“Caring for an Elderly Parent Will Kill You Faster Than Anything”

StressIn addition to running my business, I also have other jobs, including getting gigs through a speaker’s bureau for Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and Work/Life Benefit companies. I often present Lunch and Learn seminars about caregiving, stress management and work/life balance on behalf of EAPs and Work/Life Benefit company for their clients, which are employers. During the fall, I will man booths for EAPs and Work/Life Benefit companies at employers’ wellness and benefits fairs.

Today, I manned a booth for an EAP at a large corporation headquartered in downtown Chicago. As usual, I chatted with the vendor next to me–a gentleman (“Bud”) who sold life insurance.

During the course of our conversation, Bud began talking about caregiving. I’m not sure what led to the discussion but he shared about the family meetings he had with siblings about his mother’s care, about his sister’s mistaken belief that their mother’s military insurance (TRICARE) would pay for nursing home care. And, then, he declared,

“Caring for an elderly parent will kill you faster than anything.”

He said it emphatically, with arm movements to drive home his point. “I really mean that,” he added.

He continued to talk although I had stopped listening because I was still thinking about his previous comment.

I’m always curious about your thoughts to a statement like this. What do you think? Will the caregiving experience do you in? Share your thoughts in our comments section, below.

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About Denise

I began working with family caregivers in 1990 and launched CareGiving.com in 1996 to help and support them. Through my blog, I share words of comfort and offer coping strategies and tips. I also write opinion pieces about recent research, community programs and media coverage of caregiving issues. I've written several caregiving books, including "The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey," "Take Comfort, Reflections of Hope for Caregivers" and "After Caregiving Ends, A Guide to Beginning Again." You can purchase my books and schedule a coaching call with me in our store.

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Linda
Member

It’s not “doing me in,” but it sure has altered my life. Some of that alteration is good, such as seeing death in a different way and learning more about how devastating my mother’s cancer is for everyone who contracts it (who knew a year ago I’d be deeply involved in a cholangiocarcinoma group?). While some of this support is heartbreaking, it’s also empowering. On the other hand, I’m getting wiped out financially going back and forth between two states, and I’m just tired. Plus, I’m not sure I like the new “patient” under my care. He’s changed a lot… Read more »

Lillie
Member

I don’t feel like my role as caregiver is killing me faster than anything but it continues to change my life. I can understand how someone might feel that way though. For instance, caregiving might be more difficult for an only child, although I have 3 siblings who do not participate in my mom’s care. In my own situation my mom does not qualify for outside help and I do not qualify to receive pay for caring for my mom. I’m not able to go out to the gym, to go for a walk when I want to, to have… Read more »

Stephanie
Guest
Stephanie

Love can conquer all. I applaud you and see your love for your mother You appreciate the love and care she’s given you. If everyone could just truly love, then they could care and appreciate the love and care they were given when they were being cared for growing up. It’s basically the same thing but turned around. Thank God my mom wasn’t one to just throw me in the trash or anything else as such. There are some moms that feel the same caring for a baby as do some adult children feel caring for a parent when they… Read more »

roberta
Guest
roberta

Ok well that sounds great until they become bitter mean and nasty and not even your mom so no sorry love doesn’t conqyer it more like survival of the fittest

April Farnham
Guest
April Farnham

It ones thing to have that love and to give it back but, there are ways to maintain balance and you can just give up for your life. Our parents had help, so should we.

Carol Kotcheck
Guest
Carol Kotcheck

I know, my Mother kicked me out at Sixteen,went on to limit and sabotage my adult life. Now she remarried a man who at 89 has end stage dementia,and I’m going crazy taking care of them both when my brother who got the education, money, is nowhere around. I love her,but she abandoned me from 15 to 22 and I want to finally be free so sometimes I resent the fact that I adore her and she never did me.

Billie windsor
Guest
Billie windsor

Iam married to a wonderful man but after we were married he moved his 96 yr old mother in our house she has dimenisa said and is very bitter very mentally abuse I’ve to my husband and he treats her like a queen she has started physically abusing us now slapping us for no reason. I’m so stressed I hate the thought of a divorce over this he refuses to put her in a nursing home and I can’t live like this I don’t know what to do I’m so torn. Sad depressed and stressed to the max.

