I was fine for about 3 years but never expected it to go on this long.

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It's been 11 1/2 very long years, taking care of my mother who is fairly good health. She has never taken care of herself because my dad did everything for her. He passed away in 2003. At 87 she's not going to change. She still speaks her native language (canadian) despite the fact that's she's lived in this country since she was 16. She can't change! She won't even order at the restaurant, she makes me do it for her. She can't stay home even one day without freaking out so I take her out everyday. I'm so tired and now I take her to the closest place and bring her back as soon as possible. She lives with me in an attached MIL apt. She's dramatic and so I'm become desensitized to some of her concerns. She would have me do even more for if I was willing but I'm not. Not at this point. I just don't know how I'm going to survive the next 5,10 or more years. I really think caregiving has a life expectancy before the caregiver no longer cares. I was fine for 3 years, 5 years I had my days, 10 years I had more days. Now everyday is a bad day and I dread coming home. I want to be there when she really needs me but I'm afraid I'm going to have nothing left by then. I no longer have the courage to clean my house, change my bed, or take pride in way I look, all of which were so important to me. Life is an everyday struggle and the worst hasn't even begun yet. She brags to her sisters (who are alone and/or in assisted living) how I do everything for her and that their kids do nothing for them. She's a little mean and I don't like that. When I tell her she shouldn't say those things she responds "well it's true". The truth is maybe her sisters do not want to be a burden on their kids as long as they're able to manage. I want to be her end of life caregiver but not her personal aide until then. This is what my father did his whole life. May he rest in peace now. No need to reply. I just really need to vent.

22 Comments

You must call your local senor services group and check what assistance Mom is eligible for. Perhaps a companion visit a few hours a week to give her someone else to talk to and possibly they could take her on a short outing. Is it possible for you to get away for a weekend every now and then? It would be well worth the money to hire a sitter for a couple of days once a month. You need some ME time alone. You are burnt out and must take care of yourself first.

No where is it written that one should sacrifice their happiness and life to take care of a parent. You love them and see that they are safe but not at the expense of your own physical and emotional health; and certainly it does not have to be in your own home.

You've done a remarkable thing but everyone has their limits! Sometimes it is just tough to be the adult and make the decisions that are best for ourselves!

Wishing you all the best.
2burn, you need more than a couple of hours. When is the last time you had a vacation? Find a facility that offers respite care and just go for two weeks. And maybe in that time Mom may find she likes it and you get all the ME time you want.
I agree. Make yourself less available, bit by bit. Claim all the time you need, and make no bones about it.

She's proud of you, you know. I agree that the way she brags makes it sound as if she's more proud of herself for being so clever as to bring you up right, which must be galling, but you have done a rare and good thing. I hope you're not on your own in this? - do you have a partner, children, living with you in your "servants' annexe"?
I do have a husband but she only want me and no one else. My husband offers to take her out, to no avail. She's not social and doesn't get along with anyone . She'd never tolerate a companion or a short senior outing. I dropped her off to visit my aunt for the afternoon and when I left, she tried to leave with me and I said "no mom, stay a while and visit". I left and as I sat down with a friend for a coffee, my mother called and wanted to be picked up :-/. My daughter is of no help and to be truthful, she's got enough on her plate and should be living her life. I actually do feel like a servant lol (it's the first time I've laughed in weeks!). And yes, I'm a feather in my mother's hat. Many thanks to all of your for your kind words and support. It helps relieve the guilt.
All I can do is nod and understand. My mother is a dependent personality. She went from her parents to my father, and now to me. She never learned to take care of herself. She never learned to drive or got any type of skill. She left all business matters to other people. I had a hard time when I was going through the checklist for dementia, because many of the questions were if she had stopped doing something she used to be good at. All I could think was "I don't know, because she never did these things." It is sad that she never found her own feet.

So what do we do now? I am luckier than you because my mother doesn't crave my attention. I take care of the essentials, but let her live her own life. I do the things that need to be done and spend a little time with her every day, but I try to live my own life. This is challenging since I live with her. I used to worry about her isolating herself, staying in her pajamas, and watching TV all day. Encouraging her to do other things was not fruitful, though, so I stopped trying and am letting her live life based on choices she has made. I don't push her, which works best for us. And I don't push myself either, though sometimes I feel guilty by not trying more.

