I'm at my wits end and don't know what to do.

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I love my mother, and she can be one of the warmest most loving people in the world. But in recent years she has become so whiny and manipulative and dealing with it is turning me into someone I don’t like. In hindsight, Mom always had a passive aggressive streak, but it was tempered by the fact that she really did put her family first. She had many health problems, though, and always assumed she would die before my father. Well, my father died just after his 68th birthday and Mom is now 77. I think she actually resents him for going first. But that’s a separate issue. I am the caregiver and have to work full time. My only sibling lives half a continent away, and the only near relatives are: an alcoholic Aunt,; an aunt with severe emphysema who is on constant oxygen); and a cousin with short term memory issues (he was a lineman and survived a nasty electrocution). So I am the only able bodied person. But at 55, I do still need to work, and I’m a small woman with physical limits. When I try to talk to Mom about someone coming to help she complains about not liking having people in the house and refuses to discuss it. To help ME, I get a cleaning service in every few weeks and have groceries delivered, but she complains about that as well. She complains that I could quit work if I wanted to, although she avoids explaining just how the mortgage would get paid. She prefers to think that I’m lying about still needing to work. When I am home, I have to constantly nag her about her meds, and using the nebulizer when she needs it (“oh, none of those things do any good,” except that they do) and when I say, then let’s get you to the doctor it’s “Oh, they don’t really tell you what’s wrong with you, what’s the point?” A few years ago she got her eyes checked. She has dry eyes, typical for her age, and floaters, but thanks to cataract surgery years ago she only needs drugstore readers. But she convinced herself that the doctor told her her eyeball was going to fall out “any day now.” Someone was in the room with her and none of the paperwork that she came home with said anything like that. But for two years she persisted in telling everyone she was going to loose her eyes. At the most recent visit, the eye doctor said all the same things and told her there was nothing in her file to indicate anyone had ever told her she was literally losing her eyes or needed surgery. Not even a return of the cataracts. Of course she complains that they are just quacks. I’m honestly at my wits end. I’m so stinking tired and stressed, and I’m often late for work because she’s always finding excuses to delay me, or something happens at the last minute such as spills, falls, misplacing her lifeline button, etc. Her mobility is bad and getting worse. She has taken some falls and often forgets to use her walker. But social services tells me until she needs nursing care, she is not a priority given their limited resources. I do understand their point, and we are on a list, and they have actually called me a few times to see if her status has changed. So I am not complaining about them. But the fact remains that we need (okay, I need) some kind of help - bathing, making sure she eats, takes her meds, etc. - even if it’s just a few hours once or twice a week. She won’t complain to them like she does to me (outside if the family they think she’s a sweetheart and don’t see this side) and i know a little socializing would be good for her. But I can’t afford much, and places I’ve talked to are expensive and there is a 4 hour minimum. Mom will complain regardless, but if there is any way to make it work, well it’s my house so I can over rule her. I’ve decided that much for my own mental well being. But that still doesn’t equal a solution. Thank you for listening. Just getting this out helps.

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Oh, sweetie, I completely understand. My fil is about the same way. He is capable of doing a lot and is in pretty good health, but he just doesn't want to. He has so much family, but because of his behavior, no one wants to deal with him. It's like you mom has what I call "the boy who calls wolf syndrome". Always looking for some dramatic illness that they don't have in order to get pity. My fil, loves to tell people that his left hip is broke and specifically says that the bottom of his joint is crushed. After 3 different x-rays by 3 different doctors, there's nothing wrong with his hip. He got this idea because this is actually what's wrong with my husbands (his son) hip after a bad injury.

At this point it seems like she is aware of what she's doing. Whether or not she likes it, go ahead and hire who you need to in order to help you out. If she doesn't like it, tell her to take on some household chores. I know it's tough, but tough love may be needed right now.
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Youngonce - I have been thinking about what you said and the difficulties you are facing because of the pact. Of course when we make these promises we don’t realize the emotional and mental toll, on top of the physical, that it might take on us, not really. If it helps, consider if the situation were reversed. And remember that we can’t be of much help to anyone if we don’t look out for ourselves, too.
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Getting Mom in for her lab work, blood and urine, and flu shot. First and last go fine. But she announces that she has no fluids because she hasn’t had coffee on account of me hurrying her out of the house for fasting blood work. I say, okay we will go next door for breakfast. After we sit down she announces at the table that she sure hopes the new pads are working because she lost control. I say, thank you for sharing that at the table and apparently you had plenty of fluids in you.
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All good advice and I thank you. It is helpful to get perspectives from others in a similar situation.

Mom does have depression and anxiety issues, but they aren’t anything new. However, in recent years she has been rearranging memories and becoming something of a drama queen. I figured out not to give in to this, but it makes it hard to know when something is really wrong! It is, I am sure, exacerbated by her being alone so much of the time.

