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Elderly parents

Has anyone stepped back from being involved with elderly parents as their condition deteriorates?

139 replies

codandchipsandpeas · 30/01/2023 10:20

Sorry for the slightly odd title but I would value any opinions or advice on this. I'm going to keep it vague, there's a lot of back story I won't go in to.

Elderly FIL, been on his own for 2 years since MIL passed away. As the closest relative (geographically) I have always tried to pop over and help with little jobs, take him out to the shops, cook a meal, just go for a chat. I have also on numerous occasions helped when he has been in hospital with visiting, dropping stuff off etc. There are SILs but historically they have chosen not to be involved although this has improved recently.

FILs health is declining. He is refusing to accept any form of carer. This is of course his choice. Money is not an issue in any way whatsoever, he just doesn't want to spend it. He told us this recently.

I do not want to gradually fall in to the role of carer. It's too much expectation and I have my own job and responsibilities at home. It's half an hour to get there so not just down the road. I resent the assumption that I will do it just because I've always been the one to go. There have been a few emergency situations and I am expected to drop everything and pick up the pieces. It makes me cross because no one has asked me if I'm OK with this.

DH is fully supportive of me stepping back. He says FIL has made his choice and will have to live with it. He often works away so while he does what he can, this is limited. I feel a conflict of emotions, guilt for not doing more and anger for FILs refusal to help himself and take the pressure off me. There is a lot of emotional blackmail in the language he uses, a lot of barbed comments about what I haven't done and should be doing. He's not really coping with jobs like the laundry etc.

Has anyone been in a similar situation? Any words of advice about how to handle this, or whether I should just suck it up and do what's needed?

OP posts:
Fluffleupagus · 08/02/2023 17:32

@EmotionalBlackmail @AdelaideRo my DM told me years ago she was pleased I hadn't had children (I was only about 35, she would have been early 60s and in perfect health!) as I would be available to care for her in her old age. I snorted. She was fuming 'well I am NOT going in a home, is that what you think of your own MOTHER' etc etc.

I still do not have children. And I live a loooong way away. She regularly makes noises about moving in with us, and is still mortally offended when I say no.

Funnily enough even though DB lives just up the road and sees her regularly, does errands for her etc, she has no desire to move in with him as 'you're my daughter, you'll be better at looking after me when I need it'.

I just change the subject now.

codandchipsandpeas · 08/02/2023 17:32

Thanks again for all the supportive messages, it's honestly helped so much.

OP posts:
LittleOwl153 · 08/02/2023 17:40

It is all so tough with elderly parents... and so ingrained in expectation..

My bro/I ended up caring for my grandparents whilst living with mum in our late teens. 20mins drive away, poor mobility, dementia but they muddled through apart from the daily calls. The my grandad fell and broke his hip - hospital refused to discharge home. Gran was a nightmare, calles repeatedly to our workplaces (no mobiles then thank goodness!) sent all carers away, ended up living with us for 2 months then back home before ending up in the care home too.

We went through all that and my mother now insists that it is my job to take care of her as she gets older and that I'd better not out her in a a home. I've told her that I would not cope with her and would not be putting my kids through all that. Besides I have a disabled teen who I have spent all her life caring for - as she becomes more independant I plan to live my own life not fall into another caring role. With a husband 10 years older than me I could spend the majority of my life since age 16 as someone's carer... that might be for some folks but definitely not for me - no matter how selfish that makes me!

AgitatedGoose · 22/02/2023 20:14

Yes I definitely want to step back. I’ve had four years of dealing with my elderly mother as she descended into Alzheimer’s. She’s now in a care home which leaves my Dad on his own. He’s really not coping with managing the house and garden but refuses to get anyone in to help although he has the money. He’s happy for me to work for nothing and pay the petrol costs of a 3 - 4 hour drive each way. I work full time, feel constantly exhausted and am at breaking point with it all.

Soothsayer1 · 22/02/2023 21:26

AgitatedGoose · 22/02/2023 20:14

Yes I definitely want to step back. I’ve had four years of dealing with my elderly mother as she descended into Alzheimer’s. She’s now in a care home which leaves my Dad on his own. He’s really not coping with managing the house and garden but refuses to get anyone in to help although he has the money. He’s happy for me to work for nothing and pay the petrol costs of a 3 - 4 hour drive each way. I work full time, feel constantly exhausted and am at breaking point with it all.

I would stop doing it, or rather I'd not start in the first place, if elderly people want support from adult children it's up to them to move closer in order to facilitate it.
I doubt he's aware of how cruel this is to you, many people become self absorbed & blinkered when they are elderly, they dont have the brainpower/headspace to think about the needs of others.
Imo it's down to you to manage his expectations, tell him it's no longer feasible and he'll have no choice but to pay for help, otherwise he'll take more & more from you.

