Insanity of it all?

Started by

Hello friends. I spent last night in urgent care then transferred dad to ER after he fell tryig to carry in groceries. My dad is 94 and still drives. I see evidence of some cognitive issues that are typical given his age, in particular, bouts of rage. I add that he is a narcissist and that is not new. Everyone is wonderful except the one who shores him up. Nothing was broken and I have offered to grocery shop and often do though he declines at my offer. The man is out and about all day long - he used to be very active in work and so forth. He still maintains board positions and goes to those functions often. Often leaving me behind to care for my mom who is a dry drunk and recently recovering from a heart attack. She cannnot be left alone. Sadly, her dementia is robbing her of the capability to think rationally. She won't go out with me for tea or coffee or walks. Makes the dementia worse. I live with them both to care for them plus I work PRN. I am interviewing for a job out of this state - hoping I get it. I can't do this anymore by myself and my siblings do NOTHING to help even when I ask. Nobody has come to see them since mom's heart attack a few mos ago and it is pretty obvious. My dad then sends out guilt inducing e-mails to everyone which I do not agree with. While my father is an oft raging narcissist, I have compassion for him. He has always been in denial and vigorously defends my mom's alcoholism. He has slowed down on providing it to her. So while I was out at the ER last night, my mom did not want to go to the ER. I have a panic necklace for her. As I was taking dad from urgent care to the er, I called my mom to see if she was ok. She didn't answer. I texted my sister and asked her to call to see if mom was ok. She texted back that she got no answer. UGH. Once dad was secure, I drove home to retrieve his phone and charger as per his request and my mom was fine - but decided to take a shower on her own at 10pm. OMFG. So I picked up a few stray cleaning implements she left out and she starts yelling at me not to put them away. I lost my patiences and snapped back - said fine you put it away. I felt so defeated. In a house of insanity. I love my parents and take on so much compassion for them but it is draining me to never be thanked or treated like they really care in return. It would be nice. y time outs for myself are not enough. Any caregiver can relate to this I am betting. The level of care can be such that you need a lifetime to recover it would seem. We had a cleaning pair come in after mom had a heart attack but my dad cancelled it because it was expensive but it has more to do with my mom hating and b*tching she doesnt want anyone cleaning her house. So she does it and complains that we have to pitch in. I clean constantly even when the cleaning lady has been here and its my parents who crap it up. Anyways, we also have a useless sitter from an agency come in three times a week to sit with my mom. She uses a cane is not very mobile and it is supposed to be so my dad can go out and she would sit with my mom. But most days they wont wake up and refuse to set an alarm so the care taker shows up and they are not even up. My dad ends up sitting there stealing the attention from mom ad talking to the caregiver the entire time and does not end up leaving until the caregiver does - when I return home he decides to go out. There are no rules for them. My mom is contantly pulling out step ladders and climbing sh*t though she knows the risk. I wennt shopping this morning for them after a late night in the ER - made them a nice breakfast that I set out and the paper and pills. I walk in to the step ladder in the etry way and hats and mittens all over the floor. Same spot dad fell last night. I asked why the ladder is out and expressed that it has got to stop because I cant do more runs to the ER than i am. My mom screams at me of course because speaking nicely is out of the question. Says no one has gone to the er yet from the ladder. But I had to leave work for her heart attack and care for her without help. But I pick them both up whenever they fall in the house on flat ground. The logic escapes them both and I walk into the kitchen and my dad starts in on how great his freind the DOCTOR is for calling from Florida after his ER visit (they are friends) this morning. Not one HI THANKS FOR YOUR HELP LAST NIGHT - Thanks for breakfast. NOTHING. I cannot conceive of being so clueless when a person is smart. But narcissism is a devastating pattern to inflict on people.


Take the job out of state. You can't help them because they won't help themselves. Now, that sounds uncaring, but, he sounds totally competent and he has first rights over his wife. So if you went to court, you would lose. So pack up and go. Let sis handle it.
I have to agree with Pam. Get out of the situation before it wrecks your health. Take the out of state job. It will force your dad to face things and obtain the help they need - or not until another crisis occurs. Eventually they will have to get outside help. A dry drunk and a narcissist are too much for anyone person to handle..Look after you! ((((((hugs)))))
I have not been offered the job out of state - it is an interview. Change is always scary but somehow if I am offered a position that will allow me to support myself fully, I will have to step into that moment.

