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A Blessing in Disguise

A Blessing in Disguise

Posted by Christmas Thimble on Jan 29, 2019 11:12 am

On Saturday, January 19th my Mother-in-Law passed away. It wasn't a year since her diagnosis, but we had known that it was terminal and that time was probably short.

It was a sunny, cool day.  The palliative nurse called to say that it wouldn't be long.  I had gone over on my own because my husband needed to visit with his father and he was hoping to get back to the hospital in time.  

Grief is an interesting place to visit.  It seems like I have been grieving for months, so my current feelings of loss look different that what I had expected.   I know that it will come in waves.  This journey has been thwarted a bit because of the day of her funeral we needed to take my father-in-law to emergency because he was not functioning well at all.  So now we also grieve the loss of his independence and the way things used to be.  BUT, we see this as a blessing in disguise.  We will get the care he needs without us having this extra worry.

Re: A Blessing in Disguise

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Jan 29, 2019 1:18 pm

I am so sorry for your loss, Christmas Thimble‍ , and at the same time I see such wisdom in you!

How old is your FIL and how long were they married? I hope he will be able to get through his loss with some of the wisdom and strength you are showing.

Re: A Blessing in Disguise

Posted by Christmas Thimble on Jan 29, 2019 2:25 pm

Cynthia Mac thank you for your kind comments.  My FIL is the same age as my MIL - 81 years old and they were married 48 years.  Because she wasn't eating that much a couple of weeks before going into Palliative Care, he wasn't eating much either.  So when she did go to the hospital although there was food for him to eat - he wasn't taking care of himself.  He also stopped taking his medication for Parkinson's as he should have.  They took care of each other for so long.

Re: A Blessing in Disguise

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Jan 30, 2019 8:43 am

Christmas Thimble‍ , Your FIL is just a little older than my Dad (79). He lost Mom 18 months ago, married a couple weeks shy of 59 years. They took care of each other very well, too. Mom was his “organizer”, and now that task is mine. 

Do you think your FIL is going to adapt to caring for himself, or is he going to need an organizer, too? I expect you’ll be quite concerned about him getting his  medications correctly. You and he can set something up with his pharmacy for a solution in that regard - blister packs, or some other system that will work better for him.

If you need any pointers, I’ve got an 18 month head start on you and will try to be of help.

Re: A Blessing in Disguise

Posted by Christmas Thimble on Jan 30, 2019 9:34 am

Cynthia Mac .  What a legacy your parents made together.  I feel for you as you are now the 'organizer' for your dad.  I am sure that it can feel weighty at times, and at other times a blessing.  I am afraid that my FIL needs more than medication cues, he needs proper nutrition - not just someone dropping off food to him, because even then he can't seem bothered to prepare it or forgets the instructions.  We are also concerned about his mobility in his home and the day to day tasks.  We have discussed this all with him and we are all feeling as though a seniors home would be the best option for him.  Our issues now are what he is able to afford and availability of facilities.  We want him to be safe, taken care of, and a feeling of comfort.  We know that this can't be easy for him at all.  Thank you for your offer.  Is your dad in his own home currently?

Re: A Blessing in Disguise

Posted by LPPK on Jan 30, 2019 12:22 pm

Christmas Thimble‍ My father went to a seniors residence for 6 weeks post recovery after some small strokes. We had a meeting with the doctors and therapists and they felt he could live at home until we mentioned that he lived alone in a split level (4 levels), that the nearest relative was 1 hour away, and the walker that he needed would not be very helpful with all the stairs. They then decided to prescribe him a room at a seniors residence for 6 weeks to help him improve in his walking and self care. He discovered that meals prepared for him, his pills being offered at appropriate times, the fellowship of the other seniors and caring staff were just what he needed and after only a few weeks signed himself for a permanent room.  As time went on he needed more and more care and we were lucky enough that the residence also had long term care and we were able to move him to a new room where he got the help he needed.

Is it possible that your father's doctor could prescribe some time at a seniors residence to help him get back on track with his meds, eating regular meals, and other seniors to talk to? We found that being in the system made it easier to get a room at a residence after already being there, even if it was only for 6 weeks. 


