How do caregivers cope with a volatile violent parent?


I need advice & help finding resources. I'm acaregiver for my mother & we have a strained relationship. As a child, she firmly believed in "spare the rod, spoil the child", she never spared the rod & definitely didn't spoil me. 1.5 years ago, my brother (who ownes the property where I live) informed me that he was moving her into my home so "we" could take care of her & so she could help me with rent because he was raising the rent(I'm a disabled, unemployed, single parent). I reminded him of the strained relationship & the plain truth is, she hates me, truly hates me. He said it would be fine. It's not. I dispense her meds because she has addition problems & has previously overdosed many times, she has incontinence problems, doesn't practice any personal hygiene, and she's verbally & physically abusive. I tried working with her dr & social services but there's nothing anyone can or will do. She refuses mental health help, even though her dr has referred her to see a specialist. The police have been called several times due to her violence but I'm told her symptoms are borderline h they won't take her to be admitted for a psych eval. Now she's stooping so liw as to hide meds to put them with her next dose & say I messed them up so she can have me "fired" as her caregiver & so my brother will evict me & my child because we can't afford rent anywhere else. When I try to talk with him about it, he just laughs, it's all a joke to him & then he'll go to her to pacify her by yelling at me in front of her to make her happy. Even when he witnesses the verbal & physical abuse he laughs. He said that he firmly believes she would mess up her meds just to cause more trouble. She doesn't want to be helped in any way but can't live alone due to addiction & will definitely overdose again if left to take meds on her own. No one wants to live with her to help her, she's burned almost all ger bridges with the family. I'm stuck because I can't afford to move anywhere else. How can I make this work because it's a lot. 

Super Contributor

I would echo all the sentiments posted by the other two replies. In my opinion, whatever you have to do to take care of yourself, DO IT! Your brother is getting off scott-free by pushing all this off on you. If he had some idea of what it is to take care of her, he would be more sympathetic, hopefully. Please don't be afraid to set boundaries with her, you don't deserve to be abused, I don't care who it is, even if it is your mother. I just moved my mother in with me and she has already started up with the past verbal abuse she used to do to me as a kid. I won't put up with it, as far as I'm concerned she can go live in a home. I'll take care of her as long as I can, but I will not go through my childhood all over again for her, I just won't. I hope this post isn't banned for being too harsh, but from all that I've read so far, it seems to me that there are a lot of parents out there taking advantage of their children, it has been really hard to read and I'm feeling kind of panicky just reading some of the stuff on behalf of these posters. If you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of the much guilt and it is so unnecessary in my opinion.
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AARP Expert

Oh @JeniferG363774 , my heart goes out to you.  This is a predicament you're in.  Let's talk about some options.  I want to echo @agoyer  on the point that your mom may qualify for services that can help with her needs.  If she could be stabilized, then perhaps her behavior would change.  But, I am concerned that you are in a physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive environment and that you have a child that is exposed to this too.   Your needs and your security matter.  Have you considered the option of contacting 211 to see what services could help you and your child?  Perhaps alternative housing is the safest choice for you at this time.  Please check back in with us and let us know how you're doing.  

Amanda Singleton
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AARP Expert

@JeniferG363774   Jenifer it sounds like you are in a very very difficult situation. You must feel trapped, relying on the home you're living in which your brother owns, and yet living there requires that you care for your mother. It's a terrible conundrum. 


First, I'm wondering if your mother qualifies for Medicaid, and if so, she should have a case manager who can help arrange in-home services. If she needs medication management, help bathing etc., Medicaid could pay for those in-home services. Have you talked with anyone about that? That would lift the burden from you a bit and take you out of the "medication-reinforcment" role. Then you could still be there for other things she needs, but someone else would be taking care of some of her care.


Another option is family mediation with your brother (and potentially your mother too) to discuss the situation with an objective third party and come up with workable solutions. You can go to to find an eldercare or family focused mediator. 


How is your child dealing with all of this? How old is he/she? 


Let me know about the Medicaid issue and we'll go from there! 


So glad you reached out - and so sorry you are dealing with this! 


Take care,

Take care,

Amy Goyer, AARP Family & Caregiving Expert

Author, Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving and

Color Your Way Content When Caring for Loved Ones

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