The 10 Signs Your Elderly Parent Needs Help

Updated on May 23, 2016
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.


Help! I Am Concerned About My Parent!

How do you know that your parent is in need of intervention?

Are you really seeing a problem or are you imagining it?

You see, most of us really don't want to see that our parents are beginning to have problems. Their arms have always been strong enough to hold us, their minds have always been sharp enough to give us the answers we were looking for, and we don't want to believe that those times may be coming to a close. Most of the time, our parents won't admit it, either, and often get angry if it is suggested to them that they may be needing more help than they used to. Since it is hard to accept, and harder still to confront, many of us leave the issue as the white elephant in the middle of the living room.

We know there is a problem, but no one wants to mention it. Sadly, with this head-in-the-sand philosophy, you and your parents will end up with some serious issues. Having open discussions and knowing what their desires are will help you make wiser choices when the time comes.

Talk About It before It Happens

Ideally, you can discuss things before they happen. Hopefully, you will talk to your parents when they are still younger and not having problems. Ideally, you will come to a place where you and they have reached decisions about what to do, "just in case...".

It is hard to bring the subject up, but if you are still years away from dealing with their aging problems, please do broach this important issue. Take notes. Sign and date the notes and have them do the same. Copy the notes and put the signed and dated originals away in a safe place. It may make it easier to carry out those decisions and plans if you can show them what was decided, show them their signature on it, and hopefully move ahead according to that plan. You may even want to have them notarized. If there is ever a question among siblings or anyone else, then you will have those dated papers as proof of what was decided.

Signs Your Elderly Parents Need Help

How can you assess your parent's ability to be independent without dragging them in to a doctor?

If you are feeling concern, then you are probably seeing something.

Here are some signs that they may need help. Keep in mind that many of these can be signs of depression or other issues, too.

1. Sudden Lapses In Housekeeping

Mom has always been a great housekeeper, but lately the house has begun to be cluttered. This can mean a lot of things. Maybe she has been busy, perhaps she is more tired than usual, or maybe she is becoming overwhelmed with the daily chores. Keep and eye on this and look for other signs, including clues that it is getting worse. You can help by stopping by more often, casually doing the dishes, or offering to vacuum. Keep it light and help her catch up. If the problem seems to continue, then she probably isn't just tired.


2. The Mail Is Piling Up

Dad is letting the bills and other mail pile up. He may become overwhelmed by tasks that used to be easy to deal with. At some point, parents can no longer mentally face the decision-making that the business end of life requires. As people get older, they often become more likely to hoard things and not throw them out. Don't just go in and start tossing out what you think is trash. Gently discuss your concerns with your parent.

3. Bills are Not Being Paid

If the checking account is messed up or bills aren't being paid, this can be a troubling sign that your parent my be overwhelmed and not thinking as clearly as they used to. If possible, when you have the conversation mentioned above, have them allow you to become a signer on their checking account just in case. Money is a huge sign of independence, so walk very carefully when discussing this.

4. Weight Loss

This can happen especially after the death of a spouse. Shopping, preparing food, and cooking just becomes too much trouble. My mom was eating a carrot now and then, or a piece of celery, because it was easier. You may notice that there is no food in the fridge, or only food that is spoiled. You may be able to get around this by taking individually packaged servings of casseroles by. If you live out-of-state, ask your parent to consider a Meals on Wheels or similar program in their area.

5. Dirty Clothes or Poor Hygiene

They either forget to change clothes (sometimes sleeping in and wearing the same things for days) or they put on the same clothes every morning. This is a big problem and a tough one to deal with. If you can talk to your parent's doctor and get some advice, do so.

6. Inappropriate Clothing

Wearing summer clothing in winter, going out without a coat, not wearing shoes (when they normally would), leaving off articles of clothing — all of these things should be checked into.

7. Signs of Confusion in the Kitchen

If you find pots that are burned on the bottoms because they have been left to boil dry, water stains or mildew under the sink or elsewhere because water was left on and forgotten about, dishes that are unwashed for long periods of time, or food left out, these are all signs that your parent is at risk.

8. Loss of Memory

Missing doctors appointments, forgetting to take medications, missing church when they have been regular church-goers: these all may indicate a problem. My mom forgot about my daughter's wedding, and we had to call her and then postpone the ceremony for over an hour while waiting for her to get there. We did not see it as a problem at the time but looking back, it indicated what was to come.

9. Just Acting Weird

This may be a hard one for my kids. Maybe I should say, acting weirder than normal! Odd conversations, signs of paranoia, accidentally taking too much medication, phone calls at odd hours, unusual fears and nervousness... all of these things may be signs that your parent needs help.

10. Depression

Familiarize yourself with the signs of depression. Many of problems mentioned here can also be indicative of depression. A doctor can more easily assess your parent for problems and make treatment suggestions.

Above all, be gentle. No one wants to get old, no one wants to lose their independence.

It is a difficult time for everyone but it will be even more difficult if you aren't sensitive to your parents' needs.

Get Help - The National Council on Aging

If you see any of these signs in your parents, discuss your thoughts with them. Share your concerns and see what they say. Try to get them in to the doctor if you think it is necessary. The doctor can point you to various agencies that may be able to help, and can more closely observe your parent the next time they are in for an appointment. Remember that the doctor cannot give you confidential information about your parent.

The National Council on Aging and Caring for an Elderly Parent at Home are good resources as well.

Help For the Caregiver

Indispensable Resource for Caregivers

How to Care for Aging Parents
How to Care for Aging Parents

With 37 five star reviews on Amazon, this book is a resource that you are going to want to have. It won a Books for a Better Life Award, and was praised as "an indispensable book" by the AARP (AARP). It walks you step by step through the entire process.


Warning: This WIll Make You Cry

Please read the comments below for more insight into this issue, and if you have any suggestions, include them here.

