Elderly parent cooperation in their own care and planning.

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My mom is 79 and at what appears to be in a health decline. She lives alone in the house she built with my dad 40 years ago. A house with stairs and considerable financial upkeep. She has enough money to sustain her current lifestyle for I estimate about 3-5 years. Not including any home health, etc. Sale of the house has been discussed but she always shuts discussion down because it is not something she wants.

She generally handles her daily routine but lately has been slipping. She fell a few times, leading me to purchase lifeline system for her house. This once resulted in an ambulace call. She recently lost vision in her left eye due to what they believe is temporal arteritis. She has been taking increased doses of prendisone, which I understand makes her weak and is hard on her system. She has RA and Moves slowly. she does manage her day to day tasks for the most part. If slowly. She spends most of her day organizing her house or hanging out with her dog while watching tv. She bowls on occasion with a league when she feels up to it. She goes out to eat or to the movies with my aunt. I would describe her current situation as marginal. Leading to concern for the immediate future. She is still marginally active when she feels up to it.

I'm 42 and an attorney at a job that REQUIRES me to work at least 70 hours per week to keep it. I live 40 miles away in the city. I am single and my salary covers my life plus any extras my mom needs to try and help her conserve money. I don't really have savings due to a massive student loan I'm still paying on and my own mortgage. I dont have a car. As a result, It costs me $50-70 in car rental, cabs and public transportation to get to my mom each time I visit. I cannot live with my mom. Personality wise as well as just my life does not allow it.

I am the youngest of 5, only girl. 2 brothers live out of state and I have to beg them for cooperation, which usually doesn't even work. One brother we have not seen in 7 years. Another brother lives in town about a half hour from my mom and is marginally helpful when asked for help. He is better with patience than I am. he also has a job. He tries.

My aunt and a cousin drive my mom around during the week as needed. I visit as often as possible. Usually I spend Saturday night through Sunday with her unless I have a Saturday plan, then all day Sunday. I do her shopping, spend time with her and pick up the house when I'm there. My brother also tries to visit one day a week. He tries to help with household chores.

My mom isn't and hasn't always been nice. She has believed that I owe her because she cared for me as a child. She puts it all on me but doesn't ask anything of her sons. She belittles a job I work hard at and begrudges any personal life that I do have. Its always been this way. She has hated every boyfriend and refuses to even learn my friends names. She bad mouths me to family members who believe that I am a horrible daughter who lets her rot in the house. My aunt thinks I should do more. I talk to my mom literally 10 times a day by phone. I visit as often as possible. My mom apparently complains about me to my aunt and cousins, who begrudge me even a dinner out with friends. I work 80 hour weeks, I go to an exercise class three times a week and I let myself have one night out. Hardly glamorous. Also, Im ALLOWED to have a life. I'm bitter and have been for years. Which doesn't help now. I've eeked out some freedom from my mom in the last couple of years. Now, all I see is everyone demanding I change my life when my mom refuses to alter hers .

The big issue now is her independence. She currently cannot drive but one of her doctors, the eye doctor if you can believe it, told her she could drive. She can't even see the door handle. I said no way, not until ALL her doctors give her the ok. She says she is going to TRY and that I cannot make her dependent. I offered to pay for a drivers rehabilitation program to evaluate and assist her. She hung up on me and told me to F off. I asked her to look at single level condos in my neighborhood, where she could be a part of my daily life. She won't even consider it. She just wants us all to stop "picking on her" and leave her alone. She wants us to visit more but we really do our best. She is critical and mean. And I'm at my wits end. I end up yelling at her and telling her to stop acting like a child. I simply don't know what to do. All my solutions are shot down.

Added problem- when I bought my condo 14 years ago, I needed my parents to co sign the loan. Her name is on my mortgage and the title though she doesn't pay anything for it.. I never even thought about this until just recently. (I'm working on getting this changed now.) I'm worried my house would be attached as an asset if she does end up In a home. Her continuedh independence is obviously important for a lot of reasons. Help!

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lostinil8, it sounds like your mother is at war against aging and losing control of her life. She sounds like an old-school mother, who secretly feel that a woman's place in life is cleaning and breeding. They depend on their daughters, because the sons are too important to do small things like helping. I'm glad that she does have some help from your brother. He sounds like a good brother.

