How I Cope

I have been care giving for almost 6 years with no help from a sibling. I have come to find peace after a long period of resentment and anger (although I still battle it occasionally). Here are some ideas on how I personally cope with care giving and not having any help. A lot of people might not agree with my methods but these are what work for me:

1. First, I do not listen to advice from the advice-mongers out there who try to tell me that the deadbeat sibling is in her right not to do anything and that I need to get strangers and paid services in order to cope. I have found that listening to the peanut gallery is upsetting and worthless and not worth my time. It is better to wipe these clueless people and their advice off my slate and to figure out within my own mind what is best for my parent. I take care of all of my parent's needs with no help from anyone not my sibling nor outsiders, and it works. The main thing is that my parent is happiest without strangers or paid services and I am happier when she is happier. Also I have found that it is too stressful to involve outsiders and paid services.

2. I have found that social opportunists put too many demands on me and I have wiped them off my slate. That is not to say that I isolate myself because that is not true. I pick and choose carefully a few kind friends who I occasionally see for dinner. The social opportunists want to drain my only free day (Sunday) in order to give them a warm body to go out with. I don't have time to go out all day on Sunday! I have also found that social events tend to make me feel worse about my life because everyone is talking about all of their trips and vacations which I can't relate to. I have wiped off my slate such things as Superbowl parties, showers, picnics and barbecues with coworkers, and other inane activities that don't help me feel good about myself.

3. I pray a lot. I go to church to pray for strength. I have found that this has pulled me through. People are fallible and will disappoint and drag me down but God never fails me.

4. I spend a lot of my free time doing simple, quiet things rather than mindless activities which waste my time and don't contribute anything positive to my life. I have wiped stupid movies off my slate. Also crime and trashy TV shows and novels. I focus on positive things like going for walks, reading uplifting books not depressing ones, watching wildlife, gardening, and sitting with
my parent.

5. I have built up a strong, positive relationship with my parent. I have found that this is one of the major ways to cope with care giving and not having a sibling's help. Not having the sibling around created a major opportunity for me to get to know my parent. I allow my parent to reminisce, to talk about fears and regrets, and we enjoy eating together or watching old movies or cooking shows on TV. I have found that building a strong relationship with my parent has made my care giving much easier in the long run because my parent no longer fights me on certain issues. My parent has started showing me a lot more appreciation and gratitude, is thanking me more and more and showing me more affection. This has only developed gradually over time and by being there for her.

6. One of the major ways I cope is to work on plans for my future. At some point in time, my parent will no longer be here and I will be freed from my care giving. I have started to downsize my possessions and have started to develop some plans for my future. I have ideas on relocation and plans for certain activities that I want to explore. This gives me a big shot in my arm when I am feeling trapped and when I am resentful at my sibling. I have come to see that my life is NOT over because I will have a good many years in my future to enjoy life. I work on researching career choices and job opportunities. I have gotten road maps together for a road trip across the country. I have sold some of my knick knacks and am building up my savings so I can take some time off from working after my parent dies. This all helps me cope.

7. I do not bother trying to talk to the sibling about not helping. IT IS A WASTE OF TIME AND ENERGY!! THE SIBLING WILL NOT HELP!! IT WILL ONLY MAKE THE SIBLING DEFENSIVE!! I have come to the conclusion that the sibling is clueless and is in her own world so why bother with her. She will get her judgment and will also find out when the parent is dead that she made a mistake. I have also figured out that not having her help is actually better because I can figure out on my own how to handle various issues and don't have to put up with her drama and chaos at the same time. I have come to see that not having her help is actually a positive thing. Sometimes 2 siblings clash a lot over how to handle something and I don't have to deal with that.

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Hitting Bottom
by: Anonymous

I recently moved back into my mom's house to help her out. It's only been a few months, but it has been a huge adjustment in my life. So much more than I ever thought it would. Within the first month, I realized what I had done. I've gone through these last months kicking and screaming all the way.

I've now hit bottom which is usually where I always have to go in order to make right the things in my life that are wrong.

I liken this process to the five stages of death and dying. At first there was the denial that this would be hard. I thought I would somehow carry on with my life and just be around to help mom. But the reality is, I have no life. I live my mom's life. With denial comes the isolation. I felt alone in my situation, and that no one would really understand my whining and complaining. And then the anger hit full throttle. I have been so angry for so long now that even I am sick of me.

Then came the bargaining. If I could just have a little more my life, if I could just have a get-away place, if I could just have my partner be a part of my life, if, if, if....I could do this. But none of those things happened. Then I hit the wall of depression. I felt sick. I got quiet. There wasn't any joy anywhere in my life.

I was just going through the motions. And now I've hit bottom. And with that comes the acceptance.

