As you may have read, the in-laws moved in with us in January.  They are in their 80’s and we decided they’d be safer, more comfortable, etc. if they were with us….and who can afford assisted living any more?!

Obviously when you add more people to a household, there are going to be issues to solve, especially with multi-generational homes such as ours.  Limited mobility, medication regimens, household chores, sharing of everything…we’ve dealt with it all so far!  And no, it isn’t easy for them…or for us.  In fact, it is a constant in our lives;  what will it be today?

Well, this week it is this:  how do we keep them safe and our home safe?  Much like with small children, we have done the obvious things to safeguard them;  grab bars in the bathroom, limited throw rugs, eliminated most cooking, etc. but unlike with small children, we simply can’t be there ALL the time to watch over them (nor should we….they deserve and are capable of as much independence as possible!).

However…accidents can and do happen.  How do we avoid them?  I don’t think its possible to avoid EVERY accident, as much as we all try.  Elderly people who have limited ability to move WILL fall…burners on the stove and the toaster oven WILL be left on…the car WILL continue to be an issue (it was left running for 9.5 hours this weekend…thank God it was in the driveway, not the garage!)…doors will be left open, etc. etc.  There is a certain amount of absentmindedness, forgetfulness, etc. that is just unavoidable.  This is the frustration we face now….and equally frustrating for them, I know, and embarrassing as well.  We don’t believe they need round-the-clock care…and yet…..?

Apparently this is a very real issue for many families today.  Another family member is caring for a 90-year old who still lives in her 2nd floor apartment, tho is unable to manage stairs.  She is unable to cook and probably is not taking her medications properly, either.  She is checked on twice a day, but what happens in the 12-14 hours in between?!  How can they guarantee her safety? She tried to reheat something for 30 minutes in the microwave recently….luckily it was when someone was there to save her from a fire.  She is resistant to moving or changing her regimen, to the point of paranoia…so that makes it all the more difficult.  Emotions are so strong when you are dealing with family, that it frequently “freezes” you so you are unable to make the logical decisions that you’d clearly make in your job, for instance.  And it always seems there is ONE person in the family who somehow got the job of caretaker…there are often “logical” reasons why the other siblings, etc. aren’t helping, but that doesn’t make the one left with the daily issues to feel any better…the stress load in unbelievable!  I feel sorry for my brother-in-law…he is truly stuck in a very difficult situation….as are my husband and I.

And there are no clear answers….no playbook.  You feel your way each and every day!