This week as I was listening to her talk I realized that all the "urgent" medical problems she had five years ago were still the ones she complains of. They didn't kill her or advance. In fact, I don't think they are there at all. The good thing about being here so long is I've figured out the things that do need attention, and have learned to ignore the complaints that go on year after year.

When you are dealing with a dependent personality, you really do have to pull back, much like a professional caregiver would. Then you can decide what needs to be done. You can also see that your mother is where she is because of personal choices she has made. It is not fair that she zeroed in on you to be her everything. Breaking away from the dependency will probably cause you a lot of guilt, but it may make your life worth living again. Find things you like to do that don't include your mother. Talk to friends or maybe a therapist while breaking the dependency. You can accommodate her needs without having to devote your life to her.
You just want to vent, and you have. Come again any time and do it some more! It can help to know others understand your situation.

You didn't ask for advice but I can't resist one comment. Your mother insists that it only be you to do things for her. Oh yeah? What would she do if a beer truck ran into you tomorrow and you had to spend 3 weeks in the hospital and and 5 in rehab? What would she do if, gods forbid, you die before she does?

Your mother can insist on getting her way because you let her get her way. Hey, that is your choice, and I'm not criticizing. But what she wouldn't "stand for" would have to change drastically if you stopped believing that your role in life is to assure that Mom is never disappointed or angry. Just sayin' ...
I'm glad Jeanne said that, because I was going to, and similarly without criticising. It's a matter of knowing when to harden your heart and think to yourself "what will happen to her if x, y or z?" Because if the answer is "nothing negative" then you can safely go right ahead and please yourself, and any guilt you feel is the creation of your mother's attitude and has nothing to do with real hardship.
How about you approach the topic of AL with her sister/s, telling her that you are concerned about what would happen to her if something happened to you? That you are getting older and you worry about your own health slipping, and would they think it better to have mom live in AL Auntie's, or in one closer to the independent Auntie, or what... Then see if it would work financially. Don't bring your mom into it until that point. I know about that dark pit you have entered, and it took me a huge change to climb out. But it was change to look forward to, not to dread, and once the change came, WOW life was better! Hang in there, we are all rootin' for you and are here for your vents!
2burntout - Your situation really strikes a chord with me. I think for many people there is a time limit to caregiving - it's called compassion fatigue. My mother is like yours - not sick buy very needy. She's 83 and I've been her personal aide for 4+ years. At about the 3 year mark, I started to resent the demands and chafe under the restrictions of the caregiving life. My mother also brags about how I take such good care of her, and I find it infuriating. She is not a wonderful mom and I am not a devoted daughter. She is an old lady who needs help and I do it because nobody else can be bothered.

I dealt with my mother's neediness by moving 90 miles away. I show up once a week or so and do her errands, take her shopping, change her bed, clean her kitchen, and take care of any minor maintenance issues that come up. Then I get the heck out of there. Even that is getting very old by now, when there's no payoff, no mutuality in the relationship.

It's much harder for you to make yourself scarce, but do as much as you can. Encourage her to find other interests. Maybe she'd like to play bridge, or join a book club. Keep redirecting her to other ideas when she tries to get you to constantly take her out and do things with her. Maybe choose one or two days a week to go out with her and tell her those are "her" days and you can't take her out or be her company except on those days. If she pressures for more, be busy, be tired, be sick, be unavailable for one reason or another and be firm about it. It's hard as hell to set boundaries with those we grew up with as authority figures, especially now that they're weak and needy. I know. Wishing you luck and nerve!
All of you are 100% right and obviously speak from personal experience. I'm a doormat and always have been. I wonder if I'll die before her because my life is so full of stress and she has absolutely none but still manages to break down in tears over her "nerves"! She freaks out if she thinks I'm sick (I think because she knows there's no one else to take care of her but me). She wouldn't know where to begin. It's a trap and the escape route would cause incredible guilt that I couldn't live with, regardless of our past. Could she and would she do it for me? Probably not. Would I expect her to? Never. Again, so many thanks for understanding and for sharing your similar stories. I'm always beating myself up for not caregiving with "love" but instead with resentment...ugh. You are all helping me keep this in perspective.

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