Lydia
Guest
Lydia

Thought I was the only one going through this.

Breanna
Guest
Breanna

I have now taken care of my birth mother for 9 years and 9 months. My father left her and took my sister and I because of her abuse of us when I was 18 months old. I only saw her 3 times after that growing up. It was out of “love” that I took her and my stepdad in a decade ago. It has been hell! I thought my Christian self could change her if I just loved her enough. She has just about ruined my marriage. My husband has had a mental breakdown because he is working two… Read more »

Junior
Guest
Junior

My siblings don’t care about anything but their own families. I’m the baby and I had a bad marriage to begin with but caring for Mom and hearing crap from the absent family and husband sucked. I’m divorced and now its Pop’s turn 6years of Mom was enlightening. She wanted to do before she died. Pop sleep and TV then gets angry he falls or his legs are weak. I’m alone 45 female trying to care for someone who won’t help himself to help me, he raised us harder than that, guess it was really Mom who did. My 2… Read more »

Guest
Guest
Guest

I can relate to all you say- keep the faith(in yourself) and keep fighting in the “school of hard knocks”.

MICHAEL
Guest
MICHAEL

My mother is a bitter grouchy old lady, and I lost my Master degree trying to take care of her, while my brother and sister just continue on as normal. Oh, they did recommend putting her away.

LilMagill
Member

I can only say I hope it isn’t true. I need hope.

Cindy
Guest
Cindy

I also am searching for hope & a piece of mind caring for my 83 y/o mom that lives with my husband & me. She moved in almost 9 yrs ago To be honest I really never KNEW my mom until she moved in ! I don’t understand why she is so spiteful, destructive to MY belongings including furniture & is always seeing EVERYTHING with a negative out look I gave up my career when she moved in because she did not want to be home alone After my father died 21 hrs ago mom started gambling very heavy to… Read more »

Jean
Member

Sometimes I feel it certainly might. After 10 years of caring for my mother-in-law, I feel it has taken a toll. It isolated me from friends and family, kept me from seeing my grandkids — the joys of my life — as often as I would have liked. I could have exercised more and ate better but I didn’t. I know our home health nurse said she frequently saw caregivers that took much better care of their caree than they did themselves. I knew I should take better care of myself, but… well I just didn’t. I’m working on that… Read more »

Judy
Guest
Judy

I know the feeling. Been taking care of my mother in law for 10+ years. She has been under hospice care for a year in January. She can only feed her self. Every 3 to 4 hours she needs to be taken to the bathroom. She can’t wipe herself, bathe herself, dress herself. We cannot do anything that is longer than 3 or 4 hours. I’m resenting her and my attitude is bad at best. I recently retired to help my husband take care of her. It takes both of us to take her to the bathroom, bathe her etc.… Read more »

Randy Pitrowski
Guest
Randy Pitrowski

I’m having to care for my mom who was horrible to me. She refuses to eat or drink and exercise and there is nothing wrong with her except she states she is 92. She is in diapers and is a bit mentally ill and bi-polar. She has too much money to get Medicaid and not enough to go to a decent home so I am stuck in hell. My brother lives far away. I am 60 with sciatica and Sarcoidosis a full time job I work from home now and it’s killing me. I have a husband, bees, 2 dogs… Read more »

Elly
Guest
Elly

Your brother lives far away? What if something happened to you, what would he do? As a bare minimum, he should be coming and staying at your house for a few weeks three or four times a year so you can leave and go “far away”.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Chances are, like many of us she can’t afford to go away somewhere far away a few times a year. My elderly father-in-law lives with us. So does my elderly mother. I’m double caretaking. Neither of them have any resources, so we are supporting them. There is no money for anything else. My life ended 5 years ago when they moved in. I’m an introvert. I’m a solitary kind of person and so is my husband. I haven’t had a single day where I have been alone in 5 years . I haven’t had a mammogram in 3 because I… Read more »

Katie
Guest
Katie

Kate — I am so sorry. I’m an introvert, too, and my 94 year old mother has moved in with us. Never being alone in my own house, having to respond to someone every minute of the day — it’s horrible.

