Least favored child stuck with all caregiving.


I am having a lot of trouble adjusting to taking care of my aging parents. I was always the least favored, "black sheep" of the family. My brother was the "first born son" with all the attendant fuss. My sister is the baby, still, at age 56.

I left home at 17 to get away from my father's abuse. I put myself through college and had a brief career as a chemist until being forced onto disability. Since then,I have lived at the poverty level. Because I went on disability, I was able to hang onto my house which I had been renovating when I went on disability. I have lived with plywood floors and makeshift wiring for 15 years.

As of a little more than a year ago, I've been taking care of my mom. She moved in with me (on top of me) last may. Suddenly the house wasn't good enough and a tiny amount of money might be available to help with repair and renovation.

Also as of May my dad and his "wife" (they aren't actually married) ran into problems with a distant relative of hers making a grab for their assets. I had to deal with that. Court fights. Family fights.

In the process my father declined mentally and now has dementia and has become quite abusive when told he can't drive. I've gotten a lawyer to agree to become my dad's guardian. Oh, and the money for home repair? Forget it.

I lost my job when I had to take on my mom's care. I also lost any shred of privacy or life that I had. My family has ignored me for forty years in favor of my brother and sister. They can't help due to major health problems so I'm stuck with the job. I don't have even a bed to sleep in. I'm sleeping in an arm chair with a foot stool. I've about had it. I'm thinking of taking off to a motel to think for a couple of days. At least I could sleep in a bed for a night or two.

I've only done what I have so far because I have to live with myself. I'm about at the point that I think I can live with myself if I walk away. My problem is that I want to keep my house. Living at the poverty level I won't be able to get another and my income is probably not enough to get decent housing.

How can I extract myself from this mess?

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Sehkmet - I know exactly what you are talking about. Your family is just like mine. they're always there when THEY need YOU.

Honestly, I don't think you were hoping to become the "favorite" by taking them in, I think you were doing exactly what you were taught to do as an honorable and filial son - you try to do your duty towards your parents.

Maybe I am wrong, but it seems to me that you grew up in a home like I did, where you were always told the value of family, and your duties to to your parents and your siblings. After a while, it becomes part of your self-image as a man.

If you are a woman, you probably have no idea what I mean. If you do understand it, my deepest sympathies are with you. It's hell.

Anyway, it's very hard to choose to "not do your duty" as a son. It brings up almost as much turmoil as doing it without any help. Your sister sounds a lot like my younger brother - sorry about that, too.

None of this is really your fault. If you allow yourself to be taken advantage of, it hurts your self-image and self esteem. However, if you don't, I suspect you will end up feeling like you have failed in your duty as a son.

None of this is really your fault. Your family has formed your feelings in this way to serve their own purposes. It is shameful, and dishonest, but it is how selfish people behave. If it was me, I would set a date for everyone to leave, and if they don't, I would call up social services and tell them that they can no longer stay with you, and you will dropping them off so a social worker can get them the proper help they need. You will probably get called every name in the book, but they really aren't your problem. They need government assistance.

JessieBell - Thanks for you comments. Aside from being the only one available to help my parents, part of the reason I was so easily roped into the job may have to do with ideas in your post. I don't think I was trying to be loved as Carla suggests. I had come to terms with my childhood and moving on, had made a life for myself I was largely content with. I would have liked things to have been better for me materially, but otherwise I've had a rich intellectual life and friends. After my doctor gave me the OK to work part time, I was doing some teaching and accumulating the money needed to finish my house when all of this happened.

To suddenly have the care of not one, but three aging adults, two of whom have dementia problems has been overwhelming. I am hoping that with the assignment of a guardian for my father and he and his significant other being placed in a nursing home things will lighten up for me. Psycho therapy is helping me to deal with this.

I am still looking for a therapist that takes my mom's insurance. I think my mom may have PTSD from having lived with my seriously ill sister. Since my mom has come home with me my sister my be homeless and living on the streets in LA. I haven't been able to make contact with her since christmas eve at which time she was threatening to leave the nursing home she was in. My mom and I are quite worried. I can't take care of everything so I've had to let this go. Maybe I'll be able to do something in future.

I appreciate the support I have received on this site. Believe me, it makes a difference. Thanks.

In November 2013, I went to Los Angeles where my mom had taken an apartment with my younger sister. I knew things weren't going well. I thought I would only have to find them separate apartments and help them move. My father (my mom's ex) financed the trip. I went literally on a one day notice. My mom was then in a nursing home.

