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Am I wrong for wanting my life back?

Due to circumstances out of my control, mom came to live with my husband and I three years ago. She was 70. She could drive and take care of her life at that time. What she was not taking care of was her diet, she is diabetic, so I tried to help, best I could, to get her eating correctly. She would eat okay when we ate together but as soon as she was alone she just going to do what she wanted and that was that. After a fall she was in the hospital for a week, from there she went to a rehab facility to get some strength in her arms and legs, then to a personal care home, because the Dr. does not want her to be left alone longer than a few hours. She has been doing wonderful because of the structured environment that she is in. She will not being driving anymore. She walks with a walker but still tends to fall. She is not happy there and wants to back with my husband and I and as fate would have it, the funds are no longer available to keep her in the personal care home, looks like she will have to come back to my house. I have spent many sleepless nights trying to do what is best for my mother. It has affected my life, business and personal. It has taken a toll on my marriage I am depressed all the time. I take care of mom's financial and personal world while mine is suffering. I cannot get over feeling like I am being selfish wanting my life back. I am so depressed I feel like I am mourning my own life. I feel like I have nothing left of me, I have emotional meltdowns weekly that only I know about, my job is to make sure mom is happy and as healthy as she can be. Is it normal to feel so guilty and selfish or am I just a bad person?
Status: Open    May 22, 2015 - 06:22 AM


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APFM Staff Answers

Oct 12, 2015 - 08:13 AM

Hi – this is in answer to karrieb2000’s question regarding VA benefits – there is an article on the A Place for Mom Blog called VA Benefits: The Best Kept Secret to Paying for Senior Care. It gives a good overview of what is available. If you have any questions about the benefits I encourage you to ask a question on our Q&A site as we have several VA experts who would be happy to provide answers.


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Aug 12, 2015 - 01:23 PM

I just wanted to give an update on our situation - turns out that since my Dad was a wartime vet Mom was able to get a benefit that pays for living expenses. She ended up going to a larger assisted living facility and actually likes it better because there is so much for her to do. ONe of her favorite things is that the chef there makes meals and snacks taste so good that Mom doesn't feel deprived because of her diabetes. I still go see her almost every day but I don't feel like I'm being swallowed up by her and her needs.


May 31, 2015 - 11:13 AM

Rather than bringing her back to your home I think she would be better in assised living.
It would probably be a safer enviroment and there are people around all the time if she needs assistance.
Your "job" is to take care of yourself and your family. Finding a safe place for your Mom falls into that job description.
Yes she will probably not be happy and she will be angry for a while but this is a safety and sanity saving decision.
Look into medicad if finances are an issue. It is possible that the facility where she is may be able to help you or put you in contact with the right people or the right facility.

May 31, 2015 - 11:59 AM

You are NOT wrong for wanting your life back! My goodness, look at all you have done for your mom! I went thru a similar scenario as you about 25 years ago with all the pangs of love and guilt that you are expressing. Mom was developing Alzheimers and had been living alone. My brothers and I all lived at least an hour away. We visited her whenever we could and I would take her to stay with us as often as she would allow but she always wanted to go to her home (she had agoraphobia). Then she fell and my nightmare began because the medicare/medicaid laws had just changed and were more rigorous. Whereas only a year before, simply being incontinent were good enough grounds to get you into a nursing home, suddenly, when she most needed to be in one due to a broken pelvis and worsening dementia, she no longer qualified! And knowing this, her doctor would not even admit her into the hospital (for a broken pelvis?!!), because she knew Mom would have to stay in the hospital until a room in a nursing home became available. It's a quirky rule, but once they're into the "system", it is up to the system to make sure her home was safe to discharge her to, and of course, having dementia and ambulatory issues and living alone, it wasn't.

And this is where your story comes in - Your mom is already in the system. And with your mother's falls and weakness, she is in the best place possible for her. Simply because she has run out of money does not mean the rehab facility can just discharge her. I don't mean to sound harsh here, as if I didn't want my Mom living with me. Her agoraphobia, coupled with Alzheimers made it virtually impossible, so I was leaving my small children with my husband an hour away so I could stay at my Mom's home until my brother could watch her on the weekends. And it seems your situation is just as dire as mine was back then.

My plight got local attention from the medical community. I was invited to speak at a nurses seminar about how dementia patients fall thru thru cracks with the new "one-size-fits-all" Medicare rules (this was back in 1994). There wasn't a dry eye in the room when I finished - but it was there that I leaned about a new facility that had just opened specifically for Alzheimer patients (there were few to none in my state at that time). So that's where I took my mother to live.

However! Like your mom, she ran out of funds and the home sent me a letter that they were going to discharge her onto my doorstep and gave me a bill for the 15 grand it had cost to keep her since the funds ran out! Having learned about the hospital discharg- to-home liability, I doubted a nursing home could legally do that, either! So I called an ombudsman and they got that matter settled with a stern letter to the home and they helped me find the funds (from her social security, etc.) so she could stay where she was well cared-for (albeit the business office was shame-faced!) where she had a busy, sociable and well-rounded life - all which I (and you, too) could not give to her.

