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Am I doomed to be a burden on my children?

(121 Posts)
Polarbear2 Mon 16-Aug-21 08:26:56

I read often on here about very demanding elderly parents. I’ve got one of my own so can empathise. And, I see these posts have many replies from others in the same position. So my question is - will I be like this when (if) I’m very old? Are we all going to be horrible ungrateful resentful old people?
I talked to my DD about this and she thinks it’s a generational thing - that the elderly now have no ‘frame of reference’ because their parents often didn’t live beyond ?60/70 (altho both my GMs died in their late 80s and thinking about it my mother didn’t run about after her mum?).
My DD thinks I’ll be different because I’ve seen how stressful it is for family running about after a demanding elder. I’m not so sure. What does the team think? Can we be better? Is it inevitable?

dragonfly46 Mon 16-Aug-21 08:38:06

I am determined not to be a burden and will accept any outside help I can get.
My parents refused care for a long time until my dad went to hospital and it was arranged for them. Even then my mum would not let them help her.

Liz46 Mon 16-Aug-21 08:38:42

It's a difficult one isn't it? My mother had dementia and it got to the stage where I was sitting on the sofa with tears dripping off my chin.

In the end, my husband said it was him or my mother and we started looking for homes for her to go to. We had to sell her house to fund it but her quality of life improved.

If I am left on my own, I would probably ask my daughters to help me move into a flat. There are quite a few blocks of flats for elderly people in our area.

Oopsadaisy1 Mon 16-Aug-21 08:45:44

Good question.
I would think that for anyone who is in good health until they die, then No.
Anyone who is sick and can afford Nursing Care or a Nursing Home, not so much.
But the poorer members of society who have no access to a Nursing Home, responsibility will probably fall on the shoulders of the ACs.
However, you throw Dementia into the mix and we could all become belligerent old so and so’s and refuse all help anyway.

My Mum was the youngest girl of her very large family, she lost her husband just after they married in 1941, he was killed at El Alamein, and she looked after her ill Mother, then her sick Father lived with us and was nursed by Mum for 10 years, then each of her elderly sisters were helped/cared for by her until there was no one left.
When she was ill I went to stay with her for 6 months until she died and I did so willingly.
However, none of her family had Dementia so in that respect it was ‘easier’.
MIL didn’t look after anyone in her life, in her 90s she was cared for by carers and then her DD, but when Vascular Dementia hit her she was very difficult and it changed her totally and she ended up in a nursing home.
I honestly wouldn’t spend too much time dwelling on it, we don’t know what’s around the corner, just live healthily and hope for the best.

Oopsadaisy1 Mon 16-Aug-21 08:48:02

Oops missed out ‘decent Nursing Home’ at least we will all have some sort of Nursing/carers, courtesy of the NHS, but MILs house was sold to pay for a decent Care Home.

silverlining48 Mon 16-Aug-21 08:48:31

Demanding, horrible, ungrateful , resentful old people? I am
Sure you don’t think that of all older people.
I was a care manager in another life and found almost all elderly people were the opposite and probably much too understanding of their ‘ busy’ children. There were times I could have wept.
I was very involved helping my mum through dementia and despite working with teenage children always included her in our lives and always there to help her.
I worry too about my busy children .... if I don’t expect too much I will not be disappointed ?.
Here’s to good health for as long as possible.

Ailidh Mon 16-Aug-21 08:51:25

I don't have children, though I do have brothers.

I'm determined to choose the route my mother did, which was to say: "Do everything possible to keep my alive but when I can't look after myself, find a residential home for me".

In the end she took the decision for herself: after a fall that wasn't catastrophic but it was one of those falls that you don't know why it happened, and it cracked her pelvis, she refused point blank to do the physiotherapy offerred her until she was sure they wouldn't discharge her home but confirm she needed residential care.

She was in a good nursing home from 92-96 (years of age, not the date) and was very content to be being looked after, although naturally sad that care was needed.

aggie Mon 16-Aug-21 08:54:38

I remember my MIL wringing her hands as we set off on holiday for a few days , she went to stay with her cousin and moaned the whole time !
I decided I would never do that and happily wave my lot off
Having said that I now need my lot to get shopping for me or take me to the shops , hospital appointment or days out
I have to ring to get prescription from the Doctor and then ring to ask someone to fetch it ! I hate asking and make sure to thank them

Peasblossom Mon 16-Aug-21 08:54:59

Well it’s been shown that the part of your brain that deals in empathy and social awareness does die off gradually as you get older. It hasn’t developed in toddlers, which is why the behaviour of the very old and the very young is often quite similar?

Like everything to do with ageing though, it varies from individual to individual.

