’t have any advice, but I can only hope that when this time comes for me, I handle it with the same grace as you.

  4. I’m sorry to hear that your dad is having issues and you are having to go thru this care taking phase already. My office mate, who is in her 40s, is going thru this right now. Her dad was diagnosed with cancer right after her mom was diagnosed with some other disease that makes her very forgetful and nearly incapacitated by anxiety. She’s been dealing with this for months now and still has yet to come up with a good arrangement. What she really needs is someone to come in and make sure they get their meals and meds, get dressed, get to and from appointments, and get up and move about a little. But you can’t get that. If you do, it costs an arm and a leg out of pocket. they aren’t ready for assisted living, supposedly. Oy. It’s just a nightmare and she’s been a nervous wreck for months now.

    I wish I had good advice, but I haven’t even allowed myself to think about this. I’m not overly fond of the idea of taking care of my parents. My mom, I might. And my dad, I would consider if it didn’t involve his psycho, b**** wife. But I’m just not sure I could be that big of a person. Who knows, though, when it comes down to it.

    My sister added on an apartment to their house to take care of her mother-in-law and, now, her own mother. It’s been tough for them, but my sister is so very giving.

  5. I’m so sorry you’ve having to deal with all of this, Kim. My mom is still very self-sufficient, so it wasn’t an issue after my dad passed. We worried about my in-laws, though, before we moved out of state. They are much older than my parents, and they assured us that they’ve already invested in quality in-home care should anything happen to them.

    Best of luck to you.

  6. Uncle Bob

    My town’s smaller than yours, but I’d drop by my local senior center (they might even have a web page). I’m guessing they’d have staff and members who have BTDT, as well as some sources. I’ll do the same here. Have a pleasant holiday.

  7. CAG

    So sorry to hear about your dad Kim. 😦
    Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

  8. Meredith

    So sorry to hear this Kim. I can’t imagine what it’s like to care for my own parent but having watching my mother and aunt go thru it last summer with my grandmother, I know it’s not an easy thing no matter your age. If you need anything, please don’t hesitate to call, even if it’s just to take the little one off your hands for a bit to get some things done.

  9. So sorry to hear that you’re going through this! Thinking good thoughts for you.

  10. Oh man. Shitty shit shit. That really sucks, I’m sorry.

    My mom has a lot of health issues – A LOT. But so far I’ve been more of an emotional support, I haven’t yet had to manage her care. She’s been able to do that herself, but someday it’ll come to that I’m sure. Fortunately I have four siblings who can split the responsibility, but it’s still a lot.

    Hang in there girl. Hang in.

  11. Um, ditto doahleigh’s sentiments. Shitty shit shit. Hang in there.

    I have not yet gotten to this point…I have had friends who have had parents die in the last year or so, though.

    I do however remember my mom managing my grandparents’ care (they had alzheimers and parkinson’s at the SAME TIME).

    It’s incredibly stressful and hard. I applaud you for considering a mother-in-law’s apartment in your house. It will probably make things easier in the long run.

    I guess I would also suggest a therapist, honestly. Not because I think you’re “crazy,” but I think it would help to talk to someone outside the personal circle about the weight it puts on you and how to cope.

    I am so sorry this is happening to you already. And I would say don’t let it change baby plans! XOXO

  12. Wow, that’s a ton to be dealing with! 😦 So sorry to hear about your dad.

    As for advice – I have no idea. My mom dealt with my sick grandmother for a long time, and I know her having power of attorney made things easier on her. That, and splitting some of the “checking in” duties with my aunt and cousins. Maybe set up a network of a few people who can check in a little less frequently each? Good luck – I hope it gets easier for you guys.

  13. Holy shit balls. That’s some deep shit.

    I have no good advice to give you, other than to remind you that you are one of the strongest, kick-assiest people I know. Stay strong, Superwoman.

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