Dear Annie: I am 24 and have four small children under age 10. My mother was in a car accident last fall that left her paralyzed from the chest down, and she now lives with us. With hardly any help from my older sister, I struggle every day trying to take care of everyone’s needs.
Mom screams at me and makes the smallest of things seem like the end of the world. I don’t want to see her in a nursing home, but I cannot do this 24/7. I’m losing my mind and my life. My kids don’t want to be around me, and my oldest son’s grades are declining.
Do I keep going, hoping things will get better? Or do I break the news to my mom that I love her dearly but can’t take care of her? – A.
Dear A.: You sound like a wonderful, caring daughter, but Mom is probably depressed and angry, and is taking it out on you. There are limits to what you can reasonably do for her without sacrificing the well-being of your children. Please don’t feel guilty. Your mother needs more help than you can give her. She not only requires round-the-clock physical care, but also would benefit from counseling to deal with her other issues and come to terms with her current situation.
Please look into home-health care options, including a full-time caregiver (perhaps your sister would contribute to the cost), as well as nearby nursing homes. Most do an excellent job, and you can visit Mom every day, not only to cheer her up, but also to check on her care. Then please get some counseling for yourself in order to get through this, because we doubt Mom is going to make it easy.