Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Don't ever get old if you can help it.

  1. Jan 25, 2009 #1

    turbo

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Kind of a cynical title, but I just got a call from my sister-in-law after she, another sister-in-law, and their mother had spent many hours in the hospital. My 92-year-old mother-in-law has senile dementia and has a great deal of trouble communicating about health issues. My wife and her sisters and one brother take turns providing 24/7 coverage so she can stay in her own home instead of a nursing home, and twice in the past month, my wife has noticed behavioral swings in her mother, general discomfort, etc, and has taken her to the hospital to be checked out. One visit resulted in a diagnosis of congestive heart failure (with Lasix prescribed, etc) and the other turned up a nasty urinary tract infection. Today, my wife and two of her sisters conferred, and decided to run her down to the hospital to be checked out. Lung X-rays have turned up what may be pneumonia, so the old girl is in for another round of tests tomorrow.

    I don't ever want to get so old that I am such a burden on my family. When she has lucid moments, she is very depressed about how accommodating her condition is taking her adult children away from their own families and spouses. When she is not lucid, she often complains that there are "too many people" coming and going, yet she keeps asking why more of her kids are not showing up for meals, etc. It's really sad.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 25, 2009 #2
    But, not all old people get into that situation.

    I always wonder what's the best stage - I guess 25-30.

    - Being kid is also being dependent so I don't think that's the best.
    ...
    - At about 30 responsibilities grow exponentially
    ...
    - Near 50s/60s you start getting all kind of health problems
    ...
    - Being too old is also not good (also look the most boring stage).
    But, I think being old means more understand of life and people. It's a good stage provided that you are healthy and independent. But, I know some old people who can't die but live miserable life and wish they die soon. :(

    Does she wants to die too (not like young depressed people) ?


    For now, more I grow more better I get i.e. I always prefer my present over my past or I don't mind getting old :_).
     
  4. Jan 26, 2009 #3

    wolram

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Turbo, you guys keep your chins up, you are doing a bloody good job.
     
  5. Jan 26, 2009 #4
    Curious question: Why are they so against her living in a nursing home? Seems to me that would be the best option all around, as long as it's a good home. She would get the care she needs, and your wife and her sister wouldn't have to spend as much time away from their family.
     
  6. Jan 26, 2009 #5

    turbo

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    She was in the nursing home briefly while recovering from an injury, and she was confused and miserable. She constantly asked or demanded to be taken home and made everyone's (frequent) visits quite miserable. My wife's family (and my own, for that instance) has always tried to provide family-supplied home health care, and there is great resistance among some of the siblings to getting their mother into a nursing home. Stuff like this can divide a family, so my wife and a couple of her siblings (who think nursing home care might be better) are treading very lightly on the issue and toughing it out.
     
  7. Jan 26, 2009 #6
    Taking care of say parents with Alzheimer or dementia is very demanding. The patient becomes tabula rasa which is the worst part. Having done that even only for a short while, I strongly recommend taking her to a nursing home. If I ever get kids I'll probably tell them to force me into a nursing home, no matter what I say when/if the disease is affecting me. I sure as hell don't want them to remember me the way I am at that stage. If someone else volunteers to treat her, let them, but it's time to let go of her and let her end her days with dignity.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2009
  8. Jan 26, 2009 #7

    turbo

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    You're right, of course, and my wife and I, and at least one or two of her sisters believe that a nursing home would be a safer, more consistent environment for her. There is a place about 15 minutes away that is highly-regarded, and staffed by locals, who tend to come to know the people in their charge, especially because the place is pretty small.

    Adamant opposition from a few very vocal family members is the problem. They insist that their mother must continue to live in her own house, and (selfishly) expect that all the siblings must sacrifice a 24-hour shift each week, whether or not they agree. It's toughest on my wife her younger sister because they both work full-time (sometimes with overtime) AND they have to give up an entire day and night every weekend. Family politics are heavy in these times, as you might imagine.
     
  9. Jan 26, 2009 #8

    baywax

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Yeah Turbo... you know the old saying... "get even with your kids, live long enough to be a problem to them." I think its British... its on the wall in my favourite British Diner.

    It was me and my siblings who decided to keep mom at home rather than in a hospital or nursing home. I think that's where the responsibility lies. Who decides these things? Certainly not my mom who was whacked way out on morphine to deal with lung that had metastasized into her spine cancer. It was our decision and it was based on the feeling that she had pretty well spent all of her prime years taking care of us... so this was the least we could do.

    The rub is that you still need 24 hour care and you don't know who they're going to send you next. Sometimes you get an angel and sometimes you Bertha the stand-in from the Teamster's Hiring Hall.

