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Looking after your parents

(18 Posts)
TedRoombax Mon 01-Apr-13 12:39:28

I need to feel better about this. It eats away at me sometimes and I feel so poisonous.

Both my parents had a lot of help from their parents when me and my brothers were young. We all used to stay at both sets of grandparents for weekends and holidays. My grannies would cook extra meals for our freezer. We would go for Sunday lunches and shopping trips and stuff. Not financial help - just practical stuff, and normal, loving parent / grandparent stuff. They were a big part of our lives. At 15 I couldn't live at home any more and I lived with my grandparents.

My parents, on the other hand, are completely uninterested in me, my family, my life. They say they have "done their bit" and have no intention of helping me with my small children. Fine. It's a choice that makes me sad, but one I recognise they have every right to make. They are much the same with my brothers and their young families.

In fact, they now say that they hated the involvement from our grandparents and they would never push in on our lives like they felt pushed in on. Their version of "not pushing in" means they have yet to meet my 1 yr old, btw.

Then my grandparents became elderly and frail. My parents behaved truly dreadfully. They were unkind, selfish and nasty. They sold my grandfather's house, used the money to build an extension and then changed their minds about him living with them. They were verbally nasty to him and blamed him for being old and useless. They said he was putting it on to get attention. He ended up homeless with advanced dementia and one of my brothers took him in. He died within 6 months.

So now... now I find myself wondering what will happen when they are old. They have no pensions. They laugh that they have made no provisions and will have to live with one of us. And I suppose they will... because to turn them away would be to do what they did to their parents and I don't want to stoop to their level.

I could not bear to have my own children watch me turn my parents away and feel about me as I did when I saw my parents being so selfish towards my grandparents.

But I already feel so bloody, bloody angry that I will have to do the right thing. Once again, it all goes my parents way. They were helped by family when they were young. They will be helped by family when they are old. And they never ever have to do their own bit of helping - not to me as a teenager, not to their parents when they were frail.

KLou111 Mon 01-Apr-13 12:45:22

So sorry you are in the position. And so sorry about your grandad, that is truly truly awful and unforgivable.
I assume you are in the UK?
I personally, when they become of age, would not let them dictate to you that they will be your responsibility. They haven't taken responsibility for you from the age of 15!
I would let them sell their house and move into sheltered accommodation and let them pay for someone to look after them.
You have your own family to think about. They should have thought about this before they let you (and their grandchild!) slip away.

fridayfreedom Mon 01-Apr-13 12:48:02

Sorry to hear you had such a hard time with them.
You are under no obligation to care for them. It is hard enough to care for elderly relatives when you are close to them and love them dearly but when there is so much past baggage it becomes much , much harder.
Do not make any promises to them and between you and your siblings work out what you will and won't be prepared to do. It is one thing getting a few bits of shopping but moving them in with you is a huge step. You also need to focus on your own childrenand the effect this would have on them.
There is state provision for those who can not pay for their own care so this should not become your problem either. You would not be turning them away, sometimes the best way of caring is to find the best alternative and this in their case may be a home, or care from other agencies.

HollyBerryBush Mon 01-Apr-13 12:48:56

* They laugh that they have made no provisions and will have to live with one of us*

And if you don't have the inclination or the room?

As is oft said on another board, "no" is a complete answer.

Out of curiosity, do they still own their house, the one with the extension? They can sell that to fund their care home, should the need arise.

Whilst I am normally an advocate of looking after your parents (as far as you can) when elderly, no one should be made unhappy with the situation, which you clearly would be.

ElsieMc Mon 01-Apr-13 12:51:11

What a sad story. You have nothing to feel guilt about, you clearly look back with affection and happiness on your grandparents' involvement in your childhood. They seem to have provided stability, kindness and happiness.

Why are you worrying about the future and dreading having to care for your parents when they are so lacking in empathy and seem to care very little for you?

