Mom faking it to get her way.

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We have had a struggle since my mom returned to her apartment. She had decided I would do everything for her. Taking her on all of her shopping trips, her meds, rearranging all of her closets & storage (after we re-did her apt to use a wheelchair). Her home health nurse has been trying to get her to understand the need to not be reliant on one person especially if your in an independent living apartment. It hasn't been needing someone to do it, it has been a power struggle that she insists "I" must do it.

I was very lucky to get the home health staff and siblings to cooperate on trying to get her past this insistence that I do everything. I can't, between hurting my already damaged back hauling her wheelchair and having to work it isn't going to happen.

So I have been mostly absent for going on 3 weeks. Siblings made sure they were around once a week to help with the closet moving and to make sure she got groceries. She is still refusing to use the apartment van that takes people shopping multiple times a week. Claiming she is unable to physically use it because they don't have a wheelchair lift.

So I talk to her nurse who tells me she is walking with her walker down to get her meals on wheels at the apartment dining room every day. it is a long walk too. At least a downtown chicago city block long. My sister was there and said she saw her do it too. So she can get around well without a wheelchair. Enough to get on and off the van to get to the store scooter to do shopping. Yet she refuses to use the bus and keeps making excuses to not go sign up to use it.

She also has tried to sign up for paratransit but they won't give her an interview for weeks. So she now is using this paratransit delay to try to guilt me into coming and taking her shopping every other day. She doesn't know that everyone else has ratted her out that she can use the walker to get around.

I feel so manipulated and angry. She made me feel horrible for not doing all this stuff for her while we were trying to push her to use the wheelchair less and at least get a back up system of using the van in case I wasn't around. Now I find out she is just lying and manipulating me!

Monday she was calling my phone constantly. I couldn't answer it because I was working. She called my SIL to tell her I wasn't answering my phone, like she wanted her to go track me down. SIL has stopped doing that after she realized it was a game. So there was no emergency, SIL talked to her. Mom will not use her walker in front of me and kept telling me she could barely use it in the apartment. Obviously that is not true based on what 4 different people have witnessed when I am not around.

What do you do when someone is being so dishonest and manipulative?



Just say No.

OK, it's not that easy. But it sounds like you are doing an awesome job of saying No. And it sounds like you have backup -- something many caregivers lack. And clearly mother has other ways to get her needs met. Trying to establish a dependence on you is inappropriate.

I wonder if this would work the next time she asks/demands your assistance: "You know Mom, if you really need this much help, I wonder if we should be looking for Assisted Living for you. Can you really handle independent living?"

I wonder what is really behind your mother's behavior. Need for sympathy? A strong feeling of fear of not being able to handle things on her own? A feeling of entitlement? Maybe trying to figure it would help you to meet her real needs, or to redirect her thinking.

In any case, jus continue to distance yourself until she is past this irrational behavior.
You are doing great
I'm not totally sure what is behind the issues. I did try to help her work through the fears or anxiety about using the bus by talking through the details, she didn't want to even discuss it and is not giving anyone a concern or fear about it that is even related to the issue. When she was in rehab she would make a point to complain about other people having so many visitors and a person across the hall whose daughter visited every day and had her room packed full of flowers. She made some comment about that person getting special treatment. My mom had lots of visitors, people brought her flowers and so many cards she couldn't handle them all.
Rehab gave her the realistic determination that you can either handle being in an apartment or you go to assisted living. She so did not want to be in assisted living and was being very manipulative with the therapists that she could do everything in her apartment. From what I have seen and talking to her therapists and nurse she can do the things needed to take care of herself and does everything at home except the actual house cleaning. Now that she is home she wants me to do everything but at rehab she was quite independent and wanted to do everything herself.
Ah, she really did want Assisted Living -- she just wanted you to do the assisting!

You might mention that Assisted Living is still an option for her, if she is unable to make the adjustment back to Independent Living.
This just gets worse. So the siblings have stepped in a bit since I put my foot down. The SIL is taking mom on some trips like an upcoming doctors appt. while trying to not enable the situation or become "my replacement" in my mom's mind. The nurse and therapist are still working on getting her to use the apartment bus to shop. Last week mom calls my phone constantly two different days. I don't answer as I am trying to get work done and know answering will just give her another opportunity to play this game.

So now I am getting letters. She writes me a letter to tell me I must keep contact with her, answer my phone and reply to people's text messages. She has this habit of trying to get others to call me or text me if I don't answer the phone or don't show up when she thinks I should or as fast as she thinks I should etc. She tells me I have to keep contact with the family then gives me the bit how she can't use her walker with the apartment bus because they won't let her. Both the nurse and the apartment have told me otherwise.

