New here... Advice?

Tell us a bit about yourself here.
So, I’m 22 years old, been caring for my Mother pretty much full-time for the last couple years. Though she’s struggled with a serious decline in her health over the last 10-12 years, so I essentially grew up with taking on the share of certain responsibilities etc. with my Dad and older brothers. For the last couple years, its mostly just been myself taking on the majority of it all since I’m the only sibling still at home and my Dad is working abroad, so he spends a huge chunk of time out of the country... I’ve never really considered joining any groups or forums for young carers until now... I’ve inevitably been out of work for the last couple years as these circumstances would make balancing a job incredibly difficult. Though, later this year my dad has been hoping to retire (which he’s already past retirement age, close to turning 70 years old.)... He’s always assured myself that upon his retirement, He’d take on the majority of care and I’d be free to go get a job. The thing is, I’m noticing myself starting to get really bad anxiety about my both my parents health. My Dad’s essentially in old age at this point and while my Mum is only 57, she is in a really fragile state... and I think with the various things I’ve seen her go through over the last 10-12 years, I’ve just become really anxiety prone when it comes to her. I’m always afraid she’s going to have some kind of accident. But, I guess on a more existential level, I’ve always been seriously anxious about the eventual death of either of my parents. With my mum, its something my older brothers have tried to talk about and mentally prepare me for. (As if that’s something you can prepare for) - But year after year my Mum’s health only gets worse and now with my Dad ready to hit 70 years old, I’m starting to get anxious about both of them. Maybe a lot of other carers on here, especially if looking after your family members, can relate to this? Its honestly my biggest fear in life, and generally always has been; losing my parents. I also have a lot of health anxieties regarding myself, as an adult I’ve became somewhat health obsessed, to the point of borderline hypochondria. I think these issues generally stem from growing up and witnessing how much my Mum has gone through... It does get me a bit down when I see other people around my age who have fit and healthy parents, it feels somewhat like I’ve missed out on the chance of a normal relationship with my Mum, in the sense that what she can do is soo limited these days. It’s just also difficult to see her go through day to day life with such a struggle. What can you really do in this position? Other than just continue to be of support? Though, it’s not always easy, it can be physically and emotionally draining... and I can really get myself down feeling like I’m not doing enough, or not doing my best for her etc. - I guess the point of this introductory post is to hear from other carers and their experiences? How do you maintain balance in your life? How do you cope with anxieties about losing your loved ones? :)
hi, and welcome to the forum.

I would say that what you describe in itself is 'normal' - ie, it is perfectly 'reasonable' for any newly-adult child, facing the uncertainties and problems of the world, to be worried about the world, and, more personally, to fear the death of their parents. It's entirely 'reasonable' after all, not to want our parents to die.

However, it does sound like the LEVEL of fear and anxiety and worry you are experiencing is 'beyond normal', and from the way you describe your parents, and your upbringing, it's actually quite understandable that you should have such heightened levels of anxiety.

The issue really is, to my mind, how you learn to manage those 'natural but heightened by experience/situation' fears, so they do not, as they are already starting to do, dominate your life, and lower your enjoyment of life. We can't enjoy the good things we have if we are constantly terrified they are going to be taken from us. (Most anxiety is about 'loss' in some respects, if you think about it - even if that is expressed as 'loss of control', ie, fear of things 'beyond our control', in your case, your parents' dath.

At 22, with a father of 70, that's a big gap, and your father must have been near 50 when you were born (not much younger than your mum now ,by the way), and so, in a way, he is your grandfather's generation (mine was in his 50s too, when I was born, so having an older father....and a mother with significant health needs too actually! ....is not unknown to me.)(My father was pretty tough, and lasted into his 80s!)

I would say it's a question of you getting some counselling for what are 'rational' feelings of fear of losing your parents - ie, given your mum's chronic illhealth (but see below in a moment) all your life, and your dad's 'grandfather' generation - which have become 'overheightened'. So, a question of learning to 'manage down' your fears by techniques such as CBT that a counsellor can teach you.

But also to take a practical view as well. First off, your dad. At 70 he should be retiring (!) (does he keep working because he enjoys it, because he needs the money for you all, or, perhaps, because it allows him to 'escape' his wife???), and even if he isn't, he should definitely be having a thorough medical check up. There are all sorts of general health check ups for oldies, including blood pressure (most important!), screenings for the commonest cancers such as lung/bowel/prostate (these are all routine on the NHS, and hopefully he's been doing this for some time)(lung screens probably depend on whether he's been/is a smoker). After that it's a question of lifestyle -is he overweight, how fit is he (how far can he walk/run, can he still do 'heavy lifting' etc etc), and how much he drinks.

