How do you deal with parents' problems that are years in the making, and unsolvable?

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My parents chose to move all the way across the country when I was a very young child. I am an only child. Over the past 40+ years my parents have done everything they can to distance themselves from all family and friends. No hobbies, no church or club organizations...nothing. They avoid neighbors like the plague (and have always been proud of it!). We've lived in this same town for 40 years and they know NO ONE. I had to move my dad into an ALF this year. Now everyday my mom rants about how lonely she is, how there is no one, no family, and not enough support for her and my dad. This and other life decisions from the past are now coming back to bite her. She dumps on me every day. I cannot solve her problems. She is starting to make me feel guilty for doing anything fun or social, spending time with my husband's family, etc. If I'm not at work or doing housework, she lays a guilt trip on me.

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I know she is your mother. But she also sounds like a rather toxic person. Avoid visits more than once a week. Use your caller i.d. and don’t answer the phone if it’s her. When you visit, if she starts to b@%ch, say, “Oh Gosh! Forgot I have an appointment!” and leave.

If she is as independent as you say she is, actually borderline recluse, she shouldn’t need you to do things for her. Respect her as your mother, but not as someone you need to let run your life. I am an only child and my parents were pretty much the same way.
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I agree with Hugemom,, take a break, cut down the calls and visits. If she has been threatening suicide for 2 year...?? Next time tell her you are calling 911 so they can "evaluate" her. MAybe she needs an evaluation.. if not it may stop those threats. She sounds like the type who threaten for attention. And if she makes a token attempt,, off for a psych eval and some real mental health care. And since she can unplug her phone,, so can you!
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Hey Upstream,
Another only child here.
Do NOT accept the guilt. Those were their decisions to make and THEY made them. You had nothing to do with it.
It's not fair (nor advisable) for you to stop your life because she is alone.

However, would she be willing to "join others" at THIS time of her life like adult day care at a senior center? Could your mom qualify to join your dad in the ALF, (or maybe independent living connected to it)?
Would she be willing to join clubs or organizations now? Could she volunteer somewhere?

I understand her plight. Could it have been your dad who was antisocial and she just went along with it? My ex suffered from depression and he wanted to hermit himself in our home. It got worse as he got older and, in the end, we had no friends left. Luckily I got out of that relationship after 30 years and rejoined the world!

Whether she goes to activities or not, it's not your problem, so don't "own" it. All you can do is say you're sorry she's in this situation.
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Thanks for the responses! No, she views visits at my dad's ALF to be torture and she only goes out of guilt. She won't join in anything, she won't visit with the neighbor lady (who is widowed and alone and has pursued my mother's friendship). She unplugs her phone (landline) to avoid calls. She refuses any outside help around the house (although she can afford it). Now she's dropping hints that my husband and I aren't doing enough for her.  A big part of the reason I had to move my dad to the ALF is that she ran off the home health care service that was caring for him.  She told them they were intruders into her home.  She basically refused to take proper care of him.  Now she feels guilty.  On top of everything else she threatens suicide (constantly, for like 2 years now).

My mom is 75 and her own mother lived to be 96. I cannot imagine 20 more years of this crapola.
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Yes, my father never made friends during his adulthood but my mother would socialize with many women friends. Now that my mom is in AL she is doing well but dad is just lost. And I had thought he’d enjoy some alone time but he frets and wants to bring my mom home for good. I think mom is blooming at AL with her new friends and I don’t worry about her now. Her care was more than dad could deal with. She has dementia, a very degenerated hip, trouble walking and can’t do housework. She has CHF, general arthritis, chronic UTIs....
But I see a most definite consequence that is paid at life’s end for being a loner. 

Well that’s where we are now. I’ll stop as these stories can go on for pages!
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DianaHollis, my mom is always saying she wants to bring my dad home in "a month or so" when she gets stronger. Every month she gets worse and there would be no way for her to care for him, she is marginally able to care for herself. Dad is doing pretty good at his ALF as well. ALF's are much better than the old "nursing home" scenario that most of us have envisioned.
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Such a shame. When Mom was at the NH I visited with a lady who had a husband there. She spent the day with him till dinner. When the had activities she joined in and had a good time.
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