I am a grandparent carer myself. Both GS's live with me and yes, it is hard. Personally, I do not have any expectation of either of my children caring for me in my old age. I fully expect to go into a care home and would hate to burden my family. I do hope my GS's hold me in the affection you held yours.

You sound very caring. Concentrate on your own life and family. You owe them nothing.

lainiekazan Mon 01-Apr-13 12:51:36

Same here with pil. Never gave anyone anything. Absolutely uninterested in the gc; too busy going on five holidays a year.

Both are now in care homes. They made their beds, they're now having to lie in them with only the occasional visit.

misscph1973 Mon 01-Apr-13 13:00:32

I can see your problem. You would really like it to be like in your childhood when your GPs were a loving part of your family but you don't see it happening in the same way with your parents. At the same time, you don't want to behave like your parents and turn them away when they need you in older age.

I think you would benefit from a practical discussion with your brothers about how you can share the burden when and if it comes. I don't think you are the kind of person who could live with the guilt from not helping your parents, no matter how little they have helped you and your GPs. If you continue your parents pattern of selfish behaviour, you will risk passing this pattern on to your children. Your awareness of this issue is likely to make a real difference. Good luck!

TedRoombax Mon 01-Apr-13 13:00:35

I suppose, the thing is, my parents justify it all to themselves. their version of the story is that they did their bit with us when we were kids, that their parents pushed in and shouldn't have done, that my granddad was a big faker, and that it wasn't their fault that by the time the extension was built he was too ill to live in it. They can look me in the eye and explain it all in a way that seems so plausible... until I am away from them again and I realise that they are clever, selfish horrors.

And if I don't look after them I will be able to justify it... they weren't there for me, they don't deserve it... but then I am doing exactly the same thing they are. Whatever the facts are, it would be me turning away an elderly, frail person because of My Reasons.

And my children would see me doing it and hate me for it the way I hate my parents for it.

I get in a muddle with what's real with them sometimes.

I grew up KNOWING AS A FACT that my parents were brilliant parents. It's so difficult to reach adulthood and think to myself... hang on... were they always completely brilliant? It's thinking the unthinkable.

tribpot Mon 01-Apr-13 13:03:40

Your children will only see you turning your parents away if you let them see it, if you still have contact with your parents. Sorry but I think you need to be somewhat more selfish - and I appreciate that is difficult for you to do since it represents everything you don't like about your parents.

But you do need to be ruthless. You will have costs of your own for many years to come if you have children to put through uni, and potentially help to get on to the housing ladder as well. Your own pension provision will have to be considerable (more than theirs would have been if they'd bothered their arses to save) and you could end up a situation where you are forced to live in poverty in your old age, with nothing to hand on to your children, because you didn't want to be mean to two people who deserve nothing more.

Also don't fall into the trap of thinking this is more your problem than your brothers'. I'd lay odds they're not worrying about how will look if they turn their parents away in their old age.

I'd also say, as a carer and having spent time with other carers, there is nothing worse than ending up caring for someone who you don't even really like, particularly a parent who has basically failed you in the past. I've seen some seriously unhappy people in this situation - you should not have to live through that.

Midwife99 Mon 01-Apr-13 13:09:22

My parents were the same. They had help from both sets of GPs both practical & financial. They ignored & neglected me & my DB & as soon as I left home at 18 after another of my F's affairs came to light they persuaded my widowed GM to sell he house, give them the money to buy a bigger pub & of course she would have a great time living with them. They ignored her from day 1 the way they had always ignored me & DB. She moved out & put herself into a home. They rarely visited. In the last years of her life I was the only one who visited & they left me to arrange her funeral when she died & didn't even attend. My other Nan sold her house & went into a home near them 30 miles away from friends & lifelong neighbours who would have visited her regularly. They didn't visit her either. Again it was left to me to do it. She died within 6 months & they had all her equity. Again didn't go to funeral. They didn't help me with any of my 4 DCs or see us more than once a year during their party years.

