How do I deal with my manipulative aging mother when I'm the only child and I live across the country?

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Hi, I am new to this site and hope I'm in the right place. I've been reading articles and posts, and it has been so helpful to read about what other people are going through with their aging parents.

I'm wondering how you all deal with difficult parents when you live very far away. How do you deal with the guilt of being far away and with the stigma of putting mom in a "nursing home"? How do you deal with the manipulative "nobody-loves-me" parent?

My mother lives in FL, my husband and I live in CA. I'm the only child. My mother is in her 60's but acts like she's in her 80's. She has problems with alcohol, blood pressure, arthritis and anxiety. From what I can tell, she rarely leaves her house. I'm concerned about what I will do when she needs assistance. I'm also concerned about how I will cope with her personality--she's becoming withdrawn, but then lashes out at me unexpectedly. Right now she's not speaking to me because her Mother's Day card did not arrive on time even though I explained that I mailed it the week before. Even though I called her early that morning to wish her a happy Mother's Day, she said I had done nothing.

I've offered her suggestions to help with her anxiety and her physical problems, I've recommended everything from yoga to counseling to medication, but she's not interested in any of it. She seems to be angry with me for not doing more for her, but she hasn't been able to articulate what she needs from me. She feels mistreated, but I call her dutifully every week and visit her at Christmas.

I would love to hear from you all. What is your experience with long distance caretaking?

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Elderly parents need a reality check in todays economy. Gone are the golden opportunity days of the 1950's and 60's. The adult children are doing everything they can to make ends meet in their own lives. Why are the elderly burdening their children with their needs also. If you need to be taken care of, rely on assited living or a nursing home. The majority of adult children cannot take care of their parents, they just don't have the resources.
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I have had to start taking a light anti-depressant because all the stress of taking care of my dad before he died, continuing care for my mom, and dealing with siblings who aren't on board has really taken it out of me. They go out of their way to be mean and continue with malicious gossip. Never thought that any of them would act that way, but just when you think you have life all figured out the Lord sends you a curve ball. I'm doing much better now though. Whatever helps! And this forum has helped me immensely!
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Yes Madge, I have heard that one too. She has a difficult relationship with my brother who is a firearms trainer so that's where that comes from, but the other stuff I don't know. More paranoia. It is tough some days, but even with all the craziness I am still glad to have this time with her. Who knows how much longer she will have. I and my sister have forgiven her for childhood stuff, but we have two other siblings who just won't. Sad situation, but it's been almost a year since my dad died and I am getting used to the new normal.
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Careful, everytime I try to get Mom to the doctor for anything or we have a disagreement over even the smallest thing, she will say, just out of the blue, "well maybe I will just drop dead." I always say, I hope so and I hope I do too. That is the easy way.

Your Mom sounds a bit more paranoid than mine. The thing with the scope rifle is a bit strange and the president......My Mom is still in reality but just her paranoid twist on everything. But I see what is coming. I am sure we are just a year or two from where you are. Take care.
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All good advice. I actually live with a mom who is like this, but she is in her 80's now and has mellowed some....and I say some! My aunt told her on the phone yesterday that she had people in her life dying left and right. My mom said, "well you could lose me soon too!." This is how all her conversations go. She is extremely paranoid. She wouldn't let my husband use her car to jump our car because she said it would blow the engine up. She thinks my brother is in the woods behind our house with a scope rifle so she puts a piece of drywall in front of the window at night. She said today that president obama probably gave my sister who lives in another state the stomach flu. She even told the doctor that she got her cold from sunshine. I'm not kidding either! We have learned to not get in arguments with her unless they are detrimental to her health like bathing and eating and taking meds. Then you can only offer your advice and 8 times out of 10 she won't take it. I wouldn't move closer unless I was fully committed to learning to cope with the craziness. I would not let myself feel guilty about any of it though. Our parents don't think they have a problem and they most likely never will. There may come a time when she will need real help, but I like the idea of calling a church member or neighbor to just check on her once in a while and report back to you how things look. Super advice by the way! I love this site!
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Austin - thank you for your questions. It has helped a lot just reading these other posts and hearing that it's not just me - I'm not a bad person for not getting along with her. I'm also going to the website mentioned above - daughters of narcissistic mothers. I try to stay positive but it is so difficult. I think this will help me. I have also been calling around to agencies and services trying to find something that will help me (us). My Dad (God Bless him) passed in August. He was wonderful and appreciative and loving. Now there is no buffer between Mom and I. Thanks again for your help.
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bmiller what steps are you planning to do to get yourself out of this mess-start taking any little action it will give you strength to do more to get yourself out of this situation call social services and tell them you are leaving in say 6 weeks and you parents need to be assessed to see what kind of help they can receive and get yourself back to a real life-we only go around once and you need to rescue yourself -no one else will because it is working out well for your parents-but not for you.
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Maybelle - God Bless You. Do not uproot your life for your mother. Three years ago I quit my job, rented out my home and moved from Oregon to Michigan to care for my parents who at that time were 86 and 87. For years my mother told me I need to help out more. Then when Dad lost his driving privileges I thought that moving back to help out was the right thing to do. It was not. Reading these posts I'm surprised to see how many mothers out there are just like mine. There is no appreciation for what I have given up and for what I do for her. My friends are on the West Coast, my daughter is in CA, my three brothers do not want to help and I'm stuck with someone who does not think of anyone but herself.

Please do not consider uprooting yourself for your mother. For heavens sake, I'll be 60 this year. She is not old and needs to get herself together. Take care of yourself and keep looking into solutions from afar. Do not, do not, give up your life. Peace.
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Maybelle, just a short story to let you know how nutty my mom is. Day before yesterday I called her (she never calls me) and she told me her neighbor (my dad's cousin's widow) had a stroke. This poor woman in the past year has had a broken hip, light heart attack and now a stroke. I said to mom, "how awful, I just feel so bad for her". Mom comes back with, "well I am not in that good of shape either.".

Now, my mother has no illnesses. Takes no drugs. Doesn't need glasses, just readers. Has never had heart disease, cancer, hip replacement, anything ,many 80+ year old people have. No dementia, alzheimers, nothing. Just a narcissistic personality and this she has had her entire life.

Just another wake up call for me as to how glad I live in Florida and she lives in Alabama. Thank you Jesus.
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It is good to plan ahead and set up what you will do and when and how much time you can devote to her needs it depends on your working and you kids needing you-if she getts too needy boundaries will have to be set-you only haveso much time to give to everyone-she may become angery when something can not be done in her time factor-she will have to learn to adapt,
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