Mom has unrealistic expectations.

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Hello gang,

Thanks again for this forum, and for all of you who respond. My mom is thinking about trying to sell her condo and get into an AL facility. She does not really have the money, but that is a separate topic in itself. She is pretty well able to care for herself so far (at 84), but is getting more confused about things, so something like AL is attractive in that sense.

But her main issue is her self-described "loneliness". Of two of her sons that live in the area (my brothers, I live 1000 miles away), only one is engaged at all. Of course, this puts a bigger burden on him.

When she visited an AL facility, she thinks that she will be able to make friends and get companionship there, but the trouble is her. She has never really been able to make and keep friends... typically due to her being pretty judgmental (yes, it has to do with her fundamentalist Christianity).

Since she cannot really afford AL, while she is able, I want to take her to the local senior center and say "look mom, this is what they do here: play cards, go on trips, gossip, etc.". If you are not willing to join in and participate in these types of activities here, for free, what makes you think that you would want to do them in AL?

The response to this type of query is either silence, or the "hurt look", or "I guess it is all my fault"... Arrrrrgggghhhhh!

I know that this is not really a question, really more like a vent, as I understand that we cannot change mom or her personality at this point in her life.

My brother and I would be happy if she *could* find some type of companionship at the senior center which would get her out of the house and alleviate some of her loneliness, but given her history, it does not seem likely that will work.

Any thoughts or comments on how to deal with her unrealistic expectations are welcome!


How about talking to her minister to check if her domination might have an AL facility in your area or a group home? If your local social services group could have the info or even an internet search..

Good luck!
littletonway... she has not been able to (lately) keep even a home church, due to both her "issues" and (to a much smaller degree) some health concerns. Otherwise, we would have already taken your great suggestion... Part of the problem is: her. If you drive away everyone who does come around, you will end up alone and lonely.. still I want to try and help her if I can.
I went thru a similar situation with my mom and wish I could give you some sage advice to solve the problem. What I had to realize was that it came down to choices. I offered every viable option I could. She chose to veto every idea I came up with. It's still hard to see your mom lonely and down in the dumps, but all you can do is offer's up to her to choose to engage with others or be lonely.
Behaviors have consequences. We would often like to repeal that law of nature on behalf of a loved one (or even for ourselves) but that is beyond our power.

Driving others away has the consequence of being alone.

I admire that you want to help your mom, and I suspect doing so would be a gift to your brother as well. I hope you find some small ways to make a difference, but I don't hold out much hope for a true solution.

Mother living in an ALF won't really solve her personality problems, but it might be a good move in any case -- if she could afford it. What would she be likely to get by selling her condo? What other resources does she have? Look at costs for ALFs in the area. Do the math. How many months could she afford? What would she do after all her money is gone? If it is not feasible at all, I hope you can use logic to convince her not to sell the condo. But if it might work out financially, explore the option with her.
jeannegibbs, thanks for replying.... you mention something that I had not wanted to go into detail on... if she sells her condo (it is on the market), she will probably net less than $70,000. At $3000 per month, that would buy her less than two years. She has been told that in Indiana, she can apply for a Medicaid waiver when she runs out of money, and the ALF says they accept a limited number of people that way. Still, this makes me very nervous, as after the money is gone, it is no longer the ALF's problem.... My mom's condo is on the 2nd floor, with no elevator, so she really needs to be on the ground floor. I am visiting at the end of this month, and I hope to be able to visit a local senior center and explain that if she would not be willing to "make friends" and participate in their activities, that she will be equally unlikely to at the ALF, but would lose all of her money besides.

It is very hard to know what to do... the good news is that I do believe my mom still has her wits about her enough to understand this dilemma. So we will see what happens.

Thanks again to you and all who responded!
You're not alone! My mother is 91 and she is the same - judgemental, church going, friendless and lonely! She lives with me and my family and 3 sibs might see her once or twice a year ( they are all close) so she wants me to fill the gap my Dad left when he passed and make up for time lost with others. She likes NOTHING! She hates when there is others in my house. All TV is trash unless it was made before 1950 and Disney movies are for kids! I have a family of my own and really don't want to sit here any more than the 6 1/2 years I have already given. I have been suggesting a senior center for a long time now and I get " when the weather warms up" or " in the fall. After Christmas" so I finally talked to her doctor without her knowing and said she just sits all day and wants me to sit right next to her and I can't take it anymore! He told her she HAD to go to center at least 2-3 times a week for exercise ( bless him!) She started saying doctor never told her to go. I'm not accepting it! I told her if she doesn't go ( NP said it too) I WILL call and have them tell her again and I will record it ( the only people she's old lady sweet to is the doctor) so this would embarrass her enough to not want me to call.

Maybe you could have her doctor, minister or someone tell her she needs to try center for a while "help her" in some way?

I wish you the best no matter what! With us, in their own home or at AL, its so hard not to worry about them and if we are doing the right thing.
TKUP66... sounds like your situation is similar to mine. When I go up in two weeks I will be broaching the idea of the senior center... plus, I will emphasize the fact that where I live (in St. Petersburg), the older people we know do get together and do things, but they also play cards, do water aerobics, etc. It may not help, but you cannot help a person who will not help themselves.
Yes it does sound similar. I made mistake of letting her move in, YIKES! BIG mistake!!! I'm in Pa. Its a shame she's not closer. We could arrange a play date. Misery loves company :) Save your sanity, don't move her in with you! If she IS like my mother, she will suck the life out of you trying to have you make her happy which I have found, no matter how much I do for her, is NEVER enough or good enough or right or appreciated.
The judgmental part of what you wrote about is something my wide knows all about. She has been doing the caregiver for 17 plus years with no help from her siblings, she now sleeps in the doorway of her moms room so her mom won't get out of bed and roam the house with the possibility of then falling,. We have tried to get her mom to do different things like puzzle books, writing down things about growing up, the different things in the family history but that is a waste of time as she would rather sleep all day and not go to bed at night. When we do get her to go out she is fine for a few minutes and then starts complaining about not liking these people and wanting to go home. The sad thing about that is the people she is talking about are family members or people in our church where she went for 35 plus years. We have also heard what you said about the doctor never said that and she plays the sweet little old lady to the doctor like your mother does. When do we know that we have given all we can give and maybe the best place for our parent is AL?
i try to ignore everything going on around me, keep the focus on Jesus. otherwise people, all of them, will drive you crazy. we're all doing the best we can to survive in one of the most difficult periods in history, it's that simple.

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