Follow
Share

I guess this is just a vent. I feel like I'm spinning a downward spiral alone and at the end lies a padded room.

I'm 43. I've been a single mom for 16 years. My daughter just completed her first year of college. Finally some time to spend on me, right? Wrong. I work full time in the medical field. My mom (who is single) had cancer, then a brain injury and I cared for her for 6 years before it became too much and she moved to a nursing home.

My dad is remarried. His wife has cerebral palsy (it only affects her legs , not her brain) and is in a wheelchair. My dad ALSO had a head injury 5 years ago and was subsequently diagnosed with dementia, then Alzheimer's (among other health issues).

I have a brother out of state. No other siblings or help in town to help me care for THREE parents in THREE different locations with multiple health issues.

My dad (who lived at his home with my stepmom) is currently being bounced around from hospital to nursing home to (currently) ...psych ward.

My problem is my stepmom. She is NEEDY (emotional, physically and mentally DRAINING the sanity out of me). Cannot drive. Is jealous of my relationship with my dad. Doesn't want me involved in any decision making. Doesn't want me visiting my own dad without her. Doesn't want to talk about future plans (I don't even know if he has a will, burial plot, means to pay for it), moving to a better suited living situation, or anything to help make things easier on them (and me). She's been terrible about managing money, has REALLY let the house go (think filthy hoarder), And didn't care for my dad very well when he was home. He currently has a MASSIVE bed sore to the bone because she let him sit in his own urine without a shower for days.

She DOES However, want to call me at all hours freaking out about things, drive to get her stupid items (super glue was the last request), take her dog to the vet, take out her trash, explain to her how to adjust the thermostat, drive her to get cigarettes, drive her to visit my dad....etc etc etc. these are no easy trips, since she needs physical help and I have to load/unload a wheelchair as well.

I'm expected to answer her medical questions, when she doesn't want me to talk to doctors. That leaves me with 1/3 of information, second hand from her in a non-sensical way. She doesn't know what follow-up questions to ask doctors, even if I write them down. She lacks common sense, which is not from her disability. I am her 'back up plan' when she can't do things, yet she won't accept outside help, or the fact she and him need to be placed somewhere with full time help.

I could go on and on. But, the short version is- I'm burned out. I'm exhausted. I'm frustrated. I'm angry. I'm scared of losing my dad.

And, I feel TERRIBLE & guilty that I have some awful thoughts that won't go away.

This is affecting my relationship, my job, my hobbies, my demeanor.

I need a friend who understands.

Find Care & Housing
DogRescuer,
We ALL understand. And we know YOU will need to change things because none of the three parents you care for will.

You have a full time job in the medical field. That's demanding (I'm a nurse, so I get it.) That's 8 hours a day. Commuting may be another 1-1/2 hours. Showering, cooking, eating, dishes...another 2 hours. Sleeping (hopefully 8 hours). That adds up to 19-1/2 hours and leaves 4-1/2 "free" hours a day. It sounds like you are sacrificing more than that doing all this caregiving.

You are SEEING the signs of stress and the effects it's having on your life. So, you know what you have to do.....back off WHERE YOU CAN. Everyone has given great answers on suggestions for "helps" for Step-Mom.
YOU are going to need help getting over the GUILT of cutting her loose and having her depend (much more) on government resources. But it's you or her. WHO shall it be? What good will you be to all of them if you have collapsed or stroked out?

She can't tell you that you can't see your dad. He is an adult and has the right to see whomever he wants. I agree to get on the HIPPA list to have his docs share info with you. Do NOT LET her manipulate you. She obviously is NOT ABLE to care for your dad. If she's confined to a w/c, then she can't be giving care. Your dad will not be able to go back home if he can't do his own care. It is inexcusable to have a bedsore go to the bone.

You are going to need to set up a schedule for YOUR benefit. Pick a day (I guess a precious day off) that you can help out all 3. Do NOT do any errands on any other day.

If you're in the medical field, then you understand the effects of stress on the body. If you can't set boundaries because you feel too "mean" then lie to them if you have to. Make up anything but DO NOT go anywhere unless it's an emergency-a REAL emergency. If you can't even do that, I would suggest a therapist to help you sort out your priorities.

Do you want your daughter to be motherless? You have got to cut down the amount of help you are giving or your child won't have a mom. There........if that doesn't give you a backbone to set priorities, nothing will. Look at it as you are securing your future as a grandmother.

