How do I help my parents from several states away?
April 25, 2011 7:23 AM Subscribe
How do I stop having extreme anxiety when I think about the fact that I live 1,500 miles away from aging parents?
posted by anonymous to human relations (21 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I'm the oldest daughter, at only 25, but my parents are in their mid-sixties. About two years ago my parents moved back to my mother's hometown after she retired.
I think that the loss of pride/income/social circle/purpose/etc. from her retirement has kickstarted a bout of depression in my mother that hasn't gotten any better for the last two years. I think she had fantasies during the length of my childhood of what moving back to her hometown would be like, and I believe that the reality is much much much less appealing. Her siblings are all getting old and having their own problems; my grandmother is no longer alive. Both of her daughters do not live at home anymore-- she is sad all the time.
I live in a city I love. I feel like I might set my roots down here, but I also feel true anguish when I think about what this means for my parents. My mother constantly makes "jokes" about when I will be moving home. I fear about her health and what might happen in the next 5 years. I have NO DESIRE to live in their part of the country, but it feels like I have little choice in the matter.
Why bother starting a life 1,500 miles away from where I'm going to end up anyhow?
Besides likely future health problems, she is so sad all the time now. And I feel like crying whenever I picture her shut up in her house with my dad, all alone. My dad is fine, in great health, and keeping busy. I know he is trying to help my mother, but it feels like the depression is winning and I am losing *my* mom.
Dad, while full of love, is not a very vocal guy and usually demonstrates his care through action. My mom can no longer handle this and says that she's old and sad and unhappy that her daughter seems to have taken after her father's "inability to show love." The gist being that, akin to a parental version of romantic love, I simply don't meet her needs (through either apathy or inability) and that she is "sad for me" and the future I'm bound to receive because of it.
I know she's in pain and that the mom I knew growing up would never say these hurtful things to me. But I don't know what to do now from so far away. As the oldest, I don't feel like I can expect my little sister to be the one responsible for them, and ask her to live in near them for me.
What do I do? I've started calling twice a week; we do online videochats. But I still feel like I'm suffocating sometimes with how panicked I feel about my and their futures.
Do I have to move?