are true stories sent in by today's caregivers:
Hi, my name is Beth and I am 51 years old. My dad is 85 and my mother
83 and I count them as one of the greatest blessing God ever bestowed
on me. My Mom is very ill and the doctor has told us her death is not
I want to do everything I can do to support both of my parents. The
hardest part is watching the pain they deal with day to day, wanting
to let them know how precious they are and how much I treasure them,
but at the same time preparing myself for the next step.
Does it ever get easier? I don't know. The best way I deal with it
is to treasure the good days and on the bad days, I just look forward
to the next good day.
For me, I wouldn't want it any other way. I watch and marvel at the
strength and love they have for each other. I feel so blessed to
be right here to help them. I pray that God will help me let Mom
go when the time comes. I pray that I will be able in some way to
comfort Dad when she is gone.
I was married to
a wonderful man in November of last year. The following month, December
23, 2005, my husband's aunt called and told us that
her sister, my mother-in-law, wanted to stay with us for about a week
for Christmas. She has probably stage 6 of Alzheimer’s. Deep
inside I thought, "Oh god, a whole week!" But I was a lady
about it and welcomed her in.
Two weeks later, my husband called his aunt and asked if we could
drive her the hour and one half back to her house as Christmas was
well over and we needed to get back to business. He was informed that
(aunt) could not take care of her since his other brother had sent
her back from another state to the aunt with a one-way ticket because
the mother-in-law was too much trouble and we would have to take care
of her for the rest of our lives and by the way, she had not had a
bath in six weeks!
Now I am not an evil person but I want to know if someone out there
has ever had this kind of shock come into their lives overnight! This
has turned our lives upside down. I always thought that taking care
of an elderly person was a little bit easy! I can't seem to accept
this because it was not even discussed with me, not planned, not even
thought of! How can I cope with this change in my life without being
I am just turning
32 years old, I am the youngest of four children. My parents have
always been there for me. My father has had colitis
for many years, when I was in 7th grade, he had colon cancer and survived
that. He is a stubborn but loving man. My mom was hit by a drunk driver
before she ever had me or my brothers and they said that she would
never walk again. She did. She also had us. In spite of her disabilities,
she managed to work a full-time job and go back to school and get a
degree in marketing. Although, she never did use her degree for a great
amount of success, we always had what we needed. My dad received an
veteran’s check each month from his disability that he has.
Now, my story. For the past seven years my father had been losing
weight and having a hard time keeping it on. We thought it was from
the crone's disease, still don't know. Mom, started to have her legs
come up with open sores from the skin deteriorating from the lack of
circulation in her legs. They wouldn't heal for weeks sometimes months.
They lost their home that took them 50 years to buy.(Their first home)
My father's medications cost so much that they didn't have enough to
pay the house payment, but we kids didn't know. It was too late by
the time we found out. Ever since then they have been in debt. My mother
started to forget to pay bills or overdraw their accounts. The youngest
of my brothers leached off of them what little money they had. My second
oldest tied up in his own family. I was all that was left. I had just
gone through a divorce, which was for the best but consumed a lot of
my time. I found in a VERY short time a place for them to live, not
the Ritz because of their money situation. But it would have to do.
I didn't have enough room in my tiny one bedroom apartment and didn't
have much after the divorce. Dad's health continued to deteriorate.
In and out of the hospital. Mom, went on oxygen but was still doing
okay. Dad became addicted to the pain pills and took too many, fell
and broke his hip. Land in a nursing home for three months. Came back
home and is still taking too many pills. He will fall asleep after
taking one and then wake up a half hour later and take another one,
forgetting that he took the first one. Mom, tried to help him but he
would give her a hard time.
Fast forwarding to now. Dad is back in the hospital on I.V feedings
and a tube in his stomach and has a blockage from his lower stomach
to his intestine. He cannot eat even fluids. He is three hours away
from us, and they want to send him home. He felt good yesterday, but
we went to pick him up and he was throwing up again. Too weak for the
ride home. Meanwhile, mom is getting weaker too. So, much pain. Getting
I work 40+ hours and took a second job to raise some more money for
my wedding to a very wonderful man, who supports all of this with my
parents like they were his own.
