How do I cope with having to care for an abusive parent?


My mother was always physically abusive when I was a kid and now she lives with me. When she couldn't abuse me physically anymore she resorted to the verbal kind. I am the only child (of four) left so she is my responsibility. My husband and I are separated but he is still in the picture. He is long on adivce and short on help. My grown children don't want to bother with her because she never says much that is pleasant and has always degraded me in front of them. I made a mistake having her live with me. Nothing I provide (and it's a lot) is quite up to her standards even though I'd have no mortgage if I hadn't had to buy a home with an apartment in it to accomodate her.
I feel depressed a lot of the time and so tired of hearing about her accomplishments while never getting a bone tossed my way about mine or what I have provided for her. She has never worked and has always had an easy lifestyle. Nothing I provide or do is quite good enough. She does pay me some rent but feels she should be living with me for free. I can't understand what it is she feels I owe her. This week I am putting out 3500.00 (that I can't afford) on a bathroom reno for her and all I've been told is that she could care less. I've been dealing with this defiant woman for four years in my home and a lifetime before that. How do I continue to cope? She can't afford to move to a seniors home, nore does she want to. The government will subsidize her for assisted living as she qualifies financially but they don't want the expense when there is me to oversee her care. She can still do the day to day activities like microwave cooking, and her own toiletries... so they tell me she doesn't meet their criteria for assisted living... on their dime. I am stuck.
Lately she has started telling lies and then telling me I am a bit mental and it's me that's lying because I just want her out of my house. Talk about wanting to rip your hair out!
Help! I am going to go to my first Caregiver meeting at the beginning of next month. I hear they are a lifesaver.

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Yes, my hubby is in the same position in which he has been made to feel as if he owes his mother one for having the nerve to be born. I don't get it. It's horrible.

You have the right to protect yourself from abuse without feeling bad. You deserve to be treated with respect and if she refuses to give it to you, then I would give her the number to your local agency for aging and show her the door.

Easier said than done. I know. But neevr forget that you do not do not desrve this!!!
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Sorry, PG is a public guardian, who works for the county. Sorry for confusion...There are two threads going on abusive parents currently. The other one has over 90 messages.)

The two deadbeat sisters mentione above around the same time perpetrated financial elder abuse, which I reported to social worker at Mom's day care program. Since it was a crime, she had to report this to the law, and the county's adult protective services got involved immediately, with investigators for the court, a lawyer appointed to represent mom (at figure which exceeded the original thefts!!), and others.

There was a court hearing (several actually, cause they never had their shit together in time), where the county sued for conservatorship over Mom's person (health decisions, how caregiving would proceed, etc.) and her estate. The work on me during this was excruciating, caring for Mom as well as digging up financial reports, running to the court, being investigated, meeting with self serving lawyer.

The caseworker who oversees the "day to day" (ha!) is called a Public Guardian.

Overall, they should have benched those two sisters and had a big cop get in their faces with legalities and threats of "ten years in jail for you two!" They didn't do any of that and let them go without even a finger shaking.

Anyway, for a family caregiver being under this system it means a lot of hassle, injustice, and unfairness. Cruelty too. On an every day level it means you can't hire anyone yourself for plumbing, home improvement, yard work. You cannot ask a neighbor to watch Mom for an hour while you run to the store. You will get no vacation, and perhaps no respite at all. They may hire a caregiver for $20 hr, yet deny you a penny's pay for your own work. They may ALLOW you to live in your parent's house for FREE and not have to pay for food! They may NOT.

They will give you an allowance for the parent, to be spent only on the parent...which you have to account for. And when you do, they don't even look at the receipts! When an emergency arises, such as a vet bill, car're not allowed to loan the parent money, but just try to get emergency cash out of the system.

And, to stay within the topic of Abusive Parent, the actual caregiver is assumed to be GUILTY. I don't see I have any resource when the county employees screw up (and believe me, they do, and consequences can be tragic!)

