I can't do this anymore!

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I'm an only child of a very self absorbed 81 yr old woman. We have a stormy history.She is sweet and caring yet has moments of complete narcissism. Listening to her talk about herself constantly drives me crazy!!! I feel trapped and all I want to do is run away. I feel guilty because I dont' live with her, I have my own place and I only help her 20 hrs a week. Why should I be feeling resentful and bitter and burned out? She calls 3-4 times a day on my days off with questions, .problems, etc. I need to write a huge note on a poster board in huge letters. "Don't call me unless it's an emergency!" She sucks the life out of me. I hate feeling this way because I don't want any regrets when she's gone. I can't be her daughter anymore like this. I'm her hired hand. She pays me to take care of her and I'm grateful. I am on disability because of physical disability. and can only work part time. Sorry for rambling.....Anyway, I need to look for another job so I can get my life back. It's not that I don't want to help her, I just feel CONSUMED, the stuffing is out of me and I want out. I feel so burned out. What is wrong with me? ARRRGHH.

38 Comments

Can she get into assisted living? Can you hire a helper for the other 20 hours? Des she need round the clock care? Any diagnoses? Is she ambulatory?

You clearly need support, Smitty, and I urge you to look into options that will be the best for both of you. Your Mom's needs will only increase so you need to plan now. I am sorry you have no other family member to help.
You sound exactly like my sister, that died this past Dec. Mother would not leave her alone. I would tell "sis" over and over "Do not answer the phone." "Do not go over there." My sister has rheumatoid arthritis and could barely take care of herself. The stress killed her and Mother survived. She is 94 and did fall and had to be taken to the hospital, but she is in better health than most, at a nursing home.

Take care of yourself and get a different job, so that you aren't relying on Mom's money. You are in an awful spot, but you aren't alone.
Smitty - I think your battle is within. It's a tough place to be. I know. I take care of BOTH my parents, Dad in a NH and Mom living down the road. Mom is VERY needy and rambles all the time, calls all the time and complains all the time etc.... I have two siblings that are nowhere to be found. They bolted. I have no support from either. But, after three years, I have put up the mental barrier with my mother. I DO NOT answer the phone every time she calls. I DO NOT go over every time she whines about something not getting done. I do not. Period. I am done being errand girl. I enlisted a local service (non profit) that helps by driving her around and SHE gets to meet new people that way. It is like gold to me. I am taking back my life and I suggest you do the same. Easier said than done, yes, but you can do it. You won't have the guilt. Instead, you'll feel a bit relieved. They were the sucking the life out of me too, Smitty, (and still do on some days), but I am in a better place. And DON'T feel guilty about not living with her!!!! Are u kidding me? Listen to yourself now! If you lived with her, it would kill you.

You need to value YOU more than your mother.

You need to value your health more than your mother.

It's a state of mind and it's hard to get to, but day by day, start taking your life back. Look, I love my mother, but I like me more!!!

xo
-SS
Sorry but this is strange. You talk about your mother like she is a client. You do not want to speak to her on your days off. You are on disability, but you basically have a job.....isn't inability to work the justification for Disability? Caregiving is a pretty physical job.
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I think you are having a bad day, and need to vent. Ok
Completely understand sometimes you are not up for answering the phone.


I get how needy and difficult an older parent can be, and I wish you well with that.
I hope you can gear your relationship towards a family, mutual support grounded in love, rather than a straight business transaction with a side of guilt.
IsMiami - this isn't strange at all; it's very common. If Smitty sounds like she talks about her mother as a client, it's because her mother treats her like servant. Get it?
It's ok to vent. Here you are among peers and we understand. We family caregivers make the mistake (I think, in retrospect) of bending over backwards to please when we start caregiving. It makes for expectations that cannot be sustained. I know, believe me. I pampered my mother when my dad passed away thinking it would "snap her out of her funk." All it did was create a spoiled "brat" who was NOT becoming more independent (like our children grow up and do). Please try and find a catalyst in your life to make some changes. Request a "no call" time and stick to it. Teach your parent how to leave a message if they don't know how to. Don't limit the message cut-off to a minute or two -- I learned that one the hard way -- if they want to go into a lengthy explanation, let them. Sometimes they just want to talk. If you need a job, then do what you need to do. Keep the financial dependence as limited as you can. Good luck, hang in there.
I had the same problem with my mother. I got fed up with her constant neediness and wanting to rely solely on me. I put up my barriers and distanced myself from her. She finally realized I would no longer be at her beck and call. She now allows my sister to alos help her and has called in outside help for housekeeping. Unfortuneately my relationship with her has deteriorated due to the situation. I do what I can, but at the level at which I choose to do. Had a lot of guilt at first, but time lessened those feelings. She has always been an emotionally needy person so it is not something new. It is sad when a parent can destroy a relationship with their child due to inconsideration and selfishness on their part.
I feel as if I'm reading about my own life hearing about yours, Smitty! I agree with those who said to create some boundaries for yourself. My mother, too, has a constant stream of demands. I decided to commit to 2 afternoons a week (aside from driving to doctors' appointments). That way I can say, "I'll do it Tuesday, Mom." She seems comfortable with those limits. But there are still many times that I feel totally burned out. I think it just goes with the territory. The worst part is when our elders get nasty. That really hurts and is shaming. Maybe get a book on shaming by Brene Brown. I didn't realize what was going on with me until I read that. My mom tries to make me feel like a not-good-enough daughter when I know that I'm a wonderful daughter. So, no doubt are you! I think the last sentence in Debralee's posting is so, so true. Hurtful though their words are, I just think the inconsideration and selfishness come from a place of deep vulnerability and fear. They don't seem like golden years to me! I wish you strength and courage.
Boundaries are ESSENTIAL with caregiving. If you don't, resentment, bitterness, sickness and other maladies result in the caregiver. Yes, the elderly become like children - but they don't grow with age, they further decline and their needs increase with age. It is exhausting and you MUST know your limits. Your parent must know your limits and you must stick to it, otherwise they will push you until they get what they want.

Look into support from your community - a senior center, adult care center, volunteer center, any other friends/family who can commit to helping during the week. Commit to your errands for your Mom when you do your own errands.

Your Mom's needs will increase. You need to start planning her long term caregiving. What can you do now to prepare for that?
"I can't do this anymore," I say that about ten times a day as I become more and more consumed by caring for my needy and ungrateful mother. Like the rest of us,
Smitty, you're doing the best you can, more. At some point, you need a break from your mother's constant demands. Maybe you could call friends or relatives who could take your mom on "field trips" once or twice a week.

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