Hi All - I have been reading this forum off and on for some time. It's helpful to know that I'm not the only one dealing with the challenges posed with caring for elderly parents. My mom has been living with me and my family for almost 10 years now. I can cry when I think about it. I know that sounds selfish but my mom is such an energy vampire and it's so hard to be around her. She doesn't drive and her income level is low so we thought it would be great for her to live with us; otherwise, she's healthy as an ox and 80 years young. On weekends, when her shows aren't on, she comes looking for me about 5 times a day!! It really drives me crazy, I want to cry. She is constantly telling depressing stories of who killed who from the news. She is constantly complaining and she likes to bad mouth other people. My kids don't even like to be around her because she's pushy and she can't understand why they don't pay attention to her. She just thinks that she's such a "victim". I'm to the point where I resent people, just ordinary people who don't have to care for their parents. Awful, I know. I avoid inviting people to my home because she is often embarrassing. She's overly opinionated and doesnt know what questions are and aren't offensive. EVERYWHERE I go, she seems to want to come. And if I don't take her, she's "stuck" here because she doesn't drive and there is no public transportation around. I feel like her entertainment director. She has no life outside of my and my families life. I've encouraged her to take a trip to see her family SO many times (her sisters live in Italy) but there's always an excuse (apparently, when she visits, her sisters go about their normal life, and don't take her enough places). She depends on other people to make her happy and expects things from people. She has many times thrown in my face that she did this and that for me growing up (and insinuates that I now "owe"her). In fact, I"m pretty much convinced that this is why she had me to begin with..to keep her company in her old age. I really wish that I was one of those people who were crazy about their mom and who had a great relationship. Truth is that I really do love her but I do see her as a huge burden - her attitude is what makes it most difficult. I wish I had my own life. I REALLLLLLY wish that I had my own life. If we manage to go on a vacation without her, it's heavenly to feel those severeal days of independence. We recently bought a bigger house, that we really did not want to buy, just to give us and her separate space, and she calls it her jail. Not ONE bit appreciative of anything. In fact, I think this is the source of her constant unhappiness. I could go on forever, but I won't. I feel so STUCK and I feel like she's constantly dragging me down. I shudder when I hear her coming up the steps. Sad, I know. We moved from our original home because she lived with us and there was no in-law suite. It was TORTUROUS. She would rearrange my cabinets and decorate for me! I think she hates it almost as much as we do but she is too afraid to live on her own because of both financial reasons and feelings of lonliness/need. I feel like I can't breathe. It really stinks feeling this level of resentment for your own parent!!!
I have never posted to any site anywhere but I was so struck by your post, I joined and want to comment. If someone has not lived through what you have experienced, they just cannot understand. I do. My mother long ago started isolating herself from the world. She never was too fond of socializing and going out to begin with but when I was a child, she did have at least have other relationships other than with my father, her kids, etc. She always kept them at somewhat of a distance and while I did not realize it then, "it" was far from what was normal that I observed with other mothers and families. She was very involved with school activities and things like that, and even worked at a few different jobs and had work/acquaintance relationships with them -- but still not what most would call "close friends". The other factor was there was always something wrong with everyone. I was well into my late 30s before I really realized this - most of her sibling's in-laws, she didn't like the wives so she had minimal contact. In summary, there was always something wrong with almost everyone in her life. Either they stopped talking to her or coming around, or she just cut them off. As I grew older, this came to include everybody else that had been in her life, and I mean everybody. The only people that she wanted contact with was me, my 2 brothers, and her grandchildren (who are still just teens or preteens). Period. For well over 10 years, the only "friends" she had were cashiers at the supermarket to say hello to. This all leads to a VERY lonely place in life. Right now, I can think of at least 10 others that would be visiting her in a nursing home (where she is now) at least a few times a week -- but they won't -- because she long ago cut them off, or to use one of their terms "snapped them up" -- she is very critical, very easily offended, very suspicious, and often reads way more into every comment or situation than was ever meant. She does not see herself this way, and I used to think it was me -- but it was not. What this all has meant for me, and my husband and family -- is decades of if I didn't call her nightly for very long calls or multiple times a day - if not at work or on weekends, that she said I didn't "care" enough. The burden for honoring and remembering her fell 100 percent at my door as my brothers did very little in this area (if anything) and one lives