I’ve seen quite a few posts on here started by people who feel they’ve been forced or are being forced into a caring situation with a narcissistic parent. My situation is similar. My mother lives a 5 mins walk from me. People think that makes things easier but it doesn’t. It means every day I have to explain to her what I’m doing and when I’m coming round, if I can pop to the shops to pick up anything she needs etc.
Ok, I don’t have to do all that stuff, I could refuse, but here’s the difficulty for me. My elderly dog lives with her. He’s the sweetest, most intelligent little dog and he deserves the rest of his life to run smoothly.
My mother is probably an alchoholic. She drinks at least one bottle of wine every night, she says to help her sleep. She doesn’t drink during the day, only after ten at night and she thinks that means she’s not got an alcohol problem.
Gradually she is doing less and less. She wakes up around mid day, sits and does crosswords until about 4pm. Then she’ll have ‘breakfast’ and take the dog out for a very short, 5 minute walk. Of course all that is unacceptable to me, especially as the dog has been ill. So, I’m self employed, so I’m going around there around 2pm, spending most of the day with her (taking the dog out for a reasonable walk) and finishing work in the evenings. On the days that I have to be out of town, the dog seems different the next day. Nothing major, just a bit put out that I’ve not been there (bored no doubt from just sitting with mum while she’s doing crosswords all day).
The dog recently had cancer and treatment, and mum actually overdosed him with antibiotics. It’s the first sign that she’s not fully with it. She’s always coped with any medicenes before but that’s because she puts them in his dinner. As he wasn’t eating, she was getting all confused and just assuming he could have the medicene all in one go late at night when he finally eats (and eats a second meal as well with more medicene in!). Luckily I managed to sort this situation out and the overdose wasn’t dangerous (I checked with a vet), but it’s been constant monitoring.
I’m finding things so frustrating because this has always been my mother’s personality, it’s not necessarily dementia beginning. She’s always been the same, always done the bare minimum, always waited for others to set the structure, to do the thinking, make the tea, etc. Even on days out when we were all younger, my mum would just walk behind me, following me, rather than beside me chatting and thinking for herself about where we were going.
She’s always been a very frustrating person to be around. When my dad was alive she was very abusive to him. He was a strong man but in the face of her screaming and verbal abuse, night after night, he just used to shut down and sit there, completely defeated, in the chair. Eventually he’d go up to bed and she’d shout up the stairs at him for hours, before finally shutting up, sitting there and biting her nails all night and climbing into bed around 5 am. My dad, no surprise died of a sudden heart attack in his sixties.
I’m exhausted. But I can’t stay away because of that lovely angel of a dog. I love this dog with all my heart and soul. If he wasn’t around I would still visit mum, still support her, but not everyday, she would have to find other things to do, or sit and do nothing. That said I want my dog to live forever and am looking into further cancer treatment to extend his life, which will cost a lot of money. Some might say that I should just have the dog come to my house but it’s not that easy, I’m in a flat and he’s old. He loves me but not my flat, lol. In a way he’s the same as mum, wants me there all the time, but the difference is, if it were just him, it would be a pleasure. If she went away with a friend or relative (she never would), I’d find it easy to be with the dog there, and would be able to work there. I just can’t with her there.
I’ve rambled enough. I think what I want to know is how to break this pattern but without the dog suffering. If I stay away even for one day, she is moaning and irritable the next day and while she would never hurt the dog, she might snap at him. It’s only a slight change in tone of voice but the dog knows. If I visit her everyday I feel I can keep her mood up enough that she won’t be irritable around the dog. She does love the dog, and she wouldn’t hit him or anything but she doesn’t seem to get that verbal stuff is equally unacceptable.
If the dog were younger I’d make use of the doggie day care that is available now, and also get him used to my own home and not allow mum to insist on having him with her every night. But he’s too old for changes like that. So instead I worry. If I could just get some support for her that would help. I’ve suggested that my cleaner (I’ve had a very bad back so had to get a cleaner for a short while) goes to her on alternate weeks, so that she has someone other than me visiting. But no. All I need is for other people to be visiting her, or for her to join a coffee morning once a week, or anything but require me all the time.
Thanks for listening and for any ideas that anyone might have.