Now they are in their 70s, have spent all the money & went bankrupt. Living in social housing on benefits & demanding my help. I have refused. They have made their bed & will have to lie in it. Tough. angry

TedRoombax Mon 01-Apr-13 13:14:41

Midwife - I am sorry to hear your story, but it is strangely comforting to hear something that is similar to my experience.

I am interested to know - what is your parents version of events? How do you think they would tell it?

ImperialBlether Mon 01-Apr-13 13:49:35

Personally, I wouldn't have them living with me. You moved out at the age of 15 - that is very unusual and says a lot about them. When they mention pensions etc now you should just say, "Oh well, don't worry, you'll be able to sell the house and go into sheltered housing." Hold firm. Do not let them guilt trip you. If they hint any more say, "Oh no, I don't think it's a good idea for different generations to live together. Think about you and grandad. You didn't want to live with him, did you?"

They have an absolute nerve if they can take a house off their parents and then expect their children to care for them. They need to be told sooner rather than later, too.

Can't you get your husband to stand firm on it if you feel yourself weakening?

How old are they now?

Midwife99 Mon 01-Apr-13 13:52:08

Their version is that they were "working so hard" that they couldn't spend time with me or DB when we were young. They won't discuss the treatment of their mothers other than to call them interfering busybodies & that I don't know what they were like.
I have made it quite clear that I have no duty to them now.

My mantra is "Fear, Obligation & Guilt". Those are the tools of narc parents & you mustn't let them use them on you.

KLou111 Mon 01-Apr-13 14:17:01

Ted I'm sure your dc wont think you're bad in the way you thought your parents were. Afterall, your GPs were a massive part of your life, whereas your dc doesn't even know theirs!
I never knew my dads mum (both grandads died before i was born) she didn't want anything to do with us. I met her on her deathbed (although she was already so far gone she didn't wake up). I felt nothing for her, and it was the first time my dad had seen her for about 25 years. I felt sorry for my dad as she was his mum, but she made her own bed to lie in which is what your parents are doing.

tumbletumble Mon 01-Apr-13 15:34:21

Please don't take your parents in to live with you. Then they'll end up ruining your late middle age as well as everything else they've already done! (I can't imagine they would be easy to care for.) Showing your DC that you are being a loving daughter is a lovely ideal but simply not worth it in my opinion.

CerealMom Mon 01-Apr-13 16:12:23

If you take away the emotions and behaviour and look clearly, they have made provision for their old age. It's the equity in their house.

If they've remortgaged/squandered etc... tough. Those are the adult choices they made.

Don't feel obligated to house/care for them in old age.

You are an adult too, you don't have to do anything you don't want to and you don't have to explain or justify it to anybody. And if you do explain your reasons, they are your very good reasons and not to be argued with.

What life lesson will you be giving your DCs if they watch you (resentfully) caring for the selfish GPs.

blackcurrants Mon 01-Apr-13 16:21:03

There's a negative life lesson in 'My parents are selfish', sure, but if that its not actually true about you, why should your DCs think it?'

There's also a negative life lesson in 'my parents are martyrs without appropriate boundaries' too, remember. Don't teach your children to give up their lives to sacrifice and resentment because they are doormats to selfish bastards. smile

WynkenBlynkenandNod Mon 01-Apr-13 16:54:19

There's a middle ground to this. If they haven't made any provisions for a time they need help then they will be entitled to help from Social Services which you can help them access. Be involved in helping them get the support they need but don't do yourself. Help them claim Attendance Allowance if the time comes when either of them need it so help can be bought in. Set up online shops or meals on wheels so food comes. Make sure if they develop leg ulcers a care package is put in place, that sort of thing.

If where they are becomes unsuitable and can't be adapted get them moved into sheltered accommodation. Ultimately if one becomes ill, there will be funding for a care home. Make sure their needs are met without you doing it. That way you don't need to worry and your children see that their Grandparents are getting the care they need, just without you doing it.

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