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My mom has been caring for my 92-year-old father. But now she is unable to care for herself, let alone my father. I try to help but I have a full-time job and live 15 miles away. Help!

 

Question:  Until recently, my mother was taking care of my 92-year-old father who has Parkinson's, cancer and diabetes. Now she is unable to care for herself, let alone my father. She does not want to contact her doctor anymore or take medication that was suggested to her. She has no appetite and is not eating much. I hesitate to call her doctor because she is talking about looking for another one and a different hospital also. She fights with my father constantly and the situation is unbearable for me. I take food over and help as much as I can but I have a full time job and am 15 miles away. Help! Who can I call to discuss this situation?

Dr. Amy:  I encourage you to talk with your mother about your concerns and ask her if she would be comfortable with you accompanying her to her next medical appointment so you could meet her doctor. Sometimes people are relieved that a family member wants to meet their physician; other times they object. If your mother does not want you to go with her to the doctor and you have concerns about her health or safety, you do need to communicate those to her physician. I am also wondering if you might ask your mother if she would like your help finding a new doctor since she isn't happy with her current physician.

Finally, if possible, I would recommend that you talk with an Adult Services worker at your County Office on Aging and/or with a Geriatric Care Manager in your community about your concerns about your parents' care and their constant fighting. It sounds as though there are several issues going on other than your mother's lack of appetite and stopping her medication. You can find a Geriatric Care Manager by going to the website www.caremanager.org and clicking on the tab to "Find a Care Manager". You will also find detailed information about what Geriatric Care Managers do. In short, they are professionals with significant experience working with older adults and their families. They can help you by assessing your family situation and by finding the most appropriate solutions to the challenges and service needs. Their fees vary so make sure you enquire about costs.

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