How to I cope with my depressed mother?

Asked by

Oh Gosh......I am overwhelmed and would appreciate any advice u may have.I do have to provide some background ,i'll try to keep it short as possible.My mother lives alone and has severe rheumatoid arthritis.She is 81 yrs old.She does not have any form of dementia that we are aware of.She is severely depressed,she cries 24/7.My dad and her were married almost 55 yrs and he passed away a little over a year ago.He was her life ....she was financially ,emotionally,physically,socially dependent on him for many years .he did everything for her and she allowed it.He treated her like a princess...she could do no wrong in his eyes.She is a smoker...he wasn't.But he supported her smoking habit their entire marriage.His health failed (had a heart attack)...but had surgery and lived a pretty productive life..we(myself and 3 older brothers )woudl say "mom u shouldn't be smoking around dad"but she continued to smoke anyway.No one was going to tell her what to do .Her arthritis was getting worse and i set up an appointment to see a rheumatologist....took time off work and drove 2 hrs .the doctor was very promising and said they could help....but she would have to stop wearing high heeled shoes(she was always very vain and always had to "dressed" when she went out".Anyways ...set up a followup apt and she refused to go "no ones going to tell me I cant wear high heels".I was so frustrated...we informed her it was just going to get worse and is noe debilitating.Her GP has tried to prescribe meds over the years but she has refused to take a lot of it because " they have side effects"and she is "scared "to take them.I can't tell u the countless arguments I have had over this.....but she is so stubborn she will not budge .So I just don't argue anymore.Since dad died she is trying to put all her dependencies on to me .I am married and have 2 children...very busy .But I still go visit, take meals,buy groceries,smokes...still hasn"t quit,medications(antidepressants and pain killers etc.I do have 3 brothers (one brother has been a big help...we were sharing to errands and visits..but he recently moved 3 hrs away...he has a autistic son ...they moved to get better treatment options for him).My other 2 brothers r 10 minutes from her house and visit brother...once a month maybe and the other ..3 months will go by ...doesn't even call.I have asked for help but they choose to bury their heads in the sand so to speak.Mom and I always hasd a pretty good relationship...but I admit her dependence on others and her expectations of others ...even my dad before he died has sufaced anger and resentment.When we have tried to help her.....she snobbishly says no....that won't help.She seems like she would rather have the pity.My patience is wearing very thin.especially when she says"i wish there was something out there that would help me" ...the doctors don't care".Grrrr!!!I recently took her for a hearing test because her hearing is really failing....they concluded she did indeed require a hearing aid...we left without ordering one .....not for financial reasons ....but because they r just trying to make a sale or rip her off.I said"mom u really do need it"....her response was WHAT????.....i rest my case.Like I said I am done arguing with her.She is also VERY afraid of when people ask "would she hurt herself" ........she is so afraid.....i know we don't have to worry about that.She is very lonely....she has no friends ..she has alienated herself from others.I am her only so called friend,I've read other posts who say to distract and i do try to do that.T.V. is her best friend,So we talk about different shows etc.The other night was the worst i have seen her in along time ,,,,she was sick...she says...weak.I asked alot of questions ..but I couldn't find anything physically wrong.She cried the entire 2 hrs I was there.I just don't know how to deal with that.What do I say?I don' have it in me to coddle her or pity her...I am angry because i think where she is in her life all her own doing.I want to have compassion but i am losing that quickly.I cried on the drive home.Advice has been ....just walk away...u have to think of yourself too and your family.I always said I wouldn't let her do this to me like she did to my father.,emotionally is where I have trouble walking away.I was supposed to go color her hair this week and i'm finding it harder and harder to go.Also I should mention ...she does have a "lifeline" button she wears for emergencies.....she has used it once.I also have personal care workers coming in to do lighthousekeeping and meal prep once a week.They r also there to help her in and out of the shower but she won't let them......she 's too modest ,vain and proud.She won't even let me help she just washes at the sink herself.Like I said I'm overwhelmed.I feel like I'm getting depressed and I don't want this to affect my family.
Sorry about the length,any advice would be greatly appreciated

Answers 1 to 5 of 5
How about taking her to church? Make sure she get's Vitamin D, made a great difference in my Mom! I buy the liquid Vitamin D, and I put it in her tea, tastes good too. Join your local Caregiver Support group, there will be lots of people there that can help. Caregiver Support groups have ties through out the community, ties to professionals: lawyers; nurses; on an on. The group I belong to has helped us tremendously. Matter of fact, one family has become like family to us. We meet for lunch on a Saturday or Sunday and her Mom and my Mom get to socialize together, it's great! I went through very similar circumstances and with the help of my Church, the Caregiver Support Group, Meals on Wheels, and many others, things have improved greatly! I wish you comfort and rest, take a deep breath, do something nice for yourself today, it'll help too.
Thank-you,very helpful advice but she cannot walk very outings are limited.I offered to get a wheelchair but she is too proud to be seen in one.She is also not social.Many people she meets get on her nerves,she'll find a fault in anyone.I do take her to a coffee shop sometimes that her and dad went to .But the little group they used to sit with have all dissipated and don't even come visit like they said they would.She doesn't really enjoy it.Caregiver group spunds like a great idea...i'm going to look into that,Thank-you
momofboys, I have a similiar situation with my mother and keep telling myself I will not let her emotional neediness and codependency affect my emotional well being. Easier said then done and walking away is not something I could live with myself for doing. The guilt alone would destroy me. The best advice I can give is moderation and boundaries. If your visits are met with pity, cut them short and tell her why. As far as her medical decisions, they are hers to make. Do not enable her to rely on you except for what she may need not what she wants. As long as she is competent to make decisions, let her, she is responsible for her choices. It took a complete emotional melt down on my part to make my mother aware on how much her unnecessary neediness and wants were affecting me. This is not something you want to happen to you. Your mother needs to know your boundaries with her. It will not be easy and will take time, but with diligence on your part, your mother will come to realize her actions will have a direct impact on her relationship with you. You are her daughter first, her friend second and then her helper.
Just walk have to think of yourself too and your family.

OK, maybe it isn't that simple. But I do think you need to emotionally detach from this situation. Our actions, our decisions, they have consequences. Your mother is reaping what she has sewn. It is sad, and if there was something you could do about it, I would be all for trying to alter the consequences. But she refuses medical help. She refuses your help. Do you know the serenity prayer, about telling the difference between the things you can control and the things you can't? Well, your mother's behavior is something you can't control. Sorry.

Your own behaviors and your reactions to your mother are within your control. Maybe some of the time you now spend at Mother's you can in the future spend at a caregivers' support meeting. Your mother wants pity. You don't feel comfortable giving her pity. I don't see how your visits are satisfying either of you. Can you reduce the frequency/duration of meetings with her? Your brothers get by with very infrequent visits. Why not you?

Does this seem harsh? Your mother is making her life harsh. There are definitely things she could do, like get hearing aids, take prescribed medications, stop wearing high heels, etc. etc., to make her life less harsh. She chooses not to. This is Not Your Fault. This is Not Under Your Control.

Keep an eye on the situation and if there any signs she might actually accept the help she is asking for, jump back in. But if not, set boundaries and detach.

Hugs. I know this must be very hard!
Top Answer
Thank -you so much for your responses.....even allowing me to vent has made me feel better.Very good advice....I've thought of moderation and boundaries...but felt very that I have other opinions......I think I could try managing that

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support