I think mom needs assisted living, she says she's already got it from me, but I'm so tired. What do I do?

Asked by

New to the site here and originally posted this under the wrong heading, so....
I'm exhausted. She's 84 - I'm 54 and I feel 200. She lives next door in her own home - her "playhouse" as she calls it -with our help. She's fighting for her independance like a 2 year old...a hurtful 2 year old. Often confused, angry, fluxuating mood swings, lost look in her eyes, revealing conversations with total strangers and won't talk with me, when talking on phone and she's done, she hangs up on you - no good bye - just 'click', will NOT apologize for anything...it's always your fault that you forced her to be rude..., rude and inappropriate comments in public ("lady, you've really got a fat butt..."), waivers between being a waif and a witch. But she says "I'm so happy in my playhouse..see what I've done with the kitchen?" About assisted living, etc --- "no matter what they say, they're just places to stash old folks when you don't want them anymore and the places always smell like pee. Might's well just put me out on the street. I'm not stupid. I've been where you are but you've not been where I am (seething anger here). You don't know what it's like to be old and have your whole life change. You could just drop me off at a hospital and leave and I couldn't do a thing about it. I can't trust anyone anymore." (few tears here) The facts -- whatever she's needed, we've handled to the best of our ability or we've paid someone to handle it. We pay her bills, clean her yard, maintain her home. I work 2 jobs (64-72 hours a week) at 2 local hospitals. My husband, now 58, has been disabled for the past 11 years....lifting logs one day, couldn't pick up paper off the floor the next...spinal stenosis, degenerative arthritis, spinal fusions, constant peripheral neuropathy and will be in a wheelchair within the next 5 years per his neurosurgeon. (yes, I do know what it's like for your life to change...) Dad was dx with alzheimers and paranoid schizophrenia in 2008-presently in nursing home near sister 4 hours away. Dr said he could come home and have outpatient psych care and mom said she didn't want him. With her own mother, she moved her from her home to live near mom, then into an assisted living complex, then into a room in mom's home (none of these were my grandmother's choices), and finally, when granny complained to my uncle that she felt a burden, he said 'come here'. Mom overheard the conversation and said 'she'll be on a plane tomorrow', so granny - against her protests - was loaded up with her wheelchair and walker and flew alone to my aunt and uncle's home 3000 miles away...she was 88 at the time. So --is it Mom or me? Sounds like Mom, but I'm so tired that I could be overreacting and just wanting some peace. This is not entirely new behavior, by the way. She's poured soup from an all-you-can-eat place directly into her purse because it tasted good (25 years ago), demanded a store give her money back for stale cashews she had bought the year before --- the expiration date on the container was even past -- drove over 80 miles twice to finally get back $14 in store credit and was so proud of herself for standing up to the "Big Bosses" (she also held up a line of other customers so she could sort out the things she chose and get literally EVERY penny of her $14 worth without paying anything over)...that was 10 years ago. I think she needs assisted living. She says she's already got it ---me. I'm so tired.

Answers 1 to 10 of 12
To put it bluntly it's your mom who sounds like a person with undiagnosed borderline personality disorder for what you describe fits very well with the waif and a witch type mother discussed in the book, Understanding the Borderline Mother which I think you would do well to buy. Also, it sounds like you've been walking on eggshells around her which is not healthy for anyone although it is often the easier way out. If she has money and if she gets social security, then she should be paying her own bills not you. I'm not a therapist, but I think you would really benefit from one. I wish you well. Also, there are some good book about not walking on eggshells out their.
Interesting you should mention that...
I came to the BPD conclusion myself about 2 years ago (a psych evaluation is out of the question since I'm "the only one with the problem" as you well understand). I've used the SWOE and UBM books extensively, and BPDCentral saved my sanity in many ways. Her medical doctor (one exam) thought it may be MPD (or DID as it's now called), but I still hang with BPD. Anyhow. The problem now is that the condition seems to be getting intertwined with dementia-like traits and that's where I get confused. Is the mental illness declining to a dementia-like state, or is it dementia alone with the whole mental illness being a 'side-show attraction'...and does it matter when choosing whether to let her 'age-in-place' (as change escalates BPD tremendously) or go with assisted care/nursing home...and will they take her...and will they keep her??? I have no sympathy and firm boundries with the BPD. Dementia seems to require some different handling techniques. By the way, until the last year or so, she was a definite hermit type with occasional queen tendencies...I only saw the witch once. With the apparent dementia onset, witch and waif reign with the occasional hermit/queen thrown in for good measure. Ain't it fun.
Sometimes BPD is misdiagnosed as DID, but that does not sound true of what you have shared about your mother. A general MD is normally not qualified to make such a diagnosis.

BPDCentral is an awesome site. Since BPD is a social/psychological disease normally learned at the hands of a narcissistic mom and not a biological disease like bipolar, I don't think it declines with dementia, but it probably only increases the drama and her starting tornadoes and then stepping inside of them as if she is the victim.

