toadballet1 Asked May 2010

My mom moved closer to me so I can help take care of her, but now she wants to move back home. Should I let her?

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My Mom, who moved here a few years ago, has decided that she wants to move "back home." She seems to forget that "back home" there was no one willing to care for her, especially my sib.
Now she has this fantasy that there is this wonderful assisted living center where all of her old friends live and will help with her care. Mom does not have dementia or any other cognitive problems - just this weird notion that back home she will be happy and cared for.
I shouldn't take it personally, but after 3 years of being her primary caregiver and providing her a safe and healthy environment, she wants to go back to something that does not exist. I told her that it was disrespectful to say these things to me, but she will not give up this fantasy.
She is ruthlessly stubborn and will just do all of this on her own. Should I just wash my hands of everything, take her "back home," and hope my sib steps up? There is already so much drama going on in my life right now, I just cannot take much more

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195Austin May 2010
I am so sorry for what you are going through and pray that God gives you strength I so wish I could give you a hug-we are all here for you.
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toadballet1 May 2010
Thank you all...so much...I just got back from the hardware store (some here may remember that we are trying to sell our home - hub got "downsized" and is looking for work) But I have to admit I feel a lot better just reading your posts.
I have written to so many others heresuggesting to "not take things personally" yet when you are standing in those shoes listening to utter drivel, it is hard to remember that.
Lynn: in Mom's defense, I think she does feel like a "burden" sometimes because she knows how busy I am. But I have always told her that I much prefer having her nearby so I can help. (It was far more stressful when she lived cross country and my sib just left her to her own devices.) It is funny that you should mention doing a "trial run" at an assisted living facility. Mom has her own apt. now with lots of help from us - I know for a fact that she will not like the "regimented" style of most facilities. But I think that it will open her eyes - or, better yet, maybe she will like living there. Either way, I want to leave fantasy land and make realisitc decisions for once. If she likes AL here, she may be okay in her home state, but I keep cautioning her that all the things I do for her now she will have to pay for where she goes (sib will not be interested in helping her). Her biggest fantasy is that all her old friends will magically appear at this facility and they will sit around and talk about old times. So sad for me to hear this, most of her friends are dead.
Ishmael: I love what you wrote, "The reason I say that is because by creating a completely unrealistic fantasy alternative, your own REAL contribution is seriously devalued." When seniors do not get what they want they go on a rampage and start telling family, etc. that their needs and wishes are not being met. Mom has done an "end run" around me so many times I feel like a turnstile. My grandmother lived with us too - she made our lives miserable and had my Mom running ragged, but Mom sees her as a saint - I thought she was a user who loved her absentee sons and treated her daughters like servants (hmmmm...see a pattern here?)
Austin: I know if Mom moves cross country I will be getting a lot of those "help me" phone calls. My Mom and I live on different planets - her's is self-centered and unrealisitc - and perhaps I am too realistic. It is like herding cats to try and get her to see reality before she actually experiences it.
Anne: I understand the part about waxing nostalgic for your childhood and past. Mom longs for those days when her big family would gather and laugh and enjoy each other. All of them are gone now and her sadness is so apparent. She never saw me and my sib as her family - it was always her brothers and sisters. So we got the point that we were never enough.
Sorry for the long post...I wanted to let all of you know individually how much your posts helped and supported what I have been considering. Even though it is not in my nature to do so, I think it might be time to throw in the towel.
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anne123 May 2010
Oh Lilli the first thing I am thinking when I read your post is you don't deserve this! You are a sweetheart! It just doesn't seem fair that you do all these wonderful things for your mother, and for so long now, and this is the "thanks" you get. Seems to be a refrain we've seen and heard about on this board before. You are right when you use the word "fantasy" , Lilli, because your mother doesn't seem to be thinking entirely rationally. I believe ( and I would appreciate if one of the experts here would comment on this) that an elder can NOT have dementia, and yet still be thinking irrationally from time to time. Heck I can already see it in myself and I'm only 54! So we can't take all the things that they say and ask for personally. I have a friend who has moved heaven and earth to help her mother, and the mother keeps asking to go back to Florida. My poor friend is tired of hearing this. I just keep boosting her spirits, at least I try to, and listen to her vent. I can't remember without looking at your profile but I think I recall that your mother is living with you. So that makes it extra tough on you, when you hear her say this over and over. Just know that you have my sympathy and support. I hope that helps at least. If I think of anything else, I'll post to you again.
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195Austin May 2010
My husband age 71 when he died had convinved himself and a lot of others that I was not doing much for him -he could not even dress himself and when in a nursing home he was always calling me because they would not answer his light every time he called
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I don't have an answer, but your situation clearly illustrates one of the hidden dangers of taking care of the elderly at home - the "Grass is Greener" illusion.

