Carol72156 Asked April 2011

How do you set boundaries with your elderly parents?


Just got off the phone with Dad who berated and cussed at me when I told him I was tired and would not be visiting this evening. Both of my elderly parents are temporarily residing at an assisted living facility. I am the primary family caregiver and handle many responsibilities for both parents. It's definitely become a full time job. I, also, have been visiting almost every evening. I feel guilty if I stay home and take care of my own stuff. I love my parents but I can't go on any longer like this. How do you set boundaries with your parents? How do we limit the time we spend on filing their taxes, scheduling and taking them to Dr appointments, completing prescription reimbursement forms, etc. There's so much that needs to be done for them. My parents have some private caregiver help and family members in town that help occassionally but all in all it's overwhelming. Hope to hear what works for other caregivers!



lkdrymom Feb 5, 2018
Roly...if you have a hard time saying NO, try saying NOT NOW. My father would call and insist I run right over or at least right after work. Sometimes that just wouldn't work so I would tell him I couldn't be there until 2 days from now. He would try and guilt me but I wouldn't take the bait. And 2 days later whatever crisis he thought he had was forgotten. She makes demands of you because you jump every time. And it gives her a rush to see that so she does it again and you jump again. I'm not saying don't help her, just do it when it is more convenient to YOU. Just like a child you have to train them to have patience.
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RolySJ Feb 5, 2018
This is exactly my situation. I am the only 1 of three siblings who lives near my mother. My dad passed away this past July and so before that I was helping both of them. Their demands were constant. My dad did a lot for my mom and now that he’s gone, I find I’m doing a lot of it. I can’t be him. I find it really hard to say no to her and set boundaries. It’s killing me. Plus, I have this great boyfriend who my my mom doesn't like and is very jealous of the time I spend with him. Also, my mom was very abusive to me when I was a child and I really resent having to help her out now. I feel like I’ve reverted to my 12-year-old self whenever I’m with her. I need help setting boundaries and not feeling guilty about doing so

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cmagnum May 2011
I hear the same kind of comment from my step-dad about my mother coming home from the nursing home. However, it is not safe given her medical condition.

BTW, who has durable and medical POA over your parents?
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Carol72156 May 2011
First of all, thank you to everyone for your answers that gave me the strength to start turning things around with both of my parents. I moved back to PA from TX in 2008 because my siblings were making plans to "warehouse" my folks and they wanted to remain living at home. So I live about a block away from their house. Mom is home for now and Dad is still in assisted living until after hip surgery. The first change I made after reading your responses was to cut back on the number of visits after telling them. Of course, Dad squawked and Mom pouted and I guess I was trying to avoid those responses but they got over it. The other thing I've started to do is call my brother and sister-in-law for help. Sometimes they can't do anything but sometimes they can. Lastly but not finally, I asked my adult son to take over yesterday when I just "had" to have some time away. It's worth it ... I can tell how much happier my Mom is when she's in her own house and she told me that Dad wants to live at home too (he's a hard one to read).
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PDdaughter Apr 2011
Vernon, firstly, please accept my sincere condolences on the passing of your mother.

Vernon and OnlyKid, I am very appreciative of your responses, the insightful sharing of your own experiences and your investment of time to write, thereby sharing with me/us your wisdom and, in your case, Vernon, your caregiving creativity. I have carefully read everyone's responses and, in particular the responses directed specifically towards me, and am taking it all to heart as I figure out how to move forward with my current situation. Thank you.
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oqt Apr 2011
I too have an angry parent who wants everyone at her beck and call. She was abusive to my father who my sibs "saved" and placed in a senior living situation. She will not accept anything unless it is her way. We have social workers who have quit on her and now there is a legal guardian (not family) who helps get her the care she needs. She has money but does not want to spend it on care. We should do everything! This has resulted in her 4 children and husband having nothing to do with her. We are not evil but her use of FOG techniques was brutal actually backfiring on her and alienating her. No one knows what will become of her as the only contact is when she calls berating us or her wishing ill health on our children. It is sad because we would help her if she let us. Sometimes you have to do the unthinkable and walk away.
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vhiett Apr 2011
When he cusses you out and is generally mean, tell him he's not allowed to do it. Then don't go over there for a day. When you go over or talk to him next tell him you have been helping as much as you can and that he upset you so you needed (he needed a 'time out') some time on your own to destress. Repeat as needed. He will get the message and start treating you better. When you need time off tell him and then just go or say bye if you are on the phone. He needs to get the message that you need time for you.
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Eddie Apr 2011

Do you know why it's not a good idea to feed the dog from your plate? ... His idea of a good meal is what you're having, grows to expect it, and throws a tantrum when the begging and sad puppy eyes don't work anymore. ... No, I'm not saying your Dad is a dog.

There are three things you can start working on: (1) spell out to your folks the days and length of your visits (3x/week is more than enough); (2) when Dad becomes verbally abusive over the phone tell him you're going to hang up. If he's still nasty, do it. If he calls back ranting and raving, hang up again and put the voice-mail on. If he acts up during your visits, make him an offer he can't refuse. Either tone it down or you'll only come by on Sunday afternoons for one hour; and (3) Whenever possible, complete all that paperwork at the AL -- where the staff can assist you instead of taking it home. Also, sort them out by "EARTH SHAKING" and "CAN WAIT" and schedule paperwork time accordingly.

People disrespect you because you let them, so make a policy of not taking s__t from anybody; especially your parents. Time is a luxury you don't have much of. Manage your time in such a way that you get a chance to have a life that actually works and keeps you sane.

Good luck my friend.

-- ED
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GemG Apr 2011
In your post you said "Both of my elderly parents are temporarily residing at an assisted living facility". Do they normally live with you?
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NancyH Apr 2011
I don't know why you would have to visit every single day when they're being taken care of in asst living. I would tell them you'll be coming 3 days a week from now on, unless it's doctor related stuff. How are they going to acclimate and get acquainted with the other residents when your their only friend? Absence makes the heart grow stronger remember?
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