Need insight on mum's health

  • Do you hold back what you need to say to your parents because of their age or ill health?

  • Hi Captain,

    Nope. In fact it’s the opposite. I feel bad sometimes because I don’t mean to create hostility. It seems my siblings are content having this vacuous functional relationship with my folks. Before, when our interactions were minimal, I was fine too. But the blessing and the curse of the caregiving is that it exposed (in greater clarity) the problems in the family dynamics. And how it was NOT ok for me to maintain a relationship with them under those terms. Since I’m in the house 24 hours most days, and around my folks a lot, it’s just not possible to ignore all the pain points. I’m fed up enough to not be able to hold my tongue. What creates the most friction is inconsiderate behaviour, lack of care towards hygiene, mess and clutter, the refusal to work through conflict and address communication issues, and what I perceive as indifference and sometimes disrespect towards me as a caregiver. I never used to fly off the handle like this. It took years of repeatedly bringing up the same things and having that result in the same stonewalling, no reaction reaction, that finally did it for me.
    I would have thought that my acting out and being triggered so much - would eventually lead them to think there is something wrong here, and try and work through the friction. But they seem to dig in their heels more. Any arguments that occur trail off into nothingness and they just ignore me and carry on watching TV, for example. They don’t seem to see just how exhausted I am being a caregiver (and they have been in a caregiver peer support group before). Even before they started getting sick, they would never ask if I was ok or if I needed help. We’ve had relatives visit in these last few months who have expressed more empathy and support.

  • @danceur I guess parents automatically feel that their children must look after them as they age. But they should respect your right to your own life. They may cope better than you would think on their own.

  • I’m pretty sure they can cope on their own if they get my mum’s condition under control. Right now, it’s unpredictable. She’s going to the A&E every other week and her health and mobility is very poor. My dad is acting as her caregiver for now. But he also has health issues, so if they can’t find a way to manage her condition, the issue of caregiving will come up very soon. Things can change in a snap. We’ll have to see how this turns out. I think part of the difficulty is that my mum is still trying to compartmentalize her health issues and push through with other things that she is unable to handle now. They’re in the midst of a sudden mini renovation – and they bought lots of furniture and electrical items. Is this an externalization of frustration with inability to change her circumstances? And they are spending so much on non-urgent changes when the money could go towards medical expenses. TThe outcome has been a lot of chaos, stress, mess and clutter in the house, because their style is to buy and assemble, stash it somewhere and then clear out the present clutter later. As you can imagine, it has upset me greatly because I'm barely clinging onto sanity sometimes and clutter and mess really get to me. It’s like they’re trying to introduce change, but without sorting through the baggage. And that is similar to the state of our relationship. They have adapted to changes, without understanding (or wanting to understand) why things got that way and how to work through conflict when they occur.

    When I was younger, I wasn't opposed to caring for them in their old age. It’s culturally ingrained. But life has been unexpected. I haven’t achieved the kind of stability that t would allow me to be there for them, even from a detached/ad hoc capacity. That is the stage my brother is at. I'm being pulled towards a different path – one in which I can take off all the restrictions and develop in a more open-ended way. My trajectory and theirs just doesn’t coincide.

  • Hi Blmoon,

    I need some additional insight.

    About 15 years ago, my father asked me to try out for university. That wasn’t an option I’d considered because my family could not afford it. But he said his boss had offered to pay the fees, no strings attached. Not sure how he brought it up. Anyway, I went ahead to enroll in an 18 month external degree program, which was the cheapest and seemed reputable. Then my father got spooked by his own personal insecurities and rejected the boss’ offer. Then he approached my aunt for a loan instead. I was angry because this was not a situation I’d wanted to inherit eg. debt that I had not intended to have.

    I was never able to repay the amount due to poor employment situations, in spite of having attained the degree. I’ve always felt bad because my aunt had to sort of write it off and she had to try to not be mad at me. Every now and then, the thought arises that if I ever come into a significant amount of money, that I would do a repayment. I thought the same this morning. Then out of the blue, my mum asked to pay off the balance for me. I didn’t even know she knew it was unpaid. It must have come up in conversation with my aunt, whom she has become close to because of her health issues.

