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Need to understand why parents won't move

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What do you do when you know your parents need you more frequently than you can get to their house? My Dad has SCLC, limited stage, was in remission and is now completing PCI. He is tired of the house, yard, and the work associated with it. My Mom (78) has COPD and emphysema. I found an senior housing complex that has apartments, assisted living, and nursing home 5 minutes from me, there are also senior condos, and I offered to build an addition. My Dad would like to move. He has also told me he would like my Mom to be near me when he dies. My Mom absolutely doesn't want to live in my town, or an apartment, if she were to buy a house it would have to have oil heat and stained woodwork. She has no close friends, but enjoys activities such as sewing class, dance class, and her woman's club. She toys with moving to a new town that has people from her dance class living there. These people, while nice, are not supportive in the practical sense and in the 10 years she has been involved in these activities, have never seen her outside of the class/group. I am 45 minutes away from them. I tell her she would not have to give up all her activities, that I would even drive her to some if she needed. I also suggested that they move while Dad is in remission so they could add to their life with new people and social clubs. That way Mom might have some peer support when it gets tough for Dad (who is the more social one). I guess I pushed too much, because now Mom says the day she moves to my town is the day she won't be able to take care of herself. I know I need to step back, especially everytime it is brought up, my Dad and her have words. Anyone with a sick parent have this kind of problem? I must lack understanding of what my Mom is going through to have her totally reject the idea of living near me. I must admit, it hurts.

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Hi Jane,

I don't think there is a lot that you can do to change the situation. It's a common problem, though, and I know it is very frustrating. My mom and dad lived in a little trailer for about 25 years, and as their health began to decline, I started talking to them about moving to an assisted living situation. They never had much money and wouldn't even discuss it and would just say they were staying there because it was "FREE". They were both very competent, so there just wasn't anything I could do about it. They lived about 30 minutes from me. Their decision made it a lot more difficult for me over the years. Mom would have bad spells and I would have to jump in my car and get over there to help out, get her to the hospital, and take care of a variety of things. After my mom died, I couldn't get dad to move either, again, because it didn't cost him anything to stay there. I know that in their hearts their home is their home and it's very difficult to get them to move. I have taken care of my dad for the last five years since mom died. My mom, like your dad, had lung cancer. My dad, like your mom, has severe COPD, and for the past five years I have used my Sundays to buy his groceries, wash his hair, cut his toenails, clean his house, etc. On Jan. 30 of this year, my dad fell and broke several ribs and ended up in the hospital. His condition has declined ever since. Currently he is in a ventilator-equipped skilled nursing home. He is completely bed-ridden, can't do any physical therapy, is on a continuous feed feeding tube, is receiving 100% oxygen, but still is in good spirits most of the time. Looking back on the past five years and looking at the type of care he is getting now in the nursing home, I have no regrets that I had to make that drive. I would do anything to get him out of that nursing home, even if I could get him in our home, which I can't because of the constant care he needs. The nurses, respiratory therapists and aids at the facility are all highly skilled and wonderful ladies, but they have one nurse, one RT and two aids for 35 patients (16 of which are on ventilators). They are running ads every day, but there is such a shortage of nurses and it is such hard work that some nurses quit after a short period of time.

I am telling you all this because it might be better that your parents stay right where they are. The 45 min. drive is a burden for you, but it breaks my heart to see my dad in this type of environment. My suggestion would be to put off moving them as long as you can and as long as you can stand it or deal with it. I believe they stay healthier longer when they can stay in their home environment. I know it isn't ideal, but once they get into the assisted living, nursing home situation, I think a lot of our moms and dads, husbands, wives, etc. lose their fighting spirit because they aren't in their own homes.

Just my two cents. I know this is a very difficult situation for you - I've been down that road, so send me a PM anytime.



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S. Jane.

I'm sorry to have say this but I think you are wrong. I'm the person with the cancer and I know what it's like to try to maintain as much independence as possible. Please consider your parents need for dignity and their desperate struggle to remain independent. In my case I become indignant when anyone forces me to admit that I can't do many things for myself any more. Every inch of normalcy that I'm forced to give up is a victory for the cancer and a loss for me.

