Elder Care - Caring for Declining Parent with no Help

I am a single never married woman in her 50's who has been taking care of my elderly mother for almost 15 years.

After my father passed away I began helping her more and more with finances, insurance, automobile maintenance, house maintenance, carrying heavy groceries, etc. These things did not require a huge time commitment, perhaps some hours on a weekend, but I was largely able to have my own life.

Then about 5 years ago, her health started declining and she had a number of acute health crises. At this point, I became more and more involved in her affairs. Eventually I had to move closer to her in order to cut down on the trips back and forth.

There were advantages to moving but it also cost me a great deal financially and the house which I moved into (where I thought my mother might ultimately want to live but she doesn't) has turned out to have a number of significant maintenance issues and has cost me a lot of my savings to upkeep.

My mother is close to 90 now but is still independent and lives in her own home. She has no interest in moving into my home nor does she have adequate finances to enable her to move into an assisted living facility should the need arise.

I commute about 40 minutes each way and work full time. My job requires overtime at times and has been getting increasingly demanding because of the economy. Most of my vacation time has to be allotted for my mother's frequent doctor appointments, tests, and various errands. My Saturdays are like having a second
job--I spend the entire day running errands and doing chores and taking her out for groceries or whatever other errands are important that particular week.

Between juggling the demands of my job and my parent, I had to pretty much cut back on all socializing and became isolated from the few friends that I did have.

My problem is that my married sister does not help at all. She lives about 2 hours away and has 2 small children (although when my mother first started ailing, she had no children and still didn't help). She and her husband go on weekend get aways and vacations, enjoy having friends over and do fun activities with their kids, but yet my sister refuses to come down and give me a break. I cannot go away because my mother's health is too frail. She has had multiple sudden health emergencies and several falls, and it is too risky to go off and leave her alone with no help within 15 minutes.

Please don't say to get respite care because my mother is not dependent yet and doesn't need someone watching over her. She just needs to have either me or my sister nearby to help her if she had an emergency. I don't think that's too much to expect from 2 daughters. And please don't say to speak to my sister. I already did, and it was almost like starting WW III. I also have an older sister who abandoned the family years ago--I have not heard from her in several years and she hates my mother.

I am at my wit's end and getting very angry and depressed.

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Really sick.. Drained
by: Anonymous

My mom is 92,Hyper critical, mean a lot, and affects me very deeply emotionally.
Huge maintenance problem, complaining most of time..

Is my life over for x years now? My marriage is hurting, I'm just on the ropes..
I wish God would take her and not suffer.
Probably selfish thoughts.

Now I'm driving at midnight to see what hurts tonight.

Worn out.. And it's just the beginning..

by: Anonymous

The title says it all! I lost my parents in early adulthood; but I am a close friend to someone who has enabling, in regards to her 89 year old mom, down to an art.

Her mom is a widow who has her mature-aged son living with her. Her personality is manipulative, childlike, and self-centered in the extreme. She is narcissistic. She has all she'll ever need with first class health benefits, free taxi card and a good sum left by her late husband.

My friend feels she must spend almost every day and weekends with her mom; shopping, lunching, doctors... If I suggest that she and I do something, she springs her mother as an excuse not to get together.

Every time we chat on the phone the subject always comes back to her mother - even if I share a health issue I get no sympathy or help, it's back all about her mother.

I am so sick of it that I could vomit every time she mentions her mom, so I am avoiding most of her phone calls. Friends are gifts too and I don't think those like her should be so careless with the friendships or they may find themselves in left field all alone.

No help from siblings
by: Anonymous

I,too, have an elderly mother who fortunately does not require in home care but refuses to allow anyone but me to drive her around.

My husband and I just recently became empty nesters but have very little time for just us.

My mother expects me to run her around from hair appointments to the grocery store to WalMart, etc. etc., etc.,and I barely get a "thank you".

She used to offer gas money but that doesn't seem to cross her mind anymore. My husband is on shift work and our time together is very limited and precious to me.

I am the one who lives closest to her but I have three other siblings whose only contribution is to show up for a visit once or twice a year. My husband and I want to move our of the area but I am not sure how we will be able to do this.

I guess we just pick up and go and let someone else in the family figure it out.

Boomer with Old Parents
by: Dennis

Do none of these elderly parents have Medicare or Medicaid?? My elderly mother of 88 years old lives next door to me and I visit each day but I'll be danged if I'm going to sit in the apartment with her all my free time and be her 'go fer' inside her apt and her taxi taxi cab outside.

I love my parents, both my mom and my dad,but sacrificing my independence, the friends I have and my interests for who knows how many years?? THAT'S BS.. a life doesn't just return back to normal after that.

