Drained from Caring for Aging Parents

by Cynthia
(Seymour, Tennessee Blount)

My name is Cynthia and I am the youngest of three daughters. I currently live with, and care for my aging parents; my Mother who is 84 and my elderly Father who is 86.

I became a widow and was a victim of spousal suicide because of deep depression. I was married to the love of my life for 28 years. We had an amazing son together who has now graduated college despite the tragedy we had to overcome.

I start with this subject just because it was in May of 2008. We had sold our house and was living with my parents in a fairly large home. My son was away to college.

On May 9, 2008, my husband took his life here at this home. He had chosen a way to die instantly by hanging himself. This is even so hard to type.

Keep in mind this was in May 2008. Friends and family flocked to my son and I right by our side at that time.

In June, the very next month, my Mother fell and broke her hip. She was very mobile before the fall and I found myself drowning and consumed in taking care of her continuously, not to mention, trying to care for my Dad as well.

I had basically no help at all from my Mom's younger sister or my sisters, brother in laws, no one. Oh, they made their little visits to the hospital but that was around 45 min at the most, then on their merry way.

I remember it so well, walking the corridor of the hospital around 2 am, holding to my Dad, tears steaming down my face and trying my best to hide it. I was exhausted.

I was trying my best to hold him up, and I had no one to hold me up but I made it with Gods strength and help.

My Dad is not well and walks with a walker for elderly. He has neuropathy, which is such a risk for a fall as well.

As we were walking the hall coming home to rest, I looked at him with tears in his eyes and he says to me, "well kid, it's you and me".

We came home to a dark desolate house, nothing to eat, no sisters, beds unmade, no voice mails. All the while I am grieving so bad I hurt in my stomach like I had lost a limb, an actual part of me, my husband.

To this day I am a prisoner it seems in this house where my husband died so tragically and they (my family) still don't get it. I have not had time to grieve properly, if there is such a thing.



I want to go away so bad by myself but I know my family will not care for my aging parents. During the hip recovery, Mother fell around 3 more times, hurt her intestine and had diverticulitis - we almost lost her.

Again in the middle of the night Dad and I were in the ER together to hear the news of a colostomy bag being placed on Mom for six months and then try to reverse it. I suppose you know by now who took care of that.

All I want to know is where is the compassion in people today?

What are they thinking and will it ever get better. Oh I have asked for help and they brush it off just like "well, you live here". It is so much more than just living here. It is 24/7.

The only rest I do get is mostly at night when they are sleeping.

If anyone out there has any advice for me PLEASE email me or something. I know God is with me but I'm not sure how long I can go on.

Sincerely,
Cynthia~

REPLY:
I wish I could reach out and give you a hug, Cynthia. I must say one of the most heart-wrenching aspects of working with the elderly is seeing families not supporting each other in their aging parents care.

I have few suggestions for how to bring your family together to help you. Instead, I would advise you to look into other ways of getting some help with home care for the elderly either through your public health system or privately if your parents can afford this.

You are certainly at high risk for caregiver burnout (from SO much stress) and need some respite (a break from caring for your aging parents).

Sometimes you might consider selling the large home and moving to a smaller one so there is some money to pay for caregiving. Or a reverse mortgage can sometimes provide some financial cushioning to pay for care.

Seek help from the local health care system or a social worker at the any health or aid society to point you in the right direction.

A few of our articles that might provide some assistance are:
Help for Elderly
Cargiver for Elderly
Home Care for the Elderly
Elderly Day Care
Fall Prevention in the Elderly

My thoughts go out to you!

There are a lot of compassionate people out there and I encourage other readers to comment and offer encouragement and advice to help Cynthia along.

Tennille

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Apr 01, 2014
My Dear God Letter, NEW
by: Anonymous

Dear God, March 2014

Seems I'm in high demand for many years. Caring for mom, husband and my son. I'm going to be 57 soon. Many called me “Wonder Woman”. Now I wonder about me as that woman.
I want to bring to you my heart for only you God understands. I bring to you a swirl of feelings, sadness, frustration, anger, anxiety, guilt, resentment.

