Is It Really Time For Parents to Go To the Nursing Home?

Photo by Mel B's Photostream
Photo by Mel B's Photostream

Save Me From Being A Burden

I have heard it said by many people that they do not want to be a burden to their children when they grow old. We do not want to fall into the abyss that is dementia and revert back to childhood, unfortunately, with an old used up body. When have we outlived our usefulness on Earth? At what age should we have already gone so we are not a burden on our children? Where is that line?  I need to know because I do not want to be a burden to my own children.

Photo by SuziJane's Photostream
Photo by SuziJane's Photostream

When Is It A Good Time To Go?

Where is that fine line between being a useful and productive member of society --or at the very least, a useful and productive member of a family -- and being a cause of disagreement with other family members and a major inconvenience? As we age, most of us go through a period of time where our children love and respect us. We are there for them as they go out into life to make their own way and to start their own families. They come for Sunday and holiday dinners. They call to tell us what is going on in their lives: they are engaged; they are having our first grandchild. They call to get their favorite childhood recipes. They want our opinion on the house they are thinking of buying. They throw us 50th Anniversary parties. They ask us to baby sit. They send us cards full of love and admiration for being there for them all their lives.

Is Something Wrong With Mom?

 

Then they start watching. Is Mom acting funny? Forgetful? They start comparing notes. Mom sure cannot handle the house by herself. She gets scared to stay alone while Dad is at the nursing home or Mom dies and Dad cannot cook for himself. He falls for the woman down the street and starts acting like a crazy old loon, spending all that money that he had been saving for so many years on his new love. If he keeps it up, there will not be any left for everyone else! Maybe the family should think about going to court to get conservatorship. He surely is not in his right mind! He is being taken advantage of!

If Mom outlives Dad, well, she has never driven. She does not even know how to pay the bills. Dad always did that. She has to be watched. She might burn the house down trying to cook. She might be better off in a “home.”

Photo by Robinsan's Photostream
Photo by Robinsan's Photostream

Does Mom Have A Choice?

These problems arise in most every family that is dealing with an aging parent. Back in the old days, families took care of their elderly, unless they required care that was beyond their scope. Nursing homes were for the unfortunate folks who did not have children that were lovingly raised by a devoted parent or two. Assisted living facilities, in which limited or no nursing care are available, but that offer supervision with daily living skills and medications, are multiplying all over the country.

While it takes normally most to all of the income that elderly residents have to live in an assisted living facility or nursing home, it is much easier on the family to put their parents there, often against the will of that parent. While I agree that, it can be difficult to care for an Alzheimer patient at home, for elderly people who still have their minds, it is heartbreaking.

This One Didn't

 

Just this happened to an elderly woman I know who still had her mind. At 89, she was living alone with her dog. One son lived close by, but four sisters lived about an hour away. She started getting a bit scared to stay alone at night. At the time, three of the sisters were retired and each came in about once a week to take her to lunch. They got tired of coming and wanted her to go to a “home.” They picked her up one day, drove her down to an assisted living facility and dropped her off. As a group, they raided her home of her furnishings and rented the home to a young couple.

She was heartbroken at the “dirty trick” that was played on her by her family. Her daughter-in-law, in fact, had offered to have her at her own home. She was the only one who offered. Ultimately, the son and daughter-in-law went to get her and she now resides with them. The daughters do not want her at their homes, not even for one night. It is beyond disgusting to me.

I have told the daughter-in-law that she is doing the best thing in the world to teach her own children about caring for the elderly and she will reap the benefits. She is showing her own children, by example, that we are responsible for our elderly parents. The sisters are showing their children and spouses that, by the time you are 89, you have outlived your usefulness to your family. We do live in a throw away society, but how can we throw away our parents?

Photo by G-Hat's Photostream
Photo by G-Hat's Photostream

Why Can't Everyone Help?

 

Why does the care of an aging parent seem to fall so squarely on one child when there are more in the family? It would be so easy for these three sisters to help out, but they do not want to be bothered. Is it because Mom is an embarrassment? She does not have the manners, perhaps, for eating in public that she used to, but she is still a very witty lady. They think she is “backward.” She grew up in Kentucky and maybe her ways are not as sophisticated as some other mothers that her daughters know, but she is their mother.

This woman devoted her life to her family. Sixty years ago, as she was raising her family, most women still stayed home and the men went out to work. She never drove or really had a life outside of her home, except for her church. She is being repaid this way for being a devoted mother. It is so sad.

From Caregiver to Patient

 

When my own Granny, who lived in another state, became sick at 93 years old, the care fell to my father. This was in spite of the fact that two daughters lived less than one mile away and another one son lived right behind her. Either my father or my stepmother, who lived across the street, went to stay with her nightly and brought her food in. She still had her mind, but her body was going due to a recurrence of colon cancer. My father had to beg his siblings to take over so he could get away for a weekend during her long illness until she passed away. For a time, my father was able to get away for short periods by installing a baby monitor in the house. In the end, my father spent all his time there.

My Granny had lovingly cared for her own husband who had Alzheimer’s for seven years. He lived in a hospital bed in a side room off the kitchen. He had deteriorated to the point that my own Granny diapered him daily. One day, I happened to overhear her talking when I was visiting. She spoke to him so lovingly, just as if he understood every word she spoke. I was so impressed. I have never forgotten her loving words or the care that she gave so freely to him. She resisted every suggestion by anyone to put him in a “home.” He already had one, she said. She also said that he had been good to her all her life and she was going to be good to him, whether he knew it or not.

Still the care of him fell solely on her, with little help from any of her children. Of course, at that time, her children were still raising their families, though most all of them lived just minutes away. However, most of them did come quite often, something that did not happen when she was lying in the bed dying. How can children do this to a beloved and devoted mother who still has her mind and knows that this is happening? I do not know.

Photo By Sociotard's Photostream
Photo By Sociotard's Photostream

When We Have No Choice

 

Why is it that these duties cannot be shared between all the siblings? No matter how busy our lives are, we have to make time for our mothers and fathers, especially the ones who devoted their very lives to our own. How can anyone turn his or her back on that love?

There comes a time when, no matter how devoted our parents were, that there might be no alternative to a nursing home. It can be very difficult to deal with a parent with dementia. At some point, they will not know the difference. At that point, the parent does not have to face the heartbreak of being “unwanted.” Of course, there are other times that it might become necessary. For example, there are times when the parent requires more nursing care than we are capable of providing. While it might be heartbreaking to a loving child or children, if there is no other options, we just have to accept that.

Elder Abuse Happens

Photo by Dok1's Photostream
Photo by Dok1's Photostream

Look Out For Elder Abuse -- It Happens In All Types of Places

Often, there are less expensive alternatives to nursing home care. In home care agencies have also proliferated around the country. It might be less expensive for the state to assist in paying for in home care as opposed to a nursing home facility. At the very least, by checking out all the options that are available, it will help to assuage the guilt that we might otherwise feel. Sometimes the situation makes the decision for us and we have no control over the outcome.

