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Anyone else with long-distance elderly parents - just need to offload.

(9 Posts)
miserabledaughter Mon 10-Dec-12 09:57:28

This is not going to be one of those thread that gets zillions of posts, I know- it's not controversial enough! But I could do with a bit of empathy.

Back story is that I have lived away from my parents for 30 years since leaving uni. Over the last few years they have both become reluctant to travel to me either by train or given a lift by my brother who lives very near to them. This is partly due to my dad who is anti-social and won't accompany my mum who has lost a bit of confidence after she had a spell of ill health. She won't leave him in case he has " an accident" due to absent mindeness atc. This means all the onus is on me to make the 4+ hr trip.

DH and I have just been for a weekend and I found it very difficult. My parents have an odd marriage- mum wanted a divorce in her 70s but decided she couldn't bear to lose their home, so she's stuck it out. She was and is unhappy with my dad who has " baggage" I'd say- he is increasingly reclusive ( always was a loner) and won't join her when they have any invites etc. He's also very chauvinistic and in some ways bullies her by keeping a rein on their spending and not allowing her to make any decisions about the house or spending on its upkeep if he doesn't agree.

They don't eat together- each cooks their own meal each evening- and my dad spends almost the whole day in the shed or the garden.

When DH and I visit we cook our own meals so everyone eats at a different time.

I just found the whole weekend so sad and frustrating. Lots of things in the house don't work properly and when I huffed and puffed a bit, my mum got annoyed - because she can't do anything because my dad controls the money. She can't buy anything with out his permission!

Their house is tiny so you can barely fart without people noticing.

I suppose what I am saying is that because they get on so badly, it's not a pleasant visit. My mum constantly has " digs" at my dad, contradicting whatever he says, tu-tutting at his comments, which is her way of getting back at him for his controlling behaviour. It's all very stressful. But at the same time I know that are they are mid-late 80s it's not going to be like this much longer.


CogitOCrapNotMoreSprouts Mon 10-Dec-12 10:38:00

Aside from cooking our own meals, you could easily be describing a trip to see my parents... confused. Two people stuck in a miserable marriage made worse by the challenges of old age living in an atmosphere you could cut with a spoon. Worse, we're booked in for Christmas so I'll be packing the hip-flask and emergency cyanide capsules!!! 'Sad and frustrating' is exactly how I feel during/after a visit as well. The only way I've found to deal with it is to stamp on the more excessive examples of grumpy behaviour and, the rest of the time, leave them to it.

alicetrefusis Mon 10-Dec-12 10:40:44

Hi there

I empathise! I am closer than you are to mine, but all the caring falls on me, and it's exhausting as I have a full time professional job and a long commute as well.

Dad is now in a care home, going bananas with dementia, Mother is losing confidence, has limited mobility and fixating on all the wrong things. I now look after his financial affairs, which has not been easy. We were not a close family to start with to say the least, and this situation is just awful. I really try my hardest to be a good daughter, make things as smooth as possible for my mother, but it's not easy, and often very frustrating. It has brought a lot of unresolved issues to a head with me and to be honest I am not coping too well with it all myself.

My father also witheld money from my mother - the situation sounds very similar actually.

What has shocked me is how rapidly things went down hill. They went from managing OK with help in the house to not managing at all in a matter of months -then the parent-child relationship is immediately reversed.

I know you didn't ask for advice, but here's some anyway. I strongly suggest you investigate getting power of attorney in place. You can get one for finances and one for their care when the time comes. Have a look at what care homes/ sheltered housing options are available local to them, and local to you. Easier doing it now than when it gets to crisis point. How is their health? Investigate the various options there are for care allowances - they may both qualify, and the money is fairly generous - it enabled my parents to pay for people to clean and do the garden, as well as taxi fares etc. The Age UK website is a mine of useful information.

Lastly, on no account entertain the idea of having either of them come and live with you. That is the route to disaster.

Good luck. It's tough. x

alicetrefusis Mon 10-Dec-12 10:43:35

Meant to insert a smile after the bit about not asking for advice - reads a bit strongly without - sorry!

ArseyKwa Mon 10-Dec-12 10:47:55

My parents live a 5-6 hour drive away, and are early 80s. Theirs isn't a miserable marriage, and they are ok, but I worry such a lot as my mum's memory is shot (short and long-term - even asked me if I had a middle name recently :-( ), and my dad has had a couple of mini-strokes (unknown to us or him at the time) and his reasoning is not what it was. My brother lives round the corner with his grown-up family and seems to have no notion that our parents need help with stuff, like house maintenance. So we visit and sort stuff, and feel sad that we can't pop round. They visit us a few times a year, which is great, and I love them coming, but it's a long drive - how much longer will they manage this? Public transport won't really work from where they live/we live and mum can't really manage (toileting issues!).