Is it typical to feel guilt in having to walk away? I often have been made to feel guilty all my life from them. Negative mother. Never do enough. SHe mellowed over the years but all it takes is one of those pretend cries when I say no to something - like attending an event with them - or asking them to please be reasonable - she does a fake play cry. It pisses me off and I need to not allow it to make me upset. I have never liked the guilt trips. I ended up doing that to my kids and have rehabbed my behavior towards them and apologized for it. I don't want to hurt my kids from a legacy I was taught and had no idea was wrong - but always felt so sad when I was handed one.

I cannot imagine the hell it is to age - well, I can. I can totally empathize with them aging. I wish they could embrace this stage knowing they have the eans and help from me instead of making me feel like safe boundaries are not a punishment to them, but honoring myself.
I tell you one thing, writing this to you guys and having you there really helps diffuse some of the intensity of this. Thank you.

My other issue of indecision and fear is my extreme empathy and compassion that is pushed into overdrive when no one else steps up to help. It makes me terrified of aging so much that I have nobody to help me....I don't want to grow old like them and be warehoused in a home for the elderly. I don't want to be an a**hole to people and have respect to get my needs met without being ignored. I am so scared of growing old and being alone as I am now that I would rather die when things go t*ts up when my body and mind fail. I do not have a longing to live forever and be wasting alone more than I am now. I would rather be dead. I would NEVER put my kids through having to care for me. NEVER. My point is that - this front row seat to aging has sapped my hope and strength very often. I listen to motivational tapes all day and exercise. I go to ACOA meetings.. I try very hard to be brave and strong despite this chapter. But I have serious doubts at 52. I don't feel so hot about my future when these circumstances pop up. I don't want the comings and going of this world to shape my destiny but they do. Does anyone relate? Is fear part of this journey?
ETA for clarity: they react in anger when I exert safe boundaries which they seem to truly believe are a punishment to them, when I am attempting hard to honor myself.
Whether you get the out-of-state job or not, move out! Yes, you'll feel guilty, because masters did a great job of installing the guilt buttons and know how to punch them. But you will survive the guilt. Perhaps you'll benefit from counseling to help you disengage the guilt buttons. Will you survive the toxic environment you are now in? That is questionable.

Are you estranged from your children? Why do you fear being alone in your old age? Don't you think they will be there for you? In spite of what it looks like in your dysfunctional family, it doesn't have to be either be the full-time caregiver or be totally absent. You can continue connection to your children and other people in your life into old age without expecting/allowing them to be your caregiver.

I'm sorry you had a disabling upbringing. It is way past time to overcome that disability and make decisions that are goof for you.
I agree with Jeannegibbs about the counseling. It took me several years in counseling to learn how to establish boundaries with my mother. My mother also tries to guilt-trip me with tears and self-pity. Even knowing her attitude is totally selfish, it's very hard not to get hooked into it. I wish she would take responsibility for her own decisions, and accept that since she never made provisions for her own old age, she won't have everything she would have liked. I wish she would recognize that it's not fair of her to expect me to spend my golden year making her final years as nice as possible, when she spent her retirement partying and traveling until she was too disabled to do it anymore.

But that's not the reality. It has to be enough for me to recognize it. I have not decided to leave the state, but I have decided to move within the state to a location farther away from her, but that has more of the features that I want in my environment. When I told her, I said to her with conviction "I'm happy about this. Please don't rain on my parade." So she's had to accept it, although I can hear the resentment in her tone when she complains that I don't want to take care of her. I don't think she has any right to feel resentful, but can't control how she feels. I can only control what I choose to do.

As far as the fear of aging, I don't feel it much even though I have no children and I'm not close with any of the younger members of my family. I plan to stay independent for as long as possible, and I know I'm resourceful and can figure out ways around physical limitations. Mental limitations are another matter, but that would be no fun regardless of whether I'm in a nursing home or surrounded by family. I'm planning to cross that bridge when and if I get to it - I don't know what else one can really do.
Scaredtaker, I love your screen name.

One of the best books I've read about what compels people like us to "keep going back for more" is Leaving Home by David Celani.

If you have an opportunity to support yourself fully and flee, I would. But, it's also a fact of life for some of us that if the estate isn't preserved, even if we are also gainfully employed out there, the future looks even bleaker in the long term. It's pretty hard to make a comeback and rebuild these days, especially after 50. So many factors to juggle, aren't there?