This whole thing just seems to get worse. I know she has her needs met. I keep contact with the siblings and the nurse to know what is going on. This letter just sent me over the edge. I have always kept my family at a distance, it is the only way I could have any boundaries and even at a distance it has been very hard over the years to be respected or have those boundaries respected. This was before my mom had her stroke. The entire situation was already strained. My family has been very insistent and pushy that I must participate in family things they do, must answer my phone, be involved etc. It was something that made me utterly miserable before everything changed. I have been trying to make sure my mom is having her needs met but the situation became so possessive I felt like I was going to be pushed into moving in with my mom and leaving my husband and kids because everyone else wanted me to. The whole situation is just freaking me out. Setting this one boundary that I was not going to be there every day to do everything she wanted, even with everyone else cooperating on this has turned into drama. Maybe there was just such a bigger problem that it didn't come to a head until I finally put my foot down? She still refuses to acknowledge I have a job or other responsibilities. Literally refuses to accept the idea that I work even though multiple people have told her this. No concept that I have other things tugging at me that need me. Both of our kids are going through things where they have needed my help. One had a messy legal problem and was over his head and asked me to help him sort it out. Our other child failed school this year so I am trying to figure out what she is going to do to try to make that up and possibly change to virtual school, again eating at my time to help her. I am just to the point of feeling like I need to cut all of them out of my life in order to have any shred of sanity left.
lilylily, you need to cut all of them out of your life in order to have any shred of sanity left.

You really do sound like you have a handle on what you need to do, and that you are taking steps to do it. If you need a vote of confidence to get you through another round, you've got mine!

She's writing you LETTERS?! I love it! She is desperate, isn't she? Here's the deal: you do not have to keep contact with her, answer your phone and reply to people's text messages. You know that. I know that. And on some rational level your mother must know that. Does she think if she puts the opposite in writing it will magically be true? Does she think that if she refuses to acknowledge that you work you will suddenly have more hours a day to devote to her?

I feel sorry for your mother and her magical thinking. I really do. What a sad life. But I am not a therapist -- are you? So, much as it saddens me, I doubt that either one of us is going to be able to cure her. But you -- you are definitely not only worthy of help but also open to it. And best of all you are working at helping yourself. Take care of yourself. Mother has plenty of people taking care of her, and she needs to take care of herself, too. If she elects not to take care of herself? Not your problem!

Mom's problems are sad, but they are not your problems. Two other loved ones in your life need your help and attention right now. And unlike your mother, they might actually benefit from it. You really can make a difference in the outcome of your children's problems. They need you. I guess I'm thinking of the triage principle here -- the more time you waste on your mother's problems which you will not be able to solve, the less time you'll have to help with your children's issues, where you can reasonably expect to have a positive influence. (Not to mention the less time you'll have to live your own life and maintain your own sanity.) Again, you know that. But if it helps to have an outsider's confirmation, you've got mine!

This boundary business is HARD! But not as hard as living without boundaries in this situation. You're doing great. Don't weaken!
lily,lily; Jeanne has some wise advice her - do hope you take heed of it. One thing she said struck me - if your mother elects (love that word) not to take care of herself - IT IS NOT YOUR PROBLEM. From the sounds of it, she has plenty of help, visitors, etc. I know first hand how your mother can try to manipulate you; mine has done it my entire life.

I would keep a distance and ignore many of her demands. I've learned the hard way that some of our mothers are quite adept at using us instead of doing for themselves when they are perfectly capable. Your kids are far to important and they need you - give them priority and stay within those boundaries with your mother that work for you. They will take advantage without a second thought - you are doing great, as Jeanne said - stay strong. Think of your immediate family first and YOU - it is the right thing to do. Take care.
Today it was an email. From my sister in Florida. She has been planning a trip to see my mother and had sent a couple of emails to let people know she would be in town etc. This one had yet again a "message from my mom". The same line that I must answer my phone and texts. Now she's claiming her PT and OT have ended and her home health care ended but she "has someone" coming to do her meds. When I talked to her home health nurse last week she was having a struggle to get her to comply with the work to help her learn how to do her own medications. It is pill sorting and making sure you don't skip or double a dose. Mom was refusing to learn the system and told her she would just have me come do her meds. This all sounds quite odd since all three were scheduled to be fairly long term. Either way now she has my sister delivering messages for her.
Oh and again with her version of the transportation situation and how she can't get a paratransit interview for weeks. She has pressed my SIL into taking her to the store and I worry she has guilted my SIL into doing what she wants.
Sigh. Poor sister-in-law. But please keep in mind whose behavior you are working on. You are not bending to Mother's will. That is enough to concentrate on for now.

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