God, I'm so torn between my new husband of 4 years. Caring for my mom with dementia for almost 14 years and my youngest son who is 23 old who is a great son as my other 2 older boys are. Then the feeling of a loss for some people that I love and now a division has separated us over an misunderstanding.

God, I don't like to ask much, however I need YOU to give me strength and wisdom.

1. I need to have some personal quite time to myself as I'm usually caring for many others.

2. Feeling guilty for not being able to spend enough quality time with my new husband and with all the adjustments that go along with it.

3. I'm in limbo with my son as no job, no CDL, no friends where in San Jacinto/Hemet. On one side of the coin, he does help care for his grandma so hubby and I can get away for a little bit. And he helps out around here. He's got a positive attitude. No trouble at all. On the other side of the coin, I know I'm enabling him to get out on his own and do something with his own life.

4. Feeling guilty for having negative feelings and resenting family members who will not share in the responsibilities of helping me with mom. Whenever you care for an elderly parent that is living in your home, it will make you feel depleted,both physically and emotionally. Seeking a home.

5. My health is being effect. I feel drained, nerves in a knot. A constant pain in my neck and left side due from a fall along with female issues.

6. With caring for mom, it has mentally taken a toll on me and it leave wipe out dreading the nest day. Mom's lost her hearing for most and her communication skills, comprehensive and memory skills have limited her very much. Which means that I have to write it out or repeat 5-7 times, which is hard on my nerves and throat. Re-due what she has done, ex: dishes, cleaning. Catching her going through our stuff and using whatever she wants. Throw's things away. She's sneaky! I love her heart and attitude and is always willing to help and that I DO appreciate so much.

Please Dear God, here my cry! For I don't know how to pray in words. For I love them all! Your Daughter.

Mar 03, 2014
We matter too! NEW
by: Anonymous

Hi Cynthia,

I am so very sorry, but I don't think that is what you want to hear. Not if you are like me. I am told this every day, by people who really mean it, as do I. Although appreciated, it isn't much help in the "deep end" of what we do every day.

I could go into my own struggle taking care of my Mom. How it snowballed from something I thought was "temporary" into a seemingly endless cycle of Emergency rooms, hospitals, Dr's appointments, showers, pill dispensing, administering treatments, personal valet and maid service, cooking, cleaning, and laundry which is now 6 years long with no end in sight. That is just her end of the equation. My end is fatigue, stress, frustration, career loss and the brink of financial ruin. Sound familiar?

I feel and have felt every ounce of your sadness and feelings of helplessness on more than one occasion. And that is OK. I have to give myself the space to be sad for me, not for me for her sake, just for me. Not for me so I can be well to "take care of her", just for me. Because I matter and so do you. This is really heavy emotionally, physically, and spiritually stuff. Do not despair, rally (yes again)!

For me, the only thing that helps is changing my attitude and resolve.
I remind/tell myself that this is:
1. NOT "temporary". Temporary, to me is not 6+ years and counting. This IS the new normal.
2. There has to be a way for both me and Mom/ to get what we need and want out of life that I haven't found.
3. I have to "attack" the search for those solutions in the same way I jumped into the one I currently have.
I share some of them in a separate post:

I hope they help - keep the faith

Mar 03, 2014
We matter too! NEW
by: Anonymous

Hi Cynthia,

I am so very sorry, but I don't think that is what you want to hear. Not if you are like me. I am told this every day, by people who really mean it, as do I. Although appreciated, it isn't much help in the "deep end" of what we do every day.

I could go into my own struggle taking care of my Mom. How it snowballed from something I thought was "temporary" into a seemingly endless cycle of Emergency rooms, hospitals, Dr's appointments, showers, pill dispensing, administering treatments, personal valet and maid service, cooking, cleaning, and laundry which is now 6 years long with no end in sight. That is just her end of the equation. My end is fatigue, stress, frustration, career loss and the brink of financial ruin. Sound familiar?

