Sunday, January 6, 2013

Making decisions

My wife is going to have to make some decisions about her mother who is back in the hospital.   Her mother is not eating much and not wanting to drink fluids.  She becomes dehydrated and needs to be hospitalized.  She weighs less than 90 pounds. Dementia has taken over to the extent that she doesn't know who we are and she makes no sense when talking.

We talked about what to do last night.The caregivers who live with her are not skilled nurses.  It appears that she qualifies for hospice care at this point. So C. is going to look into that after talking to the doctors.  We also talked about having her move to the same nursing home where C.'s dad is, so that they could share a room.  On the surface, it seems okay, but this option is one that has some concerns because we wonder whether the staff will spend time trying to get her to eat.  She seems beyond what a nursing home could do at this point.  And will she be okay being in a room with her husband who was so emotionally abusive to her for years?  I wonder about that.

Anyway, that is what we are struggling with today.  I am going to see her in the hospital as my wife is still sick from her cold.  The lingering of a person whose quality of life is poor is a sad thing to see.  Unfortunately, more and more people will be dealing with this as their parents age or they themselves age. The extreme elderly, those who are age 85 and over, are the fastest growing segment of the population. And more than 75 percent of Americans receiving long-term care rely solely on family and friends to provide assistance. It's pretty damn scary.

We both know that there will be a solution.  Making the decision for her best interest is what we want.


  1. I am sorry to hear your wife's mother is declining. It must be a very difficult situation for you both to face, but it sounds like you are being thoughtful about the decisions. I wish you all well.

  2. man hard decisions....i hope your wifes cold gets better....hard enough to make these much less being sick....wisdom to you in what you decide...

  3. I can't imagine how difficult this decision is. I pray for God's guidance in this. Bless you.

  4. This is heavy stuff :( It's hard when a generation rises up and becomes the decision makers and the emotional burden bearers ( because of the weight of these concerns and worries). It's the now normal way of life as more people are living beyond the ages they did in the past. I have aging parents and my mother particularly has had her times of near death and decisions were flying fast and furious. She's ok again, now but these times get more frequent, ever year that passes. I'm thinking of you and C. and I'm praying for the strength it takes for this kind of responsibility. xo

  5. Sorry to hear that you are going through this Syd. I recently had to witness some of this in our family (thankfully not as the decision maker), and it deeply affected me. Fortunately, your program is strong, and those tools will help you through this, as in all things. Our prayers are with you.

  6. My mother struggled with putting my grandmother in a home for years, and then decided she had to for her own health as a caregiver. she couldn't keep up with it anymore. I'm sorry C is going through this and she's lucky to have you by her side in these situations.

  7. I'm so sorry Syd. I wish I could make things happier and easier for you, C and her mother. I know firsthand the sadness and the helplessness that comes with parents at this age and stage.

    The staff that cares for my Dad say that November and December is very hard on patients - for the same reasons many of us struggle during the holidays. They tell me residents stop eating and drinking and socializing.

    I know your Mother in Law has dementia but severe dehydration makes the confusion and lack of recognition so much worse. I can only hope as the dehydration is treated your Mother in Law can come back to a little more coherence. Their tastebuds go away as well and then it's just this downward spiral.

    So stressful on everyone. I do like the idea that your inlaws could be together in the same place but understand your concerns. I love my husband - I can't imagine after so many years married together the grief of having to live apart. There are no easy solutions here. Only prayer.

    Hugs, love and healing prayers to you and C and her family. I wish I could take this pain off all of you.

  8. So much heartache to face going through life. There is no easy option. I know you and C will make a careful decision. Sending love and strength your way x

  9. Very difficult stuff Syd. If she truly enters Hospice and isn't eating or drinking, she won't linger for long. Hospice will offer palliative care, but not care to extend her life. If she won't drink they won't make her drink. If she refuses food, they will allow her to do so, viewing it as her body knowing what to do for this time in her life....she is working her way forward. My opinion is that home, if at all possible is the best, most gentle place to leave this earth. If her caregivers are willing to stay through to the end. Lots to think about and consider. I am sorry. I always think..."how can I help this person leave this earth with the most dignity and the most gentle departure?"

  10. Sorry to read this Syd. My heart is with you and C. It is hard my mom is suffering form dementia also. She still lives with my sister but I don't know how much longer that can last. My mom's sister is in a care facility and she is at the stage of C;s mom. Eats and drinks very little. Sleeps most of the time and communicates very little and you can't really understand what she is saying when she speaks.

    It is so hard on the family. I have been told by the staff at the nursing home that it is harder on the family than the residents. That would be hard to know but I do know it is hard on all.

