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Elderly father suffers at the hand of elderly mother who is narcissistic. I need suggestions! Hi! I am a 46 years old daughter and my sweet father who is 87yo with Parkinson's and Dementia is subject to my 84yo elderly mom who is stubborn and insensitive and narcissistic. My mom is clearly overwhelmed by the tasks of caring for herself, maintaining a house, finances and coordinating in-home caregivers for my dad. Who wouldn't be, right?! I have always envisioned helping care for my dad. He was my lifeline while growing up with a mom who still is unempathetic and invalidates, argues and undervalues my thoughts and feelings throughout my life. As my mom is aging (aren't we all :P) she has gotten even worse, arguing with me about the silliest things--literally! She is resistant to most changes, anywhere from relocating the keys to a place where my "key-collecting" father cannot have access to them, to granting the nighttime caregiver permission to turn on the heater at 5am when my dad is assisted in showering. She doesn't consistently give his Parkinson's medicine to him due to being forgetful and easily distracted. My dad is still lucid most of the day time, but is 7 days into becoming a sundowner dementia patient, where he doesn't believe he's at home and acts paranoid, and agitated. I have offered to buy their house (providing them with needed income) move our family in to their house to alleviate my mom of coordinating caregivers and other decisions that effect my father. My dad likes the idea, my mom says, she feels like "we are asking to take over her life". I said, "well, I suppose you could feel like that, and in that case, think of it as us taking the life that makes you miserable so that you can start the life that makes you less stressed and happy". Many times, my dad acknowledges my mom is difficult for him and seems like he might agree to appointing me with durable power of attorney. The big question is: HOW CAN I GO ABOUT CARING FOR HIS NEEDS WITHOUT HAVING TO GO THROUGH MY POWER HUNGRY MOTHER? Off and on throughout my life and especially the last few years, my dad has been regretting he married my mom because she is bitter and unloving to him and me (yes, she is my birth mom) and a difficult person for many others to deal with. I don't want for them to legally divorce to get his 1/2 to take care of him but I sure don't have money for round the clock private caregivers and he's too big for me to do it, as I am petite. Plus physically caregiving 24/7 is not mentally stimulating enough for me. My father wants to stay home till death if possible. I believe he'd do better emotionally and physically if his wishes are honored. It feels like my mom is the roadblock to good care for my father. I would rather not seek the help of an attorney because that is costly and could get ugly and further hurt everyone. HELP!

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Thank you all for your speedy and thoughtful comments. It is good to hear from people who are in the position of being a caregiver child and objective to my situation. I will give each response more thought and post more details later :) May we all feel God's presence near us as we go through this stressful time.
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I was busily trying to think up things you might try, and then I got to the 'on and off throughout my life' part, about your father recognising that... well. You know what.

The difference it makes is that their normality hasn't changed much. So when you imagine, when one imagines, whisking your father away to the magical land where his opinion and ease are respected and he is nicely looked after and not harassed by nagging or neglect by turns... well, he'd probably think he'd died and gone to heaven. Trouble is, it would be a very radical alteration indeed, and it's funny how the home you love comprises all of what you're used to, including the lumps.

On the other hand. For one thing it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of his care, and for another the new, extraordinary stresses your mother is now under are not going to soften her temper. And they're not good for her health, either.

I'm afraid I agree with everyone that in the end it will probably be 'events' that force the change. But meanwhile, so that you don't go round the bend waiting, and feeling sick waiting, for that phone call: have a good think about what you would like to see happen. What's the ideal scenario? Separating them? Moving them together? Your mother accepting more help at home? Once you've weighed up the possibilities, you can occupy yourself productively by finding out what services are available locally and how much they'd cost - find out what's doable, and while you're at it you might make some useful contacts with really good, targeted advice to offer.

The other thing is, that you could try feeling a bit irritated with the pair of them and see if that hardens your heart so that it doesn't break over them. To the outsider, they're being really unfair to you - their relationship is for them to manage, without involving you as some kind of reluctant (not to mention powerless) mediator. If this had only come about as your father's health declined I'd say "poor old boy"; but excuse me, he's been unloading on you lifelong - and then doing nothing. Not fair.