    Mum was just discharged last week, following her surgery. It’s too early to see if it’s a success although we are praying for her to regain her full mobility. She says she wants to pay because it’s a thanksgiving thing and she’s also donating to her church. Its money from her earlier sales commissions. which has just come in, I guess.

    She refused to fully explain her intentions. It makes me uncomfortable. Because my folks have sometimes done grand gestures out of the blue – sometimes financial – thinking that it makes everything ok, but the rest of the time, they’re acting in ways that hurt me. I can find a space of gratitude for this if she proceeds, but it doesn’t change how I feel towards them on the whole. If she's hoping this will help bring us closer - I don't think it can. They basically hung me out to dry with this caregiving thing, even before either of them had illnesses. And it is on top of a lifetime of bad situations. Even though I am not actively angry anymore - especially now considering their age, and health - having people treat me like that...its not the kind of relationships I want to nurture. Once things are done with caregiving, I just want to go on my own path.

    I told my mum it wasn’t necessary, and to save for her medical expenses. And not to do self-sacrificial things, especially unwarranted ones. But she was insisting so hard. I am curious what Spirit wants to share about my Mum’s gesture, and why she is so insistent on doing this.

  • @danceur
    I'm so glad you asked! Definitely accept. I get your fears but honestly this is exactly the opportunity to heal old patterns. How can you grow a muscle if you do not flex it. The old power of guilt manipulation from your past needs healing. Your mom has no power over you after this gift. Which by the way your father got you into. But that's another story. Your issue is with taking on responsibilities you do not own. Also, your imagined lack of power around your parents needs over your own. YOU are being offered the chance to make this offer NO STRINGS ATTACHED. And no....them being nice does not buy the right to abuse their boundary or hurt you. YOU have always been in charge of this. My example is my own mother was one of those folks who extended offerings that either had something in it for her although she presented it as all for me. Example, offering to pay for a jewelry making class, HER idea, suggesting she wanted to help me get my own business but in reality she wanted me to become part of HER antique business! Repairing jewelry! A lot of customers came in requesting that. I had in the past done many jobs for her business and my boys were young and yes I needed the money BUT she called the shots! She made my decisions and often set up jobs to make certain customers happy but short changed me. She would set prices too low sometimes. As I said, she had self serving motivations attached to her gifts! When she offered to send my oldest son to College I warned him that she would try to OWN him and would probably call in guilt favors and my son said he knew that and he accepted and felt no guilt. He was strong enough not to feel he owed her. You need to practice that kind of boundary with your mom. Untie yourself! You can do this now. Thank her for the Gift and practice not owing her. A gift is not given with strings attached. Take her gift. BLESSINGS!

  • Hi Blmoon,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sorry – that’s a horrible situation ☹

    My mother wouldn’t take no for an answer. She was so bossy and didn’t care if I have an issue with it or not – even as I was citing my concerns. So I did say thank you but I do think there’s a self-serving agenda. What that is, I cannot say for sure. And yes, I know my father got me into the trap. I’ve never heard of guilt manipulation. I seem to have fallen into traps of having to co-own the consequences of people’s mis-steps, or to take on too much responsibility to fix situations with collective ramifications on everyone - because of others’ inability or unwillingness to step up. This issue with the school fees fits that. My dad ‘pushed’ me into taking that step forward, but then he felt uncomfortable about ‘owing’ his boss, got cold feet, and I paid the price for the consequences. The hook with these situations is that there are consequences on everyone. Otherwise it is easier to enact a boundary. Is it still guilt manipulation or something else? Whatever it is, I’m sick of it. It is one of the reasons I need to move away from this family. They’re a bunch of takers, and it is not the company I want to continue keeping.

    To the issue on my imagined lack of power on my parents needs, I have started to practise allowing them to fend for themselves for my mother's caregiving. I mean I did it before, but it's more blatant now. My dad is still trying to push his luck, on certain things but for the most part, they're able to cope on their own, for the moment.