    You and C are in my thoughts.

  11. Speak to Hospice...they can be so much help ...and you don't even have to think of it as the end because it might not be. Hospice helped us for eight months before my dad passed away...they provide more than just physical care...they provide lots and lots of support. Just talk to don't have to make a hasty decision...

  12. Oh my goodness, these are such hard and painful decisions to make. My mother died this past October. She was lucid to the end and able to make her own decisions. My father-in-law
    had dementia and my husband was in C's position. My husband's decisions for his dad were compassionate and practical and had his best interests in mind. I know that C will do the same for her mother. My thoughts are with you.


  13. This is so hard and as you know, I am dealing with a similar situation.
    Yes, there will be a solution. No, it will not be easy. And yes, you and C will do it with all the love and intelligence and compassion you have.
    I am wishing all of you peace.

  14. As you know, Syd, I lost two sisters this past year and they both opted not to eat in their last days. I would say that the hospice option is definitely the best. If your hospice staff is anywhere near like ours here they are extremely caring and make it as easy on the family as is possible.
    On a different sponsor (with 37 years in AA) has just started following your blog and finds it very comforting. It is really helping her to cope with a family problem so I thank you for hanging in there with your blog (I remember the scare that you gave so many of us when you almost stopped writing !)

  15. Syd, this is so hard for you and C. I agree with what Ms Moon said.

    I've had to deal with this several times with older friends and their relatives. One of the hardest things for us to understand and accept is the reality of dementia, especially if there are lucid periods. A dedicated caregiver is needed to ensure hygiene and regular feeding and that may mean hospice rather than a nursing home.

  16. It's hard to handle especially when the decline seems so rapid. I think there is some very good advice being given here by others. Your wife's parents are lucky to have C and you making considered, compassionate decisions for them, now that they are not able to make their own.

  17. Recently on a walk through the neighborhood I noticed a garage sale. After purchasing some beautiful new items I asked about the home owner. She was a victim of elder financial abuse. I hope you find a nice solution for C's mom and I am sure you will!

  18. Such a difficult time for you Syd

    My thoughts and prayers are with you

    Take care x

  19. It is scary. I worry about old age and how I'll face it. I do not have parents to tend to, I suppose I am grateful for that.

  20. You didn't ask for opinion on what you should do Syd. which is good because that leaves me free to offer mine. No member of my family has ever died in a hospital or home for as far back as I can remember. My father was taken to the hospital on the day he died but for the ten years leading to his death he was at home.

    Ok that was us--I was in part my mothers primary care giver for her last 3 years and it was not too bad because the cancer did not take her mind. I doubt any of my kids would care to take care of me or my wife in our home or theirs so I am not sure how that will work.

    Your FiL is hospitalized, your MiL needs to be or I guarantee you, you will be calling the police for assistance every three days because she got out of the house and is wandering around. My wife works in an assisted living facility and about half are in progressive states of dementia, though it's not her job she stops the ones with alarm bracelets from leaving about 5 times a day in a 4 hour shift. She does it lovingly but still...

    So I would look to hospice and more than one, you won't know how she would react to her husband until she sees him, at the moment I doubt she has even less memory of him as abusive than she does of you and your wife.

    Cost is an issue as well, no matter what you can afford it all hinges on their wealth as to what kind of facility they can get into. It really doesn't sound like you guys need an inheritance so spend every dime they have on their end of life care.

    And finally get out of the family mind and think like the scientist you are, use your OBJECTIVE judgement on the situation, if she already is too much for full time home care I am sorry but it is time for institutionalization. Neither you or C are trained in this area, the sad thing having to watch the deterioration but that has a scientific explanation that you understand.

    That's it, that's my opinion--now you have to sit with your wife and talk it out until you come to an answer you both can say "we did all we could" and that is where you need to get to so after they are passed you will not be beating yourselves up with the could have's, would haves, should haves.

  21. Syd...after a tough few days I have been going back and reading your posts on anger and resentment. I really sometimes get confused between the too but I will say my gut reaction is that resentment is perhaps far more poisonous that anger? Not sure.

    Either way, some stuff in my life the past few days kicked off feelings of resentment and anger and really have consumed me. I am so thankful to have been able to go to your blog and find categories to read to help find clarity and restore some sanity.

    I wanted to add my best friend died of breast cancer and her family brought in Hospice. Her husband cannot say enough the gift Hospice was to him and her. He said he maintained some level of sanity in his grief and loss at the time due to Hospice. Praying that you and C can find some peace as you navigate things for your Mother in Law.

    Thank you for your dedication to your blog.


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