I also think that whatever your personality is, as become older, it becomes more so. More anxious, more outspoken, more accepting, even more contented - with a bit of luck.

I’ll start practicing now?

Polarbear2 Mon 16-Aug-21 08:57:36

No I guess I don’t think that if all old people- but the ones I have experience of unfortunately have been. I’m talking late 90s/100+ here. My family are long lived. My mum was no ‘burden’ until she passed 90. Once she gave her car up she became very resentful and kind of jealous that I still could get out and about at will and she couldn’t. She still has no physical health problems other than a very old aged body but her mind isn’t always good.
I accept my role with her and do my best to claim my own life rather than give it all to her. I’d hate to think I’ll be the same as her tho.
As others above wisely say - don’t worry about the future. Enjoy today. Am off to the seaside now. It’ll be a secret from mum tho or she’ll kick off again ??

BlueBelle Mon 16-Aug-21 08:57:51

This is something I m terrified of although I have three children two are overseas and only one nearby the last thing in the world I want is her having to look after me she does a lot for me already and that worries me that it will grow and impinge on her without me meaning it to
I looked after my parents and one Nan and although I don’t resent it it did change my life a lot, a real lot I don’t want that to happen

FarNorth Mon 16-Aug-21 08:58:24

Some who come on here with problems about elderly parents say that the parents have always been difficult. So if we're not that, that's a plus point.
I've told my children that I don't expect devoted care from any of them, if I'm not able to cope myself.
They have power of attorney, to sort things out for me, but I definitely don't want my needs to take up a big part of their lives.
If dementia makes me say something different to that, they'll know it's not my true wishes.

travelsafar Mon 16-Aug-21 08:59:26

Now i am on my own i think about this and am determined not to be a 'nusiance' to my children.
I will pay for things that need doing that i can no longer do such as a gardener, cleaner, community helpline etc and carers when necessary. Yes these things can work out expensive and the cost will reduce their inheritance but at least to a degree i will keep my independence and when they visit it will not be a duty call. I have already paid out hundreds of pounds for decoraters, electricians and a tree surgeon since DH died as they are things he would have done and i am unable. Yes my kids probably could have done the jobs for me but they all lead very busy working lives and i just didn't want to add to their burden. If i get dementia i won't be worrying about what happens to me andthey will have to step up then and sort out my life for me but until or if that happens they wont even know half of the things i am doing without their knowledge.

Polarbear2 Mon 16-Aug-21 09:02:20


Well it’s been shown that the part of your brain that deals in empathy and social awareness does die off gradually as you get older. It hasn’t developed in toddlers, which is why the behaviour of the very old and the very young is often quite similar?

Like everything to do with ageing though, it varies from individual to individual.

I also think that whatever your personality is, as become older, it becomes more so. More anxious, more outspoken, more accepting, even more contented - with a bit of luck.

I’ll start practicing now?

So true re toddlers and elderly. I took mum out last week with my 2 little GDs. It was fascinating to watch the interaction.

Polarbear2 Mon 16-Aug-21 09:05:09

So from the comments we all think about this and make plans/take action to help ourselves. I wonder did our elders think like that? I’d guess not as they’d not have expected to live to a very old age maybe???

Cabbie21 Mon 16-Aug-21 09:08:09

I wonder if I can ask what sort of measures people have put in place with an eye to the future?
It is something I often think about, as though we are both OK now, the time will come, sooner or later, suddenly or gradually, when things change for the worse. DH refuses to think about it( as if he is immortal!).

Luckygirl Mon 16-Aug-21 09:20:21

It is the small things that need doing that are challenge. I have a disc problem, a failed hip replacement and pain from a broken foot that did not heal properly. I am otherwise well and active in roles that do not demand being physically fit. e.g. secretary of a choral society, run a book club, school governor etc.

Getting in a gardener and a cleaner, as suggested above, are great ideas - I have a cleaner and a lad who mows my lawn. You can't get a proper gardener round here for love nor money so I count myself lucky.

But it is the little things: yesterday I needed some compost bags moved and emptied into a large container; the other day I needed to get a curtain hook back on; I have a wall-hanging that needs putting up etc.

These are the things that are not big enough to get a man/woman in to do. But that need doing.

Am I a nuisance if I ask the DDs or SILs to do them? I feel that it is as I do not want them to be presented with a list of things that need doing every time they visit - I guess that this would put them off visiting.

Holidays? I am looking at trying to do this on my own now that OH is gone. One DD asked me to join them on theirs, but I turned it down - they are camping and meeting up with mates from 6th form with their families and I do not want to be the person that they have to worry about when they should be relaxing and having fun.

So I am very clear that I want my DDs to get on with their lives - that does not, however, mean that I do not get very lonely and feel sad about that. My role in the family has changed and I have to accept that.

