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Author: Lokicious Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 35397  
Subject: OT: Thoughts on in-laws leaving Date: 8/17/2004 3:46 PM
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Seeing as how my friends here have helped and commiserated over the problems we've had with my aged in-laws decision (?) to move, here, to a four seasons environment in a complex commmunity from a senior community in California, I'm going to indulge in sharing some thoughts now that they flew back, this morning, from whence they came, with my mother-in-law now insisting they have a strong support system there (i.e., 3 old ladies with troubles of their own), even though a lack of support system was why they moved in the first place.

It's very sad and difficult, although their departure will make our lives easier. I've been plying my father-in-law with decent beer and sausage and pizza, things his wife will never get him and he will probably never taste again, because she doesn't understand with his end stage heart failure, his arteries have been so clogged for years, a bit of good tasting pepperoni (he only eats a couple slices) isn't going to be what kills him. There's nothing for him back there—he sits in his chair reading the paper and watching TV—but at least here, he had his daughter visiting. There he will be alone. Her real reason for going back is she has her three friends with whom to gossip, and she failed to find new gossips, here. In other ways, her life there will be much harder (other than climate), since she won't have anyone bringing over dinner or helping with errands or doing all those thousands of little things that require strength, stability, and dexterity (opening cans, changing light bulbs, putting a key on a key ring). Chances are they will end up without functioning electronics, because even the simplest remote is too complicated. God knows what will happen if she gets sick or injured and even temporarily incompacitated (which happened, here, several times—she blames our weather, but she's far more likely to break a hip, there, because she thinks she can still do things she can't).

What made them a burden, especially my mother-in-law, wasn't the times they really needed help. And, it wasn't doing the light-bulb changing type stuff when we were visiting or making an extra portion of dinner. The real problem was that my mother-in-law wasn't willing to accommodate and change the ways she liked to do things, even though some of the things that are important to her, she can no longer do without help, and the help meant our time doing things we consider a waste of time. I'm sure this is typical of housewives of her generation for whom time has never had value. So, for example, she insisted my wife take her bargan shopping, although all she was saving was maybe a few dollars per excursion (usually less) and my wife's time is theoretically valued at something like $150/hour (not that we see that) and her time not working is precious. Or, she refuses to learn how to use the computer, then asks us to send messages for her on such topics as reminding one of her nephews that a niece is having a birthday. Things mount up.

Another huge issue has been getting rid of crap. I suppose it is a Depression era hang-up, but you don't hang onto crap for 50 years with the idea that you or somebody might want or need it someday, especially not across a half dozen moves. Since they are moving into a smaller place, they had to downsize (they will still discover they haven't downsized close to enough) and disposing of stuff like old ties (I doubt my father-in-law has worn a tie in 10 years, and he probably won't again, since he hasn't the strength to go to funerals) or his old student-cello (worth $100) that he tried to learn early in his early retirement, gave up, and has hauled for 4 moves since then, has been hugely traumatic for them. Naturally, instead of throwing stuff away or holding a garage sale or giving to charity, they tried to foist everything on us—almost all ended up in our trash can or with my hauling to charities (did get me to clear out some of our accumulating crap at the same time). How much old gift wrapping paper and rags does one need? A cheap coat rack from the '50s is a cheap coat rack, not an antique. Blankets for a full sized bed are of no use for those who do not own full sized beds and have no immediate or long term plans to do so (they have singles, we have queens). Plastic bags and plastic knives and forks are disposable items, not things you wash and reuse.

Finally, there is my mother-in-law's Bush-league thinking. I don't think this is inherently an aging problem, it's just that, like GWB, thinking through nuances, weighing pros and cons, problem solving, before making decisions is, and according to my wife, always has been, beyond her. Just a few last days examples that are symptomatic of bad, bigger decisions (like moving and, we fear, finances). While we were vacationing—got in a couple of nice 12-15 miles hikes through mud and slippery slopes in heavy downpour and thunder storms (Lake Superior's gales of November came early)—the in-laws stayed at our house, since their furniture was in transit. Before their car was moved, my mother-in-law drove it over and parked in the part of our driveway we share with our neighbor with the minivan, despite explicit instructions from my wife not to. Naturally, she got swiped (my wife swiped one of our neighbor's visitors once, who didn't understand how these old houses and their driveways were not meant for anything bigger than a Model-T). My mother-in-law was terrified of having to back up through our long driveway (the unshared part) with a bit of maneuver to get to shared part, which everyone normally treats as a wide lane. The street is officially a sticker-only parking zone to prevent it being used for football Saturdays, but no one normally tickets (they don't even ticket on football Saturdays). So, my mother-in-law made the worst of 3 choices, and will now have a major trauma getting the car fixed in California, because she fixated on what she saw as a problem without understanding the real risks.