I feel and have felt every ounce of your sadness and feelings of helplessness on more than one occasion. And that is OK. I have to give myself the space to be sad for me, not for me for her sake, just for me. Not for me so I can be well to "take care of her", just for me. Because I matter and so do you. This is really heavy emotionally, physically, and spiritually stuff. Do not despair, rally (yes again)!

For me, the only thing that helps is changing my attitude and resolve.
I remind/tell myself that this is:
1. NOT "temporary". Temporary, to me is not 6+ years and counting. This IS the new normal.
2. There has to be a way for both me and Mom/ to get what we need and want out of life that I haven't found.
3. I have to "attack" the search for those solutions in the same way I jumped into the one I currently have.
I share some of them in a separate post:

I hope they help - keep the faith

Mar 03, 2014
Its your turn NEW
by: Darby

Cynthia,
I felt as if you were writing my story for me. I had to move home to take care of my brother and then mother both have passed 6 months apart then my father had a stroke. I have found that family runs fast and never looks back. Please remember this will not last forever. I am not sure what is right or wrong there is no book at all on this type of care taking. Yes you may find that people have taken the time to write a word here or there about all of this but I have found to follow your heart and put your foot down and tell your family, look guys you are living your life because I made it easy for you to stay away but now I want you to come for the weekend or a week to give me the wonderful break you have had all year long from this care taking duty. I want you to know how much I have done for you and your family. Sometimes it helps to tell it like it is. I finally told my brother and his wife to help me I just needed one weekend and they told me I was selfish. So I called a company to help with my dad and as soon as the outsiders showed up so did the family thinking that someone would steal something valuable. So don't be afraid to ask the family to help and please remind them again and again how you have made their lives better. If I lived close I would help you. I have often thought of taking care of another persons parent just to get out of the house for a few days and see if someone would trade with me, I know it seems funny but the sun seems to shine so much brighter somewhere else. So girl stand up for you because no one else is going too and tell your family you will see them this weekend and thanks for helping because mom and dad need a break from me too!!!!!

Jan 23, 2014
Praying for you NEW
by: Anonymous

Cynthia, my heart goes out to you. I love my older mother so much and she is in a retirement home close to our house, but due to high cost of elderly care, her money is giving out. She is 96 years old. Since she has moved from another town close to us, we have not been able to go out of town at all, she is VERY DEMANDING. It hurts so bad when my brothers don't come to help me and give me a break for just the weekend. My husband has bee very supportive, but truly we have a need to go check on his 91 year old mother who is suffering from Shingles. She lives 5 hours from us.
Cynthia thanks for sharing your burden. I know God doesn't give us more than we can bear. The replies to your story have helped me to know also that I am not alone in my feeling alone and just plain exhausted. I will be praying for you.

Aug 14, 2013
so sad NEW
by: Anonymous

i'm sick of being told how rewarding caring for the elderly can be - that's nothing more than propaganda from the medical and senior industry stealing our time, money, and lives.
I hate we can't set them on an ice float and let them go.


Jul 28, 2013
You'll Get Through This NEW
by: Mary

Hi Cynthia, Let me start by saying how sorry I am for all the pain you've endured recently. You've had so much thrown at you it's understandable that you feel like you're drowning. I've been in a similar situation and I've learned that you have to take care of your self first & foremost or you won't be able to take care of anyone else. Find the relief/help you need through therapy, support groups, church, friends, antidepressants, etc. Don't be a martyr, that won't help anyone least of all your parents. You have to tell your siblings exactly what you want/need from them. If they still don't help let it go & move on. It SUCKS but it seems to be the norm in many families for all the work to be put on one person. It won't matter to you when your parents are gone, you'll have peace knowing you did all you could. Your siblings will have to answer for their own actions. You will get through this. Sending you prayers.

