I finally figured out why we can never do enough for our aging parents. Because we can't give them everything they've lost in their lives and that's what they really want.

They want health, their spouse, old friends, spontaneity, freedom, independence. We can't give them any of these things because they are gone forever.

We have become the gatekeepers. We are their portal to the world. They live vicariously through us. Whether we like it or not, we are the ones who say, yes, I can take you shopping for shoes today or no, you have to wait until Friday.

Mom may not even want another pair of shoes. What she really wants is the ability to get in the car and drive to the store whenever she feels like it and buy whatever she wants without having to ask for it, and I can't give that to her.

Whatever we do for them is like sticking a square peg in a round hole. It's never going to be a satisfying fit. Everything she wants is now my responsibility and under my control. I don't want this job. She doesn't want this job to exist. But that's the way it is.

I have my list of losses in this situation and she has hers. It seems the more independence and freedom she loses, the more I lose too. The trick for us is trying to turn a lose-lose situation into a win-win situation.

Comments for LOSS

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Loss - we all lose
by: Anonymous

The longer a person lives being dependent on others - the worse it gets. My Mother In Law vilifies me at every opportunity. NEVER has a kind word - even though I have gone above and beyond for 7 years.

She turned hateful after her last surgery & the loss of her ability to walk unaided & drive. She acts one way w/everyone else & is totally different with me. Her demeanor changes instantly.

She always made sure NO ONE heard or saw what she said or did to me - it took YEARS before my husband realized what his mom was doing to me!

I was hysterical after hearing her tell a social worker that I harassed her by calling her & hanging up 3 days in a row. Her caller ID proved this a lie - but that broke this care giver's back. I had to get FAR AWAY & I did for 2 weeks. I should have stayed longer - but hubby missed me :0(

When I came back we set boundaries. I do my care giving from a distance - hubby is 'go-between.' Thankfully she can bathe herself. She now has meals on wheels.

We tried talking w/her (recorded) & she would NOT accept any responsibility or even admit saying or doing anything to hurt me - no apologies, nothing. She said she didn't remember or she didn't say it. She told us she didn't want us to do a thing for her & went into her apt. & slammed the door. (She has her own apartment next to us)

She no longer comes/goes in our home. I hung curtains over our French doors & tied them shut with a decorative cord. No more surprise visitors - she only came over to accuse me of something anyway.

I can still hear her through the door telling anyone who visits or calls - all sorts of untrue & hurtful things about me - impugning wrong motives to anything I have ever done for her - telling them that we neglect her and that I have thrown away heirlooms & mementos & bragged to her that I did it - when all I ever did was clean up her apt. and throw out outdated food. Her lies range from small to BIG. All of this hurts me a lot. We thought she loved us.

FINALLY, after years of this, my doctor explained that she is not coping with her losses & has SERIOUS anger/rage issues with me as primary target - since I represent all that she has lost.

Forgive me if I have posted this before - I tend to ramble.

Care giving - FOR MOST - ends up in an ugly, twisted mess w/guilt as our legacy. It will be a miracle if I get out of this alive.

She has two other children who do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for her. They call her once in a while -

She will eventually go too far with her lies and get caught in her own web. I pray it is soon.

For now, I pity her from a distance. I am just trying to climb out of this deep pit she pushed me into. Someone told me that it took years to get here and it will take years to get out. So, I have to be patient.

Cannot Make Them Happy
by: Anonymous

Anonymous - your words just "clicked" with me. My husband and I built a small suite for my mother - attached to our home - so that she could feel safe and secure but still have her own life.

In her town, all of her friends were moving in with their families far away and she was alone most of the time. When we discussed doing this for her, she said that's exactly what she wanted to do. Now, though, it seems that isn't enough.

She gets angry if I'm not over there every waking minute. Keep in mind that I still work full-time and am on the road every day for 2+ hours. She gets aggravated with me if I want to take a nap when I get home. She's been home napping all day but I'm not supposed to get tired. I have three sisters that do absolutely nothing for her except call once every week or two.

My husband has been extremely good to her too. She talks about both of us behind our backs but to our face she's totally different. I thought this would make her happy that she could feel safe and know that someone was there when she needed them. I think she really just wants me to move in with her and leave my husband alone.

Sometimes I feel so guilty I don't know what to do. She has never been a loving mother and I think I felt so much guilt about her being alone, I forgot how cruel she can be.

I'm am so stressed I feel like I could crawl in a hole and hide forever. But, to make a long story short, they will never be happy, because what they want they can't have. Thank you!

by: Erin

Very well said- all of the comments. I'm so thankful we have this blog especially when I feel no one else understands! Thank you!!

Re: Loss - the Question is HOW?
by: Anonymous

Quoting: "The trick for us is trying to turn a lose-lose situation into a win-win situation."

This article describes our situation exactly. I am sure others identify. The question is HOW do you turn the situation around? How do you change someone's viewpoint of a glass half empty to one that is half full when their glass truly IS half empty?

When they have lost mate, home, friends, health, independence . . . . and they are waiting for the END.

To Loss
by: Anonymous

Well stated - I can relate 100%. It is so very painful to realize that we can't make our aging parents happy, and that the things that previously brought them joy, as you stated, are no longer easily accessible to them, if at all.

My 87 year old Mom has been with me for the last 7 years. I do on occasion get frustrated, resentful, impatient, etc. but knowing how much more difficult it is for her to be in a dependent position helps me keep my feelings in perspective.

I am comforted (as you probably are as well) by the knowledge that I am doing the best I can within the prevailing circumstances.

by: Anonymous

I agree with you 100%. The difference is, there are elderly who remain pleasant, grateful, kind and giving. Then there are the ones who are unpleasant, ungrateful, unkind and selfish. The later are the ones who drive their child to depression and suck everything they can from them.

If my mom could walk and care for herself at all, I would be more than happy to drive her where she needed to be, clean up her house, take her to the doctors, do her laundry. But, my mother could not walk, nor wash herself, was incontinent and when she didn't get exactly what she wanted when she wanted she was hurtful.

When she got very ill and had to be readmitted to hospital she was so angry she said some very cruel things to me. She has never gotten well enough to even consider coming home again. I go to the hospital every day now for about an hour or so, so she knows she's not alone, but for the rest, I have my life back, I got caught up on all my work that was undone for so long, MY house is now clean, my laundry is done, my husband has his wife back.

I guess what I'm saying is, no matter how much we dread it, there comes a time when we cannot do it and everything changes. We cannot spend the rest of our lives beating ourselves up for wanting and needing to have a life of our own. A good parent would never want that either.

by: Barbara

I have been at my wits end about this for so long and you could not have said it better. I am going to pass this on to everyone I know dealing with older parents.

Thank you

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