I'm 29 years old and I feel like a caretaker for my almost-67 year old mom. Luckily she's in good overall health - her only issues are severe arthritis in both knees, depression, smokes, overweight, and has been on a drug treatment program longer than I've been alive. The older I get, the more responsibility for her falls on my shoulders.

She had her license revoked several years ago, she's never bothered to get it back when she's applicable to. She's barely tried to get help with her arthritis. It's like simple things are too much for her, so unless I do it, it will never get done.

Where we live we have to drive to the mailboxes and garbage area - and of course I chauffer my dad over there because he wants to be the one to get the mail. If I say that I'll walk and get it, my mom gets upset and says "Your dad needs to get out sometime!" and for some reason it's my responsibility to get him out of the home.

So I work at home, live with my parents. I drive them all over (hair appointments, doctor appointments, to get gas in our only car, etc), plan and execute every little thing we do (map out the way to get someplace since we recently moved, find out business hours, etc), and so on. My dad is technically capable of driving but I insist he doesn't because he's not always aware of his surroundings. This isn't due to aging - he's always been this way. When I was kid with him in the car, he would miss obvious red lights and stop signs and then be like "Where was it?" I don't think anything is mentally wrong, but I think he has bad anxiety and does not think before he does anything. As long as I've been alive, he's never gotten help, which I think he needs. My parents don't believe in "mental health" so I cannot bring it up to them, nor can I get help myself because they'll shame me for it.

When I drive my mom to and from her drug treatment center 3x a week (used to be 6x a week because she broke their rules and ignored a phone call, so they revoked her take-home medication) it's stressful. Since I work at home, I don't need to commute (I've never had to drive myself to a job because I used to just take the bus), but it's a commute anyway. I find it stressful to drive in heavy traffic, make left turns without an arrow, dodge aggressive drivers, etc. I'm a good driver, I like to drive in normal conditions, but it's stress of doing something for someone who does not help themselves and that overwhelms me. She refuses to take a Medicaid-paid transportation service.

She could get surgery on her knees, get her license back, and be independent, but she doesn't. Any time I try to talk to her about these things, she yells at me and blames me, calling me "miserable" and threatening to drive herself without a license (she's been stopped many times for driving without a license and miraculously let go with only a ticket. I've been the one having to pay her fines because she spends money like wild). If she gets stopped and doesn't get let go, we would lose our only car and of course it would be my responsibility to figure out how to get it back, pay for it, etc.

And I can't get into how she makes noise all day long when I'm trying to work, and refuses to be quieter. She blames me again "Stop letting it bother you!". How can I concentrate when she sings out loud 12+ hours every day?

Since I'm on our lease, I have to hold out. But once it's up next year, I want to leave. Am I a bad daughter for giving up and running away? I've never had a life of my own and I'm almost 30. Because of my parents, I never want to have a family of my own because I cannot imagine having to care for even more people. I just want to be alone and have my own life for once. I cannot even take care of myself anymore - I no longer wear makeup, I no longer even dry my hair after a shower, and I no longer pick out an outfit because all these things tire me out after doing so much for my parents every day.

Is this even caretaking?

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First I will say the obvious. You are suffering from depression. So please get help for that, as you are too young to have given up on life already.
Then I will say that as long as you continue to enable your parents, they will NEVER change. Have you ever thought hmm....what would happen if I weren't here to be doing all this for them, and wouldn't make myself available to their every whim? Guess what the answer would be? They would now have to put there big girl/boy panties on and figure out things for themselves. And because they would have no choice, they would.
So quit enabling them and move out ASAP!!! As long as you continue to do for them they will never have to step up and do for themselves. And you and I both know that they both are more than capable of taking care of themselves.
I hope you also know because your parents are still so young that as they age things will more than likely only get worse and they will expect more and more from you, so set your boundaries now, and get on with your life.
You deserve better!!! Please don't forget that.
Helpful Answer (3)

For reasons unknown (no judgement of fault), your folks seem to have skipped heading towards or wanting the 'empty nest' stage - where parents encourage their young adult offspring to fly off into the world. Instead, they seem to be content to grow their dependance on you. This can happen. Needy people's needs can just take over... This is where good boundaries are needed.

I think it's great you are thinking of spreading your wings. Starting to 'detactch with love' is one way this is put.

Support from an individual councilor, or support group that specialises in families with addictions/mental health issues may be especially useful for you througout the process. Many tips & tricks, how to set & keep boundaries. How to manage your own time, how to say no.

