The dilemma of adult children with really horrible aging parents who need them after abusing them.

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This is a major problem facing the sandwich generation with very few practical solutions. Does the adult child take on their care while coping with the emotional backlash of a tramatic childhood or does the elderly parent/s become abandoned left to their own demise? I wonder how many are taking on the role of "dutiful daughter/son" while drowning in emotional turmoil in carrying out that obligation? How many elderly parents are alone and coping with the reality of their children wanting nothing to do with them? Who has more priority, the care of the declining mean elderly parent or the emotional wellbeing of the adult child? How does an adult child cope with the guilt for not chosing to care for them or the child that does chose cope with the inner demons of their childhood? These are the emotional dilemma's I will be facing and I am agonizing over what I see as a no win situation! Right now I just want to run away and hide. I am done with a lifetime of therapy.


I can hear the pain in your voice and am so sorry. I have worked in and around seniors and their families for over 11 years and you are not alone in dealing with this type of caregiving issue. If finances allow I would strongly suggest working with a geriatric care manager to oversee your parents needs. That way you can take on whatever role you feel comfortable with but also have the peace of mind in knowing that you've treated another human being with kindness and respect (despite the fact that they have not treated you the same way). You may also want to spearhead having someone set up as guardian but again a GCM can help you in researching if this is the way to go. Wishing you luck and peace!
In addition to the above, I would call the Elder Services in your town and meet with someone there to help you figure it out. They have seen everything and deal with elder care problems on a daily basis. Hugs to you and take care.
I choose to be the dutiful has been a long hard road that I still travel..but I think it is easier than not doing my job correctly. My mom is old and bitter that is not what I wanted to be. She worked hard to not be responsible for me and I know that whether she admits it or not it messed her up. I will not have that hanging over my head. Her own mother died in an apartment by herself with her and my mother not speaking. I wanted to break the disfunction train so my kids will not carry my baggage.
Hello Debralee,

Here is an article that we have on the site that touches on this very situation. I hope you find it helpful.

The Team
Here is what therapist Pauline Boss writes about this situation:

"Taking care of someone who years before was abusive or neglectful of you is beyond what is expected of you. Caring for a family member who was or is physically or psychologically abusive is dangerous. Feeling as if you want to retaliate is also dangerous. These are justifiable reasons for NOT being a caregiver. ... Each case is different, but with most, I encourage some kind of continued management -- often through a social worker -- to make sure that the caregiving team or the nursing home professionals are treating your family member well. This may be the best you can do given your history together."

Your horrible aging parents don't need you -- they need someone, and you can help ensure they have someone who will be paid to care for them. Help them apply for Medicaid if appropriate. Help them select a facility. Advocate for them. But do not feel required to provide hands-on day-to-day care. Srhousinghelp has given you good advice.
my mother has lived with me for over 2 years since my father passed away. she had a stroke 22 years ago and is verbally aphasic but understands most things said to her. She was an alcoholic, heavy smoker, and very abusive to me as a child. I was taken away by my grandmother but returned to raise by brother at the age of 6. She is selfish, always complaining and angry, demanding, and painful. she doesn't want anyone to come into my house and doesn't want my 21 year old daughter to bring her boyfriend into the house. She doesn't want me to go out. I quit a job Ioved I loved in Philadelpia go come back to NJ to care for her after my father died. She lives with me. My husband left me and I am the sole provider for my home and bills She is incontinent, falls frequently and and combative with me. However, when my brother is around, she acts as if she is an angel and all is well. this is causing terrible strife in my life to the point of my wondering if I can continue to work and go on with my life. I don't have a life now. I don't feel I have a home. i just have resonsibility and a complaining controlling mother and brother. He is going through a divorce so "can't help". He has never helped a day in his life.
I feel terrible guilt but I do not think I can bring her home. I don't think I can keep on breathing. All I do is cry. I am so alone and there is no one to help. if the rehab facility says she is ok for DC, it is expected that she come back to my house. I work full time days as a nurse practitoner sometimes 50 hours a week and my daughter is starting her externship days next month meaning my mother who is unsteady on her feet will be alone all day. My brother thinks this is OK. That's because he doesn't have to bathe her and do her laundry and make her food and clean up after her messes while she threatens to punch me. I am damned if Ido and damned if I don't. Is there any resource for me? I am 58 by the way and not feeling well myself recently diagnosed with severe depression. Neelie
Get out of that house and never go back. You have only one life, it got off to a bad start because of her, don't squander the rest of it taking care of her.
Get out and try to find some pleasure in your life before you are also old and bitter.
Debralee, you seem to be wrestling with guilt about not being a direct caregiver. You have no reason to feel guilty. Arrange for your mother's care if she needs it. There is no reason that you should be the one providing the care.
efinn: Look after yourself. Don't squander you life. You are a bright and loving person, but you can't turn something bad into something good. It's time for your mom to be living elsewhere. It doesn't have to be perfect for her. Life is seldom perfect for anyone.
My Mother dumped me on her parents when I was 3 months old. She didn't phone me, write me or send birthday or Christmas cards or presents.
Fast forward to 5 decades later..... I get a call that my "Mother" is in serious condition in an ICU 2 thousand miles away, and she wants to see me.
My response...... "F**k that b***h". Was I wrong? I don't think so.
She's gone now and I don't feel any sadness about it at all.

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