He does not work
due to an accident at work and receives compensation from their insurance
company. He is also up for surgery that will put
him out for three months. He has a 5-year-old son that stays with us
every other two weeks, but will be staying with us mostly full time
for school soon. I don't know how I can keep doing all of this. I finally
got them to let me take over their bills and make sure they are getting
paid. But my brother takes it. Doesn't make sure they are okay when
I am at work. I take care of my home too, with my fiancé’s
help of course, but it still is a lot of work. We have horses and cars
that we are trying to sell for the wedding money.
I feel guilty for
wanting to get married when all of this is going on. I am close to
losing my job because I keep trading days off to
make appointments of my parents. If I lose my job I lose everything
I worked for. I want so much for my parents to not have to worry about
anything, just enjoy the time they have left, but it is all getting
to be too much at times. Not enough time in the day. I can't get them
into an assisted-living facility because my mother is a year too young
and they could barely afford it any way, especially with all of the
past due bills that are piled up. My fiancé is my rock, but
I will be losing his physical help soon. I hope I am sane enough to
deal with it all by then. Plus plan my wedding for September.
Wish me luck.
Here is an update to a story that I wrote on May 1, 2005.
I had stated that there were problems with my mother living with
me in my previous letter. Well, just to let you know, my Mother is
no longer living with me. There was an episode where my Mother asked
my husband where I was one evening. He told her that I went to the
store. I never get out by myself. I am either with my husband or
my Mother. So I just needed the space. So my Mother told him, well
she would never go out without telling me first. Well, three times
she went in to bug him. Finally on the third time, he told her that,
you know Mom, she is not a baby anymore and you really need to realize
that and she does have the right to go out by herself. She even went
out to the garage and opened it 3 times.
Well, when I got home I knew that something had to be done because
my husband and I can't live like that any longer.
I went to bed that night knowing full well I intended on talking
with her the next morning. I will tell you that I was scared to talk
to her about it and that even made it worse. So after taking a chill
pill, I went into her room and we both sat down. I told her that
we needed to make some changes in our living arrangement, that things
just were not working out. I told her that she needed a place of
her own so that she could be independent again. Come to find out
she admitted to me that she had the same feelings but didn't know
how to approach the subject.
So today, one week after the fact, she is now in our own place only
5 minutes away and in a senior community. I opened up to her somewhat,
but never got into other things. I thought that this was enough for
her to handle.
I will pray that she finds happiness in her new surroundings and
I will be there for her, which is why I wanted to be close, just
not in the same house.
So if anyone is going through this type of situation, maybe you might
want to think about opening up and sharing your feelings. Let them
know that you do love them and you will still be there for them.
Any feedback is appreciated.
Two years ago my Dad passed away after being very sick with heart
problems. My Mom had a very hard time coping (so we thought) any spouse
would after being together for so many years.
My husband and I discussed having a house built to accommodate her
moving in with us. We discussed it with her all of the pros and cons
as well as financial matters. She agreed and thought that it would
be the ideal situation.
I love my Mother very much and we also share such a special bond
over the years. It has now been 5 months of her living with us and
I have really done a complete turn around. I see things that I never
She is a very controlling person, but she is no longer controlling
me as she once did and it really does bother her. I had to put things
into perspective, because it was hurting my relationship with my
When my Dad was in the hospital dying and she decided to disconnect
the life support because there was no hope, she told me that she
did not want any of us going to the hospital once he went into hospice.
Of course I honored her wishes because, as always, I listened to
her out of respect. This is something that has been eating away at
me and the guilt is unbearable. Why in the world I listened to her
is beyond me. Why couldn't I see that is part of her control that
she has had over me for the past 56 years? My sister could see right
through her, why couldn't I? That's not to say that I don't love
her anymore because I will always love her, it's just not the same.
