Both parents in Care Home. Mum - Alzheimer’s late stages. Dad - Vascular Dementia. 88yrs and 86yrs respectively. I am the only person to care for them as my sister passed away 23yrs ago. I am 63.

For the past few years I have bent over backwards trying to “sort” things for them and it has taken its toll on me.

Nothing pleases them about where they stay. They weren’t happy where they lived because they weren’t managing and slowly losing their independence. They weren’t happy with the sheltered housing I moved them to (a beautiful place). They wanted to move to the lovely CH after seeing it and discussing what it meant. Then they weren’t pleased after they had moved in. It’s one of the best. They continually tell me they want to go back to where they stayed originally which is 130 miles away from me!

When I visit (3 times a week) my mum doesn’t seem to know who I am though she knows my name and she can hurt me physically (eg twist my hand back on itself or nip my hand. She once clouted me across the neck). I try to do everything I can for them but it’s wearing me down. On top of that I have the staff telling me what a caring person she is always wanting to see that everyone is ok. She asks for hugs from the staff. Never keen to give me one. 😫

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Yes. A job (possibly an undemanding one!). Or volunteering. Or church/political involvement. Or an exercise/strength/balance routine.

Whatever speaks to you.

Don’t be afraid to shop around and switch around. Sometimes what rang your bell during your “former life” loses its appeal after you’ve been through the elder-care gauntlet. We change. (No surprise, right?!?)

Regardless, work toward rebuilding and restoring YOU. Even if you don’t know what that means right now!

Not to sound cruel or Darwinian, but your parents had “their time.” It’s over. Maybe they used it well, maybe they didn’t. Maybe they had financial security, maybe they didn’t. Maybe they had joy (or - more importantly - created joy), maybe they didn’t.

It’s all behind them now. Nothing can change that. No amount of your (figurative) tap dancing will make a damm difference. Nor will magical thinking or trying to please.

“The twilight years” is just a phrase, until it stares you in the face and changes the dynamic of 2-or-more generations.

This is so draining for adult children. No playbook. No clear-cut timetable. Just open-ended despair.

It’s impossible to give your parents what they want. It is possible to make sure they are safe and cared for — and you have done that.

Next step: Reset your routine with the care home. Define a way to show your love and connection to your parents without leaving a chunk of “you” behind after every visit. Lotsa good advice from the other folks here, so I won’t repeat specifics. You’ll figure out what works.

Your new boundaries might feel odd and uncomfortable, at first. Keep reminding yourself that it’s OK to make your sanity and your well-being the priority.

Give yourself permission to be a whole person.

Keep reminding yourself that being a fraction of a person did not serve you well. Nor did it serve your parents well.

Whether by accident or design, your parents have become impossible to please. Stop taking that as a personal challenge (we’ve all done it!) — and find the liberation in it.

((((big hugs)))) These are rough years. Keep coming back to AC Forum for support. We’re rooting for you! 🧡
Helpful Answer (24)
golden23 Sep 2018
Well said, bh!
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There is nothing I can say that isn't consistent with what so many others have said already - all of it good advice.  My 94 year old mother has dementia, is in a wonderful care facility, is never happy, is always nice to everyone else and though she is not abusive to me physically, she is emotionally.  Visits bring nothing but complaints, when she will look at me at all.  I have given 6 years of my life to delivering and/or managing her care, my father died many years ago, (I was widowed myself 4 years ago) and while I have two brothers, both of them live more than 1000 miles away.  I found myself this year at the end of my rope trying everything to make her happy and realize, that's never going to happen.
Here are the things other said that I strongly second:  if you can afford it, find a professional counselor who can help guide you through aging and end of life issues - I found myself thinking over and over lately about how I don't want to put MY kids through this kind of care hell - and constantly thinking about my own mortality.  I found someone wonderful to talk to who took care of her own mother for 2 years after she had a massive stroke.  It's been very helpful!
You do need something to do, and I agree at our age that regular "employment" that is not in itself adding to your stress level, under the circumstances you're in, is difficult to find.  I had a part-time job last year and when the inevitable drama started there, I really  only became more depressed. I'd recommend volunteering, and/or taking a class.  I've turned into a gym rat, 5 days a week, I take cardio, strength training, and balance/coordination classes geared to 55+ people - I feel so much better, physically, and I've expanded my social circle.  Find something you LIKE to do, rather than doing something else you HAVE to do - and do it regularly, at least a few days a week.
Lastly, cut those visits down to no more than once a week, and keep them brief.
If they are being cared for and they are safe, you don't need to be there more than that. 
And lastly, come here to this group often for support.  We're here for you!
Helpful Answer (17)
minstrel Sep 2018
I'm with you 100%, also having an older sister who isn't happy no matter what I or we try to do for her. I've made up my mind that I will only see her once a week, not the two or three or four times I was doing. She complains nastily about so much and this has affected my own mental health. After years of this (her pre-dementia personality was already difficult), I realized I had to say no to her more often, and yes to my own needs.
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No one should EVER have to tolerate abuse for any reason. If you feel you need to visit, stay way out of Mom’s reach. How much caring do you actually need to do for them? If they make a lot of requests for things they really do not need, just want, deliver them once every few weeks.