Nixer · 22/02/2023 23:35

What @Soothsayer1 said. I think I read somewhere (but can't remember where) that there are changes that happen in the brains of very elderly people, not necessarily caused by dementia, that make them less able to empathise, less interested in others and at times quite ruthless. Often on these kinds of threads (not this one) someone will say that they don't intend to be so difficult and stubborn when they get old and will not have unreasonable expectations of their kids without really understanding that the person is not doing it deliberately and is simply incapable of being biddable and co-operative. I expect if I get to my late 80s (I hope not to) I will be just as stubborn, though I don't have any kids to hassle.

BTW I'm not saying all elderly are like this, I have met some really on the ball interested and interesting people well into their 80s who aren't selfish or ruthless and are not dependent on their children.

Soothsayer1 · 23/02/2023 00:04

thank you @Nixer 🙏
It's a very difficult position to be in, especially if you have a strong sense of duty towards your parents, if you do all they ask you're overwhelmed and dont have time to take care of your own needs, if you dont you have all the guilt etc.
I think as a society we need to find ways to incentivize people to prepare for old age, not an easy thing to do, especially when it comes to having to downsize at at time when you increasingly need the reassurance and stability of familiar surrounds, lots of catch-22's to manage!

AgitatedGoose · 23/02/2023 08:24

Many thanks for your supportive reply. I had a very difficult and traumatic upbringing and deliberately moved a long distance from my parents. I wouldn’t have wanted them living closer to me as I would have faced more pressure from health and social care professionals to step up when my Mum was diagnosed. After years of sporadic contact the increased contact has been difficult to cope with as well as the financial cost in view of the increased costs of living. I’m an only child as well and increasingly feel there’s no way out.

Soothsayer1 · 23/02/2023 11:45

@AgitatedGoose
I can relate I'm also an only child who finds contact with parents very difficult, 'fortunately' one of them has behaved so outrageously that I haven't had anything to do with them for decades now, the other one is becoming increasingly weird but this has made it easier for me to side step and to manage them
There is a way out, you can put up boundaries and distance yourself I know it's difficult but you can't let your parents continue to damage you, it's not right, you deserve freedom from all this.

GordonBennett345 · 05/03/2023 12:36

DonatellaBella · 30/01/2023 10:32

Can you imagine a man taking on the care of his elderly mother in law, while his wife and her siblings do little to nothing? Why do so many women allow themselves to be treated as support humans?

Don't be a martyr. Step back, let your husband and his siblings deal with it.

I agree 100% with this. Step right back. All the way back.

stinkfaceison · 06/03/2023 20:33

Yep had this with My SIL when she tried to rope me iin to do ironing and housework she said you always go to the woman ! I said no HB has a pair or of hands too ad well as 3 sisters so no chance . Besides I had only met FiL 3 times .

Nimbostratus100 · 06/03/2023 20:37

How often are you going each week?

Can you give him one or two specific times you can come and visit for a set length of time, and stick to that.

Just say it is the only time you are available, if he says anything barbed, and repeat as necessary.

Like, Tuesday 10am and Friday 4pm, or similar

Nyna · 18/03/2023 15:29

How are you doing @codandchipsandpeas ? I hope the situation is solved by now. Hugs

GerronBuzanDoThaWomwok · 18/03/2023 16:53

Sorry, OP (and everyone) it is so hard and can take over your every waking moment.
I wanted to suggest a couple of things, please ignore if they are neither relevant nor helpful.
A Care Act assessment has to be carer blind-in other words, it cannot be "oh, your family provide x hours of care, so we can top this up with a couple of visits"; it has to be the assessed needs of the person, irrespective of who/how meets them.
Only then can the process of exploring who provides what begin, and contingency planning has to be done at the same time.
This can be the perfect time to make explicit (with support from the social worker) that you cannot be included, it supports you and is honest and transparent-older relatives may accept this truth if spoken by a professional.

Assistive technology can make a surprising difference as well: a lifeline pendant or wrist strap will alert re falls or distress, and the nominated contacts will be telephoned by the operator (it doesn't have to be you, and you can also include a ranking order of whom to phone first, second etc, as well as requesting emergency services are called if necessary).
No one is obliged to pick up a relative off the floor, the operator can request paramedic assistance and give them the keycode for the key safe. Ditto for carers, GPs, D Nurses etc.
The pattern and frequency of falls/incidents is also necessary in order to evidence any future discussions/Best Interests decisions.

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