On being a good daughter


#1

I’m a 40-something year old Mom to 4 kids (13, 13, 13 & 18); married for almost 20 years and I don’t work outside the home. I’m the youngest of five children with one brother living in CA, one sister about 20 minutes away and another sister in CT. I’m in NY, so CT is about 30 minutes away with a ferry ride. My oldest brother passed away near 20 years ago; as my Dad did 20+ years ago.

So, with that background, here’s my situation/problem. My Mom (77) is about 15 minutes away, lives independently in an apartment complex, but has a laundry list of health issues: Parkinson’s, epilepsy, small-cell cancer (in remission now), is frail and has osteoporosis.

I’ve basically fallen into the caregiver role; driving and taking her to appointments for Drs, shopping, etc., cleaning, laundry, whatever I can do to help out. I really feel I need to be at Dr appointments, as she tends to forget certain things or needs clarification.

Over the past few years; especially after her cancer dx and surgery for a lobectomy, I saw clearly that my siblings have basically dumped everything that has to do with Mom into my lap. I’m the first to admit that Mom is not a pleasant person to be around–everything is negative, she is moody, she can be very demanding and self-absorbed. But, I felt really let down by my sibs and, yes, hurt personally and I let them know it. I may as well have been talking to a pile of bricks.

This is the situation now. A few weeks back, Mom fell in her bedroom and I found her the next morning when she wouldn’t answer her phone. She sustained a shattered humerus and had surgery and is now in a rehab facility. This is going to be a long recovery. My personal feelings are that she needs to get into some sort of a assisted living facility, anything, but not live on her own. Living with me is not an option. This is where my problem lies…

I am trying my best to do the right things here, to be loving, patient and respectful as possible (she’s taken negativity and nastiness to new heights). I am trying my best to be a good daughter and to honor her feelings and her decisions, but there is no way that I can have her live in my home because emotionally and physically, I can’t meet her needs.

She has always stated that she will never go into “one of those places”. She always looks for me to take care of the next crisis and I just can’t do it anymore. My family suffers because I get angry and I suffer–worrying, dwelling and waiting for the next crisis.

How do I follow Christ’s teachings of patience, of love and not lose my mind in the process? Can anyone relate to this situation?


#2

I can relate - my father has to go into an assisted living facility some time very soon. Those places scare me - I worry about theft and neglect. I worry that he’ll hate the place, that he won’t make any friends, or that people will be mean to him.

I am letting him pick the place. I have already brought a lot of his stuff over to my place, and my brother also has a fair bit of it, and my aunt (his younger sister) has the valuables.

His favourite things and things he needs every day will of course be with him.

When Grandma was in one of those places, all of her jewelry disappeared, and all of her little knick-knacks. Even her knitted slacks-hangers (which were hand made for her by a dear friend) disappeared, and they were hanging her slacks on wire hangers. :mad:

So I don’t blame your Mom for not wanting to go - but under the circumstances it’s difficult to know what else to suggest. She obviously can’t live with you, because it would be too stressful emotionally and physically.

Is there a way to get a care-giver into her apartment? Maybe even for just a few hours a day, to make sure she gets her meals, takes her medication, and has help with whatever little tasks she needs to do? Just to take the pressure off of you, and to delay having to put her into an assisted living facility for as long as possible.

In my case, I wanted to wait until my father was completely crazy before putting him in one of those places, so that he wouldn’t know the difference, but it has reached the point where he simply cannot cope any more, and I live too far away to be of any practical assistance to him.


#3

jmcrae’s post seems to make some helpful points. How about hiring a hospice nurse to come in a few hours per day, and then you can check on your mom at night? That would provide her the necessary care she needs from a professional who would be able to help in a medical emergency, while adhering to her wishes to not go into an assisted living facility.


#4

My grandfather always swore that he’d never go into one of those places. He lived with my parents, and one night he fell and couldn’t get up. My grandmother couldn’t help him, so she woke up my dad. It took my dad 20 minutes to get my grandfather off the floor and into the wheelchair - his hip was broken, and it was difficult to move him without hurting him. He went to the hospital, and the doctor refused to release him into the care of anyone who wasn’t a medical professional.

Although they felt terrible about putting him in a care home, my parents had no choice. It was a great relief for them in terms of the pressure and fear, although they felt guilty about it. My grandfather surprised himself and loved living there! He told my parents that it was the best thing to happen to him in a while. He didn’t need to feel guilty asking for help, because that’s what the people were paid to do. When he had a stroke last year, he received immediate medical attention, and when he passed away shortly afterward, my parents didn’t have to wonder whether they could have done something differently that would have saved his life. I’m not saying it’s right for everyone, but living in a home was the right thing for my grandfather.

