Caregiver for Elderly Mother

My husband was diagnosed with severe heart disease 12 years ago. He slowly but surely got worse and worse, then died 2 years ago after a long and agonizing illness.

Three years before he died, my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. So I found myself in this position: I worked a full time job Monday through Friday, then went home (or to the hospital which happened many times) to care for my husband.

On Fridays, I drove directly from work to my dad's (100 miles away) to take care of him on the weekends. Thankfully, one of my two brothers, unemployed at the time, was able to take care of Dad during the week.

Then late on Sunday night, I would make the 100 mile trip back to my house, my job, and my sick husband. My husband probably should not have been left alone on the weekends, but he was able to walk and take care of fundamental needs, so I did what I had to do. I had absolutely no help.

I loved my job, but, as both my dad and my husband got worse and worse, I found myself unable to handle it all. I took early retirement-a huge mistake-so I could take care of them better.

They died, first Dad, then, two years later, my husband. The loss of the two of them and my job pretty much at the same time has devastated me both emotionally and financially.

But's far from over! Now my mother is 86 and has fallen and broken a hip. I have been "chosen" by my two brothers (alas, no sisters!) to be her caregiver. Both brothers have jobs, so, since I'm retired they figure I would
be honored to take care of our mother. She lives 100 miles away from me. And that's not the worst of it.

She lives out in the country, 20 miles from the nearest town. I am so angry, resentful, and depressed! I feel completely trapped. I have left my home, my friends, my social life, everything familiar to me to do this.

I have moved away from a place I love and consider my home to move to a place I left decades ago because I hated it then as I hate it now. I differ completely in my political and religious beliefs from the people here. I am utterly alone and miserable.

The worst thing is that I am 62 years old. I have taken care of sick people for so long that I have never had the chance to have a life of my own. Now I figure I will spend my "golden years" taking care of Mom.

No one in the family helps at all. Nothing is expected from my brothers because they are men.

Since she is on Medicare and not Medicaid, no respite care is available to her. She cannot possibly afford private care, and she cannot (and will not) move into assisted living because she is not self-sufficient enough to qualify. She flat refuses to move into my home or either of my brothers' homes.

When I see people my age traveling, going out to dinner, doing the simple things that retired people do (I taught school for 35 years), I am so, so, so resentful! I do not want to hurt my mom. I love her and want to make her last years peaceful and secure. But I'm losing it! Please advise!

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Take a vacation… leave 1-2 weeks for your brothers
by: Anonymous

I'm so sorry to hear that your brothers aren't helping out with your mom and you have sacrificed so much!!

Honestly, I think after all of this you definitely deserve a vacation. Since you've assumed 24/7 responsibility, I think you should tell your brothers that you are going on vacation for 1-2 weeks and ask them to take care of her for that much. If they can't, then perhaps hire help for that amount of time (i.e. hire a nurse/social worker.)

I'm not sure what your finances are like, but that is another option -- hiring help (a nanny from a foreign country may be cheap, i.e. from the Philippines). Perhaps she can visit a few times a week and give you a bit of a breather.

I can relate although I'm much younger (30) and my mom is 58 and suffering from a serious illness. I've missed some of my 'golden years' in my 20's devoted to school and not caring for her properly.

Now she's slightly better, doesn't require 24 hr nursing care or anything but I feel bitter because my 25 year old sister never really helped that much and everything has gone *swimmingly* in her life -- she got married young, got a house, good job and I have none of that (yet), and am delegated responsibility of taking care of her and living in the crummy suburbs while I'm single, wasting my life away.

Then again, financially, it's tough for me to move out in any case. I do feel stressed and regret because I feel like I should be cooking for her more but given my crappy job situation I don't have the energy to cook much and my mom doesn't really like healthy cooking so it's tough.

It's incredibly frustrating because diet is very important for her (she has a heart condition amongst other serious issues), but likes eating high-fat stuff like bacon, sausage, etc… even when I encourage healthy options like chicken/fish, if there's the opportunity for crap to eat, she'll take it instead. So I know it's horrible but I've slightly given up.

Also, my dad is a total deadbeat. I accompanied my mom to some doctor's appointments but she is like one of those hard-core Asian type parents (we're not Asian but it's helpful to invoke the stereotype sometimes) who NEVER wants you to sacrifice work for family so she doesn't like me driving and staying with her at appointments.

My dad who should be retired NEVER takes time off work to care for her or even around the house.

He's totally completely oblivious and a total deadbeat with an IQ of about 80-90 I'd imagine, so it makes things difficult. Even my manager asked why my dad can't take care of some things then stopped himself, realizing it was inappropriate but I honestly can't explain my dad to people. He is a total narcissist, total weirdo. So I'm left to live with both of them while my own career is not progressing.

Anyway, I just wanted to say I know how you feel *hugs*. My mom is really sick but I'm going to try to save up money to take her on a vacation which she hasn't taken in maybe 20 years because my dad is a deadbeat and because of her medical issues, we were scared of it.

It is a lot of stress on me though and I know what u mean. Maybe you can even take your mom on vacation with you if you can't leave her -- I'm planning to take my mom to Bahamas or somewhere like that. Wish you all the best.

Many thanks!
by: Anonymous

I so appreciate your remarks and feel so much better knowing that you understand my feelings! Thank you so, so much.

My Heart Goes Out To You
by: Anonymous

I felt very sorry when I read your post. I am sorry to hear about your husband and father, truly I am. My heart goes out to you.

I have responded to a few people with my heartfelt conviction - good or bad - I had an opinion. But, in your situation, it is difficult.

You know, I have been through great difficulties all of my life - and now I am my mother's caregiver - and as we all know it can be a traumatic experience. When I look back at my life, there is no joy there, it is all hardship - I have to really dig to find something happy in my past.

So, I feel a bit like you, as I never really had the opportunity to live my own life. I am 60; my mother is 86 and relatively healthy at this time - I take credit for her health; truly for if I was not here, she would not be alive today.

She has had 4 major hospitalizations in the last 18 months, including a broken hip. I understand the term you used "she flat out refuses"...So, I can only advise you from my experience, and tell you I have found peace through "acceptance".

To accept the fact that this is we are right now..... "Acceptance Is The Answer To All Of My Problems Today".... I will also say (like you) that even though I am not content with my living arrangement, I have found purpose through acceptance, for now. I find journaling is helpful.

Sometimes I dream about writing a book, not so much a book about caregiving, but I could probably do that too. I feel with all of us... if we could just find that "diamond", if we can just tune into that "jewel" within ourselves.... if we just can just accept our circumstances at the moment and make everyday count for some purpose, we will all pull through.

It is understandable that your mother does not want to leave the home she shared with your father, but how about a visit to your brother's home; maybe eventually it may become permanent.

At this time, we can have hope, but maybe we shouldn't have an expectation as to where we want our lives to lead, because it just might take the most unexpected turn that we never dreamed and we do not want to miss out on that blessing or opportunity! My heart goes out to you as well as my prayers!

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