Basically, your folks will probably never find any other help while you live under their roof. Or if you are available by phone or live nearby. So by moving away, not only do you get to live your adult life, it will bring change to your folks too. Expect pushback - coz right now it works for them, right?

But change is needed.

(I was actually advised to move 3 hours drive distance away in order for an LO to be forced to find alternative solutions).
Helpful Answer (1)

This is 'your parents taking advantage of you' and it's wrong!
For your health you need to leave as soon as the lease is up. Can they make the lease on their own? If not; you need to help them find another place to live that they can afford on their own.
Your parents have become dependent on you because you don't say no; not because they 'need' you. You are not the only one who can provide the services they need.
Look into home health care and shuttle services. Visit senior living facilities and independent living facilities in the area. Call Social Security and find out if either one of them qualifies for aid like Medicare or Medicaid; and if so; get all the information they have.
You have allowed your parents to manipulate you into thinking you are the only one who can help them (it's not true); and you need to protect your mental/physical health or you will start to suffer the consequences.
After you gather some good information on how 'others' can help them; firmly but kindly tell them that your health is suffering; you are moving when the lease is up; but wanted to make sure they had good care, so you have gathered information for them. Offer to call around for them; but if they don't want you to; tell them it's up to them to get ready for you to move.
Also; I would highly suggest that you take a 1-2 week vacation (anywhere - even if it's a few towns over; just make yourself unavailable) - and get them home health while you are gone. They need to start understanding how much you do; but more importantly; they need to get used to the idea that someone else will be providing care when the lease is up. Praying for you.
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margesez Aug 2022
Thanks for your reply. I will look into the services Medicaid and Medicare provide, I know my mom gets one of them because it pays for the drug treatment center. I know she would get free transportation but it's getting her to actually use it. She won't. She acts like she's too good for it. So I need to see if there's another way through those programs.
And yes, I can probably get them a more affordable place to live without me, and luckily it might be in the same complex we're in now. We rent a bigger place obviously since all 3 of us are here, but that can be changed.
I like the idea of the vacation - I do need to get away by myself.
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Just from your description it seems as if both your parents are dealing with some sort of mental illness. Neither one is physically debilitated enough to warrant the way they are living. 67 is relatively young and mom should be getting some P/T, meds, or surgery for those knees. Is your dad ill in any way or just "spacey"?

Your fear of driving in certain circumstances:
The only way to really get over the dreaded left hand turn and other issues is, drive more. Once you really get used to it, it will come more easily. Take yourself out for a drive!!!!! It's an escape from them and plunk on some good music and enjoy your time!! is going to drive unlicensed? Well, if the car is in your name and the insurance is in your name, she's not going anywhere because you can tell her not to leave in your car. If on the other hand she's going to drive unlicensed and the car in in her or your dad's name, then she can do as she wishes. She's an adult, she does not have dementia, and if she gets be it. Your family will be carfree and then you can excuse yourself from getting it back. Push the responsibility on her. Yes, it will be ugly, nasty, and she will kick up a storm over it. But she's a grown up and she needs to act like one.

You are not a bad daughter, you've done more than your part. Get up, get out, and do what you need to do for yourself. You can start by going away for weekends. Assuming they are physically capable of ordering take out, the should be find for two days by themselves. Just take yourself to a hotel and enjoy the time. Take yourself out to eat. Order room service. Watch a movie. Hell, you can even work if you want to...but you're out of the house and away from them.

One step at a time. Claim yourself!!!
Helpful Answer (3)

Your parents have mental health issues that are far beyond your abilities to solve, and they are both manipulating you daily. The only solution is for you to move out and establish your own independent life. They will function and be okay, they’ve had this dynamic a long time. Please don’t argue, discuss, or explain, just act. Talk to the landlord about what it would take to get out of the lease, where I live a tenant can give a 60 day notice, pay one month’s extra rent and be free of it. I’d encourage you to see a good therapist to help you understand the warped family environment that’s made you feel you need to be there and provide caregiving to two adults who definitely need to function on their own. Again, no discussing seeking therapy or going to therapy with your parents. You’re an adult, time to fly, enjoy your life and goals, not be chained to a dysfunctional mess. It doesn’t mean you don’t love them or don’t care, it’s actually doing your best for them not to keep enabling their neediness. Remember that you matter too
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margesez Aug 2022
Thank you for this advice. I like that you said to just act, instead of talking or explaining to them. I appreciate it - I wasn't sure how much my question related to aging care so I'm relieved I could find some advice.
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