New, looking for feedback
So glad I found this forum, I've been reading the other posts and find it very helpful.
I am not a full time caregiver but my mother has various health issues. She is legally blind from macular degeneration, had pancreas and lung cancer two years ago, emphysema for 20 years. Currently she has lung issues and they aren't sure whether it's cancer or disease; she recently spent a month in the hospital because her pleural cavity was filled with fluid. She's been hospitalized every 2-3 months for one problem or another, pneumonia, fluid, etc. Currently she gets short of breath easily and is very nauseous. She is able to function though, for the most part. She lives alone and is able to prepare simple meals and do most chores. She doesn't really do anything else, other than listen to news radio and watch a few TV shows. I am concerned about her living alone, pretty far from everyone. I am an only child, but my uncle also helps her out a great deal; he is about 10 miles from her, I am 20 or so.
I'd like opinions on how far you think children have to go to help their parents? My mother refuses to move from her home. When she was still working, she told me she would move near me after retiring. Now she swears she never said that. My husband and I have come up with several ideas for her to live closer, and each one has been angrily rejected. She lives in a borderline bad area in the inner city - a fair amount of crime, reduced city services, etc - and doesn't really like her neighbors (when she was in the hospital, she worried about people knowing she was not home, and would not let me ask any neighbor to feed her cat, it could only be me or my uncle). She does not have any involvement in the community, in fact, won't even shop in the area. All her shopping and doctor appointments are closer to my uncle. I've mentioned before that it would be easier for him - and for me too - if she lived closer to him. No dice - she "loves her house."
I get guilt trips pretty regularly about "leaving her" (she thinks I should have stayed in the area, or should move back now) and about not coming often enough. I live 20 miles away, not very far, but it's a long scary ride and I have a pretty busy schedule - 2 small children and various part time jobs (I freelance from home.) At one point I actually considered renting an apartment near her and staying there part time through the summer, but I don't know now. It would be so disruptive to my children and my own home. I've gotten various feedback in real life, from those who think I should move in with her immediately to those who say I have to force the issue of her moving to assisted living or a closer apartment. At this point I am just thinking that I will visit fairly often over the summer, and hopefully that will be enough.
Which brings up my next question. And this is surely going to sound horrible...but if you have a parent that you are not all that close to, and who is "difficult" how do you make yourself WANT to care for them? I love my mother, but most of the time I can't stand to be around her. She was never physically abusive or anything, but we just never seemed to connect - I think it is because we are a lot different and I am disappointing to her - not girly enough, probably, and we don't seem to like the same things (shopping, nic nacs, purses.) She has always been very controlling and critical and it's much worse now, I guess because she isn't feeling well and seems to be getting a bit of dementia. Anything I do for her is not enough. I bring socks to the hospital, they're the wrong socks; I pay her bills, I didn't send them out fast enough (her apology for snapping about that one was that she realizes "not everyone is as responsible as she is" and pays bills the day they are received), I drive 2 hours to feed her cat every other day, she complains about it not being EVERY day. I can't have a conversation with her, because she somehow almost always puts down my parenting skills, work, house, what have you. She is very negative, constantly making nasty remarks about her doctors and medical staff. When we visit, my children touch all her nic nacs and annoy her. I vacuum for her or do other chores and she stands over me and tells me what I am doing wrong. I am 40 years old, have a nice home life, had a decent career before I decided to stay at home with my children, still have a pretty decent income. I've been more financially responsible than she ever was in her entire life (she only has about 50K saved...that's her life savings), and feel I have chosen a good place to raise my children. I am tired of being belittled and made to feel guilty for wanting something better. Of course I can't tell her that because no matter what I say, she acts like I am a child and it's the most ridiculous thing she ever heard. She is convinced that she knows best about everything and refuses to consider other options. I realize I NEED to spend more time with her, since she may not have much left, but just the thought of it fills me with dread. Anyone else in a similar situation?
Sorry this was so long, and thanks for the vent...I hope no one thinks I am a horrible person for thinking this way.