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Offline 4PackGirl  
#1 Posted : Saturday, November 17, 2012 3:50:23 PM(UTC)
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ok, i need some serious advice.

my mom is almost 77 years old, in fairly good health, in charge of the farms, her home, the apartment she has down by me, & everything that goes along with all those things.

i've noticed over the past several years that she's more & more forgetful. i understand this comes with age but it seems to be getting much worse lately. as you all know, we lost my dad 7 years ago & she's struggled ALOT dealing with minor to major repairs to her home & the farms. she calls to ask my brother & i for advice whenever something is wrong or she needs help figuring something out which we are more than happy to help her with.

i'm getting more & more worried about her though. i hate thinking of her living in the country all alone. she has one of those health alert button things but it still scares me. her driving is not that great. she has a problem maintaining a steady speed & i've encouraged her to use the cruise control repeatedly but she's afraid she'll have a heart attack at the wheel & then her car would go careening down the highway. i mean we're talking she goes from 45 - 65 back down to 50 then to 60 then back down to 40...you get the picture, right?

i want to broach the subject with her about moving down her permanently - my older brother is NO help whatsoever even though he lives 2 miles from her - he has alot of animosity towards my mom for some reason & he refuses to discuss this with her. his words to me were "you do what you think is best & i'll be there to back you up" well gee thanks dumbass. GAH! anyway, she will never let me repeat NEVER sell the beautiful home she & my dad built so we'd have to close it up or something - how do we even do that - i guess she'd leave most of her furnishings there since her place is all furnished down here.

i'm just hoping that some of you have dealt with this & have some advice for me. i'm worried & want to do the best thing for her without making her feel like she's not in charge of her own life.

HELP!!!
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Offline DakotaT  
#2 Posted : Saturday, November 17, 2012 3:58:10 PM(UTC)
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The first thing you should do is take her to the doctor to have some tests done to guage what is wrong with her memory. She is at that age now where stuff like dimensia and alzheimers can be a very good possibility.

I don't envy you right now Julie. My partner in the bee business is dealing with this with his father, and the elderly person can become very beligerant. But you need the diagnosis to help you make proper decisions.

Good luck my dear.
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4PackGirl on 11/17/2012(UTC)
Online wpr  
#3 Posted : Saturday, November 17, 2012 4:17:50 PM(UTC)
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Mom is 78. My younger brother is a cardiologist. We noticed the exact same things with my mom. Dr son had mom go into Chicago for a series of tests with a specialist. Mom has onset dementia. Over the last year we have noticed her memory loss as being more and more prevalent. The Specialist gave mom a med that would slow the process down but nothing will stop it. Mom was not happy with the side effects so she stopped taking it.

My advise let her know you are concerned. Try and set out a general outline. It is going to be hard to take her out of her home tomorrow.

Mom knows this is happening. It frustrates her when she realizes what is happening. I try to minimize it a bit by showing how we all forget things. I tell her as long as she remembers the important stuff, name, address and so on it is ok to forget her great grand kids birthdays as there are too many of them.

Sitting down with her and her physician is something you should do.

Her house- if she does move be careful. insurance hate vacant houses. Someone should stay at her current house from time to time. keep the furnishings in there. Down the road you may have to rent it out.
"You don't hurt 'em if you don't hit 'em." Chesty Puller



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Offline Porforis  
#4 Posted : Saturday, November 17, 2012 4:28:39 PM(UTC)
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My parents had to do that with my father's mother, unfortunately I don't have much in terms of advice as I wasn't privvy to any of their conversations, but I wish you luck.
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4PackGirl on 11/17/2012(UTC)
Online wpr  
#5 Posted : Saturday, November 17, 2012 6:17:54 PM(UTC)
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Another thought- She may be fine living on her own near you for a while. You may have her live with you after that. But if it continues you may need to have her go to a nursing home and have people who are professionals take care of her. It happens and don't feel like you are letting her down. My grandmother stayed with Mom and Dad for years. It got to be too hard. Grandma needed someone watching her 24/7. One or two people simply can not do that forever.

With that said you will need to speak about what she wants to do with her estate. If she does nothing and has a long stay in a nursing home all she has may end up going toward her expenses.