    My other question is about my sis, and is related to the same type of trap. I know you disapprove of my involvement in the caregiving, but can I still get some perspective on it?

    Why is it that my sis is unable to see this as an equal partnership? That meeting the needs of both of us individually, matters to the overall goal? After everything we’ve been through, she still responds in ways that suggest she thinks this is my job – and that she is just helping. She’s still harbouring blame towards me, that she had to do this – even though she was the one who insisted that we had to see it through to the end. That as long as she does her parts, its enough and it doesn’t matter that the load is heavily tilted in my corner, and no one can survive like this. That when I ask for help, I’ve already tried all other options first. She has so much more than me, and is operating from a plane where she has a job, savings, a life outside of caregiving, ability to meet all her basic needs consistently and on a regular schedule (except time to sleep), ability to see the doctor when she’s sick, and she is fully healthy and mobile, that she is unable to see I have none of those, because I had to give all of it up. That she still has so much, is a result of the sacrifice I made in leaving my job to become the primary caregiver. Yes she’s working a full time job – but her tasks are a lot more limited, albeit time consuming. I’m doing a manual job on a bad back and unstable spine, exhausted from lack of rest, where there are not enough breaks, and I’m consistently not able to meet all basic needs, because of a lack of time, even though I am working at high speed. She would not be able to do close to what I’m doing, if the roles were reversed. It could easily have been her in my position, and I know if that were true, I would give all I could to ensure our collective survival. It would matter to me to find solutions. I’m in trouble, and the denial is mindblowing. Goes back to the bad company I’m keeping within this family, and why I want to leave so badly.

  • @danceur have your parents thought of moving to an assisted-living or medically supervised retirement home?

  • @danceur
    You answered your own question. She is better off from your perspective by NOT BEING YOU! She makes sure her needs are met first and why would she give more? She can bank on you doing what you do. First, you must decide if you are trapped or this is your choice. You can't have it both ways. If you stay and take on the responsibility you must accept your choice, no whining. If it is not your choice than take action. We get back to guilt. Dig deep Danceur into your own fears and insecurities to free yourself. No one has a gun to your head but you. My mother was a hoarder and I felt the caretaking need to go over to her house and constantly clean! I felt even though we were both adults it was a reflection on me to let her live like that. My world was small and before hoarding became a TV show I had no idea so many others have that disorder. It was a "pissing in the wind effort" I cleaned and she just filled back up. I cleaned and got bacterial infections from the filth. When one of my sons helped me clean one time and we both ended up with lung bacterial infections...that was it!!! Here lies the truth Daceur. I could not protect my self but when my son got sick that woke me up! NO it's not ok to sacrifice one's own health to try and fix a situation you have no real control over. It was an easy decision once the idea of protecting my child became real. So look deeper. I realized my family dynamics had been toxic and I had learned to ignore my needs over anthers. I stopped doing the cleanups. And they lived like that. Also, you are stuck on what SHOULD BE. That's a waste of resentment time and energy. Just accept reality. Waiting for your sister to be someone she is not is more about your dysfunction than hers. I have been there. For years I dealt with my father's hospital doctor visits and my siblings all assumed that because I did not work full time that they did not have to. I get it. When his condition got very disabling one of my sons who loved him helped me and I finally called my brother and said look I need help. Luckily he did comply as well as his wife, God love her. There was no happy ending. I was such a loyal daughter to my mother that when he would end up in emergency I would make excuses for her! Why she was never there. I don't know where you live but here in the states when older people go to the hospital and care is in question there is a case worker assigned. When I say older it blows my mind that at the time of all my fathers strokes and heart attacks he was younger than me! He died at 68 and I'm going on 66! Here hospitals do not release people who need care to go home without knowing they have care. In the end I reported my mother. I told them he was mostly left alone while she traveled doing antique shows. I still had a family at my home to manage. Well once I let go and boy was my mom hateful to me! But for awhile it was good because social services stepped in. He had insurance and they handled everything! Someone came in and bathed him at least twice a week. A physical therapist came in to give him therapy for his stroke damage. Someone checked his blood sugar AND they made my mother clean the house! This bliss was not long lasting as my mother sold her house and took my father to another state! He loved her and did not want to leave her. I endured many painful phone calls from him crying! And when he died she was out of town, Even though I had family near there no one wanted to face my mother's wrath. He ended up with an infected toe and as a diabetic it spread. No one to say no, they cut off his leg and he died a week later. Danceur...don't waste one more precious moment of YOUR life waiting for things to be RIGHT. Sometimes there is no happy ending. Life is NOT always fair! Get moving! You can not force others to take on responsibilities they do not believe in. You are the only one holding yourself back. Forget your sister your mom and dad's needs. Take some big steps forward. BLESSINGS!