Gail Mcgaughey
Guest
Gail Mcgaughey

Sounds like my life.

Kelly Randall
Guest
Kelly Randall

I also am wondering if this is going to kill me. I’m caring for my father, by myself. My husband is stuck working out of the country and we live in a rural/small town area. I can barely breathe or function. Sounds like some of us could use an online support group or something similar. If any of you could use an “email pal” we can commiserate together and it might help to vent.

Kathy
Guest
Kathy

Dementia Caregivers Support Group on Facebook is wonderful! So much support there!

guest
Guest
guest

OMG I can relate- agreed to care-give my father when his health began to take a turn(Hodgekin’s Lymphoma, etc.). Luckily his health has improved but his mental state is like a spoiled 4 year old: spiteful, double-minded, gossipy-opinionated behind friends/family members & then different in their presence or on phone. A mid-range “hoarder” for years, so his house/garage is so full of junk can’t hardly move. Won’t help himself to help me- like making things 5 times worse to make me stress about it(for the hell of it). Three, not-to-distant half-siblings too wrapped up in themselves to be concerned(except what… Read more »

Lydia
Guest
Lydia

I’ve taken care of her for more than 15 years since I was a teenager, 15+ years of sacrifice, the siblings don’t help much, yet I’m still looked at with no gratitude and as if I’m the only one who owe her my whole life. I’m about done now and finally a family friend is willing to take her in and i may finally live a normal life, even if the person is only taking her in temporarily!! I need my sanity back and I need to be selfish and take care of myself because I know the more I… Read more »

Donna L Forsyth
Guest
Donna L Forsyth

Get out and leave . Find a nursing home and let her live there.You need freedom from this situation. You are too guilt ridden and will suffer .

Leyla
Guest
Leyla

I’ve been taking care of my mom for 10 year now. She’ll be 101 in Sept. I understand what you mean by being isolated. Unfortunately soon after my husband’s death she moved to our place just because she is so selfish. She saw that I was giving good care to my husband and she wanted the same. I have lost all my friends and life activities. She never thank me for what I an doing for her and is never happy.

jack
Guest
jack

I am so sorry to hear about your plight. But you need to change your situation. You need tobe a good steward to your own life. You need to develop the life you have left. Hugs.

Bonnie
Guest
Bonnie

That’s easier said than done once you’re in this kind of situation. I felt the same way as Leyla and still resent having taken on the caregiving role. It sucked everything about “me” out of my life and even though my mom moved into an assisted living facility about 2 years ago, I am STILL trying to rebuild or redefine my life. I feel like 4 years were stolen from me. I know it won’t be a popular thing for me to say, especially since I’m a senior citizen myself, but the medical community in our country has gone too… Read more »

Laura
Guest
Laura

I hear you. I feel exactly the same. My mom is never happy no matter how much I visit or what I bring. She is in a beautiful place in independent living. It’s like a hotel. Said she is in prison hates food and is only happy when she makes me feel bad. Tells me she is in pain everyday with arthritis. She is 92 I feel so bad cause I come home miserable for my poor husband to put up with

Tammy
Guest
Tammy

I feel the same as well, my mom is never satisfied she is 85 and still wants to be on the go all the time, flee markets, second hand stores, garage sells etc. I have two siblings my brother (she lives in a house on his land) but he won’t help with her at all but he will go to her house if shes cooked just to eat. He didn’t even go to see her in the hospital so no help there and my sister she will take spells of helping maybe for a month then she completely stops helping… Read more »

Jan
Guest
Jan

I so relate to this. And having siblings who don’t help, are not supportive piles onto the built-in stress on caregiver. I do believe the stress is a killer. I’ve worked hard all my life and hoping someday I’ll get to enjoy the retirement I’m supposed to be enjoying.

jo davidson
Guest
jo davidson

thank heaven for this site! my angry, narcissistic mother is reducing me to tears every other hour. maybe we should introduce all of these mothers to one another and let them scream at each other.

guest
Guest
guest

Definitely can relate…when your common-sense kicks in & says “now- wait a minuet” after CONTINUAL verbal/mental abuse + “correction”(“You’re not doing it right!”) from an elderly parent with senile issues, it’s time to make a decision about your own well being.

