Anger Doesn’t Begin to Describe It
(NC and PA)
I have two elderly parents. One is 95; the other is 92. Six years ago it became apparent that they could no longer manage on their own. They live in a very old three story house with all the bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs and the laundry in the basement.
My dad was having mobility issues, needing a walker and starting to fall a lot. He’s also bladder incontinent and frequently also bowel incontinent.
My mother is bent over from osteoporosis and has shrunk about 6 inches in height. She is very frail.
I have 2 siblings. On a rare occasion When we were altogether, we tried to talk to our parents about moving somewhere where they would be able to manage better.
My mother absolutely refused and my dad went along with her to keep the peace. Money is not an issue. At that point my brother washed his hands of them and we have seen him only twice a year for a day or two at a time. He lives 9 hours away.
I live 9 hours away also, but in the opposite direction. At the time my sister lived 5 hours away. All of us had full time jobs.
I was deeply concerned about my parents so I arranged with my boss to work from my parents home a couple of weeks at a time every couple of months.
I’ve been doing that now for six years, but their needs have evolved to the point that I am having to come here every three weeks and stay for a month.
I work 40 hours at my job through a remote connection, plus do the shopping, care taking, laundry, household repairs, etc. anything that needs to be done. My sister retired and moved 5 minutes away two years ago.
But she views herself as just an emergency contact. She does drive them to their medical appointments and checks in on them occasionally when I am not there.
But when I am there she basically disappears. I have begged my parents to hire full time help. My mother refuses because she doesn’t want strangers in her house.
During my stays at my parents house I lstay on the third floor of the house because I
have a dog and bring too much stuff with me (basically I transport my entire life back and forth) my mother doesn’t want all the clutter to be visible.
So I’m exiled to the unheated and uncooled third floor of the house. As I’m writing this it is 5 am and it’s still about 90 degrees in my bedroom.
The stress of living in two places, with the constant packing and unpacking, hauling suitcases, work materials, and a computer up and down 3 flights of stairs, is bad enough.
But I don’t sleep much when I’m here because I’m usually freezing or too hot, depending on the time of year.
The anger and resentment I feel towards my parents for refusing to move or to hire aides, and my siblings for refusing to help, is making me crazy.
As others have commented, no one ever asks how I’m doing, and no one acknowledges the sacrifices I’ve made career-wise, health-wise, and socially to do this.
I’m 64 and divorced, with no chance of establishing any kind of relationship given my current situation. I guess what galls me the most is how my parents fawn over my brother when he calls or makes a rare visit, and they won’t ask my sister to do anything because she gives them attitude if they do and usually refuses anyway.
Yet they treat me as if I’m their indentured servant, and if I complain about anything then I’m the bad guy.
They think it perfectly understandable that my brother doesn’t come often because, after all, he lives 9 hours away.
On the other hand , they think nothing of me driving 9 hours every 3-4 weeks to go back and forth between their house and mine.
All concerned are waiting impatiently for me to retire so I can live up here full time and they can feel better about their lack of assistance.
I’m not planning to move here when I retire but I haven’t told them that. Some days it’s all I can do not to drive my car at 100 miles an hour into a concrete wall.
There’s lots more to this story, but as caregivers you already know it. Thanks for letting me get this off my chest.