  • Blmoon,
    I’m sorry for that painful experience you went through. If I may ask, how did you deal with reconciling what happened in the end with your Dad, with the need for you to be away from the situation (although it happened because your mother took him and moved away)?

    I just wanted to clarify when I say caregiving - it's for my cat. The one with my mum, I stepped back as much as possible, to allow my Dad to step up. And he did, and she is looking so much better. too. I'm very gratified to see that they can handle this. It's if something happens down the line, that it will throw everything into a quandary. We don't have such supportive social welfare systems here.

    I guess it is hard to be on the same page with my sis – because it is triggering our inner child wounds, values, fears, etc and causing us to butt heads. I don’t come here to whine or complain. It’s to find new strength, perspective, solutions and ways to cope or adapt, with what I know I cannot change. My anger, sadness, and frustration goes beyond just feeling exhausted, downtrodden and disempowered because I can’t take of myself – and the trauma in not knowing if everyday is the last and yet also praying for liberation. It is an anguish that in not receiving the support I need, I find it so difficult to remain in grace and gratitude. And I know if I don’t, I will end up regretting that I did not honor this experience – which is profound - the way it deserves. If I want to move forward freely later on, I cannot have that regret on my shoulders.

    You said something about how you woke up when your son got sick. I feel the same protective instinct towards my cat. I woke up when he got sick. I saw the lousy family dynamics, and how they were ignoring what was happening to him. And I knew that I couldn’t continue to be part of that faction. I knew I had to step up and care for him better. I just didn’t expect how it would turn out to be a long term caregiving effort. Or how determined he would be to live in spite of the circumstances. So it is both a choice - and not. Hence the difficulty in remaining consistent. I’m not the only one who sees this as profound- my sis does too…for different reasons.

    My cat is a tough cookie. And we are honoring the littlest of us through our efforts. As long as he is still trying – he isn’t ready to go. If there were any other way, I would have tapped it already. Its only my sis and me and - I know she is trying her best, but it isn’t enough.

    She does a lot and has adapted a lot to the changing circumstances. But below the surface she has not accepted her role in this, and she is still blaming me. It does not help, that because she is also conflict avoidant and averse to discussing negative things, there is a tendency to lie/tell half truths to herself and others, or withhold info, to try and manipulate the outcome or perception of the situation, or to avoid taking action. I can’t seem to hold her accountable without her seeing it as judgement. if we can’t even point out facts, and acknowledge what is good, or isn’t working or what is ugly – without being seen as perpetrating negativity, we lose the opportunity to expand our understanding and find solutions.

    I know what you are saying about not wasting time caring about my sis or the rest, or trying to change them. For the most part, I have done that. We’re just at a really critical point where I cannot carry my part at this pace, without some reprieve and downtime. What I want is for her to share some of her downtime with me, on her days off, so that I too can take a break at times. Because other than that, I do not have a backup.

    I also want to find ways to communicate better with her to create solutions, and see where my own issues are getting in the way. As long as we are in this, we don’t have a choice but to work together. I have successfully sat her down a few times, despite her reluctance, and managed to get a lot of help. We have made strides. But it is still severely imbalanced. What can I do to stop her seeing me as an adversary who is taking her resources, and see me as her ally instead, who is in this fight together with her, who has the same needs as her - and is equally deserving?