Re: A Blessing in Disguise

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Jan 31, 2019 9:23 am

Christmas Thimble‍ And LPPK‍ - Between reading this thread, and knowing my father, his sister, and her husband, I can comfortably state that not all 80 year olds are created equal!

Dad is still in his own home (3 level side split), and we’ve finally convinced him to “call the guy” for things like switching out smoke detectors, clearing snow off the roof, and changing the engine in a lawn tractor! (He re-injured a vertebrae injury last summer with that last one. A substantially different kind of worry than what you have, but a worry, nonetheless.) Dad has absolutely no desire to downsize or go to a retirement home, which is the first thing his order brother did when he was Dad’s age and his wife passed away. In that sense, you are fortunate that your father-in-law is on-side with the idea.

It does sound as though your FIL would benefit from an experience similar to LPPK’s father. If you can get him into a respite care bed for a couple of weeks, he might see advantages to being in a home that he wouldn’t see from his living room. If you can, you might do this several times at different facilities so that he can “get a feel” for the atmosphere in the different places.

As for affordability, if you have a good, reputable financial advisor, talk to them. Quite often, the interest earned on the equity from the home can be enough to top up what is needed for what seems the high cost of accommodation. I’ve been helping some relatives downsize this past year (NOT my Dad). They’ve now sold their home, and have decided to continue to rent, rather than buy, their new place. “Banking” the money from their house sale, will pay their rent with a bit extra, and someone else will have to worry about replacing the roof, the furnace, clearing the snow, etc.  Factoring in the money required to pay for these big-ticket items can help to make the case for the affordability of a retirement home.

The company I used to work for operated four seniors’ homes, and while I worked there, they expanded them into “full spectrum” care facilities, with life lease apartments, residential care, nursing care, and special care units. Many facilities these days have that, and it’s great for the resident, because they can get increasing levels of care as they need them, usually with easier access than having to move them to a new one.

I know that this is a lot to take in, with your mother-in-law having just passed away a couple of weeks ago. If I’ve gotten too enthusiastic, just let me know to put on the brakes!

Re: A Blessing in Disguise

Posted by Christmas Thimble on Feb 1, 2019 1:29 pm

Cynthia Mac - this is a lot of good information that you are sharing so don't worry about putting on the brakes.  We are still trying to adjust to losing her, and needing to empathetic to my FIL new life.  My FIL is being assessment next week to see what level of care they believe he needs.  We plan to be at that meeting so that we are involved every step of the way.  Its not as I don't trust these people, but yet they don't know him like we do and we need to make sure that he is being treated well in this process. In a sense he is vulnerable and he needs us to be there to protect him.  
We have been in contact with several seniors homes and have appointments lined up next week to speak with people, have a tour the their facility, and get a feel as to whether their facility is the best for him.  We are also making sure that his finances are in order so that he can be away of which options he can afford.  We can't believe how expensive these are - WOW.  And yet at the same time we understand the level of care and those who are caring for our loved ones, work hard and deserve proper pay. 
We are hopeful that this process of the right fit won't take too long so that it can help with a new normal. 

Re: A Blessing in Disguise

Posted by Christmas Thimble on Feb 1, 2019 1:36 pm

LPPK - You have been on quite a journey yourself.  Thanks for your suggestion about having his family doctor provide documentation.  His family doctor just gave up her practice and now has a new doctor.  Even before that i did call his doctor to ask about her stepping in so that the doctors at the hospital didn't send him home.  I thought, surely she could intervene, but her receptionist told me that couldn't because she couldn't interfere with what another doctor at emerg had said upon their evaluation.  It was crazy at first, because that first in emerg they were going to send my FIL home at 1 AM.  There are times when you need to fight and other times you need to be still. 

Re: A Blessing in Disguise

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Feb 2, 2019 9:42 am

“There are times when you need to fight, and other times you need to be still.” Truer words were never spoken, Christmas Thimble‍ !

You are also 100% right in knowing your FIL is vulnerable right now. When I think of how Dad was in the weeks after Mom passed away, vulnerable is only one of many appropriate adjectives.

Your FIL is fortunate to have such a good bond with you and your husband. I have no kids, so I have no idea who will help me pick out my retirement home! wink