After my father passed away at the age of 80 in 2002, my husband and I had the discussion of how we would handle my mother being alone. After a couple of years of running back and forth to tend to her needs (she doesn’t drive and was very dependent on my father), we made the decision to build a home to have not only my mother come and live with us but also my husband’s mom (who had been a widow living alone for 20 years). We had it all planned perfectly. Our single-level house was designed with loads of space for everyone to feel comfortable with plenty of privacy. One big happy family, right? Uh, not so much. While we took into consideration the wonderful opportunity it would be for our mom’s to have us there for them and perhaps the comraderie they might feel toward each other, we failed to seriously consider other issues:
1. Our privacy, our routine, our way of life.
2. The interaction between these two women, who have two very different personalities. Instead of embracing each other, they would come to see each other as competition for my husband’s & my attention.
So, now you’re saying…”What are you two nuts or something?” Well, no! We consider ourselves to be very rational and successful human beings and we expected our mothers to be the same way. Well, they’re just not. They don’t react to life the same way we do. They’re not confident or self-assured women. They’re not outgoing or social. Neither of them have close friends. They not only rely on us for help with medical issues and for help due to physical limitations (i.e grocery shopping, meal prep, etc), which we are happy to give, but they COMPLETELY rely on us for their social and emotional needs. It can be exhausting at times. They can get so wrapped up in themselves, that they forget the impact their needs have on our lives…as if we have no needs at all! Although we both love our mothers very, very much, their behavior has resulted in some resentment from us. We wonder how they could be so selfish and inconsiderate to the people who care for them the most???
I’ve read countless books and articles on care-giving for the elderly, but so far, they haven’t really given me the answers I’m searching for. I realize that having expectations for an 85/86 year old to change character traits is completely unrealistic but why doesn’t the love our parents have for us seem to have a positive impact on their behavior? We treat them with respect, are mindful of their privacy and try to interact with them on an adult-to-adult basis. Perhaps there are mysteries of the aging brain that are impossible to understand. In our hearts, we know we are “doing the right thing”, but the daily weight of it all can break us down, fill us with doubt and cause tension between us.
I come to this blog to seek out the advice and hear the experiences of my fellow care-givers, hoping to find some inspiration to keep on keepin’ on with positive energy. All I can tell you is that I share your pain, fellow caregivers! I do believe we are a special group of individuals that can learn from & support each other!!!
submitted by Barbara