When to say enough and take back my life.

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My mom is 87 and has mild dementia. She's lived alone for 19 years and I've been taking care of her for that long as well. She took a fall in September this year and fractured a rib, was in the hospital for 2 weeks and is now in Senior Living. I'm pretty sure she thought she would be going home once she completed physical therapy, but the doctor told her in the hospital, that she wanted her to stay there through the winter for safety reasons and then we could re visit going home in late spring. Dr is hoping she will like it enough to stay. The medical professionals know she has dementia, blind in one eye from macular degeneration and now must use a walker full time. Her home is in the country, 20 minutes from a hospital and 15 minutes from any activities. She lives on the lot next to us. She doesnt have much interaction with others. We have been caring for her and doing it all. A couple years ago, she finally relented to a housekeeper, yard care and in-house help from an agency. In the past year, her vision, body and mind has declined. We have been trying to prepare her for a couple of years, that when she was finally unable to care for herself, we would have to look into Senior Living because I couldn't live with her nor can she live with us. She has dug her heals in until now, when she was forced to go there because of this fall. My sister flew up to help for a week. We cleaned, organized and packed away valuables in her home, all in 5 days. She told me 3 different occassions she wanted to sell stuff. We sat down and made a list with her of what she wanted sold. All furniture. On the last day that we were done, she "changed her mind". Just lost 5 days of our lives that we will never get back. She has been telling other family members that she only told us to sell 1 item, a bed and that she never told us to pack up her house. Of coarse, I set them straight on what really transpired. I'm continually having to play clean up, for lack of a better term, when mom tells people things. Especially friends that don't talk or see her often, she appears fine and they are convinced that she doesn't have dementia. I'm so resentful and done. I don't even know who I am anymore. I do know I'm an angry and a negative person now. Taking care of her and my family together has taken a huge toll on me and my emotional we'll being. I don't enjoy the things I use to, I'm crying all the time, depressed and gave up most of my friends. I get the sense from my mom that it's more of an "oh well, this is your job and I don't care that you have a husband, kids, (had) a job (had to quit 6 years ago because of her), friends (of which I have lost my BF because of things my mom has said) and a life." She did it for her mom, so she expects it from me. I've talked to her, but it never changed. Now she's mad because we "cleaned" her house and she keeps saying "well, I guess I'm resorted to staying here". We just replied that it would be a good idea because you are safe, your needs are taken care of and you are getting 3 square meals a day. I even explained to her that I was relieved to know she was being well taken care of and in a safe environment and now I can just come and visit without her expecting me to do so much...back to being mother and daughter...after a month, I've come to realize, those days are gone. She went from telling us last week, 3 times, that she REALLY likes it there to telling her sister 2 days ago that she doesn't like it and she wants to go home. Well, where we live, there are no services for full time in-home care. You either live independently with outside help a few hours of the day or you go to Senior living. We can't get it to sink in. She's trying to get sympathy from anyone who will listen and she is the type of person, always has been, that needs a lot of other people's opinions. I'm at my wits end and I don't know what to do. I've thought that if she wants to go home, she will have to do it on her own...find someone else to pack up the apartment that we so lovenly decorated and furnished with her belongings and take care of her. I don't understand this disease and it makes me angry and helpless. I need to take back my life and enjoy what I use to and enjoy my last child's last 3 1/2 years of being at home. This has consumed me so much, but I don't know where to begin. I don't want to be cruel to my mother, but I'm finding it more and more difficult not to.


My mother had increasing dementia for many years and it was my experience that she "show timed" which I gather is common, on the one hand abusing the care giver 24/7, making accusations and telling wild and totally untrue stories to outsiders, but when an outsider appeared it was "show time" and she could seem normal for a while until she got so bad that her condition was obvious but that was only a month or two before she passed away. The body is frail and the mind is increasingly addled.

I don't think there's a fix for these situations but hopefully others will respond with their thoughts.
To be clear...the "cruel" im referring to is verbal, NEVER physical
Ashlynn, yes, my mom does the "show" a lot. My sister has been sayimg for a couple of years that she acts so much different around her than she does around others, even other family members. I have noticed this more this past month than i ever did before. Its infuriating to me. It makes me look like a liar and that im being a horrible child when i have done nothing but help her for almost 20 years.
AKgrl48, too bad our aging parents don't have a crystal ball to see what their life would be 5-10 years from now.... they would be shocked on how their health had declined, problems they are causing with their grown child due to their own choices, and lets throw in a boatload of guilt while we are at it.