Good luck.
(3)
Report

Um, Pepsee, Isthisreallyreal shared my idea. When someone posts on this site, they do want advice whether they say it or not. They want some sort of reaction anyway. It’s very difficult for those of us who care, to read a post like that and not respond especially if we’ve been there. I’ve cared for in-laws, Mom and Hubby at one time plus being a babysitting grandma to two children with special needs so I do understand this poster.

If a poster doesn't want a reaction, they’ll vent to a journal and put it away in a desk or drawer. By our reaction, we are telling this poster we are “a friend who ”understands”. When the poster who says they are on the verge of a breakdown, suicide, violence toward others, etc. and we respond, it is very worrisome to those of us who care to understand the total silence that follows.
(4)
Report

You could contest your stepmother's POA pretty easily. I assume an ambulance transported your father to the hospital from his urine-soaked bed? Two witnesses to your stepmother's inability to care for your father and hoarding disorder. Just threaten her; at the very least she'll give you unrestricted access. In San Francisco, on Saturday mornings lawyers speak with people for free at our main library; you might want to check out what sort of pro bono programs your city has...
(1)
Report

I'm right there with you. Are you sure she doesn't have brain issues? I definately understand. I'm feeling the same way having to deal with my mom's constant, persistant need for this or that. Some of which are legitimate needs but she doesn't seem to posess the ability to wait for anything and everything seems to be an emergency for her.
(4)
Report

Umm, no ahmijoy she never asked for advice. First sentence .....
*I guess this is just a vent.*
Last sentence.......
*I just need a friend who understands.*
(4)
Report

Yes. Another one who asked for our advice and then shot down everything we said. 🙄
(2)
Report

I think DogRescuer has left the building.
(1)
Report

Dads wife has no children or family? I agree, us softharded people don't know how to say no and then blow up when we get overwhelmed. I set boundries with my Mom when she stopped driving. TG we lived in the same town around a BIG block from each other. Took me five minutes to get to her house. Walgreens was right between us so could pick up her meds "when I was out". I made no special trips unless it was something she needed right away. We picked one day a week, convenient for me, to do grocery shopping, banking etc. We do BK on Friday and she went with us. She still had a Church life and friends who gave her rides. I usualky went with her on Sunday because out of 4 children I was the only one who attended Church. I can't do needy and will back away from anyone who starts showing signs of it. I will help but don't like being "expected" to help

I am assuming you had no real relationship with this women so don't consider her a "Mom". Other than being Dads wife, you owe her nothing.
Being in the Medical field do you wear scrubs? Wear them to Dads facility. I found when my daughter came to Moms facility in her scrubs the nurses told her everything. In NJ having Cerebral Palsy can get you services with the Dept of Disabilities. I am starting my journey with them with my nephew. I was told they will be with him the rest of his life and thru all the stages. They can set him up with transportation, place to live, and help to become independent. There must be CP organization. Call Office of Aging, county Disability Dept. To find out what services they can offer her. Once you get a list of names and phone numbers give them to her and say you can no longer deal with her expecting to do for her. You have a home, job and daughter. You need time for your mother and father. She needs to start relying on someone else. But, start setting boundries while doing the research. Tell her there will no longer be phone calls at all times of the day. (I have my cell phone set that only my contacts ring thru. All others go to my voicemail) Explain you have a very stressful job that you need "me" time when you r home. Tell her to pick a day for shopping. This means she will do her banking and get her cigs to last her the whole week. No more running her around for this and that. So she needs a list. I bought Mom a white board. When she thought of something she wrote it done. Don't allow her to hold Dad for ransome. My nephew started a Mobile Vet business. See if a Vet in the area offers this service. Appts should be made at your convenience if possible. Office of Aging may have a bus service she can use relieving you of the duty. I think you have enough on your shoulders without a woman who doesn't appreciate what you do for her.
(8)
Report

Hello DogRescuer,
It is 3 AM and I am wide awake. Why? Because my roommate for 9 years--my Mom, was always up and about at 3 AM. Even though she is in a nursing home now, I still wake up at 3 AM. Habits are hard to break.

