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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?

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Lillylilly - if you scan through this forum - you will see manipulation come up ALOT. While my mom wasn't elderly - she had many demands & I gave in and was angry and nothing changed. Why should it? mom got what she wanted and didn't give a rats tukkus about effect on me.

The only one who can change this is YOU. My recommendation - since I assume you do love your mom and want to help her - what are you WIILLING to do for her (make a list). What are you NOT willing to do (make a list) and stick to your guns. "I will help you learn to use the transportation but I am not able to take you to XXX". Your mom won't like it. But stay firm and be kind / loving. As my therapist repeatedly told me "someone is going to be unhappy - either your mom or you. Why should it be you? You don't want to do this - so don't"

Good luck to you - you will need it. Sounds like your mom is quite the manipulator.
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OMG, DeborahSue. Your MIL sounds a lot like my mother. Thank you for adding this today. It made me feel better about some of the thoughts I've been having. Some parents can be so lazy and they want someone else to do everything for them. They'll do whatever it takes to get it done, including lying, wheedling, and bullying. I feel so bad for you and your husband. I know you just want to yell Stop It. This type parent can drive their children crazy.
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My MIL is in assisted living but does nothing for herself anymore. She says she cannot hang up her clothes, but she does when no one else will. I have been called over to provide clean sheets only to find perfectly clean sheets still partially folded in the hamper. She calls my husband multiple times a day to bring her things she doesn't need. Then when he comes over she tells him it took too long and she's already made other arrangements. Then she goes to bed and won't talk to him while he's there.
When I stop in she sobs dramatically and begs me to help her end her life. She asks me to pray that she will die because she knows it will make me happy.

She has always been manipulative and too dependent on her children.
She has faked illness several times in the last few years and demanded to go to the hospital --we take her --she complains all the way there that we didn't call an ambulance --when we get there they send us home in a couple of hours as nothing is ever found.
We finally told her to call an ambulance and she did--twice. Again, wasted money and nothing wrong. She used to demand a cheeseburger and milkshake on the way home but we stopped that.
Mentally she's had some short term memory loss over the last year but it's difficult to tell what's real. She lies constantly about migraine headaches so she won't have to get dressed for meals and has trays brought up. When asked about the headaches by her doctor, she said, "Oh I don't really have headaches just say that when I don't want to get up."
She is 85 and knows there will be no real consequences for her behaviors -except that she is alienating family members who don't visit as often anymore because of this manipulation. I can no longer find empathy for her because I've seen this behavior in various forms go unchecked for decades. Because I won't buy in to the dramatic outbursts she tells me I'm cold and heartless. I'm neither--just 60 and tired of sharing my husband with his mother for the last 40 years.
Last night my husband was at a business dinner and received eight desperate sounding voicemails from her within an hour before he texted me and asked me to talk to her so he could continue.
Anyone who cares for an elderly parent with a personality disorder needs to be supported by a therapist as well. Our marriage has nearly crumbled in recent years because of this manipulation. She has refused counseling for thirty years, and now insists that she doesn't remember the bad behaviors and swears she doesn't know she's doing them. I don't know whether to believe her or not, but at this point I'm not sure I care or that it makes a difference at this point.
By the way she's in excellent physical health, uses a walker --recent development. Just because someone ages it doesn't mean they let go of manipulative behaviors.
It's a way of life for her.
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Sand56, very good comments.
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Lillylilly ,

My mother's behavior is relective of your situation and she has been manipulative, difficult and demanding most of her life. During her life spand, (she is now 89) the issues have changed but her behavioral tactics have remained the same. Sometimes I have extreme empathy for her unhappiness and some times I know she will be unreasonable and tenacious to get her way and it hurts. As I write these words, I know that I have a more developed capacity to reflect and grasp what is going on although I continue to struggle with effectively dealing with these behaviors and set boundaries. My mother most often directs her needs to my attention as my only sibiling can be very combative.

I believe that it is healing to know that we are not alone in our journey and that others may be experiencing similar challenges. I hope this helps. Please keep reading...

Outside assistance- In the past year, we retained assistance in the home for my father as he broke his neck. We had a visiting nurse, physical therapist, had a contractor evaluate modifying the home for my father's needs. Mom was uncooperative and rude to the staff. (Dad is now in a nursing home).

Manipulation- A few years ago, My mother told me that my father was diagnosed with stomach cancer and she needed me to help her take care of him. (My sister confiimed this.) I was DEVASTATED. I much later found out this was untrue and I was very angry and hurt to be so manipulated. (My mother was convinced that my dad had cancer because he has stomach pain)

The Walker- Recently, my mother has difficulty with her gait and has been advised to use a walker and not to drive. I have observed her staggering without a walker when thier is an audience, use a walker to get attention and a few minutes later walk accross the room (without the walker) without any difficulty.

The Phone- The calls, the follow up- Ditto

The Ride- She also refuses to use the ride and at this time it appears that she has no intention of doing so. She has never used outside transportation and most suburban women of her generation, at least in this community, would never dream of doing so. Mom also wants me to take her out shopping daily and to the nursing home at her convenience. ( I need to go back to work for personal and financial reasons. My mother does not seem to or want to understand.) She needs the help and more important the COMPANIONSHIP. She knows that I am reliable and prefers my company to a stranger.

I concur with the previous posts, you are doing a fabulous job evaluating the situation and taking appropriate actions to change the situation. As you can see, we are dealing with very similar behavior patterns that I believe will never change.
We will continue to be challenged as these behaviors are ingrained in our mother's
personalities. Implementing boundaries will continue to be our challenge and sometimes we will be successful and sometimes not. Feel proud that you are such a caring and kind person but please take care of your needs.

As I am writing this post my mother is alone preparing a diner for one of my friends. She is also bonding with our new rescue dog Charlie, a malti-poo. that she gave me two weeks ago as I was very sad about the dealth of my dog. I will drop my mother of at the nursing home this afternoon and pick her up in a few hours.

Just for today- Mom is happy as she has a purpose, companionship, interaction with a furry friend and something to look forward to (diner with my friend). I cannot not create these circumstances every day. I feel less frustrated, sad and guilty that I am unable to do so. I trust that this post may ease your mind.
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lilylily, your mother is so manipulative. My mother does some of the same things. She expects and wants my brother to do everything for her. He keeps his distance and I live in another state.

Your boundaries are very good. Don't change them. She is obviously, to me, a very selfish woman. I do have a question. Why has everything got to be done by you? Mom has done this with my brother, he has to be her POA, he needs to call her daily to make sure she is still alive, and this is a quote, he needs to mow her grass, paint her house, clean her gutters. I have volunteered to call her daily as has her neighbor, but no it has to be my brother. So you see the control issue is all about your mom and what SHE wants not what is good for you. Don't give in one inch, she will take a mile as they say.
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(pressed enter too soon -- don't you hate when that happens?)

You do not have to answer your phone or emails or letters (unless they are court subpoena, I suppose) no matter how many people tell you that you do have to.

It does seem odd that Mother suddenly isn't going to have OT and PT (although those services can be ended because of lack of progress). But you know what? IT IS NOT YOUR PROBLEM!

Stay strong.
Jeanne
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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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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!
Jeanne
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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
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lillylilly,

Just say No.

Sincrely,
Jeanne
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