Thursday, October 23, 2014

Life with Aging Parents

I am beside myself.  How does one break through a parent's denial?  I am speaking of my father, who is planning on taking my mother on a two week trip in May to the east coast for his high school reunion.  Why should this be so upsetting, you ask?  Mother has advanced Parkinson's, and has been in decline for 14 plus years.  She is limited in her mobility, her stamina, her strength, and is tired beyond description after a 4 hour car ride.  She requires a wheelchair, she is in a very weakened state.  And still...Dad wants to travel east with her.  And for a variety of reasons, she is unable to say no to him.  And so the planning of this insane adventure continues, with dad asking my sister to accompany them on the trip to help with her care.  I love my sister, but even she will agree she is no long term care giver.  I would be a more logical choice, but I know he is not asking me because he knows I disapprove.

I feel as if I'm lost in crazy town.  We just went through this a couple of months ago and he saw the light.  My husband, the M.D., brought up concerns about her catching an upper respiratory infection while flying across the U.S.  This, by itself, is reason enough for her to stay home.  One infection could kill her.

When he began his talk about the next trip with her I asked him if he had forgotten our previous discussions.  To my horror, he said, "I have not forgotten; I choose to ignore."

She will not speak up for herself.  She knows she cannot manage this trip.  I want to beat her, yell at her, scream and stamp my feet.

The sisters and I are hoping to involve her physician in this. 

My husband says it's sweet that Dad wants to take her.  I can't agree.  I think it's selfish.  And I think he is in serious denial about the state of her health.  I get it: he doesn't want her to be sick.  But she is.

We have until May to sort this out.  What I've tried before:

  • encourage him to join a care giver support group
  • seek counseling for the both of them
  • I agreed to stay with Mother for the time he is away, so he can get away on his own, any time he wants to go, he has me or another sister for backup care.  I am, btw, a trained and certified home care giver.

Yet, we keep revisiting the same issues.  I am as upset with her as I am with him.  She could resolve all this now by saying, "No. I'm not up to that kind of traveling."  And honestly, if she is tortured by a 4 hour car ride, how is she going to handle a 6 - 12 hour plane trip with changes?

I'm at wit's end.  They are both being completely illogical. They've gone off the track.  What is this strange game they are playing?  Whatever it is, it's got my sisters and me in a complete state of worry.

Ultimately, what can one do if they are determined to go?  Not a thing.  And that is killing me.  Slowly but surely.  (I exaggerate here, of course. I'm channeling my inner Jewish mother or perhaps Italian Catholic mother.)

Sometimes....Life Is A Bitch.


  1. My heart goes out to you. An outside intervention is needed. Clearly, such a trip could cause your mother serious harm.

  2. I agree with MandT, I think her doctor should be consulted. It's true, though, if they are determined to go, they will go.