Tough Love for Lucky. : LUSENET : Unk's Troll-free Private Saloon : One Thread

Yesterday, I called Lucky and got a nurse. I talked to Lucky AND the nurse, but I'm thinking that Lucky is in "feel sorry for myself" mode. So, today I wasn't going to call her at all. She's pretty much been just laying around in bed and the phone with my number programmed into it is in the frontroom, so she has to get her ass out of bed to call me. I thought about this when we were in the emergency room and she said, "Here I got to be 88, and for WHAT?" It's like she saw the grim reaper at her door.

I broke down and called just a few minutes ago. She hadn't gone down for lunch OR dinner. I said, "Why NOT?" My goodness. She had a hemmorhoid that broke [or whatever hemmorhoids do], and now she's just going to lay around and wait for death?

She said, "I was thinking that you'd come over." I said, "Well, I'm NOT coming over. YOU'RE going to get your ass out of that bed and start living your life again. Tomorrow is Bingo. I expect a call from you telling me whether you'd won or not." I reminded her that she was the "vitamin" woman, invincible as long as she had her vitamins. So, do you think this will motivate her, or do you think I'm being a cold-hearted bitch?

-- Anita (, November 29, 2001


[I ALWAYS feel guilty when I do stuff like this, but I DO think it's in her best interest to be stern.]

-- Anita (, November 29, 2001.

I don't know, Anita ... I don't know her. I have learned that the body sometimes says yes and sometimes it just says no. Sometimes the mind says yes and sometimes it says no. Sometimes the different parts of you cannot agree. Sometimes you need some extra understanding ... hard to call the shots.

I know when folks used tough love on me in the hospitals and nursing homes this year, I just went into a coma.

Three times. (Plus one from the crash itself.)

Some of the nurses said I was lazy, but I can tell you it took 14 months for me to roar to a sitting position and shout that -- somehow, some way -- I am going to walk.

-- Oxy (, November 29, 2001.

I was hoping for your input, Oxy. Thanks. I suppose one of my major goals in life is to keep Lucky active for as long as possible. She's gone through these "lazy" periods previously. If her legs won't work well enough to get around with her walker [although she told me that she spent quite a bit of time walking around today], she's in a position to get a wheel-chair. She's always hated that thought and even mocked those who used them, but I'd always reminded her of the "There but for the grace of..." saying.

Right now I think she needs motivation. Kindof like Y2k, though, we never really know whether we're doing the right thing. We can only guess, and sometimes that guess is way off the mark.

-- Anita (, November 29, 2001.

Anita, at 88 she isn't going to live much longer. She isn't going to be able to take hospitalizations and get right back to her routine. I think you ought to visit her. Motivate her to move around with you. Be her guest at bingo. Whatever it takes. Tough love doesn't work on people who can't respond the way you want them to. She doesn't need you to be tough. She needs to know she won't die alone.

-- helen (, November 29, 2001.


at 88 she isn't going to live much longer.

People have said this about her since she was MY age. She could live to be 100 and outlive ME. I'm not into co-dependency, Helen. I don't think she's ready to give up, and [as I've said], I've had to put her through these "wake-up" calls before. I call every day to check on her progress. I just don't call HER to confirm an invalid status.

So far two votes for "cold-hearted bitch".

-- Anita (, November 29, 2001.


-- Jack Booted Thug (, November 29, 2001.

Should I now ask when the polls close?

-- Anita (, November 29, 2001.

Anita, I hear you loud and clear. You know Lucky best. If your experience has taught you that this is what she needs to be mentally motivated to move, then you are correct in your assessment. Sometimes age and infirmities convince people, no matter their age, that they "just can't do it" when in reality they can, they just need a reason. Since she went down to dinner, it seems to me like your tough love is working. Folks just don't seem to understand unless they have been there. I trust your judgement of the situation. You seem to be doing the right thing. Hang in there, and Lucky too!

-- Aunt Bee (, November 29, 2001.

Anita, I really don't have a clue as to what to tell you. The following is just the wisp of an off the wall hunch.

I used to put together huge complicated puzzles. I enjoyed it, but always in the back of my mind, and the feeling grew stronger and stronger, was the thought that I was spending all the time and ingenuity on these puzzles and not making any money from it.

Now Lucky isn't concerned with making money, as I sure was back in the days I'm talking about, so maybe this would be something that could keep her happy, that she could look forward to every day.

-- Peter Errington (, November 29, 2001.

Peter: She's surely a gambler, and never likes to miss out on any game of chance, but she ALSO has a stash of jewelry that she'd like to think are antiques. I don't know if they are or not, but maybe with Cherri's help I could post a little something on E-Bay or somewhere to try and sell this stuff, IF and ONLY IF she gets up and engages in daily activities. That could be a GREAT motivator. I'll look into it. Thanks.

-- Anita (, November 29, 2001.

