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Posts: 4
Reply with quote  #1 
My father is currently in the hospital and has been there for a week due to his latest copd/emphysema episode and this time his breathing doesn't seem to be getting any better like it has in the past. He can barely make it to the bathtub and back without being out of breath. I've brought up assisted living which he just pretends to not hear. I think he plans to go back home where he lives my himself, my uncle and Aunt live in the same property but he will not ask them for help. I have told him if he this his plan he needs to sign up for meals on wheels and a part time caregiver, he hasn't done any of it. In the past he's had a surgery and we signed paperwork through the VA for myself to be power of attorney, we never had it notorized and I still have it somewhere. I've decided I do not want to be p.o.a but he's been saying the hospital needs this paperwork and have been asking for it, he's also been asking me to sign another paper from the VA saying I'm going to help him with care, he says that this will help him get more money from them for food etc. I feel like he's trying to trick me into being responsible for him because I've already told him that he's going to need to start asking other people for help besides me and he ignores it. I can understand that he's terrified of losing his freedom, which is understandably but the worse he gets the more manipulative hes become. Anyone have any suggestions on what I need to watch out for?
Reply with quote  #2 
We are in a similar situation with my father-in-law and it is very tricky.  You want them to be safe, but many times, the only situation they will accept is going home.  I completely understand why, and I do sympathize, but sometimes it is no longer safe for them to live alone.  If elders are willing to allow caregivers in (like a neighbor of mine who has visiting CNAs and meals on wheels), it can work, but if your relative wants to pretend they are fully independent even though they can barely walk, the situation can become very challenging.

My own FIL went against medical advice a few weeks ago, and returned home after a weeklong stay in the hospital.  They hospital wanted him to go to rehab, but he refused.  He simply found himself a ride home and signed himself out against medical orders.  He is currently struggling at home, and although we try to visit and help, we live too far away to be daily caregivers.  So we mostly just sit helplessly by, waiting for the next crisis to happen.  We offered to have him move closer to us in an apartment, but he refused. He does not want to leave his home.

In any case, here is what I have learned in my caregiving journey:

1) A lawyer is always your best resource when it comes to legal matters.  Different states have different laws, so get your own lawyer to read any documents before you sign them.

2) Go to the Veterans Administration directly if you want information regarding any benefits that your dad might be entitled to. You do not need to be directly involved in his care in order for him to be eligible. Here is a link for some general information:

3)  You can do a separate medical POA (vs. a financial POA), in case that is what the hospital is asking for.  That way, you can make decisions regarding your dad's health without being responsible for his financial situation.  Just make sure you do not sign ANYTHING that makes you financially responsible.  If you do sign anything on your father's behalf, explicitly state that you are not responsible financially.  Again, a lawyer is probably your best resource to help you proceed. Here is some general information about medical POAs.

4) Inform the hospital that your dad will not have any care givers available at home after his release. (This is going to sound sexist, but I have found it better to have a male family member deliver this message, as hospitals still don't expect men to give up their lives and become full time caregivers.)  Depending on where your dad lives, a social worker may be able to set him up with meals on wheels, visiting nurses, pharmacy deliveries, etc.  His regular doctor may also be able to help him set this up.

5) If he is not interested in having strangers in his home, he may reject all outside help you try to set up for him.  Be prepared for this.

6)  Expect the guilt, manipulation, rages, and tantrums, and try not to take them personally.  As you know, elders are terrified of losing their freedom, so whatever your dad has historically done when afraid will probably be amplified now.  If he was the type of dad who expected full obedience (like my FIL), this will likely be even more pronounced now. If you can see the manipulation as a symptom of his fear and not a reaction toward you, it can make this behavior a little easier to manage.

Good luck!


Posts: 4
Reply with quote  #3 
Good morning, I appreciate you taking the time to reply to my post. That is some very useful advise and I greatly appreciate it. I'm going to look into all the VA services and see what he is eligible for. Since he's decided he wants to stay at his home when he gets released from the hospital it would be great if he could get services where someone could come out to his house and help him with things. I wonder if they could take him down the street to Walmart to do his shopping. I've offered to help him every Sunday but he likes to go almost on a daily basis, I think it gives him something to do. Despite knowing I'm doing the best I can and am trying my best the guilt is still awful. I've lmade an appointment to go and talk to someone about the emotions and stress I'm dealing with so hopefully that will help too. Again, thank you[smile]
Reply with quote  #4 
I used to feel a tremendous amount of guilt, too, but over the years, after being involved in providing care for my parents, my in-laws and two aunts, I have learned that guilt is only appropriate when we have done something wrong.  Since a lot of us feel as though we have done something wrong ANYTIME we do not please others or make others happy or fix every problem or do whatever others expect, we have to determine what is truly the right thing to do and not base our actions on feelings alone (especially the feelings of people who have traditionally expected unreasonable and unrealistic things from us.). 

Sometimes I think that all these caregiver situations may be the universe's way of teaching us very important lessons such as how to deal with feelings like guilt and how to let go.  If you do talk to someone and learn how to manage these feelings (and the accompanying feelings of grief and powerlessness), then this experience will be a valuable one indeed!

So how do we know if what we are doing is the "right" thing?  I try to use prayer and logic.  I think it's important to prioritize our responsibilities and accept that everyone's needs matter (spouses, children, our own...) I believe situations like these are painful and complicated, so if we acknowledge that, it frees us to make a choice without expecting it to be perfect, and then we can give ourselves permission to reevaluate it later when we have more information. 

I have been blessed (cursed) with a lot of needy people in my life (not just elders), so I have learned to accept that I am not a god who can solve every problem and meet every need, even though some people in my life expect me to be that.  There are certain people in my life who I will give up my life, job and time for, and others who I will not, and a lot of it depends on whether there are other solutions available to meet their needs.

Speaking of needs, if your dad actually NEEDS to go to Walmart every day, there are caregiver services in many places where you can hire an aide to accompany him.  It may be a little pricy, especially if they are expected to drive him, but it may be helpful in the short term to keep him independent.  Again, if he is unsteady on his feet, enabling him to do something dangerous may not be in his best interests.  

For what it is worth, the aging process is a natural stage of the life cycle, but it is hard.  We all have to learn new things and grow and sacrifice.  It's very hard to walk next to someone who has begun the dying process, especially if they are desperately seeking to restore their lives to a previous stage, so be kind to your dad and to yourself as you face this new stage.  And try not to feel guilty that you cannot make your dad feel younger again....
Take care and let us know how it goes. 

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