4 Replies Latest reply on Sep 22, 2010 8:03 PM by DrG

    Caring for my elderly parents


      My husband and I are caring for my elderly parents (83 and 86 years old.)  They both definately carry the "old folks home" paradigm, so they live with us and depend on us for virtually everything.  I do the personal care for my mother (showers, setting her hair, banking, driving to drs on more than weekly basis, shopping, laundry, etc.)  She is legally blind and he is deaf with a multitude of health problems.  She genuinely has told me that "isn't it great that you don't have to do much for your father and I?"  I am very frustrated because of this and the fact that they have money, but will not pay anyone or reveal their finances so that I could do so.

      It has been two years now.  My husband and I both work.  My mother doesn't get it and doesn't want to hear it when I try to communicate my needs to her.  We had to buy another house (ranch style) so they could get around alright.  We were unable to sell our old victorian, so we are renting it out right now, but taking a loss.  As I see it, my husband and I are giving everything  we can (financially, emotionally, physically etc), but she certainly doesn't share my view.  I feel very stuck and am not sure what to do.  We don't have very good resources available to me in our city.

      Any advice?


        • Re: Caring for my elderly parents

          Yes, but you probably won't like it.

          You can either take back control of your life, or allow your parents to destroy your life, your husband's life, and your future retirement.

          My MIL is a very sweet lady who lives with us. But I make it very clear that she is living in our house, and we make the rules. If she doesn't like it, she can live elsewhere - like your parents, she has sufficient funds. We are always happy to help, we have gotten her legal and financial affairs in order, and if she wants to live elsewhere we would help her find a place that would offer the perfect solution for her.

          She lives in our front bedroom, shares some household expenses, but is responsible for her day-to-day things. We go out together regularly, although not every day.

          But we do not compromise our way of living or our finances for her. We have a friend who works as a personal assistant for hire, and MIL is always reminded by us that this woman is to be her first call for getting to doctor's appts., going to the pharmacy, etc. If the asst. is not available, then one of us will take MIL to her appts/classes, but our friend really needs the money so we are just the back-up. She's very good at taking notes on what the doctor said, etc., so we are always kept apprised of what's going on.

          BTW, the original agreement was that all MIL's affairs had to be in order, with us listed as agents for healthcare and financial power of attorney, before she was allowed to move in. It is extremely dangerous to not have legal rights in dealing with any elderly person living in your home. You never know when an emergency is going to happen and verbal permission (to act as agent) becomes impossible to obtain.

          Good luck to you going forward.

            • Re: Caring for my elderly parents

              I moved my widowed mother down from the Northeast five years ago into a retirement community about 5 miles from our house in Texas. Having not been around my mother for much of my adult life other than Christmas or the like, I had forgotten what a negative individual she is to be around. She literally dislikes just about everyone including my wife & kids, is paranoid about everything & does not hesitate to unburden herself with very nasty & crude language - but only to those who try to help. Otherwise, she is a complete pussycat to others.

              Case in point - she had her taxes done & the company doing them made a big mistake; she promptly calls me & starts yelling that it is my fault. I asked her what the tax guy said, but she would not ask him (he charged her $193) because he would talk down to her. After quieting her down, I easily figured out what the problem was & had it corrected - saved her $7,000 but not even a thank you. I now do her taxes for her free.

              The good news is that there are support groups out there where you can go to discuss your issues of taking care of elderly parents. After hearing so many horror stories of others coping with their parents, I don't  have it so bad. The groups are generally led by a licensed counselor for handling the elderly (they have a fancy title which I forget). I attend periodically when I feel like some needed support or good advice which comes in a matter of fact manner which I find refreshing. It helps as I don't see my mother changing her stripes at this late date. Basically, as one of the earlier folks said, you have to live your life & help as you see fit & not revolve your life around their problems - easy to say & sometimes hard to do when you realize they are your parents.

            • Re: Caring for my elderly parents

              I have dealt with the seniors for over 25 yrs.  Have you thought of getting gaurdianship of your parents.  That allow you to handle the finanical issues, and help her more with her cares.  I think you need to be honest with her, and explain you and your husband are makeing great sacrifices to keep her out of any type of home and she needs to also do her share of helping out with that.  I would also maybe hire someone in to take the burden off you and your husband maybe 3-5 hours a day or week just to give you some R&R .  Caregivers need to take care of themselves.

              • Re: Caring for my elderly parents
                All of the responses to   your query are good.  But the best is to inform them that they have money that they should  use to enter a retirement community and firmly steer them to an attorney to get them to establish a trust agreement.  I took care of my widowed mother  until  she passed at 101.  The last six years she lived in a retirement community for which I paid funds in addition to her SS up to $25k a year.  Hard economically?  You betcha.  But, when she lived with my husband and me it was so stressful that I thought I would "check out" before she did.  You can be nice but you need to be firm and take back your life.