Exasperated Newbie


I guess this is a bit of an offload and having read posts here as a non-member I appreciate much of it will be familiar to you.

I am 51, an only child with an 88 year old Mother and a 90 year old Father. They live in sheltered accommodation opposite my place of work. Dad has aphasia from a stroke many years ago and is really frail.

Over the past year my Dad has been really unwell with a LOT of paramedic visits and hospital visits and 2 operations. Mum has been in hospital once and we are now dealing with some memory loss and waiting for the memory clinic. She resents my Dad for any attention he gets, most of her time is spent criticising him and comparing herself to him to score points. It is absolutely draining and miserable.

Work have been really good about my flaky attendance whilst dealing with this I work full time in public services as a manager and it is a really pressurised role. I don’t drive and my commute is 3hrs round trip a day. None of this is pleasant.

My Mum has decided that she doesn’t want to be responsible in any way anymore. She describes herself as my Dad’s carer when actually she means she is a wife in the very traditional way that women dealt with the home.

I have tried over the past months to support them but they are so inflexible about what is acceptable it is ridiculous.

She is “sick and tired of thinking what to get for dinner”. Wiltshire farms etc were ruled out because they don’t want it. Food must be bought at Waitrose.

Me doing a big weekly online shop for them is inconvenient because that’s not how she thinks about shopping and the flat is too small for large quantities to be stored.

Then I would call daily, take a list and get it first thing before work. Apparently this ‘puts pressure on her to think about it’. I made a map of Waitrose and what they usually like to buy added to help as a prompt. Never uses it. I have been tripping in an out 3 times a week before work with upwards of 3 bags of shopping, which she says makes her feel bad (not sure it really does). So that is unacceptable.

Now she wants to go to the shop and pick out food and have it sent home. As soon as the novelty wears off I know she will be crying and saying she can’t cope with it and we are back at square 1.

What she ultimately wants is for me to take her to the shop, at a time that suits her during the day and get the shopping. And this will be done over the week, whenever she wants to get some things. Obviously, I can’t be in 2 places at once and I can’t do that. She absolutely resists any option that would make life easier for me, or that fits around work. There is NO middle ground.

I have suggested we could pay for someone to go shopping for them or with her. Doesn’t want it. I have suggested maybe getting some help in the flat with some of the chores to take pressure of her. Doesn’t want anyone coming in their home and ‘it is never going to happen’. I told her all this just throws it at my door, and deep down I think that is precisely what she wants.

All she wants to do is moan at me, make me feel awful and find fault. The help I give isn’t good enough, there is never enough of it. And most upsetting is there no thought for me trying to juggle this around everything else.

She is very controlling and uses her temper and mood swings to dominate. This is only getting worse as she ages and whilst I truly understand how hard this is for both of them, I feel like I am just a dog to be summoned. She never involves the warden at the property in any medical emergency, even though we pay for it, because “ I don’t want her in here looking at how we cope”. Instead the calls come to me.

She now says she can’t use the phone so I have to deal with post, with calls and appointments. She just wants to sit in a chair and direct operations, preferably at me.

I can’t make up my mind how much of this behaviour is genuine and how much is manipulation. All I know is it makes me dislike my own mother, which is a horrible way to feel.

Welcome to the forum.
We get the treatment we are prepared to put up with, this is only going to change when YOU make a stand.
You have to make yourself less available or you are going to collapse from exhaustion, especially with such a long commute on top of everything else.
It’s time to explain that your work MUST come first, that has to be what I can non negotiable.
Then focus only on what they NEED not what they want. What they really want is for you to give up work so you can run round them 24/7!
Either they accept outside help or they move into residential care.
Your role has to become that of care manager, rather than hands on provider.

I had counselling to help me in a similar position with mum. It was absolutely life changing. I would suggest that you asked your GP to recommend a private counsellor who can support you through the next few years, now and then as required.

Hello and welcome to the forums. Have you had a care needs assessment done or not? Tell her that the alternative is a good care home and observe her reaction to that. This is a useful resource on what is available across all areas of Britain in terms of social care services worth reading, Social care and support guide - NHS

When was the last time you had me time? Do you remember your last ever pleasurable vacation? If the answer to both questions are no, you know what you need to do now to ensure your sanity. Is she on benefits?