I know I went "off" from your original suggestion, Peter, but Lucky can only do the VERY simple crosswords. She has a LOT of imagination, but NO logic. My dad provided the logic in the family. Anyway, I'm still grateful for where MY mind went on your suggestion.

-- Anita (, November 29, 2001.

I took care of an elderly relative for years. This year the relative was clearly failing mentally and physically. The person in charge of decision making decided to be tough. Ignored childish manuvers for attention. Refused to deal with the fact that meds were forgotten. Blaming the elderly relative for being in poor health. In desperation I called other relatives until I found one who could intervene. The elderly relative died a few days later. Brain was bleeding the whole time. So much for tough love.

Lucky will eventually reach the point where bitching her out over the phone won't have the effect YOU desire, but it will have an effect. In our last fews days together, my relative kept apologizing for being feeble. I said I appreciated the opportunity to show the kids how I wanted to be cared for when I'm old. That's the effect, Anita.

-- helen (not@vote.only.observation), November 29, 2001.

Helen, your comments ring true.

Anita, I think you should visit her more rather than less (if possible). You love her, she loves you. I know you have done alot already but at 88, she is near the end. Ask any actuary. Unless she is a life-long manipulator, you are not an enabler by giving her untough love. What if she died and you had not visited her enough? How would you feel?

If you can't tell, I am "projecting" when I say that.

-- (, November 30, 2001.

I never said I was going to visit her LESS, Lars. I'll be going over there tomorrow, whether she calls me today or not. Of course I'd be happier if she calls me today. Helen, your example sounds more like one of neglect to me than tough love. I would never allow Lucky to be neglected. I'm on the phone daily with her place simply to ensure that she's getting everything she needs. I saw no reason to make the drive during ice-storms. There is absolutely NOTHING physically wrong with her at this point in time. We'll worry about future years in future years. She had tests up the whazoo while in the hospital. It's simply that being in the hospital is depressing in itself. The best medicine for her right now is to get back downstairs at those Bingo tables, winning with her friend, Larry.

-- Anita (, November 30, 2001.

Sounds good Anita. I did not see my mom for the last 3 years of her life. It was easy to rationalize. She lived 800 miles away. I could not travel. She was in a nursing home. She had advanced Altzheimer's.


-- (, November 30, 2001.

It worked! She just called me. Her oatmeal is in the microwave, but she couldn't find a spoon. I told her where to look. Her spirits are MUCH improved. She said she went downstairs and had soup after I called her yesterday. I said, "Be sure to remember Bingo today." She said, "I will. That's been on my brain." I said, "I'm glad to see you're feeling better." She said, "Well, I'm not just going to sit on my rear. I'm getting around." Hallelujah.

-- Anita (, November 30, 2001.

Altzheimers is a tough one, Lars. Not to be sexist about it, but I think that female children tend to deal with it a little better than male children. SO's father is in a nursing home and he no longer recognizes his sons when they come to visit. I don't know whether it's Altzheimers or a drug they have him on that has affected his memory, but the boys hardly ever visit him anymore. They like to be recognized. Lucky's memory sometimes needs constant reinforcement, but after three differently phrased statements, she finally understands. SO had to pick her up for Thanksgiving, and I don't think she knew who he was through half the ride here. Then she thought his niece was my daughter, yadda yadda. She likes to be hugged and kissed by most anyone, and I'm sure SO gave her a big hug when he picked her up. [Pretty pitiful that she'd drive off with a strange man who'd hugged her. Heh.] Anyway, if she REALLY lost all recognition, I'd still visit often, hug and kiss her, etc. My kids would, too. They've spent several years already telling her who they are.

-- Anita (, November 30, 2001.

BTW, thanks for the support, Aunt Bee. There's a little part of me that's thinking that if the "Blue Hairs" think I'm doing the WRONG thing, I must be doing the RIGHT thing. For that, I thank you as well, Helen.

-- Anita (, November 30, 2001.


You are lucky or not. Since I left home 36 +years ago, I mostly lived more than a 1000 miles from my parents. As close as I have been is 700 miles. When we got that close we visited once each year. We are more than 1000 miles from my wifes parents. We have visited once per year. My parents are now dead. My wifes mother is still alive. We talk, by phone, each week.

Saying: When you are young your parents treat you like children. When they are old you need to treat them like children. Fortunately, my parents and my wife's father never needed to be treated like children. They lived full lives, adults to the end, and died.

May we all be so fortunate.

Best Wishes,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (, November 30, 2001.

Z: I guess I was first introduced to the "tough love" concept by Lucky's psychiatrist. She'd tried to kill herself when she realized my dad was dying. That was 12 or 13 years ago. I kindof wish that SO's dad had been given some counseling after his wife died, as he's gone downhill ever since. Some folks just give up when their loved ones die or are dying.

Lucky got herself off the anti-depressants and made a new life for herself. She could FINALLY be the woman she'd always wanted to be. [I think my dad restricted her from this in many ways, but that's neither here nor there.] She became a feisty old woman, not at all like the "dominated" person I'd always known. She realized that she was a gamer and attended every game of chance offered in the Assisted Living Facility to which I'd moved her in Illinois. She fell a few times during these endeavors. I think the harshest was the Riverboat Gambling boat episode. I dunno whether that was when she broke the first hip, the second hip, or the leg, but she's pretty bionic now.