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      Freddie 12 days ago

      I have been reading these posts and its a comfort to know I'm not alone, however much I'm sad to hear about such tragic stories. My dad is 72 and used to be a great man, so talented, an artist in many fields and also a great father figure when was young and needed special social development. He is now however, not looking after himself since I have moved away. He doesn't eat well, smokes and drinks and has poor hygiene. Many times he asks for money which I'm happy to give, however this money tends to be for bank charges because he failed to pay his bills. I have tried setting him up with budgets in the past but he doesn't like it. If I give him a large amount of money in advance it will be spent on large purchases and he will be pennieless without a matter of weeks. Has anyone every thought of ordering a food shop once a week to ensure their food is sorted? Then he can spend all he wants and still have food at the end of the day. The only thing is it might be expensive, but if done efficiently, may be sustainable in the long run and contribute to his better nutrition. I can't think of anything else.

      Thanks for reading


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      doritos 8 weeks ago


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      Lucy 2 months ago

      What do I do about my dad he is living in a home and in clutter and dirt and it's not the proper environment for a handicap accessible person I don't want to be the enemy of the bad guy but I know that my mom needs help she thinks she can handle all on her own but my dad really needs to help maybe you should hire a caregiver or maybe you should go in a retirement home I keep telling them but they don't like them they're in denial they are not living the way they're supposed to Mom has only 52 my dad is 61 I don't know what to do I need advice

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      Sandy 3 months ago

      What do I do about my moms boyfriend who is 20 yrs younger than she is.She is 71 yrs old and she doesn't want to admit he is taking advantage of her He never wants to work and she seems to never have any money for what she needs I pay her 3hundred dollars a month rent for a room .Plus I clean are family home that her and my dad bought for us kids if we ever needed a home to come back to my Dad has been deceased for almost 10yrs now her boyfriend moved in3yrs ago and since then my sister that is a little slow has lived here all her life has moved out 3months ago because of him and I moved back 10months ago can you give me some advice about this situation this boyfriend of hers does not do anything but eat sleep and drink beer I really do not know what she is thinking I feel this man needs to be doing his own laundry help with cooking and cleaning up after his self not for her to be cleaning up after him

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      Clara 5 months ago

      Michelle, this kind of thing may be caused by a urine infection, its worth getting this investigated.

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      Michelle 6 months ago

      My father-in-law went from one day walking a mile, driving and being independent, to calling me to take him to the hospital and coming out not walking, not feeding himself, hallucinations. What the heck does altzheimer's or dementia come on this fast?

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      Dory 8 months ago

      My mother had diabetes and COPD and did nothing to take care of her self maybe she tried the best that she could. she ended up dying two weeks ago from a blood clot in her long but we could see that there were issues long before this . Two weeks prior I asked my dad to take her to the emergency room and he refused . I'm feeling so guilty that I did not take her myself. i've tried for many years to get her to eat healthy and to quit smoking but she refused . I am feeling so much guilt over her death because I feel like I failed her. She did not know how to ask for what she needed. tried to have many conversations with my family about getting her help but no one was on board with me

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      Nomad 13 months ago

      Um, what if your parent has been like this since you can remember? Any differentiators then?

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      josie 4 years ago

      We have an 82 year old relative who has never married. He has always lives alone. He has a rental house next door that he rents to this addict and she os trying to take over his finances and also his life. He has been robbed by these thugs several times. And then they make threats and use scare tactics. How can we resolve this issue. And had him sign a power of attorney for his bank. Please help us help the elderly..

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      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      This is a helpful resource. We are noticing with my grandmother that she is also more prone to being tricked by scammers. She willingly gives out credit card and personal information over the phone, sends people money if they request it, etc. I've suggested taking away her access to credit cards and a checking account but that is a tough one as far as independence goes. Good information.

    • Marye Audet profile image

      Marye Audet 4 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      I am not in control of the ads...

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      Bekka White 4 years ago

      If a loved one is in a skilled nursing facility, where the abuse is not blatant, but rather subtle its impossible to make changes. Expressing concerns results in retaliation ( CA in the year 2013); the state slaps the NH's hand and the NH returns to their usual behavior. I contacted at least 10 attornies, spoke to a few, left messages for the others. The ones I spoke to could not help and the remaining others never returned calls. Why? I guess there is no money in it for them, except upon death if negligence can be proven.

      It is surreal that this occur at a record rate in nursing facilities that receive medicaid and medicare funds but it occurs.

      Things from not having water available for a resident to clasp. Didn't see one water pitcher. The pitchers are in the room but someone in a wheelchair would have to traverse themselves between the bed and wall and move the curtain to get to the water pitcher. The NH will claim they provide water because it is there next to the bed.....taking off a wet diaper then replacing it with a dry diaper, no wiping, cleansing, drying or barrier cream. Oh yes. Sometimes minimal cleaning during changes with the industrial strength paper towel?

      A mildly confused patient gets out of bed during the evening. She is crying and confused and scared. The charge nurse tells the CNA to change her diaper and put her back in bed. Even the patient said, "I don't need my diaper changed." No consoling or comforting (yet the facility claims, as many of them do, that they are specially trained for dementia. Why does everyone have to stay in bed at 9 p.m. if they are awake? Today the CNA, who is supposed to be properly training was feeding a resident. She had pocketed food in not one but both cheeks. It should have never gotten to that point. One is suppose to give a bite, watch that the food is chewed and swallowed then proceed to the next bite. Oh, and while her cheeks were full of food the CNA gave her something to aspiration disaster waiting to happen. And your ad advertises we can stop abuse. HA. If we can't stop what I have described which is poor care how the heck could anyone stop abuse? Your living in a dream world. Nice idea and nice video however.

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      Mobile Spy Windows 4 years ago

      I’ve searched several sites and have yet to find a site that is as useful and informative as yours .

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      dwayne 5 years ago

      I am a 61 yr old man living at an apartment complex in my own apt., my 91 yr old wheelchair bound mother also lives in same complex by herself in studio apartment. I love her dearly and for the last 8-10 yrs I have been the one she phones all day long to go to store for her for grocery items, medications, etc., and I give her medications on a daily basis. My brother, (schizophrenic/drug addict), rents room at house in same town, has been at my mothers apartment from morning til night each and every day for years now, threatens to hurt me daily, eats all mom's food, uses all her money for drugs and cigarettes, verbally abuses her, controls her, disturbs tenants, threatens some, has restraining order against him now by our landlord and cannot come onto property, but still comes up street honking for me to go outside to give him money from mom. Now mom has been served eviction by our landlord, because of my disturbing brother and in hopes she will allow me to have her cared for in a skilled facility due to her inability to use her legs at all, and she has not been bathes in months.....I know I appear selfish when I say, "I want her last years on earth to be shared with other people (seniors) to spend time with and for her to get the care and attention she deserves as well as desperately needs." she wants to rent a room in a bording house where my "idiot brother" currently lives, but I don't know what I am to do to prevent her from doing so, because my brother will spend ALL HER MONEY THE SECOND SHE GETS HER SSECURITY CHECK AND SHE WILL NOT BE BATHED, FED, OR GIVEN MEDICATIONS LIVING WHERE HE IS AT. WHAT DO i DO?