  • @danceur
    you can't make anyone do anything. You need to surrender that mission and put your energy into real solutions versus preferred solutions. You get stuck on what should be. As I have said life is not always fair, Find your way out. Escape and work on being on your own. BLESSINGS! Take your cat with you. Any animal that needs 24/7 care should be allowed to cross over to a better place.

  • Blmoon

    He’s not a pet – he’s family. He needs a lot of care because he has mobility issues eg weakness and instability and a natural breakdown of some bodily functions due to age, which we are treating with home remedies, since he can tolerate it better. And plenty of massage and energy healing. And actually, the assumption that animals who need a lot of care are ready to go is not true. I believe animals do know when its their time and he simply doesn’t look like that although all his health issues are very tough on him. A person who has bad mobility or chronic health issues can be highly dependent, like my mum was, and still be completely viable. I will say that he does seem to be in a transition phase; if anything, this is the most crucial time for us to support him.

    The tasks cannot be handled by 1 person, or even 2. If it could, and I had better mobility, I would have seriously considered your suggestion to take him and go – when I still had financial resources. But in any case, it wouldn’t work well, as it’s too stressful for him to be taken away from the familiar. Whatever my issues are with my family – they aren’t his issues. They are still his people.
    I do know not everything is fair. I have experienced a lot of that in my life. It's not my mission to try and fix things. I'm only doing it because Im trying to make things bearable.

    Believe me, I’ve tried to find ways to try and get out of this. I think it’s just one of those experiences you cannot side-step. That people don’t understand why you stay but you do. I’ve received help and blessings from unexpected sources and in unexpected ways, to support our efforts. I don’t think these would have manifested if we weren’t right where we’re supposed to be.

  • @danceur
    Your anger is misdirected. I am going to be honest. You are afraid of being on your own. That's ok. What's not ok is not to OWN that truth. You are only trapped by your own limitation to see solutions versus dwelling on problems. I have had dogs all my life. They all get very old. And yes I did all the extra care required to keep them just a little longer. To the point of carrying them to the yard. BUT I have never kept a pet in such decline it needed me to give up my whole life. That is not healthy. It's just not. Be brave enough to let your loving pet run free on the other side. Pets are family yet no they are not humans. I hate that all my past dogs had limited years. Why would God do that? Because pets are so giving of unconditional love that they EARN the right to their Heavenly reward earlier! BLESSINGS!

  • People forget that animals have been given a gift. They are not human beings, and they do not require what we do. Their lives are meant to be very simple and basic, they live in the moment, lucky them! That is something to be cherished and respected.

  • Hi Blmoon,

    Not angry at you. I’m just frustrated with me. Because I keep falling in the trap of trying to explain, when I know you see it differently, your experience is different, and only I can validate my own experience. So that’s my fault. And I cannot help it.

    Animals now live much longer than they used to. It’s quite common for them to be in their late teens and 20s sometimes longer. Multiple vets have told us he is not ready. And really you have to see it to believe it. We’re not trying to prolong this. All we’re really doing is making him as comfortable and functional as we can, so he can do as many of his normal things until it’s his time. And that can be anytime. He is leading this, not us.

    Is there some fear of the unknown? Of course. But not of being on my own. And not enough to keep me from taking action. I was already saving years ago to move out, when I had to shift course into caregiving. I had a whole plan of going back to school etc. I continued juggling work for a long time, just to be able to save – to keep that dream alive. Until I couldn’t anymore. Because I was doing this alone for so long before my sis got involved. Every step of the way I've created or found solutions. Even as I articulate problems, I'm trying to find solutions. These posts are only a snapshot in time that don't' reflect the reality entirely. So while there may be parallels in some of your examples, and some similar lessons, there’s enough clear differences, for me to know that I need to learn what I can from others but still trust my own instincts, and follow my own truth. Some caregivers are not lucky enough to have enough help, but they still have to go on and it is not uncommon that they give up their whole life; it is unhealthy, but it happens. It doesn’t make what they do invalid.