He should be having health checks both for HIS sake, and for his wife's, and yours/your siblings. Hopefully, he should live a good further 20 years, if not longer (as in twenty years time, we may be routinely be living into our 100s!). There is no reason he should not live long enough to see his grandchildren by you well into secondary school, or even uni! Or even see his great grandchildren.

OK, that's your dad. Now, your mum. What is actually wrong with her? One of the 'upsides' of having a chronic physical illness/condition is that you are already 'in the system' so to speak, so she should be having her overall health monitored anyway, eg, bp etc etc. However, if her illness is mental health, that may not be happening, so I would say it's important to distinguish, which is why I ask what it is that actually is 'ill' about her.

With all of this into consideration, my bottom line is this - YOU, at 22, have ALL your life ahead of you, and YOU are the important person now - not your mum, not your dad. YOU. You should, as your dad is telling you (but not, at the moment, making it possible?) should be out in the world, having a job, having a life, getting more qualifications if you want (did you get to uni/college at all?). You should NOT, bottom line, be looking after your ailing mum!

Even if your dad can't do that yet full time, your mum should have professional carers coming in, for at least a good proportion of the time, whether or not she wants it! YOU should be free all day to have a full time job, even if you still live at home, and are there for your mum in the evenigs/overnight (though getting a good night's sleep). But you should also be having 'nights off' when you can go out with your mates - and free enough to have a girlfriend/boyfriend etc.

It's good you have siblings, and maybe it's time ofr a family conference with them, without your mum a nd dad being involved for the moment, to plan out what you want to change about your life, and how to make that happen.

I promise you, that, as you move out into the world, as you find your 'Significant Other' (in good time), and settle down with them, and, in time start your own family, you will move 'beyond childhood' (your still at the transition, emphasised by your caring role for your mum), and as that 'new life' becomes your main reality, accepting the mortality of your parents becomes far, far easier. it will ALWAYS be a sad and great loss, but it will, at that stage, be a 'natural' one. Your parents will leave this life, whenever that does happen in the future, knowing you are safety 'settled', with their grandchildren safe with you and your spouse. This is, you know, what life is all about......

I appreciate that at 22 it all seems very 'vague' but it can, and hopefully will happen.....and you will be much, much happier about it then. :)
Welcome to the forum, you've had a tough childhood. What is actually wrong with mum?
Sorry to say but talk of a spouse, yet alone grandchildren when one is caring for one's mother full time is a nonsense. What partner would accept that in their 20s?!

I have some awareness of situation as I was expected to drop everything and return home when my late father wanted to go abroad (albeit on extended holidays rather than work but it amounts to same thing in terms of effect) so that I could 'look after' my mum (even though that was last thing she wanted or indeed needed!). Eventually I simply refused. This time has now come for young gentleman I'd say. I feel, personally, his father is being rather selfish in not retiring (or at least ceasing working overseas) and returning to care for his wife. If not now, when?

In terms of mortality of one's parents again something I have experienced. My father was diagnosed with heart problems at 72 and I immediately asked for a transfer nearer to home as a result. In the end he continued for best part of ten years. During this time, with medication, his health was pretty good until last 6 months. After scare of his initial diagnosis I felt able to go abroad myself for 18 mnths. Now my mum is clearly declining and I do worry about what I will do with myself when time comes, my own marriage and indeed career (such as it was!) having failed. What I do know is that having a purpose in life is vital and time needs be spent wisely now in realising this. As I am doing, albeit fairly limited, it's something. I'd counsel the young gentleman to give thought to this and start develop a focus outwith his caring role as best way to 'futureproof' himself. Then, perhaps, inevitable mortality of his parents will not hold quite as much fear.

GFR
Am so sorry I can see that OP is in fact a young lady. Apologies for not noticing this before! :oops:
jenny lucas wrote:
Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:09 am
hi, and welcome to the forum.

I would say that what you describe in itself is 'normal' - ie, it is perfectly 'reasonable' for any newly-adult child, facing the uncertainties and problems of the world, to be worried about the world, and, more personally, to fear the death of their parents. It's entirely 'reasonable' after all, not to want our parents to die.