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      BRo 5 years ago

      What do you do though, when you know your parent needs help but they deny it, want to control you (make you live with them to do things their way even though you have a family) and won't take medication. In addition, the doctor allows the patient to control their own medical care or non-care. The spouse has severe dementia, they are dirty, they burn everything, one spouse quit driving but required the other one with dementia to drive even though they are legally blind, no longer has a license, does not insure the car and does not get the car licensed. We do not know what to do. It is our belief that they belong in a care facility, hopefully, together but one's behavior (not the one with dementia) is so aggressive that they keep being evicted even from an Independent Living Facility. We know that mental illness has always been an issue with our parent (bipolar and personality disorder) but all we have is a POA Healthcare Directive and POA for Finances. In addition, the bank has told us that a sibling is taking large amounts of money from our parent and our parent is screaming and acting bizarre at the bank (can't remember how to write a check). We don't know where to go from here and the doctor is non-responsive to our concerns to the point of telling us to leave them alone and allow the sibling that is taking the money to take the parent.

      We are working on Conservatorship but with a doctor that is unresponsive and down right rude and a parent that denies they have a problem and is abusive themselves, we can't get the evaluations needed for the Court process.

      This has been going on for almost a year now and the doctor just keeps taking $200 fees completing forms that say our parent is both incapable of taking care of themselves or finances and incompetent of taking care of themselves, all on one form. Help.

      Any suggestions?

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      ana 5 years ago


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      Judy 5 years ago

      Well, frankly, some of these comments scare me! What about callous selfish adult children who just can't wait to get their nice old folks into a home and their hands on the money? It is shameful - I know of cases like that, and once institutionalised is it any wonder that the elderly parent then goes downhill? I've just seen a list of 10 criteria for putting your aged parent into a so-called care home - and I think each one point could be easily be re-written as "odd jobs" the son or daughter OUGHT to be attending to on behalf of their parents, out of kindess and respect - and human decency, towards the parents who once did so much for them. Here they are: 1. Cluttered house - needs tidying (so, why can't son/daughter give a hand, eh?) 2. unpaid bills (anyone know WHY?) 3. muddled household accounts and routines (is it really just the old who get like this?) 4. losing weight (presumably in an unhealthy way - so, why not invite poor old Mum & Dad round to dinner more often? why not spend more time with them and find out how theyr eally are?) 5. poor hygiene, not changing clothes or sheets very often - if at all. So? Whose business is that? Perhaps they are HAPPY in their comfy old clothes? perhaps they think YOUR garments and life-style is also "lacking"? 6. Empty cupboards, no food in fridge (well, maybe the old folks are less wasteful careful than you and just purchase what they need when they need it? 7. burnt dishes in the sink and lots of old washing-up to do (so what? lots of people live like that all their lives! Remember student days? Did anyone say they should all be institutionalized? And certain husbands?) 8. forgets appointments (don't we all? and who made the appointment? perhaps granny didn't WANT to go to the doctor again - to be given more pills that don't work or whatever!) 9. acts weird - almost parnoid - ringis you up vary late at night or very early (so? could it be that the parents are worrying about YOU? and a little more connection and kindess would help?) 10 signs of depression (hmmm, could it be lonelieness? anxiety that YOU are going to stick them in a "home"? Or sorrow about getting old and unfulfilled dreams - and feeling useless? Theny why not just LOVE them more???? reassure them, visit more often, do a few things rogether?

      Honestly, our UK culture is so sick and sad these days - the way parents and grandparents are often treated is horrible. OK, if they really do need to be in a care-home, make sure it suits them, that they are TRULY well cared-for - and still go to see them and so on. But first make sure that this is not just all about YOUR own selfishness! No wonder this topic is in the news. Our culture has gone all wrong. What has made me so mad today? My Mother's Day card just came - from a son who claims to care but visits once a year if we're lucky ... a son we have always chersihed .... well, I smiled at the writing on the envelope, it stirred happy memories (is he coming sometime soon I thought? if only for a day or two?) is it a nice photo-type card? Well, it showed a 50s style mother and adoring kiddies - and it said "Mother Dear, Remember on Mother's Day to always be very ncie to your children ....." and at the bottom ... "because one day they will be arranging your nursing home for you!"

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      inlaw 5 years ago

      my mother in law has dementia, my husband paid her bills, took her to her appointments he basically was at her beck and call since he is retired. recently on one of her very bad days she got a friend to take her to the lawyers and remove my husband as executor,she also had them take her to the bank and she removed him from all accounts claiming she was doing better and could handle matters her bills are backed up and he has access to nothing , what papers does he need to legally help her, we have no money for a lawyer...HELP

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      Jimmianne 5 years ago

      I don't think there is a place for judgmental commets on this forum. Unless you have been through caring for an elderly parent with dementia you can't possibly understand how much stress it creates. My heart goes out to all here.

      We went through this with my Mom for years and she died this week, due in part to her stubborn refusal of help. Even in the hospital they had trouble with her. Yes, she cared for me as an infant - but that would have been a joy for her. Caring for someone who is nasty and ungrateful and making your life hell is a totally different thing. Yes, I love her, no I did not want my life and health ruined by her.

