I am so fed up. In many ways, I am the luckiest girl alive. I have a guy who will rope the moon if I asked and does everything in the world to make me happy.
And in some important ways, I can’t imagine anyone unluckier than me.
I don’t know how I ended up 49yo, unable to work earlier because of two autistic kids, and then after a good career, now unable to work because of two 80 yo parents who decided they’d like to fill the shoes my kids left empty except they’re not my kids and they’re not cute.
Between ten specialists for dad, and three for mom, breaking up their fights nonstop both physical and verbal, driving around hunting down an old man who keeps taking off after fights expecting I’ll find him, and neither of them understanding a thing doctors tell them so I have to drive them to every appointment and be there for EVERYTHING… I feel like I’m going to die soon if I continue doing this.
Just 2.5 years ago, I moved them to me in NV from CA because my dad was on oxygen 24 hours per day and admitted to the hospital constantly due to CHF — a condition he’d apparently had for ten years except he didn’t understand when he was diagnosed, so I didn’t know for ten years until I finally went to a cardiology appointment with him. I visited often enough when I lived 7-8 hours away but only for a few days at a time because it’s draining being around their fighting. I didn’t even realize the depth of how he had deteriorated mentally as well.
In one month, I sold off their lives and listed their house and moved them closer to me because I KNEW my dad was going to die and if that happened, my mom would likely dig in and refuse to move.
I got them their new place, found every reputable specialist in NV, including getting him into the Cleveland Clinic for his neurological issues, and began to manage his plethora of fatal health problems and managed their entire lives.
And he got better. He got better and didn’t die, because Mom and I dedicated everything to getting him better despite the odds, and he lived. The better he got, the worse he became as a person. At least if he couldn’t breathe well — he was in bed and quiet.
The level of energy these two have to battle it out is unbelievable. Without going into detail, I’ll just say it’s bad. And somewhere along the way in the last two decades, these two feel they need to tell me every detail of how awful the other one is. In the last two years, it’s almost like they tell me just to see if I’ll side with the one doing the tattling. (And in 99% of the case, it’s my dad who is completely wrong and beyond reasoning, but only he doesn’t see it.)
I do more than enough.
Every single thing they need, I have to find and make happen. I read every one of their mail and every time my dad decides he found a better deal for his insurance or a car loan or a mortgage, I’m the one who has to clean it up. Their cell phones act up - call me. Their TVs don’t work - call me. iPads die — call me. Got a phone call — tell the caller to call me. Drug store claims some drug isn’t available — “call my daughter.” It’s me for everything except grocery shopping.
This isn’t a life. They’ve taken my life hostage and my life with my guy and my dogs….it just happens when I have moments leftover.
My heart beats out of my chest, and my pulse is so wild you can see it in my neck. I feel like I can’t breathe. I ended up having two stents put in due to 100% blockage and have been diagnosed with diabetes.
Tonight, I was just screaming and screaming at my dad after having found him walking the streets going nowhere after they duked it out, when I was called to find him — and felt like something burst in my head and for a couple of hours, the eyesight in my right eye had a white flash in it. I’m OK now but can’t catch my breath.
I am falling apart and at this rate they will outlive me. I never agreed to give them my whole life. I shouldn’t have to.
Parents just aren’t supposed to be like this.
Withoit knowing your situation, I hate to give you my advice but it sounds like they would be better off in an assisted living situation where others can step in and help them. Is there a financial reason that they are not going into assisted-living? Are they refusing to go into assisted living?
perhaps now is the time to put your foot down and stop doing the things that you’ve been doing to enable them to be so dependent on you. Once they realize their needs are not being met, maybe they will come to the realization that assisted-living is what’s best for them. You could also tell them that you will not be a part of the situation if the fighting continues. This is not fair to you! I don’t think there’s any easy answer because I’m sure you love your parents and you want to help them. Walking away is probably not the right thing to do either, but stepping back a little might be what you need to do.