Your mom is where she needs to be (and it isn't up to your finances to fund her personal care home - just something I want you to know). If you need help figuring out what to do next, please call your local agency on aging and/or an ombudsman. I don't know what I would have done without their help. You have been under terrible stress. It is natural to feel the guilt and for your mom to want to come back to be with you and your husband. But is that what is really right - for her? How happy will she be when everyone around her is stressed, depressed and barely functioning? You can not take care of someone else until you take care of you. I have prepared my kids to never, ever feel guilty when/if I need to be in a home. They know I adored my mother and that I did what was best for her. You need to keep in mind that what is best for you is ultimately what is best for her.

My mom lived 2 years in that nursing home and she died peacefully there with my brother and me at her side. The staff was loving and attentive and a few hours later, after the funeral parlor took her precious body away and I walked to my car, I looked back at the nursing home - her home - And right over it was a beautiful double rainbow.

May 31, 2015 - 01:51 PM

NO! You are not a bad person! You deserve a life and a good, happy fulfilling life! Same as she probably had. Are you going to be so confused about these questions after your marriage falls apart? you lose your job? you lose your mind???
Unfortunately she may never be happy. Many elderly never are once they start going down this path often because they are looking for the happiness they felt as children or very young adults and they don't even realize that themselves.
I think it's time for you to check with medicaid to see what can be done to get her into a home. There you can visit her often, take her out for overnights if you want. You owe it to yourself, your spouse and her too to work on your own life.
Best Wishes.

Aug 12, 2015 - 01:35 PM

Thank you for the update and I am glad things worked out. Always nice to hear a follow up on these questions.

Oct 11, 2015 - 09:39 AM

Can I ask how you found the war time vet benefit? My mom is living with us (between us and my brothers home), it's a strain on us all, including mom. It's completely financial (of course diet etc plays into it); mom is so ill able to live in her own but can't afford it. Have applied for medical assistance and housing assistance and bee told maligning 1116.00 a month us to much--really?! Now what?

Source: Karrieb

Oct 14, 2015 - 08:22 AM

Time was when the normal cycle of life was that your parents brought you up until you got married and went out in the world to raise your own family. You usually didn't travel far from home, so you continued to see your family on a regular basis. As time went on, your children were grown, and you had 'your life'. Then, as your parents got older and unable to care for themselves, they came to live with their children. The grandparents often assisted with the children and the household as long as they were able. If there were several children, they all pitched in to help, one way or another, until the elderly generation died. It was taken for granted that it would happen this way. And so the cycle went from generation to generation. Ask any sociologist or anthropologist, this was the normal life cycle until the past generation or two. Then we had the 'me' generation. Now children often move far away from the home nest and turn their back on their parents, maybe seeing them for holidays, unless they are too busy with their own life to bother. Families are now spread far and wide and often have little contact with each other. When parents get elderly and unable to care for themselves, they are put in a home and forgotten. It is too much to ask the kids to bother with them, as they have their 'own lives' to live. Of course, the dissolution of so many marriages, adds to this problem. The family has broken down. Often children feel neglected and alienated from their family, through divorce, or busy, career-driven parents, and so feel no obligation to those parents. It is indeed a sad statement of the evolution of families.
I think it's quite normal for you to feel depressed. It is interfering with your own life, and what could be more important? This generation has been brought up to feel that their life, their needs, are what count. It is their 'right' to have their own life, separate from their family. Anything that interferes with that has to be a negative.
I have no illusions. Most, if not all, of the people on this board are probably members of the 'me' generation and will think me insane and ridiculous for my outlook. I know I will get lots of 'thumbs down', but I thought it needed to be said.

Feb 08, 2016 - 04:02 PM

So you're saying it's better for my mother to live in my home, sitting in the dark basement all day, watching TV being depressed, rather than going to assisted living and having good health care and a social life. Is it so selfish to want your mother to have more than you can give? We live in a different society where in most families both husband and wife have to work to make ends meet. How can one care properly for an ageing parent when one has to work outside of the home all day? I understand what you are saying but for some of us even in this new generation it really isn't all about "ME" as you seem to assume of everyone on this forum. You don't know what goes on in individual families. It is not for us to judge others. Sure back in the day when everyone ran family farms that would have been ideal, times and society change. You can look at all change in a positive or negative light. We are all just trying to do what is best in this day and age. Plus how do we know that if it wasn't so frowned upon back then, how many families wouldn't have done the same thing as society does today? It is tough, heart wrenching work being your parents parent.

May 14, 2016 - 10:16 PM

Families are not that big any more. ONE person is typically stuck caring for an elder with 24-7 supervision and physical care needs, which is truly unsustainable - and the period of time this goes on, with even total disabiity, is much longer due to better medical care. Generational spacing is wider and what happens now is the children who are nearing their own retirement and maybe facing their own health problems become overhwelmed full time caregivers instead. There is a significant rate of such caregivers dying before the person they are careing for under these circumstances.

An elderly parent deserves care and not abandonment, true - unless they were abusive, gave no care, and make themselves impossible to care for, at least - but using a facility for care is not abandonment in itself. As a parent, I should not desire and expect my chidren to break up their marriages, neglect my grandchildren, and/or prematurely end the careers I sacrificed and struggled to see them acheive, so that they provide 100% of my care, and yet you see that expectation all too often.


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