I took a shuttle from the airport straight to the nursing home. My mom was virtually unrecognizable. The nursing home was horribly understaffed. I spent about 6 - 8 hours a day there feeding my mom (she couldn't do this herself) and doing basic care. I stayed for five weeks doing this until she was well enough to travel. During that time I also packed up her belongings and closed up the apartment which my sister had trashed.

When we arrived where I live, my mom went into assisted living, then a nursing home. She weighed 79 pounds. As of May 2014 my mom was discharged from the nursing home. Since my sister had gone through a great deal of my mom's savings, she couldn't afford other housing. She is doing much better now and weighs 122 due to extra meals I made for her while she was in the different facilities. She gets around with a walker (she had broken her hip in the LA nursing home) and is mentally pretty sharp.

My mom and I could have managed but for my dad and his significant other's difficulties. This has sucked up all of my time and prevented me from having any work done on my house. Instead of having my extra bedroom ready for my mom with her things in it, I ended up having to put her up in my room.

The house is inconvenient, but not deemed uninhabitble by the county. Plywood floors and some nonfunctional wall outlets are not generally considered reason do deny a habitation permit.

I have been worn out by my fathers rapid decline into dementia. Unfortunately the dementia has made him extremely abusive towards me. Even though the car keys were taken away from him by the lawyer who is becoming his guardian, he is a constant state of rage at me.

I am hoping that this week will see my father placed in an assisted living facility. If his significant other can be placed there, he will go. If not the sheriff will be taking him to a locked unit. Even if his significant other can be placed in the same facility, my father may prove too difficult for the staff and he will still need to go to a locked facility. He's ab big guy, 6'4".

This just leaves me with having his house emptied. I managed to get it sold. I have been through a lot over the past 1+ year. After forty years of being pretty much ignored, this is much more family closeness than I wanted.

Is this enough information? I'm not sure how else the circumstances could have been handled. I did my best at the time. It seems no good deed goes unpunished.

Oh, my brother lives in another quite distant country and is recovering from cancer and not doing well. My sister is incompetent and largely responsible for my mother's bad health and poor finances.

sehkmet, when you get a chance, could you help us by answering the other questions that the posters had asked.

Contact your local area agency on aging or bureau of senior services, they have a wide variety of information that may be able to help you. They can referral you to other agencies that may be able to help as well, esp. with furniture such as a bed. Being a caregiver isn't easy, they also have caregiver support groups. Don't allow the stress to get you down, don't hesitate to ask for assistance. It's often the 'least favored' child that ends up with the larger portion of caregiving duties. Forget about the rest of the family and do what you need to do for yourself and your mom. Good luck

I had just started teaching part time when my mom began needing my care.

my mother or aunt would have lived in a tent with me . i well remember dementia care being mindbreaking at times but now that my mom is gone i feel like i received more from the experience than she did . i had to take my aunt into a busy va mens restroom one time last year . aunt commented that it was a mens restroom . i told her that it was ok , she was with a man and these gentlemen dont mind . they in fact did not mind and one fellow prematurely vacated a stall for her . that kind of resolve and confidence doesnt just happen . its aquired from personal turmoil and sacrifice .

Least favored child? That is new terminology ... almost made me think back, but then I decided not to. I look at it more on the line of... I am the most favored, the most trustworthy and the most compassionate of my 3 older brothers. I wasn't the least favored, just the best person to care for my aging parents.

Yes, good luck, bug hugs, do what's best for YOU! You are not the least favored by far.

sekhmet, I wouldn't be surprised if it is often the least favored child who ends up being caregiver for a parent. You seem to have placed your mother ahead of yourself in giving her your home and your bed. Some people may think that you are trying to win the love that was not shown you when you were a child. I think it is something completely different. When we are not loved as children, we end up feeling unlovable. I mean, if we are not worthy of our parents' favor, whose would we ever be worthy of? Our self esteem takes a huge thrashing from the start. We can end up putting everyone else ahead of ourselves, because we never feel that we are good enough to deserve things.

I don't know if this is the case for you. If it is, you may want to talk to yourself about who you really are. Forget and forgive yourself for the bad things of the past and see the beautiful person you are inside. You are worthy of having your bed back. You're also worthy of having your house fixed so it is safe. The people who have come into your life now are again taking you back to the day where you were least favored. The only answer I have is for you to favor yourself and go after what you need. The suggestions above about helping your mother qualify for Medicaid are excellent if she qualifies for a nursing home. It does not sound like you have a place that is big enough or safe enough for both her and yourself. Good luck and big hugs.

Also, I forgot to ask, how did you get *occupancy* permit from the County/City since your home is plywood floors and makeshift wiring, and has been for 15 years? Just wondering.

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