This forum is a godsend!!!

Started by

I'm a newbie but I already know that I've right at home here...
I am a 36 year old single mom of a 16 y/o daughter. My caregiving situation is unique. Both of my parents are still married and reside in their own home approx. 5 miles from my daughter and I. My dad is 68 and still drives. He has COPD, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension. He's pretty independent; cares for himself, takes his meds, etc. My mom, on the other hand, is 65 and mobile but doesn't drive anymore. She has heart disease and hypertension. My mom is not proactive in her healthcare at all. She deliberately does not to take her medicine, or chooses to take a pill here and there. Her PCP, the family and everyone else has talked to her about this ad nauseam, but to no avail. My parents have a roommate situation going on. They live, sleep, eat separately. They have separate bed and bathrooms even. My dad wants nothing to do with my mom's medical care and when I talked to him about this he admitted that he no longer loves her and had even looked into filing for divorce. The lawyer advised him that it would be costly and advised that unless he had another relationship that he was trying to pursue, it'd be in his best interest to just keep the current living situation. Basically, the old "it's cheaper to keep her" mentality.
I am the only child of 3 that cares anything about my mom's care. I check on her daily; take her to run errands; grocery store, hair salon, Dr. appts., etc. It wears on me at times that none of my 2 sisters are willing to pitch in to lighten the load, but what keeps me going is that one day I realize that I won't have the opportunity to do these things for my mom, and I know my sisters will have to live with that regret. Just reading the posts I've learned a new term "narcissistic parent", which I plan to further research. My family is severely dysfunctional and was raised in a home full of family secrets, toxicity, and several codependencies (father- alcoholic, drug addict; mother- church fanatic, shopping, food addiction) I thank God for this forum as I am on the road to healing and working through a lot of my childhood issues that have surfaced now that I have to take care of a mother that never mothered or nurtured me.

3 Comments

Rosey1, if you lived across the country and couldn't help your mother, would or wouldn't she survive? Wouldn't she somehow find a way to get around, despite her husband? I'm just afraid you're taking on the 'care giver' role unnecessarily is all. I'm all for spending time with your mom if you want, but to MAKE yourself into the sole caregiver may be a mistake, when your mother is mentally and physically capable, if she wanted to. Sounds like your dad has lost all respect for his wife. Maybe because she refuses to take part in her own health and life. Could it be time to step back and let her take care of herself for awhile and see how it all shakes out?
I'm with NancyH in my questions. What kind of "medical care" does your mother need? Why do you have to check on her daily? I'm thinking that if you are spending so much time and effort on your mother that you feel you could use help from your sisters and you consider yourself her caregiver, that MAYBE you are playing into the dysfunctionality of the situation.

What are you getting out of this hovering over Mother? Yes, someday you can look back and know you were there for her ... but that "someday" may be thirty years from now. Are you really prepared to devote this level of effort (which will probably need to increase) for the rest of her life? She didn't nurture you even for the 16 to 20 years when it was her role to do so. And you want to somehow establish that role in reverse for who knows how long? Hmmm. I am not at all sure that your sisters will feel regret to have distanced themselves from the dysfunctional family they grew up in. It may be you who regrets devoting so much of your energy here.

Lots of adults talk to their parents daily. I was never into that habit and my own kids aren't either. But I don't see anything wrong with it. If you call to discuss a soap opera you both watch, or to exchange recipes, or to gossip, hey, that is just socializing. But to "check on her" ... hmmm. Why? She does have a roommate, after all, and even if your dad no longer loves her presumably he would call an ambulance if one were needed.

There is something about this that just doesn't feel healthy to me. Have you ever gotten counselling to deal with your growing up years?
This why i appreciate this forum!

NancyH - You are absolutely right. My mother doesn't really need much "care" after all. I mean she did at first... March 2011 she had an aortic dissection and spent 3 wks in the hospital; a month in a nursing home/rehab and had a home health aide, a nurse, and physical therapy for 6 wks following. The incision is fully healed and she's walking, eating and can do everything for herself now but I'm still acting like she was when she first came home. This seems so clear now but why didn't I realize it??!! It really is time for me to back off a little... no A LOT.

Jeannegibbs - I agree with your insight as well. I definitely am participating in the dysfunction and I think it's because I kinda feel sorry for my mom in a way. I mean it's got to be a miserable feeling to have a man that admits openly how much he despises the very sight of you. I guess I just imagine how I would feel if it were me, and another part of me wants my parents to be a happy, agin couple like we see on TV (i know, i know)... Also, I feel bad that she sits and calls my sisters every day and she tells me she doesn't get an answer. I know that my sisters are just screening the calls, which I think is mean. But then again, my mom kinda made this bed for herself. The major recurring issue that my dad had with my mom was her devotion to the "church" and her neglect for her home and family. He would always complain of that... he still does. I guess I need to accept that my mom made this bed for herself and she will have to deal with the consequences. And it's funny that you mentioned about calling an ambulance because those were my dad's exact words when we had our discussion! He said that altho he doesn't have any intimate love for my mom, that if she needed an ambulance he would at least call 911 and make sure that she got the help that she needed. He said that he'd even do that for a stranger. So I guess he was letting me know that he's not gonna mistreat her or wish her any harm, he's "just not that into her" anymore.

Thank you both for your feedback, and I sought counseling about 7 years ago but I thought I was "healed." I don't know why these feelings have started to resurface but I probably need to continue with some sort of talk therapy... Thanks again for listening :-)

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