My 97-year-old mother has been living with me for almost two years. She still has her home in another state and resists selling it. There are relatives living in her home, but the family there all work and could not stay with her 24/7. I am retired and available.
Compared with the other postings, I am having a much easier time and should have little cause for frustration and weariness. She does have extremely poor hearing, balance problems, and severe peripheral neuropathy in her hands, but she is in good health, is still potty trained, mobile with her walker, and functions fairly well with beginning late onset Alzheimer’s. Of course, she needs help with her meds, someone to cook, to do her laundry, to take her to her appointments, to help bathe, to pick out clothes, to help her up when she falls because she wasn’t using her walker, etc. Most of her time is occupied by sitting in a chair looking out the window or reading or trying to get me to do whatever she deems important.
Having in-home care is not something that I would like because I would either still be there and on call or I would need to find somewhere to go and something to do out side of my home. She refuses to go to an adult daycare center, even though I had arranged for her to be picked up and returned two days a week---that would give me some alone time and also give her social interaction. Her reasoning was that she did not belong there with those old people and wasn’t a shame that she had to pay for someone to talk to her when she had family. To be completely fair, Mama has never had friends or socialized outside of church and family. I do take her to church on Sundays, but her physical and emotional limitations keep her from interacting with the members. When she lived by herself, she stayed home, tolerated visitors, and didn’t visit others.
When my children were small, she asked me to leave them at home, when I made the 6-7 hour trip to visit, so that we could do the things she had set aside for me without interruptions. There was always a list of things she needed done----such as refinishing furniture, painting, yard work, washing windows, and canning. Work has been her mainstay. Now, because of her balance issues and numb hands, she has become comparably inactive, although she does walk around the house with a swifter straightening things, putting dishes in the dishwasher, folding clothes, making her bed, and looking for dust bunnies.
My problem------I am resentful of the expectations and demands that all is to be done to her whims and specifications. She resents it when I go to another room. She wants me to go to bed when she is ready and get up when she does. You would think that after almost two years of my refusal to agree to her bedtime and sleeping schedules, she would stop insisting and accept that I will not sleep at her demand. Numerous times a day I cringe when I hear, “You need to…” Now, I don’t cater to all her unreasonableness. For example, when she said, “You need to dust your bedroom today or I will be very unhappy,” I told her to start crying because I was not dusting since I pay someone once a week to clean.
I know her mental state is fragile and her behaviors are childish, but it is difficult to be patient and understanding since I can see that this is to be my life for ‘who knows how long.’ I exercise three times a week (my only outlet from caregiving), and she is constantly saying. “You need to quit or you will start looking like a man.” As if at 65 I could develop excessive muscles….if I could, I would; muscles could help fill out the sags!
Right now, I think, I am in my right mind, and I frequently tell my children they are not to give up everything to cater to me when I can no longer live by myself---use my long term care insurance to either hire help or put me in a home. I do not want them to resent me, as I am becoming to resent my mother. AND, of course, I am mortified that I feel this way about my mother.
I don’t know what I am expecting from this posting; I needed to put this in writing to see if I can make sense of what is happening. The situation will not improve; there will be no changes for the better. I must just endure, strive to function, and resolve to reach a level of sustainable acceptance and patience.
Thank you for caring enough to read this.....Margieanne