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Exhausted by elderly parents

(127 Posts)
LovelyBath77 Mon 11-Jun-18 07:59:32

They live apart as divorced but still in touch so I get all that as well. But now they seem to be leaning on me a lot more, but not in a good way.

For example my dad texts me about how he still loves 'your mother' as he always puts it, and sends me letters about how it is easier for me to go visit him as it is 'just 60 steps down the stairs for you and thousands of miles in the car" ! (it is the other end of the UK...)

They don't seem to think that I have my own family and young children, or that my husband has been ill etc, it is all about them. They are not that old either but they think they are, and are going on about it. They are pretty independent really (early 70s)

My mum has had depression in the past and was pretty difficult growing up (blamed for stuff, never ' good enough', had odd ideas and made up stuff about me) - and that is continuing also so have had therapy and gone NC in recent years. I have been advised 'you are not responsible for her illness' but SIL has mentioned she feels I need to step up more and be more responsible.

I'm feeling really trapped. AIBU?

LovelyBath77 Mon 11-Jun-18 08:00:02

And does anyone else feel the same and having advice?

Deehit Mon 11-Jun-18 08:02:41

They raised you and you depended on them when you was little. I agree step up and care for your mum and Dad. You will regret it when they are no longer here and your children will do the same for you one day x

Sparkletastic Mon 11-Jun-18 08:04:44

I think it's about being clear how often you are prepared to see them and sticking to it. The failure of their marriage and any subsequent loneliness is not your responsibility. There also is no 'debt' to repay in a healthy parent / child relationship so reject any suggestions that use this argument.

user1487671808 Mon 11-Jun-18 08:13:35

Is this your DH’s sister or your DB’s? If it’s your DB’s then what’s he doing to support them?

Elderly parents are draining and if your relationship with them is not great then it will always feel like a duty and not something you want to do. If they are only in their early seventies they could have a long time yet and their needs could get much more demanding (speaks from experiencesad).

While they’re still healthy and independent keep in touch and make sure they know the ups and downs of your life too. Support is a two way street and it’s not all about them yet.

Prawnofthepatriarchy Mon 11-Jun-18 08:14:18

People have to take responsibility for themselves. Your DF's regrets and current loneliness are none of your doing.

When my DCs were small and both of us were working, my DPs saw it as their role to support us, not the other way around. Good grandparents support young families.

Oliversmumsarmy Mon 11-Jun-18 08:15:31

Deehit the op didn't ask to be born, it was the parents choice.

Nor is the mothers depression. Sounds like by going nc the op has taken herself out of the equation and probably the reason the SIL is asking for her to step up is because the dm has transferred her issues on to her or her dh, the brother.

I am just projecting about what might be going on.
As for children looking after parents. If they do great, if they don't then that is fine.
I wouldn't be counting on it.

Nor would I expect it if I had been not great with a child when they were growing up.

I won't be looking after my own mother. I went nc with her 40 years ago and it was the best decision I have ever made.

annandale Mon 11-Jun-18 08:19:01

How about if they move near you? In their early 70s they're plenty young enough to make new friends and it's much easier to visit for a cuppa than a weekend.

When did your grandparents die? If they were dead near this age then he probably hears time's winged chariot approaching even if he's really healthy.

Could you share a holiday? 2 caravans on the same site or something?

rockcakesrock Mon 11-Jun-18 08:19:41

My advice would be to,take your self over to,the “caring of elderly parents thread”. There you will see just how many people will sympathise with you. Please put yourself and your own family first. Do not feel guilty about not being there for your parents.

I speak from personal experience, being at the beck and call of mother and step-father my whole life. The stress of their never ending demands made me ill. Whenever the phone rang I felt sick. They did not live far and I bought my life on hold for them for 10years. I ask myself why, because they did nothing for me and were never grateful. When they died 2years ago it was such a relief.

Lottapianos Mon 11-Jun-18 08:20:24

'People have to take responsibility for themselves. Your DF's regrets and current loneliness are none of your doing.'


You clearly had very good reasons for going NC with your mother. It's not for your SIL to tell you what you 'should' be doing. You're an adult, not a naughty child, and you get to make your own decisions now.

My MIL is the same age as your parents and in poor health. She takes no responsibility for herself and it's extremely wearing. You have my sympathy

BrownTurkey Mon 11-Jun-18 08:24:18

I think it would be wise to decide now what you CAN do, and are willing to do (eg set visits, money, hospital appointments or visits, diy, emergency scenarios etc) and then anything that falls outside that, be sympathetic and help him problem solve but don’t step in. He is obviously feeling lonely or more vulnerable. Can you help him get in touch with other groups or people locally. If you are NC with your Mum, then I guess you should be NC and not respond. If you are low contact then that is different.

Fluffycloudland77 Mon 11-Jun-18 08:29:17

I wouldn’t care for someone I’d gone nc with.

Mrsmadevans Mon 11-Jun-18 08:32:25

It is very stressful OP , l have this atm. Mum 86. Dad 88 , both breaking now after very full happy lives. It feels overwhelming on times and really unfair, try and enlist as much help from everywhere , Age Concern are a great one to start with. l am wondering if your Dp need to move closer to you for you to be able to care for them more easily . flowers galore my dear . It is so hard.

JennieLee Mon 11-Jun-18 08:38:27

I don't think that early 70s is elderly. If your father still cares about your mother, perhaps he can support her with her difficulties. Similarly if your sister-in-law and brother are concerned about your mother's wellbeing, I'd suggest they get more involved.

