“Old Age Isn’t For Sissies”

~Bette Davis

Recently, the care of my father-in-law has become more difficult given the frequency of recent admissions to hospital, his decision to make a high cost purchase, and his relationship choices.  Readers of our blog will remember seeing a picture of him on Father’s Day last year.  At 92, he enjoys much better health than most of his peers and still lives independently, with assistance from home help and district nurse visitation.  However, he has been admitted to hospital on numerous occasions since last September and while he has had some excellent care, the few medical problems he does have, persist.

Admittedly, my father-in-law is partly responsible for his lengthy recovery because he refuses to exercise.  Although we have offered private physiotherapy and he now qualifies for public physiotherapy, he doesn’t want to continue with the therapy.  The private physiotherapist gave him a very rigorous initial exercise regime and because of overdoing it, he landed back in hospital.  The publicly funded physiotherapist apparently overextended his hip while testing his range of motion and my father-in-law ended up in hospital, again. Very frustrating!

Another alarming event was my father-in-law’s recent decision to purchase an air exchange system for his small retirement unit. Unlike many New Zealand homes, my father-in-law’s home was not plagued by condensation. However, a salesperson convinced him that because there was a small amount of moisture on his bedroom window of a winter morning, he needed a system worth $3000. A big financial undertaking for a man his age, who has very little extra cash. The fact that payments would be spread over a long period and would incur no interest was the hook that lured him in! Should this kind of marketing be allowed?

Last but not least, there is the issue of his female companion. My father-in-law lives in a small retirement community, of his own choosing. Several of his neighbours are people he knew in his younger years. Instead of cultivating friendships within the community, he has chosen to befriend a much younger woman, who the family feels is only interested in my father-in-law for what she can get. We all recognize that my father-in-law may be lonely and we would have welcomed anyone who showed genuine care and concern for him. But his companion has exhibited behaviour that borders on financial abuse. We have sought the advice of a lawyer, a social worker and bank officials and all said that there is little advice they can provide unless we want to designate someone to administer father-in-law’s finances. None of us want to rob my father-in-law of his independence, however, we are concerned that he is being taken advantage of, not only financially, but emotionally too. My father-in-law has asked us why we don’t approve of his female friend and we have been honest with him. He denies that she has ulterior motives and maintains that she is a lovely person and doesn’t know what he would do without her. My father-in-law enjoys the ongoing support of all his family and is much better off in that regard than many older persons, so to hear him defend her in this way is frustrating to say the least.

Unfortunately, these concerns are all too common among boomers. Has anyone else had similar issues with aging parents? What advice do you have for us?

Until next time,

Your Boomer Life Partners