My situation with my NPD mother hasn't had any medical crises yet, but watching a walking corpse, who always has enough energy to criticize...drives you crazy. I thought these would be my "healed" years. But, I find myself spending a great deal of my emotional energy planning how to make sure I don't "stay too long at the fair" like she has. Maybe there will be a miracle and there will be some legislation that actually addresses the changes in our society that modern medicine has caused. I doubt it. Sounds like you are sick of thinking about death all the time (perhaps having believed this would have been the time to at last be free from your abusive parents)? If so, me too. I don't exactly feel guilty for thinking these things, just hopeless, spent, potentially misunderstood.

I just joined this sight yesterday, been lurking for about a year. It is amazing how it lets you decompress, how supportive people are. Initiating communication with my siblings or mother became like taking a swan dive into quick sand. I've given up on that for now.

Sounds like you are doing good things for yourself. Exercise is so important. That you educated yourself and grew to even know what rational boundaries are is something to be proud of!
Thank you again everyone.

I am not estranged from my children now but was for time following divorce.

I did not think of my parents in terms of abusive to me. I know I ave endured neglect and abuse though.

I want to do the right thing. I don't always know what that is.

I believe I am at the crossroads of spirituality and m human-ess. Vexed and perplexed. So much that the mere eyebrow raised at hope of starting over in my ly 50s makes me shirk..."'s not likely?" I want and need hope because I am alone. I feel alone.

I have been in counseling the last yr and I just ended therapy with the person. Before that I have been in and out of therapy for years. It was not until I was forced to face change that I clawed my way out of h**l and forced myself to try. The human spirit is hard to kill. I did not realize how strong I am when people point it out - but for me I have not felt like I am and that fuels my fear of leaving.

I wonder about the fact they are not completely ok in the head. Is it fair of me to leave in this case? I wish I could stay. But they seem to feel I can do it all for them. I wish I could but the servitude in that expectation drains me of my life force. I wish I wish I wish....but I don't steer what is. Only what I can do from this point.

Anyone else have fear?
scaredtaker, from one lackey to another, I know what you're going through. I also look for the spiritual element and learning that goes with caregiving. The trouble is that my days are spent playing what seems to be a whack-a-mole game of problems as they pop up. Working with elders can be crazy stressful, particularly when there is dementia.

When I read what you wrote about wanting to work but wanting to stay, I wondered if there was any job opportunity right around you. That way you could do both -- work all day, but still be able to help if you wanted to. It would probably also help clear your mind if you were in the world all day.

And I wondered if someone could conveniently "steal" the step ladder if it were left in the yard one day. I would definitely get that out of their reach.

My life is crazy, too, so I know what you're going through. Don't expect any sincere thank-yous, because they probably still see you as a little girl who should obey them. The only time I get thanks is when I go buy something particularly good to eat for dinner. I wish I had answers for you, but I am not sure there are any correct answers. I think the best we can hope for is to emerge from it all with our sanity intact and enough money to live on.
scaredtaker, there's always hope for tomorrow, even if it's just that tomorrow you'll be able to have a lighter mood :). I can be negative even in better circumstances and living here with Eeyore can send it into overdrive. I was just trying to relate how, beyond deeper emotions and desire to do right by everyone, there maybe practical matters that can make it hard to simply up and leave. Last week, I was ready to flee (3,000 miles back to where I came from), had a huge blow-out, said we need to look at homes, the brochures have arrived, and inspired a reality check in that maybe that isn't the answer either, yet. But, at least we have some more information.

You had the good sense to become an RN and must have excellent employment prospects regardless of age, location. This gives you options. Maybe talk to an eldercare management counselor, get some professional, in-person support to get the ball rolling at a speed you are comfortable with? See what the options are for them? Then, deciding the right thing may become clearer.

Things have lightened up this weekend for me, I think from coming to this site. I was in a closed loop with her (we're surrounded by people yet so isolated) which was making me say things that were true but pointless to try to communicate to her.

Jessie, I like the making the ladder disappear idea. I've found that making even small changes in the physical environment can make a big difference. Whack-a-mole, ain't it the truth? And the food thing, oh yeah. The problem is when she starts nagging me about things I would want to do anyway, like creative cooking, I become obstinate because I don't want to reinforce the nagging, trying to be vigilant with boundaries But, I'm going to try to just la la la with the nagging and do what we both want anyway. Crazy.

Scaredtaker, your post yesterday inspired me to get some exercise and read some stuff that inspires me, thanks. Hope today was better for you :)

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