These are just some of the many responses we received
from our Editorial of 04/16/09 -
Go Answer Alice
I am in a similar situation with my father.
It doesn't involve substance addictions, but I have
been feeling abused in the relationship. There
is a lot of "baggage" in the relationships we
have with our parents, and it complicates things
when the caregiver roles become reversed when we
begin overseeing their needs. I struggle with
so many things daily such as my commitment to be a
better, more patient and understanding caregiver
then my parents were to me. I often fight the
urge to react to my Dad's behaviors with the anger
that he used to react to me as a child. I
struggle with understanding and making sense of the
things he does and says. I struggle with
trying not to be hurt by the criticism.
In my case, I have small children and I try so hard
to set an example for them, and then feel miserable
when I lose my temper after being pushed past my
What has helped improve my situation is reducing
the time I put into physically caring for my Dad.
I do not have help from family members. I am
still responsible for managing his needs and
appointments, but I do have him in Adult Day Care
two days a week, and I have a paid caregiver that
spends two mornings a week with him. This time
that he is in someone else's care for a few hours
make an enormous difference to me. I have time
to recharge, restore some of my patience, and just
flip off the caregiver switch for a short time.
If you haven't already, try to find resources in
your area where you can get similar help.
This of course, is not a solution to your mother's
addictive personality traits, just as it is not a
solution to my father's issues, but these little
bits of time and distance can reduce your stress and
help you to be better able to cope with her issues.
A bit more information would be helpful here.
Does Alice have a support team such as siblings or
other family and friends that could be helpful with
the care of her Mother? Knowing the financial
situation would help too, in case there are funds
available to hire more help to come in and relieve
Alice especially during higher pain times.
Does Alice have a family of her own such as a spouse
and/or children? If so, they may need her
too...if not, Alice may be depriving herself
of being available to have a life of her own while
trying to do everything for her Mother. My
suggestion to Alice is to get involved in a support
group and build a support team. I am reading
her letter with no feeling that Alice has help from
any source other than herself. If Alice goes
down, there will be no other source for her Mother's
care. No one has to accept abusive behavior.
Period. We all want the best for our loved
ones even when it sometimes feels they don't deserve
us. However, we are personally responsible for
our response and our reaction to verbal and
physical abuse even when outside influences such as
narcotics and/or alcohol are involved.
Alice's Mother is a very lucky lady to have someone
so devoted to her care and wellbeing. Alice
deserves help just as much as her Mother and I hope
she will build a team of supporters for herself, get
some assistance, and get out there and do something
for herself. She deserves it!
This is serious and her father giving her mother
extra meds was a felony. So is knowledge of it
and not telling the authorities. Call adult
social services. She appears to be in need of
“continuous skilled nursing” care. This may
seem harsh, but in my opinion this lady can no
longer take care of her mother without endangering
her own health and perhaps the public should her
mother “go off” in the car and cause an accident and
maybe kill someone or herself and her daughter.
In my opinion, this is no longer a care giving issue
and I would sue her and social services for wrongful
death if one of my family members were killed by the
actions of this woman. I would also sue her
doctor for malpractice. I am a caregiver
survivor. I took care of my spouse for 5 years
and ended up with a heart attack and my health
severely damaged. My wife is in a nursing home
now and I am recovering from a heart attack and
several surgeries necessitated from not taking care
of myself. We now have a good relationship and
enjoy every minute together. I visit every
other day at dinner time and we watch TV together
and share wonderful moments. She had two
hemorrhagic strokes in March of 2002. She was
55 then. You can have a good life only when
you understand that at a certain point you cannot
take proper care of your mother at home. No
one can take care of someone 24/7/365 without an
eventual collapse of your system.
My feeling and suggestion is that you get out of the
situation. She could become dangerous to you
and harm you. You may discover that you are a
co-dependent. There are limits to what you can
do and should do. Can you afford to put her in a
nursing home or similar place? Your health is
at stack here. You do not need to feel guilty about
her. If you can't find a place for her, you at
least need to find someone to come in and help you
to give you a break. I belong to a caregiver group
(my husband has MS) and you need to find one, too
(even if she doesn't live with you anymore).
We may be caregivers but we are not miracle workers.
If you can't get someone to listen go elsewhere.
All the Doctors need to be in contact so one knows
what another is prescribing. Anyone who is
addicted has an addictive personality. This
means they will use you as far as you let them.
Love sometimes requires saying NO. Your
situation requires a higher power to intervene.
Trying praying for wisdom and guidance. The
situation may not be removed but solutions to
dealing with it may appear. Don't beat
yourself up. It wouldn't bother you if you
didn't love and care for your Mother. Good
luck and may you find a solution.