My mom lives with us and it's becoming MORE and MORE difficult.

Started by

Never thought I'd be pouring my thoughts out to strangers like this but I don't know anyone who's caring for, much less living with their parent.I'm 54, married, my kids are young adults on their own. 20 years ago,Dad was diagnosed with Alz and unable to drive.My parents lived in their home and Mom (she's now 90) fought all changes, including legal matters.Suddenly unable to spend every single day socializing,she began calling my sister, in tears, to come get them for a few days.Few years later,Dad went into a nursing home and Mom began staying longer and longer stretches with my sister and with me (2000 miles away).By the time Dad passed 10 years ago,Mom was spending very little time in her home, telling us she just couldn't be alone.She was physically capable of being home alone(wears a full leg brace but no other health issues) if she hired someone coming in to do housework and yardwork.She came from a large, overbearing family and thrives on having people around ALL THE TIME.So she hated the idea of having to deal with having time alone.We tried to discuss senior apartments, options with her but she would turn on the waterworks and utter things about how she was a burden and a bother and everyone would reassure her that "oh, no, we love having you" and all discussions of her creating her own life were gone.She is a master of guilt and manipulation.After 3 more years of essentially living with us,we got her to at least sell the house, rather than my sister continuing to clean and mow etc.Now she needed to make a decision,which she refused and so ended up spending 6 months with each us.She told her friends we made her sell the house and how she was a nomad with no home.She still loves socializing but will not go anywhere unless my sister or I go too, including to a senior center, lunches with family and friends. She has no interests except reading and watching TV and those are just fillers.She has no desire to make new friends, preferring to co-opt mine.She expects us to be with her every free moment we have - we both work fulltime jobs so not a lot of free time here. I leave work, go home and cook dinner while she chats about whatever, watch TV with her at night and go to bed.Weekends, I'm expected to spend my weekend with my 90 year old mother.If I take time for me, she wilts or is sullen.She expects to attend social gatherings with our friends, and they all think she's just so sweet, they encourage it.What they don't know is that this lady has always been "all about me" - when she listens so empathetically to them, her motive is that they feed her "aren't you wonderful" need.She thrives on being fawned over and so is just so supportive and caring.She tells friends and family all of our business so we've learned to be very careful what we tell her.Ironically, with her own daughters,she can't give the support if she thinks it will diminish her attention.So when Dad died,she never hugged us and comforted us and acknowledged that we lost our Dad because in her mind, that would diminished her role as the grieving widow.In fact,she was visably bugged when we reminisced about Dad a couple days after he passed because it wasn't about her.So,here's where we are: My sister (59) just lost her husband and after spending 35 years as a caregiver, has said enough.We believe that Mom's vision of her living with Sis is they will be like the Golden GIrls - movies,visiting various friends and relatives, dinners,watching TV together every evening - contemporaries.Sis however is looking at life after many years of taking care of a sick hubbie, whom she'd adored.There's no way Mom will be ok with sitting home alone while Sis takes classes,does volunteer work,creates her new phase.BTW,Sis and I are extremely close. So Sis has said "done" and Mom is currently with me.DH is adament that we are NOT going to be the fulltime caregivers and I understand that, esp. as his parents are also elderly and we are the only kids in town to care for them. (They, however,are functional, having taken the steps they needed to keep them in their home safely).She can be alone during the day, we think but are concerned as she has fallen a couple times.She can't be left alone overnight which means we can't leave town for a weekend.Because she hates being alone,she has no understanding of my need to have "me" time.DH has been phenomenal all these years,but is wanting to travel,for me to have time for my interests after raising our brood and is starting to say "ok, we need to change something here". Plus he got a rare look at how selfish and mean spirited she can be (only about 6 people have seen this side) as she ripped me apart because I said she needed to see a doctor about her weakening good leg. So, you all have been thru this - how do I deal with this mess now that she's been living with us???? BTW - if you're contemplating this living setup, please realize your first obligation is your own family -discuss,think,pray first.