One of the problems with online chat groups or forums, is that the "Personal Touch" is missing. I cannot take you for Starbucks coffee or for Ice Cream or to a fast food restaurant (or ANY place) where the two of us can just sit and talk, or I can sit and listen. The ability to look at another person's facial expressions and body language is not available. All we have are letters put together into words. And unfortunately, very few of us are talented enough to be able to express our emotions or feelings or thoughts like poets or musicians or writers of books/greeting cards. And there are only so many ways that a person can say "I care" over the internet before it begins to sound like a "tired old record". So we do what we can and that is offer advice and suggestions.

If I copied a saying or poem from a greeting card , it would violate copy write laws. And I (and other people) haven't figured out how to add an eCard or even funny images to our postings yet to truly show how much we care.

We are ALL your friends and we care a great deal about you. We realize that you have an unique and difficult situation and that you need to express yourself. But how can we express ourselves to you?? We give voice to our concerns about your situation and offer suggestions. I know that the suggestions may sound like we are criticizing you, but we are not. Because we are "fixers", we want to help you because we care for you and are your friends.

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8" RSV states that there is "a time for everything":
"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace."

The NIV Bible's explanation of Ecclesiastes 3:1-22 is "the Teacher shows that we are subject to times and changes over which we have little or no control, and contrasts this state with God's eternity and sovereignty."

"The Lord bless you and keep you: The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you: The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace." Numbers 6:24-26 RSV
(10)
Report

I vote for contacting APS. I don't think your dad should be at the mercy of stepmom's "care" again.
(8)
Report

DogRescuer, the last bit of your post is easy, anyway :) - we are friends, and we understand.

Lord what a plateful.

Your stepmother sounds a pain in the butt, let's be honest. And let's also be honest - her disability makes it extremely difficult to impose the same expectations on her, even those of which she is perfectly capable, as you would on anyone else. I mean, how does it look on the face of it if you refuse help to someone with serious mobility issues? You feel a worm. Even though she is being idiotic in refusing what she is in fact perfectly able to do, and source assistance independently.

I think I'd start there, actually. Do some digging around and see what you can find out about services she can access. It'll be a lot easier to tell her to take a running jump if you do that by saying "if you need transport, here's the number to call." There are probably loads of providers available to her. She does need help, but it shouldn't be coming from you. You can always tell her you know how important independence is to her self esteem (and flutter your eyelashes).

I got the impression you are afraid of her preventing you from seeing your father if you don't stay in her good books. She'd have a job, you know. Your father has a right to see you. Even with POA she can't just unilaterally decide that you can't visit.

Besides, who would she then turn to for an audience?

Her attitude towards (not) sharing medical information and then endlessly discussing it half-digested would drive me up the wall. My MIL does this to my (medically qualified) SIL - insists that SIL accompanies her to appointments, and then won't let her ask questions or speak. It's ridiculous, I don't know how anyone stands it. If it's practical, you need to speak out in the presence of your father and an independent person - somebody on his care team, doctor, social worker, any professional with a bit of clout - and protest this point so that you do get authorisation to be kept informed.

And BB is right, you know. You didn't create this pig's breakfast of a situation. You are not responsible for your elders' choices; and if they themselves limit your authority to help them, whose fault is that? You are doing all you reasonably can. Try to fret less about what you can't do because they make it impossible.
(7)
Report

It doesn't matter if step mom doesn't want you to visit without her. You visit your dad when it suits you.

If she asks yo be driven to get superglue, say "no, I couldn't possibly do that".

You can give information to your dad's doctors, just not get information from them. You can write the current facility a letter outlining evidence of stepmom's inability to care for him and suggesting that he only be discharged to a facility.

You can ask dad to sign a HIPAA release so you can get medical information.

But ultimately, your dad is driving this bus. People need to plan for their OWN old age. You are not under any obligation to do this for them.
(4)
Report

Oh my, you are in a tough situation. Can I ask a few questions to understand a bit better?

Has your step-monster always controlled your contact with your dad?

Does she have any offspring of her own?

Can you visit your dad where he is currently and get a medical waiver so you are able to get info without having to deal with step-monster?

This woman is a toxic piece of work, using your compliance and servitude to allow you to receive information about your dad is sick business. It is no wonder you are on the edge.

You have to really look at the situation, including your dads choices, even if they are hard to face. This woman cannot care for your dad, she is wheel chair bound, why have you let her run you ragged and neglect a demented old man? You can not see the forest through the trees you are so overwhelmed. That is why.

I hope you can understand why everyone is kinda scratching their heads. This situation if allowed to continue will cost health and wellbeing to all involved. Since you are now the responsible adult in the mix, it is up to you to get this straightened out for all involved.