Either way, it is the children’s responsibility to make sure that, whether at home or in a nursing home, the care that the parent receives is of the highest possible standards. To ensure this, today we have “granny” cams that can be installed inexpensively, even at the nursing home. We need to visit frequently, and at odd intervals, to make sure that our parent is being kept clean and safe. We need to check for bruising and other signs of rough handling and abuse. If the parent complains, we need to take those complaints seriously.

For so many loving children, sending their parent to an assisted living facility or nursing home is an agonizing experience. For others, it is merely a decision made to avoid having to care for the parent. For those who are so selfish, shame on you.

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64 comments

Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 7 years ago from India

I was discussing this issue with a friend just the other day...it is indeed unfortunate that it's usually one child (the one geographically closest in most cases) who has to be the caregiver for old parents who aren't in the best of health anymore. It's hard not only on that child but also on the parent who tends to believe the others don't care.


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, FP. It is too bad that siblings cannot share the load, each able to more enjoy the limited time left with their parents. It would make the care of a parent easier for all and be a great way for each to set an example for their own families. Everyone does have their turn at getting old. Are we then useless as well? A sad commentary on modern life.


Neil Sperling profile image

Neil Sperling 7 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

This is a tough and touching subject all in one. Myself- I live a 4 hour flight from my parents and my one sister a 4 mile drive. The answer is obvious what is happening in my situation...... but there is also another side to the story - my kids (my parents grand kids) never got Xmas presents nor birthday wishes from my mom but both my sisters kids were always remembered. - Life is odd in some ways.

My friends are closer to me than any family member (excluding my own kids) and my coaching and mentoring of many is and has been my rewards.

Life is beautiful in some ways.

Odd or beautiful - I'll stick around and be my best... when it comes time for me to need care, I fall under the banner "I would rather be abused in an old fogies home than burden my kids". That being said - I'll look after myself as long as possible... hopefully to the last breath.


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Of course it is impossible to share the burden in a situation such as yours. However, those who live close by should be more willing, even if it is just for the day. Just by your comment, we can see how family dynamics could also affect the future care of the parent, though you are not in a position to care for yours. Still, for those who can, I feel we have a responsibility to care for our parents, regardless of past slights -- real or imagined.

Of course, for those who would argue, I am not talking about child abuse and other neglect and hatefulness. I am talking about good parents who outlive their usefulness to their children because they have grown old. It happens to us all. Thanks for stopping by to take a look, Neil. I especially always appreciate comments. Thank you for taking the time to post one.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

Connie,

This is a fine article. It is well written and informative. Tough subject. Most people want to stay in their homes. I hope they can. But if they become dangerous, meaning to themselves (burning down the house, falling down) they need to move in with relatives. And that can be a big job for the relatives. But what are we here for if not to serve those who have loved and nurtured us?


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Thank, James. I just find it so sad that it does seem that there is a time in life where we are just past our expiration date, whether we have other issues like dementia or not. With busy lives, the more people who can help does relieve the "burden" for all. That way everyone has a chance to enjoy what is, after all, the last years with their parents. Thanks for commenting.


Minilady profile image

Minilady 7 years ago

Really well said. Old age is a difficult time and while we always hope that we don't become a burden on others there is no telling what will happen in the future. The concept of old age homes was once alien in India where looking after elderly family members is taken for granted. But times and attitudes are unfortunately changing.


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Thank you for taking the time to comment, Minilady. At one time, the concept of old age homes was alien here in the US too. While we can definitely see the need for nursing care for many of our elderly, it is so sad when these places have to become home just because our families have no place for us in their busy lives. When we throw away our loving parents, we have indeed become a throw away society.


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 7 years ago from malang-indonesia

maybe for the son or daughter that very busy until he or she can take care their old parent they should send their parent in nursing home. But this is back to us, if we want to stay with the elder and take care with patient it's ok...I think more wisely than send to nursing home. thanks for great topic.


Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

Connie, You've captured this wrenching decision perfectly. Caring for our elderly is a financial and socio-familial issue that really needs to be addressed on a case by case basis. I've lived through both scenarios. When my mom died, my dad put himself voluntarily in a retirement home (high end one). It was the most generous thing he could have done. Toward the end of his life, all three of us kids offered to have him come live with us. He refused.

My father-in-law suffered for years with Alzheimers, then got lymphoma, too. He might have thrived in a home, but his wife vowed to keep him at home. And she kept her promise. Now we are fighting her daughter to keep Mom at home instead of institutionalizing her.

This definitely brings out the very worst in siblings, doesn't it?

Good hub. Thanks for tackling this. MM


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

To Prasetio30 and Mighty Mom, I thank you both for taking the time to read this and commenting. We do not always have choices, but like MM's dad, I feel that the choice should be up to the parent whenever possible, even though we are inconvenienced as the caregivers. There are many workable solutions, especially when the siblings work together instead of fighting about it. In my friend's case, with three retired daughters who do not even want to take the time to come and take their poor mother to lunch, well, the selfishness of such daughters is just unreal to me.


Jen's Solitude profile image

Jen's Solitude 7 years ago from Delaware

Hey Ms. Smith, It really hurts to think of elderly parents left to flounder around when they need their children the most. Other cultures really value their elderly parents and I think we could take a page from them and treat our aging population in the same way. Those who take on the responsibility have my respect and admiration. This was another great thought provoking article. Thanks for tackling such a tough subject matter.


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 7 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon

What an excellent overview of a very real and common plight. My heart hurt just to read about that poor mother whose daughters bundled her away into a "home" and then destroyed her real home. They sound like very practical and heartless people and I hope they have a change of heart - maybe it will come when they get treated the same way. I'm glad to hear that there is a good ending to that story. I know I will do everything in my power to keep my mother out of a rest home, but thankfully, it looks like that won't be a concern, or at least that's a long way off. My mother is still alive and awake and has her wits about her.

At the beginning of this hub, I had to think of a Star Trek TNG episode where the citizens of one planet were euthanized at age 60. It was described as "very beautiful" and perhaps it was. But in the end, it was evident that the system had major flaws, such as the fact that there is no age limit on vitality, and of course, dumping your parents into the grave to rid yourself of a burden is atrocious and inhuman. If my mother were ever to become a burden, I would rather help carry that burden than put her in a home to die alone. Thanks for a very stimulating hub!


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

We all get old, do we not, Jen? The people who disdain their parents will surely pay for it in their own old age. Alas, I think other countries are starting to follow our lead than visa versa in respecting our elderly. As each generation seems to respect all things less and less, I can see this situation getting worse instead of better. Thanks for stopping by ;)

Alexander M, I appreciate you taking the time to leave comments. I sure am glad I don't live on that Star Trek planet, I would be down to my last ten years and know it. Not a good thought! I try to be good to my own mother and she is secure that she will be fairly treated. As I said, there are many reasons why a home is the best choice, but it has to be made for the parent's sake (and with the parent when possible!) and not the children's. We need to look at old age as just another phase in life -- the last one! I do not want to miss my mother's either.


