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Need some advice about elderly neighbor...

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Back in April we moved into our new home. Bella Vista, where I live, was originally established as a retirement community, but as the city grew, more and more young families (like us) have moved in. Our neighbors were in their 80's but extremely friendly, loved having the girls around, etc. Unfortunately, the wife died about 3 weeks ago after stuggling with uterine cancer for 2 years. She died on her 81st birthday. (I really wanted to post about her death then, but decided not to.) She was a kind, good-spirited woman despite undergoing chemo the entire time I knew her. Her husband, 86, suffers from what I would classify as moderate Alzheimer's. He takes care of himself pretty well (he was alone alot during the last few weeks of his wife's life as she was in and out of the hospital.) He had told all of the neighbors that he planned to end his life when his wife's life ended. We, of course, passed the word along to his children when they arrived to take care of the arrangements and attend the funeral. They tried to convince him to enter an assisted living facility or move in with them (one lives in MN, another in CO, another in OR, and another in Brussels, Belgium.) He adamantly refused. Now the kids are gone, and we have taken it upon ourselves to watch out for him (along with some other neighbors.) My husband talked to him this evening while he and DH were mowing the lawn (yes, he was mowing his lawn in 100 degree heat at his age.) Randy (DH) said that all he talked about was how lonely he was. Randy suggested a change of pace might do him good.

OK, that was long, but what I really want to know is: Should we contact Social Services and make sure he is really taking care of himself or should we butt in and spot check his home, bring him occasional meals, etc? We feel terrible for the man but are at a loss as to what steps we should take to help him.

Thanks for any advice.
post #2 of 18
How sad. I would go check on him. Just to be sure hes ok. And invite him for dinner sometimes, too. Sometimes the elderly are forgotten and he probablly knows that. His wife was all he had (with his children so far away). Poor man.

My Grandmother is 86. She always complained of a sad and lonely life, no matter what we did for her. So I got her involved in bingo. Shes became a new woman and even has a boyfriend. Sometimes people just need to feel wanted, at any age.
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
I'm actually tempted to offer him one of our kittens. DH and I have discussed taking the responsibility of making sure it is vetted, fixed, fed, cleaned up after, etc. I know a kitten won't make up for his loss, but he'd have a steady companion. What do you think about this idea?
post #4 of 18
Is he a cat person ? Take a kitten to him and see how he reacts ...... not everyone knows how to truly take care of cats, and if he doesnt or doesnt want one then the kitten would be miserable. But if he does, then absolutely..... it will give him a companion.
post #5 of 18
I would be afraid that he might not feed the kiiten on a regular basis??
Do you have his children's address-I don't know if he is expressing his thoughts to them. There must be a "meals on wheels" or some other senior meal program that he should be enrolled in.
My FIL passed away shortly after his 91st bithday but had lived alone for a few yrs after my MIL passing. He were lucky that the neighbor's across the road (a large family) came over ALOT to check on him in addition to various family members stopping in. He did mention his lonliness too. Do you know if he likes playing card games-my FIL loved playing cards or just visiting. He had meals on wheels come and drop off a noon meal but cooked too. Maybe someone could go through the cupboards to assess his food situation too.
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pami View Post
Is he a cat person ? Take a kitten to him and see how he reacts ...... not everyone knows how to truly take care of cats, and if he doesnt or doesnt want one then the kitten would be miserable. But if he does, then absolutely..... it will give him a companion.
I know they had cats when they're kids were growing up. His wife liked to visit the kittens when she was alive.
post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GailC View Post
I would be afraid that he might not feed the kiiten on a regular basis??
If we were to give him a kitten, I would set him up with an auto-feeder and waterer and check every few days. He is very conscientious about things, despite his Alzheimer's (i.e. he keeps his lawn mowed, garden watered, etc).