out of state. We (my husband) were the ones that had to DO everything and I mean everything. Whether it was preparing 25 plus years of holiday dinners (buy it all, cook it all, clean it all up) - no help whatsoever -- it never occurred to anybody that we might like a meal made for us, or a birthday cake. Yet, if I didn't do it, there would have been no holiday/bday celebration -- and it always seemed easier to just do it --- my husband also helped her maintain her own home etc. etc. after my father died --you name it -- -- we did it. I was often made to feel guilty (I know I know, I let myself feel it...) that I didn't do enough. She often would comment over the years how this person she knew or that person she knew -- how THEIR kids did more -- that look at all she did and sacrificed raising we kids --- and now it is OUR TURN to take care of her. That is her world view --- that we should do MORE for her, and not just since she got much older either. In fact, no matter how much we did, it was never "enough" -- there were numerous holidays she was still sad because the out of town sibling wasn't home. In fact, for the past 25 years, what the out of town sibling did, or did not do, rotated how our holidays were (she was either satisfied or not) -- no matter what we did -- if he didn't remember or honor her --- what we did never compensated. A crumb from him was better than a whole loaf from us. It was a pretty rotten feeling, still is. We were (are) supposed to fill up all needs in her life, because everyone else is out of her life (by mostly her choice). I have NO CLUE why people do this, if someone does, please let me know. She also always thinks she knows everything and is always right, never wrong. She was very ill for over the last 8 months but refused to go to a doctor, or would make appointments and cancel them --- went to one or two and then never followed up...would even tell us she would not get in an ambulance even if we called one..you can't make someone go and get help if they don't want to.... It became a vicious cycle of calls and pleading for us to come over with her saying "I'm so sick, please help me" but then you'd go, and you'd try to talk some sense into her to go to the doctor (had not done much other than stay in bed for almost 2 months, had not washed hair for just as long...staying in the house with all the curtains drawn and dark etc....) -- then we started getting her groceries, pills, and all outside world errands -- which I tried to avoid for as long as I could -- because at least when she did errands it was a reason for her to go out. She absolutely would not do what was right. She also would not follow doctor directions. Anyway, it got so bad, she finally did go into a hospital and we now know she is loaded with cancer and who knows how long she will live. I literally begged her for months and months before to get help and how this was all caused by something - but you can't tell her a thing. Even a month ago when told to get a biopsy, she refused that, which then delayed any treatment by several more weeks (long story)...once again the decisions SHE makes for herself are often no good for her, but you, or doctors, or anybody, can tell her anything. There is nothing wrong with her mentally. Even now, at age 80, when we go visit, I can be in the room not more than 30 seconds and she is disciplining or criticizing for something I said or did, or whatever -- it has always been this way. She is always right, on all topics, always. It has been exhausting for pretty much my entire adult life watching all this. After my father died 15 years ago, we encouraged her to have her own life and hobbies, part-time job, whatever, to keep living some sort of life. She never did. More and more people dropped away, and it is indeed very sad but I don't think she has been "living" for at least a decade or more - not in the sense in what living really is. I have gotten thousands of phone calls all ending with "it is a -----y life" and "what's the point" and all the rest. If you tell her she should seek treatment for depression or whatever else, she would not hear of it. If I told her to go to the senior center, reach out to this one or that one, all my ideas were shot down. In addition, as she grew older, it would be calls about how sick (just general sickness, not the cancer) she was, or how lonely, or sad, or whatever. When you offer good or sensible solutions to the problem, she turns into a "baby" - saying "why are you yelling at me" and "you're making me sick" -- this escalated to new heights these past few months. The call of "I'm sick" and then you give suggestions to fix, or get treatment, or go in to Doctor, she then responds "why are you yelling at me" and turns the baby routine on. This same cycle repeated for years to some extent, but got much much worse this past year, when she really was very ill. So now, even though we both work full time, her expectation is that we go to the nursing home to see her daily (40 minute commute round trip) - which we pretty much do, and we also do all we can regarding getting her help/treatment and into another facility for what she needs. Our lives right now are either working, taking care of our house/child/pets, or doing nursing home, insurance nightmare, visiting her, or phone calls re: her, bank accts, and the whole ball of wax. If we don't do it, nobody else will. My one brother pays her bills on a joint account, but that is all. Nobody else would be doing all this research on homes, insurance and all the rest. It just would not get done. The other sibling out of town has not volunteered to do a thing.
