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Tobias41

Dealing with my Aging Father

11 posts in this topic

I need some advice on dealing with my father, to give you some background I am going to try to be brief and blunt but its a long story -so bear with me. 

Background

My Dad's back had always hurt for as long as I can remember, he is way over-weight, does not follow a diet or excersize, and is borderline diabetic, not to mention a number of other health problems. He has managed this with a number of pain medications and injections. In August something became worse, as he would barely walk and finally went to see a specialist. The specialist recommended weight loss and physical therapy, neither of which he did. So for a while he "doctor shopped" - basically going to different doctors looking for the answer he agreed with... Various doctors and pain medications later, he has just continued to let things go.  So for the past 4 months he has pretty much sat in a chair and done zip, other than watch TV. Things came to a head last month as the pain in bad enough that sitting doesn't work nor the pain medications - long story short, he is having surgery to remove a herniated disk. Which the doctor believes has relieved the majority of his pain. 

Going Forward

So it is obvious that this year is going to be a cornerstone for him.  He will either change his ways (now that the pain is manageable) or he will become sedentary and be unable to walk - which will lead to a nursing home situation as my itty-bitty mother cannot take care of the big guy.. My question is what can I do to help this? I know that he does not want to be in a nursing home as he says statements like "I would die first" but he also does not take advice well as he is quite rude and angry.. 

Last year, when it was apparent this was coming I had a sit down heart to heart with him, I was as nice as I could possibly be, but I wanted to covey to him if he didn't do something soon he would not be walking - at that time I felt within a year or two... ironic how very close I was. He did not talk to me for two months... and the conversation did little good to improve his health. 

Right now, he is in an inpatient rehab clinic, where he is going to have to do a lot of work, physical and mental, not to mention change his eating habits to get out of there.  He is having issues walking and the physical therapist has high hopes he will walk but right now he is totally unmotivated - wanting others to do the simplest of tasks like shaving... (there is nothing wrong with the mans arms, just saying)  I know that I cannot do this for him.. But should I just stay out of it? Or should I take drastic measures and lecture him? Would that work as he is not a child? Any input would be most welcome. 

 

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Patient autonomy.

It's both a blessing, and a curse.

He's a grown man. He has to choose to make improvements. There's nothing you can say or do that's going to change his mind. Talking to him last time didn't help motivate him, do you really think it will do anything this time? (Genuine question, not snark. I don't know if the surgery has had a dramatic impact on his view of things or not).

Being supportive, and encouraging of any positive changes is probably the best thing you can do.

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I'm so sorry to hear this, Tobias! I feel for your dad and all he's going through, but my heart also goes out to you - I know it must be very difficult to watch this and feel as if nothing you try to do is helping.

I don't have too much advice to give here, except that I think you know that lecturing won't work. Sorry, but I'm afraid there's not much you can do but let the clinic handle it and be supportive, as Imp suggests.

However, he sounds to me as if he might be depressed. Have you asked the doctors about this? Do they have professionals equipped to diagnose/deal w/ depression?

Edited by rosered135
to add a thought

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I agree with the very real possibility of depression. Bring that to his providers' attention and request a psych consult. The worst that will happen is that Dad refuses to engage with the therapist. 

Chronic pain is a leading cause of depression. It can become a very vicious cycle.

I'll hold the good thought. 

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So just an update as I have been at the rehab clinic all weekend. :)

So Friday, I got the following update. He is starting to listen to the physical therapist, he has been doing his exercises 

and I am at least seeing some motivation so that is good. He talked about wanting help etc. So I am hoping this is an up trend... but we will see. 

Talking to him last time didn't help motivate him, do you really think it will do anything this time?

I totally get where you are coming from IMP, honestly I had hoped that the surgery and being unable to walk would scare the *beep* out of him. Although the impact was not as dramatic as I would like, he has changed some in that keeps saying he "wants help" he has also admitted his health issues which is a breakthrough in itself.  So deep down do I think it will do anything this time, no, but I am trying to stay positive and "offer help" as I can. Of course we have all told him, no one can do this for him. 

However, he sounds to me as if he might be depressed. Have you asked the doctors about this? Do they have professionals equipped to diagnose/deal w/ depression?

We have - and they have been doing daily evaluations, so far nothing for depression but we are having a specialist to come in, if Dad will allow it. He is pretty old school and still uses terms like "shrink" so we are not sure how well this will be received. 

Thank you all for your comments, its so nice to have a sounding board on these things. 

 

 

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Had a similar experience with my DM with inpatient rehab.  She did not like being pushed.  However with the eventual knowledge that a nursing home was going to be her only choice as my 89 year old DF couldn't manage a bedridden wife she eventually got with the program.  She's now doing better than she has in a long time and she and DF are walking regularly.  She complained to me about the rehab experience and I told her the choices were either doing the work, residing in a nursing home, or death.  I'm glad she chose doing the work.  I hope you will get the same results.  Is there someone who could be his walking partner?

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 Is there someone who could be his walking partner?

One he gets where his is stable on his feet, my Mom would walk anywhere. She is a little dynamo always needing to do something (never sits still).  However she is also a lot smaller than him, so if he is looking for a walking partner for stability, that would be a no. (There is also a ton of people walking the halls where he is at, so that will be good as well)

 

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Hope things begin to go better w/ your dad, Tobias. He will be in my thoughts and prayers (if that's ok).

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I'm new here, so I don't know how this situation ended up. But I'm certain there are plenty of others, sharing a similar problem. Did Dad ever like to fish? hunt morel mushrooms? bird watching? walking in the woods? Once he is 'stable' on his feet, that could be a way to lure him, out and about, to getting more exercise. Take him to the Zoo? I sure hope everything is turning out ok for him and your family.

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This ^^^ made me wonder, any further updates, Tobias? I hope all is going well.

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On 5/14/2016 at 8:20 AM, 123Testing said:

I'm new here, so I don't know how this situation ended up. But I'm certain there are plenty of others, sharing a similar problem. Did Dad ever like to fish? hunt morel mushrooms? bird watching? walking in the woods? Once he is 'stable' on his feet, that could be a way to lure him, out and about, to getting more exercise. Take him to the Zoo? I sure hope everything is turning out ok for him and your family.

Here the update and the answer, 123Testing, he did used to love all of these thing ironically the first four suggestions are right on for him.  Hopefully he will do these things once again - I have tried luring him out, there is a very good fly fishing program that I think he would love and is designed for senior citizens with or without movement issues, so I am hoping he will eventually decide to do it. 

The update is that he is back at home, we have a therapist coming 2 times per week, he is also doing a water aerobics program that I think is helping as well, it is geared for senior citizens post-heart attack, but we go him into it anyhow, so he is going to that 2 a week NO  well. So now he has gotten off the walker and has a cane, good progress.

I think, that part of the whole issue has been this: he has always been a big man, and up to this point, regardless of his health, he has been able to "muscle" his way through things. Now his poor health is catching up with him, and though he will never admit it, I am sure that is scaring him- although I feel horrible about that, it has produced results and that is very good! He has lost a lot of weight, and he is actually working towards a goal! I feel much more positive about the situation than I did a few months ago, amazing how things can change!!

Edited by Tobias41
Hit post pre-maturely
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