By that time, you'd have lost what friends you had completely and not to mention how hard it will be to get back into the dating scene...

I'm 58 years old and don't have the emotional strength to sit with my mom every day, watching game shows and old movies all day into the late evening, listening to the kind of music she listens to and on top of all that she demands the heat inside be set to 84 degrees...I'm talking suffocation here.

I'll visit a couple times a day,take her to do her laundry or to get a weeks worth of groceries or to the doctor if she has nobody else to drive her but as for being her all day into the night babysitter..no..there's other people that are paid to do that kind of thing.

This is what health insurance is for. Again, I love my mom, but give my interests, hobbies, my friends and my independence?? hale no!

Abused Carer
by: Anonymous

When I was born my mother was suffering from schizophrenia, my father is a controlling manipulating bully. He has spent his life feeling sorry for himself. He thrives on sympathy.

I was groomed and manipulated into caring for them. They are now 86 and 80 and have taken over my life. The care system expects me to look after them. The more I do the more I am expected to do. My brother left for Australia 30 years ago and admits he can not cope with them.

They have got to the stage they want to do nothing for themselves. The social services provide care for 1 hour and 30 minutes in the day. My father can find jobs for me for the other 22 and 1/2 hours. His demands never stop.

I am so tired and emotionally destroyed that it has now spilled over on my children. We have all grown to hate my parents. There mental attitude is dreadful. They have no awareness of what they are doing to us all. Nor do they care.

I am being made to suffer for my parent’s longevity. I am 54 and can see not way out. I suffer from health problems myself. It gets harder and harder as time goes on. I am sick of people telling me I have to look after them as they looked after me. I left home at 16. They follow me through life. I am expected to take them to all of their hospital appointments.

I have sat for up to 7 hours in a hospital car park waiting for them. I think this is abuse. Forced marriages are frowned upon but forced carer’s are expected to take the roll. HELP.

Never Any Help
by: Anonymous

Hello. I am 54 and have been looking after my 81 year old father for 6 years now since my mother passed away. I am totally tired and have not had a break for this whole time. Full time I am at his side, I don't work as I have rheumatoid arthritis and so my life is now being spent with him full time.

He is a capable man, but refuses to learn about paying bills, running the household, and doing everyday things. He expects me to do it all the time. He controls me in everything I do and nags me constantly. I have a brother who lives only 15 minutes away and he NEVER offers to help, hardly ever comes by and has the attitude that I have to do it as I am the daughter. I don't have any friends now. I don't have the time for anyone anymore as my life is boring, mundane and I get depressed. I need a break but there is no way I can ever have that. Not even for a week. I don't have a life and am completely miserable.

I am not allowed to date anyone if I wanted to as my father thinks I am a little girl. So that side of things I have given up on. I live my entire life in the home, go out to the shops is a highlight for me just to do the grocery shopping. He tells me how to drive, he tells me what I can and cant do on the computer....really this is making me sick and tired of everything in life.

Frustrated and Overwhelmed
by: Anonymous

I've been reading all the comments on this post and realize (thankfully) that I'm not the only one dealing with this situation.

Last November, my father,age 81, had surgery on his carotid artery. The next night he had a stroke and the night after a heart attack. He's partially paralyzed and can speak very little.

He's in a nursing home going through rehab. My sister passed away from brain cancer a little over a year ago and my mother is at home and can barely walk. She suffers from congestive heart failure, shingles and scoliosis. I have a brother living with her who has a severe drug/alcohol addiction. I have one brother living 8 hours away who tries to come once in a while but mostly, I'm the only who is trying to keep everything going.

My mother is probably the most difficult person to deal with. She refuses to go to a doctor and is in constant pain and always sick. She now weighs about 90 lbs.

I'm single (wonder why) and live nearby. For quite a number of years I've been doing all the grocery shopping, etc. and cleaning her house and holding down a full time job of my own.

I feel as if my life is over. I have few friends and the ones I have are tired of hearing about the situation I'm sure. I'm resentful that the world is going by and all I do every weekend is take care of them, clean and cook and by Sunday night I still haven't taken care of my needs and it's time to prepare for work the next day.

My doctor put me on anti-depressants and that was before my dad's stroke. He said my life wasn't normal. What's normal? I don't know anymore.

My brother suggested it would be nice if I could take my dad home for a couple of days. I thought he had lost his mind. My father can't walk, has a feeding tube in his stomach and now wears pampers. It takes two to lift him. Unless you're the one who's in the thick of things I guess you just can't understand how difficult it can get. Am I crazy? I don't know anymore.