I do believe placing my dad in memory care probably caused him to die earlier than he would have. To me the blame is on my mom for that. He died in 2019 after 3 years in the facility. Now I am stuck with her but through some good fortune I was able to get the house sold in 2020, and because of her alcohol relapses she ended up in ER/hospital/skilled nursing/assisted living. Unfortunately the physical & occupational therapists have spent all of 2021 bringing her from wheelchair, to rigid walker, to rollator, and now a cane. Last year at this time she was in a wheelchair in memory care babbling nonsense, and now she is walking and wanting to live independently again.
I am not sure me or my marriage will survive another miraculous recovery on her part. I will be 55 in February. I have been stepping in and dealing with their sh*t since 2009.
I agree, parents are absolutely not supposed to be like this. I never imagined either one of my parents would end up living a decade, or possibly two, in such a state. A middle-aged person should not have to sacrifice health, career, marriage, happiness for unending years. This is not the way it was supposed to be. It's not like caring for a child. If my mom lives to the same age as her mom, this will continue until I am 71. So yes she will probably outlive me.
His various and serious medical problems are not going to improve much, if at all. He may need hospitalization for any one of them soon. If he does, make sure any physician who sees him knows of the vascular dementia diagnosis and which doctor made that diagnosis. This might be another chance for you to find more appropriate care for him. Emphasize that you cannot care for him at home and that you fear for your mother's safety (don't forget to mention this)! If he is admitted to the hospital, ask to see a Social worker there. And don't let any of them intimidate you! Covid or not!
Don't neglect your own health. You cannot, if you are going to tackle these problems. (You will still need to decide about Mom). Many here will be thinking of you and praying for you!
I do believe you can force your parents into care facility if they are declared incapacitated. You will need to get this documentation from the doctors so start now.
in my situation it too FOREVER. All the doctors did not want to give me this documentation even when it was obvious my mom could not take care of herself. Then to make it even more difficult to get this documentation, there was stupid clause in the trust that stated “incapacity had to be determined by a committee of two doctors and a priest. (My parents never took us to church once, so don’t know where that came from).
after months of fighting with the doctors and hours and hours of driving back and forth between her home and mine, numerous doctor appointments I finally got the letters from two of her doctors. But that didn’t help much because no facilities were accepting patients due to Covid.
whatever you decide you will do, start now with the lawyer. This is a long lengthy process to place someone in care facility (at least it was for me).
At least when your loved one is in a facility they have multiple personnel and tools and equipment to help. This is not a one person job and you have two people to care for.
good luck . I hope you find some relief soon.
You do not need that nonsense and it is bad for your mental, physical and marrriagable live.
I've read many of the responses, there are many excellent suggestions. As someone who is in a similar circumstance, my first thought is to take care of your own health first. Immediately, actually. I'm concerned about your eyes. Hire whatever help they need now so you can focus on yourself. Then, when you're feeling better, you can sit down and make a plan on how to best move forward.
I don't know your situation, but things didn't improve for me until I told my siblings that I quit. We started working together as a family after that meltdown. It's amazing what can be accomplished if you have help and support from family. If not, hire the help and support.
During a discussion we had with an elder care attorney, she told us about someone she had on staff. I can't remember the woman's title, but the employee would go into the home and evaluate the loved one and then make recommendations for care. She was like a geriatric social worker.
My husband and I have been held hostage for so many years, I'm embarrassed to say because neither of us had the gumption to stand up for ourselves. As a result, we've been caregivers for the three parents between us without help from family. Now, I say, "Two down, one to go." Dark humor, forgive me. We've learned a lot in the past year and are doing much better, but we still have challenging days.
Isthisrealyreal wrote, "Not being snarky, you have been conditioned so thoroughly by your parents you actually believe that them getting what they want is more important then you." It took me so long just to understand this concept. I still have difficulty with boundaries because we were raised this way.
I'm sending you a virtual hug.
