Diagnosis: My mom has a brain tumor. She is ambulatory but cannot be left home unsupervised because of risk seizures, falls, etc.

Mom's Situation: My parents still live in my childhood home, and both are retired and do not work. They have no family or close friends where they live, and I have no siblings willing to help them. Although they live on fixed income, they have a comfortable nest egg.

My Situation: Age 26, live 500 miles away from my parents, working at my first real job after graduating college. I had to leave home because my parents' area is economically depressed, and I was unable to find work there after trying for a year after graduation.

The Problem:

I have been trying to split my time between my job and my parents, but I am running out of FMLA leave, and the situation seems to be getting worse, not better, especially because my father is older and starting to have his own medical issues. My father demands that I quit my job and move back in with them.

I suggested home care and even had a nursing agency come to our house. Although they were very pleasant, my father refuses to hire any home care aides. He says it's because my mom won't let them take care of her, but she says that's not true. I know the real reason is because he doesn't want to pay $18/hour even for a few hours a day.

I offered that they move in with me where I live and work, so I could keep my job and still help them. My mom is ready to move tomorrow, but my father refuses to go. He has no real reason to stay because he has no job, friends, or family where they live. The way I see it, he is just "comfortable" and doesn't want to leave his comfort zone.

I don't want my mom to go to a nursing home unless it becomes absolutely necessary because it is too depressing and she is too young for that environment (all the residents are usually 75+). I would be willing to have her move in with me without my father, but that has issues too. I'm not sure she can stay home alone, and if something happens to her when I'm not there, I'm concerned I could be criminally liable for elder neglect or something like that. Hiring a home care aide 10+ hours/5 days a week would be outrageously expensive.

I have no idea what to do. I am depressed, feeling guilty, physically ill, and despondent. Even though my parents had me late in their lives, I never expected to have to deal with this situation so young and early in my career. I love my mom a lot, so I can't just abandon her. My father is a control freak and has tried to dictate the course of my entire life, and now he is using my sick mom against me to try to get me to do what he wants.

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Oh my gosh I am so with you on this dilemma... I have very similar but slightly different thing with my VERY proud VERY old school father!

He is 89 and struggling to care 24/7 with my 85 yr old mum. (Her mobility is limited and she suffers with incontinence!)
I live 17 miles from them, am a single mum, and go over there 3 times a week (spend 5/6 hours there on a Saturday)
My dad is really struggling, and whilst I am lucky to live nearer than you do to yours, I have been begging my dad to get help. He has always flatly refused.

I have gradually teased out of him why:
1. All the negative press in the media/horror stories about bad carers (very much the minority, but I guess stories about all the lovely carers would not sell newspapers!!)
- I have said I will follow up references and interview them.
2. He thinks if he admits he needs help that Social Services will 'take her away' - a REALLY common fear amongst elderly carers.
- I assured him that the British Govt have NO interest in this, quite the opposite, they are desperate for folks to stay at home.
3. He does not want a 'stranger' in the house.
- Again, I said we could interview and find one he likes
4. Money - I think he worries it will 'eat up' their savings.. but mum gets a disability allowance that could pay for this, and I have stated that I would rather their money is spent on this than me inherit it.

I have to say, I have ben trying to persuade him for 10 months, to no avail... so I phoned their doctor on the quiet, telling him my concerns for my father's health (he's lost far too much weight), and begging doc to 'tell' dad that he has to get help. (My dad is very 'old school', and ex RAF, so if a Doctor tells him to do something he will!)
Doctor called him on Wednesday this week... then called me to say he got the same resistance I had... but then dad called me yesterday to tell me he is going to get the Social Services folks in to do an assessment and put together care worker package!!!

Can't promise same approach will work with yours... but worth a try.

At 26 you do need to build your career.

Try asking your dad what is he afraid of regards moving closer to you? Try to minimise his concerns.
Maybe ask his priest etc for advice/help (if he is religious, he may listen to them?)
My experience has been that if you don't get them out of the big family home into maybe warden assisted community soon, then it will become impossible as they hit 80s, as the upheaval and shock can be overwhelming.

You need to tell him that whilst you love him and your mum very much, that you need to be where you are to ensure your career. You having no job and no income does not help them, and most certainly does not provide for you when you get to their age.

Sorry there is no magic wand to offer, but you ate not alone!
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Helpful Answer (12)

You are old enough to tell them leaving your good job and future is not an option. It is wonderful you are willing to help but at this time of your life, you would pay dearly and possibly never recover.

I hate sounding harsh but your Father is being very selfish and unfair to both you and your Mother. He is the one on the edge of elder abuse. You are in no way responsible for his decisions. I don't understand why your siblings can't help out....unless Dad has tried to control them and they stay away to protect their own families.

You can go visit for a couple days a month but do not put your job in jeopardy by taking time off from work.

In a perfect world, you and your siblings should sit down and make hard decisions now as to what the future will be for your parents. If parents can participate, great but your Dad doesn't sound like a team player. Do any of you have POA for the parents and MPOA? Are the wills in place?

