How can you handle an elderly parent that constantly wants you to do everything for them?

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So sick of my Mother defending my absentee sibling. My sibling just has bad luck, doesn't have enough time, has a "real" job, is a boy and boys aren't caretakers, his wife doesn't like her, he lives too far away to visit....blah, blah, blah.
I realize that this is how she was raised, but I am the one shouldering the burden. She figures that she did for her mother it so now it's my turn. The difference is that I own my own business and sometimes work 10 hour days right through the weekend. (of course, since I work for myself, she thinks that calling me 10 times a day is not an interruption. Reminders do not help...some passive/agressive stuff happening here)
What really bothers me is that she only sees me as her free errand runner. She has no interest in doing anything "fun" with me unless it includes schlepping her to her numerous doctor's appointments or running errands. I had this silly notion that somehow we could have some quality time together...time is so short. But it is turned into me doing all the "grunt" work and all the male members of my family sitting at home like little kings.
To add to my frustration she calls me nearly every other day an regales me with all of their adventures. So and so is going on a cruise, etc.
I just want to scream, "what do I care about them?" These family members never call her, never visit, and have practically forgotton her. I feel bad for her so I do not say what is on my mind.
But if there is going to be any "hero worship" shouldn't it be for the person who is taking care of you?
My real question is: how do you handle this when your parent constantly greets you with "you got to do this for me...?"

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The good news is that you are not alone! This is a common theme of caregivers everywhere. That said, as a family transition coach, I often work with families on this very issue. Have you tried asking your Mom to tell you what she's most afraid of, and really listening the answer? Sometimes, a care recipient latches on to her caregiver out of fear, and that behavior becomes a habit. If you can get to the underlying fear, you might be able to come up with strategies to break the habit.
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This whole conversation reminds me of myself. I had to chuckle. Dear Lilliput: Dont wait around for praise, because it isnt coming. Your mothers mind is in the past, not the present. I too, am the pack mule. I cant help but remember one incident, I went to visit my son, and got my mother ready, showered, powdered, hair washed, curled and combed, and packed up depends, and change of clothing,,,, then got myself ready, packed up my laptop, cord, mouse, pad, then got my huge doberman ready, ( had to take him,he has separation anxiety), leash collar, food, then got Mom, and helped her to the car on my arm, came back got my briefcase, my purse, my doberman, food, moms overnite bage, and let my dog drag me to the car while Mother sat, and blew the horn because I was gone too long. Long story short, I was exhaused to get to my sons house, he saw us drive in, and he came out and waltzed Mom into the house like she was Queen Elizabeth, and I carried my purse, Moms purse, my computer briefcase, moms diaper bag, the huge dog, on a leash dragging me,,,,, and by the time I got into the house, Mom was complaining that she wanted her purse, to give all of my grandchildren money because they are so cute. I could hardly breathe, I was exhausted. So we visited, and it was time to leave, so I started packing up, and my son and Mother stood up and he waltzed her out to the car, and I came along like the damn pack mule, with the dog, the leash, her purse, mine, my laptop, and her diaper bag,,,,, breathing hard, trying to quickly unload some heavy stuff into the trunk. Mom immediatley jumped out of the car, and began bitching at me, that I had put her purse in the trunk accidently,,,, I stopped what I was doing, and said "Mom, get in the car, I'll" get it,,,, and I said it abrupt,,,, my son turned to me, and said,,,"Mom! dont yell at her, she only wanted her purse"...... so,,, from that day on, I realized, there is no family support, there is no praise from my mother on a job well done, that no one else wants to do,,,,,, just do it, and hide the hurt you feel, and eventually, it wont hurt so much. All of her praise and acknowledgement of wonderful, goes to everyone else but me. Try to steal a few minutes for your self each day, and know, that you are doing an impossible human job, and you are giving it your best. When we got home that day, I had to unload everything, then bring Mom into the house, and she still was hollering about my quick reply at my sons house, and I told her to "stop it",,, and she said,,,, "shut up you fat pig". So, now I know, there wont be any praise, only secret unmentioned recogintion from God, knowing I gave all I could, and my best, because of the life time of love I have in my heart for my Mother. There is no praise, only hits with the cane, slaps, insults, and great love and tears of love from her, to my children, none for me. She has forgotten me. So, I draw my strength through my prayers, and God hears me, when I weep alone in my bed at nite,,,and I know "HE" loves me still. I know it. I know Mom looks at me as the mean lady in the white blouse, trying to bathe her, and feed her, and give her meds, .......... I just had to laugh, when I realized,,,,,, "I've become a bloody pack mule" hahaha. Oh well, next time, I'll leave her home with a sitter, and just take the dog. He's nicer to me.
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Wow...thank you for resurrecting one of my old posts. I cannot believe that it was posted over a year ago!! It gave me a chance to reflect on my three years of caregiving. I see how angry and frustrated I was...I think it was the shock of suddenly realizing that I was in this alone. The second disappointment was thinking that I could have a better relationship with my Mom and having the exact opposite happen.
But how things have changed, thanks in large part to the folks here. I have gained massive amounts of PERSPECTIVE. I have learned how to defend my health and sanity. I have the ability to set boundaries and use the word "no" without feeling guilty. I am no longer shocked by the indifference of the medical community and government when it comes to treating the elderly. And I learned what NPD is.
Emjo and dizzy I was nodding along with you as I read your posts. Emjo, my hub always reminds me about the, "love others AS you love yourself." It is not God's will for anyone to be abused, mentally battered, or left destitute. But these things do not happen to caregivers overnight...it happens incrementally over time. I'll bet you that I could now pick out the future caregiver from any family. They are the kids that never take anything for themselves, are giving and loving, and step aside for the more aggressive and self-centered sibs. (It will never cease to amaze me that parents continue to reward the kid that does the least.)
I do not know if what we write, the experiences we share, or the trauma we go through will ever go beyond these cyber-walls, but I think one solution to breaking this cycle is for people in our age group to not do this to our children. To have open dialogue with adult children and either include all of them in your care, or plan on doing it yourself so that no one person is singled out. To teach son's that they need to pitch in, directly, with the care of their parents. I hope that is the lesson that we all take away from this experience.
Thank you for sharing your journey.
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I hear similar type of problems from my SIL who deals with the same type of mother whom we are sure has undiagnosed borderline personality disorder or a narcissistic personality disorder with borderline traits. Your mom sounds like she's split your brother and you into white and black with him right now in the white but you can't do enough for her and thus in the black. From what I have seen unless a mother has made a 'mommy's boy' out of her son, these type of selfish mom's will use F.O.G. , fear, obligation and guilt on the daughter to hoover her in because a normal son just might be more likely to buy into such a game.