Then, she didn't want me to carry her big suitcase to the car last night, so I wouldn't have to get dressed at 5 AM. You can't drag the thing downstairs without scratching our floor (or get it down the staircase on wheels), and I'm the only one with the strength to carry it easily (my wife probably could, but she shouldn't have to). The problem for my mother-in-law was she wanted to fold neatly their pajamas and the idea of carrying a few light things to the car in the morning and finishing packing there was very upsetting to her. She was also complaining about having to fit everying into one suitcase. The airline, of course, would have allowed a suitcase for each of them, but he can't drag one, and she conceived of herself as having to drag two, which she couldn't. In the real world of decisions, of course, her daughter was going to see them to the check-in and when they arrive at SFO, the place is crawling with red-caps. At no point will my mother-in-law need to carry anything but carry-ons.

Trivial stuff, but when you can't even solve these kinds of problems, what will their lives be like when they have to deal with trivial bad decisions, that blow into big ones, like the car accident?

Oh well, they are gone, and I've gotten this off my chest (your appropriate response is "thanks for sharing" with unsaid undercurrents of irony). I hope there are no disasters for them and they are happier there than they were here. I think I've found Iand disposed of) most of the crap my mother-in-law hid in the cupboards and under the beds and in the dressers while we were gone, because we weren't here to say, no!. We're going to celebrate by drinking beer out of the bottle and eating in front of the tube, like the ill-mannered louts we are.
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Author: 2old4bs Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 10706 of 35397
Subject: Re: OT: Thoughts on in-laws leaving Date: 8/20/2004 11:17 AM
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LOK, PHEEEEW--what a post! Comic tragedy at its best...a (somewhat) nostalgic look into the past for me, and a view to the future for many who have yet to undergo this situation.

I suppose it is a Depression era hang-up, but you don't hang onto crap for 50 years with the idea that you or somebody might want or need it someday, especially not across a half dozen moves.

Sure you do! That's what almost everyone that age does! ;-)

Naturally, instead of throwing stuff away or holding a garage sale or giving to charity, they tried to foist everything on us—almost all ended up in our trash can or with my hauling to charities (did get me to clear out some of our accumulating crap at the same time).

The tricky part is throwing the stuff away without letting them know you're throwing it away. One of my siblings and I developed a code: "Let's throw this away" meant "Let's put this in the dumpster", "Put this in my car to take home" meant "Put this in the dumpster", "I'll see if so-and-so wants this" meant "Put this in the dumpster". Only the small pile we kept with us ever made its way back to our apartments. :-)

How much old gift wrapping paper and rags does one need? A cheap coat rack from the '50s is a cheap coat rack, not an antique. Blankets for a full sized bed are of no use for those who do not own full sized beds and have no immediate or long term plans to do so (they have singles, we have queens). Plastic bags and plastic knives and forks are disposable items, not things you wash and reuse.

Tell that to the folks on the LBYM Board--ROFL!!!

Finally, there is my mother-in-law's Bush-league thinking...Before their car was moved, my mother-in-law drove it over and parked in the part of our driveway we share with our neighbor with the minivan... Naturally, she got swiped (my wife swiped one of our neighbor's visitors once, who didn't understand how these old houses and their driveways were not meant for anything bigger than a Model-T). My mother-in-law was terrified of having to back up through our long driveway (the unshared part) with a bit of maneuver to get to shared part, which everyone normally treats as a wide lane. The street is officially a sticker-only parking zone to prevent it being used for football Saturdays, but no one normally tickets (they don't even ticket on football Saturdays). So, my mother-in-law made the worst of 3 choices, and will now have a major trauma getting the car fixed in California, because she fixated on what she saw as a problem without understanding the real risks.

HUH??? I gotta say, this is completely unintelligible to me also--guess it's my 'Bush-league thinking' ;-)

The real problem was that my mother-in-law wasn't willing to accommodate and change the ways she liked to do things, even though some of the things that are important to her, she can no longer do without help, and the help meant our time doing things we consider a waste of time. I'm sure this is typical of housewives of her generation for whom time has never had value.

I think it's typical of the elderly 'retired' in general. Even those who previously worked will pay a lot of lip service to understanding 'how busy you are', but it's only lip service--they just can't seem to comprehend that younger folks are too busy to engage in the nonsense they want us to engage in.

(your appropriate response is "thanks for sharing" with unsaid undercurrents of irony).

Ooops! I think I missed the 'appropriate response', but THANKS FOR SHARING!

2old













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Author: Lokicious Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 10707 of 35397
Subject: Re: OT: Thoughts on in-laws leaving Date: 8/20/2004 1:07 PM
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Thanks 2Old,

The commonalty of many of us dealing with aging parents is striking. I went to Radio Shack the other day, because having my father-in-law in my house allowed me to demonstrate the utility of wireless earphones for his deafness, and the guy who served me started going on and on about his father-in-law refusing to take a 911-only cell phone out on his tractor (he's a 80 year old farmer) and, naturally, the tractor broke down and he had to walk back miles across farm land.

