Elderly Care for Aging Parents - What an Undertaking this has Been

by Erica
(Madison, WI)

Seems the stories here have the same type difficulties that all caregivers have, namely the exertion of knowing that you moved out and away for a reason and am now having to relive those memories that have been/were buried all of these years.


My husbands' mother moved closer by us around 3 months ago and wow, what a change this has been for all of us.

The constant requests his mother that come about time and time again are beginning to take tolls on all of us as we are having to set aside more and more time for elderly care issues than living our own life.

Vacations...out, nights for a quiet dinner, out...being able to get home from work and have a little downtime, out...you get the picture.

Our lives are officially on hold for the foreseeable future as Doctor's appointments, grocery runs, weekly (sometimes daily) repairs for light bulb replacement, gardening ideas she has that we must work on, etc.

Is anyone having this type of frustration? I see the time that TWO will need care of this nature as my father is getting more and more inactive and being more and more needy.....he is two hours away now and I am the closest one of my sisters and brother and sounds as if I am the reasonable choice for this task.

Seems sort of unfair that we have to take this on as we work have a home and life of our own.....don't know how the older generation did it but is it ever tiring and frustrating.

Here we are, getting our lives set and seeing retirement a few years away and this comes along to accelerate our "to-do's" instead of downshifting and making life easier....don't know what to do frankly, other than take a deep(er) breath and continue on....thanks for reading this, just wanted to get this off my chest....reading others' comments have helped know that I may be not alone.....nice place to do this, thanks to the website for thinking of this....Erica

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Just think about it
by: Anonymous

Well, what I think is that we all should as good care of our parents as they did when we were babies. And we also should be grateful for all the work that they have done, and make sure they live a good life now, helping and taking care of them.

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Just think about it
by: Anonymous

Well, I think we all should be really grateful to our parents and take really good care of them as they did when we have been children. I think you should be grateful to your parents, and they will be grateful too.

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Frustration
by: Anonymous

I am the caregiver for my 89 year old mother who has Alzheimer's. I work a full time job and sometimes I'd rather work than be at home.

My siblings and I are in a family feud because they think this is all my responsibility because Mom lives with me. I have to get a friend to sit with her to even go to the dentist.

I feel so angry and bitter because I have no time of my own. I cant even keep my grandchildren when I want to.

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It's Best to Start Setting Boundaries
by: the granddaughter

Hi there..
I understand where you're coming from and feel from reading your post that your frustration level is rising as is your fear of being asked to do too much.

In my experience (and this is easier said than done) it is best to set up boundaries. Try as hard as you can to take control and set dates and times for different things. Be positive about it, as if it's the natural and obvious course of action because really, it is! :)

Remember that not only is this role new to you, but it's new to your mother in law as well. Both of you will benefit from a schedule (where possible)

The other boundary you need to try and set is within yourself. If you are like me I drove myself crazy thinking that I had to be on call all the time, thinking that it would be selfish of me not to respond to someone's loneliness by giving up my own life. The first year for me was nervous breakdown territory.

However, this is my second year and I'm learning. I'm learning that I'm allowed to say "I will be available on Tuesday for that, but not today." and it's okay for me to go back to watching a movie after getting a needy phone call instead of trying to sort the situation out immediately.

Like you I have other family but they don't help. This caused incredible stress until I finally let it go. I don't speak to them, and there's some residual anger there, but overall I feel like they are the losers in this situation. I'll always know I've done my best.

This response is kind of all over the place!! :) Sorry about that. I guess I just wanted to let you know that you indeed are not alone, and that your instinct that this might get a lot worse is correct - it can.

You can burn yourself out with physical tasks and also with the emotional minefield of the whole thing.

Make sure that you are doing *your* best.. not anyone else s best, and do NOT put yourself last. Set the schedule that works for you.

cheers!

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I know !
by: Anonymous

Hello Erica,
I know just how you feel! I am stressed out but then my mother of 88/89 in January is living with us (me 55 and my daughter 28).

She is very demanding and does not like staying home alone when my daughter and me go out shopping or have to go some where. Last time we stayed out 2 hours and when we came back we had a mouth full!

My older sister only comes and visit once in a while and she gets all the gratitude(she is always doing every thing right and is so kind and good!!) NO WONDER SHE NEVER DOES ANY THING !!

She does not understand or want to understand what my daughter and I are going though and that we have no life. I had enough and went to see the social helpers. They can help but they have to talk to my sister. But the problem with that is as soon as my sister will know I went to see the social she will tell our mother and then again I will be 'the bad' one!

So what ever I do or where ever I turn it always falls back on me( had told my sister that mother could get a secured apartment, and my sister said "you want to get rid of your mother"! That is all the help I get from her.

I have enough and want my life back and so does my daughter. Don't know what to do any more. I made this story short, but there is so much more to tell ! Any way thank you all for reading it ! PT

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Tough Times
by: Anonymous

I empathize with your situation and know that you are probably between a rock and a hard place.

Guilt if you don't help and resentment if you do! It's not easy but in my experience, devoting a whole evening to her needs,once a week might lighten the load?

Sometimes a quick grocery run or popping in to change a bulb doesn't feel like a proper visit to the elderly. If you devote one chunk of time to her when you can shop, chat and do all those little jobs can mean that you are not permanently on call.

Once you know that you are spending a certain chunk of quality time taking care of her and, excepting emergencies, you are making your own plans for the rest of the time, the guilt may lessen and you may begin to enjoy her company.

However, you do need to decide what situations are emergencies and when she is just demanding your attention, that may be the hard part! Good luck!

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Living longer.
by: Leasa

Hi Erica, the difference between us and the older generation is the fact that people are living longer and longer.

Also, my parent's generation (I am 53) were tougher than we are and they weren't as easily guilt-ed into things. For example; my mom would go and visit her mom but as soon as her mom would start to complain or whine, she'd just up and leave.

When she got difficult, her solution was to put her into a home...period. My mother would not allow anyone to put her out, including me. When my mom got sick and needed care, I could not say no. I loved her so much. She was totally bed ridden, demanding, angry and refused to help herself what so ever but I kept her home like that for two months and all the rest of the year where she had to be hospitalized I visited her every day and did things for her.

She is gone now and I miss her. She wasn't all bad, but she wasn't all good either.

Anyway...what I am saying is, it is easy to end up giving up your entire life, including marriages and relationships with your own kids all out of guilt and this sense of 'being needed'.

Set your mother in law down and have a frank talk, today. Let her know that she is going to have to hire more help or figure out how to get things done herself. She calls you for a light bulb?

Also, set your father down today and set your boundaries. And for God's sake set both of them down and ask what they want done should they become demented. Find out today where the will is, where the insurance is and if they have any funeral plans in place.

Children don't owe their parents.

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