My 78 year old mother drinks heavily…

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I am currently in my mother's house so I see FAR more than my non-participative siblings [bro an MD!!!! sis a bi-polar sister w/explosive mania—both out of town].
I am greatly concerned about whether my mother's 'after 5' behavior is purely from the alcohol or God-forbid, dementia [this is the very first time for me to 'say' this out loud so-to-speak]. I am noticing increasing memory loss and am stressed beyond words. I have participated in Al-Anon for years & need to re-visit [it killed my father so I have seen how awful this addiction truly is—both parents for my entire life] and must add that am estranged from my siblings who are in denial & like to feel I am here taking advantage of my mother because it is so much more convenient for them in terms of NOT DEALING w/ THE ISSUES!!!! I am the handyman, honey-doer, lunch date, ceiling fan cleaner, chef to the stars, safety officer, crime watch captain etc…
Two nights ago my mother & I argued over an issue re: her forgetfulness and she was inebriated—I must add, it was more like me pleading for a lucid response which I know I cannot get from her in the evening but is the only time we have to talk since I work full time [w/handicapped adults]. I asked why she does not get her hearing checked [the tv is BLASTING] & she blurted/screamed that she is taking care of/worried about her eyes first [macular degeneration & retinol folding] which entails finances. I have asked her repeatedly to please let me know when she needs additional $$ for the Dr. appt's & rx's BUT SHE WILL NOT DISCUSS IT & chooses to drink it away every night making physical matter much worse than they already are. Please note that I do pay rent & for groceries & my finances are limited as well. I have approached my siblings MANY times but my mother makes me out to be 'dramatic' and again, polarizes my siblings, allowing them to remain [inactive] as they are as well as target me. I have tried EVERY approach I can think of & have even asked my mother to participate in mobile crisis counseling w/me which she vehemently refuses. I am interviewing for a second job next week but come home so exhausted from work that I often go to bed before 9 pm, also to avoid witnessing the drinking. I am perfectly miserable in this house & need to move on but am TERRIFIED that when I am not here to turn off burners or GAS that has been on all day or all night after I go to bed she will blow this place up and/or the neighbors—not to mention her falling inebriated in the nightly tub w/her glass container cocktail! To top things off, she told me the night we were having our 'heated' discussion—out of the blue—that if I lost 20 to 30 lbs. I would extend my life span—this was NOT a supportive remark, but rather hateful & biting. I have been very honest w/her about my deep upset & frustration about my [early] post-menopausal weight gain and just recently had my thyroid tested—next is hormones [hmm stress-related???]. It was so hateful & I am so very deeply hurt by this that we are not speaking [again]. She drove to her twin's home 50 miles away [just moved that FAR AWAY!!!] where she will spend the weekend & drink heavily w/her! My aunt also finds it most convenient to villainize me, as does her husband—sick, sick, sick dynamics & DENIAL. I must add that the binding force might well be that I am the ONLY family member that participates in Al-Anon which rattles them ALL to no end! Perfect alcoholic dysfunction!
So, do I hoard my $$ so that I can move out [while feeling horrifically guilty for not turning over all but what I use for my personal bills]? Do I rent a small apt. nearby for respite—again feeling guilty about not handing this $$ to her? I am @ my wit's end & the new 'hateful' behavior is more than I can put up with on top of everything else!
I am a very intelligent, well-educated individual but I also know that I suffer w/what I call Wonder Woman Syndrome. How do I prepare myself for 'that call' if/when I move out?
I have responded to so very many topics and am so very resourceful. I guess the proximity, history & emotions involved render me ineffective when it comes to my own mother. I am so isolated, have zero social life nor the energy for one & feel like I am 'whining' and/or not 'something' enough [self esteem has taken a huge hit!]. I will be signing up for counseling this week w/o fail!
The amazing people involved in this forum have offered such loving, supportive input, so in anticipation—THANK YOU.
If my mother [siblings/family] would just say thank you, I'm sorry, nice job ONCE IN A WHILE…or once.

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Jeanne,
Thank you so very much for your feedback & support.
Re: moving out…my career 'change' @ a non-profit has me @ the VERY BOTTOM of the pay scale, so finances are the reason I am still where I am—thus the interview this evening for the second job.
Re: helping vs, enabling…
This is the question @ hand—which is why I am marching back to Al-Anon & securing counseling—the whole situation feels so 'lose lose' right now. My goal is to own/operate my own Life Enrichment agency but have been approached to actually launch a bricks & mortar location w/my former ex. director—which will take time.
Re: something terrible while @ work
If I am hired I will be home before she's off to bed re: gas/stove etc…as one of the other fab responses offered, I must detach & detach w/love vs. anger—THIS is quite a challenge, but i am determined!
Paz,
Enriched
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Enriched, I am very glad that you will be getting counselling. It sure can't hurt!