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      Mrsvalkyrie 5 years ago

      Wow! There are others in hell.thank you all for the cry,i neededthat,while talking to yall i got a call finally after more than 2 weeks from our visiting doctor I was about to call 911 now i will hold one more day to get her approval of hospital care

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      sue 5 years ago

      i have an elderly aunt who lives on her own in london uk.abot 2 and half hours away from me.she has just been discharged from hospital with 2 hernias leaky heart valves.unstable blood pressure;cellulitis and chronic diverticulitis. she has bad stomach pains and diarrahea and is struggling to cope on her own. i visit weekends and take her washing home;clean and shop for her but have to work during the week.she is refusing all health support as she does not want to go in a nursing home and wants to die at home. she is mentally very alert and has signed a disclaimer to say she refuses social support.this is very worrying tome as she then constantly calls me in pain not knowing what to do. she is clearly frightened. i am not in a financial position to pay for her care myself so what can i do? i can't just leave her to die on her own surely this is not humane. can anyone help please?

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      Gina 5 years ago

      My dad is 72 years old & is an alcoholic. He lives by himself & has been in & out of rehab facilities. He fell in October 2011 & fractured his him & was sent to a nursing home for rehabilitation. He was released in December & decides to start back up drinking the second week of this month. When he is sober he pretty much can take care of himself; although I would take him to the store & do his bills but other than that he took care of himself. When he's drinking, he don't eat & he don't take care of himself. I have a 8 month old baby so & have a full time job so I can't take care of all of us. I'm not sure what I can do. Can I get the state involved? We live in Georgia.

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      Frustrated 6 years ago

      HI-- Here is the situation I am in with my parents. My father who is 84 used to be a brilliant man but after having 2 strokes and heart surgery is confined to a bed and his chair all the time and does not think very clearly anymore. My mother is 82 and needs two new hips and repeats the same old stories over and over whenever I stop in. They both live in their home and say they will not leave. It is in the country. My 54 year old brother lives in the house and has not worked a day in his life and drives my mother to the store and doctors appointments. He is not normal and constantly engages in verbal fights with people he comes in contact with. I have another brother who lives in a house up the road from my parents which my parents own and pay for everything like the hydro heat ect. Both houses are paid for. The cost to run both houses is bleeding my parents dry. If I try to suggest to sell one or both houses and move into a nursing home my parents and my brothers all get upset at me. My brothers are thinking of their own interests and not my parents and I do not know what to do.

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      Maria 6 years ago

      My Day will be 90 in 3 days time. I am the sole care giver and can clearly see that he needs to be in a

      semi frail care retiremet home. He has money and can

      afford a good place. If he never left me anything I will

      be very happy as long as he gets the correct care.

      I work and he is alone all day which is not very safe

      for him. He will not go to a retirement home. How can I make him understand the consequences? He will never agree

      for someone to look after him during the day.

    • princesswithapen profile image

      princesswithapen 6 years ago

      Caring for an aging parent has never gone out of vogue! Things like bills piling up and the house getting cluttered are some of the basic signs of aging and the need for attention, but they can go unnoticed easily. This post is a great read for those who have an aging parent.


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      donnamarie 6 years ago

      my mom is early 70's and is paranoid and cannot get herself together what is worse, she let a new neighbor get away with damaging our house she has not done a thing about it since 2009. I am ready to just take off and leave her here the house is old and they damaged it further. It goes to me if she dies but I would have to sell the house for I also conveniently lost my job. I am very upset and very worried.

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      Livon 6 years ago

      I have read all sides and all sides are right..all sides are wrong. Yes, my parents raised me, loved me. No they weren't the best parents, always thought more of the son than the daughters but they did not hurt us. Luckily for them, they have been able to be on their own. About two years ago, I started noticing they were eating fast food..A LOT! I got them meals on wheels. Did it for a week, quit. I went over to fill out forms to get them into senior housing...all one floor.changed their minds. Now we are at a point where my mother meets the above criteria. No food in the house or expired food. Not cleaning, not cooking. We arrange for a lady to come three times a week. She came once and guess what, they don't want her anymore. My mother called me and my sisters last week stating they were hungry, had no food and we need to take turns bringing food. Here is what she doesn't get. We all work. She never did. She never worked yet she did not do for her parents what she asked of us. She says she doesn't remember saying it. But we feel they will be the happiest at home with us coming more and this woman coming. Yes we need to be patient with our parents but it is difficult when you know they still have enough mental facilities and they are being difficult. Yes, I think that one day this could be me. I can only hope that I will cooperate with my girls more than they have cooperated with me. I only want them to be safe and healthy and at home as long as they possibly can.

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      AF 6 years ago

      Ugh my dad needs help but I'm at a loss. My husband and I moved into his house just after mom died. I was pregnant and Dad had lost 45 lbs in a month and a half and the place wasn't getting cleaned so he got mice and fruit flies. it's a bit over a year later and things are somewhat better Dad is in love with my baby but he still isn't cleaning or sleeping. I'm afraid when we move next week he might go downhill.

    • JIN1128 profile image

      JIN1128 6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Great hub on this issue. I am 27, my mom is 56 and my dad is 57. I have a decent job in this economy, make enough money to support all three of us. The issue is that they are first generation immigrates with very poor English. My dad has not worked for the past 10 years because he said he does not like for work for Chinese employers here in the US. My mom had jobs over the years to earn us a very mininal living. She wants to quit working as well very soon. I will be supporting them for the rest of their lives. They have no savings, no property, nothing. My dad has gotten pretty comfortable at his lifestyle of not having to work and just relying completely on me for all financial needs. You see my stress is building each day as I think about this. I don't want to live with my parents anymore but have no choice. They ask me for help on everything, which is getting pretty annoying. I know I shouldn't be because they brought me to this great country. But I don't know if I will ever meet that special someone to escape my parents. At that point, I will have a good reason to not live with them anymore. I guess I shouldn't complain because my situation is not completely bad. But is it too early to retire at 47 (for my dad) and 56 (for my mom)? I know that is not possible in most cases but I guess it is good if you have somebody supporting you permanently.

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      No name yet 6 years ago

      ...and not signed in as a member, but I'm elderly and still very mentally active, with a loving family I have nurtured and guided in their youth and adulthood... but I depend upon their returned care today. I love them deeply.

      But some people here, children of parents as we all are, seem to be unaware that they too will grow old. I remember thinking of 50 as 'one foot in the grave' - and when I reached that age I knew I wasn't. But I still wished I was 49! We will all grow old, no matter how much we may regret it.

      When you (the collective 'you') are old - and a 'burden' to your sons or daughters, will you wish for their care in love for you - or finally die alone, facing death unloved?