Maybe the respect is not there as it once was.
She is pretty well independent, with the exception that she will
no longer drive because of her eye problems. Also she has chronic
atrial fibrillation and refuses to be on medication. I have no say
in the matter because she is of sound mind. I am just afraid that
one day I will wake-up and she won't because of not taking this medicine.
She is just too stubborn to realize that she is killing herself slowly
Tomorrow she will start going to a senior daycare program at the
church. Hopefully that will help her some. Then I am also checking
into programs at the hospital. All she does all day is sit in her
room and watch TV, which is not good. She also seems to eat a lot
of sweets in which she didn't before. She has lost a lot of weight,
which has me concerned, so I am going to talk with her doctor since
I have a signed paper saying it's okay that I discuss any medical
It is a very trying time at our house. We never know what to expect
next. My husband and I just got back from vacation and I went to
the cemetery where Dad was buried. She has yet to ask to go. I guess
people deal with matters in different ways.
My whole thing is I am having a very hard time forgiving her for
not letting us go to the hospital in his last days. Thank goodness
my sister went and she told him that we had been there and that he
was sleeping at the time of our visit. I know that I need to work
on how bitter I am towards her. Because, we never know how long she
will have. She will go to her grave never knowing how I feel, because
I don't want to hurt her feelings even though mine have been hurt.
I have to look at the overall picture that she is still my Mother
and I will continue doing for her as long as she wants me to.
Well, in closing I have to say, that if any of you out there are
in the same situation, and if they are pretty independent, then let
them stay in their own surroundings for as long as possible. Don't
take that away from them. Any comments and help would be grafeful.
I am 39 and the baby in my family. My father is 75,
lives alone but is failing slowly and may not be able to live alone.
I live six hours
away with two small children and a husband and go home for four or
five days at a time to help my siblings. My father is somewhat stubborn
and my sister is way over baring with him and everyone else. My brother,
who lives 2 minutes away, is a serious alcoholic who goes in every
afternoon to bring him dinner and give him his medicine — and
is showing signs of not being able to be trusted. Neither sibling can
get pass the fact that "the baby" has been given power of
attorney should we have to use it regarding my Dad. I have no intention
of making any of his decisions for him — he deserves respect
and dignity unless he becomes incompetent. The thing is my family has
NEVER gotten along and this is all a big mess. All I want is to make
him as happy in his final years as I can? Where do you get support?
I can really use some?
I am the "middle" child of 4! There are
large gaps between children in my family but I'm closest to middle
and definitely middle
My mother, Henrietta, is 90 years old. She is in excellent
physical health. She was diagnosed with dementia several years ago,
able to live on her own until last month. She is "there" sometimes
and sometimes she's not. She thinks she's "there" all the
My father died 15 years ago and since then, my mother has become
a whining, self-centered, pain in the you know what!! It gets worse
every year. Somehow she has decided that entertaining her is the
only important job any of her children can possibly have. She's negative
and constantly complaining. Nothing we do for her is enough - she
is never satisfied.
She has worn us all down to the point that none of us wants to even
talk to her on the phone anymore — she just ruins your day.
For the past 5 years, each of us kids has gotten the "I'm so-o-o-o
lonely" phone call at least once a week and usually several
times a week. She was living in a single home and just spending her
days sitting there in her room thinking of all the bad things - she
doesn't read books or watch TV or write letters or do anything — just
thinks about how bad off she is and how neglected by her children.
People, this woman was married for 54 years, she had maids and babysitters — she
didn't raise any of us kids; my grandmother raised us mostly. My
younger brother missed out on that and got Mrs. Busbee and Wanee,
the Vietnamese maid.
My father was a big wig in our small community and she was the perfect
trophy wife — problem was she really was just a trophy; she
looked good and made great public appearances, but there was never
any substance to her.
I have had to deal with many tragedies in my life and she was never
there for me when I needed her. When I was divorced (from the man
she chose for me to marry) and he disappeared with my two small children
shortly thereafter, my father informed me I was not to call my mother
to tell her about anything that would upset her ever again. I'd just
have to handle it.