May 26, 2013
2nd letter to Cynthia in Tenn NEW
by: Lynn

Hi Cynthia
I was so upset after typing my response to what you and I are going through that I think I forgot to give you my e-mail. My first letter hasnt posted yet.
It's
LDadey1901@msn.com
Lynn-

May 26, 2013
To: Cynthia NEW
by: Lynn

WOW!!!! WOW!!! WOW!!! My heart goes out to you! I seriously do not know how you are holding on. To have your spouse commit suicide while you were taking care of 2 aging parents and then your mother falling and breaking her hip as wel!! Oh my gosh. You poor thing! You just never know how many other's out there are going through much worse in life as you think your story is horrific.Honestly how are you keeping it together. I guess the answer is that you are on the edge and are not. I have dealt with a severly alcoholic, dyfunctional family of 11 for 30 years now with an amazing husband! We raised 3 children and all along my 8 brothers and sisters were comming here being drug addicted with there children, knocking on my door after being beat up, dropping there kids off on us and I have been dealing with this 30 plus years! One overdosed in 2006 and we had to take care of all that. We are all 9 by the same parents. Now the brothers and sisters are all either in jail, and homeless, no jobs, no cars nothing!! Now out of the blue it seems that my parents got old!, Im 54, my husband is 59 and my dad is 86 in pretty good shape, still drives short distances but has lived with us our entire marriage!!, since my mom divorced him after 47 years of marriage out of the blue. Now she has dementia, living alone in a senior mobile home park and it still all on us. I feel like Ive had an emotional and mental breakdown and its now affecting my health and I have always been a very upbeat,positive, happy person. I feel like Im in prison now. My dad can go to the VA home but he wont and my mom is driving us insane! she gave all her money away to all my alcoholic brothers, and I have done it all. I feel like I cant go on any longer. I so understand your situation and I think like me you need to put them some where where they can be taken care of or like me it can kill us. We have a life to and what we have left of it we need to let go of this insanity and let God take care of them now. It may be guilt that we do this. But there are places for them and I dont know about you but I am seeking that now. If they live another 10-20 years than our lives are gone. Im giving you my e-mail and I hope you write and let me know how you are doing.
God Bless You-
Lynn

Feb 26, 2013
10 years and it is getting worse NEW
by: Anonymous

its become unbearable, my elderly parents cling to me like a life raft...my life has been completely consumed my them

Feb 13, 2013
Husband doing most of the work but I'm feeling resentful NEW
by: Anonymous

My story is a little different. My monther-in-law came to live with us (suddenly) in June 2012. She is 84 years old, a diabetic and can only get around with a walker. My husband (bless his soul is the caretaker here. He has to give her baths etc. Since she has been here.... our life in the home has turned from bright, music-filled, laughing to a dark, gloomy, hear-the-clock ticking home. Whenever we go somewhere, we have to get back home in 3-4 hours to give her her meals and check on her. I thought that those days were over for us. We have raised two children and have two grandchildren with another on the way. I see how this is quite exhausting to my husband.....but I find myself becoming very resentful. I don't like feeling like this. What should I do. I have tried talking to my husband but he becomes irate so communication between us is limited.

Mar 29, 2012
Similar situation
by: Anonymous

Cynthia my heart and prayers go out to you as well. It's never an easy task to care of even one elderly parent, let alone two!!

Years ago, I, too, lost my husband to a suicide fatality. He also was the love of my life! Then, 6 months later, I lost my 17 year old child to a horrific battle with a life-long disease.

I have since remarried. My new husband and I have moved in with my 87 yr old mom - who has many health issues - to care for her indefinitely (my dad passed back in '94).

I have been here now for about two years. She's steadily getting worse but I have been able to keep her here in her own home. All my siblings(5) wanted to have her placed into a facility.

I was only one to offer to quit jobs/travel from across the country to care for her. I love being here but it does get hard at times.

None of my siblings will ever come to "spell" me off and 1 only lives 2 miles away!! I do occasionally get some "free time" from ladies at my Church that come and sit with her while I go run errands. She can't remain alone because early signs of dementia.

Try inquiring at your local community for free help through Church or Council of the Aging. I think they're all throughout the country.

Best of luck to you!

Mar 18, 2012
Drained too...
by: Anonymous

This is a very sad story. I also care for my aging parents and have found that my life is no longer my own. I'm going to try seeing if I can hire someone to come in a few times a week so I can get out and do something for myself. Thanks for sharing your story, that was very brave.

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