There is no need to visit these discontented, abusive and demanding people more than once a week. You have gone above and beyond to please and satisfy them. If you visit any more often than once a week (or even less), you are deliberately punishing yourself for no reason. What needs to be sorted out for them? Are they demanding you do things that don’t really need to be done? Stop. If there is a power of attorney and they have wills, you shouldn’t need to have to sort anything out. These are people you can’t please and who do not know the meaning of gratitude.

As for a job, keep in mind your age and limitations. Not many people at our age have the wherewithal to start a new career, especially when we are stressed and burned out in the first place. I’ve been thinking about a part time job too, but the jobs I’m looking for involve lifting, which I can’t do, standing, and hours that don’t fit. Volunteering may be a better option. You definitely need some outlet other than visiting your toxic parents.

And for Heaven’s Sake, stop tolerating your mother smacking you. .
Helpful Answer (15)

I read once that every person needs three forms of support. Support from friends, from a family and from a sense of purpose (job or other responsibility). One can get along with a "zero" in one category but if someone has zeros all across the board, they are very vulnerable when life stresses them.

So it sounds as though the support your family can offer you is low. I would definitely concentrate on developing supportive friend relationships and finding something that provides you with a sense of purpose and satisfaction. If that is a job, excellent, but it could also be a commitment to a cause in which you believe.

You might consider a few sessions with a counselor. It might help you clarify your goals and how to reach them.
Helpful Answer (14)

Dear ELS and Everyone who posted here,

Today is a day I go to visit my Mom. I feel ill and am dreading it. Am an only child and sole caregiver (except for my husband and daughter who valiantly tried to help for the year that Mom lived with us.)

Mom has been demanding, controlling and verbally/emotionally abusive throughout my life. She is difficult at the care home and it’s been a wild ride helping her and the caregiver adjust to anything that approaches tolerable.

I am learning that Mom’s “happiness” is never something I can control (even to protect myself from her abuse), and it is not humane to expect me to be responsible for it (or to be punished for the lack of it).

The anger, accusations and disappointment she directs at me are beyond hurtful. They are debilitating.

So, I’ve reset my priorities. It is more important that Mom be -
- Safe
- Healthy
- Well fed
- Clean
- Comfortable
- Have opportunities to socialize
- Retain as much of her personal dignity as possible
- Have contact with family as much as is possible without burdening or harming family

It is my responsibility to make sure that she has these things. and it is my choice to show her love in whatever ways I can.

But, anything that harms me physically or emotionally is no longer required - off-limits.

Watching Mom be abusive to my dear, kind daughter helped me to realize the her behavior was not to be tolerated. And, while I could not defend myself as a child, I certainly owe it to myself to do so as an adult.

I’m not really giving advice - I guess I’m just reminding myself of the things that will make today’s visit a little more bearable.

Best to all all of you. And, yes, let’s all remember to take care of ourselves.
Helpful Answer (14)
Ahmijoy Sep 2018
It certainly sounds like you’ve made a breakthrough regarding what you will tolerate and not. Keep in mind that even if you are visiting much less frequently, that still does not mean you need to tolerate abuse. No one does. When it gets to the point where we’re being beaten, choked, bitten, hit, and/or slapped, something needs to change. If Mom seems about to lay and hand on you, get out. Don’t get so close or touch her so that you give her the opportunity. If she needs any care while you’re there, call an aide or nurse. Good luck and let us know how it went.
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If you want a job and can find something you like then yes, go for it! And I would keep your visits short even if you don't have to rush home for work, there basic needs are being met and there is no reason to allow yourself to be abused. You may want to time some (or all) of your visits so that you can see them in public places like the dining room or lounge or join them for group activities (bingo?), or visit your father when she is out.
Helpful Answer (13)

The short answer is "Yes!". Look after yourself. Your parents are fine. You do not need to sacrifice your life for them any more and, certainly, stay away from abuse. A job could be a big asset for you. Let us know what you decide.
Helpful Answer (13)

Something odd, but possibly helpful?

I found it helpful when I realized that - when I had only been gone for 12 hours - that my Mom would feel like she hadn't seen me for AGES! What that meant was, the whole day that I just spent with her yesterday was gone - lost in the mists of memory. But - what then occurred to me - was that if I was in fact away from her for a few days, it would feel *just the same* to her!

This actually made me feel a little bit more free.
Helpful Answer (13)

The ‘almighty row’ from Dad that reduced you to tears sounds as nasty as your mother’s pinching habit. You have been a good and obedient daughter for a long time, and it sounds as though they have come to treat you worse than they would treat a servant. Not as an adult who is now much more capable than they are, and has her own life to lead. You and your needs deserve more respect than this. Please try to give yourself more priority. Respect yourself!
Helpful Answer (12)

Your mom & dad see you as the barrier to whatever they want because you are the person making decisions for them - no matter what you do they have shifted you into the 'big bad wolf' role - they will never be happy with where they live because they are incapable of being happy unless they are in control & that is no longer a viable option - by the way this happens often when dealing with parents dementia .... so welcome to the club

Leave them close to you because if you took them back they would not be satisfied there - when people with dementia talk about a place they used to live in they are only remembering good bits & forget about why they wanted to move from there - just like when you think of your flower garden what comes to mind is the blossoms not the weeds

It is time for you to move on with your life so get a job you love & cut back on the visits because you do not need the stress of the crappy way they treat you - they are dumping abuse on you, especially the physical abuse, which is not acceptable so it is the time for you to start taking care of yourself & be happy
Helpful Answer (12)
BlackHole Sep 2018
Spot on, moecam. 💛
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