I handled all the tragedies of my life alone, without the support
of my family.
Sixteen years later I found my sons and was renewing a relationship
with them, when my 18-year-old son was killed in a car accident.
She just couldn't come to the funeral. I'd just have to handle it.
I handled it.
Now when she is lonely, I'm supposed to drop my life and run to her
side!! When she decides she is not going to take her medicine as
prescribed and gets sick, I'm supposed to come running.
And the worst part is, I do. I know the pain of trying to handle
things alone. But I resent it.
In March, she fell and bruised her shoulder — bruised, not
broken, not sprained, just bruised. She decided she was in such awful
pain she needed to go to the emergency room. She called a friend
of her to take her on Saturday. She is such a drama queen, she managed
to talk a doctor into giving her very strong narcotic pain killers
and prescription naproxin to shut her up.
Unfortunately, this little attention trip got her in real trouble.
She didn't understand the directions on the prescription and wound
up taking 12 narcotic pills in 24 hours. A true testament to her
physical health, it didn't kill her, but it did land her in the hospital.
I live six hours away. My brother, who lives six minutes away called
me to come. I did. The doctor decided it was time that mother move
into assisted living or at least an environment where other people
were around — this would help her loneliness, make sure someone
was around to check on her periodically during the day, etc.
Sooooooooooo, I went to the retirement community nearby where we
had been trying to talk her into moving for years and made the arrangements.
She was released from the hospital directly to a rental unit at the
retirement community and I stayed with her most of the next three
weeks. My sister and her son drove 17 hours to spend the week helping
us get her moved into her new apartment. We were able to move her
furniture and important family pieces into the apartment so she should
have felt right at home.
This facility has set eating times and if someone doesn't show they
go to their apartment and check on them. They have a system to check
each day if the apartment door has been opened and if it hasn't,
someone goes to the apartment to check on them.
During the time I was with her, I set up medications in daily boxes,
one for morning meds and one for evening. We talked to her doctor
about this several times. I bought organization pieces to help her
not lose her apartment key and her glasses and stuff like that. We
practiced for the entire three weeks I was there — I didn't
do things for her, I made her do them so she wouldn't be depending
on me for things.
Her new environment included people she had visited there for years,
she was in familiar surroundings, she was getting nutritious meals,
there were many planned activities — we thought it was going
to make her happy.
After I left and came back home to resume my life, it was maybe three
days before she was calling us all again with the "I'm sooooooo
lonely speech." Then it was the "I'm sooooo sick speech — she
informed me that she was not going to use my daily medicine routine,
she was going to do it her way. When I asked if she was sick because
she wasn't taking her meds properly, she said no, she had stopped
taking her meds the day before and she couldn't remember if she had
taken them before that.
We have been through tremendous effort and expense to try to make
her declining years as happy as possible, but it's not working. She
just chooses not to be happy.
I'm exhausted with it. I have stopped answering my phone because
she just ruins my day, causes problems with my family, etc.
I'm really sorry she's not doing well, but I can't fix it. She has
too much money for any government support, and not enough to afford
the kind of care she really needs.
What she really wants is for me to leave my husband and come entertain
her. Now how's that for a selfish woman!
She'll just have to handle it. I did.
Henrietta’s Middle Child
On 11/1/2004, I closed on a larger home to accommodate my daughter
and her twins, who live with me (they are now 2 years old), lost my
job of 25 years (thank God I get 50 weeks of severance pay) and my
87-year-old mother fell down the stairs and hit her head on the basement
floor. A CT scan of her head showed no problems at that time. However,
on 12/11/2004, she fell twice and hit her head both times. A CT scan
at that time showed a massive subdural hemotoma (blood clot) which
had apparently been growing since the first fall on 11/1. Subsequent
brain surgery to clean out the blood clot was successful. She is in
good health with some confusion and short-term memory problems.