Help in practical ways, help if - praise the Lord - they eventually accept that they'd do better to save their energy for a good quality of life in a married couple's facility of one kind. But mind your boundaries. You are not responsible for their relationship.
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I tried to get in the middle of my parents when my dad was running my mom ragged after he'd had a stroke. I finally realized that they had their own roles and script and trying to disrupt that after 65 years of marriage wasn't going to work. It was driving me nuts, but they were just doing what they'd always done.

If your dad is of sound mind, he can decide to leave (divorce or not). But don't be surprised if he's wishy-washy and vacillates a lot. He's unhappy but not unhappy enough to take steps to change his living situation. Which still leaves you in the uncomfortable middle.

I agree with Barb that you may need to wait until something happens that will change the dynamics of their relationship and their situation. And that will probably be some emergency where one winds up in the hospital. It's tough to watch, but sometimes that's the only path you have as a bystander.
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2, ultimately, you may need to wait until "something" happens. One of them falls and is hospitalized; when that happens, work with the discharge planning people on getting the hospitalized parent into the proper level of care.

One poster on here, who I hope will post about this, ran herself ragged taking care of her 90+ Y.O. parents who refused to downsize or move. Tragically, her mom fell and died of the head injury she incurred. Her dad then happily moved to a facility, but passed away less than a year later. Sometimes, it's a waiting game until one of them is in the hospital. Then, you no longer have to be the bad guy.
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Your profile says that your mother has Alzheimers/dementia. If that is the case, and your posts seems to support that with her behavior, then I might focus more on that aspect of her than Narcissism or her being power hungry. Even if she was a Narcissist years ago, I don't see how that feature of her personality will serve you in proceeding forward regarding your dad's care.

Now, her dementia could be relevant, since it would go to show that she is not competent to be his care giver. A consult with an attorney who regularly litigates this types of cases would be my first stop, so you know what evidence you need.

I know that you say you do not want to go the court route, but, you may have no choice. If mom is not providing dad his meds as prescribed, I'd take issue with that and it would likely be a deal breaker for me. I'd take notes of all things that she does that are harmful to his health and welfare.

What does your dad's doctor say about mom's care of him? Do you know if mom has a medical diagnosis?

I'd also read a lot about dementia and try to adjust to the facts that holding on to the idea that mom may be able to control her behavior, act better, see it your way, put dad first, etc. is not likely to happen. Dementia prevents the brain from working properly. So, I would consider if your expectations of your mom are unreasonable. I'd also work towards moving away from blame and attributing her ways as intentionally hurtful. Moving forward, I would view it more as a disability of her mental faculties.

Of course, if you dad IS COMPETENT and he is insistent of staying in his current situation, then you will have a big hoop to jump through. That's where the attorneys would be helpful. I'd explore whether dad is competent to make proper decisions about his care IF he chooses to allow an incompetent person to be in charge of it?

I can see lots of stress in this situation. There likely are no easy answers. Take care of yourself and I hope something happens that helps the situation.
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Wow! What a conundrum. In part, if dad doesnt want to leave to go to a nice assisted living facility place, he's made a choice to stay with mom at the expense of his wellbeing. He doesnt have to divorce her to go to AL, he just says " i need more care than my poor wife can give me right now. I need to be in AL". Would he do that, do you think?
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Dear 2crazyparents. I'm so sorry. There is so much going on and its hard to know how to navigate our relationships with our mom and dad during their golden years and ensure they get the proper care. I know there are no easy answers. Are there any community resources that you could access? Social worker? Seniors association? Hopefully someone that can help access resources and support to help your dad. I know you see your mom as a giant roadblock. Is she afraid? Is it her medications? She is probably feeling overwhelmed and tired as well. Hopefully a third neutral party can help with a family meeting and help find a compromise. In the end you want what is best for both your mom and dad and yourself. Thinking of you during this difficult time.
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