She should sit down with a tax adviser and discuss her options. If she divests her property and assets before needing a nursing home she might be able to do so. The sooner she does something the more likely she will keep it in some form. You should also consider buying a nursing home policy before she is diagnosed. afterward will not be possible.
"You don't hurt 'em if you don't hit 'em." Chesty Puller



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4PackGirl on 11/17/2012(UTC)
Offline macbob  
#6 Posted : Saturday, November 17, 2012 6:26:09 PM(UTC)
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We're going through the same thing with my mom (she's 88). We've been divying up the stuff she needs help with--I handle financial stuff, my sister does medical stuff, etc. The best thing I could recommend is talk to your mom and let her know your concerns, and discuss options if her memory, etc gets worse.

My mom is deathly afraid of ending up in a nursing home--her mom died in one. We've assured her we'll do everything we can to keep her in her house, but if we can't then we have discussed with her moving in with us.

We're in a little different situation where my mom lives in a residential neighborhood with close-knit neighbors who watch out for her and 3 of her 4 kids living within 30 mins, so she's not as isolated.

There may be organizations oriented toward the elderly in you're mom's area--in our area, Goodwill drives elderly to Drs appts, etc, Meals on Wheels delivers food. There may be some organization that would send somebody over periodically to see your mom and make sure everything's OK.

Recommend setting up Power of Attorneys if you have not already done so.

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Offline 4PackGirl  
#7 Posted : Saturday, November 17, 2012 6:33:55 PM(UTC)
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thank you all for the advice.

as far as estate planning & whatnot goes, there are no worries there. my parents did very well with farming & i'm thankful that money will never be an issue for her.

wayne, what you said almost made me cry. the very thought of my mom having problems with this just breaks my heart. i can't sleep at night & am very nervous about it all. i have NO support from other family members - once again i thank the good Lord for bringing my hubby into my life. he's onboard with helping in any way he needs me.

i think i'll try to have a talk with her about getting tested regarding her memory problems. she is very proactive when it comes to her health so i'm hopeful in that way. if there's something she can take that will help her, i know she'll want to do it. she'd do anything to spend as much quality time with my twins as possible so that is also a plus.

those of you who believe in prayer, please say an extra one for me...this is gonna be tough.
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Online wpr  
#8 Posted : Saturday, November 17, 2012 6:51:59 PM(UTC)
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I sure didn't mean to make you cry. I don't know if it is right or wrong but I try to down play her memory issues a bit. Mom gets confused when there is more stress in her life. Like when family with younger kids come over and stays the weekend. We are trying to keep her routine as close to normal as possible.
"You don't hurt 'em if you don't hit 'em." Chesty Puller



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Offline 4PackGirl  
#9 Posted : Saturday, November 17, 2012 6:58:09 PM(UTC)
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i think the magnitude of what is to come has overwhelmed me the last few days.

what really scared me was that she told me something that happened two days ago via email. the very next day, she told me something entirely different than the day before. it's like i can feel her slipping away. it's just sad...so very sad. my mom could run circles around me for many years but the last couple have really taken their toll on her. she's just not the same.
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Online wpr  
#10 Posted : Saturday, November 17, 2012 8:17:10 PM(UTC)
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I understand how you feel. Please don't let it overwhelm you. You have to be strong. Enjoy the days you have. My mom changes what she says all the time too.
"You don't hurt 'em if you don't hit 'em." Chesty Puller



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Offline Wade  
#11 Posted : Saturday, November 17, 2012 11:25:30 PM(UTC)
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Julie,
I very much know what you are going through. I've been dealing with the "issues of aging" with my mother for several years. She's now been in assisted living for a few months over two years, and she lived with me for the preceding 7 or 8. She's now 91.

Let me start with affirming two things others have said:
1. Get the "memory" tests done. I'd advise a full workup, including MRI and meeting with both neurologist and psych expert. This is important to help diagnose whether the memory is Alzheimer's, some other kind of dementia, the effects of small "silent strokes", or just the "normal aging". It's also important for establishing a baseline for comparison as she continues to age.
2. Arrange for a durable (i.e., lasts until revoked) power of attorney. Actually, you want two: one for decisions re: daily activities and property, and one for health care. Many also suggest a "living will" -- what to do about life-extending machines etc. Hospitals often have someone who can talk with you and her about the latter two. The first should, IMO, be drafted by an attorney.

And it goes without saying that she should meet with her attorney to go over her will -- especially if she has property. You don't want this done after she's diagnosed with anything, for the obvious reason that can bring the will into question later. And also be clear -- to her, to yourself, and to the attorney, that your mother is the client. Set this rule from the outset the first time you go in with her, and be willing to exit the room if the attorney wishes to talk with her alone.