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      Confounded 6 years ago

      My father is so very stubborn. Took him to 7 different stores looking for something he needs because he said they were all too expensive. They were all very close in price. He is very negative and just tolerates me cleaning his house, doing his laundry. I do dr. appts., picking up meds, everything I can due to his bad health. He seems sad when I am around, but lights up when his friends come around. I think he resents me taking control, but I have to take control, as his physical health is not good. I am becoming very depressed over this situation, as I am only doing what I think is necessary. He is worried about self-preservation at this point. I thought I would derive some type of satisfaction over being there for him, but he just takes it for granted and I feel like a fool. I try and leave him some responsibility, but he waits until the very last minute to do anything. He is completely content taking birdbaths, wearing dirty clothes, having a nasty house, etc. I feel stupid because his mind is very clear, but he is unwilling to do anything but take himself out to eat 3 times a day and watch tv. He has nothing good to say about anybody except for his close buddies. Everybody else is trash.

      I am in this thing alone and I am sick of it.

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      Kristy 6 years ago

      My grandfathter is 78 years old. He has always been so strong. We live in a different state from him my whole life. The last 6 months his health has went down rapidly. I talked him to coming and staying with me and my husband. He stayed two months and started to feel better and decided he wanted to go back home. I couldn't just stop him. I ve tried being patient with him about everything. Since he has went back home he has been in the hospital 8 times. He is now in my state with us visiting and he had to be rushed back to the ER which he is now hospitalized. He has been mixing up his medications. He says when he gets out he is going back home. I don't know what to do, I just can't let him leave it will only get worse. What can I do? He is not willing to go into an assisted living home where is lives and he does not want to live with me, but he needs serious help.

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      CTruths 6 years ago

      My father and mother split up long ago when I was a baby. When my father got sick it was me and a sister that took care of his business. He was always mild manner and never was rude to us to the point of disgusts. He died years later peaceful in his sleep and before that said he was always grateful for me and my sister for take caring of him and his business in an honest way. Now my mother is another story. What they should have included in that story is that the personalities of many elders when they were younger is still there as they get older. My mother never raised me and my sister it was other relatives who done that. She make everything about herself and years ago some of her relatives thought she needed to see a therapist. She accused all of them of trying to set her up in the psych ward and mind you it's years later and she did end up in hospital having to take medications for her mental disorder. Now when she take them, that nasty personality is still there. She is very vicious, devious, lies a lot something my father told me years ago and is why he left her. She was very abusive to him and us and anyone in her family as well as to friends. Every one of them cut her off they have nothing to do with her ever. She throw threats at me, almost twisted my wrist mind you not long ago that same wrist was injured in an accident which she knew about. I hated to say it but some people have bad spirits while there are other people with good spirits. I have elder neighbors who were older than my mother and really sweet. When a person lived life to the full, mixed with a lot of people, socializing, even doing quiz or games their brains stay active and they're less likely to be depressed, miserable even nasty. Those who are anti social, horrible and devious don't care who they hurts they're the ones who become the most dangerous to move in with or move in your home. You never know what they're up to especially when you're sleeping you have to do so with one eye shut. The hospital told my family that my mother can't live by herself mind you she accused them of trying to rob her of more money yet she's the one who put not just herself but neighbors' lives at risk. She didn't care and told me so whatever. I'm done with her so is my sister once she end up in the hospital again, they won't waste time selling her home to use the money for her care. If me and my sister wanted her money/home don't she think we would have got power of attorney and put her in a psychiatric hospital? The fact we put up with her for years and I'm not talking 3 or 5 I'm talking for 20 years speak volumes she don't care, appreciate what we done for her even out of our pocket so as far as both of us concerned, it's time to move on with our lives we're still young but burned out.

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      SFwrite2 6 years ago

      Great Hub

      It is hard to see one's parent aging

      It is hard when you become the parent-I'm in this stage

      When my kids were little we always made visits to the assisted living homes where some people are just dropped and forgotten- that is extremely hard to take

      They loved visits especially little kids

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      Workhorse 6 years ago

      My father is 83. He has COPD and rhuematoid arthritis. He drives himself to eat out 2-3 times every day. He wears the same clothes for at least 4-5 days in a row.

      He sometimes does not shave for a week. I hauled his garbage off last week and the rear end of his truck felt like a carnival ride due to very low air pressure in tires. The only housework that gets done is what I do, and he doesn't think it's necessary. He gets irritated with me because I am not mechanically inclined and cannot make a lot of repairs he needs. Luckily, he has great neighbors who will do small things for him. But, it's not their responsibility, so you can see them try to get past his house without stopping. I feel very sorry for him. Mom left 30 years ago with my much younger sister and moved 3 states away. I know he has guilt issues over my sister. He never tried to see her as Mom took all the savings, and he knew child support would eat him alive. He had to start over financially after she left, as Mom cleaned him out. I think he feels bad about never seeing my sister grow up after the age of six years. So, he does not expect or ask anything of her. She visits app. 2x a year and seems concerned about how he's doing, but really does not help much. I am left to deal with his moods and his pain, while trying to keep him out of total filth and take him to dr. appts. I am thinking I may have to go stay with him some, as he seems depressed. I want to do the right thing. But, I am pretty much alone in this fight. I feel he resents my help and he has taken to ordering me around as to what needs to be done every time I go. If he can boss me around, then I suppose it seems like to him that he's still in control. I have never liked to be told what to do, so I just bite my tongue.

      There are many unintended consequenses of divorce, and this is a big one. He was a good father to me, but due to finances, I was left to my own devices at age 18. He was relieved to see me go off on my own, as there was not much he could or would help me with. I am at a loss, as he does not seem happy to have me helping him. God help a caregiver. None of us know what kind of help we might need in our later years. None of us want to think about it. As for me, I want to feel like I am of good character, but the resentment of being alone in this thing is huge.

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      shewho 6 years ago

      Im with an elderly man who is 70yrs old and has become very grumpy and mistrustful he is wealthy and thinks everyone wants a piece of hism oney and he is becoming mean and very jealous.i visited the forum as i wanted to find out on how to deal with his mood swings i have been with him for about 10years and im 40

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      Renee S 6 years ago from Virginia

      This is such an important topic to discuss. We don't like to think about our parents becoming old but you have done an outstanding job explaining in detail what to look out for. God bless you.