Duchess OBlunt 7 years ago

A subject so close to home for so many with our aging demographics. Job well done in brining it up for us all to think about.

I remember the care of my grandmother being the sole responsibility of my mother. Most days she was happy with the arrangement, but it was very disheartening to watch her mother's mind slowly deteriorate. When she became violent, it was the hardest thing I think my mom ever had to do, putting her in a home where she would have the constant care needed for her health and her safety.

I remember visiting her there and wishing with all my heart I never had to put my own children through that heartache.


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Thank you for your comments, Duchess. As I go hurtling into old age (time flies, you know), this subject gets closer to my own reality. I surely do not want to be a burden to my children, either. I think that while we have our minds and our health that we need to discuss these issues with our children.


Duchess OBlunt 7 years ago

Good idea. I'll have to put that on the Agenda for the next time we are all together! Not a popular topic (almost worse that where and how we want to be buried), but certainly a practical one.

Thanks for the tip


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

That is another one for sure, Duchess. When my husband was dying of cancer, I had a very hard time bringing up the subject of burial to him. I always wanted him to keep having hope and faith that he was going to get better. He sure did give it the good fight. Our most difficult moment and one I will never forget was asking him on the way to the hospital right before he died what he wanted "just in case." I knew the time had come and if I didn't ask then, I wouldn't get the opportunity. That conversation is burnt into my mind and I can recall it as clearly as if it were yesterday. We do need to have those conversations while we are well so both we and our loved ones do not have to go through that at such a difficult time.


GoGranny profile image

GoGranny 6 years ago from Southeastern PA

This is a significant hub for readers needing information about elderly parent care decisions. I have worked in nursing homes for 30 years (from being a nurses aide to an assistant administrator) and have seen both extremes of placement scenarios. I have witnessed the agony and guilt of a caring family member after realizing that 24/7 care has become the necessary option for the sake of the elderly person to the less caring who just want to make their own lives easier by transferring the responsibility to a nursing home.

Thank you, Ms. Smith, for you insight and knowledge on such a delicate subject.


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 6 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Thank you very much for taking the time to read it. We have a great need for caring employees in this career field and it sounds like you've been one of the really good ones. I thank you on behalf of the poor residents who did not have family who cared for them. I will bet that you looked after them lovingly.


HubCrafter profile image

HubCrafter 6 years ago from Arizona

Hi Connie:

Linda and I live with friends. The wife, Janice, has Schroedinger's Syndrome.

She had gall bladder surgery a while back. Scar tissue from the operation grew gradually, until it cut off the flow of food thru the upper intestine. Poisoning her entire system. After days of cramps and throwing up, her husband took her to the emergency. None of us knew the severity of her trouble.

The first two days, her life hung in the balance. The kidney machine was needed for the first week. Two surgeries later, a lung machine provides her every breath. The esophagal tube had to be removed because she panicked when awakened. A tracheal tube replaced it.

We miss Janice at home. She and I made meals together for the rest of the household. We'd laugh and joke about the little things that make each of us so different, so human.

Weeks before she began this fight for her life; I could see a sad look come into her eye. Just sometimes.

I didn't mention it to Janice. I told my wife. In the quiet darkness before we slept; Linda and I talked about the fears Janice must have, living with Schroedinger's.

Someday, people she knew or even people she didn't know, would decide where she could live. Whether she could hold her cat in her lap; help a blind man do his shopping; lay out her own pills for the week....someone else...someday, would decide.

Her husband is there. Every day. Two-three times a day. He encourages, tries tough love. Cries on the way home. It's been 39 years since their wedding day.

Doctors, nurses; everyone who visits from our church; we all do our best, wish the best, hope the best. We're thankful of little changes for the better. Anxious when they're not. Praying at meals and sharing by phone; lifting up our friend so weak and frail.

The sadness in her eyes, we hope, will have to wait. As she and we continue to trust and wait upon God.

HubCrafter


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 6 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

This is a very moving story and I got chills when you said she panicked and had to have a different tube. I am not sure if you read my hub "The Day I was Supposed to Die," but I was intubated last August after a very severe asthma attack. I extubated my tube (the offical term for meaning that I jerked it out myself) also. Fortunately, I didn't do any damage -- or have to have it replaced. Having that tube is the worst feeling in the world -- kind of like you have a chicken leg stuck in your throat. My heart goes out to anyone who has to deal with this, as well as any terminal illness, and including old age. It doesn't seem right that we lose our abilities to be independent. As I've dealt with that on a very short term basis, I know what it is like and am so glad that it was only short term. I will also pray for Janice.


l1988 6 years ago

This story really hit home to me. My father is currently in a nursing home. The reason he was put in the nursing home is because his parents could no longer care for him, since they were very elderly themselves.He is not that old, considering the elderly people that you had mentioned above. Most of the time no one comes to visit him except me and even though I am currently a college student, I come to visit him every time I come home. Although a couple of his siblings have came a couple of times, they haven't gone to see him as often as I have. I am the only one who has taken him places, brought him food from the supermarket, and remembered his birthday and holidays, it seems. This past Christmas, I was the only one who came to see him twice-as well as buying him a gift and made a fruit basket. It really made me feel good that I had made someone else's Christmas a joyous one. Even though there are times when he could make the most disparaging remarks, he doesn't, or no one does for that matter, deserves abandonment in a foreign,sterile palace like a nursing home. When the time comes and I finish my schooling, I plan to get him out of the nursing home as soon as possible and help him look for an actual home. I will continue to do everything I can to help him even though I am out of state for the most part and make sure that he has everything that he needs. I had already promised him that I would never abandon him like the rest of his family did, and that although I am not always there, I will certainly be by his side every chance I get to come home in the meantime.

Once again, good article, Connie Smith.


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 6 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Not everyone has a choice to make. They are just not able to care for their parent or parents. Those cases, like yours, sometimes cannot be helped. It shows your good heart that you plan to take care of your father in the future, though you are so young to take on the responsibility of caring for a dependent parent. Best wishes to you in your future.


Gabe 6 years ago

Good article for it made me think on a few issues I haven´t considered.