She is pretty much also leaving everything she owns (in her will, we have read it) -- to just one of her children - long story on that too. No, he is not special needs, he is just like any of us, but that is what she did. That hurts too. Not because of the money, but because it is so painfully obvious that one child must be "taken care of" and not the others. None of that ever mattered, we still cared for her all of her life and now in the end of her life, we do the same thing we always did even though we have known for decades that only one child inherits everything. None of us are rich --we are all working class folks -- as were my parents -- but let me tell you, after what we have done over the course of my entire adulthood -- well it just hurts that is all. In fact, the child she is willing everything to has done the minimum (even now) for her. The children that did the least, ignored her, never visited on holidays, never cooked for her, forgot her birthday or mother's day most the time -- she values them both MUCH more -- I suppose because she always knew we would do for her no matter what -- she never had to "work" to obtain my love, respect, or obligation to her. I just did it because I thought that was what God would want from me you know? Honor thy parents? But she values the other "minimally involved" children way more than me, that is also very obvious.
I guess I now realize that I let it happen, and I should have controlled "it" long ago. I did set many more limits and tried to carve out my own life, but as energy vampire knows, this person is STILL your mother, and you try to keep hoping you can cope, or it will change. My mother had many good qualities too, but her stubbornness, and her refusal to listen to anybody, in the end, has now I think cost her -- her life --- or at least shortened it. It is all a very sad ending.
But my comment is why? Why do people do this? She had many quality people in many areas of her life, all shut out. Except for us. Why?
So while I have not technically been a "caregiver" in that she never lived with us, we live close by, and instead it was numerous requested visits to her house, many many phone calls per night, and on and on it has went. She has expected me to be her emotional "fix" for years and years -- and I have had my own problems! No matter, she always wanted more....Now she expects that any time we aren't at work to be with her in the nursing home, and while I go 1.5 to 2 hours daily, sometimes I can't, or sometimes I just want to do something other than work or go to a very depressing nursing home. On top of this, I have had other issues (sick husband on and off with his own medical problems), problems with unemployment due to layoffs, money, and the list goes on. Life has held almost no joy for many many years. I do keep trying to find some. I do. However, my entire adult life has been forever changed by all of this. Too bad I didn't realize what was going on much sooner....I have often felt that my entire life is spent worrying about everyone else's needs, my husband's, her's, my daughter (who is the least of my worries, a wonderful person!) and on and on it goes. There has always been some other crisis, drama, problem to fix. I too am SO ENVIOUS of when I hear other women and their relationships with their families, or families that all mix together -- that too was never allowed. She never wanted anything to do with any of my in-laws or my husband's family and called them strangers. When I watch how families were in old movies and TV shows, well it is just too bad that is all. Sorry so long, I had a lot to say!
My 22 year old daughter often says that people live longer, but why? My own mother wishes she "was in heaven" with my dad and is constantly unhappy (as am I). I am working on getting even more caregivers to do more hours as I have no one else to help. If that doesn't work, it's assisted living which she will hate. I hope that doesn't happen until she doesn't recognize us as that would be difficult. I look at it like this, if my mom dies prematurely (e.g. from me putting her in assisted living), it would be devastating to me and my kids. But, guess what? There's something even worse than that. If I die prematurely (from all of this stress taking care of her), not only is she up the creek with no paddle (my kids will not be willing to do the 54 hours a week I do), but my kids will have no mother. I choose the lesser of the two evils.
Yep, you did. You made me say it. :) xo
How about inquiring about a day care facility? My friend had to fight with her mother and go with her twice; but amazingly, Mom wanted to go back. You might find a facility that will pick her up and drive her home. How about renting Net Flix for her miserable weekends? She can pick her favorite movies or try some new ones. It's not that expensive and may save you from the looney-bin! Also, how about asking her to help you fold the laundry, peel the potatoes etc. Try to engage her in household activities where she won't interfere with the kids or you and hubby. Sending you blessings and love. Hang in there. Corinne
When my Mother was still talking, walking around, and causing trouble--which she is not anymore--she never got beyond the end of her beautiful nose. Self-centered people are just that and do not respond to anything other than the "me-me" game. But I love the idea of Mom swapping. It would have been great about 50 years ago. And Sister swapping. But that's what fairytales are for:) xoxo
Come on out and play with us. All of us have issues and stress. I think you need a hug and some understanding, so I am willing to listen if you want to vent:) xo
Energyvampire, I commend you for being the daughter you are. I think you are doing a job worth doing, that you will be proud and happy about in the end. The stress is tremendous, I know all too well. I haven't sought outside counseling, but I have my ways of dealing with it. And am looking for other solutions to allow an escape for a couple of days which is extremely helpful. But Jeanne's suggestion for you to get some counseling to help you through this may be good for you! Meanwhile, many of the other comments were so good...good for me too! Just let many of those "jail" comments go in one ear and out the other, for instance. I hear that stuff all of the time too. When I can't just jump to my Mom's desire to go do something fun, she remarks how she's just stuck in her apartment with nothing to do! Sometimes I go and grab a big load of towels out of the drawers linen closet, and throw them in the wash basket and ask her to please help me by folding them. She likes to help. Or I give her one of those whisk dry mops, and ask her to please mop the hardwood floors. She can unload the dishwasher, and I have her just put all the dishes on the counter, then I put them away. All of those little chores keep her busy for quite some time, and she really likes to help and feel useful. Ok, I've blabbed way too long. That's what I like about this site. Answering or commenting on a post can be a nice way of venting and addressing my own problems. YES! Feels so good to be helpful to someone else (maybe) and helpful to myself at the same time. ;-) Good luck, Energyvampire! I hope you'll post again.
