Planning for Old Age

Anybody have advice/experiences to share in regards to an elderly parent losing their ability to function, yet being entirely uncooperative about doing anything about it?

Right now, we’re struggling to get my dad to the doctor. He doesn’t want to go. We’re trying to get his house to be a little friendlier to his inability to move around, and trying to convince him to put bills on autopay so there’s nothing to forget, and the power won’t get cut off. Again, not very cooperative.

He’s got two dogs he never lets out, and he cleans up after them some if they go to the bathroom in the living room but two of the back rooms were a mess, and we’re going to have the carpets replaced (that in itself will be a challenge . . . his house is very dirty, and crammed with crap). My sister will be putting pee pads down in one of them (already is, and will presumably continue to do so after the carpet is replaced) and is now checking on him daily. He really needs to be in some sort of nursing home, but he is adamant about not having that, and I’m fairly confident all that will accomplish is to kill him quicker. And right now, he’d have to cooperate on that. And he won’t.

My Uncle Don had him doing the accounting for his building company for about 30 years, and now needs information for taxes, and my dad is being uncooperative there as well (and likely does not know where it all is). He has about sixty or seventy baskets in the house (in desk baskets) spread all over the house, filled with all the paperwork from the last few years. Nothing particularly organized. He grows very hostile if someone tries to start going through it, however. Ultimately, I guess that battle will be up to me. Not looking forward to it.

Looking around for an Eldercare lawyer to consult that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Also trying to get my ducks in a row as to what sorts of contacts we’ll need. In addition to getting the carpets replaced we just found out he needs a working tub, so we’re likely to replace one of his tubs with a walk-in shower or walk-in tub. Additionally, he could clearly use some strategically placed grab bars. And he definitely needs someone to come in and radically reduce the clutter in the house, but is stubborn about it.

My father at least had the foresight to put my sister’s name on one of his bank accounts, so there’s some access to money (I think the idea was to have money to cover funeral and other related expenses, though, not to provide assisted care, but there should be enough money to cover some of the fixes that have to be made to his house, among other things). But nothing else is planned for. So, good lord, do your children a favor and assume there may come a point where they need a lot of help taking care of you, but you’ll be hostile to letting them, and provide for it. I could do with a list of accounts and bills and necessary numbers and whatnot right now.

My mother, fortunately, is younger, in much better shape, and has planned her estate out to the nth degree. So, I’m likely only going to have to go through this once but still—sheesh, what a pain in the ass.

At some point soon, I need to do a little planning to try and make things easier if I kick off unexpectedly. List of bills and accounts and URLs where I pay them and logins and passwords, that sort of thing. Or I’m going to end up like my dad.

So the lesson is: get your kids set up to take care of your before you start getting dementia!

Any wisdom would be appreciated. Thanks!

10 Responses

  1. My mother-in-law is getting to that place. The stuff you talk about – messy house, completely disorganized… She loves San Diego.. If we end up moving there, we’ll rent her out an apartment close to us and she’ll probably be ecstatic..


    • That’s good. My Uncle Bob offered to buy him a house a few years ago (he lives in an awful neighborhood) and he refused. He is unwilling to voluntarily leave his house (he’s lived there for 47 years).


    • We have not really had to face that situation. My Mom had Alzheimer’s which was really tough on my Dad, but she got more docile rather than stubborn/hostile as the disease progressed and my Dad did a good job keeping the house organized. When she died, my brother and I went up to his house and really cleaned it out of all the junk that had accumulated over 40 years, which he (mostly) let us do. And he is still in pretty good shape (remarried, moved into her house) so we haven’t had to deal with what you are dealing with.

      As an aside, when I say “mostly” it was actually kind of comical at times. We were cleaning out the garage and discovering stuff that hadn’t been seen in 20 or 30 years, and he was hugely reluctant to let even the smallest things go. The most absurd point was when I moved a bunch of stuff and discovered an old kitchen broom behind it. He got mad when I threw it in the “garbage” pile…”That was the best broom we ever had!” He was totally serious.


  2. I have not had to face that situation, my father did with his mother, she was VERY strong willed and while he is also strong-willed, in the family dynamic it was next to impossible for him to argue with her, he had to use surrogates because he just was incapable of it.

    In the end they used a nurse who would come in every day (well, they went through 3 of them as my grandmother eventually accused them of stealing) until she passed away.

    In hindsight, some of her actions were dementia like but a big chunk were anger and depression. I think that psychiatric meds would have helped her a lot and ultimately eased here suffering. Of course, getting her diagnosed and medicated probably would have been impossible, so…

    But treating the inevitable depression is very helpful, it’s like an analgesic for people in physical pain.


  3. And…speaking of dementia in old age:

    There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women – Madeleine Albright excoriating women who plan on voting for Bernie Sanders


  4. Kev, I am sorry about uour dad and the new struggles you will face.

    There should be some resources available. If he is on Medicare, that will be helpful, especially if he has either a good advantage or plus policy. There would be the possibility of assigning him a social worker who knew what help you could get him.

    There is the possibility of having various sorts of in-home help – once the house has been cleared of the worst crap – a weekly housecleaning service; Meals On Wheels could give him one square meal a day and a visitor of his own generation; a Biz student could be hired to catalog his papers with or for him; and Medicare might provide some in-home nursing care on a limited visitation basis.

    At some point he should be evaluated for disability. Both because he is headed downhill into nursing care and in order to qualify for any benefits that may be available. If he begins to understand he needs help, in home nursing care is an alternative to a nursing home and can be intermittent and cheaper. At least for a while.

    In planning for your own old age you might look to see what extended care insurance is available. NOW. I have been paying for it for 12 years now and hope I will never use it, but if I do, it will take the burden off both my family and the taxpayers. My wife and I have a joint policy, which makes sense, because each of us is financially responsible for the other.


  5. Remember: Medicare does not pay for long-term care and/or custodial care. If you structure things the right way, you can get Medicaid to do it.


  6. Also — things to look out for in long term care.
    ask about their dehydration prevention protocol.


  7. Busy now, but thanks for the helpful insights!


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