In my case, I was the kind of person who would openly defend the position of having your parent or loved one with you at home no matter what. Nevertheless my position on this has changed since the incidents my father went through: he first had a stroke, from which he came out "well"; the only sequel he had was a paralysis of vocal chords and loss of capability to swallow; of course I had him home with me, I made arrangements so I could be with him all the time, take him to his rehabs sessions and doctors appointments. Unfortunately this rythm of life was too much for him, and perhaps unbearable, he started slacking with his excersises and missing appointments for rehab aducing to be feeling bad... of course I would call a doctor to have him checked, but the doctors always said he was fine and just "babyacting"... the last couple of weeks he begun acting weird and uncooperative, taking off the device that feeds him off (that happened three times in a day one time) and that would mean taking him to the clinic to have it applied again... besides that the fact that he cannot be understood which drove him and me nuts, and all this late lack of cooperation or interest in his best interest, I had to consider the quality time that taking care of him required was taking away from the quality time my son (7) and spouse requires. Last week my father simply didn´t want to get up from bed, first I thought it was just babyacting on his part, but when I saw he coudn´t make it to the bathroom I took him to the clinic because I really saw him deteriorating. He was internated for observation and studies and a new situation came up: a brain glioma grade 4... no chance of surgery due to his age (72) and size and location of the glioma. I was told that all that could be done for him was put him in corticosteroids maximun dose to prevent edemas and pressure of the brain, but the tumor would continue to advance and take over healthy tissue. Rays and chemo are out of the question too because would worsen his quality of life rather that make him better.

To brief this up, I have decided to put him in a nursing home for these reasons: Number one, he would need far more monitoring and care that I could provide myself, since I´m not medically trained; he would have the doctors, nurses, phisiotherapist and phonoaudiologyst on location with no need to take him everyday to it to separate places; I don´t want to spend his last days taking care of him (changing diapers, bathing him, administering medications)which in itself is a hell of a stressing job for only one person (I´m his only son) rather than being at his side just for him,talk to him, thank him for all he has been to me, giving him the deserved love... I want to do all the latter without having to worry for the other thing that a person in his state needs; and the last reason is that I don´t want my son to witness my father´s death.

I don´t know if I´m being selfish in doing this, but I have thought it over, considering a ton of articles of this sort, weighing economic issues, moral and ethical issues.

thanks for the space, but I really needed to express this and somehow get it off my chest.


Cati 6 years ago

To Gabe,

I think every situation is unique. Taking care of an aging or sick parent is complex and the perfect scenario does not happen often in real life. There is not only one good way. That your dad is not living in your house does NOT mean that you are leaving him alone!

As the good son you are, just like a good parent, you worry if what you decided is the best. It is hard not to worry but don't drive yourself sick about it. Times have changed. We do live longer. But also sicker. We don't have 8 or 9 siblings anymore that can help to share the load of taking on the care of someone sick. Also, there is a big difference between taking

care of an aging parent and taking care of someone with special needs. These situations are not comparable.

What your dad is suffering from is not simple. The pressure on his brain could make him become impulsive, confuse, or aggressive.

I know you must feel a lot of sadness, it is not easy to see someone we love go through that severity of health problems.

Your dad sadly has special needs now. But from what you told us, he is not alone, even though he is not living in your home, because he has raised a loving son who cares about him.

Courage in these difficult time,

Cati


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 6 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Cati is right, Gabe. We all do not have the luxury of being able to care for our parents at home. We cannot feel bad about that when it happens, especially when the parent's needs are far beyond that which we can deal with medically. My two year old granddaughter is recovering from a brain tumor. Her surgery was on March 9, 2010 and she just got home from the hospital two days ago (part of it was rehab). My daughter and I were talking tonight about how difficult it is to care for her at two years old and the amazing amount of work involved and there are both of us to do it. I could not even imagine trying to do it for an adult. I do not think I have the stamina right now. She has a stomach tube, nite monitoring for oxygen level, oxygen sometimes, nebulizer, a portable suction machine....it is a lot.

When I wrote this, I was mad about how this lady was being treated: her daughters do not even come on her birthday...too busy with the church sale to visit for a few hours...that kind of crap. There is a big, big difference in being there for a parent and just sticking them in a nursing home. You are a good son.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Connie, It is cathartic to read the stories of others who are facing this difficult decision. People do live longer now, yet often they do not retain the ability to safely care for themselves. Deciding on the right time to hand over the care of our parents can be a source for guilt and grief for their caregivers. I'm faced with this situation now. Contrary to Mom's doctor's recommendation she wants to remain in her own home regardless of the safety issues, like forgetfullness with medications and repeated fractures due to her fragility. She also takes care of her 90 year old sister who surprisingly is in better health than Mom. Considering their pets and personal preferences, this affects the outcome of the decision.

Your topic is an important one. It's been helpful to read about others in this situation.


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 6 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Good luck to you, Peg. Though I wrote about it, I have never had to personally make this decision, though I have fought with my sisters over certain things about my mother already. She just turned 77. I am a firm believer that, until we really need it, that children allow their parents the ability to live their lives in peace. Yes, funny enough, the tables get turned and the children constantly nag the parents on what they are supposed to do and not to do. Life can be very ironic, can it not? Adult children get mad when their parents want to date, spend their own money, marry, etc. In each circumstance, we must remember that just because someone is elderly does NOT mean that one is not capable of living life and making their own decisions.

Obviously, the key is: Is the parent capable of making his or her own decisions? If so, butt out.

Peg, in your case, it does sound like your mother is able to care for herself, somewhat. It also sounds like, except for a bit of forgetfulness, she is of sound mind. In these cases, is there a place for compromise, such as a caregiver that comes in to make sure the meds are taken, etc?


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Connie, Thanks. I am the caregiver for the time being. My sis visits a few times a year as she's out of state. The girls live way out in the country on acreage and I live just down the road from them.

We do have Meals on Wheels folks who come by on Tuesdays for a few minutes which is nice.

We've tried a couple of home services without much luck. Some are afraid of the dog (he's a small dachshund), one brought her sick child with her (exposing the girls to illness), some can't keep their appointments on time or come early or late. By the time they arrive the meds have been given, breakfast is over, the beds changed, laundry washed, and the groceries bought and put away. One sat and read to them, which they loved, but it didn't help with the workload.

They have a care button for emergencies and their neighbors advise me of suspicious activity or concerns. The elderly are at risk from predators of all kinds who knock on their door to "help". Mom let someone in the other day who claimed to be a census taker but failed to show her an ID.

Mom is 85 and her sister is 90. We are doing ok for now and I realize that the days are numbered. I'm in no hurry for her to go into a nursing home even though it would be safer for them both, they are happy where they are for now and I feel blessed to have them.

Give your Mom a few more years and you'll see things change dramatically between 77 to 85 years old. Mom worked until she was 80 but since she retired she has lost a lot of ground. We'll continue one day at a time for now.


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 6 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Good luck to you, Peg. It sounds like you have things worked out pretty good for now. I certainly can see the writing on the wall as earlier this year we had a preview of things to come when Mom was hospitalized. My older sis asked me to come back from out of town (where I was after just being released from a hospital while I was gone!) to come back to "help." My younger sis, who works, basically told me to give up what I was doing (an unpaid writing assignment) to go back home as well. As I told her, take some vacation days, as her "job" wasn't any more important than mine, even though she was being paid, I wasn't seeing any of it! Keeping in mind that I have 4 grandkids (4 and under) who I was caring for and having a break from for the first time in a while -- a long while, they both had nerve! Unfortunately, I ended up having to go back the next day anyway due to the discovery of my 2 year old granddaughter having a brain tumor. She is still recovering, will recover, but it is a long process as she is still just learning to walk and talk all over again. Mom is a bit better, but she knows my baby girl comes first.