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      hrielly 6 years ago

      To sherrymandalay - thanks for being so honest it needs to be said. I too have gone through very rough periods with my parents and yes - you can ruin your own health in the process. I kept on flirting with ovarian cancer (i.e., complex cysts) and lost so much weight that I had problems - I never had any issues like this prior. I am currently concerned with how to handle my mothers issue - she had a stroke and can not speak and has reoccurring c-diff along with urinary tract infections and seizures. She is now in a nursing home but my father wants her to out of there. Not sure how we are going to proceed but you have to take breaks and you do have to live YOUR life :-).

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      Anika 6 years ago

      Aside from a parent who horribly abused you while growing-up; i.e.- sexually/rape, violence, I can't excuse any denial or compassion towards them during their old-age even if they can act like an old-fart from time to time, who wouldn't be grumpy, knowing their days are numbered their health is gone/going, spouse they were with forever has died, most of their friends are dead or moved/incapaciatated/changed, etc. Although I am very close to my parents in the same city, speak everyday on the phone, go by there once a week, I have decided to step-up my visits to a few times a week and to bring by a meal at those times although they act as if everything is fine, I can see changes, my dad will make comments about how they need to go to the store, mom barely cooks, mom's stomach growled when I was there sunday said she drank an ensure, I told her that wasn't solely enough, she said she didn't want to bother, napping a lot, although I'm a great daughter, loving etc. I read this and know that tomorrow I will bring breakfast to them, did this last week / mid-wk. before my 6 yr. old and I's normal sun. visit, they were so happy. I'm choking back tears to know my parents are truly 'there' elderly, my brothers (3) although loving have left me the single-working 2 jobs mom to go it alone. I make only about $24K a yr. 2 brothers make 6 figures havent' offered to by dad hearing aides (can't afford them, can barely hear!) and could also easily pay for a $80/wk (at the highest) maid. Should I ask? How do I not offend? Jeez, they should know.

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      sherrymandalay 6 years ago

      Thanks Mary for the article. My mom died a year ago and my Dad hasn't been the same since. He lives in another state and I am very worried but do not intend to give up my life to take care of him. I did that for many years prior to my mother's death when I lived in the same city as they did. I wore myself out trying to help them- reminding them of things they needed to do, cleaning the house, being company for them, etc. Now that my father is living alone, I am concerned. I am so far more fortunate than the other commenters; he can still drive himself, feed himself, etc. But the window on that seems to be slowly closing. I appreciate all of the comments here about what parents/relatives are putting them through. The ironic thing for me is that I used to volunteer to take the elderly to the doctor, shop for them, etc. I judged the children and relatives of the people I was assigned to see because I thought to myself, why does a person with grown relatives need someone to come and help them? Well, when I got to where the people lived, I learned why. The elderly person was almost always complaining, grumpy, argumentative, difficult, had bad habits like clove cigarettes (3 pack a day habit), was unkept, stinking and dirty, and on and on. I began to ask them if they had any family. Almost always they said yes, and more than half the time the people lived in town, but just couldn't take their elderly relative's attitude/habits, etc. My father is a retired cop. He's been the guy in charge, the go-to man in his family, etc. Now he is a shadow of his former self and it really kills me that I (along with a sister and brother who have basically written him off except when they need money) will most likely have to begin to make decisions for him in the coming years (months?- God forbid). I will be praying for everyone here who left a comment, including myself tonight. The truth is we're all between a rock and a hard place, and no decision you make either way is going to give you peace. The only advice I can give is what I learned from taking care of my parents when I lived in the same city: You can ruin your own health by looking after the health of others. Put yourself first before it is too late. In the end we are talking about people who have lived their lives versus people who still have their life/lives yet to be lived fully. If you sacrifice your own happiness and health to care for an elderly parent or relative, you may end up bitter and alone. Do what you have to do for you, explain it to them once, and if they don't understand, they just don't understand. You have to go out and live YOUR life. No apologies necessary.

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      dian 6 years ago

      My father is 94 years old, has macular degeneration, divertilitus, osteo arthritus. He lives in a semi detached home. My sister and I visit once a week and take it in turnes to visit twice. Since I retired last year my husband 6 years older than me - has suffered quincey in throat, stroke and benign tumour removed and hernias in stomach where major operation had operation. All this has happened since last November until now. My father has had several falls and we have arranged for carers to come every day and except the afternoons we go. My father now gets up earlier in the morning to have his breakfast before carers arrive and cooks his tea before the carers come in the evening. He doesn't want them to do anything but we have privately organised this in case he falls. He has a careline and has only just put this around his neck. I feel tired of going every week because of my husband conditions. My father wont go into a home. My daughter moved to cornwall with her partner and children (5 and 9). My son has not married or met anyone he is now 35. I feel life is not as happy as it was and will never be. I dont know how long it will carry on like this for. I am a carer twice over and have not had a holiday since March 2010.

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      jcquinn 6 years ago

      Be consistent and never ever give up on them! It has taken me three years to get my father from having no interest in anything, deeply in debt, depressed, resentful, mean and all the rest, to - Taking an interest in life again. He now has no debts is eating, has given up smoking and drinking (was alcoholic) and is no longer resentful. Try reading "The Tibetan book of Living and Dying" by Sogyal Rinpoche, it helped me to learn how to bring up awkward subjects. Dad just celebrated his 80th and we shared a bottle of wine and I cooked him a meal. He lives on his own and wont go to the doctor. Basically its his choice and thats what I tell him. Just be patient and compassionate, often after their partner passes away elderly have to go through the grieving process, which causes a lot of symptoms. Do what you can, don't worry about what you cant and seek support from health dept or talk to a nurse. Hope this helps some people.

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      Grace Marguerite Williams 6 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Great hub. However, if your parents are beyond help, please place them in a nursing home. However, before you do so, put the finances in order and put all of the finances in your or a next of kin's name. Nursing homes are not bad at all and provide the 24/7 care that an elderly parent needs. That is what nursing homes are for.