There are a great many opportunities for retired people to socialise. Many people do voluntary work, are involved with church and/or political activities, the U3A etc. Volunteer bureaux, Age Concern, local libraries are full of information about these activities.

I think a kind of cheerful stonewalling. 'Thanks for letting me know. I'm very busy right now. I hope my mother's situation improves soon' would be best.

LovelyBath77 Mon 11-Jun-18 08:39:16

I wish in a way they had either moved on and stayed apart or got together again so then they would at least support one another. This limbo is draining. and has been going on for years.

With the first comment, that they raised me and I depended on them in early years, it is nice and simple to assume that isn't it and I suppose that is the way on most healthy families.

That is nit the case in some though mine was spent supporting my mum while my dad had an affair etc and turned to me for support also. So, I left for uni at 17 and never went back.

We are all different before judging others in that way. Yes it is my brother's wife who told me that, she also feels my brother is 'a responsible person' when I mentioned we aren't responsible for them, which made me feel, well, irresponsible!

LovelyBath77 Mon 11-Jun-18 08:39:44

And thank you, some good ideas here.

Bluetrews25 Mon 11-Jun-18 08:40:43

So, they are early seventies, and not in poor health.
They are at the other end of the UK?
Where is SIL geographically?
Perhaps she wants you to do more so she won't have to?
Do they actually NEED any care? If OP is so far away, then proper carers need to be brought in via GP/social services. OP is not obligated to step up, as she has her own commitments. Not everyone has had a good relationship with parents, and sometimes parents reap what they sow.
Moral - be nice to your kids as they will be choosing your nursing home!
OP, don't let SIL or anyone else bully you into doing more than you are happy and able to do.

SuperSuperSuper Mon 11-Jun-18 08:45:00

They need to be building support networks not relying solely on you and your brother.

It's inappropriate and weird to discuss relationship problems with your kids - that's what mates are for!

Your brother and Sil can choose how they react to all this, as can you.

LovelyBath77 Mon 11-Jun-18 08:46:02

Yep they are in Scotland and I am 'down south'.

The idea of them moving here- well my dad did that a few years ago, it was a nightmare, he got himself a sheltered flat and turned up just with his toothbrush and expected me to sort everything out. He was around 55 at the time! No idea how he managed that, there are more elderly needing it surely.

They both seem to see me as an extension of themselves, put their interests on to me and never ask about my husband. Which is quite strange. And the idea of the caravans is really weird, sorry!

LovelyBath77 Mon 11-Jun-18 08:48:20

It definitely makes me think about how to be with my children growing older -

No oversharing relationship problems and treating as a counsellor
Remembering they are their own people with own lives and interests
Remembering they have busy lives and need support also, not just you!
Trying to have your own life / interests and support.

I see in with my in laws, they do all those things and it really makes you realise. the difference.

LovelyBath77 Mon 11-Jun-18 08:53:43

SIL is up there with them, moved from South England with my brother. But she doesn't support them, though, really just asks her (mum) for support sometimes with the children. She seemed a bit funny mum didn't step up to help her with her children which I found a bit odd. Her mum (SIL's) also moved up there and supports her. So, they are quite close and think it is quite a different kind of relationship really.

ReanimatedSGB Mon 11-Jun-18 09:09:33

It's OK to want to keep your parents at a distance if they have always been difficult. Some parents are just tiresome, some are really awful human beings.
Your SIL has no right to tell you what to do: just smile and give her vague answers that mean nothing much.

Tambien Mon 11-Jun-18 09:20:51

I personally would do anything to support my parents in old age (similar age than your parents) BUT and it’s a really really big BUT, I get on well with them, I had a great childhood and we still get on extremely well.

The relationhsip betwen yu u as your parents seem to be deep in FOG, Fear, Obligation, Guilt, not helped by your SIL who seems to think that you should be helping your parents regardless (I’m going to assume that she never had the issues you've had with your parents...).
As my own dad once told me (talking about his own dad),
‘You can’t expect your children to come and support you, have a relationship with yu, of you have spent your whole life not making any effort and taking for granted or destroying said relationship’.
And I think that’s exactly that.
The ‘obligation’ of supporting your parents only stands if they also respected their obligation of respecting and caring for you, both as a child and as an adult.

I really think you need much clearer boundaries in what you are or are not happy to do.
If you dint want your dad to use you to contact your mum etc..
Says so. Be clear and refuse to be that link. Etc....

Zaphodsotherhead Mon 11-Jun-18 09:21:58

Different people have different relationships with their parents. I know that sounds glib, but some daughters are round at their mum's all the time, grandparents constantly taking the grandchildren out and away for weekends, and some daughters move away as soon as they can and don't have much contact.

Every situation is different, so it's hard to advise because we all think what we would do in your situation, but our relationships with our parents may well be so different that they are different species! But I don't think ANY parent has any 'rights' to their children once they are adult, and there definitely shouldn't be any 'leaning'. If adult children want to take on that caring role then fine, but many don't and can't.

I'd probably go for the positive stonewall, listen, advise but don't take on any visiting you are unhappy to do. Driving the length of the country to visit two perfectly capable people, when you have a family of your own is just bonkers. Just because they put on a 'sad voice' and don't have friends...

pigmcpigface Mon 11-Jun-18 09:23:10

I think you need to disentangle things here so that you are clear on where your responsibilities begin and end. You are not responsible for the entire emotional wellbeing of these people. You are not their counsellor. You need to set some boundaries so that they no longer lean on you so heavily on those areas - saying "Dad, I think you need to talk to a professional therapist about this, because I'm too involved to comment", and then changing the subject, for instance.

Set out what you can/cannot do with them, and stick to it!

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