Have a meeting with your husband and sons to discuss the situation. Explain your feelings and then listen -- really listen! -- to theirs. Together, establish some reasonable tasks -- dinner a few times a week together, a couple of chores, that sort of thing. And then let it go.
Finally, take a deep breath. You love your parents. You are sad to seem them age. You don't want to lose them. You want to give them a good life. All good. But this is likely to be a long, and increasingly demanding, job. Don't burn yourself out; you're only on the first lap. While your husband and sons might need to give a little more, perhaps you need to take a lesson from them too. Love your parents, but back off a little. Have a life, see your friends, take time out. I promise, you will be a better caregiver to your parents if you take care of yourself, your marriage and your relationship with your boys.
Virginia, Albuquerque, N.M.: Me & my sister have been taking care of our mother. We take turns, so she comes to our house for one year at a time because she thinks we are tossing her around and doesn't understand that we both need a break. Every now and then I want to go out with my friends for 2 to 3 hours, never leaving her alone by herself, she is always with family. She feels that we have to stay with her 24 hours a day and nobody else will do, so if I go out for a short period, when I come back she doesn't stop nagging and she can go on for hours and hours. Do I just stay home or what can I do?
MORRIS: Stick to your guns. You're doing the right thing. You cannot be with her 24/7. Indeed, it's critical that you get away, take breaks, and take care of yourself. It's quite possible that when your mother berates you for leaving her alone, she is really expressing larger fears – that she will grow old alone, that you won't be there for her when things get tough. The next time she nags you about leaving her for an evening, don't fight back. Give her a hug and say something like, "Mom, I imagine all of this is very hard for you. Know that I love you and I will always care for you."
SUKIE, El Paso, Tex.: My Father is 89 and has heart problems, diabetic and tends to be anemic frequently. He still drives, yet there are times he is so weak he can hardly keep his eyes open let alone walk straight. I have asked and asked him to stop driving and have been met with resentment and anger. A major part of the problem is my very controlling, 82-year-old mother who requires a lot of attention and who wants only my father to drive her to her many doctor appointments, errands and shopping. My fears are obvious, that he will fall asleep while driving. They live in their own home and by themselves. They will not even discuss any assistance, particularly a nursing home or assisted living. What is my best course of action?