Secondly, do you have POA? A few years back, when my stepdad was still alive, I was designated medical and durable power of attorney. I was put on all their checking accounts. Stepdad passed away 2 years ago and I am stuck caring for my mom who has vascular dementia, but has been a ragaholic all of her life. She talks constantly about what she is going to buy, but I know she can't because she does not have access to the money. She doesn't have access to insurance papers, nothing that she can mess up. Your father should not have access to change these things.
Install cameras in their house so you'll be able to check on them anytime 24 7and set some ground rules!
Let them know you will check in with them and for them to only call you when it is an emergency.
Let them know you Do Not Want To and Will Not Listen to their fights! And stuck by it, absolutely Don't!
Tell Dad the you will Not be going to look for him any more when he gets mad and leaves the house! Tell mom the same thing and Follow through and Don't look for him..
Next time Dad leaves the house, Don't go after him and maybe he'll think twice before leaving if he sees that you won't be going after him.
No changing of any type of Insurance or anything except once a year.
Try and find a Senior place they can go to during the day to meet others, make friends, play games, art ect.
You need to make this happen
LIke you said. They will out live you.
It's up to you.
You can't change them but you can change yourself with how you're handling it.
I see in a later post your Dad’s sister came..so let her help him & you go about living your best life.
You don't HAVE to.
Your dad belongs in a Memory Care facility. Once the wandering starts, it's the only safe thing to do. Work with his neuro/psych team on making that happen.
That "flash" may be a retinal detachment. I'd get myself to an opthamologist asap.
Your dad's vascular dementia causes him to be unable to control his behaviors or recognize that there are issues. https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-dementia/types-of-dementia/vascular-dementia
Still, that doesn't help keep you sane.
Neither you or your mother will win a argument when trying to reason with someone with dementia. His ability to reason is long gone, as is the executive ability required to manage his life. Some of what is occurring is because he is no longer mentally competent to initiate actions or control himself. Given the constant fighting and the post-fight wandering, your dad might need to be in a memory care, or even a nursing home given his overall poor health. At best, you'd need to get his aggressive behaviors medically managed, by having an honest conversation about them with his physician/neuropsych, and then have in-home help for them, but that's really not going to be optimal, and it doesn't sound healthy for your mom, either.
Do you have POA? You're acting as one already, but is it official? Can you limit the visual triggers for his spending, switch more things to online access, filter emails and unknown callers, limit paper mail with ads and offers?
As you note, It will also help you have a therapist--someone who will be in your corner and confirm what you already know--that you are in a deeply unhealthy relationship.
You might also find folks in similar situations at the alzheimer's org forums, and join in the discussions there as well--it's more of a 'dementia' caregiver's forum than just for AD. A lot of this is so overwhelming...this forum and the Alz.org forum let me know that what I was seeing in my mom was not unusual, and helped me understand how to handle some of our potential conflicts.
This thread might help...
"I just have no way in my temperament or upbringing to implement any of it in my own life and live with myself. I honestly do not know HOW."
This is your first step. You're starting to see that you're part of the problem.
Wanna know why they're involving you in their marital fights? For the same reason you get called when they lose their remote control. Or sign up for something stupid. Or want to socialize with their friends while you and hubs(!)drive them and wait for five hours. Or find and schedule all these doctors and go to the hospital.
It is all equally emergent to them. And it is to you, too!
I've heard very little mention of your hubs here, other than he's outstanding for going along with this. He has to be absolutely miserable right now with his wife not present, and this "THEY MIGHT DIE" thing is going to wear increasingly on not just you, but him, and perhaps your grown children.
And I've heard very little about your oma. Is she able to read, write, talk, drive and type? Otherwise healthy? Why isn't she doing more of her scheduling and errands and stuff? They expect it because you DO EVERYTHING. That's why they have no boundaries.
it sounds verrry tough.
a few thoughts:
you said you’re surprised they spend their remaining time/life, arguing, etc.
some people feel GOOD when they argue/they want conflict!! they want drama. they especially want drama that creates a mess for other people (you).
i was also VERY surprised when i saw first-hand, some elderly people fighting like crazy, behaving very badly - is that how they want to be remembered?
the thing is, some people really enjoy creating conflict/arguing/putting others down/etc.
you and i, and many people, like peace.
