caring for elderly parents

Tell us a bit about yourself here.
I'm wondering how many other carers out there are looking after aged parents?
I have been doing it now for four years, im in my late 50's and im so tired! I don't do anything difficult, just general cooking, cleaning, washing, shopping, gardening, etc, but its never ending, also im going through the menopause which doesn't help. moved into parents home, to care for them, so have little privacy, and realise I am not living my life, im living theirs, doing everything at an old persons pace.
I have no life of my own, its a bit like running a small b & b, took redundancy to care for them, have no
savings left, have put on weight and lost my fitness, now getting occasional bouts of depression, realise I have to do something, cant go on like this, just wondered if anyone else relates to this?
would be interested to hear how other people have dealt with these sort of problems.
Oh, Judith, you are joining a long, long list of folk who have given up their own lives for their elderly, needy, dependent parents!

Everyhing you've said could be echoed by LOADS of us here!!!!

I particularly echo the bit about 'living their lives' - I felt this acutely when I 'inherited' my MIL as she was getting dementia. Like you, I had to 'slow down' to her pace, and live the life that an 89 y.o liked to live. Every day was the same...

I'd help her up for breakfast, then we'd have breakfast in the living room, watching breakfast TV (luckily, she loved Frasier...), then help her dress, then we'd go to the supermarket and go round very, very, very, very slowly, and then we'd come home and I'd make her lunch, watch lunchtime TV, and then we'd go for a little drive and see the countryside, then back home again, and a cup of tea and more TV, then I'd go and make supper for us, and watch TV, the kind she liked (she loved the old Morecombe and Wise shows, but could just about cope with things like Murder in Paradise, if I explained the plot as we went along), and then finally, after the ten oclock news, I'd help her to bed (sometimes though she would say she wasn't ready to go), and then only when she was tucked up in bed could I go downstairs AND HAVE AN HOUR OR TWO TO MY BLESSED SELF!!!!!!!!

The thing was, none of it was 'horrible' ....it just became excruciatingly BORING day after day after day. The most I could get for 'time out' was a coffee with a friend of mine in town, as MIL would snooze on the sofa with the TV on (friend had dad living with her, so guess what we always talked about!) (yup, caring for the elderly....), and then when she dozed off again between tea and supper I could do thing like some paperwork, or hit the laptop (that's when I found this LIFESAVER site!).

Basically, wherever I went, she came too. She was like attached to me - it was like having a baby. NONSTOP.

As I say, it wasn't horrible, but it was STEALING MY LIFE.

I could not endure it. I genuinely believed that if I could not 'get rid of her' I would drive us both in the car into the back of a lorry. My life had just STOPPED, and I wanted to scream my head off. There was NO ONE else to help me, or take her off my hands, even for a break. My husband died some years ago (left me his mum....sigh)(to be fair, she was absolutely NO TROUBLE for five years, until she developed dementia, and I felt guilty as hell - still do - at resenting that she lived, and he had not....), and her surviving son lives in the USA so what could he possibly do??

In the end, I 'solved' the problem - I decided, brutally, my life was more important than hers, as she had had her life, and I hadn't yet....I wasn't even 60 then, and so, ruthlessly, I 'put her in a home'. She is still in one, with DEEP dementia, and barely recognises me any more. Her flat was sold to pay for it, and she will die penniless.

It's ghastly - but I got my life back. It's been five years since I 'inherited' her. Five years that would have been utterly 'gone' had I had to look after her myself.
OK, now for practical things.

Firstly, what is the state of mind of your parents - is dementia in the frame, and if so, which, or both, etc etc.

WHY do they need you to 'do everythign' for them? As in, what are their actual care NEEDS?

DO remember that NEEDS are not the same things as WANTS. They may want you to live with them and look after them and 'see them out' (how old are they by the way?), but that doesn't mean they may NEED you to do that!

You mention you have no savings left. This is unacceptable. If you are providing care, THEY pay you - not the other way round! Even if it's not 'formal payment' they pay for everything, and you pay for nothing. Care homes cost over a hundred pounds a DAY. Live in professional carers cost even more!

How appreciative are they of you? Are they grateful and kind and loving and know what you are giving up for them? Or are they taking you for granted?

What is their financial situation? Do they own their own house, or rent? Do they have savings? What income? The reason I'm asking is that the answers will determine what help they may be entitled too - eg, care workers coming in.

Now, the MOST important question is, why are YOU doing everything? Is it because they don't want to spend their money on cleaners, carers, etc? Or do they not want 'strangers' looking after them? Both are all too common on this forum!

BUT, the deal is this - EITHER they accept outside help OR they go into a care home. You DO have to be blunt about that.

Even without dementia, the old can get very very 'self-focussed' - they like having a 'daughter at home' (or son!) to 'do everythign' ....they cease to reaslise that YOU deserve a life as well. They can become, in the end, like 'elderly toddlers' and just want you, you, you......

So, tell us a little more, and we can start to point you to what is out there (eg, needs assessement, carers assessement etc) and how best to arm yourself 'psychologically' to start the weaning process.

As you are saying, you CAN'T go on like this - you've hit a wall, and enough is enough!
How much 'time off' do you get each and every day?

When did you last have a holiday?
Hi Judith

What exactly is wrong with your parents? Is it mainly physical problems or do we have dementia to deal with as well or the start of it?

Jenny's advice is good. I can relate to a lot of your post as I am your age but caring for my 79 old husband. I too am living 'his life'. I cannot cope with the 24/7 TV and as he is deaf, this has caused me huge problems. Thankfully he now wears headphones but quiz show Golden Balls at 5AM is quite hard to cope with.

