I spent a great deal of time crying tonight... why can't family understand or be supportive?

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I have been living with my parents {Dad: 87, getting slow and forgetful... mild confusion that comes and goes, very stubborn, difficult at times, etc... Mom: 81, Severe Dementia, (don't know who I am 99% of the time, or my dad, lives in a fictional world, and not always a happy one!) O2, incontinent, diabetes, severe scoliosis, ambulation problems, swallowing problems, thickened liquids, needs to be watched closely at meals or she will stuff 1/2 the plate of food in her mouth at once... diverticulitis, sun downers and the list goes on....} for 1 1/2 years now.

Background: I worked as a geriatric nurse for over a decade, but the hours didn't work for my kids, so I started a in home dog grooming business...For years I have brought and cooked supper for my parents every Sunday and did all their grocery shopping, errands, etc, while my 4 siblings (I am the youngest of 5) have had almost nothing to do with them. I knew SOME of their problems from the weekly or more visits. With the economy, I ended up loosing my house and business. I stayed with my parents for a "few days" until I could find a rental. Well, after getting into the house, I realized just how bad off they were (the things you don't see from the outside) and knew then that I couldn't leave them. my mom no longer knows who I am most of the time. Typical dementia, some days better than others. needs constant supervision. My dad can't tolerate her for more that a little while at a time. I worked at the nursing homes here and know that ISN'T an option.

My one brother will come over and help my dad with "projects" fixing things and such but my other 2 sisters only come for short "visits" enough to clear their conscience. Barely. Definitely not long enough to see the whole picture. They refuse to help toileting (I guess they are way to good for that.) or any cares while they are here.

Tonight my brother informed me that my 2 sisters have been talking, and they think MY MOM??? wants my herself and dad to move to the city where my oldest sister lives and get an apartment where they can LIVE ALONE and she could "check in on them once a week or so" ??? (She couldn't even put together a complete thought like that...)

My other sister put a nasty note on my face book about "Just goes to show you some people will run home to "mommy and daddy" no matter how old they are!

They think that I am just "Sponging" off my parents and that they would be better off without me. ??? Seriously? I have given up my life, my freedom, my sanity, to take care of our parents. I know for a fact that if I hadn't moved in when I did, they would both be gone now. They were both at wits end, but hiding it the best they could. Neither sleeping. My mom a danger to herself and my dad. Started fires in the kitchen 2 times in a matter of days. Falls.

I don't get any money doing this. I am going BACKWARDS. I am not getting any younger, and I am giving up my productive years to do this. I am broken hearted. I am burned out, but they won't even stay for 1/2 hour for me to get away. Nobody understands what I do. The sacrifice. then to think I am taking advantage of them?? I don't know how to handle this. I know hiring someone would cost a great deal more than ME living here.

Silly me, i would like some acknowledgement for my efforts, but instead I get only judgement on EVERYTHING I do. I know this isn't uncommon, but I needed to vent to someone who would have a clue of what I am talking about and dealing with. I am not expecting "answers" but hopefully some understanding and support. I don't think I could take any more right now. :(

28 Comments

We understand, Darcy.

My heart goes out to you. You are not alone and your situation is far from uncommon, but that does not make it hurt any less.

Hang in there!
Hi Darcy, like jeanne said, your situation is far from rare. For years I've been helping my dad care with my mom with Alzheimer..going on 23years of My life. Like you, we really didn't have much help from most of my siblings (total of 7.)
Last year, my dad had a stroke and is now bedridden. I thought, with now 2 bedridden parents, that I would have help with the family. Nope! I asked and begged, threatened to walk out and suicide,etc..Still nope. All it did was get me so much angrier, more bitter, more resentful, more depress and suicidal. Like you, I wanted them to help me with the parents. It’s very difficult.

Your situation is so much worse than mine. Not only do you have to contend with the parents, but also with your sisters! Obviously, they haven't spent a whole day with the parents. Any possibility that the next time sis visits you, you can make an excuse to go out and leave sibling with parents for several hours? Maybe sis will learn the hard way the truth about the parents!

You're doing good so far with all that's happening. Vent all you want. It will help relieve all that anger and frustration so that you can start thinking of ways to protect the parents from moving away. Take care!
Darcy: How do your parents feel about you living with them? I don't imagine your mom is really the one to ask, but how about your dad? How would they respond to an in-home caregiver coming in a few times a week for a few hours to give you a break. Would they be willing to pay for that? Maybe even get in home help for free or greatly discounted.