So not the same, but I can sympathise. It's a hard time of life - want to help, can't help. My dad is still very active with a couple of organisations, and 3 siblings where they live, so can't move them down to us, but I'd love to, or have them move to a supported situation - Dad fell for one of those roofing scams a couple of years back, handed over £500 cheque for work that didn't need doing - he managed to stop the cheque after a long worrying talk with me, and some roleplay of how to cope with similar hard-sells. But I still worry about this. And I worry about mum being home alone, as she gets so muddled. And still my brother seems oblivious - until she goes into hospital for something, then he shows concern/visits - I'm beginning to hate him for how he is (can't tell him anything or he goes off on one).

miserabledaughter Mon 10-Dec-12 10:51:19

Thank you.

Considering their ages, almost 86 and 87- they do very well. All my contemporaries have lost a parent or both by now. They manage without any help apart from some occasional help with their massive garden- either paid for or by my brother who has no partner and no children and lives 2 miles away.

I feel a lot of guilt. I have been tied with my own kids who just left home a couple of years back, and I do work 4 days a week so can't just go at the drop of a hat.

I've been a good daughter as much as I can, but I don't think my mum has ever really " got over" my moving so far away. I know she has missed out on the things mums and daughters would like to do- shopping etc etc- she's quite a " girly" person into clothes and make up still- and i feel she has had a sad life. All her own family- parents and only brother - were dead by the time she was 50, so we the family have been her focus.

I do what I can- I order things they need over the web etc- but I still feel guilty.

DowntonSprouts Mon 10-Dec-12 10:56:05

My mum and dad divorced after 40 years of marriage after dad retired.

He had 15 good years of being able to follow his own interests and could finally have a bit of a life. They had been miserable for years.

Mum met someone else and had a good 10 years with him. For the first time in her life she was really happy- sadly he died recently.

Unfortunately mum and dads split had awful repercussions for me. Mum felt I took dads side and barely spoke to me for years. She missed out on her only grandchildren.

Things got a little better after my dad died and I had some contact with mum. However she lived a 5 hour round trip away and I only visited a few times. She has Alzheimer's now and after the death of her DP we had little choice but to put her into full time care. The good thing about this is that she is only 10 mins from my home now. I can pop and see her 3 or 4 times a week. We have a good relationship in that she has become a very sweet, gentle lady, all the bitterness and depression that blighted our relationship has gone.

What is harder for me to deal with is the guilt, regrets and anger of all the years wasted. It took me years to understand that I wasn't to blame or responsible for her unhappiness. I am now completely responsible for her well being and despite her living in a home it is a huge weight on my shoulders. She may have forgotten everything but sadly I haven't.

Sorry that is no help to you but just wanted you to know that you are not alone in struggling with feelings about elderly parents. It sounds like you feel the weight Of their unhappiness, but they have made their choices. It is a very uncomfortable feeling isn't it?

Helltotheno Mon 10-Dec-12 12:39:28

I empathise with you OP sad... not much to add to the lovely posts above, but having had a similar setup (DF dead now), I know how hard it is to put up with being around that. I agree about setting things in motion for their future care, which is something we're trying to do with my DM, but she's very resistant to the idea. I'd much rather have it in place than have something happen that causes us to need to do it urgently.

If you could get the care in place OP, you could encourage your DM to come visit you, do you think that would be feasible?

miserabledaughter Mon 10-Dec-12 14:36:51


The care is not an issue TBH. My mum would never go willingly into care if at all possible to avoid. My DH's mum is in a terrible state- housebound- but manages at home with carers going in 4x daily, so unless either of my parents really could not live at home, we'd avoid care homes.

The real issue is their relationship and being stuck in the middle of thinly veiled resentment.

My mum constantly nags whereas my dad is passive until he's had too much then shouts at her- never in my presence and not very often.

She's never been able to spend freely- she is given housekeeping money each week- and since dad retired he has kept control of whatever status he has and being " the man in charge" by making all the decisions re. money and the home.

He doesn't think women are capable of making decisions etc but now he has had a minor stroke he is not so sharp and slightly deaf so she tries to manage things- which he resents and resists.

It is no fun being in the middle of it all.

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