(by the way, my real name means peace)
but some people LOVE conflict/arguing and getting others angry, provoking them; dragging others into the conflict so they’re also in a bad mood. and that’s why it won’t stop. they like it.
you said this isn’t a life, and parents shouldn’t behave like this.
you have 1 life.
loving parents don’t want to STEAL your life.
and if your parents aren’t loving…well if they would be, they would want you to have a full life (happy, successful).
ENOUGH women’s lives have been ruined. go for your life!
i do believe we should help our elderly LOs.
we must also help ourselves.
somehow, change something, so that things are more balanced.
bundle of joy :)
Obviously, with all of his health issues, he is no longer safe to drive or live without supervision and you aren't going to be around because the situation will kill you. So what is your plan B?
Not being snarky, you have been conditioned so thoroughly by your parents you actually believe that them getting what they want is more important then you. I am sorry for you and your husband, because he's the one that won't have you.
Best of luck enjoying what time you have left, because your body is sending you screaming sirens and you "keep on keeping on" with the insanity.
Yeah, I think I’ll need to request some additional resources like a social worker and find some solution soon. I’ll look into a geriatric psychiatrist tomorrow. He’s on a couple medications prescribed by the Cleveland Clinic, but clearly it isn’t enough.
My mom threatened to for years, and then actually did call the police. Once.
Three patrol cars came and busted down the garage door to get in because they were yelling at each other in the garage because he was trying to drive off again — and all it did was get him in a 24-hour psych hold and then they told me to pick him up. And it cost $1,200 to fix the garage door.
They won’t touch him because of the massive health problems—at least not without significant bloodshed. The only thing they’ll do is throw him in an ambulance to be held at a hospital on a psych hold because he went nuts on the cops — and then I’m called to take him back home. I tried to get him admitted to the psych ward officially — and the social worker agreed — but the doctor said it wasn’t warranted because he’s calm now.
It was literally better if the police hadn’t been called because then I had to bring home an enraged man back to the same house and either leave my mom there with him, stay there myself to ensure her safety, or bring her to my home.
I suppose I could not have picked him up and left him there. I freely admit: I don’t know how to do something like that to my own father. I didn’t speak to him on the way home or for a week after until he apologized, but clearly there were no lessons learned be it from the police or from how I handled it. Could I have ignored him for longer? Sure — but to what end? So he won’t go to the appointments I worked my butt off to get for him and we miss something and he dies?
This level of care is why we’ve discovered a subdural hematoma; a GIST tumor in his stomach that we had removed; a gall bladder mass that ended up being gall bladder cancer (also removed); a blockage in his carotid artery that now requires a vascular surgeon because an angioplasty was impossible; a mini stroke recently that now requires more neurology visits, and that’s in addition to his CHF, vascular dementia, stage 3 kidney disease, COPD, and more. It’s really hard for me to treat him normally when he is clearly not “normal,” not that he was ever a “nice guy” before these problems.
I can rationally accept that the advice you’re giving is sound, given the circumstances. I’ve advised as much to other people. I just have no way in my temperament or upbringing to implement any of it in my own life and live with myself. I honestly do not know HOW.
There are two distinct parts I just cannot stand."
As someone already wrote, you are well on your way to becoming a statistic.
As Isthisrealyreal wrote: "you are in the fast track to become a statistic." Sounds like you are okay with this? If not, then you need to start making changes ASAP. People have given you ideas.
Are you going to take that first step?
Thanks. They’re US citizens now and have been for decades, so that’s out. Haha.
Doing everything for them is not a big issue for me, though sometimes I find it irritating.
There are two distinct parts I just cannot stand.