Like all of you, I don't want to lose my parents; however, I can't physically keep this up much longer. I'm so tired all the time. I'm bitter, resentful and then I feel guilty that I'm not doing enough.

I've been taking care of my mother off and on for about 15 years now. Daddy was in good health until his surgery went bad. I can't even cry about it anymore. I almost wish I could change my name and move away.

to "Feeling Guilty"
by: Anonymous

I think that you have trapped yourself into this guilt mode by assuming that there is only one "right thing to do". Sometimes "the right thing to do" has to 'give' in favor of all parties involved.

My elderly mother, like your father, is a hoarder of money (along with material goods -- she's a full-fledged compulsive hoarder). Her reluctance to spend a dime on hiring properly equipped and trained outside sources in order to maintain her large home, property, complex finances, vehicles,etc. put me in the same situation as you.

The insanity of me, a 50 year old woman, shoveling a foot of snow out of her 12-car large driveway by hand (along with all of the other chores she called upon me to do)was not lost on me...yet I continued to do this because I felt that it was the "right thing to do". It wasn't. It was nuts.

I ended up getting more and more angry with this unfair arrangement over time and became increasingly verbally short with my mother. My frustrations started to spill out on my extended family. This was wrong and unfair to them. I decided to approach my mother with the request that she make things manageable for me by downsizing her living arrangement, simplifying her financial affairs, and getting psychological help for her hoarding. She refused to cooperate on all counts because her need to hang on to her money was worth more to her than my well-being.

Her idea of "the right thing to do" (that is, her expectation that I sacrifice ALL in service to her)was only 'right' for her. Now that I know that, I have walked away from the situation in the hopes that she will see that killing me with her expectations only serves to ruin any chance of her having ANY family member fend for her (she is socially isolated due to her hoarding and has no one to help her but me)as well as destroying my health and the welfare of my immediate family.

While walking away is not my first choice nor an ideal solution, it has been better for me than it was when I dutifully bought into that "the right thing to do" mantra she drummed into my head as I grew up. I hope that someday soon it dawns on her that as soon as a health catastrophe strikes her, all of the things that she so resolutely balks as doing to put herself in a better place (for both of us) will be forced upon her and she will die one bitter, old lady.

Feeling Guilty
by: Anonymous

I have lived with my father most of my life. I am single (go figure) and in the past ten years, as my father's dementia has progressed, I have taken care of him while working full time.

My father's condition worsened after he fell and broke his hip 1 1/2 years ago. I worked hard to get him walking again and to regain most of what he lost mentally. His decline got worse last month, after one of my sisters died. He ended up in a nursing home last week, after a brief hospital stay due to weakness. My problem is that he was a child of the Depression and always worried about his money. He was quite a saver and very tight with a dollar. I just received the first bill today, for this months nursing home fee, and although I knew it would be very expensive, once I saw the bill, I began feeling anxious and guilty, because I know he wants to come home and would be mortified if he knew it cost $10K/ mo., however, the thought of bringing him home and having to give up the freedom I have experienced this past week, where I actually began thinking I may have a life of my own, and a future to look forward to, makes me feel even worse.

I know I should do "the right thing", and go back to spending my every waking hour, when I am not at work full time, taking care of him, and not being able to have any social relationships or freedom, so that his money will not get used up in a year or two. I have a sister and brother, both are married. My sister does not like my father and is not mentally stable, and shows no interest in helping with him, which is just as well. My brother has a wife and two sons, and is busy with his children and traveling for his job.

My brother says he backs me 100%.Problem is my father is incontinent, and my brother is not willing to give me a break by watching Dad so I could take a trip or take a few hours for myself each week because he does not want to have to change our father's diaper. I only have friends from work, who understandably do not want to get involved in giving any help. Also, none of my neighbors are sociable in my area. I did not have the luxury of time to go to any outreach meetings in my area.

I have health issues, diabetes, irregular heart beat,high blood pressure, obesity, depression and anxiety, and take more medications than my 83 year old father. Any suggestions? I feel like a bad person, although I know I have done my best for my Dad. Can't shake the guilt for not wanting to start up the care for him, so he can avoid using up his life savings. PS I am not worried about his money for my sake, he put a large amount in an irrevocable trust for us kids 15 yrs ago, along with the house. I just know how much he based his self worth on his money. Maybe I'm just nuts. Sue

Selfishness All Over ..
by: Anonymous

I don't have siblings so I can't even feel bad about not having anyone to share my burden. But I know how bad it feels alright, to be stuck with the problem while others walk away.

