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I'm An 'orphan' Now, But It's Probably Better This Way

I started taking care of my parents at the height of my executive career.... I could have thrown both of them into a nursing home, but I chose to take care of them myself, as I was an only child,and they had comitted their entire lives to making me happy.

The first home I bought for all of us was one in Long Beach, where they could have the 2-bedroom/2bath home that I had completely rennovated, and my husband and I could have the funky old Victorian at the back of the lot.

My mother had, for quite some time when they had their own home) complained about some bossy old lady living with them(It was actually my son, who was getting his MBA from USC.), and telling me that my father was visiting ***** houses down the street. Well, believe me... with the neighbourhood that they lived in, there were no ***** houses on ANY street within 30miles. ANYWAY, I would go to visit them, and they wouldn't know that they were eating spoiled chicken and god knows what else, so I took control of their finances, and moved them to a place where I could keep an eye on them.

My mother had severe senile dementia, and my father was beginning to show signs of Alzheimer's Disease. I actually had to put up a fence around their house... complete with a locked gate... so that my mother couldn't wander through the neighbourhood with 4 purses and her little dog, looking for the bus to Broad Street in Philadelphia. The police picked her up 3 times before I literally locked them both into their property.

After a while, living in a town wasn't doing the trick, so I bought a ranch in Texas, where the was NOWHERE to go, unless I took them there. My father's Alheimer's Disease was progressing so quickly that it was as though he was snowboarding off Mount Everest out of control, and I would regularly find my mother face-down between the house and the horse barn. I had bought a big house where they could have their own little home behind a closed door that lead into our house, but it was just driving me crazy because I couldn't go anywhere,even for a short time without worrying about them. I tried using 'caregivers', but they didn't do NEARLY the job that I could do for my folks.

I tried putting my father into a nursing home, and after a week and a half there, he was so wasted on thorazine that it took me a month to get him back to normal. I fed them, clothed them, washed them, changed their diapers and bedclothes, and basically made them the focus of my life. I kept telling myself that I owed this to them for all that they had done for me... and I kept this up for 7 YEARS!!!

Needless to say, they both eventually died and my 'career' was gone; but at least I knew that I had done what I could for them. It's SO DIFFICULT to watch the people who raised you from an infant sliding downhill, with no way of saving them, or at least, stopping the progression of their diseases. We ALL eventually getting whacky and die, but it's hard to be on the 'watching' end of the stick.

Years later, I had pneumonia and was on life-support for 15 days, and when I woke up, I was a vegetable. I'm sure that's what my parents were like... and do you know what?... It was totally okay with me to be completely out of it...I just didn't know any better, and neither did my parents.... I'm sure of it.

It's REALLY dificult to deal with a 'veg', but you have to understand that mentally ill people don't know any better. It's exhausting, to be sure... but hang in there. It won't last forever, even though it may seem like it now. People will tell you how strong and wonderful you are, but it's still a living hell. Good luck, and take care - JC

fishsweeper fishsweeper 51-55, F 2 Responses Apr 12, 2012

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You paint a very "real" picture of being the caretaker of family with dementia.

Ok....nowi am bawling.....I haven't had a life for 3 and 1/2 years....really! It is sooo stressful.due to her medication, I go 2 or three times a day for 2-3 hours....I feel like I am going crazy myself. Like you, I do it so I can look myself in the mirror when I have a life again.<br />
My EP friends have replaced my real life friends, since we only get to talk on the phone now.<br />
Would you have done anything differently? Gees,JC.....how did you do it 7 years?

One day at a time... That's the only way you can deal with it. I didn't have any friends, either, so I got myself some horses that nearly killed me... I've been bitten, kicked, trampled (twice... once I nearly lost consciousness, but my folks were watching, so I had to be 'cool' about it.), and run-away with when the reins broke. I have a montrously huge school loan because I wasn't earning an income while I was caring for them, and I BEGGED for the school loan people to put me into prison to pay it off, but they lacked the understanding... and I suppose, the institutional power.. to help me. What a relief that would've been!

Would I do the same thing again? .... ABSOUTELY! We're defined as people by our actions, and while the 'business world' doesn't understand my decision...I couldn't get a decent job to save my life now; whereas I was a VERY powerful executive when I was working,... My parents meant family, which was EVERYTHING to me. I still have dreams once in a while about taking care of their needs... and it's been about 5 years since the last of them died.

I know that it doesn't help to hear that you're a good person doing the right thing, especially right now... but even though you may have some regrets later, you'll have a clear conscience. I know that isn't much, in terms of consolence... but believe me, after you've recovered from the trauma of what you're doing now, you'll feel a LOT better about yourself, and have a better understanding of what it means to have children... who will, hopefully, take care of YOU!

Hello Fish, I didn't see this, or missed it a year ago. I loved it when you said you would
ABSOLUTELY do it again. It speaks to your character, a fine one, I might add. I, too would do it all again. Ummmm, no children to take care of me, so I will move in with you and Phill... and mooch off of YOUR younguns! Yup, I'll take the smallest bedroom though.

Now that they're gone, I feel guilty about not having done more for them. One horrible thing I can't forget is that after my father died, I put my mother in a family-sized home in SoCal because we were moving there, and Phil was already their when she was dying. He went to the hospital and put the phone next to her ear so that I could say goodbye, but she basically died alone... and after all of the care that I had given her. That nags me to this day. I try to tell myself that I did the best that I could, and that I couldn't have moved to SoCal earlier, but it still bothers me. Knowing what I know now, I'd have done a better job!

Oh dear, sweet you... I see this differently. You kept her safe. You moved her, but you couldn't move yet. The part about Phil holding the phone tore me up. Please, please don't continue holding onto this. You are amazing. I hold you in the utmost esteem.
oxoxoxoxo

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