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Re: Tough Choices

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Thank you both for such wonderful replies; it was exactly what I needed at this time. A cousin of mine moved away two years ago and began a journey of self-discovery. I talked to her and found out that we had much in common. 

 

When I was away, I could avoid those encounters that damage well-being and erode sense of self. I can still avoid those encounters. I just always held out hope that things would get better.

 

I was desperate last night-I feel empowered and encouraged now. 

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Re: Tough Choices

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Hi AC,

 

     Your mother is very lucky to have you caring about her. It sounds like you are giving her much more than she is capable of giving you. At a certain point, as Jane observes, you have to go into damage control mode. There will be no sure-fire plans for you to leave in place as you leave town. If your mother wants to sabotage them or is bent on self-destruction, then there isn't much you can do, no matter how resourceful you may be. As we say in clinical circles, this will play out. When it does, I hope that you can see it for what it is--a tragedy--but not personalize it. It doesn't sound like you were ever able to rescue your mom. I don't think you can do it now either. 

 

    Yes, do contact Adult Protective Services to put them on notice. Perhaps "the System" will spring into action and force care upon your mom. She'll be unhappy about that, too, though. Your dad might fare better.

 

     For what it is worth, here's an old AARP.org I wrote called "When a Troubled Past Affects Present Caregiving":

 

https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/life-balance/info-2017/overcoming-past-issues-bjj.html

 

It is about a much less severe family situation than you are facing. I also was looking at the time for some way to use family caregiving as a relational bridge. You probably moved home recently with the same hope. A year of banging your head against the wall is enough, though.

 

     Please let us know how things go and what more we can offer. Take care, Barry Jacobs, co-author of AARP Meditations for Caregivers

 

     

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Re: Tough Choices

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@AC486571 wrote:

I posted previously about returning home to help care for a mother who has struggled with mental issues all of her life but never got help. I left home as soon as I could. My siblings stayed and became unhealthy adults. None of her friends knew of the hell I endured; she was and is downright mean, yet she plays a victim, telling her friends tales of coldhearted, unreasonable children. Unfortunately, after a year here, I realize the risk of losing decades of progress I've made. I'm leaving. I've tried staying in town and joining support groups, but nothing can fortify me enough to endure regular contact with her. I feel guilty for abandoning her, even though she is truly terrible. I also understand that she has a disease. I've mourned the childhood I wish I'd had. Now I find myself mourning what I gave up last year to be closer to her. 

 

In what capacity do I need to remain in her life? How can I ensure that my parents get their needs met from afar? What things do I need to put in place before going? My father is still there and quite frail, but unfortunately I am not able to spend more time with him due to her. 


Hi AC, 

Oh my, I can so relate. My mother was impossible, and a Christian Scientist to boot so that was her excuse for not getting any help and grinding my father to a pulp. She died at age 55, 27 years ago. I went into therapy to figure out what my role was, without tearing myself into shreds. 

 

I'm so sorry you've lost ground since you moved to be with her, and your dad. There are things you can do, but not a whole lot. I'll give you some suggestions, as they say in AA and Alanon, take what you like and leave the rest. 

 

BTW, one of the things that really helped me was Alanon, because those folks know about having people in their lives who are bent on self destruction, and somehow the attendees stay whole and healthy. It's a real trick. And it only costs a buck a meeting. You can go a few times when you move away. Or not. I went for a few months, when my mother was really deteriorating and not taking anyone's advice. Really helped me. 

 

Okay, so, you have other siblings. Is any one of them available to be a comrade in arms around this business? Not to take over at all, but to be another mind, another person to run stuff by? Since you stated that your siblings went off down not-so-good paths, i figure probably no but if there's any one of them, that might help you feel less alone with it. In that same vein, do either of them have a sibling or a niece or nephew with their head screwed on more or less tightly? I'm a psychotherapist in a small town (2,500 souls) and in large, deeply dysfunctional families, sometimes there's one person who escaped intact. Maybe you're the only one but maybe there was another.