This is how I cope:
I listen to advice, but I know my situation is unique and only I can be the judge of what will or will not work with care taking mom.
I pray for spiritual strength that I'm guided in a direction in which this can be a win-win situation for both of us.

I seek authentic happiness. I've had genuine happiness in my life at times, and I know the difference between true inner happiness and just surface happiness. I find opportunities of quality instead of quantity and try to bring them into my life now because this is when I need them the most.

I realize my time with my mom is short, and I want to make the best of it for her and for me. I want to know for myself that I did the best I could.

Striving for authentic happiness, I'm thinking about my future after mom is gone. I'm learning through this experience what are my true desires in life and what is important to me.

I'm fortunate to have a helpful, loving sibling, but they are at a distance and I'm in the trenches making the daily decisions and carrying the brunt of the load. I realize no one is going to save me, but me.

I just reached this point of acceptance today. There is no guarantee that I won't go back into one of the other stages at any time. I am here now, and this is what I'm doing now, and I have to make a choice of how I'm going to do it. I guess the most important coping method is taking one day at a time. And making the most of it. For my mom. And for me.

Some are not so Fortunate
by: Anonymous

I am dealing with two aging, demented parents-both parents at the same time (my father is 90 and my mother is 87). I am in my early fifties and was laid off more than a year ago. I have basically resigned myself to long term unemployment, my health and finances are going down the drain, and I am suffering from extreme depression.

I have also learned about the three ring circus of elder care players and others that come out of the woodwork, especially when they smell money. I have also learned how you have to become your own care giver and draw boundaries.

But after reading the "How I Cope" post and the many follow up comments, I noticed several things that they seem to have in common that differ from my situation: The first is that they are dealing with parents that are/were not abusive and selfish people that treated them decently and with respect. The second is that you seem to have been granted the ability to make decisions and be in control to a greater extent than some people.

You are very lucky in that regard; my parents are controlling and want to be in charge of everything, not only up until the end but even after they are gone. Even though they are becoming increasingly incompetent and vulnerable, all I can do is run around and try to support them, even if they are making bad decisions, such as placing their confidence in strangers and handing over financial matters to disingenuous people, or always talking about going into assisted living but not leaving the home though it's clear that even with the thousands spent every week on hour care, it's not working.

I will also say that I actually envy people that don't have siblings, as it is just easier that way sometimes; not only can they be not supportive, but even worse, they may be up to no good. In my case, I have an older alcoholic sister who I need to worry about all the time; she is utterly untrustworthy and can be frightening.

To add insult to injury, my parents have enabled her for her entire life and pay all her expenses while not helping me out at all. While they will say how much they need my help, they treat me like an indentured servant and don't even compensate me for expenses incurred on their behalf, even though they are quite wealthy.

Praying is fine if it works for you. I am not a religious person but I am deeply spiritual and take solace in nature, music, reading, and writing. I don't have many friends and have really learned who my friends are, and have no children, but I have a wonderful husband. But it is a very lonely.

I get aggravated when people say that they understand and know what I am going through when they don't. I am hoping one day to get my life back and be allowed to heal from my family, that is if they don't kill me first. I just want it to end.


Everything that you wrote was just what I needed to hear. Thank You from the bottom of my HEART!!!

All the other sites on LAZY,SELFISH, siblings tell you to cater to we are doing EVERYTHING and we have to also help them be NORMAL people. I don't think so. They either have it or they don't. And they don't and they never will.

I'm going to start to really enjoy the time with my 90 year old Dad. And let the losers go.
Thank you again. You have helped me so much.

Life throws a Curve Ball
by: Janet

After all these years of saying I would have my time after my father passes or had to go to a home just isn't going to happen.

I just lost the love of my life after almost 41 years together. Never, ever did I think I would lose my husband before my father. But that's the curve ball. I still don't resent the devotion I have given my father but I have so much regret in not spending more time with my husband. He always wanted to go away - even if for a day trip - and I couldn't because of my Dad. Now it's too late.

His death was so unexpected and I am having a very hard time dealing with it. I left the house early to take my father to a doctor's appointment and I returned later in the morning to find my husband passed away and right now I'm in the worst pain I have ever experienced and I have so many regrets that I can never change.

So to everyone out there - continue to take care of your parent(s) but never ever put anyone else on the back burner for it. I did and I will blame myself for the rest of my life. I have lived my entire adult life waiting for the day when we both would not have to work and we could spend out days together. We were so close - Spring was going to be our time - now he's gone and I just don't know how to cope with it.

Elderly Care Comments - Amen
by: Anonymous

Oh my Gosh, your post has been a validation of my thoughts. If I did not know any better I would think I wrote your post.

What you have stated is exactly how I have thought through things while I have my life on hold to care for my Mother. I pray for my one sibling who is more concerned about herself. In moments when I am naturally really tired, her self-centered-ness really gets to me, but in the big picture of life, when Mother has passed, I will miss her but not have any regrets.