1. Get a therapist to help you gain strength to stop playing the victim role by not feeling up to confronting.

2. Setting boundaries is never enough without real consequences.

3. I can clearly see why your brother's wife does not like your mother. I don't like my MIL for the same reasons.

4. Get a answering machine for your phone or get a separate line for your your business and don't give the number to your mother. She can call your home phone and leave the message on your answering machine.

5. I don't like confrontation either, but I'm getting better at it and others are happier and I have more energy by not always complaining about the person I needed to confront.

6. We actually weaken our relationships with people we don't have problems with by constantly complaining about the person that we need to confront ourselves and please don't push people into fighting your battles for you which I have experienced and bought into that role.
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Hi Lilli
My thoughts are about cleaning up the mess and whether you have to. Sometimes living with the consequences provides people with an important lesson. I know that is not easy and not always possible. Creating messes for you to clean up sounds very manipulative.. I am very familiar with the "errand girl" phenomenon. My mother thinks I am her servant - or wants me to be anyway. She has Borderline Personality Disorder. Have you looked into whether you mum has something like that. For me it helps to understand the behaviours and find strategies to cope. I am caretaking at a distance which makes an enormous difference. Mother is in a different city by her choice. I would not take my mother into my home - it would ruin my life and she would be no happier than she is now. Mother has someone in her city she pays to shop and do other things for her. This lady is a nurse and does this as a business. Mother still wants me to do many small things for her which actually she can still do for herself. Sometimes I say yes, I will do it when I have time and it goes on my priority list and sometimes she ends up doing it herself, and sometimes I say that I cannot do it for reasons of time, energy, money etc. I still have much work to do sorting out stuff which I brought here from her apartment after moving her into a senior's residence. I moved her into a second residence within the year as she coujld not get along where she was and then told her I will not do it again as she is getting as good care as is available and the next move would be to a nursing home if she cannot cope where she is. This is reality. I used to not tell her about how I was feeling, but do now. If I am overwhelmed by her demands I say so, if I am not feeling well enough to do something, I say so, etc. I am finding that old dogs can learn new tricks and she is more aware of how her behaviour affects me and more considerate. I am still suffering the effcts of the moves last year (arthritis in my shoulder/arm/hand). Mother is 98 and I am 73 so I am caregiving at an age where some are being looked after. It is one disadvantage of being in a long lived family. In order to look after myself I have to draw very firm boundaries, and work to do that in a kind and honest a way as possible. She complains that I don't visit her enough, do enough for her etc and I do not feel guilty about my choices. I have a life here with my kids and grandkids nearby and a significant other. One of mother's recent suggestions was that I sell my house and move to her city into my own unit in her seniors's residence and look after her. .Of course this would mean no life for me, I would not see my grandchldren or my significant other much - and - she still would not be happy, nevermind that it is ridiculously expensive. As well as doing things for others, God said love others as you love yourself - not more than. My sister also lives at a distance and visits mother for a free holiday. She downright refuses to help even when visiting. I have story after story of that to the degree that it appalls me -yet she feels free to criticize me for not doing enough. So be it - I can't change her but I don't have to put up with the criticism without an honest response.
Please look after yourself. I have friends who are experiencing health issues from not caring for themselves when presented with the challenges of caring for parents. I have never been as ill as this past year (the arthritis is only one issue)and I think it is due to the stress from overdoing things with regard to my mother. It is no good living at the end of one's tether. I have learned that means something has to change and we can only change ourselves.

