I feel like my elderly parents are abusing me.

Started by

I am the only child to two elderly parents who had me late in life. My mother never got over the death of my sister almost 8 years ago from pancreatic cancer. My mom started drinking, cashed in all of their retirement savings and gambled it all away. Credits cards were racked up and my dad let it all happen while he lived in his false sense of paradise. My mom is almost 81 and has been found drunk and hurt at least 10 - 15 times in the last 7 years - all requiring hospital ER stays. Each time I had to drop what I was doing to go to her aid. I stopped doing it the last two times. I have taken my mom to AA, set up geriatric counselling, addiction counselling, tried to get her help at the hospital. etc. Evenutally my family moved to a small community and I built a nice basement apartment for them to live with me. My mom called it a dungeon. I had to get her help with bathinig and additional counselling. Nothing has helped. She was not taking her medication properly and her siblings and other family/friends has washed their hands of her many years ago becaue of her horrible personality. My last hope was placing her in a home for a 90 day evaluation to determine if she has dementia and get her on her meds properly. My dad has provided no support or help during these years, always letting the decisions be made by me. Now my father, who is still living with me, is verbally assulting me...calling me an f-ing idiot, telling me to go upstairs to cry (I have been doing a lot of that lately,) that placing my mom in the home was unecessary punishment and cruel...etc.

I have two young children, am the only one in my house that works a high stress job and I fell like I am on my last rope. The stress has now physically started to impact me.

And the worst thing, my parents have no money but minimal pensions because my mom killed their finances.

I resigned as power of attorney for my mom and now my dad had to deal with everything. THis has led him to verbally attack me calling horrible names.

I want my dad out of my house. How do I get him and and how do I start healing with my family? After 8 years of this...I can't take any more. My mom refuses to admit she has any responsibility in the state of reality today. She threatens suicide to me but no one else. So I have not seen her in over 2 weeks.

Any advise and help would be so greatly appreciated.



You really have had a load to bear. And it sounds like you need a breather from Mom or Dad or both for a BIT. You cannot make life altering decisions when you feel anger, resentment, or FEEL suffocated by life's circumstances.. You HAVE to hire somebody to come in and take a break from it. Hash it out THEN.
First of all, let me give you a pat on the back for standing up and doing what you have done so far. You should be proud of yourself for taking care of family. It isn't an easy task, trust me, I know. Especially when you feel alone in it. I agree with you on the verbal bashings. It is uncalled for and it makes you feel like they are kicking you in the ribs when you are rolled up in the fetal position begging for help. You HAVE to stand up to Dad, tell him his verbal lashings will not be tolerated, because you CAN get the police involved if you are feeling like he is capable of harming you or your children. My Mother refused one too many times to change her FILTHY clothing but was going to walk to the bar to play music. So I called the local authorities and they gave her an ultimatum, either get into MY car and go home and change clothes, or she would be restrained and taken to jail for disorderly conduct. She immediately complied and got into my car.
You are going to have to get tough in this situation. If you need to cry and release some built up stress or tension, then do it where nobody can see you. Dad now knows you have a weak spot and it sounds like he is going to play on that, which of course makes you feel even worse. My Mother has called me everything except a milk cow, and I finally realized she found my weak spot. Calling me names and verbally abusing me made the dynamite go off in my head and I screamed back at her. It was when I said, "you aren't going to steal my joy today, I love you Mom", that she realized I am DONE with arguing and trying to get her to cooperate with me. She fell down the back stairs and broke her wrist and told the nurse at the emergency room I DID IT. They seem to enjoy seeing the outcome of trying to get someone into trouble. THIS is why I do NOT put up with her shananigans AT ALL anymore. If she acts up, I call the cops. Simple solution. It may sound harsh and that I have become hard hearted, but in the long run it has caused Mom to calm down some. She realizes now she can't get away with the treatment she has been dealing me. I still love her and I am sure you love your parents as well, but we were not born to devote our entire existence to them, or be mistreated by them. There ARE people OUTSIDE the family and friends that will come in and sit with them, bathe them, cook, clean, etc. It costs, but you are the boss. You control when they come and when they leave.
Do this by YOUR rules and things will eventually straighten out, or at least become bearable again.
Ultimatums are the best tool you have with combative, argumentative, uncooperative elders.
I agree you have to hide your vulnerable spots. Don't ever let abusive people know what bothers you. That's what they are looking for.

I'd get rid of mom and dad. Contact the area agency on aging office in your county and get them on the list for section 8 housing. There's got to be some place for poor old people to live. You can't let them display bad behavior in front of your children. Get them out of your personal life.
I agree they need to be out of your home either in senior living or a nursing home you do not deserve to be treated this way-do not even try to deal with them let them be assesed by social service and placed somewhere-when your Dad starts in leave his space-I had to do that with my late husband when I realized I did not deserve such treatment he lost his power over me and he found himself talking to air.
I have learned recently to leave my mother "talking to air" when she gets abusive. When we were both younger she would start up again as soon as I reappeared. But now she forgets why she was angry or even that she was angry. Also she doesn't have the energy to continue with the big blasts of abuse. In some ways it's easier to deal with her now than when I was a kid.
DJ: The other comments are right on - you MUST move your parents. In most states they should qualify for medicaide to help pay for assisted living or Section 8 housing. The local area agency on aging is a great place to start. If you have kids at home, you need to worry about the impact your parents are having on them as well as what it does to YOU. Believe me when I say, it DOES have an impact. (Don't you DARE feel guilty over these next comments!!) Your kids may not wish to be in their own home. They can develop a lack of respect for themselves and for their parents if you don't stand up to this abuse.

