I gave up the idea that my parents would go peacefully in their sleep a long time ago - they're both determined to go, kicking and screaming to the last breath despite constant protests that they've given up!
They definitely "ping" on the given list of criteria!
-Resistance to medication
-History of mental illness
-Sometimes abusive to their children
I've had to set definite limits of what I will/won't allow. My family comes first - and *nothing* will shake me from that core belief.
I'm no good to *anybody* if I'm being run ragged and pulled six different directions. My parents are still capable of making decisions and getting around - I *insist* they put those abilities to full use.
My parents finally learned that calling *me* in a medical emergency only gets the response, "CALL AN AMBULANCE."
I cannot tell you how many times I've had to dish out that lesson. You don't call me when you're having chest pain or shortness of breath or you are so dizzy you can't stand up, in the hope that I can take you to the doctor *tomorrow* - you call an ambulance NOW.
Demands are met with the response, "NO." Whining, crying and tantrums are met with, "NO" and me hanging up and letting all calls go to voice - including threats of suicide, which, for my mom means, "I didn't get what I want!" (*Caution - you have to know exactly *who* you're dealing with - and I do. My mom cries suicide when she doesn't get her way. She's been doing this the entire 48 years I've been alive. That's my disclaimer, and I'm sticking to it. )
When the time comes that my parents need additional help, we'll have to discuss in-home aids or the possibility of assisted living. I cannot and will not become a full-time or even a part-time caretaker.
See rule one - my family's needs come FIRST.
Any time I feel I'm being taken advantage of or taken for granted, I take a step back and start letting their calls go to voice, only to return them when *I'm* good and ready to deal with them. Sometimes I'll tell them to hire somebody - an accountant, a contractor, a gardener, a handyman, a cleaning service.
The cleaning service is the only one being met with a huge wall of resistance because mom thinks *I* should come over and clean her house from top to bottom, including scrubbing the walls.
I keep telling her I won't do it until she clears out her clutter - that usually settles that. But she will hint, "I wish SOMEBODY would wash my walls..."
To which I sing-song, "I wish SOMEBODY would open a phone book to "Cleaning Services" then pick up the blower and actually CALL ONE if they are SERIOUS..."
When the day comes that I have to start making hard decisions for my parents, I will do it - but I'll not be swept up slowly and insidiously into becoming their caretaker or moving them into our home.
There are lines I won't cross - and I know "somebody" won't come in and do the paperwork or find assisted living for them. That will fall to me. I'm okay with that - but I'm not okay with being nit-picked to death and just won't allow it to happen.
I've had a lot of practice at taking a deep breath and stepping back so I can see the forest and the trees - and never forgetting my family's priorities come *first.*
You cannot explain to a hungry pet that your mother kept you six extra hours having a tantrum because you wouldn't take her to the mall, so you had to appease her by sorting catalogs.
Nope. The ride stops and I go home. I play hardball when I have to - and softball if at all possible, which isn't often or it's seen as a weakness to be exploited.
I know it's different for everybody, but the one thing I hope any reader takes from this is a grounded sense of SELF. It's okay to say "no" and you don't have to live your life being a people-pleaser.
You don't have to be altruistic unless you really want to be - but if it starts getting out of hand and you're being perceived as a doormat - step back, breathe, regroup and *do not let anybody force you into anything you're uncomfortable with.*
Don't be afraid to say, "NO."
Don't be afraid to say, "This is beyond my capabilities and I need help."
Don't be afraid to say, "I am being forced/boxed into an impossible position that isn't healthy for me or my parent(s)."
Never lose your voice amongst the constant chaos.
Find your center and never deviate from it, no matter what life throws at you.