Of course this means the usual hassles of choosing a lawyer that all can trust. If she's got one she has used before, that's the natural place to go. Don't get one who has a reputation for being a litigator (e.g., most who do a lot of divorce and criminal practice, as well as those who like personal injury cases. (I don't know how the bar where you are is divided between specialists and generalists, but IMO the biggest thing in choosing a lawyer at this junction (after basic competence and trustworthiness stuff, that is) is whether the lawyer is one who seeks to reduce friction or one who seeks to use friction in a zealousness to protect his primary client's interest. All lawyers know of their ethical responsibility to put their client interests first; but the best, especially in the realm of estates, aging, generational transfers of power, etc., are conciliators, not adversarialists. They know how to work within a family as well as deal with the potential disputes and problems later on.

One thing also -- you mentioned a family farm. I don't know how big it is, but I do know it is important to recognize that there's going to be a big source of revenue that the feds (and the state) are going to be looking to tap, and that is the possibliities for taxing transfers between generations, both before death and after. And with ag land prices being what they are, it might surprise you how "close" her wealth currently is to being big enough to be taxed big time.

This isn't a partisan point. It would be the case whoever has to take office in January in this economic mess. This kind of out-of-control government is going to need *big* sources of revenue just to keep our heads out of water, much less actually "solve" the problems. And, even if (what I consider that) nonsense about "making the rich pay" is actually worthy as a policy choice, it ain't going to come close to paying the tab. And that means taxes. Income taxes, certainly, but that won't do it either. And who better to go to next than the "unworthy" heirs of their now-deceased "rich" parents. Eliminating exemptions and increasing death taxes -- I would be wholly unsurprised to see both coming down the pipe before the next election. Compared to the alternatives -- seriously slashing spending, including the "entitlements" of social security, Obamacare, etc...any politician ... of either party...is going to jump at the (relatively) small public opinion backlash that comes when the political marketers reduce estate taxation to simply redistributing the "unearned wealth" of the Paris HIltons of the world.

IMO, the time to deal with those thorny issues of estate planning is now. You may think it is tough now, and it is, but it will be 10 times worse dealing with it later after her faculties and her physical abilities decline more. And the more that farm is worth, the more important dealing with the hassles sooner rather than later.

Finally, and again this is as much a matter of planning ahead, but I'd start investigating the options for senior independent/assisted living that are available near you. Don't assume she'll be able to stay "on her own" until that time as she has to go to a nursing home. You mentioned the pendant she's already wearing. There will likely come a time when the memory issues and/or physical issues mean she simply can't be trusted on her own. For some its when the car keys have to be taken away. (We were lucky there -- my mom was able to stay with me for over a year after she lost her license; it was only after I came home several times to find the kitchen burner left on, that we realized that it was time.

Someone mentioned her moving in with you, or you with her. I don't remember which. But trust me, this is *not* likely to be a permanent long-term solution for most people, especially those of you with families of your own to deal with. It isn't going to be the Waltons. My mother's sister's kids thought they'd "split the duties," with each one taking my mother for a few months at a time. It worked so well that two of my aunt's three oldest children barely talk to the third because that arrangement shattered upon contact with the realities.

Frankly, I can't imagine how anyone with a family in today's world does it. I struggle, and my mother's only real competitors for my attention are a job that I mostly hate and a puppy. And I continue to struggle over two years since she "moved out".

So what I would do is start now to explore the alternatives. My guess is that there's a whole range of possibilities where you live (Peoria area, right?) Its not just about "pushing her into a nursing home" anymore. There can be real opportunities for improving a senior's quality of life "in between" having to take care of everything herself and "going to the nursing home when all that seems left that the body and mind can do is die." Nursing homes -- well, I have to say they are incredibly depressing places; I hope that I have a friend who will take me out in a gravel pit somewhere and shoot me when I decline to the point that my only alternative is full time skilled nursing care.

But between now and that time there are *lots* of possibilities.

As always don't hesitate to vent, Julie -- I know you know how to write...Big Grin ...and whenever you need to talk or whatever, feel free to get in touch. You and your mother are embarking on a path no one should envy. But as those of us who have experience with it know, one of the best things that comes out of the process are deeper connections with other people. As we learn that "we can't do it alone," we find that we don't have to, that there are all those shoulders and listening ears and stories out there willing to be shared with us.

