Lots of care taking

I just finished a trip with my family to take my parents to see my last surviving aunt and uncle. My parents are doing well and living independently and productively in their mid to late 80s. So my siblings and I aren’t really doing anything other than staying in touch and enjoying the time we have with them. But our aunt and uncle aren’t doing so well.

We started by visiting my uncle in southern Arizona. He is dealing with Alzheimer’s. He’s at the point where he is aware of his diagnosis and is coping - some days better than others. He has given up driving, as it became too easy to get lost. *** He’s a little more than a year older than my dad - his youngest brother. They are the last of 5 still surviving. His daughter and her husband (and one of their children) live very near by. Daughter (my first cousin, if you’re trying to keep track) is retired and does the heavy lifting of managing his care. For now, that’s a care giver who comes in a few hours a day to check on his well-being and make sure he has eaten meals. For now, he’s still capable of fixing up a simple breakfast or a sandwich for lunch. I think she takes care of dinner - at least when my cousin doesn’t take him to her house or out to a restaurant for dinner. Care giver also make sure the mail gets brought in and important things don’t end up in the trash. My cousin has taken over bill paying, as he has overlooked too many.

All in all, things are going well there, and it was great to make sure these two elder statesmen of the family got some time to visit each other. I didn’t get into the details of finances, but between my Uncle’s government pension and my cousin’s business success, I’m sure he will be well taken care of as this terrible affliction progresses.

*** Funny event happened while there - he was in the car with my dad and pointed to another car, saying, “Hey, that’s my car!” Well he sold his car several months ago. Clearly, he didn’t recall that. But on the funny side, it really WAS his car. It had the University of Arizona sticker right where he put it. The car was sold to someone in town. And being a relatively small town, coming across it at some point is not surprising.

From southern AZ, it was on to northern AZ to visit my mother’s sister. She’s about 5 years older than my mother (that puts her in her early 90s), and not doing very well. She just moved into assisted living a few days before we arrived. She can walk a little bit, but is prone to falls. She also has macular degeneration. The toughest bit is aphasia - mainly in her ability to formulate words and speak. See seems to understand spoken words pretty well. I’m sure she understands most of what is happening around her. She had the biggest smile you can imagine when my mom walked into her room - they hadn’t seen each other in almost 3 years. And that’s pretty tough for two sisters who talked on the phone almost every week for the last few decades.

Until the move to assisted living, she had been living with her son (yes, another cousin) for 5 or 6 years. Her son and his wife have done yeoman’s duty taking care of her and trying to keep her in their home, but her needs have simply become too great for them to handle. She needs daily supervision, and they need a life outside of hands on caregiving.

As for my parents, we are still on watchful waiting. After spending a week with him more-or-less full time, I can see my dad getting a bit confused from time to time. It’s mostly from his hearing loss - fairly age appropriate, I suppose. He doesn’t like his hearing aids, so often won’t wear them. So he doesn’t always understand what people are saying to him. But there’s also a bit more, as he would occasionally have some trouble with restaurant menus. Some confusion at advanced ages is not unusual. The world is moving by at full speed, while their internal mental processes are moving a bit slower. But we (my siblings and I) are keeping an eye out for changes. We had a couple chances during the week to compare notes and talk about the future. None of this is easy, but it’s hard to ignore when you’re seeing it play out in real time in their siblings (our aunt and uncle).

All in all, a good trip, with lots of visiting time with family - and a bit of sightseeing along the way. We saw the Dodgers play the Diamondbacks in Phoenix along the way - great fun for all, and especially my son and brother - the two BIG Dodger fans. Got home and back safely, with no problems at all. And I got a bit of a break from some of the daily pressure of my own caregiving, as the rest of the family pitched in with my son.



the rest of the family pitched in with my son.

One more fun little tidbit. We came to refer to the process of getting him tied down in the van (or untied) as the pit crew springing into action. One person in the back would take care of the rear tie downs. The driver would get the front tie downs. Those two would also handle his shoulder straps. The front seat passenger took care of the side door, while another person in the back seat would operate the lift. We could get him tied down in less than 20 seconds. On my own, the job takes a couple of minutes.



Can you look into getting your father more comfortable hearing aids? Costco does free testing and has reasonable prices (not sure how comfortable/modern their hearing aids are).

Can you look into getting your father more comfortable hearing aids? Costco does free testing and has reasonable prices (not sure how comfortable/modern their hearing aids are).

I suspect it’s more stubbornness than anything.

Costco’s hearing aids are reasonably modern. That’s where we were getting my wife’s hearing aids. She found them comfortable enough, although I’m sure that will differ from person to person.

For now, we’re letting mom do the cajoling. She’s got more experience than any of us in dealing with him. :wink: Plus she has to live with him on a daily basis.

But when you get down to it, I suspect that as long as he thinks he hears well enough, he’s going to push back. And if that’s the most we have to put up with, I’ll take it.


Can you look into getting your father more comfortable hearing aids?

Agree—and very glad you raised that. I had planned to—not all together yet…but getting there. (DH tested covid-positive today, and tomorrow is my 1st day out of isolation.)

If you can help him find hearing aids that are effective and comfortable, it could make an enormous difference. Data have shown clearly that uncorrected hearig loss is a factor in dementia and in its progression. There have been significant improvements, from what I understand. And some appear to be far less costly.


" There have been significant improvements, from what I understand."

They have a contraption called a “trumpet”. Looks like a funnel but to stick the small end to your
ear and point the wide end toward the area you that you wish to hear. Very difficult to lose and
can be removed quite easily should you not wish to listen anymore.

Wonderful things being invented every day.


Can you look into getting your father more comfortable hearing aids? Costco does free testing and has reasonable prices (not sure how comfortable/modern their hearing aids are).

Costco is quite excellent and has very affordable prices. After getting three sets of hearing aids at very high prices but none worked out for him in the long run, I took my dad to Costco just to check that department out. After being given much time for questions and a free hearing test we ordered new hearing aids for him. I was pleased to learn that the product included lifetime testing and adjustments as his hearing decreases and that is done with a computer that will chat his exact needs.

You may be surprised to learn that Costco is the second largest provider of hearing aids in the United States after the VA.


My father was resistant to getting hearing aids, but once he did it, he loved them. Especially when noise bugged him, and he could turn them off!

He got his back when they were big honking things behind your ear (or maybe he couldn’t afford the in-the-ear kind, or maybe that wasn’t the right kind for his problem). He had a mastoid bone removed due to serious infection around age 30. It served to keep him out of WWII, so silver linings, I suppose. My father was so anti-authoritarian and with a genius-level IQ and life-of-the-party personality, I can’t imagine him subservient to the chain of command in the military. He couldn;t even work for anyone else, although he started out as a traveling salesman for his father’s business.

Forgot to note that what got dear ol’ dad to finally get hearing aids was everyone complaining about how loud he played the radio and tv. I think mom shed some tears over it.