HELP me prepare for breaking a promise!

Started by

WOW, I found this site while searching for info on how to prepare for my 85 yr old mothers arrival. Now I am TERRIFIED! My sisters have cared for mom since dad died 7 yrs ago. She lived in between them in an apartment. They did the Dr. appts. grocery shopping, visits,etc. She is no longer able to live on her own-extrememly forgetful and feeble. So its me or a nursing home; we promised our parents years ago that would not happen. I was almost excited about it, but not now. I'm divorced, 1 kid away at college, and 350 miles from my sisters. HELP


Ger, welcome to our world of ups and downs. Let us know about your mother's health. Most of the caregivers mothers are bitter and hateful. I know mine is. You bacically have to keep an open schedule because anything can happen. Decor
My mom never was over flowing with affection for me, but I don't think she is mean. However, when my sisters tell her she is moving to WV, she may go off the deep end. My mom has had several TIA's, each one has cost her some memory loss. She has osteoperosis (sp?) and wieghs about 100 lbs. She uses a walker now because she is wobbly. Other than that, (oh yeah, even with 2 hearing aides she can't hear well) she's in descent health for an 85 yr old. I am a high school teacher so my sisters are waiting until school is out next week to send her down. I'll have 10 weeks with her to adjust before I return to school. I already have health care workers set up and "sitters" on stand by until I know just how much support she needs. I have her room ready and all the plans in motion. But my friends are all concerned that I have taken on something that I will soon regret. I'm a mess. Thanks for responded I think I'm going to need all the help I can get
I care for my Dad who is 94 and legally blind with macular deg. and has high bp and uses a wheelchair and a walker, has no teeth dentures won't stay anymore.
The biggest problem I have with him is eating, he has acid refux and with no teeth he is real picky. I do try to put meat through the processer but he really doesn't like it that way. We have been to physical therapy because he broke his leg a year ago. There are alot of ups and downs with him. But he appreciates what I do for him.
On the other hand my mother who is 74 never did real good throughout the years taking care of herself she had a stroke a few weeks after Dad broke the leg. She had vascular surgery and pulled through that not too bad. Found out she has a bad heart and should have surgery but won't. She has osteoporosis and walks with a walker. She has a very bad attitude toward everything. She hates the fact that my Dad can't function like he used too. She doesn't drive and he can't anymore so I am the one to take her to all her appts., go get the meds., but I refuse to do everything for her.
All I can tell you is whatever your mom can still do for herself let her, do not be an enabler. If you have a good relationship that will help, but sometimes they tend to forget that we are adults and we have lives too. Don't give up what you like to do just because you become a caregiver.
The girls that I talk to here all feel like we are missing part of our lives. Go to the title "advice on how to deal with live-in mother" and you will find others like yourself in the same situation. Sometimes we just vent and it helps. Judy > Decor
3930 helpful answers
Please don't let those old promises cloud your thinking or send you on a guilt trip. I always advise people not to make those promises, but of course it's so easy to do that in a loving conversation, when the chance of needing a nursing home is so far off. That's why so many people do exactly what you did.

But things have changed a lot since you made that promise and it no longer makes sense. We can't control many things in life, including how long we will live with the need for intense caregiving.

Our elders remember the old nursing homes, which is one reason they beg for that promise. Yes, unfortunately, there are still some out there that are bad. But a lot of progress has been made. Do some looking in your area before you need to make a crisis decision. You may find that there are very excellent, homey places that can care for your mother much better than you, alone, can. You are still a caregiver, when you have a loved one in assisted living or a nursing home. You just have a lot more help - hopefully qualified help.

Of course you and your family will need to keep close tabs on things, but it wouldn't be like trying to care for her at home. Your mother would have company and activities and may even make friends (after she adjusts).

Prepare for an adjustment period and laying on of guilt. Just don't accept the guilt. Keep positive. Keep repeating that you need to do what is best for her. She needs care you can't give. You are still caring for her, just with help. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Eventually, she'll adjust and life will change once more.

Think of what your mother would want for your life, as well as her life, if she were 50 year old now and could look at what you are facing. Likely, she would want you to do what was best for you, your family and, in the end, her. She will likely need to go to a nursing home, maybe soon, and it is also likely that a move to one will be the best thing for her.

So, in the end, the "promise," though made in good faith, is null and void. What is best for her and you, now, is what matters.
My mother came to live with us a little over two years ago. She had had a stroke,gone through rehab but could not return home unless she had full time care. My sister kept her in the nursing home based on advice given to her by the therapists and doctor. My mother was very unhappy. I lived 650 miles from my mother, but felt she would be happier in my home then a nursing home. She agreed to come. I am an RN and was working in Long Term Care at the time and thought I could handle all her needs. Well-two years later and I need a break! No one knows the toll it takes on the caregiver physically,emotionally and pyschologically. I told my mother I would take care of her as long as I could. Seems like the time is getting closer to making a decision. I have a brother and sister, but get no help from them. Just realize that it is a wonderful thing to care for an elderly parent, but there may reach a point where you can no longer care for her. Don't beat yourself up if the times comes when you need to place her in a nursing home. I wish you all the best, but please remember to do what is best for your mother and for you.
3930 helpful answers
Heavyload said a bunch in that note.