It kills me when I read, they won't accept outside help! BS, stop being the whipping boy and jumping at their command and see how fast they accept outside help. Either 911 or APS will come in and remove vulnerable people from unsafe and dangerous conditions. Then they are forced to accept, Cuz their choices just got removed.

If you die from a stroke, what happens? You need to look at this as though you were already gone and what does that look like? Set that up, then go back to being a daughter.

I am not criticizing you, I know how freaking hard elderly parents can be. My dad, all or nothing, period. If I don't dance to his tune, there is h**l to pay, yea dad, go ahead and put that on my account, cuz I have a life and I refuse to give it up to people that have lived their lives and now want to take mine. Nope, not giving it up.

Step back, block her number if you must, get a good night's sleep and approach this as if you were not there.

God bless and give you strength.

HUGS 2U!
(4)
Report

Does stepmom have any children of her own that catake care of her needs? Someone who is in a wheelchair is in no way capable to taking care of a person in your Dad's condition as evidenced by the state she keeps the house in. Definitely call in APS and the health dept.
(10)
Report

Hi DogRescuer,
Wow, seems you're being pulled in a hundred different directions. Plz don't let yourself have another nervous breakdown.

I couldn't imagine being in your shoes as I only have my Mom. As she's so sweet and compliant.

Feel free to vent as much as you need to. Anything not to become to overwhelmed. I'll listen and try to understand.

As for looking for a friend....I hope you have at least one you can depend on. Because, as you can see, the pickings are really slim.
(3)
Report

I also was going to suggest APS. You can put in an anonymous phone call into them, stating that your Dad is living in unsafe, unsanitary conditions, and they will do an assessment of his living conditions. Your Step-Mom allowed him to sit in urine soaked garments, to the point of getting a horrible bone deep and infected pressure sore, and that is absolutely uncalled! You, as a Medical Worker, is what is called a "Mandated Reporter", and you must make the difficult phone calls, to get him there help he needs, before something else like this ever happens to him again!
(8)
Report

What is happening with your real mom? That I would think should be a priority. Can you tell any health care workers the condition your father was left in?
(2)
Report

But it was his choice not to make you POA? I think that was Barb Brooklyn’s point?
(3)
Report

I’m sorry you’re under such an impossible situation. No one person can take care of three seniors with such extensive needs, it’s simply not possible, no wonder you’re in such a bad place. Your stepmom sounds absolutely toxic, I hope you’ll distance yourself from her. Your dad also needs protection from being under her care. If it comes to it you can use Adult Protective Services to get him cared for without her control. Our parents do get worse, that’s the reality of it, we all have to prepare for helping over time and that means not doing all the running and helping to the point of exhaustion and making yourself ill and then unable to help at all. Blessings to you as you hopefully begin to make some changes
(9)
Report

It is clear you love your Dad but you need time for your family and work too. So i think you need to talk to the Step -Mom and establish a few rules. 1) You will only do shopping on this day ( or 2) so you better make a list and think ahead. 2) You will not take calls after a certain hour unless its an emergency and you can leave a message that its an emergency. 3) her Dr appts are to be scheduled only with consulting you and your convience. 4) all of this is ONLY if your allowed to consult directly ( speak) with Dads doctors and visit when you want. She still can make decisions etc. Otherwise your health is in danger and you wont be any help to either if your sick. Oh and she can pay a neighbor kid or maid to clean and take out garbage
(9)
Report

DogR, we all understand how hard it is to set up those boundries too, and it does take some practice! It's OK to come here to Vent also, but do know that most of us here (like you), are born "FIXERS", and we will all try to give you suggestions to fix the problems you are having troubles with, as most of us have been in your shoes, and so Hope you will take the suggestions given, to help you find some relief, and not take these idea's as criticism!

Setting up boundries is the Only way you are going to be able to get a handle on these types of problems, or else you will Always be taken advantage of. Once you set up those boundries, your parents will have no other choice but to make changes too! Your Step-Mom will Have to look for other (outside) help, if you aren't always at her beck and call. Your Mom obviously need you to visit, as well as your Dad, and you will Always have responsibilities to your Daughter, no matter how old she gets, but You have got to stick up for yourself, in order to have any sort of life at all.

It seems to me that with your Step-Mom's disabilities (Cerebral Palsy), she might be eligible for aditional help also, especially since she is wheelchair bound, and doesn't drive.