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      i love my parents unconditionally!!!! 6 years ago

      I am very horrified at the heartless comments made on here about your flesh and blood. You are doing nothing but complaining about your parents inconvienancing you?? really?? did you not think that raising you was a will get your paybacks for the thoughtless comments you have made...and charging them rent??? how pathetic and selfish you are...and the answer is Yes i have done this job and was blessed to not have to put them in a nursing home cause I know the sacrifices my parents made to give me life and a good one..can't you at least have the compassion to give them a good ending to theirs??? God Bless those living with the nightmares you are and May God protect them from you too...

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      Stressed 6 years ago

      What do I do with a 82 year old father who won't goto a nursing home? He cannot clean, eats tv meals, cannot clean but he can still shower/dress himself and even run a part time business as a hobby..I am newly married and my partner is not as quite compassionate to my father as I am...we have had arguments many a time and is putting the stress on our relationship.. My father does not want to go into care until extremely necessary (probably when he becomes incontinent) . I have grown up with only my father and now my partner comes along and wants to move out with myself...I am stuck between a rock and a hard place with no help from anyone. I don't think I should have these sort of issues at 28 years of age

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      Ikeji Chinweuba 6 years ago from Nigeria

      Good and great information been shared with us in here by Marye.Nice information and i also think or suggest that all child needs this early parents help.

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      Sylvia Page 6 years ago from Malabe

      Hello Marye, Congrats on a great Hub! What an eye opener and I certainly recommend that every child reads this.

      best to you,


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      Rachell 6 years ago

      I quit my job 4 months ago to take care of a good family friend who has no family. He helped my mom when she was pregnant with me back in the 70's. They never had a "relationship" per say bc he is over 20+ years older than her. He has always been there for me though I know he is not my dad. I have a 5 year old and a spouse and like you guys my "uncle" is very demanding. He has 5 loans and I finally asked the bank to do a stop payment for the ones that get auto drafted because the rent money is getting used to pay his loans. His loans total 900 a month and his social security is 1200 a month! He is very opinionated when it comes to the "population explosion" crisis and told me again today that I had no business having another child. I never discussed it with him but he must have seen the test in the restroom wastebasket. He proceeded to tell me how I cant afford another child and I told him it was none of his business if I did! Im very frustrated but the man literally has nobody. Up until last year at 80 he was working night shift for a security company and has been vegetarian for over 20 years. He had an altercation with someone at work and ended up suffering a heart attack and had to have emergency quad bypass after learning that he has heart disease. His heart is healing fine but now he has a hernia and has to be cleared by having a colonoscopy before they do the hernia surgery. The other thing is that he never had the carotid surgery normally done with heart surgery bc his was an emergency so there is a good chance that he still has to have that done as well. Im 34!!! I have a life too and I know all too well about having to find money to pay for copayments, gas, and basic living expenses. We are behind on the mortgage and suffering big time =(

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      kaci 7 years ago

      I know how all you are feeling. I too made the worst mistake of my life. Moved in with my mom a year ago. Soon after she was diagnosed with dementia. I am at my wits end with this living arrangement. However I can not convince her to move to an assisted living. So what am I suppose to do?? She has me waiting on her hand and foot. Im exausted. Single mom of 9 year old and also have scolosis of the spine. Does anyone out there have any tipps? My life is going down the toliet. No one should judge others for things they have no real experience with.what a nitemare your parents can bring. I have compassion but im humantoo and would like a life of my own before its over with.

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      Leda 7 years ago

      Don't worry Leah. My husband and I have his mother living with us and it is putting such a strain on the relationship! Your other is so much like her! She has become so nasty and bitter that no one else will care for her. I end up feeling guilty because of the resentment I have towards her. Over our anniversary weekend (last weekend) I got to spend it taking her cat to an animal hostital because she decided to give it loeazepam (ativan) because it seemed nervous! the poor cat almost dies. She doesn't care who she inconveniences. We have to pay all her bills and pay for her medication (which she overuses all the time, to the point where we have to monitor it but that doesn't matter because she just gets more and pops ativan allday then lies about it as she is tumbling about and can't even talk) because she is unable to manage her own finances. She spends her monthly checks on pointless things or buys multiple o the same item (like 12 canisters of powdered creamer the other day..) She overdoses herself on her medication as i was saying before. She gets so wasted that she falls and hurts herself. I am just at my wits end! I feel it is time now for a home because now she is a danger to herself and hurting others (like the cat) and because of our work schedules and the fact that no one else will deal with her we just can't keep up. It's something new every day. Sometimes I don't even want to come home from work because I just know I will be walking into SOMETHING.

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      Sheila Smith 7 years ago

      Delilah, Have you lived through what Leah is going through?

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      Delilah 7 years ago

      Hey Leah, did your mother not give birth to you, feed you, put clothes on you, etc?

      She's old. Her cognitive function is deteriorating. She is basically turning into a child (as the hub says).

      Did she charge you for rent, food, clothing when you were a child? Do you charge your own children that?

      Well I don't know your situation or your past relationship with your parents. And maybe I am too traditional in thinking that one's elderly parents deserve respect from their children no matter how nasty they are. But anyway... just saying.

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      Leah 7 years ago

      My mother who is 85 lives with us in our home. She bullies to get her own way and what she wants and does not care about inconveniencing others. I made a huge mistake by undercharging her in her monthly rent and she is now stating that she has paid the rent two months in advance (not true). I have found paperwork from the govt. care agency that states she is not competent to make a decision to go into a long-term care facility. She hid this from me and threw away the covering letter so I have no idea when this arrived. I caught her eavesdropping yet again this morning when my husband and I were having a private discussion downstairs. Of course she lied and said she was looking for something in the hall cabinet. Meanwhile she is getting 3 squares a day (gourmet food cooked by me), free cable, free newspaper, mail delivery and laundry. She feels that her payment of rent to us entitles her to inject her opinion into everything that myself, husband or children do or say and if she isn't involved in or informed about everything that goes on in the house, she becomes very nasty and sarcastic. I have one brother who lives out of town who has practically no input into her situation and doesn't pay a penny yet who will be the first one at the lawyer's office to make sure he gets his equal share once she's gone. I regret ever having brought her here but her family dr. and the one at her last hospitalization due to congestive heart failure both said she could no longer live alone in her town. All the signs were there:- incorrect taking of medication,self-medication with pills and alcohol, on-purpose dehydration so she could sit in the hospital for three weeks and be waited on, spoiled food and a filthy apartment and clothing, repeating etc. My life has become a living hell because of this situation and we may have to give up our own home or declare bankruptcy because of her. I urge all of you to think twice before taking in a parent of this age!! The only reason she is here is because she WON'T PAY to go to a seniors' home!