yep, been there done that. Worse thing my family ever did. We never knew what hit us until it was
This is exactly what I don't want to happen to me. I have contemplated the arrangement, and I have decided it's not for me. My situation is similar, after my dad died last year, the hysterics ensued - at this point I don't even feel that I've grieved properly for my father, I've just been trying to keep mom on some kind of even keel, I'm not succeeding but I'm coming to the realization that it is just not possible. Mom thinks that if she lives me all will be well. Stay strong.
We realize that Mom is not happy unless she has the attention of one of her kids or grandkids.So we're learning to get immune to the sighs, droopy voice, subtle guilt trips.Just recently,she's begun declining social invites that do include her,such as a SuperBowl party.It's still a guilt trip because her attitude isn't an upbeat "you guys go and have fun- I'll be fine" but a resigned "I'll just stay home".Interestingly as none of my friends have cared for aging parents,I'm getting static from people about her absence at gatherings.When my BIL was moved to hospice,I flew out alone to help my sister and her kids.I didn't take Mom with me as she is not good in a crisis and I needed to be caring for Sis and her children.Had Mom been at hospice with us, every relative and friend would've heard about every moment,every interaction during this private,sacred time.So we would've all been hiding emotions,self-editing ourselves.I was surprised when a longtime friend took me to task for not taking Mom, as "she needs to be there,to be a part of things.It'll be hard for her to be here when she wants to be there for your sister.I don't mean to tell you what to do,but you need to take her with you."She then proceeded to tell me how I needed to think about how hard it is for Mom not to have control over her life,to have to live with her kids.Tried 4 times to explain that Mom had exercised absolute control over her life by gradually moving in with us, that she CHOSE to live with her kids when she was perfectly able to live alone.Needless to say,I'm limiting contact this person,as I don't need her negativity.On the plus side,I'm going to try a weekly knitting group as an outlet for me.I've been getting massages to de-kink the muscles and de-stress.I set up a still life in the dining room so I can draw in the small bits of free time. Still trying to find a doctor for her-so many docs aren't taking new patients,esp Medicare.The "elephant in the room"(you know, something ever present but not discussed)is that it appears time is here for a transition and there's no nice or easy way to say "Mom,this isn't working and you need to live on your own." Talk about major guilt ......
I have found that it is fruitless to expect to gain sympathy some friends and relatives. Oftentimes relatives will only see the situation through the elder's eyes, and will not understand the pressures and strain on the caregiver(s). That's why it's good to come here and talk. People here do understand, "get it", and sympathize.
I totally understand what you are going through. My dad took care of my mother until he died and then there was only one person left to care for my 91 year old mother, me. We left our house and moved in with her. My mother sounds a lot like your mother. My mother wants to be right there doing whatever is being done too. I found gardening was the best outlet for me. My mother would sit in the swing while I worked outdoors. My husband bought dvds for our movie night and we like to read to each other for couple time. We have to take turns very early in the morning to walk or bike for exercise. The men's group at our church is my husband's outside interest. I tried to get my mother to go to the senior center but she wasn't interested. Now she sleeps all the time and has to be awakened to eat. We have learned how to work around having a senior in the family just as we worked around having a toddler long ago. We are in our 70s and wish we had a little more time to travel before we, too, need caring for.
I too, find gardening a wonderful outlet - I listen to an audiobook while I work and Mom sits on the porch and reads. As for sympathy from friends and relatives,you're correct in that they don't "get it". I understand that they aren't going to be there for sympathy or support ,but I don't have patience for people second guessing or having the audacity to advise me on things they do not understand.
Please, please, please take the time you NEED to take care of yourself! I would start by scheduling a therapy session with a counselor. It's okay to pay to someone to be your advocate and help you draw the boundaries needed to get through this. I hope your DH supports you in this. I doubt very seriously that your mother is going to change her ways at all, so you need to be proactive at setting the rules of YOUR house, since she can't/won't live by herself. Remember that a good Caregiver is like a pitcher of lemonade (or margarita's lol)... you have to remember to refill the pitcher (self-care) or you will run yourself dry and not be any good to anyone. Take care and God bless.
I fully understand what you are going through, my father is 80 and mom is 78 - they have lived with us for the past 10 years ! They were experiencing financial difficulties and yes this was the biggest mistake of my life I really wish my husband had put his foot down at the time but what do you do - you can't not help. My only wish is that I have two brothers and a sister if only they could take the folk's more often it would be alot better. My Dad is relatively easy going BUT the old girl is incredibly difficult - likes being the centre of attention - if she hasn't had much attention then she will have some ailment etc go gain the much needed attention from friends and family, which we know is an utter sham. Trust me her and I have had our differences!!! My husband and I have four children and boy did the old couple interfere after the first couple of years it ended up with me locking the kids rooms whils't they were at school so that she would stay out of their stuff. She has thrown stuff at the kids slapped them and the worst was when she slapped my one son through his face! The biggest problem is that she does not listen the amount of times that we have had to put her in her place is ridiculous and my Dad sticks up for her. But they won't go and stay with anyone else in the family instead. She tells utter stories etc to friends about how she cannot visit them because she has to cook etc - what rubbish - I have had her friends tell me that I make her work too hard etc, etc, to the point that I have banned the old girl from cooking or having anything to do with the children. As my parents have gotten older its become tougher as they have both become hard of hearing and incredibly demanding of me - I can be talking to someone or on the phone and they will butt in - my kids have grown up but my folks are taking over in that department. In fact now that my kids are older thay have hardly anything to do with their grandparents. We have sort of found a way of coping fortunately we live in a fairly large house so the kids stick to their side of the house my parents totally monopolize the lounge so as a result my husband and I and all three dogs go to our bedroom and watch tv there! When the odd occasion does arise that the old folks go and stay with one of my siblings for a week or hopefully sometimes a couple of weeks we all crack open a bottle of champagne and take over the lounge - what fun !! It't tough, sometimes I want to scream or run away and hide but my best coping tool is trying to against all odds - maintain my sense of humour - it's either that or go completely mad myself !
I don't mean to come off like i am attacking you because i was once in your place my mom died of Alzheimer two years ago ,she raised 8 kids by herself and she was a good woman who worked really hard but towards the end when she was getting Alzheimer ...all of us kids were so busy with our own life and then my mom started to need us more and more and i heard my sisters bitching about what a problem it was and i just remember sitting with my mom and the only thing she asked ever was that if she gets sick please don't put her in a home let her just die on her property at home but we were all to selfish it didn't matter that my mom had spent all that time on each of us when we were babies , when we were sick ,when we had a play at school she sacrificed her life for us but then when she needed us ..oh then she became a bother dare she interrupt our life and make us spend time with her ,,,well she is dead now and let me tell you something i regret that so much .......she is dead now and gone forever ,forever do you get it your mom is 90 she will be dead soon and you will never ,ever get to see her face or spend time with her ever ever do you understand ..she will be gone forever so love her and talk to her and give the last of her life a good memory in your heart you wont regret ..
Linda, I'm new here, and this may well be covered in later threads, but I am very curious about whether you have made changes in your household.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support