Your name pretty much says it all for me!
if someone reaching out for comfort annoys you i think you may be the one with issues. ill bet your bro is ready to change your living arrangements for you too..
im not normally this ornery but i think youve been pretty rude to energyvampire..
you stuck your dad in a home and have convinced yourself that it was an act of selfless heroism. jibberish..
Not to be rude or unkind but your complaints of your mother are rehashed over and over which makes you annoying........sorry to sound like a nasty person which many probably think I am by now but I am just saying that if you would actually listen to yourself and all your ranting on and on about how pitiful your mother is and allow a mirror to look at your life you would see that your complaining is rather annoying!
In other words your complaining of your mother is just as annoying as your mother (and the way you describe her)......you to are two peas in a pod.
Like I said before, either learn to love her and her idiosyncratic ways or send her packing somewhere else and move on with your life. If it is just temporary and both of you are moving on to something better and your situation is not ideal for either one of you than obviously both of you will have complaints. But until you do something to remedy the situation you will do nothing but waste time fixated on petty nonsense.
It's similar to having a job that is not ideal. For example, you are not happy at your current job (maybe you have a harassing co-worker who annoys the crap out of you and tattles on you to the supervisor), so obviously you will have complaints but instead of spending all your time moaning about what you do not like, either try to work the situation out with HR and the "annoying" co-worker or look for other prospects and wait till something else opens up. Plead God's grace to deliver you from an unbearable situation and then wait for Him to open some other door.
We all go through times in our lives that are not ideal.......and sometimes we have to wait those times out and yes, we will complain. But if we continue to stay in the same situation and never make the necessary changes, we will never be happy.
Like Jeanne said.........it's a results oriented counsel. Forgive me if I come across as cold or indifferent but some people here know that I could not take care of my dad 24 hours (when he lived with me) because of his chronic health conditions and yes his "neediness" at times. So instead of complaining and being miserable I arranged for him to go into a skilled nursing facility. By doing this, did it mean I cared less for him? Of course not. I think the arrangements I made to make sure his needs are met is demonstrating in action that I do love him and care about him.
So I do understand where you are coming from. Even now as I type this, my situation is less than ideal for what I want because I am living with my brother and his wife and their children (I moved my dad into a facility by my brother so that he could visit as well and I moved back this way too). While looking after my dad from the area where we used to live, I was living in a two bedroom apartment that I loved. I had it decorated just the way I wanted, I had a lovely kitchen which I throughly enjoyed cooking and baking. I had all my stuff and knew where everything was but now I don't have my own kitchen, most of my life is in a storage unit and I don't have my own bathroom or my own fridge and I still can't find my make-up bag (which at my age Lord knows I need). So yes, my life is much less than ideal but this is the way it is and this too shall pass but until then it is hard and yes I may complain at times because I lament what I had but the choices had to be made about my dad's care and eventually I believe and have hope that my life will work out too and I will get my own place as well.
Try to find the one thing about your mother that you DO love. Is there anything that comes to mind? Let us know and then maybe that will inspire you to look differently at your situation.
If Mom is merely annoying, hey, live with it. My concern is that there is a high stress level in the house, and I think that is not good for your children. I don't think it is always bad for a grandparent to live in the home, and it is good for children to see their parents in a caring role and putting themselves out for someone else. If you could ramp up the benefits and reduce the annoyances, life would be good, right?
Could Gramma teach the kids some Italian? Could she teach them some cooking skills? Knitting? Bocce ball? Would she have less time to dwell on being "unlucky" if she were busier doing something that mattered?
Even though you are NOT incredibly mean, you might benefit from some counseling. Given your mother's life history of being the victim and unlucky and having a husband who apparently enabled her in these beliefs, setting some boundaries and living your own life can't be easy. You deserve all the support you can get.