Hi everyone, I'm not a grandma but have joined this forum out of respect for your collective age & experience. I hope you can give me some advice.
My parents are in their 70s. My younger sister (34), who has battled depression and mental health issues since her teens, recently had 2 young boys (3 & 5). Both unplanned. Same father, but they were never actually in a relationship and there are constant arguments over access (in and out of court). My sister does not work and lives off of state benefits. The father contributes a bit financially but it is sporadic and a source of constant debate. My parents, particularly my mother, have taken the brunt of my sister's rages and lack of responsibility since her teens, but have tried to support her regardless. As a result, they have practically raised the grandchildren since their birth, as my sister very often cannot cope with her daily responsibilities. The kids stay with my parents for a week or more at a time, even though my sister lives 15 min drive away. Not surprisingly, my parents' health is beginning to suffer. Mum has had heart problems in the last year and a stroke 2 weeks ago. Dad is very stressed and trying to hide it. Also they are subsidising the situation financially.
I don't live nearby and have to travel abroad constantly for work. I am very aware that this is an unsustainable situation for my parents, and that they are just about coping on a day to day level. But I am terrified for my parents' health as i can see the strain on them. THey say they are 'OK' but I sense that this is far from the truth. I am at a loss to know what to do. My gut feeling is that they need to distance themselves from my sister's situation so she learns to cope more, and they can enjoy their retirement more, but no one seems to be listening. I have tried to get help from the local authorities but there doesn't seem to be any real help available unless my sister goes into mental health crisis care. Which happens a couple of times a year, then we're back to square one again.
Has anyone any experience of a similar situation? My parents have worked hard all their lives and I hate to see them so stuck in this co-dependent situation but I have no idea how to help out.
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