You can also check with your local Area on Aging and see what support is available for your parents. They might be able to help more than you think.

I'm wondering what your relationship was like with your sisters before you moved in with your folks. Was it touchy then or has that just happened in the last 18 months? Are your children living with you and your folks?

What you are doing is very stressful and exhausting. I hope you can get additional help.

Hugs, Cattails
Thanks. My dad is glad for the help, but he is constantly worrying about money. He knows he can't handle my mom. He does everything to avoid being around her most of the day. Like this am, he said he was going out to the garage and would be back in a few minutes.... 2 hours later i had to call him in for lunch, he ate and then back out to the garage to tinker. Then in only in time for his nap... then over to "check on" the neighbor... He doesn't think twice about spending money on something he "thinks" he needs... and donates more money than we spend... but he stresses about the extra money it costs to have us there. Yes, I have a son and daughter living here too. We live on the basement level of the house. My parents upstairs. I spend all day up with them.

No, I don't think he would willingly pay someone to help.

My sisters and I have a love/hate relationship. We can be close, and then they are against me. Back and forth. It is complicated. I am the youngest and
tend to get along better with the 2 of them than they do each other though. I am the submissive one who hates conflict and confrontation. They seem to thrive on it. This is one of the few times when they are on the same team though. A while back one of them told my dad that he should really be more appreciative of me though, as I put my life on hold to care for them... now this??? They both seem to see things through tainted lenses, but now they are feeding into each other apparently.

I am family is also leary of having a non family member here as they hired help for my grandparents... come to find out she loaded up her car everyday before she went home~ with their belongings!! My grandfather had a stroke, and she left him in a chair for a full day, in his own urine while she grabbed as much as she could take and then bailed. They had a lot of valuables in that house. Never heard from again. (Sadly I don't even know if they notified the police... my parents are weird about things like that.)

I asked my dad about it today... said that Todd (brother) gave me a heads up, and I thought I should do the same for him. He said "No way! We don't want that." And I told him that they thought my parents would be better off without me, he said " We couldn't do it without you." pretty much. That helped.
Sorry for the typos... I am re-reading this and wow, I made a lot!!
Oh, one of the last times my sister came to "visit" I asked her if she could stay long enough for me to run to walmart... I said I could be back in 1/2 an hour. She said she would have to call her daughter, as they rode to town together and see what time SHE had to leave to get back.... she called, I was right beside her, she didn't realize I could clearly hear BOTH sides of the conversation!! He daughter said she didn't have to leave until 9. (It was currently 8) My sister got off the phone and said, "Sorry, Alissa can't stay that long...couldn't you make it shorter??" Are you kidding??? 1/2 an hour?? I said, no, that by the time I drive across town to walmart, find what I needed (running) and get back it would take the full 1/2 hour... That is asking to much. Sorry. I do get it. I know they are in denial. If there is no problem then they don't have to feel guilty, and can have such a wonderful time talking about how much they hate me for being a taker/sponger. Makes them feel better about themselves.
What kind of an income does your mom have, separate from your dad? I have a reason for asking.
Who has POA for your parents?
Darcy: I'm thinking you should talk to your local Area on Aging and also Social Services in your County. If your mom could qualify for Medicaid, it's likely that you could get paid to care for her in the home. That would give you an income.

I went to our local Area on Aging once and met with the employee who was in charge of helping caregivers. I just wanted to know about a caregivers support groups, but when I had left, she had arranged for me to have 30 hours of in home help with my dad at only $1.20 per hour cost to me.

You need some help and you are not going to get it from your sisters. Accept this as the truth. It doesn't matter if it's fair or not, it's just a fact. So let it go because to keep reaching for their help will only add to your frustration.

I'm glad your dad reassured you and expressed some appreciation for all you've done for the past year and a half. Still, he can't just leave everything on your shoulders.

Please check into other resources for assistance. Stay in touch.

Cattails
Hun, Im so sorry you are going through this. Im a caregiver for my MIL and she is just evil. But it sounds like you have it way harder than I do. I feel for you. And yes, check into every resource you can. A lot of programs are out there that people dont even know exist. Vent all you want dear!!! If you dont and keep it all bottled up, you'll end up sick and with a host of other problems. So, VENT AWAY!!!!! We will listen lol Have a great day and God Bless You!!!

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