She is a professional in the field, yet even she is burning out. There's only so much one human can do. People who haven't been in the trenches rarely know the toll caregiving takes on every element of the caregiver's life - which is why so many caregivers have health problems of their own. The family saves money when an elder isn't in a care home, but the person on whom all the responsiblity falls is often overwhelmed.

Please remember her words and don't make promises that you don't know you can keep. Heavyload said she'd do it as long as she could. That was wise. The time is coming when she can't, and there should be no guilt, shame or blame. We can only hope the siblings wake up and help make the decision to get more help by finding a good care facility for Mom, and everyone can visit. We can hope, can't we?
I know our parents have it in mind when they are raising us that we will be there for them when they get old, its expected of us. But most of them didn't have to go through what we are, their parents didn't live long or they were the sibling that wasn't around to help. Certain decisions are hard to make, but I know that some day I will have to go that road with both of them. Decor
3930 helpful answers
My parents did a certain amount of caregiving, but not as much as I did. I do believe that while now people are living longer, many of them are doing so with diseases that would once have killed them. So, they are disabled and need more care for a longer time. Few of us go into caregiving thinking we'll be doing it for twenty years. But issues can drag on and on, when there is little quality of life - just quantity.

We need to remember that we are still caregivers when we get help - even if the help is a care home. I had three elders in a nursing home toward the end, but I was still visiting nearly every day, and working full time and handling all of the doctor appointments and other issues that go with caregiving.

Most of us want to help. The question is how much is too much? It's never the same for any two people and situations. That's why discussions like these are so valuable. It helps us work through our issues and it breaks the isolation that can make us feel like we are the only one handling these difficult decisions.

This is a terrific group, here on AgingCare. I'm so happy to be part of it.
I have been reading this board and wanted to weigh in because I have been caregiving for my mother in my home a long time. I also understand the pros and cons of LTC facilities. So you understand where I am comming from. After I became a caregiver, I was offered the opportunity to take on business management for a snf (which allowed me to have flexiblity of hours and keep my parent at home) I see alot of families struggle and gotten to know many residents over two years. every one is unique - I have watched estranged people become great caregivers - and supposedly loving family members act out their issues to the detriment of the elder. The lesson I have seen over and over again is that you never know how it will go until YOU do it....

I have to say that the comment made earlier, "Most of the caregivers mothers are bitter and hateful." is not helpful to anyone who is looking for help at the start of their journey as a caregiver. Caregivers take on the task for their own reasons - and deserve support and answers to their questions. I was handed a 1/2 bag of diapers and good wishes from a discharge planner....and did a much learning by trial and error on my own. I wish I had known about this site as the info and support is invaluable to me. I applaud ger for having the tenacity, caring and courage to ask for help and advice - it is her journey and she deserves respect, advice and resources - whatever she decides.

Will Rodgers once said, I never met a man I didn't like.....actually that is a good philosophy to embrace as a caregiver. Everything hinges on relationships. Life is too short to be unhappy. I do understand that everyone's experience and relationship with the person they are caring for is different - *but* many times this is your chance to wipe the slate clean and put all of those issues you had behind you. On a personal note: if the person caring for me did not like me or was working on unresolved issues I would probably want to be in a nursing home - when someone is old, frail, set in their ways, they are at the mercy of their caregiver.and that includes the caregiver's mood....and like it or not the caregiver has to be the 'bigger person'. They may be a handful, but how you respond to it is the point.

best of luck to all of us - Ger most of all
3930 helpful answers
You have obviously been observant throughout your life, Cat. You truly never know how a person will react to anything until that person is in the middle of it. That is why caregivers want to hear from other caregivers. If a person hasn't been there - they just don't "really know."

I, too, have seen much healing. I've also seen terrible caregiver burnout. I've seen people I would never have guessed had "caregiving genes" become great caregivers, and some who seemed suited for it simply not able to handle the demands.

I really liked your personal note. I, too, feel it's far better to be in a home with professional caregivers than to be cared for by someone who resents doing so (continually). It's a rare caregiver who won't feel some resentment at times - about their situation, or toward the person at certain moments - but that is different than constant resentment.

That feeling is generally recognized by the caregiver, and he or she should look into at least temporary, and perhaps permanent, relief from full-time duty, for the sake of the caregiver as well as the care receiver.

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