 

Here's another idea about their situation. One thing you can do is contact the local Adult Protective Services, and talk to the intake person. You can say, I am one adult child of this pair of elders, and neither of them are in good shape, for different reasons. You can ask them to investigate, because your mother is difficult (and whatever else she is, you can tell them), and your father is in ill health. And they refuse help. You've tried, and you're outta there. But at least there will be a social worker who is aware of the situation. Now, APS varies a great deal across the country, and some departments have the funding to be proactive. Others will say, heck, they sound pretty stable, we won't open a case file on them. Call us back if they start to hoard, or one has had a stroke but won't call 911, or whatever. But it's worth a shot. I used to work as a geriatric care manager in a wealthy county outside of DC, and i got to know one of the APS workers. She had several families in which the children had wiped their hands of their obstreperous parent or parents, and she did what she could. Got guardianship. Put in support, like home health aides. I had a case where an alcoholic with dementia would agree to have a live in aide, take a nap, and then wake up to this strange Ghanian woman in her home and chase her outside with a knife. Happened over and over again. She eventually went into a locked ward. So, the APS may work with you and it may not.

 

Do your parents attend a church, or belong to one even if they don't attend? Does he belong to the Elks or Masons? I'd advise you to notify any of these organizations who know your parents that they are not in their right minds and need looking in on. In my town, we have a chaplain that everyone likes, and if i can't establish rapport with the latest irascible referral, he's the guy. He knows every curmudgeon in town, and manages to 'disarm' them (sometimes literally. This is a gun toting second amendment worshipping kind of place). 

 

One other idea: make friends with a nice neighbor of theirs? IF, i say IF you want to stay in touch with this situation. If so, bring them a sealed tin of shortbread cookies, and a bouquet of flowers, and ask them to keep half an eyeball on your folks, and then call you. Some people like having permission to gossip. Then you will have a local contact, and can report them over and over to APS.

 

As i say, just some ideas. I had both a difficult mother and a social work degree, and i still had a hard time figuring out how to offer help (which mom always rejected) and not drown in guilt. I did manage. And when mom died (of entirely preventable causes, in a christian science nursing home that i found for her), my father waited exactly 6 months and started dating. He married a sweet second wife and had a few years of almost normalcy, and then, because he, too, was a "Scientist", had a stroke from untreated hypertension. He lived in a nursing home very close by my stepmother for 7 years. My sister and i managed his care. He passed away 10 years ago, getting good care. It was sad he didn't have more time. But we did what we could for him. 

 

It's time for the universe to step up and take care of your parents. And for you to get well again, mourn the year you've lost, and maybe get some more therapy. But give the guilt the boot. Youve been awesome. Not your job anymore to care for them. 

 

So sorry i didn't see your post til now. But if you're willing, write back, let us know how you're doing?

All the best, 

Jane

in rural eastern Oregon

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Re: Tough Choices

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@AC486571 wrote:

I posted previously about returning home to help care for a mother who has struggled with mental issues all of her life but never got help. I left home as soon as I could. My siblings stayed and became unhealthy adults. None of her friends knew of the hell I endured; she was and is downright mean, yet she plays a victim, telling her friends tales of coldhearted, unreasonable children. Unfortunately, after a year here, I realize the risk of losing decades of progress I've made. I'm leaving. I've tried staying in town and joining support groups, but nothing can fortify me enough to endure regular contact with her. I feel guilty for abandoning her, even though she is truly terrible. I also understand that she has a disease. I've mourned the childhood I wish I'd had. Now I find myself mourning what I gave up last year to be closer to her. 

 

In what capacity do I need to remain in her life? How can I ensure that my parents get their needs met from afar? What things do I need to put in place before going? My father is still there and quite frail, but unfortunately I am not able to spend more time with him due to her. 


@AC486571 I am so sorry you did not recieve a reply sooner. I've reached out to our experts to provide assistance. We absolutely want to help you and let you know that we are here for you at this difficult time. 

 

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Tough Choices

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I posted previously about returning home to help care for a mother who has struggled with mental issues all of her life but never got help. I left home as soon as I could. My siblings stayed and became unhealthy adults. None of her friends knew of the hell I endured; she was and is downright mean, yet she plays a victim, telling her friends tales of coldhearted, unreasonable children. Unfortunately, after a year here, I realize the risk of losing decades of progress I've made. I'm leaving. I've tried staying in town and joining support groups, but nothing can fortify me enough to endure regular contact with her. I feel guilty for abandoning her, even though she is truly terrible. I also understand that she has a disease. I've mourned the childhood I wish I'd had. Now I find myself mourning what I gave up last year to be closer to her. 

 

In what capacity do I need to remain in her life? How can I ensure that my parents get their needs met from afar? What things do I need to put in place before going? My father is still there and quite frail, but unfortunately I am not able to spend more time with him due to her. 

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