Damned if I do, damned if I don't!

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My 87 year old mother seems like she's never satisfied with what her children do for her. I take her to all her MD appointments, and afterwards take her shopping and out to lunch or dinner. My brothers help by making all her meals, mowing her lawn, cleaning her house. In addition to my taking her out 1-2 times during the week, my youngest brother takes her out every Friday, gets her groceries, etc. She tells me she's bored, she's lonely, and that she doesn't go anywhere. She lives at home alone, and is capable of doing some things. We try to take care of all her basic needs and then some. She's always saying "I've got to get out of this house, I need a change, I'm so lonely, I'm so bored, etc. I don't go anywhere. I tell your brother I need my shed painted (it was just painted 2yrs ago). I need my refrigerator cleaned, my cupboards cleaned, my flower gardens weeded. Nobody seems to want to do anything for me. I need my fall cleaning done, and put up curtains for the winter." All of kids are very dedicated to our mother, but she can really make us feel guilty for anything she wants done, opposed to all the things that we do.

Today, while we were out, I said that when I come back from vacation in 2wks, that I would come stay for a few days so that I can wash her walls in the living room and put up clean curtains for winter. Her exact words were, "I had an idea that if you came down, I'd like to have my living room painted. I'm bored with the color, and need a change." I told her that I can't wash the walls, paint, and put up curtains. It was too much for me. I am a married woman of 66 years old, have my own home, live 1hr away. When she has appointments that I take her to, I have to travel to her home an hour away, pick her up, bring her to her appointment 1/2 hour away, bring her back home, and then come back home myself. We would all do anything for my mother, but I am feeling very frustrated. My thoughts are that she is 87 years old, still lives at home, has kids who help her out, is capable of taking care of her daily needs ie: taking a shower, getting dressed etc. Yet, when home with herself, makes a mental list of all the things she wants done. None of us kids can go to her house to visit her without her having a list of things to do while we are there. As of late, I am feeling resentment, anger and frustration to the point of feeling she is better off gone, as she is a very unhappy woman. She doesn't seem to appreciate what life she has left. I feel that she is very lucky at her age to be in her own home, with children who cater to almost every need she has. I don't feel that she needs all these things done to stay at home. I am beside myself. Looking for comments, suggestions, opinions, etc. Extremely frustrated.


My mother was doing the same thing for a long time. It drove me crazy. I would come into the living room and sit down to keep her company for a while. She would come up with all these things that needed doing. Most of the things weren't important. I learned not to tell her that I wasn't going to do something, because it just made her mad. I just let her words go by me and didn't do the "needed" tasks. I have enough to do already.

I think elders sitting home have too much time on their hands, so they think about things they would be doing if they could do them. Chances are that even when they could personally do them, they didn't. That is the way it is with my mother. She wants me to do tasks she hasn't done in 40 years.

My mother is less demanding now when it comes to doing things. She probably just figured out I was worthless. Either that or her mind doesn't organize things to do like it used to. When she talked about things to do, often I would listen for a while, then go elsewhere before she exhausted me. I did do some of the things, but only the ones that made sense and then when I had the time and inclination to do it. I wasn't being ugly, I was just not interested in becoming an overworked slave. I didn't come here for that.
She is who she is. I doubt she is going to change. Just brush her off. "Hmm ... yes, a change of color would be nice in here. But I can't get to it at this time. Start to think about what color you'd like, and maybe we can get to it next Spring. Or I can help you find a painter to come in and do it." "Mom, this visit I'm too tired to do chores. Let's just play a couple hands of canasta. Or let's watch a video together."

I'm not sure you can get her to stop making demands, but that doesn't mean you have to cave in to every demand. She knows how to push those guilt buttons -- she installed them -- but I'll bet you can disconnect them if you practice enough.
BTW, there are always cleaning people and handymen looking for work. Painting rooms is not too expensive, and it is wonderful having someone else move the furniture around and cover things. I don't mind painting, but I hate the prep work.
Why on EARTH is a 66-year-old woman washing walls?? You'll be in rehab in no time! If she owns her own home, she obviously has some means. Time for you to insist she spend some of those "means" on ServiceMaster to come clean the cabinets, do her fall cleaning; time for a handyman to do some of the things on her list; a painter to paint; a cleaning lady every two weeks; a lawn service. OR it's time for her to sell the house. Lordy. You guys are saints!! And apparently it's something in the water because you're all doing it. ;)

Time for her kids to back off and be companions to mom instead of work horses. Go for dinner. Bring it. Visit with mom; a nice leisurely supper and conversation, Or better yet, help her cook one of her favorite recipes. Instead of resenting your mom, speak up -- so you can celebrate her.