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 6 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Well, the old 90 year old woman I wrote this about died today. I hear the sisters (who didn't come for Christmas or mom's birthday -- one was too busy with a CHURCH sale for mom) were boo-hooing up a storm. It makes me sick! I pray that everyone in their church knows how these women treated their mother. She died a broken women and had a broken heart. So, so sad.


Astrid 6 years ago

I think that parents that were supportive, loving, and that truly did the best they could deserve all that their children are able to do for them. But there are lots of reasons why many people would be unable or unwilling to care for elderly parents. As the daughter of two parents that made my life a living hell, I am unable and unwilling to care for them. I endured years of abuse (some physical but mostly mental), belittling, constant criticism. Mother is psychopathically controlling. Father is a self-absorbed alcoholic. I never got a word of kindness from either of them, or a penny of financial help. Even though they are comfortably middle-class, I went years without warm winter school clothes (until I started working and providing for myself). They also would not help me pay for my university education, so I struggled and did it myself over the course of a decade.

I know many people say to "be the bigger person" and offer them what they never gave me-but that is incredibly idealistic and unrealistic. I have limited time and resources, and it would be unfair to my children, my dear inlaws, and to myself to spend an iota of it on people that don't give a dam about anyone but themselves. I will not shortchange my kids even a hair for my abusive, nasty parents.

So before throwing stones at people who don't fall all over themselves to care for their elderly parents, stop to think that there may be a good reason for it.


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 6 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Hi Astrid, thanks for the comment. I looked through my article and saw that I did not mention anything about a situation like you describe. However, it has come up in the comments. No child has the duty to give better (and loving) care to an abusive parent. That is the beauty of having facilities out there to deal with them. Sometimes people wonder why these people have no visitors -- well, we do not have 20/20 hindsight into others' lives to see what they had to deal with. However, when one is loving with one's children, one's in-laws and doesn't want much to do with mom or dad, most of us can draw our own conclusions about that.

I feel for you and this article was never geared toward people who were abused or neglected as children, but those who had devoted and loving parents. The lady who I wrote this article about is now dead, and yes, the children came and boo-hooed over her death, feeling the love of their church congregation who have no clue these people do not have the Christian love in their hearts that they proclaim. One of these daughter's was too busy with the church sale (something her mother loved!) to visit or call on mom's birthday. This is the people who I was referring to. We have NO responsibility to take care of anyone who has mistreated us!


LPogue profile image

LPogue 5 years ago from Missouri

Connie,

This is an important topic, and one which I hope most people think of before it is necessary. Both my in-laws passed away in 1980, after being ill for a long time. My sister-in-law cared for them daily. We lived in another state, but I did take over their care anytime we were in the area to give her a break. We hated that we lived so far away and were not able to help more. Sometimes, living far away makes caregiving difficult if not impossible, especially when your elderly family member cannot or will not move to where you are. After my mother-in-law passed, I gave up my job and we moved to stay with my father-in-law. He passed while we were in the middle of the move. It was a hard time for everyone. Unfortunately, there is no one right answer for all situations, but not offering or giving care needed by family members is very wrong.


Carol Ende 5 years ago

It Can Be Different. Check out the Eden Alternative website at www.edenalt.org - and -

Help us grow the Eden Alternative in other organizations

Vote for our $250,000 grant proposal "Refresh and transform 5 nursing homes." You can vote each day.

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Start spreading the news to your friends and family and have them vote for the Eden Alternative idea every day throughout November. They can now vote by mobile phone too using your unique text-to-vote code, available on our idea page.

Voting ends the last day of this month so there's no time to lose.


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 5 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Hi Carole, I went to the site and read a bit about it. I was going to vote, but when I did with my Facebook account, it wanted me to give up my address book, my friends and all that. I don't do that, so I couldn't vote, sorry.


no name 5 years ago

I'm a Gen Xer - sandwiched between 2 young children that I'm raising as a single parent and 2 aging parents who did not prepare for their retirement and have "expected" me to drop my life and move to their town to take care of them in their retirement.

Many of the posts that I've read automatically condemn family for not caring for their elderly parents.

But it seems to me that several issues are being ignored:

1) Do you allocate your limited resources of time, money and energy to taking care of aging parents so that you have less resources to build your retirement (so that you won't be a burden to your own children)?

2) Keep in mind that there are approx 72 million Boomers moving towards retirement. There are only about 50 million Generation Xers (sandwiched between raising children, preparing for their future and caring for parents) and there are about 80 million Generation Ys - the young ones.

3) Do we just keep passing the burden of elder care from one generation to the next to the next because the previous generation "deserves" to absorb the available resources - and did not plan for their retirement?

Should we just go to our children now and say to them, "Sorry kids, you're going to have to forget about your dreams, your college educations, your careers, etc because we have already committed your future so that you can take care of us because we were too busy taking care of Granny/Granpa instead of planning for our future? And then you kids can burden your kids because you were too busy caring for us instead of building your financial future."

2) The Boomer generation, now entering retirement, was one of the most prosperous generations in this country. And yet, with all of their opportunity they neglected to plan for their future. I saw this with my own parents. They had the money to buy all of their trinkets, to neglect sound financial practices (such as balancing their check book), spend, spend, spend. This is the generation of "freedom" and "we deserve..."

I grew up watching my parents happily squander their resources of time, money and effort for decades until now, at the ages of 65, they have realized their backs are to the wall.

Here's another issue: as a parent, YOU make the choice as to whether you bring a child into this world. The child does NOT get to choose. If you choose to donate your egg or sperm, YOU have the obligation to provide for the life that YOU have chosen to create. The child had no say in that matter.

My kids did not ask me to bring them into this world. I did. I owe my kids. My children do NOT owe me. When I hear someone saying, "my kids owe me," what I hear is someone saying, "I failed to plan for my future so I'm going to pass the responsibility to my kids and make them feel guilty for not doing what I should have done in the first place."

I am also an aging parent but in no way do I put the burden of taking care of my in my old age on my kids. I am taking the personal responsibility of preparing for my future even now as a single parent whose job was taken away and as I am forced to start a business alone with my 2 kids.

I don't use my circumstances as an excuse to neglect planning for my future and passing the buck onto my kids.

When you say that the child has the obligation to give it all up and take care of parents then what you're really saying is that our children are really just a generation of 2nd class citizens - with essentially no say in their lives because we are ordaining what they're going to do with their lives by virtue of our neglect and our parents neglect.

This is just another form of slavery.