All that said, if your dad is suddenly abusive there could be another cause - he might have the onset of dementia or alzhiemers. He might also have other physical ailments that are making him feel ill and crabby - UTIs, untreated blood pressure, blood sugar issues - who knows - the important thing is to make sure there's nothing physical going on and then MOVE them. Move them BOTH.

There could be a way to make "the doctors" or "the hospital" the bad guys in this situation. This might sound manipulative BUT if it's to ensure they are safe and healthy and that YOU begin the road to emotional and physical well being - then IT IS OKAY!!!!! If Mom is currently in a facility - go to them and tell them you can't handle her at home anymore. Tell them your dad is ill too and both of them at home is too much for you. Tell them that she MUST be released to assisted living and ask them to help find a facility. Ask if they can help you find a place that will accept BOTH parents in their own room or apartment. If they balk, tell them you're starting to have back trouble, blood pressure issues - ANYTHING to get your point across. If they try to intimidate you into taking her home, tell them NO WAY; she's not coming home. Then go to your dad and tell him that Mom's doctors have ordered her to assisted living; tell him that she's not well and needs more nursing than you can provide in your home. Tell him she would be better off if they lived together there. Point out all the benefits - they'll have a nice place of their own, they can set their own schedules, they won't have to worry about cooking, laundry or anything like that.

I hope you can use this or a similar strategy. You've done enough for them; you've been a good daughter to them. It's time that you worried about yourself and your kids. You can also be a more patient and understanding daughter if you leave the daily tending to someone else. If they live somewhere else, it does not mean you're not a good daughter. It does NOT mean you're selfish; it does NOT mean you don't love them. You've done this long enough; you work hard and you deserve to have a harmonious home that is free of anger, resentment and verbal torment - so do your kids and spouse.

As you go through this, expect to feel some guilt. It's natural and anyone going through this will feel it. You'll feel guilty that you don't keep them at home, you'll feel guilty that you didn't move them sooner and your kids had to hear their abuse, you'll feel a sense of relief when you have a chance to relax and then you'll feel guilty because you're relieved. To handle all of that, please join a support group or seek out friends, counselors - anyone that might help you see that you've been a good person and that you ARE a good person for doing your best and having a sense of obligation to your family. Also - while this is going on - do at least ONE thing that you've always wanted to do - take a quilting class, photography - anything that will provide a positive distraction for your mind and emotions.

I hope this is helpful and not preachy. I've been in similar situations and often you feel like you can't win. There is a certain amount of letting go and detachment that you must do to stay sane. It takes practice but you can do it. If you try to "live in the moment" it helps too. Best of luck to you. Let us know how it goes. There's a lot of practical wisdom in this online community so tap it when you need it.
If the finances are gone.....MEDICAID is the answer. The process can be complicated so I would find an elder law attorney. Free yourself!!!!!!!
This is not a selfish act but one of self preservasion....you were not born to relinquish your life later in care of them.
What is up with all these hateful twisted seniors???? Most of their parents had the decency to not be a burden, but this "greatest" generation is far from that!!!!
I agree with castoff...what IS up with these selfish, hateful name calling old people? I told my Mom if she hates me as much as she says, there is NOTHING stopping me from saying "later!" and just packing up and allowing the State to come in and take over. And I also told her they don't put up with ANY kind of lip from anybody where she will be going, she will be restrained, drugged up and left drooling in her bed. I don't know how much more I am suppose to take. She writhes on making my life as miserable as she can make it. And before anybody responds to this post with comments like, "it's the onset of dementia/alzhiemers, " SAVE IT. This woman is demon possessed.
I've been reading about possession in Scott Peck's old book (1983), People of the Lie. Someone on this site speculated that these old people are evil and I remembered this book. So I got my copy out and started reading it again. Fascinating.

Chapter 5 deals with exorcism.

I agree, I'm tired of blaming it on dementia. In fact I have found that my mother is easier to handle now that she's having memory problems because she forgets what she was yelling about.

Read "People of the Lie" by Scott Peck (1983). Chapter 5 is on possession and exorcism.

In earlier chapters he talks about evil, malignant narcissism, and ambulatory schizophrenia. The ambulatory schizophrenia is thought disorder brought on by stress. I've experienced this with my mother all my life and didn't have a name for it.

Unfortunately there is nothing that can be done with these people. Psychologists and psychiatrists don't want to deal with them. I think you are right drugging them is the only way to keep them still.

Fortunately, my mother is back in her own home after living with me for 3 months while her house was repaired after a fire. She has taken up with a neighbor who is showing her a lot of attention. That will sour soon. It always does.
Thanks so much for all the advise and thoughts. LynnPO you definitely hit it on the nose...My mother is already in a home and I have told them that she cannot come home to my place. She is a danger to herself and to my family. She almost lit my house on fire from forgetting stuff in the microwave. I never installed a stove for them for the fear of fire.

My father has not apoligized and has actually turned nasty. I went to pay my mothers monthly stay at the interim home and found her account was emptied. It was going to be my last bit of help. When I asked my dad he said the bank advised him to...like I want my mother's piddly pension. To think that after all these years my father believes i would try to steal.

I am sure my father has the onset of dementia but he has been pretty miserable his whole life.

I'm trying not to feel guilty and I should seek out counselling...now if there were just a few more hours to the day....:)

Thanks again!

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support