Tag Archives: elderly parents

Fed up with elderly parent

Dear globalcounselor,

Both my parents are in their late 80’s and I am their only child. My mom is the sweetest and gentlest person I know but my dad insists on being mean to her regularly. I hate the way he speaks to her.  I have confronted him  many times asking him to be nice to mom. He does not hear himself because he thinks he is being normal. The problem is my mom has allowed dad to have his way over the years but she does not have the energy to do the things he wants her to do – like cooking three meals a day and taking care of his needs. He keeps saying she is not doing her share of the work.  In the meantime he does nothing but calls for help in doing “man’s” work – like mowing the lawn, cleaning the eaves etc.  I feel like taking my mom out of the situation and leaving him in his house alone.  She does not deserve this kind of abuse in her old age. I am so hurt and distraught over this. It really bothers me. How can I help.


Dear Distraught,

Habits are hard to kill and some become more entrenched as we age. There comes a time when we have to make tough choices. Perhaps your father just cannot help himself. It is who he is.  If your mom did not stand up to him when she could i.e. when she was younger, he probably thinks that his behaviour is quite acceptable to her.  Your scolding him will not help, your threats may help for a short time but without good counselling, he will not voluntarily change. It may be too late for counselling at this point in the game.  Maybe they need their own space – maybe it’s time to get them each their own apartment in the same complex where they can see each other when they like. Or if chores are the problem e.g. cooking and cleaning the house, hire someone to come in and do the work, maybe that would solve the problem.  Another suggestion is to segregate them in different parts of the house.  Your mom can have a self-contained room where she can enjoy her peace and quiet.  It’s a difficult choice no matter how you look at it but something needs to be done to stop the abuse of your mother. No one at any age needs to live in an abusive relationship.


Caught in the middle

Dear globalcounselor,

I am the caregiver of my two elderly parents who cannot appear to get along these days. Many days I find my mother crying because my dad had been mean to her.  My dad suffered a stroke  years ago and since he recovered he became meaner and everything appears to be about him. He cannot appear to comprehend that his actions are huring my mother.  Now my mom wants to leave my father and move into a care facility.  She is 87 years old.  My dad is a proud man and refuses to leave.  He vows to remain in his home until he is taken out feet first.

I am helping my mother to find a suitable place but I am torn.  I feel that I am breaking up my parent’s marriage even though miserable mirage of a marriage. I feel  guilty. Am I doing the right thing?


Dear Guilty,

Guilt is a wasted emotion.  If your mother is of sound mind and she wants to move into a place where she could get better care, you have a duty to respect her wishes, if you want to help.  You cannot decide for your mother if she is capable of making her her own decision as an independent person.  Your father, though his behaviour is triggered in part by his illness, I would venture to say that he was not that nice a person even when he did not have a stroke.  A nice person remains nice even in most difficult circumstances.  A person who is a controller or abuser becomes even more so when they have no control over their emotions so  I would say your mother appears to have had enough, give her the peace she needs.  She waited long enough.  YOur father has the right to be where he wants to be once he can take care of himself, if he needs constant care which you cannot provide, then you would do yourself a favour by ensuring he either has care provided in his home or find him a suitable place in spite of his stubborness.  It’s life.

Sandwich generation

Dear globalcounselor,

I have one sibling a brother. Our parents are 86 and 83 years old. I am not in the best of health. Sometimes I feel they are in better health than I am for their age. They are traditional people who put the male child up on a pedastal and think girls are not equal. I am saddled taking care of them all the time. Every single working day I have doctor’s appointment, grocery shopping, running errands for them. My brother lives in another province and comes in once or twice a year, I say he comes to check up on his inheritance. He is doing a lot better than I am financially but my parents are leaving most of their stuff for him.  My mother has a wonderful dining set. I do not own one. I asked them to give me that but my mother is adamant it is for my brother. I am so hurt. He does not even care for them, I have to do all the dirty work by myself and he is benefitting from them more than I do. I do not think it is fair.  I may sound like a money grabber but that’s not true. It’s just that I feel so used and abused by my parents. They are so unreasonable when it comes to me. My mother has always preferred my brother because he is a man. She did not even want me to go to school. She felt it was a waste of time. I know I can’t turn my back on my folks but sometimes it just gets to me.  The unfairness of life and how my mom devalue me as a girl child. I am 55 years old now.


Dear girlchild,

Your parents have grown up in an era where women were devalued and seen as less than men.  They can’t help the way they see the world but your brother could.  You need to assert yourself and hold him accountable. If he cannot be there to do his share at least he can let his money do it for him. He should pay you something to do his share in taking care of your parents especially when he stands to gain a lot.  If as you say he is better off than you then you can negotiate a deal with him to get the dining room table after your parents pass on.

  Don’t try to be a martyr like so many women of our generation do. It’s okay to say “can’t do” and it’s okay to get outside help for your parents sometimes.  You don’t have to stop living because of your parents.  You need to take care of yourself too.  Give yourself permission to have some fun in your life while at the same time do the best you can for your parents.