I don't know if this is emphasized or even covered in the caregiver advice articles and books, but it is really important. The reason I say that is because by creating a completely unrealistic fantasy alternative, your own REAL contribution is seriously devalued. Whether intentional or not, it is a form of lying, even stealing, because of the misrepresentation of the truth.

You didn't mention this, but it is likely that the threat of moving out, or the complaint that "things would have been better" probably comes up every time there is a normal occasional conflict.

If the reality is that YOU are giving up a whole lot by doing this, and that for your mother, this really IS her best alternative, then her position is really dishonest, and - as you say - disrespectful. Extra stress you don't need.

My grandmother is the same, but possibly 100 times worse. My mother took her in for 10 years. It turned out to be constant misery for us. A lot of it was due to this "Grass is Greener" lie. My grandmother insists that because of her insurance, she could have had a team of nurses looking after her around the clock, and would have been treated like a queen and so forth.

The truth is that if we hadn't taken her in, assisted living / nursing home costs would have drained her finances long ago, and she would have been dependent on the government for many years now. And with her attitude, she would be sure to be one of the over-medicated, slumped-over-in-the-wheelchair types.

Well, eventually my mother died from lung cancer, and I wouldn't be surprised if the constant stream of negativity from my twisted grandmother didn't contribute in some way. That would be due to the constant of stress and the breaking down of my mother's spirit.

What I can offer you is our example. My mother had the best of intentions, and the last 10 years of her life should have been fun retirement times spent with my sister, myself and friends. Instead, she was tied down to a nasty, dishonest, controlling, punishing monster right up until the end.

That was 7 years ago, and at 104 my grandmother is still going strong with the same set of lies. Only now, it is me who is the beneficiary.

What we really need here is a Charles Dickens solution where the Ghost of Caregivers Past ( all those caregivers who didn't make it) visits these ladies for a tour of what really might have happened to them. Maybe that would help.
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LynnPO May 2010
Could it be that deep inside your mom feels like a burden and wants to move to reduce your stress? She might be painting a rosy picture to convince both of you that it's best?

Perhaps it is best that she move now. Three years is a long time to live with a strong willed parent. If she wishes to move to assisted living, perhaps it's the best thing for both of you. You get your individual life back and can see her regularly - it will certainly take less of your time and energy. When you do something like this though - there is a certain amount of "letting go" - you must give up control over your mom's affairs, her care, her food, etc. You must shift from care giver to advocate on her behalf. It's a tough adjustment but if you're conscious of the process as it happens, it's easier. You still have input to the assisted living center, you still have a relationship with your Mom but you get your own schedule, space and time back.

To help your mom understand what assisted living will be like, take her there for a visit; have lunch, spend the afternoon involved in their activities and look at the services they provide. It might give you both a clear picture of what life there would be like. She will be more realistic about it and you might be happily surprised that it's a safer environment than you expected.
Good luck
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NancyH May 2010
I'd say, 'yeah mom, when you're in fantasy land, can you get me my youth back too? How about when gas was thirty cents, why don't you bring that back while you're there?
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