Bring up your concerns with your mother’s doctor - it may be that if her doctor orders her to live in a home, it will be a relief for everyone involved. Sometimes people don’t know what’s best for themselves, especially as they get older. You can’t shoulder this burden alone.


#5

JoaniB,
I can relate in so many ways, but I don’t have much time, so I
will address the main issue of housing.
Do they have foster care homes in your areas? They are usually
homes with just a few residents and usually have some type of
nursing care. If she is social at all, she may strike up a friendship
or two and actually like the place.
Someone already mentioned having someone come in to help with
ADLs (Activities of daily living), that would keep her in her home
for awhile. Usually they are used to working with temperamental
people and maybe that would diffuse some of her “ways” with
others (you, most especially.)
I’ll be praying for you and your mom and your family.
BTW, I have twins, I see you have triplets? Wow.


#6

Thank you so much for the replies. It helps tremendously not to feel so alone.

I talked to the discharge nurse about my concerns–my main one being Mom’s safety. Finding her on the floor of her bedroom after lying there all night with a broken shoulder was enough for me. Only by God’s grace, did she not hit her head on her night table and bleed out. I suppose that’s why I feel the need to jump into a solution.

This isn’t the first time she’s gotten hurt; broke her wrist, fractured her hip; but, certainly, the scariest. So, all suggestions will be coming from the professionals. In the meantime, I’m scoping out everything from home care to some sort of an assisted living facility. She isolates herself, but when given the chance to socialize, she thrives. Weird, huh? I’ve tried to get her to participate with senior groups that pick you up and drop you off at your door, but she finds reasons not to go (it’s too early at 9 am). I’ve contacted her area parish about rides to Mass (again, too early at 11 am) or having a Eucharistic Minister come to her place (doesn’t want strangers coming to her house).

I don’t know, sorry my posts are so scattered. I know that God, in His great wisdom, will take care of it all. What is supposed to happen will happen and all I can do is my best without losing myself and getting all angry and frustrated with her. I’ll just have to accept her choices; even if I believe they are bad choices.

Seems like a good time for a Rosary. :gopray:
Thank you again and God bless,
Joani

PS–TexCatholic4JMJ–Yes, I do have triplets :slight_smile: One of the greatest gifts God gave me. I sent you a PM.


#7

I am torn many ways over our similar situation. I would not mind having my mother live with me, but we don’t have the room for her now. She also would have a hard time going into “one of those places”, but she’s an introvert and doesn’t like having to deal with lots of new faces or changing staff.
Is your mom still in the hospital? I assume she will be in the hospital or in rehab for a little while, so you should have time to research the options. Find out what your area offers in terms of home health care, day activity centers, and senior living. Ask your siblings to come and visit/interview the places with you. Don’t let this be your sole decision. And if they say they wouldn’t put her in “one of those places”, then let them put their time where their mouths are!
I will be praying for you and your mom.


#8

I would contact a (reputable) visiting nurse agency for advice. They see people in their homes - and know all the possible scenarios for living arrangements for any age person, particularly older folks because they see a lot of them. They help people transition into new living arrangements and are well aware of the pros and cons of all them. Maybe they can come and do an assessment of your mother’s living situation and advise you on the possibilities. A lot of times if you ask for a visit at discharge time the hospital will write a “prescription” for one or more visits. This way it will be covered under insurance. I know when I was discharged from the hospital after having a baby a visit was not offered to me, but when I asked they provided me with one.

Good luck and prayers.


#9

In the meantime, my parents set up a system for my grandma (or rather, they had me set it up for her while I was staying with her) with one of those emergency necklace things: medscope.org/

There are billions of different kinds and while it’s nowhere near as helpful as a real person staying with her or a staff of nurses, it does help a bit and still allows for independence. One thing, however, is that signal quality can be iffy, so you’d need to be there for the initial setup to make sure it works in every spot in the house.

Also, they’re not pretty. Why they couldn’t make some that look like pretty “jewelry” is beyond me :shrug:


#10

I would not consider for a moment sending my parents to live elsewhere if they needed to stay with me. I’m sure you were always a physical and emotional joy to have around when you were a kid and they cared for you in their home?


#11

I sold my house and moved in with my 81 year old mother four years ago when she was 77. My situation is different from yours in that I don’t have any siblings, our living together is mutually advantageous and my mother is generally easy to get along with and in good health. She did break her hip three years ago and spent six weeks in a rehab facility. I was amazed how quickly she recovered, but she had no other serious health problems. I couldn’t sleep at night if I put my mother in a nursing home against her will. For 50 years, she gave 100% to me, now it’s my turn to give 100% to her. That’s just me.