    Ach... as for never getting old. Its all in the head. Avoid dementia by keeping your mind active in discussion groups and organizing events etc... Avoid most other ailments by staying abreast of the latest findings concerning things like vitamin D, sunshine, swimming, sex, laughter, sex, beer, etc....... Most importantly... don't believe in numbers like 35 or 50 or 70 etc... only believe your experience and how you feel when the chickadees are talking to you. (edit: "chickadee" as in the bird)
     
  10. Jan 26, 2009 #9
    I doesn't work that way. When dementia comes, there is no way to stop it. In a few years the person doesn't remember anything but few random fragments from his/her past life. For example immediate memory clears in about 5 minutes. So on an average day (s)he may ask the same question(s) about 192 times every day of the year. And that is if (s)he is not too afraid to go to sleep. Also when (s)he doesn't remember anything that has happened just 5 minutes ago, (s)he starts to fear (and walking on your footsteps almost 24/7 which is a bit creepy), do strange things (like wear underwear on top of outdoor clothes), sometimes when (s)he isn't afraid (s)he may start walking in a random direction and get lost if you are not constantly watching and imagine all sorts of things. In effect (s)he becomes an empty shell that resembles a human but there is very little left inside.
     
  11. Jan 26, 2009 #10

    turbo

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    True, and that's where the 24/7 care comes in. If someone were not there, my mother-in law would forget to take her medications entirely, or take them too frequently, because she can't remember having taking them on schedule. Having medication times written on a calendar, checking them off, etc won't help because she won't remember to check the calendar, and doesn't know what day of the week it is.

    Sometimes she wants to get dressed, lays out a bunch of clothing, and wonders why there are clothes strewed all around. In weather like we're having now, death from hypothermia is a real threat to people with dementia, especially when they decide to go for a walk outside in their pajamas. Someone has got to be there 24/7 just for her own well-being.
     
  12. Jan 26, 2009 #11

    baywax

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I'm talking about preventing the onset of dementia by keeping the mind active throughout your life. Too many people let the television do the thinking for them, or just don't bother to read or debate issues with other people. This behavior practically ensures a person will be locked up in a condition like dementia. That and eating mad cow burgers.
     
  13. Jan 26, 2009 #12
    I'm not sure what causes dementia, do you any studies on this topic? Also I don't doubt that you wouldn't be able to delay it a few years, but if it's coming there really is no stopping it. To my knowledge dementia is not a result of eating mad cow meat. There is some other disease related to those burgers.
     
  14. Jan 26, 2009 #13

    baywax

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    One of many on this site:

    http://ccn.aacnjournals.org/cgi/content/full/24/5/8

    It appears there is some linkage to obesity as well.

    A British study shows that drinking wine will help delay the onset of dementia... I don't know if its the properties of the wine or the effects on the inhibitions (talking more, interacting better) that helps the brain along

    http://www.zeenews.com/life-style/etc/2008-12-29/494695news.html
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2009
  15. Jan 26, 2009 #14
    I'll just say that those are bold words from a person with little experience. But there is nothing fun in watching for years your close ones slowly turning into dust.
     
  16. Jan 26, 2009 #15

    baywax

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Little experience? I don't know where you get your information.
     
  17. Jan 26, 2009 #16
    I have a snitch. No, but I'm fairly certain that you wouldn't talk like that if you had experienced it.
     
  18. Jan 26, 2009 #17

    baywax

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    You're right, I'd keep repeating myself.

    My father fought-off dementia until the last 3 months of his life... he fought Nazis for 6 years too and still had a sense of humour. His mother didn't even recognize her children for her last 10 years. I have worked with cancer patients, brain cancer included, for over 15 years. I have no reason to get dramatic about it... drama and seriousness do not help the family or the situation. Bringing levity to such a leveling condition is close to the best medicine.
     
  19. Feb 8, 2009 #18

    Monique

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Today I saw a television program, where they were talking about the aging society and how more and more people will become dependent on home nursing and care. As an example they showed a severely demented woman who was dependent on the care of her son, she was in a baby-like state. It reminded me about this thread and the fact that my parents signed a statement that they want to be euthanized when they ever reach the state that they become dependent on help. Does anyone have experience with that? I think it would be tremendously difficult to decide when it would be time for euthanization.
     
  20. Feb 8, 2009 #19
    Somebody in my family is very demented, almost like vegetating. However euthanizing is out of the question, be it active or passive. Not even remotely close to being mentioned. It's not that easy when it is your own environment.
     
  21. Feb 9, 2009 #20
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: Don't ever get old if you can help it.
  1. Getting old (Replies: 88)

Loading...