If my kids force me to give up my home for their convenience, it's an admission that the cancer has won and I have no chance to ever return to my life as it was before cancer. While that may turn out to be true, don't ask me to do so lightly or cheerfully. It's to important to me. It's like I've been forced to give up all hope.

I hope I haven't offended you but this is something I feel strongly about. Please consider your parents feelings and needs as well as your own. These are trying times for all of us. You MUST make sure you are not treating your parents like children and disregarding their emotional needs.

Best Wishes, Dave S

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Hello, Jane. Humans are funny creatures. We think we will always be able to take care of ourselves and be in control of our lives. It is very hard to deal with when that illusion is taken from us. We will fight to keep the illusion that we can still be in control. Your mother is no different. My wife has an old family friend she has kept in touch with. The woman is 88 and has no family -- lives alone and is not in good health. My wife and my daughter have tried to get her to move into a retirement home near us (this is just across town) and she said, "You all are treating me as if I were old!" She refuses to move although it would be much easier on herself and my wife and daughter. She is determined to stay where she is (that "in control" illusion again) even though she has fallen several times and it was hours before anyone discovered her. I guess the fear of not having control on one's life is stronger than the fear of getting hurt and not getting attnetion for it. I just hope I can be an exception when that time comes and not make it bad for everyone else. Good luck. Don

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I think Dave and Don said it all.

When my family moved across the country in 1983...about a month later my widowed mother called to say she had "a little tumor in her colon that had to come out". No big deal, right? :cry:

It was malignant, of course, and mets were already in her liver and lymph system....and I'm now 3,000 miles away. :(

My mother was 72 at the time...and her two older sisters lived in town, plus one of my older sisters who did not drive and had myriad health problems of her own.

Long story short....when Mom needed me...I flew across the country to do what I could for her....allowing her to remain for as long as possible IN her own home and with her independence and dignity intact. I'd come to realize how important this was to her over the years of her widowhood. She managed just fine and it mattered to her to remain in her home where all the memories of life with my father comforted her!

I flew back and forth about 9-10 times in 2 years. The last trip out...I brought my then 6 year old with me, leaving my 11 year old, my hubby and my two dogs behind.....and my little guy and I stayed with mom for three months. For two and a half of those months, my sister was also in the hospital....so I sorta did triple duty there for a while. Mom had just finished radiation for bone mets and was in pretty bad shape...

At the end of those three months, I needed to get my own family back together...and Mom understood....although she didn't like the necessary results. We placed in her a very nice nursing home...but she just was not happy there. A month and a half later, when she went into the hospital for her 5 days of chemo....she slipped into a coma on the second day. I think she was determined NOT to die in a nursing home. I rushed back out West and got to see her again, even tho she was comatose. She picked her own moment, I believe, and let go and slipped away peacefully on Christmas Eve, l985.

It never would have worked if, say, I'd insisted she move East to be with us. It sure would have been more convenient for ME....but SHE was the patient and it would have totally disrupted her life...plus meant she would have to start all over with doctors...and she trusted the ones she had.

It's a hard call....but again, I think Dave and Don make the most valid point. The caregivers.....the family members....need to honor the patient's need to feel as much in control of their own life as possible. To keep one's independence and dignity....to feel one has SOME controls over their lives when this insidious d*mn disease strips a person of so much control.....becomes even more critical.

Maybe if you step back from this a bit....your dad will work on your mom about it. Try not to get your feelings hurt in this....because it probably has little to do with you, compared to how much this has to do with how your parents feel THEIR lives have been disrupted.

It's not always easy to prioritize. My hubby and I were supposed to move this Oct/Nov. Our home here was "supposed to be" on the market right now! All that has been put on hold....and we are building the new house in the southwest....so of course THAT part of the plan goes forward. Now we have to pay for the new house BEFORE we sell this one AND we've got mounting medical bills. Not to mention moving away from the medical team I've established here...which is also a concern.

All we can do is take it as it comes. My health comes first. The rest will work itself out.

Try to enjoy Dad's remission...and I pray it lasts a long time! Let him encourage Mom about a move....and you stay neutral and see if that helps lesson any "pressure" on them.

Meanwhile, all you can do is continue to love them and help however you can. You sound like a loving daughter...and they are lucky to have you. I'm sending postive thoughts your way that all this works out so that everyone feels very comfortable!

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