However, it does sound like the LEVEL of fear and anxiety and worry you are experiencing is 'beyond normal', and from the way you describe your parents, and your upbringing, it's actually quite understandable that you should have such heightened levels of anxiety.

The issue really is, to my mind, how you learn to manage those 'natural but heightened by experience/situation' fears, so they do not, as they are already starting to do, dominate your life, and lower your enjoyment of life. We can't enjoy the good things we have if we are constantly terrified they are going to be taken from us. (Most anxiety is about 'loss' in some respects, if you think about it - even if that is expressed as 'loss of control', ie, fear of things 'beyond our control', in your case, your parents' dath.

At 22, with a father of 70, that's a big gap, and your father must have been near 50 when you were born (not much younger than your mum now ,by the way), and so, in a way, he is your grandfather's generation (mine was in his 50s too, when I was born, so having an older father....and a mother with significant health needs too actually! ....is not unknown to me.)(My father was pretty tough, and lasted into his 80s!)

I would say it's a question of you getting some counselling for what are 'rational' feelings of fear of losing your parents - ie, given your mum's chronic illhealth (but see below in a moment) all your life, and your dad's 'grandfather' generation - which have become 'overheightened'. So, a question of learning to 'manage down' your fears by techniques such as CBT that a counsellor can teach you.

But also to take a practical view as well. First off, your dad. At 70 he should be retiring (!) (does he keep working because he enjoys it, because he needs the money for you all, or, perhaps, because it allows him to 'escape' his wife???), and even if he isn't, he should definitely be having a thorough medical check up. There are all sorts of general health check ups for oldies, including blood pressure (most important!), screenings for the commonest cancers such as lung/bowel/prostate (these are all routine on the NHS, and hopefully he's been doing this for some time)(lung screens probably depend on whether he's been/is a smoker). After that it's a question of lifestyle -is he overweight, how fit is he (how far can he walk/run, can he still do 'heavy lifting' etc etc), and how much he drinks.

He should be having health checks both for HIS sake, and for his wife's, and yours/your siblings. Hopefully, he should live a good further 20 years, if not longer (as in twenty years time, we may be routinely be living into our 100s!). There is no reason he should not live long enough to see his grandchildren by you well into secondary school, or even uni! Or even see his great grandchildren.

OK, that's your dad. Now, your mum. What is actually wrong with her? One of the 'upsides' of having a chronic physical illness/condition is that you are already 'in the system' so to speak, so she should be having her overall health monitored anyway, eg, bp etc etc. However, if her illness is mental health, that may not be happening, so I would say it's important to distinguish, which is why I ask what it is that actually is 'ill' about her.

With all of this into consideration, my bottom line is this - YOU, at 22, have ALL your life ahead of you, and YOU are the important person now - not your mum, not your dad. YOU. You should, as your dad is telling you (but not, at the moment, making it possible?) should be out in the world, having a job, having a life, getting more qualifications if you want (did you get to uni/college at all?). You should NOT, bottom line, be looking after your ailing mum!

Even if your dad can't do that yet full time, your mum should have professional carers coming in, for at least a good proportion of the time, whether or not she wants it! YOU should be free all day to have a full time job, even if you still live at home, and are there for your mum in the evenigs/overnight (though getting a good night's sleep). But you should also be having 'nights off' when you can go out with your mates - and free enough to have a girlfriend/boyfriend etc.

It's good you have siblings, and maybe it's time ofr a family conference with them, without your mum a nd dad being involved for the moment, to plan out what you want to change about your life, and how to make that happen.

I promise you, that, as you move out into the world, as you find your 'Significant Other' (in good time), and settle down with them, and, in time start your own family, you will move 'beyond childhood' (your still at the transition, emphasised by your caring role for your mum), and as that 'new life' becomes your main reality, accepting the mortality of your parents becomes far, far easier. it will ALWAYS be a sad and great loss, but it will, at that stage, be a 'natural' one. Your parents will leave this life, whenever that does happen in the future, knowing you are safety 'settled', with their grandchildren safe with you and your spouse. This is, you know, what life is all about......

