Feeling Very Trapped!
Dear Cousin Butchie,
I am at my wit's end, and I have no idea how I can solve the mess I'm in. I also have a certain degree of guilt about feeling this way.
When my father passed away five years ago he made all of us (six children) promise that we would never put our mother in a nursing home. At that time, she was in good health but depended on me for some errands and bill paying. I am the youngest of the six and I am gay. I graduated from college and immediately got a great job-- interesting and financially over the top.
Our mother slowly began to develop signs of dementia. We all chose to ignore it in the beginning, and my siblings felt that things were under control because I still lived with her and gave her the help she needed. As the symptoms of the disease became dangerous (leaving water to run as the tub overflowed, starting to cook something and walking away until the smoke alarm went off. Mom would also become angry and break things. She also could never remember my name, and she always asked me to take her home. Since she was home, she became agitated.
I finally resigned from my job when I realized that none of my five siblings were willing to help out. I could not even get one of them to stay with mom while I went on a date or to a meeting. They all explained to me that they have families and very responsible and well paying jobs. They were very pleased when I quit my job, and they phone every so often, but they tell me that our mom liked me best (a la The Smothers Brothers) and that I had no expenses (or social lie) since I am gay and unattached. There is a part of me that tells me that I "owe" this to our mom. On the other hand, I realize that my career has been destroyed for the time being, and my own finances are precarious.
Please-- if you have a solution for this problem, share it with me. I am going crazy.
At My Wit's End
Hi, "At My Wit"s End,"
I have heard about situations similar to yours. It often becomes a problem dumped on the child who is LGBT and the siblings provide nothing-- except for suggestions on how much more or how much better the caregiver should be doing.
Here's a plan I suggest:
Find someone to stay with your mother for a few hours, and demand that all of your siblings and their significant others meet with you to discuss a serious problem.
When they have all gathered, explain to them that you feel very burdened being your mom's caregiver. Explain that they have ignored the fact that you have no social life and no job any longer. Next, ask them what your dad meant when he asked them to never put our mom in a nursing home. Did he mean that just one of them (you) should accept this huge responsibility?
Give them all a copy of the salary you were earning in your last job. Also tell them the cost of a nursing home until mom's money runs out. Also factor in the charge for a visiting nurse to care for the personal care you cannot provide. Give them several days to think it over and come up with a payment for you each month which will represent the money you are not earning, the health insurance you need for yourself, etc.
If your brothers and sisters refuse to cooperate and come up with a more than generous amount you are to be paid each month, call the county office of Health and Human Services and have a case worker step in to solve this entire situation. AND don't let any of your siblings make you feel guilty or evil or uncooperative.
Also explain that your mom will be better cared for in a decent nursing home and make sure you tell them that your dad's requested promise could not have made with dementia involved.
It's hard to say, but you are the only one who can turn the wheels of responsibility for your entire family! Don't put your career on hold much longer. Some prospective employers might be impressed by your story of dedication, but they would probably be more interested in how you pressured for a change in this entire dilemma.