I do think you need to 'carve' out time for yourself. Is there a local Carers Group? If so, do join as you will meet people in similar circumstances. Can your parents safely be left alone? Are you getting Carers Allowance? Are they getting Attendance Allowance? Would i it be possible to delegate by employing a cleaner for a few hours a week. Online grocery shopping? Anything to make your life easier.

In our area we have a group called Meet Up - it is basically for people who want to make new friends. We go to the pub quiz every other week plus they have meals/pub nights/ cinema/lunches. If you have moved away from your friends, this might be a good place to start? I think there are Meet Up's in most areas. One of the men there was a carer for his late wife..

What about YOUR hobbies? Get back to the gym or look for an exercise class such as Pilates. I chair a Book Club - ok husband has to come with me but at least it makes my brain work. It is hard to leave my husband alone for long periods as he is very forgetful. I

Keep posting and whilst we cannot wave a magic wand, we can hopefully help you find a more realistic way of living your life not your parents.
Hi Judith,

Welcome to the forum. Sounds like you have fallen headfirst into the Obedient Daughter Trap. Just where your parents want you! Time to claw your way up and out again.
The first thing to realise is that YOU are in charge here, they need you, you don't need them. Only YOU can change the situation, because they prefer to have you than anyone else. However, don't end up like a friend of mine who cared for his mum until she died...at the age of 104!!

We can help you, but first we need a bit more information to help us give the best advice for your circumstances. There is a purpose to each question by the way, I'm not just being nosey!!
How old are your parents?
What is wrong with them?
Do they own their house, or rent it?
Do you have any brothers and sisters?
Have your parents made a will, or written a Power of Attorney?
Do they have over £23,000 in savings (just Yes/No)
Do either of them claim Attendance Allowance?
Do you get Carers Allowance and Income Support?
It's not until you take on a caring role that you realise how draining it can be. Nothing difficult you say but you are doing a lot. Please don't say that you are JUST doing the shopping, cooking, cleaning - it minimises/belittles your efforts. I found I hated the time it took to give mum her meds. How difficult was that?! Please prioritize some time for yourself. I got out of the house and played lawn bowls to meet people, get a bit of exercise and have an outside interest. You need to look after yourself too.
I sympathize...

Please see a new thread I have just started about caring for multiple people - as well as my parents I also care for my in-laws. Both myself and my husband are only children....

Angela
id like to thank everyone who replied to my post caring for elderly parents,, nice to know im not the only one in this situation, I have now started dieting and doing some stretching exercises each day, early days, will let you know if I can keep it up! have changed my attitude, have decided the only person who can change things is me, parents in late 80's, with arthritis, will still be doing most things, parents are appreciative, but like most older people can be selfish without realising it. they pay for most things and I am getting carers allowance, which helps, but its not much! miss my job, and my friends, plus the flat I rented for 25 years, moved some distance to parents house, i have 1 sibling who lives at other end of the country and is not very helpful, thinks I sit around all day and accuses me of living off my parents!
my first priority is to get my health back, walking and exercising more and eating better, think if im fit and healthy I will be better able to cope with whatever happens in life! have recently taken in a stray cat which has given me something else to focus on, which helps. reading the responses to my first posting has made me change my attitude, I am doing a difficult job and intend to stand up to anyone now who thinks im doing nothing all day, feel so much more positive now, and this seems to have given me more energy, feel so much better, all in just 24 hours! if anyone can recommend a good diet and exercise book, for someone who has to exercise at home, would appreciate it, thanks to all of you for your replies!!
Judith

Next time sibling makes a sarky comment - offer to swop places. You'll get your life back - they can 'suffer' for a change.

Caring is ANYTHING but easy - I'm in my late 50's - its ebbed my life away - been caring/companion since I was in my early 30\s to my arthritic mother. I've lived her 'physical life' - ie cooped up at home. I have NO idea what holdays/nice clothes/parties are. End of. I found this on a care agency website.....just check off how many of these things you do then think again if what you do is 'easy' - because trust me - a care agency would charge a FORTUNE for what you do (trust me I KNOW!!!)

Pressure care prevention
Fraillty assessment
Healthy home assessments
Foot health assessments
Home meals delivered to your door
Help with bathing
Assist with dressing
Provide grooming
Help with incontinence care
Assist with eating
Dementia care
Alzheimer's care
Provide respite care
Provide convalescence care
Provide medication reminders
Assist with morning/wake up
Assist with evening/tuck in
Home Help Services
Collect prescription
Provide light housekeeping
Dusting and vacuuming
Help with washing and ironing
Make beds and change bed linen
Answer the door
Organise wardrobes and cupboards
Take out rubbish
Meal preparation and tidy away
Check food expiry dates
Supervise home maintenance
Oversee home deliveries
Care for houseplants
Assist with pet care
Prepare shopping lists
Help with general shopping
Drop off and collect dry cleaning
Companionship Services
Offer companionship and conversation
Arrange appointments
Help with travel arrangements
Stimulate mental awareness
Escort to appointments
Assist with clothing selection
Assist with entertaining
Help with reading
Participate in hobbies and crafts
Monitor diet and eating
Buy magazines, papers and books
Rent and play films
Plan visits, outings and trips
Visit neighbours and friends
Accompany to lunch or dinner
Attend plays or concerts
Attend club meetings and sporting events
Record family history
Discuss current/historical events
Reminisce about the past