My Mom was very stubborn, some of which was good, but then were were times where she was in total denial that she was aging.... and that she needed help at home. She was still having my Dad [94] climbing ladders to fix things. And neither planned on what to do when they both had to stop driving, oh I guess let's call on our only child to drive us around to the multitude of doctors appointment, sure she can get time off from work to do that :P

If only my parents would have planned for the "what ifs" that happen in life.
My answer to your question, When to take back your life? is EACH AND EVERY DAY.

I was told by a caring friend to do something for myself, something that I enjoy to help "get away", each and every day while dealing with all the stresses and pulls of caring for my mom. IT HAS HELPED!

It can be something small -- taking little time to choose a new movie from the library and then another day watching it, looking at a magazine (I love magazines, and go to the library or drug store to read them sometimes! gets me out of the house and it's free), taking a walk in a beautiful environment, going out for a special coffee, put aside a personal allowance each month whatever you can afford and spend it on yourself!

These things have helped me survive, and remain emotionally healthy enough to keep going. As long as I keep going and take care of myself, situations evolve and new light comes in, sometimes even after I have given up hope.

Know that others have gone through the same, admittedly awful!, things that you have, and know that others care. I am offering prayers for you and your mom, if you want them.
AKgrl48 - I totally feel for your situation. I think if your mother has found a senior residence where she can stay and she's well taken care of, you have every right to tell her that if she comes home, she will have to have help other than you at home. You have done enough and you deserve to live your life.

I get the part about always being angry - I'm that way too. It's because I have the same mother - the one who has totally forgotten that there are two people in this relationship, and the other person is giving a great deal and getting nothing back, and is sick of being taken for granted and taken advantage of. The lack of concern for the sacrifices you have had to make for so long to make sure her needs get met - that's poison to a relationship. No wonder you're angry.

I love the idea goodenergy suggested, of taking a little bit of your life back every single day, but for me it's not enough. For me, the anger at my Mom's selfishness, coupled with depression over having my life choices and options so restricted for so long, just eats at me every day, all day. It sounds to me like you're in that same place too. So I would say, you need to draw a line in the sand. Your mother is in a facility, she's well cared for whether she likes it or not, and you need to focus on the quality of your own life now, after so many years of giving priority to the quality of hers.
CarlaCB....its so nice to hear that someone totally understands and sounds like is or has gone through the same thing. I cry everyday and
everything makes me cry.
Goodenergy...great advice and I have been trying to practice that, but dont always succeed. Thank you!
Freqflyr...was just talking to my niece today and saying it would be nice if this sh*t was taught in school...or something to prepare you. But what is also interesting is, at least in our case, that my mom's mom did this same thing with her and I know how she felt and watched what happened with my mom and grandma. My mom ended up in the hospital because of the stress!
I sat and talked with my mom for 2 hours yesterday and had to tell her that if she decided to move back home, I wouldn't be able to help her anymore. As much as it pained me to say that, I had to, for my own sake. I know i will have to deal with her ups and downs for the rest of her life, so I'm going to go to a support group at the center to see what othera have to say on how they deal with it.
Right now, I just want to run as far as I can, but I also know it wont fix anything.
Just need to keep trying to muttle through this thing that is now my life...
Akgrl48 - congratulations on having the "tough talk" and taking steps to get your life back! Please keep posting and let us know how it goes!
Akgrl48 good for you in taking your life back!! WOOHOO!! Stick to your guns. Your mom is best off where she is now. If she wants to move back home, let others help her do that. You've done your time. Hugs and please keep us posted!
Great advice above! Stop beating yourself up. She is warm safe dry and fed. I have been in your situation having been tossed under the bus repeatedly, manipulated and made to feel bad with the bonus of being trashed to acquaintances and relatives that the elder rarely sees, but puts on a great show for.

My additional advice: Give it 6 months at a MINIMUM. She will learn to accept it and be easier with her new surroundings. Round the clock care in an "out of town " location is out of reach for most of us and just plain unreasonable to expect.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

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