It sometimes seems like I have made every mistake, small and large, that a child dealing with an aging parent can make. And I firmly believe that I have made most of them. Yet at the same time, the experience has pulled me kicking and screaming closer to adulthood. I'd probably be happier if I could go back to being my nearly sociopathic and certainly adolescent self-absorbed self, but I'm also a far better man than I was five years ago.

I have no doubt you'll handle whatever it takes, whichever directions it veers off into, with aplomb, integrity, and compassion. You're a far better person, and have already dealt with problems of relationship, child-rearing, idiot superintendents, and such, that the adult me couldn't handle, much less the adolescent sociopathic me of 5-10 years ago.

I'm told by those who unlike me have been parents that one of the toughest parts of parenting is that the child never stops being someone to worry about and never stops requiring new and hard decisions of them as parents. But I expect that having shown yourself able to handle both the two-year-old and the teenager, you'll handle it all.

You're a great mom. And that is going to be a great help for both you and your mom in the months and years ahead.

It really will.

I promise.





And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:2 (NKJV)
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wpr on 11/18/2012(UTC), 4PackGirl on 11/18/2012(UTC), macbob on 11/19/2012(UTC)
Online wpr  
#12 Posted : Sunday, November 18, 2012 6:51:09 AM(UTC)
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wow. wade you put into words many of the things I tried to say but could not. gold star.
"You don't hurt 'em if you don't hit 'em." Chesty Puller



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Offline 4PackGirl  
#13 Posted : Sunday, November 18, 2012 7:07:49 AM(UTC)
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i am both humbled & grateful to you, wade. thank you so much for giving me the boost i truly needed to take a deep breath & dive into the future.

dan & i talked quite a bit about it last nite & he said he felt the first step would be to talk to her in a very caring, non-confrontational way about my concerns. then he said i should suggest taking her to mayo clinic for a full work-up including a psych eval since we really don't know if this could be physical or mental. and whatever the diagnosis is, we'll go from there.

i think he tried to break it down to a simple task for me because i was freaking out a little & i so appreciate him for that!

i'm hoping she handles my concerns well & that we'll be heading to minnesota within a month or so.

as far as her estate goes, if the tax breaks bush put in place aren't extended, we.are.screwed!! so yes a visit to her estate planning attorney is definitely in order as well.

yes i'm near peoria so we have an abundance of options when it comes to her future health needs.

so, i think i'll talk to her about it today. scared as hell but i can do this.

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#14 Posted : Sunday, November 18, 2012 7:29:42 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: 4PackGirl Go to Quoted Post


so, i think i'll talk to her about it today. scared as hell but i can do this.



"Mom, I love you. You have given so much to me in my life. I can never pay you back for all that you have done for me and my family. You have been my hero and my mentor for many years. Whenever I have had hard trials to face I have looked to you as a source of inspiration and you have helped me come on through."

"I know it is a part of the aging process but I am concerned about your occasional memory loss. This is something I have not had to deal with before and I need your help facing it today. You have always been so strong. I don't like the idea of you needing help."

"If for no other reason than my own peace of mind I would appreciate it if you would check with some doctors to see if there is something that can be done to slow the process. I want to keep you as alert as possible for as long as possible. 10 years from now I would hate to learn we could have prevented some illness if we acted today."

"I need you."
"You don't hurt 'em if you don't hit 'em." Chesty Puller



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Offline 4PackGirl  
#15 Posted : Sunday, November 18, 2012 12:01:44 PM(UTC)
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i had the talk with her.
it didn't go well at all.
alot of denial, wanting specific examples of her memory loss, & her telling me "i'm not that bad" & laughing at me.
yes, she laughed in my face, looked at me like i was crazy, & was very defensive.
one little part of this whole dynamic i didn't mention is that my mom is quite narcissistic. i had a feeling this would happen because when (in your mind) you can do no wrong, how could one ever admit to having a significant memory loss?!?
to say i'm sad & defeated would be an understatement. i really had a bit of hope when i explained to her that while nothing may be wrong, something could be & that there are new medications to slow down the process. i was wrong.
in the end, while still laughing, she said "keep an eye on me for the next couple months & let me know if i get worse" & the subject was closed.
i don't know what to do now. i just want to cry.
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