By "Bush-league thinking" I mean something like this. You decide what you want to do in advance, based on some gut feeling, a strong desire, a singular fear, an ideological principle, or, in my mother-in-law's case, routine. Then, you refuse to consider problems that might arise that might make your decision a bad one or to listen to others who suggest potential problems or offer alternatives to help solve the problems. Contingency planning is seen as unnecessary or as getting in the way of making a decision, since contingency planning suggests the possibility that something could go wrong. (In plain English it's called recklessness, but if you are a spoiled brat whose privilege lets you get away with one screw up after another, recklessness easily gets promoted as risk taking.)

Here's the latest example from the in-law's move. It turns out they booked the motel where they are waiting the last few days for the moving van only until the day when the truck driver said he thought he would arrive. I presume the possibility of having to pay for an unused night in the motel (unlikely, even if they did have to cancel late) was too frightening to contemplate. (Meantime, based on all the junk of theirs we got rid of and the lower cost of the move back to California, I estimate they wasted $2000-$3000 moving crap, here, not including the rest of the stuff they should have gotten rid of for the move back.) Of course, the moving van is going to be at least a day late, and they were lucky someone cancelled a reservation, though they are still going to have to change rooms and take a smoking room. Not to mention, trying to move into their new apartment on the day the van arrives, with my mother-in-law getting easily exhausted, and my father-in-law confused and likely to trip over stuff, when there will be trouble finding bedding, however well labeled the boxes are (I cut open all the boxes when they moved here), almost no possibility they can get the TV in working order for days (in the middle of the Olympics), difficulty with food (assuming ordering pizza and paper plates are still a cardinal sin), no one to move stuff around and out of the way once the movers leave (and no garage for stuff not needed immediately, like they had here, plus a son-in-law to lug the boxes). A contingency planner, like myself, would book the motel for several days longer than optimism dictates, would figure on not moving into the house, given that they aren't college kids who can crash anywhere, until there is time to get it in some kind of viable order, and would find someone, or hire someone, since there isn't anyone young there to help, to do the stuff movers aren't likely to do. (We couldn't get her to pay her next door neighbor's college kid to help with last minute stuff on this end, while we were gone, though she had no problem imposing on the kid's mother lug her around and help clean the empty house.) These are not impoverished seniors. But not "wasting" money (i.e., spending a couple hundred bucks for stuff that would really make life easier) is one of these singular hang-ups that prevents them from solving problems that could be life-threatening. (In packing to move to Michigan, my mother-in-law cut herself on a box, neglected it, and had my wife not caught it early on, transported her back and forth to the wound clinic (paying for a cab would have meant not going), she would probably have lost a leg.)

Sorry... once I get started, the venting is unavoidable. THANKS FOR LISTENING.

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Author: mawhinney Three stars, 500 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 10708 of 35397
Subject: Re: OT: Thoughts on in-laws leaving Date: 8/20/2004 2:40 PM
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Remember that you will one day be old, in declining health, and set in your ways. Even though you will be determined to be independent,you will need assistance, companionship, some extra help, and understanding. Your parents realize they are in decline and are frightened of what the future holds. They need your understanding. Remember also that you were once very reliant on your parents for your basic needs. Your parents cared & provided for you. Now you need to do the same for your parents. Treat and care for you parents as you would want someone to help you when you are not able to fully care for yourself. While your wife may loose some pay assisting her parents, I am sure her parents made sacrifices for her benefit. Everything can not be measured in dollars!

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Author: 2old4bs Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 10710 of 35397
Subject: Re: OT: Thoughts on in-laws leaving Date: 8/20/2004 4:33 PM
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Everything can not be measured in dollars!

That's certainly true, along with most of the sentiment in your post, particularly Your parents realize they are in decline and are frightened of what the future holds.

Remember that you will one day be old, in declining health, and set in your ways.

We will all most certainly get old, and be in declining health, but all of us will not necessarily be 'set in our ways'. That term is often used, but there is no evidence that as folks get older their 'ways' get written in stone, nor that they are incapable of change. People who are 'set in their ways' are actually stubborn people who are not willing to make the extra effort that is required to change 'their ways'. They prefer to use their age as an excuse to control others. This might very well be due to their fear of their situation and the future, as you suggest, or it might just be that they enjoy exerting what little control they still have over others--in either case, the behavior is changeable, in the same way that anyone can break a bad habit--desire to do so is the key.