Having them move closer would only make you more responsible and your Dad more in control of your time. My heart aches for you knowing for whatever reason this seems to have fallen on your shoulders; where it does not in anyway belong! Be strong and please know at your age, you must build the foundation of your career and personal life. Sometimes those opportunities only come around once. Best of luck to you.
Helpful Answer (11)

This insightful observation sums up the situation as I see it:

"My father is a control freak and has tried to dictate the course of my entire life, and now he is using my sick mom against me to try to get me to do what he wants."

That's what I thought even before I read your conclusion.

This is a test of wills - your father's vs. yours, and your mother is in the middle. You need to stand your ground, hold your position, and allow him to recognize that a compromise needs to be made, and he needs to reach that conclusion on his own even though you should be guiding him toward it.

If there were no other options, demanding that you return home might be feasible. But there are other options; your father just doesn't want to explore them. That's part of the control trip.

Keep remembering that because otherwise the guilt will consume you, and that may subconsciously be part of your father's agenda.

Without prying or asking too upsetting a question, has your mother's tumor been staged?

It seems to me you've already made sacrifices, which subconsciously may have encouraged your father to believe he could demand more.

If you leave your first job, you'll have to explain and justify that every time you apply for another one. It could become a real issue for your career. But it also will make you totally dependent on your parents for everything, and then your father wins and has more control over you than he did before. And you're back to the childhood stage of being dependent on him while he manipulates you as much as he wants to.

Take some time to think over the situation, explore options for care in your parents' area even though your father would reject them, and when you feel emotionally up to it, present them with a plan that includes the care your mother needs, with professional care in the home, paid for by him if necessary.

I wouldn't mention more visits because as you noted FMLA only extends so far. And that would give your father an opening through which he could put his foot.

If you stand your ground, he'll eventually realize he can't manipulate you. But he'll continue to try so think about how to plan for whatever he may propose next. I do suspect he'll become angry and accusatory and use a guilt trip to increase your anguish.

Also think about how this will affect your mother, as it sounds as though he manipulates her as well. This is in some ways the harder situation, especially since your mother is willing to make changes but he probably dominates her and challenges those decisions she makes. She to is caughte between the rock and a hard place.

For whatever reason, he apparently doesn't attempt to control your siblings. Is there any possibility they could change their position of not helping, or are they unwilling to deal with his personality as well?

I've been through the challenges of caring for a controller for years; it took a long time before I figured out ways to politely stand up and resist the manipulation. It wasn't easy; in fact it's really an emotional challenge, which includes a large amount of guilt and self-questioning.

I wish you luck; please let us know how you decide to handle the situation.
Helpful Answer (11)

You are 26. Your parents have perfectly good care options that do not require your to be there. Meanwhile there is the telephone, the internet, the carrier pigeon - every modern convenience for keeping in touch with your mother (and I am very sorry for her troubles) and letting her know a) that you care about her and b) about all of the interesting things that are going on in your life, which is what every mother wants to hear.

So. Enjoy your first proper job. I wish you all the best in your chosen career.

And, by the way, NOBODY would even think of asking a 26 year old son to do that, now would they? Eh?
Helpful Answer (11)

You have gotten good advice, surprisingly consistent. Much of it is from posters who have been there, done that. My offering is that of an observer and a long-time reader of this forum.

1) Do not put your own life on hold. Don't give up your job. Don't sacrifice a social life. Do the things you need to do at this stage in your life. You are responsible for your own support, your own future, your own happiness.

2) Recognize that something has to give. You can't charge full steam ahead in building your career, have an active and meaningful social life, and be involved in the lives of sick parents. You can't do it all at peak performance level. Just be careful to balance out things so all the "give" does not come from one area. Maybe the career has to slow a bit, but it shouldn't stop. The same goes for your social life. Of course you have a daughterly interest in your parents' wellbeing, but you should not sacrifice the other aspects of your life to focus on just that.

3) You are not responsible for the decisions your siblings make regarding their participation in your parents' lives.

4) Don't even think of abandoning your mother. Continue to advocate for a good solution for her. Visit. Phone. Offer her love. I don't think anyone is suggesting that you turn your back on her. You both deserve a quality life. Don't sacrifice yours for hers. Contribute to hers in meaningful ways.

5) Do not even think of moving home. That can work out well in some special situations, but you are still struggling with establishing your adult independence. Move make into your childhood home and you will move back into the childhood role. Your father is an expert at pushing your guilt buttons. (He should be. He helped create them.) Just don't do it!

6) Having your parents live with you might be a little less dangerous, but it is far from ideal. And on a practical level, if Dad can't care for Mom by himself in their home, how could he do it yours while you work?