So I am seeing little drops of dependency landing on my head bit by bit. I like none of it!

Maybe ageing brain syndrome will take over at some point and I will just be a bloody nuisance and not give a damn!

J52 Mon 16-Aug-21 09:24:10

I hope not, I certainly would not expect my DCs to change their lives for me.
. In my and DHs families most of our direct, previous generations lived into their 80s, sometimes into their 90s. No one in either family has needed to go into a care home and only one had home help for her last year.
We’re hoping to be able to follow suit! I would explore all the possibilities of staying in my own home with help.

eazybee Mon 16-Aug-21 09:24:33

My parents' generation looked after their parents; when I was growing up most of my friends had an elderly relative in the back bedroom and the mothers looked after them because they didn't go out to work. Now most sons and daughters are working, parents are living much longer, and families are spread farther apart.
I think we have to be prepared to live closer to our children, move into more manageable property and be prepared to accept, and pay for, help. I speak from bitter experience as my father (170 miles away) would do none of these and made my mother's last few years a misery until I was able to place her in a nursing home, against his wishes.

Pammie1 Mon 16-Aug-21 09:26:48

From a different point of view. My mum is 90 and has lived with myself and my partner since my step dad died a few years ago. She was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2019 - she had been admitted to hospital after a seizure and various scans had revealed the diagnosis which was later confirmed by the memory clinic. When things had settled down after a few days, I had a phone call from the hospital to say that mum was ready to be discharged and would I like to come to the hospital to talk with her doctor.

I arrived with mum’s clothes and the doctor expressed surprise that I was expecting to take her home. They had assumed I would be looking for her to go into care and this was what the doctor had been expecting to discuss - to the point where they had alerted the hospital social worker to come and explain my options. There was no medical reason why mum couldn’t come home and myself and my partner look after her day to day needs. It’s a bit different for me because I have a birth defect disability and was born in the era when it was normal to put disabled children straight into care. Mum and Dad didn’t take the ‘easy’ way out and as a result I’ve had a pretty normal life despite fairly big problems throughout the years. For this reason I couldn’t think of putting mum into care. She’s happy, reasonably well orientated despite her condition, and she’s still my mum. I find it really sad that the medical staff were more or less expecting me to put her into care, and even more depressing to be told that on receiving similar diagnoses, it’s common for relatives to abandon the person in hospital because they see them as a burden.

agnurse Mon 16-Aug-21 09:31:02

Hubby and I have pretty much agreed that once either of us needs additional care, we don't have a problem putting each other into a facility. What I might look at would be a facility where we can both live together. (There are facilities of that sort. Recently I took students to a lovely facility that allows a healthy spouse to live with their ailing partner. The only requirement for them to share a suite is that they can't both need care, otherwise each needs their own suite.)

For people who need only minimal assistance, especially those who only need help with things such as housework and yard work, may I suggest that you might like to consider a lodge or sheltered housing? These facilities are intended more for people who don't really need much help, but might just not be able to manage a home and yard anymore. Sometimes you can even move to an "aging in place" facility. These are effectively small communities that have different areas for people who need different levels of care. As your care needs increase, you may need to move within the facility, but you don't need to move from one facility to another.

IME, many older ladies may choose to live in a lodge or similar facility. In some cases, they may have been widowed, and of course in the past women usually moved right from their parents' home into their marital home, they didn't live alone. Consequently they may have minimal experience living alone and may prefer the security of knowing that there's someone around in case something happens or they need something.

Peasblossom Mon 16-Aug-21 09:33:26

Ah Luckygirl last week I emptied three bags of compost from my car , bit by bit, by trowelling it’s into a plastic flower pot?

The girl at the garden centre put it in, but that was the only way I could get it out!

Peasblossom Mon 16-Aug-21 09:37:13

Think you’re talking about Canada agnurse?

All kinds of complications to moving to sheltered accommodation in the UK to do with conditions on the leases. As I know only too well.

I was all set to buy a wonderful flat in a wonderful complex till I saw what I would be signing up to.

Luckygirl Mon 16-Aug-21 09:39:39

Peasblossom - that is exactly what I normally do - slow but good exercise going back and forth. However yesterday my lovely neighbour did it for me - they are a young fit couple and have always said they are happy to do anything to help - I am very lucky indeed!

henetha Mon 16-Aug-21 09:48:10

I'm nearly 84 and although in good health am beginning to feel I should do something so that I don't become a burden.
So I've been googling sheltered housing etc. I'm lucky in that I don't really need help yet, - although I could do with a cleaner but can't afford one,- but am dreading becoming ill and therefore unable to cope.
I honestly don't think I am horrible, ungrateful or resentful.
I try very hard not to be. And I demand nothing.