I'm 67 years old. Until a year ago, mom lived in her own home with her 86-year-old "boyfriend." She's 87. I hardly lifted a hand to maintain mom's house -- but I made the phone calls to get it done. She had a grass cutter for $20/week. A snow shoveler if it snowed over 3" for $15. A cleaning lady (thru Council on Aging) for $7 an hour -- 2 hours every other week. Meals on Wheels for $5 a day, 5 days a week. She had her house completely redecorated, carpets cleaned, an odd jobs guy. She never made more than $200 (maybe $250) a week her whole life. She's been retired thirty years. But we spent her money for her needs.

I spent my time taking mom to lunch, paying her bills, making her phone calls, taking her to doctor appointments, handling all of her financial stuff -- and in and around that? Had great fun visits every week. (Now she lives with me, and her friend is buying her house.)

I think sometimes kids think their love is evidenced by taking care of their parents' every need. No. It is not. Rethink what you're doing. I urge you to do that. Use the time she has left to laugh with her and enjoy. No more washing walls!! ;) ;)
my mom used to be pretty generous with my ( limited ) energy too . it was the one thing we had problems with . i dont do ocd well . near her end of life i learned that ocd was a genuine disorder that stemmed from dementia .
it didnt make sense ; my mom was never a meticulous housekeeper then all the sudden she wanted to see six merry maids a sweepin , and the contents of her cabinets washed and restacked .
dream on crazy horse ..
She is board and lonely that's why she is working y'all to death trying to keep you around. Maybe you could find her something to do with others . Is there a senior center or church with actives ? It sure would be easier than working so much.
Say no. Give her the number of service people. Slavery was outlawed several years ago. I repeat, say no.
Reenee, It sounds like she is simply afraid of losing you if she doesn't keep you busy. Just purchase one of those cheap balls from the toy department and toss it back and forth with her like I did with my mother when she was cranky. It distracted her at least for a little while.
Reenee, your Mom is probably very frustrated that she can no longer do those things around the house and out in the yard. And she could also be thinking that you and your siblings still have chores to do around the house, as though you were still living there.... that habit never goes away.

Washing walls? I never heard of anyone doing that unless someone is a heavy smoker.

Any chance you Mom would sell her house and use the funds to move into an independent living apartment? That way there wouldn't be that much of a home to take care of, and no outside landscaping to deal with. And look at all the new friends she would make... she could go on sightseeing trips that would be offered by the facility.

At 87 it sounds like she still has a lot of energy if she can go to the doctor appointment, then go shopping, and still be able to go out for lunch or dinner. Heavens, I am only 68 and taking Mom to one doctor appointment is all the energy I have and I still have to get back to the office.
Reenee, you and your siblings are dear for doing all this, but it's time to draw the line. My brother, my husband and I are going through this with my mom now. Each time we would visit, she's got a list - written down - of things we need to do. We try to have a nice visit with her, but it's always filled with chores and we can never really do it how she likes to have it done. So, my husband encouraged me to draw the line, and I did. I simply let her know what we can do and what we WON'T be able to do, instead of trying to meet all her demands. She doesn't like it, but we are all she has.

She is 83 years old trying to keep a home and property that is beyond her capacity to care for. She uses the old guilt trip ploy - "That's what you should do." Hmmm...well, my husband and I live over two hours away and we have a home of our own on 4 acres to tend to as well. I take her to the doctor if necessary (she can drive, but won't drive out of her home town.) and we try to help as much as possible, but she will take a mile if you give her an inch.

She is so particular, too. She wants every little twig and pebble out of the way and when she hired someone to take a tree down, she complained about the tracks in the yard from the equipment. Bottom line, tell her you'd like to spend more time visiting with her than doing work, that you just can't fit all that in. And why would the walls need washing? As for needing a change in color, she can hire that done. My brother lives 4 states away and had not been home in awhile. Would you believe that when he visited her for three days, she had him planting bushes all day for an entire day? Unbelievable. It's like she has nothing else to do but obsess over every little thing about her property.

Sounds like your mom needs more social interaction of some kind, as other commenters have written. I think that would help my mother as well, but she wants nothing to do with that. I've felt more calm since I've set boundaries with her and the guilt is waning...I'm only 49 and I'm determined not to let this fast-forward my aging process!

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