Hi, my name is Vic and I don’t know what to do anymore. I feel exhausted, emotionally, physically spent.
I have been caring for my elderly parents in my home for the past 2 years. Mum and Dad both have complex needs and things are deteriorating. To give a bit of background, they retired to Spain around 10 years ago. Myself and my hubby would go once a year on holiday and visit them. Towards the end we could see the deterioration in Dad’s physical health. Mum has mental health issues and relies on Dad a lot. We talked about them coming home and me looking after them. After a few discussions I think Dad thought it would be best to come back to England with mum and for us to be all together in his last years, however long or short.
Myself and my husband were renting at the time, saving for a deposit on a house. Dad offered to help me and gifted some of the deposit we put down on a house that would be suitable for all of us. I was under so much pressure then to find something we would all be happy with but would also cater for their needs as well. Dad has multiple physical health issues, COPD, on oxygen 24/7, catheter, diabetes, immobility. Mum suffers with anxiety, depression and has no will or desire to look after herself, sitting by Dad all day long. Our relationship was strained to say the least before they moved in with us, but now things are at crisis point and I just don’t know what to do for the best.
I found a house which we could afford (we couldn’t afford a bungalow) but we found a townhouse with the middle floor accessing the street, having two separate rooms as well as bathroom and shower. Our bedroom is upstairs and kitchen and living room downstairs with access to the garden. The rooms on mum and dad’s floor are quite small but we managed to arrange it so one of the rooms is their bedroom, the other is a day room, and of course they have access to the bathroom, toilet, shower facilities. We also installed a stair lift for them so that if they wanted to come downstairs and sit and watch tele downstairs they could and access the garden. I also installed one of those Ikea storage units in a large walk-in cupboard in their day room, which has a mini fridge, and microwave in their as well as storage space for cupboard essentials. They also have a tele in their day room as well as their bedroom on the wall, so everything they could want really.
A typical day over the past couple of years was (I work full time), wake up, come downstairs, check in with mum & dad to see if they need anything for the day. They would say they needed medication picking up from the pharmacy, or food etc. I would go downstairs bring them up a couple of microwave meals of their choice for them, head off to work and when I came home would give them any medication and food I had collected for them. Weekends I would cook nice meals, curry, sunday roast, full english breakfast, clean their rooms, sheets, help mum into the shower etc…
This went on until the Pandemic hit us and during the first lockdown I was able to work from home. So for the past 15 months I have mainly been working from home and a typical day would be as it was before however instead of microwave meals, I started to make them proper meals for their lunch. They like to have lunch about 1pm every day and sort themselves out in the evening with a light meal they can do from their day room with the facilities we have set them up in there.
I guess it sounds all great and very organised but slowly the demands and expectations that have been put on me are starting to take its toll. As I was home they expected me to answer the door every time someone knocked even though I may have been working which was either upstairs or downstairs, which meant running up and downstairs to open the door. If I was on a zoom call I couldn’t always do that, and they just thought I was ignoring them and neglecting them. Dad has trouble walking, he has a zimmer frame, but mum can walk and can open the door. She chooses not to because Dad tells her not to. She also has gout in her hands and cannot close the door properly. (There have been times that I have come home to find the front door wide open). So I would be running up or down stairs every time there was a knock on the door as I would hear mum shouting down the stairs, ‘Vic!’ ‘Vic!’ The knocks at the door are more often than not amazon deliveries for mum and dad. Dad orders lots of things from the internet and has multiple accounts with supermarkets so we have deliveries all the time of frozen food he orders for them. Quite often too much that we cannot store in our freezer. He sometimes orders too much of things, so we might end with 10 boxes of the same thing or 20 packets of biscuits.
He has an oxygen machine but also needs two cylinders, one is kept in the bedroom, the other is for the bathroom. He sometimes forgets to switch these back to ‘0’ and then he is panicking because he has no oxygen. This sometimes happens over a weekend and I cannot phone until monday so we don’t get a delivery until the Tuesday. Dad shouts at me again because of this. Again when these are delivered and we never know when they will arrive but I am expected to open the door and remove the old cylinders and plug in the new ones. Mum could do it but Dad tells her not to and demands I do it.
So, I have never got on with my Dad as he is a bully and abused me and mum emotionally all throughout my childhood. This is continuing in my own home. I am nearly 45 now and whilst I have tried to rationalise it, he is elderly and not well etc. it’s taking its toll and triggering a lot of bad memories I thought I had dealt with. Mum does not defend me, or help me in any way. She is just emotionally unavailable and acts like a child that just needs looking after. She is also jealous of everything and anyone, including me and I have found this trait in her particularly toxic. Dad will often criticise and complain about the food that I cook or bring up to them and on occasion has shouted and swore at me, ‘don’t EVER buy that f@c!*** food again!’.
They keep odd hours, up for most of the night, tele blearing, alarms going off. Dad is so obsessed with his oxygen saturation he is constantly sat with an oximeter on his finger. He has also recently bought another one which has a loud alarm so that keeps going off at all times of the night. We have had to get a separate internet connection so that I can work properly during the day as Dad is constantly on the internet and streaming which meant my meetings were forever dropping connection. Even though I asked him to refrain as it was affecting my job and ability to work, he continues, so I had to arrange and pay for another line.
So, things have come to a head over the past few weeks where Dad’s behaviour and attitude is becoming intolerable. He is constantly criticising me and complaining I am not cooking the food they are buying. I am and have been, and cooking a variety in between what they buy to make sure they have proper nutrients. He has had problems going to the loo of late and was convinced that he had a tumour. He wants to eat nothing but fish and eggs and when I tried to tell him that this is probably causing blocking him up and that he needs to eat more roughage he shouts at me. Poor mum has had fish most days and the days I dare to cook anything different for her I get shouted at.
So, last week I heard dad again complaining at 6:30 in the morning to my husband who was getting ready for work and I lost it. i came downstairs and shouted I have had enough. You are making me ill. I have not spoken to them for a week now and stopped cooking their lunch time meal and I have had nothing but drama the past week. We make sure they have a microwave meal available to them every day. I have tried to keep out of their way but I can hear them wailing and crying which is so distressing for me. The last straw was Monday when I was just about to start work from home and I could hear dad shouting down the phone, begging someone for ‘a meal for me and my wife! I beg you!’ I later found out when social services rang me back that he had ‘reported’ me to social adult care!
My mental health is suffering. I feel on the edge of a nervous breakdown. I am hiding from them in my own home. I worry that I am just going to shut down and I need to keep going and working.
I have spoken to Adult Social Care but they cannot help because a) they have savings over 23k each b) they both have mental capacity. I was advised that the ball is in my court. I need to ask them to leave if it is affecting my mental health so much.
I rang the GP yesterday but can’t get in to see/speak to someone until July.
How can i ask them to leave in the state that they are both in? But how do I carry on? They don’t have enough money to buy another house or flat. They are only just over the threshold each money wise but both get pensions.
I have met with someone who provides care in the community that I can arrange visits for them but I fear Dad will refuse them.
I am so sorry for long post. Thank you if you have read this far. Please can anyone help?