I've never been in your shoes so I lack that perspective. I do not understand why you continue to live with your mother. You are now intending to work more hours. How do you know that she won't do something terrible while you work? What good does arguing with her over her hearing do? It sounds like it just stresses you out without actually getting her to do something.

I am all for helping those loved ones who cannot help themselves. But are you really helping or just enabling? I guess you are the only one who can answer that.

You have a lot of insight into your siblings' behavior -- I'll bet you are spot on about why they behave the way they do toward your mother. I hope that therapy will help you get insight into your own behavior so you can move in a healthy direction. You deserve it!
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JB,
Again—so very, very sorry to hear when ANYONE leads such a tragic life as well as those they leave behind.
Much Peace,
Stefani
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It wasn't Wernicke or Korzikoff, but it was brain damage, I'm sure. My brother had high bp and didn't take his medicine because it didn't agree with Jim Beam. I suspect more likely small strokes or brief dt's. The hallucinations/delusions were his only symptoms.
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Again—THAN YOU ALL!!!
Dear Jessie Belle,
Your brother had what was likely Wernicke-Korzikoff Syndrome—severe thiamine [B1] deficiency. My condolences—it is such a difficult exit to process.
Dear Happy Jack—yes! I need to let go & let God as well as post the Serenity prayer somewhere I can see it daily. I have been reading my Al-Anon books & will continue to do so, as well as attend meetings.
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Hi Enriched, Having grown up in an alcoholic home and having an alcoholic son, I know that it is truly up to them to make the choice to not drink. Remember the AA saying "Let go and let God" and also the Serenity prayer. Sounds as though you need to distance yourself for your own well being. Good luck!
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Oh, my, what a problem this is. I get the feeling you are paying for a debt you don't owe. I thought about some easy answers, but I realize you are going to have to dig deeply into your heart to work through this.

Are you your mother's caregiver, or are you just living together like roommates? If you are the caregiver and do the cooking, cleaning, etc., then why are you paying rent? This reminds me of something that troubles me with my own dysfunctional mother. She acts like she is doing me a favor by letting me live here and take care of her. My own finances are suffering horribly because of her extreme selfishness. I would like to give you the advice I wish I would listen to myself -- if you are the caregiver, let her pay all the bills and you stash your money for when you need it. Perhaps she will not have as much to spend on alcohol.

I know that you know a lot about alcoholism. You will not be able to change her unless she wants to change. You will not be able to protect her from everything that could happen when she chooses to drink -- accidents, fires, alcohol overdose, alcohol damage to the heart, brain, and liver. You can only choose what you are willing to do for her. It seems to me that your heart is telling you to get out, but your sense of obligation and feelings of guilt are pulling you back in. Something that may help you work through this is thinking about how much you are actually able to help her as long as she is drinking. Will you always be lucky (or unluck) enough to be around if she leaves the gas on and the house bursts into flames? Is it your responsibility if she gets drunk and falls in the bath? How much are you willing to sacrifice so she can continue to drink?

My brother was an alcoholic who was totally married to Jim Beam. It was more important to him than his wife, children, or other family. Before he died, he had an unusual type of dementia that was probably alcohol related. He was very paranoid and imagined the FBI had spy rats with balloons on their tails watching him. Maybe he was having small strokes, or maybe the alcohol alone did it. I don't know.
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Hi Enriched-- I am fortunate that my mother, who is almost 85 now, has finally stopped drinking. When she could still drive, I guess she had easy access to booze. Now she is just a "dry drunk" though -- never got into a program and I think still has all kinds of mental issues. I can hear her talk to herself, as she always has, and it's really disturbing.
Well, anyway, I have heard it's very dangerous for old people to drink. Maybe your mother needs an intervention from the authorities once you move out.
I am sometimes sorry I got so involved helping my mother. Even though I don't live with her, it is a never-ending task because she wants to be independent, yet makes a lot of poor decisions. I hear her talking to "Jesus" (or to herself, not sure) that she just wants to be dead!
So I know what you mean -- you work so hard trying to do right by people and it is still never enough.
I think counseling will be a huge help for you to sort out what to do.
I was in counseling last year. I am thinking of at least trying to go to more caregiver support meetings or some al-Anon because my mother can sure drive me crazy if I let her.
So, good luck.
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