Many people go through a private war for independence as they grow older. If they feel like someone is trying to take control of their lives, they fight back. The only thing I can suggest is not to make yourself too available if she is trying to keep up a life that is no longer working for her. Many people become more narrowed in their focus as the age. Pretty soon they see little outside themselves and their present need or want. They depend on others more and more so they will not have to change. It would be so much easier on everyone if they were willing to adapt to new limitations. Often this doesn't happen.

When it doesn't, we are often unable to encourage them to change until some type of crisis happens. We just hope the crisis is not too bad. Until then, you personally can decide how much you can do for your mother. If she presses for more, you can offer to help her move close to you or one of your brothers, whichever she prefers.

When it comes to our parents, they often become the important people and we become unimportant even to ourselves. I don't think that is a good thing to happen. Personally, I do not like being the least important person in the world. We have to make sure that our own needs and wants are being met while we are reaching out to help someone else. If I could go back and do things all over, I would have told my parents they would have to come to TX if they wanted me to help. For me to move back here made no sense except that it was putting more importance on what they wanted, while neglecting what I needed.
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((((((hugs))))) Lostinil8 - Your mum sounds narcissistic, and as such you will never meet her needs or expectations. What you do for her, what you accomplish in your life, will never be good enough for her. Please set some boundaries as suggested above. Cussing at you and bad mouthing you is not acceptable. Re her driving, I think it would be good to call the DMV and involve them. Do get her name off your condo, and don't feel guilty about having a life of your own. Yes, her thinking is irrational, but nothing you say to her will convince her of that, and arguing with her is hard on both of you. My mother (borderline personality disorder and narcissism) has the same sense of entitlement. You simply have to set boundaries as to what you will and won't. Do not expect her to be reasonable, and do not argue with her, but let her know what your boundaries are. I know about the bad mouthing to relatives. It is quite unpleasant, but I have developed somewhat of a thick skin and figure if others have not seen through her yet, then they have problems of their own. Emotional detaching and distancing is helpful with people like this. Here are a few suggestions -
Accept that they are responsible for their own choices
Anger –deal with it in a healthy way
Blame –don’t blame and don’t accept blame
Consequences – face them and see that others experience them
Decide what you are willing to do and what you are not willing to do
Detachment is not a feeling so much as a choice of behaviours, though the feelings should follow the behaviours. Detachment means you can maintain positive behaviours towards to others –kindness, compassion,
Don’t take on blame, guilt, manipulation, anger - don’t enable
Focus on yourself
Forgive, but don’t forget the need to protect yourself
Grieve the relationship as it was, the hopes that you had, the mistreatment you received,
Refuse to be manipulated e.g, emotional blackmail
Respond, don’t react
Separate - physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, socially from others behaviours/feelings
Set boundaries
Say “No”
Space –create it between you and them
Try not to take the behaviours personally
Treat others AND YOURSELF with love and dignity
You can only control /change yourself – your emotions, your behaviours –do not take responsibility for the others feelings or behaviours
Realise it is a process and that you will make mistakes and get “sucked” in, but that you can learn from your mistakes.
You do not have to take on all the care of your mother. Your brothers have made choices. You are making them too. My mother lives in another city, in an ALF and others look after her do shopping etc, Don't let yourself be manipulated by FOG - fear, guilt and obligation. You cannot entirely protect her from her own choices. If she runs out of money, there still are alternatives for care for her e.g. Medicaid and assisted living. Keep on with your own life, help her as much or as little as you choose to. Make sure you are looking after your own financial needs first. ((((((hugs)))) and congratulations for succeeding in your chosen field - you have out a lot if work into you studies and now into your job and you deserve to enjoy the fruits of your labours. You and your needs count too!!!
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"Who thinks this way????" Actually, I think the numbers say that 75% of the elderly think this way. I have learned so much since my Mother's hospitalization 30 days ago. I read and read. I always thought that my mother must be acting the worst of anyone. I found out differently.

If your brothers owe her money, I think that she has a legitimate complaint.

I had an awaking when I read that many people go back to what they went through as a child, when they reach old age. They can't complain to their parents, so they blame their own kids.