Being a good family member also means taking personal responsibility to ensure you don't become an undue burden on your children and grand kids futures.


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 5 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Again....I do NOT say that every child has an obligation to care for their parents! I definitely did NOT say that the child has an obligation to "give it all up and take care of our parents...." This particular article was written about a lady who SACRIFICED her whole life for her children, who then DROPPED her as she neared her late 80's. They didn't even call her on her birthday, visit with her at Christmas! They came into her home while she still had her mind and took her for a "ride" down to the old assisted living facility, away from all her things, her dog, her life. She had an income, but today, do you know how much it costs for nursing home care?

You had selfish parents, from the sound of it, or maybe they just raised a selfish child. I don't have enough information to make a decision. After all, there are two sides to every story.

What I am saying in this story is: Do we come with an "Expiration date?" Is there a time in which, while we still have our minds, that we have outlived our usefulness to our families?

After all the times your parents took you to the doctor as a child, do you resent having to take them occasionally? After all the money spent on you, all the food carted in to feed you, do you resent having to get groceries for mom and dad? Come on!

You have issues with your parents, that is abundantly clear. If you have a terrible childhood, if you were beaten, neglected, molested, etc., you have NO OBLIGATION TO YOUR PARENTS. Were you treated like a prince or princess? Were your every needs met? Were you catered to, carted around, spoiled? If so, do you owe something to your parents? NO! We each have to live with how we have treated others at the end of the day. The first thing I say in this article is that I do not want to be a burden. I may not have a choice in that in the end. Will my children care for me? I think so. Why? Because I am GOOD TO MY MOTHER, setting an example that, either my children follow, or live with it after I am gone. It is as simple as that.


quildon profile image

quildon 5 years ago from Florida

This is really a very touchy subject and I admire you for writing about it and expressing your views so clearly. As a healthcare worker I have seen many mothers left in nursing homes because their daughters didn't want them in their homes, even when these mothers were able to take care of themselves with maybe just a little supervision.

It doesn't matter whether your parents prepared adequately for their retirement, stuff happens. Especially in this economy many boomers have lost their life savings through no fault of their own. Should their children bail out on them in a case like that? And even if they did not lose their savings, they are still your parents - the people who gave you life, who sat up with you at nights when you were sick, who attended ball games and PTA meetings on tired evenings, who sent you to college etc. etc.

However, if the time comes for me to go to a "home", if I still have my mind as you say, I will go, rather than be a burden to my children. I have seen too many elderly people who live with their children neglected and isolated and in some cases treated worse than if they were in a home. I'd much rather be with my peers.


howcurecancer profile image

howcurecancer 5 years ago

So touching. Awesome hub!


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 5 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

What a great compliment. Thank you.


LilSquirt profile image

LilSquirt 4 years ago from Wisconsin

Hi Connie. I appreciated your article since it hit close to home. Thanks


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 4 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Thank you, Lil Squirt. As a baby boomer, I know there are many more out there just like us, who are dealing with these issues right now. My mother is getting scared to stay alone, even though she has a security company. All I can say is God help us all, lol. It can be very trying.


Baby Boomer 2 4 years ago

Interesting discussion. I hear the "holier than thou" who are taking care of their parents because it's the right thing to do and the "damned" who neglect their parents by ignoring them completely but life is rarely so black and white.

I am in my sixties with many health issues of my own. My son lives 4000 miles away and we like to visit him at least once a year. My doctor suggests I spend winter in a warmer climate as my health declines badly in the cold months. Sounds simple enough but with an elder who is 89 and determined to be independent and "make my own decisions" as he says, it is very difficult to take care of him and myself. He has mild dementia and help every day with medication and personal and household needs but is on the phone daily to ask for rides to appointments ( which he can get free of charge ), grocery store visits several times a week, demands to come and fix or make home improvements to his house even to do things we have no skills to do, come and find things he loses, and deal with his complaints of people stealing things from him and on and on..... Of course, there is very little appreciation for the help we give. I understand that he has some dementia ( plus other issues that a psychiatrist is working with him to help him deal with) but he has no compassion or understand of my serious health concerns or needs.

How do I balance the need to take care of myself and meet his demands? What gets priority?

I am sure many people are dealing with similar complicated issues.

I would love any suggestions or input from others in difficult situations, not those who are judging others without knowing all the circumstances.

Thanks for listening!


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 4 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

This is a very touchy subject, babyboomer. It must also be a subject that people are doing a lot of soul searching over, because I get quite a bit of traffic reading it. Since I've written this, my own mother has deteriorated a bit and she is only 78, so we have decisions looming ahead ourselves. I would think they are a bit easier to make at 89 than 78, but my mother is adamant that she never wants to go to a nursing home. I guess I have raised my children well, because both of them say that they won't let that happen. I think if a parent has any resources at all, why let it go to the state and have stranger you have no control over taking care of your loved ones? Try in-home care first, if possible (remove valuables from the home!). There are all kinds of camera systems today and ones that you can even sign onto from your telephone and see how things are going. Maybe not a bad idea anyway -- even without the home care.

I think it has to be a very personal decision and, no, most of us are not privy to the circumstances that led to a decision to place or not to place. Still, it is good dialogue and all I hope from my article is for people to really weigh the decision and put theirself in their parents shoes before making a final decision. I think a lot about my own old age and how I want to be treated. I then try to set that example for my own children.


Lisa HW profile image

Lisa HW 4 years ago from Massachusetts

When my father died he was 62. My mother was 53. A few times over the years to follow my mother would say, "I know this isn't what he would have wanted (after his heart attack), and I know this is selfish of me; but I would have been happy to have him home, being in a bed, but at least still being here. I would have been happy to take care of him." I was 21 when he died, and I felt the same way she did. So did my sister and brother.

When my mother had her own heart attack and became bedridden for fifteen months before passing away, I did take care of her (with help from "outside people" a couple of hours each day, and with some other kinds of help from family members who worked full-time). I was happy to be able to do it, and I'd say about my mother exactly what she said about my father.

She wasn't a burden to me, and she wasn't a burden to her others kid or her grandchildren. When you love someone it's not a burden. It's not a burden when you have a few little kids and don't get to sleep more than four hours for seven or eight years. It's not a burden to have trouble finding time to sit down and do nothing, or time to go out and socialize. To me, when you're the one doing the taking care, and you're still the one who is capable and able-bodied and healthy; and when you love someone, it just isn't the burden most of us imagine we, ourselves, might one day be on someone else.

My mother had taken care of her own dying and bedridden mother. She hadn't seen that as a burden. It always bothered me that she would eventually think of herself as a burden on her own kids, who saw and felt the very things she had when she took care of her own mother (and any number of other people over the course of her life).

I just think that's an aspect to things that everyone tends to overlook when they're thinking about what's a burden and what isn't.