Also , I want to share that my father is also 100% selfish. Its all about HIS wants, needs, pains, requirements etc etc. He will not shift because he wants to stay in HIS house , so I have to shift. He is not interested in the loss of my time, my trouble, my efforts, my sacrifices. I spend much more time with him than with my husband who has been most understanding. My father is ALL about himself. What makes him more and more selfish, I can't say. But that's the way it is.

It is 100% TAKE and 0% GIVE. My friends have told me that he is NOT going to change so I just have to tolerate it till he goes ...
Which causes me to feel helpless, resentful, frustrated.

Selfish Siblings
by: Anonymous

Dear Friend,

I so understand what you are going through I am 50 years old with a 55 year old brother who lives an hour away but works very nearby, yet he only comes by to see my mother once a month or less where she treats him to dinner and listen to his complaints about life. My brother is more concerned about himself and his family than he could ever be about me and mother.

I always assumed that I will look after her since I was single so long, but now I am married. The best advise I can give you is to forget about your selfish siblings, its like hitting your head against a wall.

Instead focus on how you can find time to take care of yourself, and give yourself breaks when you need to. Many nursing homes and other community agencies are available for little or no cost to come and be with her for a few hours or days to give you a break. Also, consider joining a support group for caregivers, they will understand what you are going through and may have a lot of helpful suggestions for you.

Be sure that your mother has completed a health care directive and also speak with her about who she plans on assigning to the role of durable power of attorney as she declines and is less able to look after her own affairs. This is very important. Best wishes and take care of yourself!

by: Anonymous

I am in similar situation because my father died 14 years ago. Her behavior at times is extremely selfish. She constantly makes rude comments about my clothes, hair, driving and the way I run my life. I have few friends left because any spare time after work is spent checking on her or listening to her talk about the past which is always extremely negative.

She resents any time that I might spend at a union meeting or a book club or even travel for business purposes. Recently, she suggest that I even stop watching Joyce Meyer on TV.

Fortunately, I have my own home. I used to cook for her but she was never happy with the food that I sent over.I am overcome by sadness at times with this situation. When I am tempted to talk back she throws out the line "I am old."

Elder Care - Why is She Okay with This?
by: Anonymous

I was in a similar situation of being the only care-giver to my socially isolated (but independent), compulsive-hoarding widowed mother. I have an older sister who is totally estranged from my mother (has been for over a decade) and lives far enough away that I have no expectation that she would or could help, so I can relate to you in this way. This is not an issue for me as my sister needs to stay as far away from my mother as possible for her own self-preservation.

I would be curious to know if your mother is cognizant of the fact that her situation has deprived you of your enjoyment of life on top of all of the stress it induces. Is she okay with this, and if so, why? This is a very important question.

When my elderly mother's adamant refusal to dispose of her voluminous hoard and move from her huge home with a huge yard (which she EXPECTED me to solely look after because she doesn't want to hire anyone to do maintenance out of fear that her hoarding will be discovered) became a burden to me and my family I had to finally step back and take a serious look at what was happening and why. Any help I provided her with was only enabling her to maintain HER need to be independent at the price of my physical and mental well-being. What parent would be fine with destroying their offspring's life for the sake of having their way? There has to be some "give" on the elderly parent's part to go with the "take". In spite of my sincere pleas that she try to meet me half-way so that we could both have some quality of life, she placed her needs above those of mine. I finally walked away from her in the fall.

Have you ever explored what the reason is that you feel so much filial loyalty to her that it has to be 100% you giving and 100% her taking? I have three young adult children and I would NEVER expect nor wish that they would sacrifice their lives in my care. Whatever I sacrificed for them while I raised them is to be payed forward -- not backward. Now that they are starting lives on their own, I am actively working toward creating a situation where it won't be necessary for one or all of them to be my slave. To do otherwise would be selfish of me.

I sincerely hope that you can ultimately find a way to serve your mother's needs in balance with your own. Odd as it may sound, I am in a better place for having reclaimed what my mother took from me when she expected me to be the be-all and end-all to her.

Elder Care - I hope this helps
by: Anonymous

I do understand what you are going through. My mom has Alzheimer's so the situation is not quite the same. She is at home but with home health aides that are amazing. I do not know where you live but here in NY we have a service called Access a Ride that takes seniors to doctors and all appointments. There are doctors that come to the home if you need them depending on your insurance and they arrange the transportation for the person.

I realize that it is hard for you and it is great that your mom is so independent. Is there a neighbor that would help her out and take her to the doctor? Is there a car service that would work with you? I would not recommend respite care since she does not appear to need it. But, maybe another friend could help her out or a senior care service.

Remember: You are doing the right thing and I do understand how it feels to be the only one taking care of a parent. Stay strong

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