      In my effort to do the right thing and be a good daughter I took her in but now I'm paying a huge price for it!!

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      teri 7 years ago

      i have had to move my mother into my home because of her normal pressure hydrosphillis and she is also bipolar ,she was very sick when i had to go get her and i finally got the drs to replace her shunt ,she is better now but this can happen again at any time,the drs said she has dementia so with my brothers agreement i sold her place in fla. and renovated our home to accomadate her,now she thinks she is cured and wants to move back to fla,she is making my life misserable,she threatens me every day,my brother and i were left in charge of her when she was so sick she couldn't even use the bathroom ,i took care of her with a bad back and put off my surgery to make sure she got all the care she needed by the time i had my surgery my back was twice as bad and still dont know if i will ever be well enough to go back to work,she is like a big kid and wants to control everyone and leaves hateful notes all over my house my husband is completely disabled and we are waiting for s.s.d. it could be awhile,i dont know what to do,mom is threating to pt a lean on our home ,and she wants us to sell everything we own so she can move back to fla, she just doesent get that she is not cappable to take care of herself,what should i do?

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      Sima Ballinger 7 years ago from Michigan

      Hi Marye,glad you shared this piece. My family is going thru this now, and we are sharing responsibility for my mom. People need to know this.

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      Ryan 7 years ago

      Great hub, thanks

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      Barbara 7 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      Marye, (I wanted to watch the Help for the Caregiver movie but it is no longer available.)

      I think this is an excellent hub. I am hiring a cleaning service today, as it happens. The caution Dana expressed makes me realize I need to have my brother who lives nearby check them out.

      I live too far away to help. I wish I lived closer now. My rebellious drive for independence has long passed and I regret my need to move far away, but what is done is done. Thanks for all these alerts and for sharing this information with us.

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      mulberry1 7 years ago

      This is a wonderful resource!

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      Carolyn 7 years ago

      My Aunt who is 85, lives alone, no children but my sisters are and I all live close and have always been very close to her and have always taken care of her. She all of a sudden is saying someone is coming into her house and straightening up things, she has always been the neatest person i know she has always kept her things in order she walks around the house showing me things that she said she didn't do. I know she did them but she swears someone is coming into the house and cleaning it up .... i am at a loss, she gets very upset when i tell her she has always been neat and i'm sure she just doesn't remember doing these things. She said she found a pair of glasses and that someone put them there, (they were my uncles glasses he passed away 17 years ago) we had to change all her locks on the house she said that made her feel better but the very next morning she says they are coming in through the basement window. This behavior is so unlike her.

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      Lisajamienme 7 years ago

      ty for the info i was very credible and heled in a few ways.

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      CareGiverPartners 7 years ago from National

      Watching for little changes in things that define our loved ones is an excellent way to watch for problems arising. Excellent hub.

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      Theresa 7 years ago

      I have a question about my mother-in-law.She owns a home in another state from where me and my husband lives and refuse to sale the house and come live with us. She is 89 and need help bad. we are now taking control of the situation because she has to come live with us or a nursing home. But we are trying to get her to give my husband power of attorney but she thinks that it is a scam. How can you help us with this and will she lose the house or can my husband sale it? Please HELP!

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      Ponderous 8 years ago from Missouri

      Good information as long as it is taken in context. What has always been normal for them may look a lot like the problems you list! Then what? It may be something other than aging, though it still needs to be checked out.

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      Christina D 8 years ago

      This is good information. I hope I will be able to recognize the signs when my parents need help since I live so far away from them.

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      starme77 8 years ago

      A Very Nice Hubb - Well spoken

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      Diana 8 years ago

      My mom stopped working in nov of 2008. Since then she has become forgetful. We made a doctors appointment and another to see a lawyer for information on wills etc.. She forgot about both, and yelled at me and my sister, because she said we never discussed any of this with her. Unfortunately, she is really forgetting. How can I help her? I have taken so much time off from work because I need to take care of her now. She has a sister I believe is taking advantage of her also. No real proof. I do know she will not come around when I visit my mom. Any advise you can offer to help me help my mom would be so appreciated. I wouldn't be able to thank you enough. Thank you for taking the time.

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      chioggiabeetroot 8 years ago

      This is so helpful! Thanks!

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      Sue St. Clair 9 years ago from I would rather be in Paris

      Good hub. I enjoyed the information.

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      Marye Audet 9 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      Dana- the bet thing you can do is to contact a lawyer that specializes in wills and estate law.

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      dana 9 years ago

      Help My father died 2 years ago since than my mom has changed the will she and my dad had together leaving every thing to me after knowing her housekeeper for 5 months my mom has changed her will leaving this lady everything.

      My mom has gotten rid of family photos, tools of my dads who he wanted them to go to my kids. Im not a greedy person but i do want my moms personal affairs taken care of and what my dad and her worked so hard for not to be handed over to someone she has known for 5 months to get everything.

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      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Marye! Very nice hub filled with compassion. Definitely one of your greatest.

      regards Zsuzsy

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      Marye Audet 10 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      Guru- sorry I missed your comment! Thank you.

      WT & RD- Thank you. I miss my parents terribly but am glad I had the opportunity to care for them

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      Ralph Deeds 10 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Yes, it was.

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      William F Torpey 10 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Well done.

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      Cory Zacharia 10 years ago

      Thank you for this important and compassionate guide.

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      Marye Audet 10 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      That is a great one Vickey! True. I had forgotten about that.

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      VickeyK 10 years ago

      Great hub! I went through this with parents who refused to acknowledge they needed help--they felt their dignity and independence were questioned, so it becomes very difficult to get information.

      I would add one other warning sign. Listen for any hint of driving problems. An anecdote or complaint about the "rude woman" who yelled at them as they were driving by, etc.

      As we age, our reactions get slower and we don't drive as well--but we don't realize the danger that creates.