A very good resource is your local Counties AREA ON AGING (under "senior services", look them up online), as they would be able to come in and do an assessment on both her and your Dad needs, and see what resources are available to them, and you might be surprised how much help is out there, when you look into it!

Also, it sounds like she isn't very organized, and almost enjoys putting you out and controlling you, by holding your Dad over your head, and that isn't right! You need to put your foot down, and perhaps take her shopping just once a week! She needs to keep a list, so you aren't running here and there every day, as it's not fair to you! Remember, she needs you more than you need her, so don't let her hold your Dad over your head!

As difficult as it is, You are Not Responsible for your Dad and his wife's financial affairs, nor their medical and end of life decisions, that's between them as husband and wife. Sometimes you just have to deal with the crisis as they arise, and to some degree, you end up having more control when the unfortunate things happen, like placement into Senior Housing, and such.

But for now, see what help is our there, and by stepping back a bit, make it necessary for them to take advantage of those services.

Lastly, look up Narcissistic personality disorder, and the Fear, Obligation and Guilt (the dreaded FOG!) that these types of people put upon their children, to get what they want, as you may find that your Step-Mom is using some of these tactics to get her way, and to control you, because believe me, there are lot of Caregivers on this site, who are dealing with these types of parents, and there are loads of THREADS on this blog, that deal with that, and could give you some good idea's on how to deal with them . Welcome and Good Luck!
(7)
Report

Barb- his choice to marry her, yes. Not his choice to be ill and sit in filth & pee all day.

Certainly wouldn't be his choice to not see me again.
(7)
Report

Have your answering machine on your land line (if you have one) answer the phone and if you want to talk to your stepmom about whatever she is calling you about, then answer the phone. If you only have a cell phone, let your stepmom's phone calls go to "Voice Mail" and again, answer those calls that you want to answer. True, your stepmom will probably get angry at you at first because you are sending all of her calls to Voice Mail. But if you consistently answer her phone calls ONLY AFTER you listen to her Voice Mail recordings, then maybe she will start to realize that you aren't or won't be at her "beck and call" 24 hours a day. {At least we can hope!}

Plus...by letting your Stepmom's phone calls go to "Voice Mail", you don't have to stop immediately whatever you are doing, answer the phone and talk to her, and end up doing what SHE wants instead of what YOU want or need to do. Like Ahmijoy states, "Be choosy." In other words, set some boundaries as to when you answer your stepmom's phone calls and set boundaries as to what activities you do or won't do for your stepmom. Good Luck and God Bless.
(9)
Report

Well, you don’t need to answer EVERY call. Be choosy. Answer when you feel like it. Get on your dad’s doctor’s HIPPA list so you can speak with them directly about him and not rely on stepmom. Sounds like stepmom is holding Dad hostage so you will do her bidding. I’m sorry. I hope you can find some balance and peace.
(11)
Report

So, Dog, that was Dad's choice, correct? Something to chew on.
(5)
Report

When I've 'cut her out' before, then I get NO information about my dad's well being.
(3)
Report

I am not my dad's POA. But, I am for my (real) mom.

I know I am not technically under any "obligation ". But, That doesn't stop the incessant phone calls. AND, they're my parents. If THAT isn't an obligation, then I don't know what is.

I just don't know how to balance everything.
(5)
Report

Barb is right. If nothing is down on paper, you are uncompensated for time, travel, wear and tear on your car and fuel money, you can brush yourself off and walk away. I would feel responsible only for the dog, making sure it’s well-taken care of, but that’s just me, the animal lover. Tell everyone but your dad that you’re done. Then, get on with your life.

This is of course, if you’re truly serious about this situation and you really want it to end. People like you, who care too much have real difficulty walking away. We blow up, vent and say we can’t take it any more and then a month later, nothing’s changed. If you’re serious about getting out, start planning now. Suggest in home care. If that’s refused, shrug your shoulders, say “well, it’s up to you, dear stepmom. I’m out.” And walk away. You’ve taken the step to post here and admit you’ve had it. What you do now is truly up to you. We wish you luck and success with your decision.
(7)
Report

So, I get that you love your dad.

Are you his POA for healthcare?

If you're not, you have no obligation here. Legally. Dad didn't see fit to put you in charge.

Others will be along with kinder advice. But just know that you have no obligation on this sitution. Anything you do is voluntary.
(11)
Report