I appreciate that at 22 it all seems very 'vague' but it can, and hopefully will happen.....and you will be much, much happier about it then. :)
___________________________________________

- Hey, thanks for the response, which must’ve took you some time to write! Much appreciated! To start off, I’ll answer your question about what’s wrong with my Mum. She’s became type 1 diabetic about 32 years ago when pregnant with the oldest of my two brothers, which I guess has been the root cause of her health’s decline since. (My brother weighed 14lbs at birth, so she had a lot of complications) When I was around 10 years old, she suffered a majour heart attack and narrowly, (but thanfully) escaped death. To which, she had to go through a triple bypass. It was pretty much since that time where her health issues began accumulating, she started losing her eyesight as a consequence of the type 1 diabetes. So after 12 years, she’s pretty much totally blind today. On top of that she has a lot of issues with osteoporosis, osteoathritis etc. Neuropathy, which causes a lot of numbness in her limbs. So she isn’t very mobile. Though, she’s always been a fighter and pushed through over the last decade, she would try to remain as active as she could within her limits. Though, last August there, she had a fall and really had a nasty fracture to her ankle. So since, she has been wheelchair bound. She had to go through a couple different operations, because with type 1 diabetics, they have to be especially wary of their feet, as they have issues with circulation etc. So the op wound just wasnt healing for months and became a pretty nasty infection/ulcer.. she had to have more ops to remove some metal etc. to which its now beginning to heal. That was a pretty intense time as were all pretty anxious about the possibility of her needing amputation. (To which life expectancy could then be anything from a couple weeks to 5 years). And in addition to that, over the last year she’s been experiencing a lot seizures, to which we’ve seen the GP, hospital doctors, etc. and they can’t pinpoint the problem. — So point being, she is in an extremely dependent position.

We’ve tried carers in the past. But that was always a huge issues with my Mum. She would always get really embarrassed about having strangers coming in to help her. So, they didnt last very long. My Dad wasn’t too keen on having strangers coming in either. So its something we just took on ourselves. We did give them a second go, last August when she broke her ankle, but every time they turned up in the afternoon then again in the evening, I’d have to send them away because I’d already done everything that was needed to do. So they’d just pop in for a 5-10 minute chat with my Mum and that was about it. And I really think she needs someone around pretty much 24/7, being a diabetic too, I tend to checking her blood sugars, giving her injections, making her meals etc. So having thought about professional carers in the past, I just worry that if they’re not constantly with her, what if she experiences low blood sugar and falls into a diabetic coma?! - These are exactly the kinds of potential disasters that I imagine constantly with her.

Luckily, my Dad works month on, month off... so when he’s home, I do have more freedom then, and sometimes one of my brothers will visit for a couple hours. So I do get the chance to see friends and such. And with your mention of a significant other, I’ve ironically just gotten out of a fairly serious relationship just last week, which ended pretty abruptly. But so, luckily, I did have the freedom to be in a relationship too. He actually was living with us for the past couple months and got on really well with my parents. He was, for the most part, really supportive and understanding with the whole situation, which I’ll give him credit for... As I don’t think many guys would be.

But back to my parents, with my Dad turning 70 - (I think he left retirement so late for a bit of both mentioned reasons, loving his job and the social aspect of it, as well as maybe to escape the stress of looking after my Mum.) My Dad isn’t the fittest, but he doesn’t have any current health issues of his own, other than the general stiffness of old age that has limited his fitness somewhat, he is perfectly mobile. Though, he avoids visiting Doctors completely, so would probably reject any kind of check up. He’s sort of of the attitude that he just welcomes his own death, when the time comes.

I think I know this is the year where I maybe have to ‘let go’ a little bit and try and get started on figuring out what it is I want to do with myself. (I did study HND Social Science which is like the Scottish equivelant of 1st year Uni. But with commitments at home, I’ve never had a clear insight as to what I want to do with my own future. I’m insanely indecesive, I was intending to apply for Uni this year, but would pretty much be a late applicant at this point. And I’m not certain I even want to go down the social science route anymore. - I think with this being my initial year into “freedom”, I might try and do a bit of travelling, get a job, figure myself out, what I want from life etc. But again, my brain is in such conflict with itself, the other half of me sees it like I’m abandoning my parents, so there’s a lot of guilt there. I’ve always been so close with my parents, and my Mum is essentially like a best friend. She is literally the strongest, kindest, most good-spirited person I’ve ever known. So, this almost feels like leaving her in her time of need? Especially when I constantly dread how much time she has left?

