russkm Asked March 2012

Must I bring my elderly parent to live with me because it's my "obligation"?

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After my mom died, my dad did not want to live alone. It was understood that it's my obligation to have him live with me. He uses a walker and doesn't go anywhere. I've been taking care of his needs, i.e., food, medicines, living supplies, paperwork, etc. I'm in my 50's and have been very happy living alone by choice. If I didn't bring him in, it would have have looked bad for me. I've already raised a child, been married twice and never really asked my parents for anything since I left home 35 years ago. I'm starting to feel resentful and I don't look forward to spending time in my home anymore. I really wish I didn't feel this way, but I can't shake it.

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DT Mar 2012
From my experience it was kind of a mutual decision - when my dad died, mom was talking about selling the house and moving ino an apartment, I, on the other hand was looking at a possible and probable downsizing in CA, plus looking down the road at my own retirement and possibly not having enough money to afford to do so in Ca, so I decided to come back here, buy the house from mom, and build a retirement life here. I lined up a job before I came, and it seemed OK. Did buy the house from mom, we shared expenses for the rest of her life (she passed last December). ***Now the Downside.*** Practically as soon as I walked in the door I knew I had made a mistake. Even though I had lived on my own for 35 years, had been married and divorced and had a good though unspectacular career and social life, as soon as I walked in the door I was 12 years old again. I do not want any warm and fussy comments or any "Awww's" from anyone about a mommy's love - I was a posession, that is all, my mom turned out to be highly narcissisic, which had always bee lurking back there but as long as she had my dad to pick on it was sort of 'masked' - too long a story to go into here. To cut to the chase, I spent 12 years in a place I did not like, with someone who did not respect me as an individual, at least for about 8 of the years until I finally got her retrained. For the last two years it was pretty miserable in another way, hersort of OK health started to slip badly, she ended up as an incontinent, in a hospital bed in the living room with hospice care. I have not been away for a vacation for the last 8 years, could not even plan a night out with friends or a shopping trip to the next city without a great number of arrangements for her care, and always had to stay within phone contact. ***Cut to the chase,*** Obligation is OK until it begins to take away your own life. If you can manage caring for your aging parent in some way that it gives you a life too, it is a great, charitable, loving thing to do. But be prepaired to sacrifice your own life if you do not have a lot of help from other family members. I did not, my life has been totally lacking in any color for so long, now that I am alone I am having to learn to have joy all over again, and am not sure it will ever be restored. Be warned.
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Baumgark Mar 2012
You have no one to answer to but yourself and the Lord. Why is it your obligation and who delegated this to you. I understand this is your parent and some will be quick to jump on me about my response but, we all heed from different upbringings. And no one understands your unique situation except for yourself. It is a difficult decision to make and so many times we are guilted into doing things we don't want to do. I moved out when I was a child and my mother allowed my brother and I to be abused by her numerous live ins, am I obligated to take care of her because she got pregnant? I only divulged this last bit of info because a lot of people on this website are critical of those who aren't overly joyed with the thought. It is a difficult decision and I wish you the best of luck. Research your options and talk with those experienced in this area of expertise.
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palmtrees1 Mar 2012
russkm, no, you are not obligated to keep your parent in your home. Not by law, not by anyone but yourself. You do need to see that the parent is in a safe, secure home or has the help they need. I think too often children are made to feel guilty because someone gave birth to them. My mother would never "keep" me if I were the elderly one. I watched her refuse to take in just about everyone in the family. She has been emotionally absent most of my life and is selfish and narcissistic. If I took her into my home, she would kill me with stress.

Your father may be happier if he lived in an AL or NH. He may have a fear of them because of the way they were run in the past. He may need socializing with other elderly people just to get the ball rolling.