This is a online directory of care homes in Britain https://www.carehome.co.uk. There is a ton of good information on here including reviews and lists of questions to ask as well. You cannot carry on like this that much is clear. This is not healthy.

Good morning Angela your mum sounds like my dad it’s really stressful trying to please them but then you realise that nothing you do is good enough anyway they just drain the life out of you have a chat to the warden see if she can help with the shopping and limit your visits you are going to make yourself ill trying to juggle a job and the travelling and visiting your parents every day it’s only going to get worse

It sounds to me that you can’t and shouldn’t be expected to do all that shopping. The shopping requests may be as a result of your mother’s memory issues. Perhaps now is the time to start researching care homes for your parents where they can taken care of without out you doing everything.

I agree with what other posters have recommended. How many times a week do you go shopping for her? Can she come with you? Time to look at care homes or see about hiring a carer to do shopping with her from now on. This is what is called the learned helplessness effect, it is common among those with LD, funnily enough people who only have physical impairments including myself do not seem to have this issue.

Hello Angela. I agree with all the previous posts - please put yourself first.
It’s really important that you keep your job, for lots of reasons.
I wonder if your mum would try ‘Dial a Ride’. This would give your mum some independence and would make life easier for you. If your mum is able to walk round Waitrose by herself with a trolley then ‘Dial a Ride’ might suit her. If she is interested she/you needs to go online to join ‘Dial a Ride’ and then you book your slot over the phone on the previous day. It is free and is available for people who cannot travel by standard buses. The ‘Dial a Ride’ bus will collect her from home and take her to the shop of her choice and take her home. The bus is specially adapted to make it easily accessible for elderly/disabled people.

I wasn’t my Mum’s carer, just an occasional substitute. However, she played games with us over the shopping. The thing is, she just wanted attention and the shopping was only an excuse. If someone did meet her requirements for shopping, the demands transferred to something else. Now, she didn’t have any memory loss so I do accept your situation is different. But the essential thing here is your own wellbeing. Therefore I agree with others that the question is what both your parents need, not want, and how much of that you decide to provide yourself and how much comes from elsewhere. There will be a backlash from your Mother - but it sounds as if you are getting some of that already? You say being pushed to dislike your Mother is “a horrible way to feel” but you are not being a horrible person, you are just in an impossible situation and you deserve to feel good about how much you have achieved for them already.

Can she travel on public transport or not? If not, Dial a Ride is a suitable alternative for people unable to use buses. Or what about UBER access? In my area, there is a Transport from Home scheme for those with disabilities. See if there is anything suitable/similar in your area for her. Good luck!

Hello Angela,

Your story sounds so much like mine. It’s really interesting how you say your Mother does not want the warden in ‘looking at how we cope’. They are not coping and are desperately trying to avoid being ‘carted off’, which is what my Dad says to me constantly. My parents would never get support in and only got it in the end for my Mom because I called in safeguarding.

My Mom is 86, my Dad 80 and they are both firmly of the British stiff upper lip camp. My Mom, due to worsening Parkinson’s and a subsequent dementia diagnosis, was indeed ‘carted off’ and has lived in nursing care for 3 years now and probably for want of earlier support at home. My Dad has been alone at home since and slowly deteriorated and refuses to get help in, even now after hospital admission and entitlement to 6 weeks of reablement care at home, has messed them about so much they discharged him after 2 weeks.

We, as a family have felt forced to withdraw care support for him. We have been able to do less and less anyway as his needs become more complex and his behaviour worse.

It is a most difficult decision to make, to say that you can no longer provide care support for your parent, and I understand exactly when you say you do not like your Mother. I love my Dad, but I really don’t like him, he seems to be a person I no longer recognise.

One thing I’d say is, if you suspect dementia for your Mom, my Mom also one day said she could no longer manage things and just handed the lot to my Dad. It is possible that was a sign of her dementia, although I probably would not have recognised it as such at the time.

I recently gave my Dad a list of priorities, he is overwhelmed and it might have helped him with some clarity, he could have amended or added as he saw fit, he said thanks, he will keep it to hand. He told my daughter this afternoon that he does not know what to do as everyone has turned their backs.

Sometimes there is nothing you can do to help or even support at a distance. You go insane trying and that is part of the reason we have said no more.

Your job is vitally important - don’t give it up.

I know how difficult it is to see clearly when being manipulated by difficult parents, even understanding that underneath they are probably afraid, you are still entitled to put yourself first.