That aside, a lot of behavior that family members don't understand is often a matter of a) not understanding how people think once they reach a certain age, and b) the arrogance of thinking that anyone who does/says anything that doesn't make sense to them is "a sign" that someone older is "slipping". Even SOME forgetfulness can be attributed to being older and having a lot of one's mind. Older people have more loss to process on the minds. They have whatever issues they have that concern them. They don't just have kids to worry about. They have grandchildren and maybe great-grandchildren. They can feel depressed because of some of the issues associated with being elderly - so being preoccupied or so stressed they can't always concentrate enough to remember some things isn't unusual. Still, the minute someone older forgets something once or twice, there's someone ready to assume it's "old age".

A lot of elderly people can't/won't honestly explain what's on their mind because they don't want to hurt, burden, worry, or "guilt" the people they love; and the people they'll always aim to protect from hurt, no matter how grown-up those people are.

I don't think about my age much, but I do know one thing: As long as I'm in my right mind, nobody had ever better DARE to try to make decisions for me or, worse, think they have a right to a say about whether I stay in my own home or move somewhere they deem "more appropriate". If I get Alzheimer's to the point where I don't know what's going on, fine. They can make their choices. Other than that, everyone had better respect my mental competence (or whatever is left of it if I at all know what's going on), butt out, and leave me to eat saltines and Campbell's soup (which I'll heat in a microwave because I'll still be capable enough to know that I'm forgetful sometimes and should probably not use the range top).

I'm horrified at what family members do with, or to, aging parents. I know there are times when there's absolutely no way an older person's mental and/or physical decline allows for anything other than nursing home care. Too many people, though, see the bar for when that is as far below when it really is the case.


Penny 4 years ago

I am having such a tough time right now with my 91 year old Father. He is in a nursing home/rehab - trying to get stronger after a couple of falls. He was living alone - I live 5 minutes away when all of this happened. He is very sharp in the mind, but, his body is so weak and frail. He does not want to stay there, but, I am afraid he will not leave because of his inability to walk by himself, has touble feeding also. My brother lives in Texas so it is all on me. I cannot give him the care he needs as far as him living with me. I feel so guilty about the prospect of him having to live there when he keeps saying he does not want to stay.


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 4 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

He won't have to stay in rehab, so have you looked at alternatives? There are other nursing homes, assisted living facilities, assisted living apartments...he doesn't necessarily have to stay at the one he is at. Also, depending on the situation, you could have someone come in at night, a live in...there are some alternatives for many, especially in light of the enormous amount of money it costs for a nursing home. Of course, if there is not much money, that limits it right back to home or a nursing home. Still, you could look for the best fit for him, small or large? Most state agencies keep the inspections of facilities online, so start doing your homework to find a place he might like. Often, after having been a bit lonely, if the place and the employees are decent, and the resident meets some new friends, they are okay with it. If you are worried about mistreatment, there are cameras you may be able to install and view it from your computer or phone. If he stays home, there are med alert alarms that they wear around their neck and that are waterproof and you can always install cameras there. They are not that expensive anymore. I suggest that you look at all your alternatives and see if you can come up with a something that works for you and your father. In a situation like this, it feels like you have lost all control and are helpless. I hope that I've shown you that you still have some control over the situation and to think outside the box a bit to look for the right solution for you and your father.


Sarah 4 years ago

I looked this up because I'm going through it right now. There is four of us kids, three girls and one boy and my two sisters decided last week that they would go around looking at assisted living fac's without consulting their other 2 siblings, needless to say I was horrified. My dad has all of his wits about him so I have been suggesting home instead options instead. My sisters claim they are just "too busy" to be bothered. I don't understand how some kids just seem to be so ok with throwing their own parents under the bus! It is so evil!


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 4 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

So sad, Sarah. Some people have more ego than compassion or love in their hearts. Your sisters are like the original sisters I wrote about...they have their heads stuck so far up their own @sses, that they can't see the daylight for the darkness. That is sad, but thankfully, your dad has you to look out for him. If they are "too busy" it is up to you. Also, be prepared for a fight.


lj gonya profile image

lj gonya 4 years ago

Good hub, and I can tell you from experience that there is always one child in the family that inherits the duties of taking care of mom, dad, grandma and grandpa.


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 4 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

You know, right now my mother is heading in this direction at lightening speed. The burden is falling to my sister as I have a little granddaughter who has a brain tumor and who has had a stroke. I am also in school full time. I think my sister is starting to feel exasperated because she is not getting help, but this is the end of the semester and I've been pretty slammed. This is a hard job for one person, I know. I took care of my grandmother for three years. Of course, I had help from a very good friend who I hired to care for both her and my two kids when I was gone, but for most of that time, we couldn't leave her alone. I was a young girl, so even more difficult, I think.


kathryn turner 4 years ago

I have no one to help me have a day off. I have not had any time off in 6 years. I am the daughter, 61, with ADD/ADHD/autism. life has been very bad w/o any treatment as a child, now am stuck being a slave to my mother. I did not go on disability till I was 57, and was homeless alot in my life. now this.


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 4 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

So sad to hear this, kathryn. After six years, I am sure you really need a break! Wondering if you are eligble for some type of in-home nursing, even if it is just for an hour or two. I know if you had to pay for it, it is very cost-prohibitive. Being on disability might help if you start contacting people. Surely there is some help somewhere for you. Not everyone is able to care for their parents at home and if it is affecting your health...well, this article is meant to make people think about the nursing home but not to feel bad if they just can't do it anymore.


uina 4 years ago

Dear Connie, This article made me really angry. As the prime caregiver for an 88 year old mother with dementia, frankly, I don't need people like you pointing the finger, at me, or my siblings, children, nieces, just because we fail to live up to your expectations. In the stories you tell, people are 'retired' ie they have money and time to devote, and presumably their own children are grown up. Well, guess what, we can't afford to retire, some of us are overseas, our children have their own families - and our mother becomes increasingly demented. She herself abandoned her parents to emigrate: but requires daily attendance herself. We do our best, we have kept her out of a home so far, but the end is looming - we can't be there all day, and no one is going to volunteer to sacrifice their lives for a woman who was selfish and demanding BEFORE she became demented. I wouldn't ask any member of my family to do that, and can't afford to do it myself - I couldn't maintain my job. Or my sanity. So I suggest you pull your selfrighteousness out of where it has got stuck and consider that there are multitudes of people who are not as privileged as you and find different ways of coping with life's problems.


4 years ago

Unia I applaud you!!


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 4 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

To both Unia and J -- Both in these comments AND the last paragraph of this article, I make it plain that I know that not everyone is able to care for their parents. I also make it plain in the comment section that this article is NOT about a mother who was selfish and demanding, but loving and giving -- and these girls had time to take care of their mother.

It was not personally directed at you. It was directed at the people who have loving parents who were good and kind, devoted and selfless.

It WAS directed at the children of a loving and selfless parent whose life is so busy that they cannot help by keeping mother or dad one night in a blue moon just so the caretaker can have some relief AND directed to the children who let one of their siblings bear the load (but only when they can do more).