Because of purchasing a larger home, I have taken Mom in to live
with me also after she got out of rehab at the hospital. However,
she desperately wants to go home again where she would live alone.
The problem is, she needs to be reminded to take her blood pressure
medication twice a day. When she does remember to take it on her
own, she sometimes takes the evening pills instead of the morning
pills, which are different pills. This is in spite of the fact that
I have the pills in separate compartments for morning and evening
and for the different days of the week. So, if she goes home to live
alone, I feel that someone would have to check up on her twice a
day to be sure she has taken the right medication. If I relied on
calling her on the phone to ask if she has taken it, she would tell
me she did and she might not have taken it. I know this because I
ask her now if she has taken her meds and she tells me she has, but
when I check the pill container, the pills are still there or the
evening pills are gone and the morning ones are still there. Her
comment is, aren't they the same?
Did I mention that I am an only child? My 28-year-old son and his
family live very close to Mom, but he is busy with his wife and 2
young children, and isn't a reliable source of assistance.
I want Mom to be happy, but worry about her ability to live alone
again like she did before the falls. I took her to see her sister
who has Alzheimer’s and is in a home. Mom didn't seem to care
for the smallness of Aunt Rosemarie's studio room. She doesn't even
want to look at assisted-living type of arrangements and keeps saying
that she wants to go home. Even if we were to convince her that an
assisted-living arrangement were the best for her, I am not sure
she can afford it and know that I cannot afford to pay for it. We
want her to continue to live with us, but she just sits there all
day watching TV, which isn't good either.
I need to begin looking for a new job but am not sure what to do
with Mom while I am at work during the day. My daughter also needs
to work to support her children and herself, which would leave Mom
alone all day with both of us working.
Is anyone interested in starting a support group in St. Louis, Missouri?
I know I would be. Email me if there is any interest.
Also, if anyone has any suggestions for my mother, let me know! Thanks!
My mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's for 7 years. She has
been courageous and took the attitude that there was nothing she could
do about it so she said there was no need to worry about it. She worked
on crossword puzzles to keep her mind active and read as much as she
This year she suffered a major loss in memory and emotional stability.
She cannot do her puzzles, but carries them about and her newspapers,
puzzles, and books are a rolling pile of lea-like litter on her bed
when she tries to sleep at night. Also she has clutched onto chocolate.
Now she has had a few spells of being totally outraged with people
she used to know.
I find the thing to do is to try to meet the challenges as they come.
They often seem like they are coming too fast that I cannot plan for
She cut her foot and got herself locked into the bathroom and wouldn't
let me in on Easter Sunday. Now the door is taken off the bathroom.
A shower curtain replaced it. If she turns the stove on again, I
will remove the knobs. I bought a file cabinet to put her jewelry,
which she decided she wanted out of her lock box and to wear, in
it. I will have to put all meds there, also since she has taken some
without my knowledge and I caught her taking some of unknown origin
She has started wandering and doing things around the house. She
cannot do the intellectual things which she has enjoyed all her life.
She has a BA degree and taught school. So she has to find something
to do. A person working with an Alzheimer's person has to let go
of the idea that things should be perfect. I gave up trying to keep
her from putting the dishes away because they were in the wrong place.
I gave up and let her piddle in the cabinets and in the utility room
and even in the laundry. These were things that, for seven years,
she hated to do and would not do the work. Now I have a system and
she is messing up the organization.
The challenge is in my self and the constant change my expectations
have to undergo. If my mom is going to stay out of a nursing home,
then I must roll with the flow and be able to distinguish between
those things that are seriously important and those that are not.
Also, having help is essential. I cannot afford much, but she has
a bath lady that also fixes her hair twice a week. Several other
people come in and help with other things like shopping. I am not
well myself and need the help, too.
For a person like me that hates change this has been a true challenge.
But I hope to be able to meet this terrific challenge with the same
courage my mother has tried to meet it these seven years and carry
out her wish which was this:. She wants to stay in her home until
all her money is used up before she is taken to a nursing home. Therefore
all her assets are to be used to keep her here at home. She said
she would die quickly in an unfamiliar environment. I am 49. One
day at a time.