    If this is not an experience in trusting the unknown, in being alone, in being self-reliant and creating solutions on the fly, facing fears of being unsupported and unseen, in accepting things in a different format than you expected, in having faith, in taking action and allowing, and living in the present…. Then I don’t know what is.

    I used to think that I put my life on whole for this. But, I realized, I haven’t stopped living. It just doesn’t look the way I imagined. I have been growing, expanding and changing. Using the time to learn about and work on my issues. I’ve come back to prayer when I lost it for over a decade - and I believe in its power now. I’ve experienced miracles, and manifestations. I come here for advice and support because I know I have to stay the course and it is difficult. I have to trust that when this cup is no longer for me, it will be taken. The same way it happened with your mum about your dad, where you couldn’t do anything to change the reality. I have to trust there won’t be any ambiguity about what needs to happen.

  • @danceur
    Please don't compare my struggle with getting care for my father with your addiction to your aging cat. I understand you have no idea how insulting that is and I can't take offense when your intention is not with malice. But I can speak up and let you know how you are so deeply isolated in your own pain you have lost your ability to feel a healthy perspective about how lucky you are and how self created your inability to take care of your self is. Re read ALL your posts for at least 3 years. They all sound the same. And please don't gloss over your cat's quality of life. Losing bodily functions? No, your cat shits and pisses on itself and and no your cat is not outside chasing and playing and being a cat. Your cat feels affection for you but honestly at some point it is a selfish act to hang on. I as an empath want to cry for your cat. You claim some caregivers give up their whole lives for care giving. NOT for a cat! I don't know where you get your info. But you must know anyone truly struggling with caring for someone will read your post and want to laugh and cry! I take care of someone 48 years now who is mentaly ill. But you would not know that because I am not complaining. And I do juggle having a life. I talk about my life. All my sharing posts are not about my cat or dog. I can not express just how insulting your complaints are to people who juggle caretaking others and do manage a life for themselves. I do not remember you sharing anything about your life other than the same thing. Knowledge and awareness means nothing without action. So yes lessons and insight may have happened but have no productive value without action. It's like people who say they love you and mean it but it stay inside their head. Love is a verb. An action. I can not connect with you any more. So many have sent you loving energy. You do not let go of control and no one has judged you for your actions as invalid. Sorry but you are a complainer. Sharing is open to advice. Complainers ask for advice but continue to do things the same way. I have been a complainer in my own life at times. But thank God I listen, Spirit points it out and I change my actions. We all go through periods of getting stuck in complaining! It's when we are not happy but are so deep in our rut we stop seeing solutions. I wish you the best. I as a caretaker have learned energy is precious and to only spend it were it is productive and you really are ON YOUR OWN. It is your choice. BLESSINGS!

  • @danceur said in Need insight on mum's health:

    The tasks cannot be handled by 1 person, or even 2. If it could, and I had better mobility, I would have seriously considered your suggestion to take him and go –

    How is a cat functioning and surviving on his own with a "will to live" if he requires 24 hours care? And by your description he needs more than 2 people to care for him? That is an extra ordinary amount of care and support for a cat. Your sister is being really nice extending any help at all. I would quit trying to force her into this extreme care giving role, less she decides to quit helping you at all. Its your life to choose to do what you want, and if you want to spend all your days keeping a cat alive, so be it. But its not fair of you to force others to do it with you.

  • Oops, I submitted right as blmoon did...

  • @andidilly
    I felt you there. And now I will have a good cry! A healthy cry. It keeps me open. But my brain works with my heart and I do not linger in heartfelt needs to help when it is a "pissing in the wind" venture.

  • yeah, You are spot on ^^. You were pulled in. Awe, so many hugs to you though. I read what you wrote and feel deeply for you, blmoon. Your fiery, fun and a very loving, wise woman. Rinse and move on from this lower level stuff xoxo