Your mother needs professional care. Maybe the next time she is hospitalized, she will get that care. I hope so, for your sake.
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Thank you all for your comments. My mom apparently put in her will that my house is mine and she has no financial stake. Thankfully. It's just overwhelming. If she would just cooperate even a little bit her life would be so much more fulfilled. As would mine because I worry all the time. What's even funnier is 25 years ago I remember her having the exact issues with her own mother. You would think history would not repeat. It does. M

The fact that she doesn't respect my life ( told me this) because I didn't meet my mate yet and I haven't had children hurt. My life is worth less in her eyes because it's just "work". And yet I need to keep my job. That is for sure. She has unrealistic expectations but I'm working on meeting her needs as well as keeping a life of my own. The how to do that part is eluding me.

I like the idea of asking her what she is going to do when she gets herself boxed in. It seems cruel though.

I worry she will"try" to drive. She was bad before she lost some vision. I worry she will kill herself or someone else. I'm appalled at this doctor. He didn't consider any other medical issues or factors and put me in a horrible position of bad guy. I keep telling her it's for her own safety.

Today she decided to call all my brothers and demand they pay her back money they owe her because they don't do anything for her. She said that they "owe" her not the money but the help, compnionship etc. Thankfully I don't owe her money. But the reason she gave that they owe her was that they took away her childhood. (she had my oldest bro at 18) She said their father leaving was their fault (they were CHILDREN) and she struggled for them her whole youth and that they could treat her better now. Who thinks this way???? I got into it with her when I pointed out how irrational this is. I agree they should do more. But how sick is her thinking. THIS is why they don't help and why I'm deling alone.
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Boy, your story sounds familiar. Yes, get her name off of your condo. What if she dies and your siblings insist that the condo sells?

Keep setting boundaries and detach, with love. Tell her you will not be cussed at.

It is not your responsibility to be your mother's keeper. Make certain that your brothers know that you have tried, but just because you are female doesn't mean that you are the care taker. As she has said, you do need to stop picking on her and leave her alone. Then, if she calls and says that she is unable to get to the store, ask pleasantly "What are you going to do?"

I have been through all of this recently and it is on-going for me. Reading Coping With Your Difficult Older Parent, helped me understand my Mother.
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Whew- this is a lot Lostinil8! The big picture seems overwhelming but when you break it down into bite size pieces there is hope.
As the youngest and only girl- mom may have unrealistic expectations of you or feel that it is your duty as daughter to provide for her care...( a son is a son until he takes a wife- a daughter is a daughter for the rest of her life). Maybe she is resentful/jealous of you and always has been and belittling you is a way to keep you close and isolate you from others (I don't know the circumstances of your birth etc). It appears that you have moved on and still care about her. Bravo to you! I think that it is admirable that you are contributing towards her care to "conserve her money"- but with student loans and a mortgage- you need to put your financial self first. You have 4 brothers who should be financially helping out. If mom doesn't want to sell her home now and conserve HER assists- why has the financials fallen to you? If moms name is on the mortgage and title I'd be less concerned about your home being her asset for medicaid attachment and more concerned that if she dies it could be an asset in her will to be divided among her heirs (ie- your brothers who are not helping out). Bad mouthing you to your family is a form of control. Stop playing into it. The less you are able to do, the more they will need to do. No matter how much you do, it will never be enough. If her doctors say she can drive ( does this come from her mouth or you speaking with the doctors) another route you can take is to contact the DMV on the internet and they will require her to take another driving exam. Also call your local Area of Aging and find out what transportation services they have. If mom "chooses" to stay in her home and not move closer to you- it's her choice. Since it's financially expensive and emotionally draining to visit her- cut down and go twice a month. Arrange the services for her (meals on wheels, transportation etc) so that you will feel less guilt. Who has the LW, DPA, and HS? Try to prioritize and look at this situation with your attorney training and attention to details- take the emotion out of your decisions. Take a step back, breath deeply- there is only so much that you can do.
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First thing you need to do is get your condo into your name only both on the mortgage and the title.. The NH and/ or Medicaid can legally place a lien on her half if it should come to that. Somehow you need to convince your mother it would be in her best interest to sign off as co-owner. Once you have taken care of that situation, you can start assessing the boundaries in relationship with your mother. Her reaction, "F off" to your concern is unacceptable. Arguing with her is unhealthy and won't resolve any situation. Let her maintain her independence if she is that adament.
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