Why do caregivers allow abuse?

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Many posters on this site seem to think they have an obligation to provide care up close and personal to those who abuse them - why is this? Where do they think this obligation comes from? I recall a deacon at my church who got up during the sermon and addressed this topic - he insisted his mother move into an AL because she did not respect his wife and therefore he did not want to care for her in his home (which she wanted). We do have a basic obligation of care to our parents - but this does NOT mean we have to put up with abuse.

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You and your deacon said it well. People do not have to put up with abuse. The problem is that guilt enters in. People wonder if it's their fault the elder is acting up (it can be, but generally isn't). They know the elder is sick so they try to be patient. And the biggest reason of all - they are still (unsuccessfully) trying to "earn" their parent's love.
While it's good to be introspective and see if our responses are making our elders' issues worse, when there is actual abuse, or when there is a situation like the deacon's, the appropriate thing is generally to take steps to get into separate living arrangements, and to set boundaries. Many people could use counseling by someone like your deacon who can help them through these tough decisions.
Take care,
I think that Carol and the deacon have exactly the right idea.

I also agree that DT's answer often applies.

I suggest, though, that mental illness changes the picture -- especially illness that has its onset in old age, such as dementia. (The relationship between caregiver and people who have been narcisstic or bi-polar for decades has been developing for a long time.)

I'm not putting this forth as advice or what "should" be, but simply in answer to the question -- why do caregivers put up with abuse? Physical abuse is especially dangerous in combination with dementia. The demented person may not know his own strength and may have lost impulse control. Most caregiver learn they can't simply wince and take it, or are convinced of that by others who love both parties. But a sad fact is that many facilities are unable to deal with violent residents. What is the poor caregiver to do? Trying to get the violent behavior controlled for either continued at-home care or for placement may involve the use of drugs, including anti-psychotics that are normally not adviced for the elderly or those with dementia. I think the use of these kinds of drugs is a little more understandable in the context of violent behavior..

As for non-physical abuse, many dementia caregivers put up with it out of love and compassion, knowing that it is not the loved one who is acting this way -- it is the disease causing this. We put up with it in the belief that if the situation were reversed our loved one would do his best to care for us in spite of what the disease is doing. We do it hoping that our presence and patience eases the terrible burden of the disease in some small or large measures. We do it knowing that our loved one can't learn new behaviors and can't help the present lack of impulse control. And we do it as a way of exploring the outer limits of love, which are remarkable indeed.

I don't mean to be suggesting this as "right" -- just explaining what may seem masochistic or psychotic from the outside. Caregivers of dementia patients may be approaching this whole topic from a somewhat different perspective.
I really like Carol's response, because it does not place blame or guilt...it is just the way things are, very often.

I do not think it is "natural" to combine any two adult households - whether that be bringing an elder family member home or having adult children move (and sometimes their children) back to your home. There is just too much need for both independence and privacy...you lose both when you move into another's home...it is unavoidable. Then resentment sets in...elders feel that they are imposing, caregivers feel trapped.

It takes so many things falling into place for this arrangement to work. I think some caregivers are reluctant to find an alternative placement because they are driven by guilt or misplaced obligation.

What we "owe" are parents are the same things they gave us: a safe, comfortable home, good meals and nutrition, and medical care.

Accepting physical or mental abuse from anyone is unacceptable.
DT - there is NEVER any duty or responsibility to be abused, nor any "right" to abuse another person. Too often people are guilted into thinking there is. Compassion should extend to the caregiver too!!
We do have to respect and protect our own lives and relationships while assurin our parents (or loved ones) are safe and well cared forl

Great guidance here. I think emotional abuse is another point for discussion. I had a professional try to lay a guilt trip on me last night (at 10:20 pm but it was no emergency). Her intent was to guilt me into moving Mom in with my husband and I. Fortunately, I didn't take the guilt trip and was able to end the conversation without loosing my temper.

My husband asked "what was that all about" when I finally got to bed. In the kindest voice he has he said, "Well, if you need to live with your mother, please go to her house. I'll be here for you, But we can't let her come here to destroy our lives."

I treasure his honesty and I'm not broken by his words. He spoke the truth with love. We'll figure this out somehow.
If the abuse is too hot, get out of the kitchen ! (situation) No-one should have to put up with verbal abuse every day your caring for a parent. Sick or not, no parent unless they have alheimerzers should treat their sibling bad if they are helping them survive. Parents need to realize, a Nursing home would gladly take them in. A grown child takes care of them because they care enough to try and keep them in their enviroment. If they don't show respect to their grown children when they are being helped let them see how Nursing facilities do it and maybe they'll show a little compassion for their children. Don't let a parent ruin your life just because you came from their loins. No obligation for cruelty.Parent or not !!!!!
How about just plain old duty and responsability?
Guilt should not enter into the equation. That being said, providing for a parent's needs doesn't mean we must do it ourself. Some of us can find the patience and love to overlook the abuse and work around it, some can not and should not have to be forced into doing it through guilt. At the same time we can not ignore or neglect our moral obligation to honor our mothers and fathers. So we place them where their physical and medical needs can be met and then we try to meet emotional needs by loving them and not abandoning them. We become the parents of the parent and hopefully treat them with the love and respect they deserve, even if that is a one-way street. Especially if that parent is a vunerable, frail person with Alzheimers.
Agree jeanniegibbs - I have often said that I was a lot more fortunate in my situation than many of you (it took this site to reveal this to me) in that at least my mom did not have dimentia - there was one incident that was only just rage at aging and becoming helpless. The capacity of some people to deal with dimentia and true mental health issues does vary, some are willing to put up with a lot of other bad behavior that others - I am not sure how I would have handled it at all! I know I would not have given up too soon in favor of some sort of managed care facility unless it was the very last straw, that is the way I am. I would not want to see others give up too soon either.

I can't speak for anyone else's parents, but I do know what it's like to be tormented by them.

In Latino/Hispanic society, mothers are goddesses to be worshiped no matter what. As a little boy growing up in the 60s, child abuse as we know it today was called discipline.The method didn't matter as long as you learned your lesson: a hot iron to the arm, kneeling naked on raw rice strewn on a concrete floor for something you supposedly did. Add to that lashes with an extension cord and, at the age of 5, having your face rubbed on your own feces; then sit on a big rock facing the street where everybody could see the sacrifices your beloved mother had to go through to teach you that crapping on the bed because you couldn't find the mosquito and roach-infested latrine in the darkness is something you just don't do.

Everyone, especially older people, told me I must have done something to deserve it and that it probably hurt her more than me. Others would say someday I'd have children of my own and understand why she did what she did.

So I took the abuse in silence, and conditioned myself to believe she did the best she could with what she had. That if children came with instructions at birth everybody would be a perfect parent. ... Bull. Her idea of good parenting was terrorizing children to ensure their subservience well into adulthood. An investment for her twilight years. ... To this day, we're expected to pay tribute to a woman who brought us into a life of poverty and then charges us for it.

To her I'm an ingrate. The child whose birth, she said, was a regrettable accident. I saw her a couple of months ago at my older sister's apartment. She bragged that if it hadn't been for her brand of "discipline" I'd never be the successful man I am today. I called her aside and, with a goodbye hug and a kiss, told her "If every time I see you all you're going to do is use me, hurt me, humiliate me, and abuse me some more ... then there's no place for you in my life."

My motto? ... Respect yourself.

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