But today I did speak with her doctor’s assistant and we have a game plan to try again to get some kind of assistance in the home. I do not kid myself that this will be easy. It is a process and Mom will balk at parts of it and be difficult about someone coming in, if we can get that far. But I laid it out with the PA about Mom being more prone to falls and difficult about things like eating right and using her inhalers and nebulizer.

You all take care and I will try to check in regularly. Work is a bear lately and free time precious, so I may not always be chatty. But reading comments doesn’t take so long, and I hope people will feel free to contribute to the conversation. I do think it does a world of good to be able to ‘get it out.’ It is sure helping me and I thank you for the encouragement.
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my intake as a 76 year old caregiver! My wife and I have been married 56 yrs this past august. 21 years ago she was diagnosed with PK early onset , she already had essential tremors that came in the package, over the years she developed severe anxiety and clinical depression to add to the concoction . 2 years ago we tried independent living for a month and couldn't accept the fact we were old and probably needed to be with people our own age , problem was we didn't see ourselves as old people and came back home , my wife had become an introvert so she didn't assimilate any way. , for the past 2 years my wife has been on a steady decline with the PK and the anxiety and depression and the effects that the dreaded 3 possessed , where im at now is all the problems you are experiencing only I can take it 1 step further. PK, anxiety, clinical depression and dementia all share the same characteristics and can be misdiagnosed but it really doesn't matter if the results are the same

Where im at now is my eldest daughter has DPA ,and POA over us and unbeknown to me has been listening to my wife complaining for years over the phone and has had enough and put her in a home back in july she was there a month and wanted to come home so I hastily done so , we made a pact over the years that we wanted to stay in our home as long as the other one was alive . the things that go along with PK,ANX, Depression and dementia all come on slowly so as a caregiver they can be misdiagnosed by you , ive been in total denial for years wanting to do the right thing as promised , where im at now is the fabrication of stories and needing more care myself the daughters have stepped in and got the authorities involved , my wife is being tested soon and they will decide what the outcome will be , it doesn't mean she has to go to a home but they definitely will want professional help in the home , I failed to mention shes been in a hospital bed for the past 5 years so it becomes more burdensome every day , loss of appetite, unsteady on her feet , constant constipation , shes on a roller coaster ride right now and the challenge becomes greater every day so my only advice would be to you is to forget your conscience and listen to your mind that knows the right thing to do ,things only get worse and as a caregiver theres more than just burnout involved it can get nasty , good luck and thanks for listening
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McAlvie, It's YOUR house, she has to abide by what YOU want to do.
Don't forget, we are equals with our parents the day we became adults. They no longer have a right (nor should) control us.
Why are you letting her tell you what to do in your own home?
Don't give "reasons" for having the groceries delivered or a cleaning crew coming in. Same with caregivers, "Mom, I CAN'T help you with bathing anymore (or whatever the need), so ABC company is sending someone over to assist you." Do NOT retract your statements. Do NOT give her reasons why you can't do it. Do NOT back down. Do NOT give in to the guilt. This is the way it's going to be in YOUR house. If she doesn't like it, she can move.
The next time she brings it up, say to her (what she used to say to you), "Because I said so!" If she doesn't like the "new you", she can find other digs.
Just because she is your mom doesn't give her the right to run YOUR house.
Take back the control.
Read a book about setting boundaries.
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Thanks. Yes, I do realize that it is a mindset issue one her part. Not that she doesn’t have valid health and mobility issues, but she is seeking out the negative and milking it. But earlier today I did have a long phone call with one of the aunts who, even if she can’t assist in a physical sense. This raising parents thing is so stressful!
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Just sending sympathy, McAlvie. I'm especially sad to read that it's "turning you into someone you don't like." Ah, the black hole of negativity - it is so hard not to get sucked into it.

You do realise, don't you, that even if you had a mint of money and didn't have to work another day and could stay home and wait on her hand and foot... she'd still find things to be unhappy about. It's her mindset, it's not based on anything in reality.

If it's getting worse, and especially if she seems to be feeling more and more wretched and anxious with no new causes to explain it, do get her checked out for depression. I'm not a pill-for-every-ill advocate but when your brain chemistry goes haywire it only makes sense to correct it if you can, and SSRIs are effective in the right circumstances.
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Yes Mom lives with me. She has no income beyond social security so that’s a factor. As much as I would love to find a good assisted living arrangement for her, neither of us could afford it. By living with me, she actually has acquired savings, but not enough to live on, just enough to make her ineligible from the government’s POV. What you get if you are eligible, well that would be another source of stress and worry. But I am going to contact SS again and see if I can get her bumped up the list.

Thank you so much for giving me a safe place to vent, folks.
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Sounds like my mom and a lot of other people's parents out there. What is your mom's living situation? Is she living with you? Who pays for housing? Would she be able to qualify for Medicaid? If not, contact your local area office of the aging. They should be able to provide some help at no cost. There is normally a wait list for services.

It sounds like your mom would be better off in an assisted living facility or nursing home. Is that a possibility?
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