Ahhh.. life.
i related to so much you said,im 26 caring for gran,and have had almost crippling anxiety over her health,i know what thats like,but its like the previous poster said,to carry that anxiety is not normal,and there is no shame or stigma with reaching out for counciling or therapy,where you get taught mindfulness and cbt technics,i have good and bad days,my nan was very ill recently and i was climbin the walls thinking she was gonna die in the night,but shes cool now,and when it comes to the doctors shruggin there shoulders,not havin a clue ive been there too,and speculation doesnt do us any favors.we as human beings always tend to think the worst is going to happen,but is not always the case,my nan brought me up,so in a way my mum is 63,so to feel cheated of real time really struck me,but the lady b4 is right,u keep looking at where u were,ul never see where your going,go live a life,wish i could practice what im preachin rn,but at 22 there are sooooooo many options right now,dont have to be all or nothing maybe a part time or weekend thing or a trip when yr dads back 4 a month,god forbid but if anything happens,and it will to us all,u have to have somthing built.from what i read with yr family round u,yl have some support network around u,your world can only come crashing down if it is built only round your mum.im sorry i can only spout fortune cookie nonsense and not be pratical but with the thing about your mum having seizures,mabye try get a second opinion,maybye private consoltation if thats posible,that may help aliviate some anxietyi just did 4 my nan and made some progress with her.and please consider counciling or support groups,it is not a quick process,but it is really helpful.
You have two choices, either remain a slave for the rest of your life, or you make a stand. What would happen if you went away for two weeks holiday, or even get ill? Dad is useless, he's just burying his head in the sand. If he doesn't want strangers in the house, then he needs to stay home! Mum might not want carers either, but it's what she needs, it sounds like she is in complete denial about the extent of her very serious disabilities, just like my mum, who preferred to be housebound for 30 years rather than let "someone see me like this".
Surely your own life and dreams are worth fighting for?
Hey, this is not a good situation, as you are not being given the choice to sort out your needs.

Your mum is not helping by refusing outside help, which she obviously needs. Her needs are too much for any one person.

Your dad, is out socialising with his workmates a month at a time at the age of 70, which I find interesting. May I ask, is his work abroad, as he spends long periods away from home?
Adonis_1802 wrote:
Tue Feb 27, 2018 6:25 am
Hey, this is not a good situation, as you are not being given the choice to sort out your needs.

Your mum is not helping by refusing outside help, which she obviously needs. Her needs are too much for any one person.

Your dad, is out socialising with his workmates a month at a time at the age of 70, which I find interesting. May I ask, is his work abroad, as he spends long periods away from home?
_____________
Hey... (thanks to all responses)
To answer your question above, My Dad’s worked on oil rigs for pretty much his entire life. I think its a form of escape for him. But he does have some friends at home too, as well as extended family members etc. so he won’t be completely lost for a social life when he retires haha.

As for looking after my Mum, I know this’ll be the year where I have to really get things going for myself. I’ve been reading a couple other posts on here and from some of the comments, it’s been interesting to look into the lives of other people who are living as carers. As this is my first time in any kind of group or forum. It’s definitely a high-stress position to be taking on. (And to the commenter who mentioned CBT and counselling etc.) I’ve never been for counselling, but I really do try and emphasise balance in my life, otherwise I’d 100% lose my mind. Exercise, healthy diet and socialising when I can are definitely what keeps my head above water. I think I learned from a young age that developing good strategies for dealing with stress is key. Mentally, I think I’m in a good place for the most part.

But I do generally feel somewhat stuck with my parents. That’s my biggest issue I guess. My Dad, despite being fit enough to work, is somewhat dependent of me when he’s home too. He can drive but probably hasn’t done so in over 20 years, so I’m pretty much the one who goes for their grocery shopping, takes them from A to B, etc. I even pay their bills, handle their finances, do the bulk of the housework. When I was with my boyfriend, we talked a lot about moving in together as an eventual possibility.. But I’d just sit and wonder what the hell my parents would do without me. I guess that’s why I feel so stuck. I love my parents and they depend on me for a lot. Yet I want a life of my own and undeniably get irritated at times by countless responsibilities etc. But again, the other half of me sees how much my parents have given me my entire life, and cared for me growing up etc. which just makes me feel guilty as heellll. — though if having so many caring responsibilities at a young age has taught me anything its that I sure as hell don’t want kids haha. (Though, I’m probably super qualified for the role at this point)