She's also had epilepsy since a car accident when I was only 14. She fell enough times in Illinois that her neurologist suggested round- the-clock care in addition to the expense of being in an Assisted Living Facility. Maybe around that same time, her neurologist decided to try Lamictal to treat her epilepsy. It worked GREAT, and mom grew weary of the woman living with her. I'd thought that she'd not like to leave the friends she'd made at that place, but when I suggested that I come up and take her here to Texas, she said, "I can make new friends."

I spent perhaps 6 months visiting her at a GREAT Assisted Living Facility I'd found here just minutes from my trip home from work each day. I visited every day. She'd still not made friends. I wondered what I was doing wrong. I then stopped visiting every day and gradually went to once/week. Gee...she'd made friends. Again, I thought she'd miss these friends when I needed to move her to a cheaper place. I probably spent a month looking for a place for her. The question was, "How many times a week do you have gaming?" Well, okay. There were OTHER questions. She doesn't want to share a room with anyone, nor share a bathroom, so that eliminated many options.

She's been so happy at this place that she doesn't even remember being at the other place. At first, the differences in clientele frightened her. This place has not just old people, but people with no legs, deaf people, blind people, etc. They're of ALL ages. I wouldn't recommend to ANYONE that they try to take care of an aged parent in the home, even if one is a registered nurse. Home living doesn't provide entertainment, gaming, and all the other things that Assisted Living provides. Lucky LIVES for this stuff.

Perhaps to make this point clearer, I've gone to visit Lucky during a session of Bingo or Price Is Right, and there's NO way that she's more interested in ME than the game being played. I had the same experience at the first place to which I moved her here in Texas. If someone was singing, she could care LESS if I was there. If she was playing dominos, cards, or bingo, she completely ignored me. She'd always call the next day and apologize for ignoring me.

I got the same reception today when I visited. Bingo is on M-W-F, but it seems that Price is Right is on Tues and Sat. She wasn't in her apartment, so I asked where there was a game. They sent me to the Chapel where she was in the row of competitors. Heh. This happened a few weeks ago, as well, but this time I simply said, "I'll see you again on Tuesday, Mom." She said, "Okay, as she offered a $5.00 for the item being displayed."

-- Anita (, December 01, 2001.

Heh. It gets funnier. I called mom this afternoon because I'd not taken the time to learn if she'd won at Bingo yesterday. She said, "I didn't play." I said, "Why not?" She said, "There was music, and you know ME. If it's good music, I'm going to shake a leg." It turns out that Gary [who I thought was Larry] held her hand during the "dance." [I think she'll outlive me.]

-- Anita (, December 01, 2001.


Been installing Linux; I didn't get a chance to respond before now. I'm glad it worked ...

But listen: no one who has chatted with you online for any time at all would EVER believe that you don't care about Lucky, so why the angst? Sometimes you have to shake people out of their lethargy, and you know her best. YOU have to make that call.

Of COURSE you care about her and you did what you thought was best. Go with it. :)

-- Stephen M. Poole (, December 01, 2001.

so why the angst? Sometimes you have to shake people out of their lethargy, and you know her best. YOU have to make that call.

As many times as I've made this call, Stephen, I STILL feel guilty when I do it. Well, actually, I've only "made that call" about four times in the last 12-13 years, but guilt is DEFINITELY a mind-killer.

-- Anita (, December 01, 2001.

I'm telling you, you would make a great Catholic.

-- Jack Booted Thug (, December 01, 2001.

Just as an update, #2 and I visited Lucky today with supplies. I'd thought she wasn't in her apartment, but #2 saw her lying on her bed. I went into the bedroom and said, "Why are you lying on the bed? She said, "Ingrid?" I said, "No. I'm your daughter." #2 went in to talk to her and hug her while I put the supplies in the refrigerator and cabinets. She was out of the bed in a flash, trying on the new underwear I'd purchased. She seemed comfortable enough with them, so #2 cut off all the tags and put them in her drawer.

I spent the majority of the visit looking for the remote control for her TV. She'd said it was "broken", and I figured it needed new batteries, so I brought both AA and AAA batteries [not knowing what she needed.] It seems that the remote is missing. I looked EVERYWHERE. I'll get her a Universal Remote before Christmas.

By the time we were ready to finish the visit, I reminded Lucky that it was 1:45 and Bingo was at 2:00. She jumped up out of her chair exclaiming that "Gary's probably wondering why I'm not there yet."

We're going to have a small Christmas "feast" on Saturday afternoon so Lucky can share the joy of Christmas with the two girls. It will probably be Cornish Hens [with a baked sweet potato for HER.]

#2 flies back to Illinois on Sunday.

-- Anita (, December 19, 2001.

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