Doing the Heavy Lifting
by Oldest Daughter
Boy am I glad I found this page. It does help somewhat to know what we are feeling and experiencing is shared by others. I even laughed out loud at some of the things I read here - only because you can't make this stuff up.
No one would believe some of the stuff that happen with our elders or our families etc unless they'd seen it themselves or experienced it themselves.
No one could relate to the (semi-serious) talk of suicide or running away if they haven't been through this. I'm currently caring for my 88 year old mom (a tiny tyrant).
I'm also one of those daughters who never had a good relationship with my mom - she was controlling, negative, paranoid, verbally abusive, condescending, bitter - you name it. I never felt loved or good enough for her, she was also always very critical.
Getting away from her as soon as I could at 18 was the best thing I could ever have done to get away from this toxic person (and finding a good therapist to undo all the damage to my self-esteem).
Had obvious mental illness(s) but would refuse to go and get diagnosed and treated (according to her the rest of the world is nuts, not her). Yet the face she presents to everyone else is that of a sweet loving grandmother. All her doctors, nurses, phys therapists etc think she's 'cute'. Yeah, about as cute as cancer.
Yet here I am taking care of her. She lives with me as I have an in law suite on my house and it's on one floor w/a handicapped bathroom so she can age in place.
My own spouse passed away at the age of 42 more than 15 years ago so I was a young widow. Two siblings - brother lives far away but handles the financials. We get along but day to day practical help from him since his job requires him to travel most weeks. And he has very limited time as it is to attend to his own house and family without taking on mom.
I have a sister who is a Jehovah's Witness and her own brand of toxic cocktail who, whenever she deigns to get involved and try to 'help' ends up making everything worse, with an added bonus of a steaming pile of drama on top, before she throws up her hands and flounces away, never to be seen again until she has time to visit at her convenience.
And that's all she'll do is visit. Rarely offers to help and frankly I've learned all the upheaval isn't worth it.
I have a demanding job that I can do from home, thank God, but work does want me to put in some face time so juggling that is hard.
I think many of us wouldn't feel so trapped and overwhelmed if there was flexible, affordable options for 'companions' or caregivers.
The process to get my mom on the state aging waiver from Medicaid (so she can get nursing-care level care at home, where she'd rather be) is very lengthy - around 6 month process in my state.
I suspect a lot of people die before getting approve for it and getting it
in place (it's administered by each county in our state once approved). So we are waiting for that help, which won't cost us anything.
For those of us who can't rely on family (again, deceased spouse, crazy sister, busy brother, boyfriend who's also in same boat with HIS mom) trying to hire help out of our own pockets is prohibitively expensive.
In our area there is a minimum of 4 hours a day so if I just need someone for a couple hours I will have to pay for 4 hours. And they want a minimum weekly commitment, I can't just hire someone for one day a week for a couple hours as needed.
They all want a minimum of 12 hours a week. This is across multiple providers, so even private pay option doesn't work for me.
You do get to a point of being overwhelmed. My mom too expects me to be her entertainment and inevitably waits til I sit down to ask for something.
I feel like a damn jack in the box, I'm up and down all the time. Trying to focus on the complex legal work I do is very trying, as I get interrupted all the time trying to do a job from home that demands significant focus.
It's kind of like having an infant - when they sleep you have two options. You can sleep too, and try to rest up, or you can get stuff done (work, housework, errands).
You can't do both and I find I usually try to get things done and then am exhausted all the time.
I have a new grandchild out of state 1000 miles from me, and my other child is moving out of state shortly and I'm just not available to help either of them.
It breaks my heart that I can't be there for MY family and I HAVE to be here for this ungrateful, miserable bitch of a mother who expects ME to give a damn about her now when all she ever did in my childhood was tear me down.
Like many of the other stories on here, she's selfish, demanding, has moderate dementia so makes no sense half the time, can't hear so I have to yell then she gets mad that I'm 'yelling at her'.
Accuses me and others of poisoning her or making her ill. Repeats same questions over and over and OVER and forgets the answers five minutes later.
Is in total denial that her ills are due to her natural aging process and thinks someone is 'making' her have these problems. Can't accept accountability for any of her life choices and the outcomes of them and tries to assign 'blame' to everything that happens even though getting old is nobody's 'fault'.
Still tries to be manipulative and play us kids off each other too
I cared for my dad before he passed a few years ago just before he turned 91. He was a far better patient, sunnier and cooperative. He died just as we were making the decision to put him in a nursing home so we never had to do that.
I will pray for each of you that your situations resolve without you losing your health and sanity.