It is also NOT directed at someone who is trying their best to take care of a mean and nasty woman who was mean and selfish all along and who doesn't appreciate the sacrifices being made. I have never said that a child has a responsibility to take care of a parent like this.

Lastly, it was NOT directed at people who have jobs or other responsibilities that, in order to meet basic needs, must logically come first.

I am sorry you are bitter and sorry for what you are going through. I have no problem being your whipping post, because it is obvious that you are at the end of your rope with it. I can only imagine how frustrated you must feel.

I help to care for my four year old granddaughter with a brain tumor, who had a brain stem stroke and is considered quadriplegic. I feel the strain from that and the limbo that we face during what can only be a very long recovery (we are two years in now). She is only four and we have some nursing help, but the work and responsibility never ends. The depression, the guilt of wanting more in life....it is all there for me. However, this is a decision that I made that I have peace with. It doesn't make me a self-righteous martyr though. It makes me a loving grandmother.

If I were giving up my life for a mean, hateful, demanding old woman who hasn't been that good in life to me...well, her butt would be in a nursing home and I would be on the next cruise out of here. I wish you the best with whatever decisions you make.


Lorraine 4 years ago

My husband and I have moved my mother close (within 3 minutes of us) into her own apartment. She was living 11 hours away from us and @ 3 hours from my brother. She wanted to live close but not with.

She has been here 6 years and is becoming more and more secluded with every passing day. When she came, we had a number of activities that she had enjoyed in the past almost within walking distance - she can and DOES still drive. She would not do them for this or that reason. Again, more and more secluded.

Since I am the one who sees her weekly, calls her daily and beat the ambulance to the hospital when she broke her leg and fell (in that order) around the corner from the hospital, I am the one who is here and sees the depression setting in. It may not be as much depression as control of me. Her doctor says she is the sweetest, happiest lady she has ever met. I asked her to describe the person she was treating as a patient. My brother says she is just like she has always been, positive.

I hear the complaints that someone is out to get her because politicians are using the automated phone system to call her number and make their pitch. I hear the complaints that the upstairs neighbor is trying to burn her out of her apartment because their cigarette butts end up on her patio when they blow out of the ashtray they have on their balcony.

Now she is wanting to go to an assisted living facility in a town that is 10 hours from us and 3 from my brother so he and I can "share responsibility and care for her."

No matter how many times I tell her we want her here, no matter how many times we go by to see her, take her things, take her places, invite her to our house, it is not enough. If we ever go out of town for a vacation and ask my brother to come stay (he can't) or have a friend and/or my son and daughter-in-law "on call" to help, we are abandoning her. She won't/can't go with us on these trips.

Is there a magic formula to make parents feel they are not a burden? I asked her if my dad and her mother were burdens to her when she took care of them. She is very adamant about this and says no. So I ask, when why would you think you are a burden to us? She just restates that she doesn't want to be a burden.

Any suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated.


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 4 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Yikes! I think that you need to tell her you will miss her and help her pack. Of course, I am only getting one side, but I agree that it sounds like your mother is trying to control you. I doubt she wants to move and I bet that if you call her bluff that she will decide to be a martyr and stay right where she is. If she really goes (and I really doubt this), you need to let her know that the ten hour trip is going to be a burden and that you won't be able to "share responsibilities" and that it is a good thing that assisted living is just that. They will have to assist her because you can't from that distance. You sound like a great daughter and just the type who gets used. I am glad you realize that the emotional abuse being heaped upon you is a form of control. Hopefully, that will help you deal with it.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

The situations people face are often very complicated and you gave some good advice to Lorraine in the above comment.

That said, there too many situations like the one you described with the sisters. Shame on them indeed.

I am watching a similar situation in the nursing home where my mother lives (by her own choice and certainly not my choice for her--long story, but sometimes there really is nothing we can do to help).

The lady who is her room mate needs the care of her children and she has wanted their care, but they simply leave it to the nursing home and she is neglected. My mother can pretty much take care of herself, but I check on her at odd hours, not just on a regular schedule, and I see what happens to those who cannot take care of their basic needs.

It's sad because all of the care would not have to fall on one family member if a) the siblings and grandchildren could work together, or b) the one could get outside help from organizations or private workers which can often be at least partially paid for by medicare/medicaid.

I may come back to read all the comments, but I am so sickened by what I've personally seen that I will have to wait.

Glad to see this excellent hub posted. We need more people to write about this topic so discussions can begin to help people think straight.


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 4 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Thank you. I get a lot of traffic with this article, so I can see that many are seeking answers. I can only hope that anyone who reads my article sees it for what it is....and not to make those who cannot care for their parents feel guilty. Just like everyone else, parents come in all shapes and sizes and all personality types. Some are worth sacrificing for and, frankly, some are not. My best advice (and I just gave this to my sister when my mother moved across the street from her a few months ago) is this: start out like you mean to go on. Let her know you have a life. In other words, don't start out bringing dinner in every night unless you plan to continue bringing dinner in EVERY night. Place limitations and let her know you expect her to do for herself what she can. Being honest and direct is always the best route.


APPALLED 4 years ago

DONT BE SO JUDGEMENTAL OF OTHERS UNTIL YOU HAVE FACED THE SITUATION YOURSELF


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 4 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

I rather think it is you who are being judgemental. There are many reasons why a parent has to go to a nursing home and little the children can do about it. In the case I referenced, these children were nothing more than selfish human beings who praised their mother, revered their mother until she was about 85 or 86. After that, while she still had her "mind," they came in, packed up her stuff (without a guardianship or court order), gave it away and took mom to the nursing home unwillingly. That is actually against the law, just like having someone committed to a mental institution is against the law. However, she didn't know that and was used to looking to her children, who were more educated than she was. She was at their mercy, even though she had enough of an income to support herself.

We are facing it. My mother is 79 years old and not in great health, though she still has her faculties. I took care of my own grandmother when I was younger, so I imagine I will take care of my mother if I have to. I do not want to have that responsibility anymore than anyone else does.

I have a very sick granddaughter with a brain tumor, so my mother doesn't want to add to my burden. She also doesn't want to live with my grandchildren (I have four altogether under the age of seven), so I am really off the hook. However, that is her decision, not mine. For me, I'd like to be on a beach in Costa Rica, drink in hand, with a cool breeze blowing through my hair. However, life gives us choices and I have chosen responsibility over my own selfish interests.

I have always said that there are many valid reasons a child cannot care for their parents and they have to send them to a nursing home. There is also a question of whether the parent deserves the devotion and care that the child gives. If they don't, send 'em. We should do for our parents because we love them and respect them, and because they loved us and took good care of us. If they didn't and they were mean, hateful and abusive, goodbye! In the case mentioned above, the mother was loving and devoted her life to her children. Her only problem was that she lived past her expiration date.

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