Hello all. I need to get his off my chest. I am currently caring for my elderly parents. Mum is 84 and dad is 82. They are of sound mind but their mobility is very very limited. Luckily it’s only been as bad as it is now for the past 7/8 months. I am at my wits end at the moment and am really struggling to cope. I moved last year due to divorce and could not afford to buy anywhere close to them. I now live 23 miles away rather than 3 miles away which caused major tantrums from my mum when she found out where I was moving to. I call them 4/5 times a day to check on them and then they decide if they want me to come over or not. I usually go over 4/5 times a week but the reality is that I am on call 24/7 and they decide on what I will do and when. I really don’t feel as if I have any life at all. As soon as I try and meet up with a friend for a coffee then I have to cancel as my mum will call and says she needs me. I hate to think she does this deliberately but I think she does. My brother does try to help me, but he has cerebral paulsy and is limited in his only mobility. My mum believes it is also my place to look after him. It is my 60th birthday this weekend and my own children had invited me out for a birthday meal. Was so pleased to go out and then my mum had a fall. I know she didn’t do this on purpose and thankfully she is okay. I feel so guilty for being resentful but also so cross that my entire being just revolves around what they want/need me to do. I don’t have any say at all. I do claim carers allowance for my mum as I gave up my carear to care for them. All I hear from my mum is “you get paid to look after me” Money is very tight. I don’t feel that I get any kind of gratitude from them. Its always, there wasn’t a long enough date on that bread, or you made lots of mistakes with the shopping. I feel so very low.
Lots of familiar bells ringing in your post. Many of us here are in, or have been in, similar scenarios.
Was your Mum strict when you were a child? Mine was. Were you brought up to be a good girl and do as you were told?
Your Mum is still in that mind set and, although you 60 now, So, to a certain extent, are you. You recognise that you should have a life of your own and that your parents are ‘putting on you’ too much but you can’t break that ‘dutiful daughter’ bondage. Today’s generation of 30/40 year olds have a very different mind set. I’m pretty positive that when the time comes, my children will be happy to ‘manage’ any care I need but give up their life style? No way. Nor would I expect them to, having been through it myself.
To get Carer’s allowance, pittance that it is, you have to ‘care’ for 35 hours a week. That includes shopping, taking to appointments, housework, gardening, trips out and I believe (but check on this), travelling too. ANYTHING you do that your parents couldn’t do, or would struggle to do for themselves. So add up time spent and see where you get.
You do not have to do anything at all. There’s no law that says any adult has to care for another, no matter what the relationship. Doing nothing means doing without CA but perhaps a part time job?
So, how to manage their care? Many people on here have said that counselling has helped them to shuck off that ‘dutiful child’ and become much firmer (but not unkind). How do they feel about Carers? Probably the ‘no strangers in my house, you can do it all’ attitude which we have heard so many times.
That isn’t a choice they should be allowed to make. You have to be ‘in charge’ now. First of all work out what hours or days you are prepared to give them in order to claim that CA. Tell them what that is and then arrange for them to have a Needs Assessment, (or updated one if they have actually done that).
Their choice is you at set times and carers on other days or you at set times and no-one.
There are links on here to help. Then put your phone on answer service and reduce those daily calls to one a day. If there’s a genuine emergency then you can listen to the message and act accordingly but you have to stop jumping when your strings are pulled.
Loads more information, hints tips and shared experiences will no doubt come your way from our members. Mum and Dad, and you, have to learn that you have your own life to live, which is just as important.
My Mum lived to be 100. Your parents may have quite a lot of years to go yet.
Thank you for your kind words Elaine. I do recognise that I need to have a life of my own but it’s darn near impossible. Yes, my mum was very strict and a very dominent woman. She cared for my nan her mum, and reminds me of this daily. The difference here however is that my nan had died when my mum was 50 and so she did get to live a little after my nan passed. I feel so terribly guilty moaning but I am also at breaking point. We have spoken about carers and the answer from them is a definate NO. We are not having strangers in here. I have also mentioned supported living or a care home and that was also NO. I don’t know how to keep going as I am. I would really like to sell up and disapear and then the guilt sets in for even thinking that. It’s a horrendous situation.
you can’t carry on as you are. You are exhausted. However, only you can decide whether to stand up to your parents or carry on as you are. Elaine has offered you some excellent advice.
We are here to support you, if/when you feel ready to either reduce the level of support you give or to stop caring and returning to being just a daughter who visits occasionally.
Wake up. You are being bullied and abused and just because it’s your parents doing it, doesn’t mean it’s right or acceptable. Start using the word they seem so fond of. ‘NO’.
There’s absolutely no need to feel guilty. That’s a reaction which you have been trained to feel. You would be quite happy to make sure they are cared for. To manage and oversee their well being, from a step away. You don’t want to abandon them but you being at the end of a piece of elastic they can jerk whenever they feel like it is NOT an option. Would you do that to your children?
If Mum shouts and screams, it’s just noise. Walk away if in her presence. Hang up if on the phone. Take back control. There will be shouting and accusations, followed by tears and ‘poor little me’. All noise. All designed to make you do what Mum thinks is her due from a daughter. NOT TRUE. No-one has the right to ruin someone else’s life for their own personal comfort.
Is Dad as ‘bad’ as Mum? What does he think if got on his own and asked?
My mum was a canny and stubborn woman but she probably knew that yelling and demanding to me would have pressed too many buttons and I would have given as good as I got, if not more. I don’t like confrontation and will go out of my way to be pleasant but even I have my limits. My Mum went the other way. Sweetness and light. Accepting of all help offered. Very grateful for the time I gave her. All of which made everyone, including me, want to go the extra mile to keep her well and happy. It was still exhausting and still stole years of my life. I came out the other end 10 years older and surprised to find I wasn’t 58 any more. Even so I had it easy compared to many.
It is NOT impossible for you to rescue your life. Hard going and traumatic, probably. Worth it? Yes!
You might find that standing up to them and drawing lines of what is and isn’t going to happen will actually make them accept your ruling more easily than you thought. What’s their alternative? No helpful daughter and all on their own with no help?
Start by cutting down those calls to them, and not answering ALL of their calls. If you get an earful say ‘I won’t listen to this’ and hang up. Sticks and stones as the saying goes.
There’s so much experience, information and support on this forum but only you can make the decision to change what’s happening now. Will you be the worm that turned or the one chopped into little pieces?
Brace yourself gal and take control.