Look out for the bus you are going to get thrown under on this site. I can here it coming already. But make the right decision for you as well as your father. And you better have a thick skin. Take care
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Russkm: You were warned about the bus and it has arrived. Just step aside when it comes rumbling by. I feel for your situation and appreciate all the comments that were supportive and acknowledged the difficulties of taking care of parents. DT, my heart goes out to you and too the many others who have struggled and paid a high price to do what they thought was right. EJbunicorn, I'm sure the Lord is happy with you, but I think he has compassion for all us of who do not flourish in the land of self neglect. Understand that my father lives under our roof now. He is 89 and requires 24/7 care. I'm 11 years older than you and my health is suffering from the stress that I experience. My husband is in the same boat. How is it going to benefit my dad if I die before him? Is that what we want for our adult children?
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Wow...this is the first place where I've actually read of people aware of the fact that they are NOT responsible for their parents, nor do they have an obligation to sacrifice their own lives for their parent. My father is an alcoholic who emotionally tortured my mom, my sisters and me. I am the oldest....married very young to get out. My dad would go out drinking after work every night and was at the club every Friday and Saturday night while my mom sat at home alone with a broken spirit. On Sundays he would be around, but we were on pins and needles that we would do something to make him mad. He didn't come to any of our ballgames, plays, events (and I guess that's for the better), all that mattered to him was being with his friends at the club. Deep inside him is a person that is kind and funny, but the layers that surround that person are narcissistic, bullying, rude, hurtful and uncaring. Mother died 10 years ago from heart problems. He caused constant stress even though he knew it was taking a toll on her health.

2 years ago he fell and hasn't been able to be at home since. Obviously he wants to come home, but that would mean he'd be calling us at all hours to help him. We refuse to let him go home unless he has 24/7 care, which is very expensive. We could let him live with one of us, but he would just take over our households (if our marriages survived) and make our lives the living hell that he made them when we lived at home.

He is in a nursing home...his mind fully functional, his legs not. No matter what we do to try and make his life easier, he complains about what we didn't do. If he wants to get out for an afternoon, he wants us to take him to the bar for drinks, and we don't go there. So then he gets angry that we won't do what he wants. Trying to set barriers and boundaries sometimes works, but not consistently...and he always *tries* to get around them.

People who think that taking care of a parent is a joy and privilege....you are lucky that you had parents who treated you in such a way that you feel that way. Not everyone was so fortunate. It's taken me most of my adult life to work through the damage done by this person, just being involved with his care puts me in situations where I have to relive the brutality of his rule. Hard to imagine what that would be like if I had to live with him again and take care of him every day.

Best wishes as you figure out what will work best for you.
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jeannegibbs Mar 2012
It was understood by whom that it was your obligation? It would have looked bad for you to whom? It sounds like you are trying to please some outsider(s). Can you identify them?

Believe me, on this one you are never ever going to please everyone. Can't be done. So decide who is important enough that his or her opinion should guide your actions. Personally, I'd pick you and your opinions!
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maryann57 Mar 2012
Don't feel guilty. You are taking care of your Dad. It is a very hard thing to do to take care of a parent. Yes, they took care of us when we were young. But that is what they wanted, to have kids and raise a family. Not everyone has the capability to take care of an older person. When my mom was taking care of my grandmother, she ended up going to a psychiatrist, and he said to her who do you think you are Mother Theresa. We can't always take care of everyone, sometimes we need to take care of ourselves first. I have heard so many people say this is wrong, but until you are in someones elses shoes, don't throw stones!!!
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chattycathy Mar 2012
Russkm, I fully understand everything you're going through! Your story is similar to mine (my husband and I brought my Mom to live with us about a year ago from another state). I fully understand the resentment and the guilt that comes with that resentment! I used to be very close to my Mom but I don't feel that way anymore. Our home no longer feels like our sanctuary even though she's not a horrible person to live with. It's just so hard having another adult in your home and especially one that has no hobbies! A lot of our privacy is gone and we never have a moment to ourselves anymore. She has no ability to go anywhere on her own (she's partially paralyzed) and we have no family in this state to take her for a few hours. I just want to sit in my own living room with my husband where she is not within earshot! Unfortunately, I don't have any solutions for you but I just wanted you to know that no one here will judge you for making any decision that you must make.
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russkm Mar 2012
Thanks for your response about people being critical of those who aren't overly joyed. Once I became an adult and raised my own family and carved out a life for myself that I've learned to manage, it's hard to take a person into my home and care for them. We are 2 very different adults, thrown together because of circumstances. I can still honor my father, but I don't have to live with him. I have a lot of thinking to do about all of this.
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cmagnum Mar 2012
russkm,

The "great and honorable thing" to do would be for those same friends and family members to give you some practical help instead of a lot of hot air. Is this sense of obligation coming from your family members? If so, it sounds like they are using emotional blackmail to keep you where you are so that they can avoid doing anything.

I don't know why some people continue to try on this site to compare raising a child to taking care of an aging, decline parent?

I'm confident that you will decide what is best. Take care and have a good day.
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