Yes it is fun, but I would look into somewhere for her to go and see if the doctor will support this idea. BTW, do you have her POA? It does sound like she could be classified as mentally incompetent which would set you free to use your POA.

Yes, it is fun and i wish you well.
She has signed paperwork that says if she ever needs a POA or Durable Medical POA or guardian, she wants it to be me. (And I, of course, have a copy of that paperwork). Does that mean I "have" a POA? I don't know. I went through the legal process of becoming Dad's guardian and conservator in '09 and would have been granted both until my sister (62) entered into the scene at the final court hearing - yelling, throwing herself down on the sofa in the judges chambers, crying, hollering at Mom...yeah, real fun. To quiet things (and get home before midnight...), I suggested she take Dad's guardianship ( they're birds of a feather anyhow) and I'd handle the conservatorship (so the bills would be paid). Court granted that with the provision that I had final say on where he was placed and whether he was moved from one place to another. All that to say that- by the time it was all done, I KNEW what authority I had with Dad. With Mom, I don't know how effective the signed paperwork is (it's part of her living will). Both of us are changing from the one MD (each for a different reason), and will be using doctors from the same office (only 2 there). Hers is an intelligent compassionate, listening family practice doc (lady) who goes to the assisted living/nursing home I'm considering and mine is an internist who, as a sideline, is very well-informed on mental illnesses. I hope she'll feel comfortable talking to "her very own doctor" and feel assured that we aren't talking about her behind her back. Meanwhile, I can talk with mine about her realities framed in terms of what it's doing to my physical and mental health. Then the docs can talk together professionally to fill out the whole picture and make the needed recommendations, taking the heat off me. I hope it works. By the way, I really liked your analogy of stepping inside her own tornadoes - only someone who has been there/done that could pinpoint the scenario with such accuracy.
You might be wise to ask the lawer who wrote up those documents, but it does sound like you have the Power of Atty. I sure hope you have both Durable POA for finacial and business related things which includes signing off on her taxes along with a special ID code that you have to ask the IRS for and Medical POA so that the doctor knows he is legally free to talk with you about your mother plus it gives you a better entrance into here's what I want you to know about mom in case she does not tell you and here are some things I want you to look at and evaluate, then list questions or issues. Best to you. You might want to return to BPD central for a while.
I have Borderline Personality Disorder and I hope that isn't me in 30 years...I think you are looking at a serious decline dementia wise, or was she always an unpleasant person to deal with? Most personality disorders mellow with age so it may be something else or a combination. Id say keep her doctors informed and try and armor yourself against the onslaught. There is no talking to people like this truly. It is always someone elses fault. Look after your own needs as well and don't let this consume you it really only gets harder, try not to let yourself get sucked into the hole with them....
I remember childhood events where I'd do something wrong (slam the screen door) and she wouldn't speak or look at me for weeks. Kinda rolled off my back because I thought all moms were like that. I knew I'd get more frustrated with her and she seemed more irrational as I got older, but I was involved with my own husband and children. In the past 6 or 8 years, her 'be nice' face began to fall and now there seems to be no stopgate. She never had a relationship with my dad (no hugs, kisses, hand-holding - nothing) that I can remember and between the two, I gave up long ago trying to figure out who did what to who...just tell whoeve I'm talking to, "Yeah,, you're probably right..." As far as personality disorders in a non-dementia person:
How would she mellow? If it were 'just BPD' what would I be seeing? Would she still be having volatile personality shifts? The doctor tried her on Aricept and it was better for 2 days, then got a lot worse. It seemed she could only remember what distressed and angered her. Does BPD respond differently to medications? Will it possible affect placement for care?
Ah...what I started to say about her non-relationship with Dad...even though she "wanted him gone and is glad he can't get to her anymore" (Dad was careless, but not abusive), her mental condition seemed to hit a downward spiral after he was gone. My husband thinks it's because he was her 'hitting wall' and now that's gone so she had nothing to fight against...so she chose me!
Top Answer
yeap! LRoye, the relationship between your mom and dad sounds like the title of the book "I Hate, You Don't Leave Me." They can only wear their nice face for so long and the mask of nice face changes from person to person. Unless they have insight to why something triggers them into feelings of abandonment or invalidation and learn how to sooth themselves down, they will continue to go into irrational rages and only act on impulse instead of on reason. Unless they face that they have a dark side themselves, they will always split people in to white hat vs black hat which can change like the wind at any moment. One thing you have to learn is that you are not responsible for their feelings or fixing them for her. All you can do is try to not absorb it and mirror it back, but validate the feelings without approving of the actions. Now, that's tough. Also, one has to be careful of getting hoovered by their suddenly being nice only to set you up for more verbal abuse. Sorry, but this is hitting a nerve and I better get out of here for it's making my depression worse.
Is there any way that you could get a reverse mortgage on her home and then hire a care giver to come in a few hours? At least you would have some time to gather strength for the next surprise!

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