I do have his children's phone numbers and was in constant communication with them while they were here. His youngest takes the most interest and is my main contact. I think they are aware of his lonliness, but couldn't talk him into another living situation.
post #8 of 18
When my Mum died, we were really afraid about Dad, because they had been so, so close, for over 50 years, and he had been her primary caregiver for the last several years of her life. But it wasn't too long before enough perspective returned for him to say -- and he did for the rest of his life -- "I don't mind living alone, but I don't want to be left alone". It's an important distinction, and he never was left alone.

In this situation, I think you could easily do the "good neighbour" thing and take him meals that he can heat up easily. Inviting him to dinner from time to time would be good, too. See if you can discover what some of his favourite dishes are, and then call him up and say, "We're having [insert dish] tonight -- want to join us?" Do arrange for meals on wheels, to make sure he gets one hot meal every day, no matter what. It also means there's someone else coming in every day, who can notice how he's doing.

As for kitten, why not take a couple to visit him, and see how he responds. You can make that visit just a "thought you might like to see our babies" visit, and if he shows interest, then you can ask if he thinks he'd like the company of a kitty. Dad always liked our kitties, and became almost a cat person, while he was living here, and he loved the visits of the resident cat in his extended care facility, but I don't think he would ever have got to the point of having a cat himself. So, it's something you'll need to feel out carefully. But if he IS interested, that would be great!

I hope you can stay in touch with his family, and keep them posted on what's going on with him. It would have been good to get him into assisted living, but that can backfire if the person feels he has been forced. If it's not what he wants to do, it's at least very fortunate that he has friends around him to watch out for him.

Blessings to you for caring. We never needed to worry about our parents in this way, because one of us was nearby and we were all pretty much on the same wavelength about the important stuff. But if I had been in the situation of that man's family, right now I would have been ever so grateful for your presence and caring.
post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by rapunzel47 View Post
When my Mum died, we were really afraid about Dad, because they had been so, so close, for over 50 years, and he had been her primary caregiver for the last several years of her life.

I think as the others have said, keep a eye on him, drop in visit, and if he would like a pet great!!!

rapunzel47 sounds the same with my mother and father. they where married for 49 years. what made me come back to ohio was when my mother came down with cancer. well my mother was the whole world to my dad. he never went or did anything unless my mother went. A few weeks before mom died, she asked me to move in with dad and keep a eye on him she was so scared of him being alone.

however my father,never really liked his kids(even after we where adults) so that did not work out as my mother hoped. I still stop in and see him couple of time a week, but i know i am not welcome there, and my sister has not been out to that house in 2 years. but she calls him 3 times a week. i dont know if my father is alone or not. But if he is that is his choice.
post #10 of 18
Don't be afraid to talk with him about his grief, saying something like, "things must be a lot different after your wife passed away", talking about his wife and things they used to do together, how they met, etc. He had experienced such a profound loss, something he will probably never "get over" and something he probably thinks about on a daily basis. Keep in contact with him frequently, take him meals, invite him over for family functions or dinner, keep an eye on him to see if there are any changes in him mentally or physically. In elderly people grief can often mask itself by mimicing dementia. He's most likely depressed, and depressed people feel lonely and often forget things. The fact that he talks about being lonely, that he has pretty well secluded himself, and that he has talked about suicide points to a gentleman in need of immediate care.
This support could come from a widowers support group, a local church, a senior center- something to help him feel not as alone. Obviously you aren't his daughter, so it would be hard for you to suggest a full physical and visit with a counselor, but if you have a close enough relationship with him it would not hurt to suggest it. If you know of a clergy person who is good with the elderly, suggest he pay that person a visit. People are usually more open to pastors than they are to secular counselors. If he wasn't experiencing symptoms of dementia before his wife's illness I wouldn't assume that is what he has now, he's probably just depressed and needs treatment.
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
He has attends church regularly and has the parish nurse come once a week to see how he's doing. He has had dementia symptoms since we met him, but is on Aricept to try to control the advancement of the disease. Thanks to everyone for all the great advice.
post #12 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnasMom View Post
He has attends church regularly and has the parish nurse come once a week to see how he's doing. He has had dementia symptoms since we met him, but is on Aricept to try to control the advancement of the disease. Thanks to everyone for all the great advice.
I would also invite him over for dinner or take him dinner once a week or so. Make it a regular thing. Invite him to a park or an outing. See if he needs anything when ya run to the store. He might take to you as one of his children and be more apt to confide in you about things. definatly offer him a kitten. When my grandaddy passed away my grandma got a cat... Puggy... she was her BEST friend. She focused on Puggy like one of her kids. She had something to take care of and to depend on her like my grandaddy did before he passed away.. I think it's great you're wanting to help him.. Bless your soul
post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnasMom View Post
He has attends church regularly and has the parish nurse come once a week to see how he's doing. He has had dementia symptoms since we met him, but is on Aricept to try to control the advancement of the disease. Thanks to everyone for all the great advice.
Is the visiting nurse aware that he .///////////(That is my foster boy Dylan's first post! ) aware that he expressed suicidal thoughts? Elderly men who attempt suicide often succeed, so this cannot be taken lightly. It should be evaluated by the nurse, and maybe the pastor at his church. They have the benefit of training, and knowing the man.

