So many of us on this platform are tormented about saying no to those we care for. We, as good children, people, etc., don't want our elders to suffer. However, caregiving can take over our lives, and all of a sudden (or over a course of 10 years), we find ourselves exhausted and depleted.
Here are some of the things I've said to my mom about caregiving. I hope it helps.
Before she was in need of any care, I told her I would not be able to be her caregiver because I had a husband and two kids, and they would always come first. I was sorry, but I would not devote my middle age to her senior years, because I didn't want to miss out on things with my children and grandchildren. I was blunt, and she got angry (she helped care for her dad, but she's one of 10 kids; I'm one of three, and my brother is estranged from the family, and my sister lives 300 miles away).
I include my mom in many of our family activities and take her out for fun trips or just to break up her routine. But nothing is ever enough. She complains about me to her friends, siblings, my sister, and I just accept that. My sister and I are really close, and as for the rest of them, they either believe her or they don't, but I don't try to prove anything.
When she asks me to do something that I just can't, here are a few other things that I've said that seem effective.
"I'm sorry, I can't."
"I have other plans that day that can't be changed."
"I'm sorry, I have an appointment," (appointment might be night out with friends, but the word seems to work.)
"You'll have to make other arrangements."
If she asks why, or what are they, I just repeat the sentence. Sure, she gets mad that I'm not turning my life upside down to accommodate her, but if I stick to that line, then glance at my watch, she usually stops.
A couple months ago, she broke her foot doing something foolish, and I said, "Mom, I'm at my limit here. I don't have the skills to do more than this. Anything else, and you'll have to have an aide or go to rehab." That also seemed to work, the idea that a stranger would be in her house, helping her get upstairs and shower and stuff. We did force her to get a stair glide; she was very angry, but now that she has it, she loves it.
Does anyone else have tips on saying no and protecting their sanity?