Our county system is pretty good compared to horror scenarios I read of the system in Los Angeles. There predatory scam artists worked the system, but that's a whole other topic.
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AlzCaregiver, what's a PG? I don't understand all of what you have written. It's is like hyroglyphics, and cryptic to me. And so is my mom's crazy world, with secret traps awaiting me at every corner. Caregiving for me has been fraught with danger.
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So this veers off "abusive parent," but stays on the unfair dealings with adult protective services and how unjust it is to caregivers.

My mother is not abusive, but pretty docile and often angelic (really!). One of my two deadbeat sisters on a rare visit on Mom's birthday last Aug, she was 3 hours late and fooled a good sister into the quagmire.

My mother greeted her with open arms, not knowing sister's sabotagin behaviors. During their brief visit, my mother mentioned that "she takes me to the senior center just to get rid of me." This sister then teamed with the other thieving sister (who NEVER VISITS) and they went to the public guardian in PERSON to report this comment. And they reported that I complained to the two that they never help, should repay their thefts, quit the passive aggressive behavior, etc.

AND THE PUBLIC GUARDIAN DEFENDED THEM!!! And if the county previously decided they were not going to prosecute over the thefts, then I CANNOT demand they pay Mom back. I apparently cannot demand anything from them "on behalf of Mom"...and the county is not demanding anything from them. So who's watching the store here? The county thinks it is by demanding of ME.

So the PG has to visit and have this talk, starting with "we should put your mother in a nursing home if you don't want to do this. Do you WANT to DO this anymore?" Nursing home? now? over my dead body! WHY WAS I SO DETERMINED TO SEE THIS OUT???

"Look, I want to take 'want' out of the equation. Really, who WANTS to do this? If given the choice to be stuck caring for Mom or go to see Mahler's 8th at the SFO, or to be soaking in the view of Yosemite Valley...I want to do both those things more than I WANT to be stuck with Mom 24/7.

"Caring for Mom is what is 'wanted and needed.' She is my mother. Furthermore, I have invested 7.5 years of very creative and fulfilling caregiving...and it's paid off for her. She lives a rich life." [And believe me I have videos and photographs by the hundreds to prove it.]

"But because I have had good results does NOT mean that the situation here for me is fair. It is NOT fair. It is NOT just. It is cruel, cruel to ME. [Actually having good results somehow backfires and makes it seem like "I" am having it easy! Sisters have attacked me cause I do fun things with her.]

"If I am not supposed to criticize my sisters on behalf of my Mother, I reserve the right to criticize them on behalf of MYSELF. They keep my mother waiting three hours...or they stand mom up TOTALLY...really, they've kept ME waiting. One of these sisters has stood Mom up over two dozen times. I lost count. The county cannot stop me from being upset with them for what they've cost ME."

"Well, that's UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR." EXACTLY. "They Can't DO that!" YES, THAT'S WHAT I TELL HER. This had been going on for 7.5 years.

Actually, the conversation went quite well, and I had some satisfaction when she admitted that rather than "they have the freedom to visit with their mother whenever they want..." BUT THEY DON'T WANT!! THEY DON'T WANT AND THEY DON'T...turned around to "they have the absolute right" to contact Mom as LITTLE as they want. They have the RIGHT to be a deadbeat. And collect their share of the inheritance when Mom passes.

The PG then took over scheduling visits with Mom with those two. She didn't take action against them when they were two hours late, but at least there is this veneer of accountability.

Really, caregivers are given little justice. "Let no good deed go unpunished." (Oh, you're just being negative...really, YOU live through this. Yes, there are rewards, but caregivers are officially, politically, dumped on. It's true.)
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Back to the subject at hand: Abusive Parent

This is a timely thread. I have mixed emotions about it, and tried to rest last night, but woke this morning thinking about it some more. First, I realize more and more every day, that this is a prevalent problem, and that many have suffered under the hand of an abusive parent or parents. Personally, I felt like I had to navigate through life despite them, and it's been quite the journey. Now, as they age, I was asked, then chose to be their Caregiver. This may/may not have been a good choice, as I am faced with difficulties and conflicting emotions, and have come to realize that the abuse did not stop in my childhood.