7) Your mother's well-being is your father's responsibility. This isn't the elder years he envisioned for them. It is so impossible to know what the future holds that the traditional wedding vows cover multiple possibilities. The union is to last "in sickness and in health." And if sickness comes, that makes many things worse and it definitely has a huge financial impact. So we promise to remain steadfast for better or for worse and for richer or for poorer. This is your father's responsibility. Shame on him for trying to bully you into thinking it is yours. He doesn't want to spend his money for his wife's care, but expects you to give up your wage-earning potential to provide it? I don't think so!

Would Dad take suggestions better from someone who wasn't "just" his youngest child? If you can get one of his peers to talk to him, that might help.

Don't abandon Mom. Continue to help in reasonable ways. Be very careful to keep it reasonable.
Helpful Answer (11)

My thoughts are that you are too young to give up your life to be your mother's caregiver. You are at an age where you need to be building your own career and family. If you were to leave, you would probably never recover socially or financially. Your suggestion of having them move near you sounds like the best one to me. But I know some people can't be pried out of their houses, even with a shoe horn. The only advice I have is to let them know the options that work for you. Your father is probably just worried and not thinking of the effects that giving up everything and moving home would have on you. I hope you can work things out.

Is the brain tumor operable or shrinkable? Or will it become worse with time?
Helpful Answer (9)

My father tried the same guilt trip. I'm here not because of his guilt trip. But in recent years, he wanted more and more from me. I did what you should not do. I stayed home to help my dad with my mom who was diagnosed with dementia. She was a handful and he needed help. I gave up my dreams of moving off this tiny island and move to the US mainland. I wanted to find a job, and on 3-day weekend holidays, take those air/hotel packages. I had dreams of traveling all over the place, see the different 50 states, Europe, Asia, etc.... I wanted to see all the beautiful and unique architectural structures, take tours on buses and hear the juicy details of the history, etc....

Instead, I stayed home, found a job dealing with airlines, and took advantage of weekend sponsored trips to foreign places. Then mom got bedridden. I paid my family of next door (just a couple of feet from us) to come and change mom's pampers while on my weekend trips - which is about once or twice a year. Twice they didn't come until before I arrived home. Dad told me that I can no longer travel because they were no longer coming and mom was soaking wet in her pampers all day Saturday, all night, and all Sunday - until before I arrived. Then next door came and changed her soaking bedding and mom.

Then, it wasn't enough for dad. I could not go anywhere other than work. I had to come straight home. No eating out with friends/family for lunch or dinner or go to family parties/weddings, etc... The noose was slowly tightening around my throat and I tried to fight it - but... the Guilt was so bad. I cried a lot on those times because he would tell me with such emphasis how I was a Bad Daughter.

Soon, relatives and strangers were telling me that I needed to do more. Me! I have 7 siblings. 3 lives here on island, 4 in the states. I stayed home = and all I did was work and home, work and home. And I had to do More??? I cried when I found out he was telling all these people how I was a bad daughter, lazy, etc... and he had to do all the work.

But, that's not enough. Then he wanted me to go from full-time to part-time job. I refused. He has tried both verbally and physically to beat me down. I refused. I did almost snap, when I thought that the only way out of this prison was to commit suicide. I spent months googling the best way to kill oneself without pain (I just did not want to have pain as my very last thought) but 100% fool-proof. I finally found it. It was too much for me. By this time, I was now taking care of Both BEDRIDDEN parents. And still, none of my 7 siblings stepped up to help me.

Please read my story carefully. My father has always been a controller. He did not come out so obvious in controlling me. It was one small thing after another.

Don't use up your FMLA. One of my nephew used up his to go golfing. Then one day, he got into a serious motorcycle accident. He had no more FMLA. He had to take leave without pay to recover from his injuries.
Helpful Answer (7)

You don't need a complex answer here. The answer is "no" and you know it. It is not possible for you to quit your job to provide medical care for your mother. Period. If your father thinks that is a realistic option, he is simply wrong. You need to keep that in your head because that is the place you start from to find a solution to your parents needs. Your father can help, get out of the way, or be left to his own devices. They are your parents, not your children.
Your mother knows your father even better than you and she will (though it probably doesn't feel like it) be as much a barrier to finding a workable solution as your dad is because their relationship plays such a huge role. BE STRONG. When your father insists, just say NO. Over and over again until he understands that another solution must be found. Don't let him manipulate you with the nursing home stuff.
Helpful Answer (7)

When you raise children, you give them choices, which allows them to begin to assert some independence. The trick is to offer only the choices you are willing to accept. I would suggest you use the same approach with your father. "I will do this, or I will do that." (Through this process you are also establishing your boundary lines.) If he refuses to work within those choices or boundaries, the consequences are on him. Call his bluff. Do not allow him to manipulate you. Do not quit your job.

Author, "What to Do about Mama?"
Helpful Answer (7)

Matie26 I agree with all of the previous answers. Do NOT give up your job and your life at this young age to care for your mom. Your dad needs to be the one making compromises at this point, not you. You've offered very reasonable options and he needs to consider/pick one.

Stick to your guns and don't feel guilty. Your life is just as important as your mom's. Your dad is ignoring that fact. He's acting like a selfish bully.
Helpful Answer (6)

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