My suggestion is that it’s your sister’s time to the a “good daughter.” Thirty minutes is nothing! Your mother can live with her and she can make the 30 minutes trips to doctors, etc. if mother needs to maintain ties to where she lives now.


#12

When my father’s wife died, his 90 year old mother-in-law was living with him. I was working full time, going to school full time, running my own household and trying to be a good, supportive daughter.

I could not lift her into the bath, could not be there every minute to make sure she did not fall or wander outside, am not schooled in medical techniques or how to be a nurse. I came very close to losing my health over this situation because my father ‘did not want strangers in the home’.

I had to sit down with him and have a very frank talk regarding what I could and could not do. We found a program for WWII vets that he qualified for that allowed us to hire someone to come in to do basic care for her 24 hours a week…and we supplemented it to a 40 hour work week.

Many people who have never EVER cared for an elderly parent make the mistake of thinking that getting extra help or finding a good assisted living place is somehow being disrespectful. My experience has been that such people have never tried to lift a grown woman or man into the bathtub, have never had to worry about them walking out the front door and wandering away and being prey to the elements or nefarious people, have never had to walk into a room after working all day and caring for their own household to find the person covered in filth and the food one carefully placed before them thrown all over the walls.

It is wonderful that you are in a position to bring your parents into your home. If I had had the financial means to do so I too would have brought my father and his mother-in-law into my home. However, it was not only impractical it would have been dangerous for her.


#13

It’s very difficult to know what is right for each person. But many
times it’s not that we don’t want to have them in our home. As
the previous poster mentioned, it is very difficult to get a person
into a bathtub and expensive to have a shower installed, etc. My
father weighed about 130lbs when he died, but even then it took
2 people to lift him when he dislocated his hip. Thankfully he
was able to stay in his home until the last fall he had (cracked
his hip) and then he went to the hospital, rehab, and hospital
again where he died. I’ll go into what we’re doing with my mom
later.
Looking at all options and INVOLVING ALL YOUR SIBLINGS
and then making the best choice for your mother and you first
is nothing to feel guilty about. Help yourself also by looking into
private Long Term Care Insurance (yes, I’m an agent, but it’s
not as though I can sell it to you. Lol) Many have features that
allow someone to stay in their home, provide training for care
givers, and will retrofit the home to accomodate wheelchairs
among other features.Obviously this would be for you and your
siblings, your mother no longer qualifies.
JoaniB, I try to PM but couldn’t, so I’ll try again later this week.
I’m going from caring for my 93 yr old mom to helping with my
month old twin grandbabies!!


#14

I have been in contact with an elder care advisor who has directed me towards many of the suggestions put here (which I truly appreciate); such as home care agencies, housekeeping, socialization, etc.

I appreciate people who can openly empathize with this situation, as it is not a very comfortable one. This is not something that just occured yesterday and I’m making decisions based on my comfort level, period. This has been growing for 20 years. This is not a healthy situation for my mother nor for myself.

She has stayed here whilst recouping from various surgeries, episodes and experience has shown me that she does not get better, but goes backwards; she won’t do her PT, she will ignore specific instructions regarding how to take meds because she ‘knows better than the Drs’ and she does not appreciate any direction from me and becomes uncooperative in her own well-being. Mother-daughter thing? Mental health issues? Who knows.

What I do know is that there is such a growing number of family members who have taken on the role of caregiver; who suffer from depression, anxiety, guilt, anger, sadness, resentment, and the list goes on.

I have deep love and compassion for Mom. If I didn’t, I suppose I would go the way of my sisters and only see her once or twice a year and feel that I’ve done my duty as a daughter. I’ve spent many years trying to ‘fix’ things for her. I’ve spent many years not living, but simply waiting for the next crisis. I acknowledge that I brought a lot of her dependence on me upon myself and it took a near emotional breakdown to realize that.

Only by seeking out my faith and by intercessory prayer have I realized my limitations. I believe that false humility helps no one. My hope and prayer for my Mom is for her to be safe and to find some joy in her life.

To the poster who asked if I were always an emotional and physical joy when I was a child and Mom cared for me in her home–I doubt it. But your comparison is nonsensical. There is no payback. There is unconditional love. And that is precisely what I’m trying to maintain, with the respect and acceptance due to an adult who who has the ability to make decisions for themself.


#15

Very well put, Joni…and you are in my prayers. Remember, the most important part of being a good daughter is to be honest in your assessment as to what would be the best way to care for your mom. You are on the right track.


#16

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