Everyday I find new challenges with my abusive parents. For the most part, Dad is no threat, as he is cared for in a nursing home, with Advanced Stage Alzheimer's. He was angry and combative at first, but now shows affection and tenderness toward me, for the first time I can remember in 51 years. And my anger has been replaced by compassion, empathy, and forgiveness. Strange how that works. We now live "in the moment," as much as possible, and I am hoping the tender moments bring memories sufficient to replace our harmful past.

With mother, it's a different story. She continues her abuse. As Guardian, I am confronted with it quite regularly, and her nasty attitude and bitter spirit have permeated my family life with my husband and son. Not good! I didn't foresee the extensiveness of this situation two years ago, when I was asked to step in as their legal Guardian and Conservator. My life had been fairly peaceful and content prior to that, as there was a lot of distance from my parents, aside from the occasional birthday card, phone call, or limited visits. Distance made things much better.

Fast forward to today, and I am regularly being criticized, tyrannized, falsely accused, and tormented by her increasing demands and unreasonable expectations. Now she is using the legal system against me to have her way. This is the height of insanity, and the broken court system is supporting her. It seems they see even an abusive parent as "a protected individual," and the Caregiver is not. As a child, I was a victim of neglectful and abusive parenting, and now, as an adult caring for my mentally incapcitated parent, feel the system has failed again, in their crusade to "protect" their ward. Where are our rights?!

I have bent over backward to please mother, with a spirit of reconciliation, forgiveness, compassion and love. This has been met with despicable behavior and further abuse. Perhaps it's the perfect time to cut any further losses, and walk while I am still able. Their is no justification for her behavior, except that I have come to realize that she is either too mentally challenged to understand her actions, or has chosen to be this way.

No good deed I have done has been unpunished. In fact, the more I do to meet her demands and expectations, the worse she seems to treat me. Therefore, I have concluded that it was me who made a huge error in judgment, thinking I could be of assistance to her. This has been to my detriment, and has taken away from the joy and peace my husband and I once shared. They have been victimized by the tyrannical rule of a ruthless dictator. I am sorry for dragging them through this, as we all were just trying to help our aging parents out in their decline. Two years have been spent trying to reason with an unreasonaly mind and system, and wasted time and emotional energies.

I am no less angry and confused than I was as a child, at the audacity of her demands and expectations, and the brokenness of this system. She has called the police on me, and lied about me to authorities, trying to get me to conform to her every desire. I feel foolish for catering to her whims, thinking I was "helping." There is no appeasing a tyrant, and further imprisonment is the only reward. Even the court system "protects" these individuals, so I doubt I'll be filing charges. It would only cost me more grief, expense, and loss. Now, I must figure out how to exit as gracefully as possible, putting an end to this nightmare. Our lives have been hellish under her rule, and I pray we can salvage our selves from her further victimization; especially my precious nine year old's tender life. How terrible this has been for all of us! Unfortunately, the system requires much more from me, still. Paperwork, accounting, and possibly more. The powers that be aren't interested in listening to me, or protecting my rights, only mom's. They grind on, not caring who gets hurt in the process. Is there not a cause? Is there no justice? Why do Caregivers get punished for doing right?

Chicken Little went to court. The sky fell. End of story.
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yes--i wrote back
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AlzCaregiver, this is a topic on Oprah and Dr. Phil, isn't it?

Nance, wrote you elsewhere, did you find it?
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Sister--off the subject--where in MI are you--i'm from MI also
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This should be a topic on Oprah or Dr. Phil!
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Thank you for starting this thread. I will not say much at the moment, as I can't add anything pleasant, at present. And I don't want to pour out thoughts from a bitter spirit, poisoning any one here. Let's just say, I understand about living under the tyrannical rule of a abusive mother. Soon, she'll be under the rule of a new Guardian. Thank God it will no longer be me. Praying for some closure and healing for me and my family. Wow, the stories here are...too familiar. Such as it common to man. Thank God we have a safe place to vent, and each other. Thanks for being here, and for sharing your thoughts.
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