2old


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Author: Lokicious Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 10711 of 35397
Subject: Re: OT: Thoughts on in-laws leaving Date: 8/20/2004 4:48 PM
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"Remember that you will one day be old, in declining health, and set in your ways. Even though you will be determined to be independent,you will need assistance, companionship, some extra help, and understanding. Your parents realize they are in decline and are frightened of what the future holds. They need your understanding. Remember also that you were once very reliant on your parents for your basic needs. Your parents cared & provided for you. Now you need to do the same for your parents. Treat and care for you parents as you would want someone to help you when you are not able to fully care for yourself. While your wife may loose some pay assisting her parents, I am sure her parents made sacrifices for her benefit. Everything can not be measured in dollars!"

Ma,

You are missing my point, and this is certainly not about money, though it is about time. We are sympathetic, but that doesn't mean we have no right to complain and that the elderly are relieved of their responsibility to be as little of a burden as possible, as long as they have enough capability. It's just like on the other end of life: when children really are too young to do anything on their own, parents take full responsibilty, but unspoiled children soon need to learn to take some responsibility.

Here's some of what I hope we learn about aging, that many of our parent's generation never learned, because they never saw their parents age.

1) Try to be independent as long as possible and to maintain one's lifestyle as long as possibe,

2) Learn to prioritize what about independence and lifestyle is most important and be willing to give up what is less important or what requires disporoportionate help for the relative importance.

3) Be willing to problem solve and find means of adapting to make independence and lifestyle easier to maintain. This includes being willing to budget money, if we have it, to get things done that we used to do for ourselves and being willing to explore innovations that help.

For my in-laws, innovations and conveniences are presumed to be extravagances and indulgences not ways of making life easier, unless proven otherwise, and budgeting money, which they can afford, to do anything that they would done for themselves in the past, is considered unacceptable, even if it means demanding help and becoming a burden.

Of course, some of the problem with my mother-in-law vs. my wife is a complete difference in world view as to what really are priorities.

But the other issues is really being able to make risk/benefit decisions, including weighing costs. The best case scenario with this move will be that my father-in-law will get disoriented, depressed, and constipated, and my mother-in-law exhausted and dehydrated. The possibility that these conditions could be severe is very real, as is the possibility that he will trip over something in a cluttered space or that she will injure herself trying to do thingss she no longer has the strength or balance to do. Waiting a couple of days before moving into the house and hiring a couple of kids to set up the electronics and do the heavy lifting and box opening and disposal would be a whole lot safer, and we think well worth a few hundred bucks (we'd happily spring for it if they'd accept it, but they won't, and they don't need it).

Independence and life style maintainance are a good goal. That's not the same as being stuck in your ways, and I hope my generation can do a better job of knowing the difference.

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Author: 2old4bs Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 10712 of 35397
Subject: Re: OT: Thoughts on in-laws leaving Date: 8/20/2004 5:04 PM
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The commonalty of many of us dealing with aging parents is striking.

One Christmas Day my mom fell in the hallway of my sis's house. She fell right outside the bathroom that I happened to be in at the time. I could only open the door 2 inches. For over a half-hour my mother laid on that cold floor, insisting she was "OK" (even though she couldn't get up), and telling my sister NOT to call an ambulance, while I argued with my sister from the 2 inch door-crack that she HAD to call an ambulance RIGHT AWAY. Can you imagine? Isn't that taking obedience to parents too far? BTW, my mom had broken her hip.

By "Bush-league thinking" I mean something like this. You decide what you want to do in advance, based on some gut feeling, a strong desire, a singular fear, an ideological principle, or, in my mother-in-law's case, routine. Then, you refuse to consider problems that might arise that might make your decision a bad one or to listen to others who suggest potential problems or offer alternatives to help solve the problems. Contingency planning is seen as unnecessary or as getting in the way of making a decision, since contingency planning suggests the possibility that something could go wrong.

I wonder if this contingency planning failure might be more prevalent in older folks because during a large portion of their lives, not many of these 'normal' things went wrong--I mean this sincerely. 35 years ago I worked for one of the Bell companies--our office 'error' rate was less than 2%--it never went higher than that. The last time I spoke with someone in that office their error rate was somewhere around 15%, and that was 15 years ago, it's gotten a lot worse since. I use this simply as an example of the general deterioration of service and commitment failures in all areas that has taken place within my own lifetime. 35 years ago you could make plans to move into a house or apartment on a specific day and the phone company, gas company, electric company and movers would all show up on the same day, during the requested time period, as promised. Because of my own more recent experiences with missed commitments and appointments, etc., I have learned to make contingency plans, and probably so have you, but they were hardly necessary many years ago.

Sorry... once I get started, the venting is unavoidable.

You are emotionally exhausted. My advice is stop talking about all this, stop thinking about all this, do as many other things that require concentration on other things as you can--or just substitute vodka for the beer, you ill-mannered lout... ;-)

2old


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