In addition to talking to the nurse and pastor, the neighbors helping out is a great idea. Go ahead and butt in, and bring meals, invite him outside for a lemonade, or over for a meal.

As for the kitten...I do not think a kitten is a good idea for an older man. I would prefer to see him get an older, sedate cat. It will be a companion, but will not be climbing the curtains! My rescue adopts out cats over age 6 to people over the age of 60 for free. Maybe even take him with to the shelter to pick one out. Maybe you will find a kitty who lost its owner, and is mourning just like he is.

Bless you for caring. I live 6 hours from my widowed Dad. I don't know what I would do without friends and family to help him out!
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beckiboo View Post
Is the visiting nurse aware that he aware that he expressed suicidal thoughts? Elderly men who attempt suicide often succeed, so this cannot be taken lightly. It should be evaluated by the nurse, and maybe the pastor at his church. They have the benefit of training, and knowing the man.
I'm not sure she is aware of his thoughts, but I know his children used his Christianity to talk him out of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beckiboo View Post
In addition to talking to the nurse and pastor, the neighbors helping out is a great idea. Go ahead and butt in, and bring meals, invite him outside for a lemonade, or over for a meal.
We know he likes a nightly cocktail, so this evening, my husband bought a bottle of scotch and shared a drink with him. He's going to try to make this a regular thing. I'm going to start making him one meal a week, and, since we BBQ at least once a week, invite him over for those.
post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnasMom View Post
We know he likes a nightly cocktail, so this evening, my husband bought a bottle of scotch and shared a drink with him. He's going to try to make this a regular thing. I'm going to start making him one meal a week, and, since we BBQ at least once a week, invite him over for those.
That sounds great!
post #16 of 18
Having a suicidal thought doesn't mean he is suicidal. Was that the only time he expressed a thought like that? He lost his companion, his lover, the mother of his children, his best friend, and he is lost. Of course he wished he was dead. Anyone with that kind of love and stability would. Just do what you are doing. ANd try not to show pity. Espeacially if he has dementia/or alzheimers. I am so glad there are people taking care of our elderly, and they are not being stuffed in a nursing home. I have been a cna for 8 years, and anymore (even among patients children) our elderly are forgotten. Animals, children, the disabled (mentally or physicallyand the elderly are my 4 worst weakness'.
post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaSquishy View Post
Having a suicidal thought doesn't mean he is suicidal. Was that the only time he expressed a thought like that?.
He was actually expressing his desire for suicide weeks before his wife passed and told everyone he spoke to. At one point he actually said to me "You're a nice girl, but not really worth living for."

I have so much sympathy for him and give him a hug each time I see him, but try not to show any pity. I don't pity him actually, he had a full and happy life; he was successful, loved by his wife and kids, etc.
post #18 of 18
Oh okay, do keep a close watch on him. And if he doesn't seem to be improving I would definatley call social services. They have all kinds of programs to help seniors. Espeacially when the kids aren't around
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