My intent was never to become a caregiver. I have always been a career girl, encouraged by my parents to be self-sufficient and independent. Never, they’d say, ever EVER would they lean on me in their old age. At the same time, I have always been a pleaser – wanting everyone to be happy and having a difficult time saying “no”. Lately, this combination has become toxic.
Last year my parent’s health began to decline. As they lived in another city, I was always dashing back and forth when I would receive a frantic “emergency” phone call. Yes, I’d be there. Yes, I would drop everything in this crisis. Yes, I’d cook. Yes, I’d call the doctors. Yes, yes, yes… As an only child, I had no other siblings to rely on. It became apparent that my parents were increasingly becoming less able to care for themselves and that they just didn’t want to try. My mother, in particular, suddenly went from being the one in charge to the one who had no interest in anything but her needs! When I hired help to come into their home, the cost quickly shot through the roof, close to $10,000 a month.
Soon it made more sense to move them closer to where I live. I selected a retirement home that had both independent and assisted living, which I thought would please my parents. It is a lovely place with lots of activities, transportation, beautiful surroundings and a seemingly caring staff. However, my parents refuse to use the transportation and participate in any activities except the nightly dinners provided in the dining room. I soon found myself doing their shopping, driving them to endless doctor’s appointments and such. Have I enabled them – yes? In my need to please, my life has turned into a nightmare, affecting myself, my work and my family life. Do I know how to extricate myself – no? No matter how hard I try to push them to take charge of any part of their own lives, they refuse to do so.
So what do I do? Refuse to take them anywhere? It is easy to say set boundaries, but much harder to follow through. When I try, they just sit there and don’t make any effort. Is there anyone out there who has or is going through the same experience? While I know I am responsible for creating my own hell, I am truly reaching out to you for help…..