(1) It’s the dynamics of their awful, angry relationship that affects me. It’s just unbelievable to me that at 80 years of life with death up right ahead, knowing one of them may not wake up tomorrow and that would not be surprising — this is how they want to spend what could be their last day of life. How sad for them…and how pitiful for me to watch it firsthand.
(2) My dad is just mentally unfit. He’s a well-educated MBA man who worked to the high ranks at a US conglomerate before retiring and he’s deteriorated to making no sense and can’t process what he hears be it in English or Korean. Can’t hear that well and what he does hear, he can’t process. (They’re concluding its vascular dementia, but specifically not Alzheimer’s, which has been ruled out.) And everyone can see it EXCEPT HIM. He’ll still actually tell me he knows better or he doesn’t need the likes of me, etc. unaware he can’t do anything for himself.
Worse, he creates more work for me having to undo these ridiculous scams he falls for — Cheaper Medicare! Better refinancing rates! Save money with solar! Free HBO! — and so forth. All the calls and paperwork I have to do for them doesn’t anger me, but when he MAKES trouble… I just get enraged. And he’s not even apologetic; he says, “What’s the big deal? Call and cancel it, and stop acting like you’re doing something extraordinary!”
Everything else, meh — I’ll live. I make all the food they love and have them over or deliver it, and go out to dinner with them every week. I take them out to social activities they like and my husband is a good sport about going with us. When they have to drive a ways to meet friends and it’s nighttime, we drive them there and find something to do for five hours so they can have fun. They need only get dressed and wait for me on the days we have appointments and attend; they don’t need to listen to one thing the doctors say or follow up with a single item — I do it all. Literally, all they have to do is not create chaos and I’m willing to go to the ends of the earth to make their last years easy for them, but it’s like they’re hellbent on sending me off first!
And now, just for kicks, my dad’s sister moved here and I have had to help her too. But she’s single and lives a quieter life than even I do, so it’s not that bad, but sheesh.
The only thing you have control over is your own behavior.
It sounds as though they need to be separated for everyone's good. Your father likely needs more care than he can get at home.
How you make that happen is what you need to figure out. A social admit to the hospital? Getting both, separately to a geriatric psychiatrist who can advise on medication, placement? Grabbing the opportunity at the next ER visit to force rehab and placement?
Contrary to what I make it sound like in my original post, (1) they were not bad parents to me growing up, all things considered; and (2) I actually don’t regret moving them here to manage their care. Even doing everything for them is not altogether torture for me in that giving them a few full-time years of my life to ensure a comfortable ending is still worthwhile to me. I’m lucky to be able to do that. I know that.
It’s that they hate each other and live off this drama that kills me. It’s that they have zero qualms about involving me in this drama of theirs, letting — no, demanding and forcing — their daughter witness the ugliness and misery they cause each other at the end of their lives that just…rots me. It’s truly like a black mold that just spreads and I hate it. That is what I feel “parents” shouldn’t do. I hate that my parents do this and I hate that I let it get this close to us.
I have asked and begged to be left out of it. It isn’t that I don’t care that my dad took off again or that they had a blowout fight but I do not want to be involved in that part. I don’t want to know and if they can’t handle their own tempers to ensure they live peacefully, they should deal with the repercussions of that on their own too. I’m treated like I’m savage and callous - but they don’t understand I really cannot operate like this.
I’ve explained that my life and my relationship with my husband are so peaceful and zen BY CHOICE, and that I can’t deal with the constant animosity they bring into it. It causes chaos in my own household (because it affects me) and it causes me embarrassment that my parents are living out the end of their lives like this. My sister and I live petrified that I will turn out like this.
Because this part comes with the other parts I willingly manage, and like you said, it was my decision when I knew their relationship was not great when I moved them here (since they involved me in that part then, too, though in my defense, I had no idea to what extent or frequency this happened!), I do regret my decision….now. I’m not entirely sure living out my life with regret for not having done more for them in life, after they’re gone, would have been more unbearable than having them infect my life so directly and constantly now.