Blessings
Joan
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I wonder if some church members have a distorted understanding of denying oneself, etc.or honor your mother and father that they feel religiously obligated to do everything a parents asks them to? Self-destruction is not denying oneself. It is suicide by degree. Honoring one's parent by being their slave as an adult child is not biblical either, but more like reverting emotionally to being their little girl or little boy. I hope you will do more than just pray for her, but will help her to see that she does not need to live under such bondage. I'm not a therapist, but she needs to see one to help her with boundary issues, self-esteem, etc.
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I don't know where people are spiritually speaking, but as for me, I decided years ago when I reached out to my inlaws when they started going downhill physically and mentally, that I was doing this for Jesus. I didn't care if they NEVER told me 'thank you' because I wasn't doing it for them, I was taking my cue from Matthew 45. Verses 42-45 says:
"For I was an hungered, and you gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and you visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we you an hungered, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to you? Then shall he answer them, saying, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me."

For me, that last verse says it all. When I do something that is not appreciated or completely dismissed, it doesn't matter. Cause I never did it for an ungrateful human in the first place. Now I do have to remind myself that on a regular basis, but once I reaffirm my ultimate goal, then nothing else matters. It's what the God of creation thinks of me, not some flawed human being.
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You are the unsung hero, to those of us who understand, and I understand your frustration. Wait till your sibs want "their fair share of the inheritance," as is usually the case. My, sounds like a million other families out there. The Caregiver rarely gets praise, compensation, and is piled with impossible demands and unrealistic expectations. You tell my story, too.

How does one handle it? Varying ways. Setting boundaries didn't work well with my mom, but many say that's what to do. My mom fought me every step of the way, no matter what I tried. There is no magic answer, especially when they are unreasonable. Depends on the parent. I wouldn't discount suggestions until you try them. If your's is "all about me," it makes things more difficult. But if something's not working for you, get help. It's better than resentment, anger, and bitterness. Who says we "must" cater to every whim? Find what works for you, and make than your guideline, but remain flexible to changing needs. If something's not working, get help. Peace and joy are worth protecting.
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Since caregiving my mother some 20 years, what relationships I had with my other siblings have become sttrained to none whatsoever. It is not so much they way they treat me, which is not good in my opinion, but how they can sleep at night knowing how much an occasional planned visit or lunch date would mean to Mom. Not only would it give me a break, but I would not consider being so heartless toward a sibling who has somehow been selected to be caregiver for Mom! My younger sister has stated that it is bizarre that I would end up as caregiver when I was always the free spirit of the family. I agree, but it does not mean that is what I wanted to do for my remaining years! Once you take on the duties and responsibilities, good luck ever getting a replacement, even a temporary one! I would liked to think that it is because they see what a burden it is on me, how I have grown older than they before my time; but, come to find out, it is simply because they don't want to be bothered and don't want their neat little apple cart upset in any way. I can imagine that would be "nice," but how realistic is it to want life to stay the same for extended periods. I find as soon as I start getting very comfortable, something happens to overturn my life as I had known it! I have never asked for anything for my caregiving, because I had a good little nest egg that I figured would last me a lifetime--until this economy hit and showed me that every decision I made was probably the wrong one, and it was usually decided with Mom's dignity as first priority. Of course, this is not how my siblings look at it, and are critical when I ask Mom for money for things such as my auto registration, repair, medical issues or the like. Of course Mom can't call and tell them quickly enough that she had to lend/give me money, quite opposite of how she wants us all to get along! For those who are new to caregiving, take it from me--don't base your decisions on what is best for your loved one, do what is best for you and your family. I wish I had done that, because I would now be very comforttable instead of looking forward to being homeless when Mom dies (she decided a reverse mortgage would be fun and give her more money to spend on items from magazines, clothing that she has no room for (even with a very large walk-in closet), gifts to charity, Wjem sje moved in with me, and wanted me to sell my home and buy a larger one together, I had to find out after opening escrow that she had given all of her money and taken out home loans for her male "caregiver" to buy him cars every time he would wreck one, had filed bankruptcy and I had to qualify on my own for "our" home. It has gone downhill from there, so be careful how much dignity and respect you allow yourself to give, and consider how things would be if the finances were reversed--as they are now, 20+ years later . . .
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Crowe: great post! "...suicide by degree." yes, I agree - that is exactly what it feels like. Why do we frown on "slavery" in every area of our culture except for family caregivers of the elderly? It is partially because family gets very little help from government entities that were created for that specific reason. So the family steps up. Or, as crowe said, we revert to being little children again - usually the one that the parent always relied on. We do not have to turn our backs on our parents in order to break the cycle of co-dependency.
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