First I want to
say that I can relate to being the youngest, only female and understand
how hard and unfair that can be. At 53 and retired
recently, there's not much chance I will be taking trips like my brothers,
so I am feeling a little jealous of hearing of the wonderful places
they are traveling to. My husband suffers from a neck injury when we
had a car wreck on our 28th anniversary, the only one-day trip he and
I have had in two years. When I asked my brothers to stay in Dad’s
guest room and watch over him so I could go to Vegas for a few days
for my birthday, they refused and were even mad that I asked. Well
I have found that emotions run high when something like my father losing
his wife two years ago in a car accident. You would think Dad would
be the emotional problem, not his sons.
My father has pretty
good health and still has a good sense of humor and I am thankful
for that. He will be 92 in August and stopped driving
two years ago. This is an area I think will be of some interest to
many out there. Dad had a stroke about four years ago, but it didn't
have any signs of causing him any problems and he was allowed to continue
driving. After the accident I wondered if there were some visual problem
after the stroke, but will never know. I asked the doctor to evaluate
Dad’s driving ability after the accident and the doctor felt
he shouldn't drive and would pass that information on to the DMV. You
see Dad would never break the law and drive if he was told by the doctor
he couldn't and I didn't feel comfortable about his driving any longer.
The doctor pointed out that if he thought or if the children of an
older adult thought, a person was having any problems with driving
and they don't report it, they could be sued by the insurance company
if a car wreck were to happen. Yes, even if you lived away and your
parents are driving and you are aware of a possibility of unsafe driving
, you and their doctor could be sued.
Giving up his car
was really a hard thing to do and don't think for a minute I didn't
feel guilty for doing it. Naturally my oldest brother
was against this and informed Dad that "somebody" had put
the word out.. The saddest thing about all of this is that the three
of us were fairly close and now if I ever saw them again, it would
be too soon. I thought my big brothers would be there for me if I ever
needed them and it hurt to find out I was wrong.
I am adopted. It
never bothered me growing up, I never had the need to "find my REAL mother." The one I had was trouble enough!
My mother has always been a very cold and unaffectionate person. I
have not one memory of my mother reading a book with me, or holding
my hand while talking a walk. I was a pretty sickly child, and all
through my childhood she threw up to me how much "money" she
had to spend on doctors for me, and how today she would be a millionaire
if not for all my doctor visits. Needless to say, this woman was never
there for me with any type of motherly support while I was growing
Now, she is 85 and a widow and has made it through cancer and two
rounds of chemo, a broken hip and replacement, and just recently was
diagnosed with osteoporosis which results in fractures of her pelvis
Silly me, I thought
that all this would "SOFTEN" this woman,
but no, it has made her tougher. Now she "demands" that I
take care of her, and that I should put aside my duties to my 10-year-old
daughter who, by the way, is her ONLY grandchild, and just "do
She is as cold
to my daughter, who is a very loving and beautiful child, as she
has been to me all my life. I see history repeating itself
when she tells my child "you have to take care of grandma?" Yet
she will not even send my child a birthday card! It's all about "her," what
we must "do for HER." She feels that a parent does not have
to respect a child, and that no matter how badly a parent treats the
child, that child "must respect the parent and do everything for
What do I do now?
All the articles and books I read tell me nothing about "caring" for a mother that is MEAN. I have feelings
for her, I love her, yet it galls me to "have to" help her
now. Because, even though I do "help her," she doesn't appreciate
it, and it's "never enough." What about this type of situation?
Can you help some of us who have mean and hurtful parents that are
sick and who we "have to" help? I am at my wit’s end
with longing for motherly love, which I know I will not get, even now
at my mother's end, and feelings of regret of her dying and my never,
ever getting that love. And, now I "have" to care for her.
What do I do to keep sane? And not have my heart broken over and over?
Can you help me? Please?