I don't wish any regrets on my sister, but we do reap what we sow in some form. I too have found my walk with the Lord to be my source of strength.

I have always been a believer, but the last 9 years after losing my brother and my husband plus taking care of my Mother, the Lord has opened my eyes to so many things. I feel as long as Mother is here with me, it is my chance to spend more time in the word and know he is preparing things for me down the road. Sometimes I wonder what his plans are for me.

I came from a wonderful home and have now lost my Dad, brother and husband to death. I have no children, so this is the first time I have felt so alone in the world. With out my heavenly father, I don't know how I would make it through this season and the ones to follow. I will keep us all in prayer.

This is just God's waiting room for us and he wants to pull us close. We never learn on the mountain tops, but in the valleys of life. God Bless.

by: Anonymous

I think your post shows a lot of good mental health and a healthy thought process. Keep drawing close to God....He is such a source of strength and comfort. At the end of the day you are honoring God by taking care of your parents and that is what this life is all about. Your siblings will have to answer to Him someday for not honoring them, and that is sad. They are missing out on many blessings! Rejoice! You are a remarkable person with a wonderful heart and healthy attitude!

Thank you
by: Barbara

Thanks for sharing your story. I have two siblings and one is a two hour drive and the other 12 hour and I am fifteen minutes away.

Have already dealt with this on a short term when my dad got sick and then passed away...but my mom has had about three years of issues and the details of her care fall to me. The siblings won't come to help when I want to go away. Mom's mind is fairly good, her body is just fairly bad. She needs company and family. I nag at my kids to help and they do somewhat. But she wants to see my siblings - her other two children...but they are too busy, have $ issues, and on/on...but they travel to Europe, spend foolishly, buy new cars and eat out every day...etc.

So, I have decided - no more nagging, no more begging and no more talking to them when we have a crisis. I will handle it as I have the POA and then I will work on not being so mad as when I have had a crisis...they want me to call every fifteen minutes for updates.....and challenge me at every turn.

So, you can pick your friends/not your family and for whatever reason I got a very un-supportive family. My mom has given all of her children a lot of help through the years and this is her payback....

They will have to answer for it in the this point in time at the end of her days....they may not even get a call from me.

Elderly Parents Care - Thanks
by: Janet

Thanks anonymous. I do have 3 siblings who do absolutely nothing and don't want to. They want to live their own lives and I have made peace with that. It was their choice and they will have to live with it one day. I know I will make it through this alone because I have the will and determination to do so. Not working has actually taken a lot of stress off me but still with no money coming in I have to be careful. My father has a little income but I don't want to take it because no one knows what the future holds and he could very well need it in an assisted living facility one day.

I, like you do plan to pay myself back one day after he is no longer living and provided there are funds left to do so. I know I will be able to do it without much say so from other family members but I don't let myself count on it because my father comes first and he may need it all himself. Thanks for your comments.

To Janet
by: Anonymous

It sounds like you might be an only child with no siblings to help you. Hang in there. Is there any way that your father can help you financially since you are so devoted to him and helping him?

I am formulating some ideas about my parent's future and how I will care for her if she requires full time assistance. I do not want to just throw her into a facility. I would rather keep her at home and perhaps work part time but I agree that hiring services is too expensive. If my mother should require me to go part time or even quit my job and take family leave for some period of time at the end of her life, I plan on requesting that she and my sibling agree to financially compensate me for some of my financial losses from her estate after her death.

I do not think that is being greedy but practical. My sister is living a very nice life: going on nice trips and vacations, growing her business, and enjoying career success because she does not have to take care of our mother. I have had to move to be closer to my mother which cost me a lot of money not to mention the expenses of fixing up my current residence. If I have to go part time or even take family leave then I expect the family to recognize the financial burden on me to do that and recognize that I am replacing hired help ($20 an hour) and make sure that I receive financial compensation after my mother is gone. I have already opened up communications with my sister about this. She isn't happy about it but tough darts.

by: Janet

Thanks for your comments. I agree with your thoughts and feelings. I am in a similar situation with my father. I have been doing this almost 7 years and I feel the same way you do about the help, etc. I have just lost my job and can't get another one because I would not be able to take off to help him with appointments, etc. I am okay with that but it does cost me money to constantly go to his house every day. He lives alone and will not have it any other way.

I will run out of money before I can go back to work and that is my stress right now. Trying to figure out how to hold on. Hiring someone to help is way to expensive and not possible right now. Besides, like you, I am building memories with my Dad but yet I know one day I will be able to pick up with my own life. I am NOT sorry I made this choice and never will be. Just wish I had someone to talk to sometimes because my Dad has memory loss and it creates a lot of problems sometimes. Especially when he thinks I have stolen from him, etc. I just get going, going, going.

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