Nancy
Guest
Nancy

I agree 100 percent. I will never do to my kids what my mother does to me!

Lydis
Guest
Lydis

Wow, I told my whole family similar. I told them to please pull the plug.. Do NOT save me if I’m going to end up disabled physically or mentally otherwise I warned them that I will end my own life. I don’t want to put my family through the caregiving role at all. I wholeheartedly agree with the fact the medical community should really advise the family on the difficulties of caregiving so that the family can come to a decision on whether or not to just let the family member go. It sounds cruel and selfish, but only to… Read more »

Suzanne
Guest
Suzanne

I agree on the issue of extending life. I’m all for quality over quantity. I am watching my mother slip away and suffer with Lou Gehrig’s and it is horrific. If there’s no hope of improvement or stabilization, I really hope that I can just pass quickly when it’s my time and not suffer like that.

Sylvie
Guest
Sylvie

I moved in with my boyfriend and his mother who signed the house into his name. Personally I feel it is still her house as long as she lives. Six or seven years ago the mother, son and daughter had quite a falling out and did not speak to each other for 3 years. During that time the mother changed that her daughter was no longer POA and made her son POA and this apparently did not go well with the daughter. I was asked by my boyfriend to move in with them and I would not have to pay… Read more »

Peg
Guest
Peg

I’m so glad you got out of that situation. Please don’t ever look back. This was the first 2 years of my marriage. My husband felt too much loyalty to his mother to support me. When my mother in law got to a point of being beyond our ablility to care for her and the crap hit the fan the family did all they could to make me the fall guy. This was 15 years ago and I still am not at a point where I can forgive and forget this. Please… stay far away from this. It’s not worth… Read more »

PATTI STOWIE
Guest
PATTI STOWIE

I am so with you, Leyla. My mom is so selfish also, thanks for sharing.

Sara thompson
Guest
Sara thompson

Why are you putting up with it? You need some therapy to understand why you are willing to settle for so little. Rememer when she is gone and your life is in ruins you will have to live with the regret of that. You have one life and you are entitled to be happy. At 101 she has had hers. Time to let go and reclaim your future.

Dancer
Member

Where is the “I can relate” button. Bless you!

Stacy Robinson
Guest
Stacy Robinson

Mrs Jean!!! Believe me when I say I can relate
..

jan
Member

The first thing that comes to mind is my grandmother caring for my great-grandmother, who had dementia. My grandmother brought her mom into her home and cared for her until “it was ruining her health” and she was forced to put her in a nursing home. This was 45-50 years ago, and I was too small to comprehend the implications of the decision. My great-grandmother lived another 5 years in the nursing home and my grandmother lived another 20 also, then with diabetes. I respect that decision, probably very difficult, in a different age as well.

LilMagill
Member

Both of my grandmothers spent the last years of their lives in a nursing home. I always respected the family’s decisions about that, too.

Ednola Martin
Guest
Ednola Martin

My sister and I have shared the care giving for our 100 year old mother for the last 16 years. I recently stopped after mother ‘s behavior and verbal abuse became too much for me to bear. I am being negatively treated as a result. Evidently a nursing facility is out of the question as is a person coming into the home. What other recourse is possible?

Joanna
Guest
Joanna

Do you belong to a church ? Very often parishioners will visit with no wish of intruding. and help you with laundry, shopping, emotional support . A friend of mine managed to keep her job and sanity with this kind of selfless help. Both her parents had cancer and dementia. Please, at least consider it.

Donna L Forsyth
Guest
Donna L Forsyth

Leave and don’t come back.

Elly
Guest
Elly

What about your sister? Is she having to go it alone now?