I don't know how this forum works, but I think I have to get all of my feelings out there to someone who doesn't know me or my mom. I have been wracked with guilt over talking to my husband or grown children about my struggles because it upsets them to see what this has done to me. I was always asking them to pray for me and for her and they were supportive, but now I just feel horrible I turned to them for emotional support. My dad died in 2015 and while my mom was still able to care for herself in basic ways, such as bathe and get herself meals, I was put in charge of everything else. Since my dad's death was a rather sudden shock, I felt I had to do everything to try and make my mom happy, though I was dealing with terrible grief over my dad. My mom insisted on paying me, and the lawyer said she needed to pay me. We decided on $400 a month. I felt guilty for taking pay, but no amount of money is worth all I've been through. The duties which ended up being included were as follows: Taking care of all of her bills, driving her to two hair appointments a week (she wasn't able to drive due to macular degeneration), taking her for groceries once a week, numerous appointments that simply became an excuse for her to get me to take her somewhere. She didn't need any special doctor care at that time, so these appointments were just "extras". The days we went for groceries were an all-day event in which I wasn't allowed to stop and see any of my grown children for even a moment. I cleaned her entire house every week and cared for all of the extras involved with her dog, which was always messing on the floor and I would have to go in and always clean that up and bathe the dog. Dog grooming appointments were frequent, as well, and all appointments were out of town. I also cut her fingernails and toenails, which grew at an alarming rate, so each had to be done twice a month, which gets old after awhile. In addition to all of this, she took an extraordinary amount of health supplements and I had to order these and also search for further supplements for whatever she decided she wanted. Then there were the constant demands for clothing that she dreamed up and I had to search for hours online since we don't live near any clothing stores that would be up to her expectations. I literally spent hours and hours doing this, and quite often, and then when I would finally find the closest thing to her specifications, she would shoot it down as soon as she saw it. It was NEVER good enough. No appreciation for my efforts whatsoever. I have spent so many hours on the internet trying to find new beauty creams, new make up, new face washes, etc. Again, nothing is ever good enough. No appreciation for any of this. When my first daughter got married, my mother hounded and nagged me about what she was going to wear, as if she were the bride. Of course I was searching for it anyway, but I also had to find what I would wear, and help my daughter plan her wedding. She actually hounded me so much that it ruined the whole wedding planning experience with my daughter. When my husband and I wanted to go to the city, which is an hour and a half away, my mom ALWAYS made me feel guilty for going and she even gave me a list of things I needed to find for her. When I got back home, she would cry and say it was the loneliest day of her life. Even though I always called her at least two or three times when we were gone. And on top of all of this, I would talk to her at least 6 times every single day without fail. She never cared if it interrupted time with my husband. I tried to set some boundaries, but the overwhelming guilt she laid on me seemed to make me feel powerless. To top everything off, there was the constant struggle of her overspending. I should have been able to control it, but she threw a fit if I told her she couldn't really afford it and was told I was a terrible daughter for telling her how to spend her money. I let her make me a slave.
I hope she gets in touch with some local resources.
Good intentions all. I think we that type here have been pushed down under the avalanche that caregiving can be. Under the weight of other's (& our own) expectations, been smothered by others' needs. Been blind in the thick F.O.G.
I truly hope Gwynevere can take a break. Find peace.
It takes time to grieve. Grieving the Mother she had, the previous relationship. Then adjustment to a role change. A new relationship.
Many people do find joy & pride from the duties they take on. It can feel heroic.
I think it is wise to find a local supportive group of friends, social group, activities, people & places you can still be 'you'. So life is not always about Mother. That danger is real. That service to one family member degrades all the other family relationships. No-one wants Gwynevere to miss out of the joys of her own children & coming grandchildren. That is what it as stake here. I've read it. I've seen it. People so tied to another's care they miss out on their own life.
I love the way the NZ describe it as towing another's canoe. It can become too heavy for one to tow. You need a team.
I hope Gwyn can find her team.
When I joined this forum 10 or so years ago, I was certain I was right.
The unanimity of opinions told me that I needed to look at my assumptions.
Since I am responsible to pay all bills, and mom has never been able to do that, nor able to see what they amount to, I do have the right to curb spending when it is going over what she has to even spend. I laid it all out to her many times. How much she was spending versus how much she was bringing in. Wrote it all out on paper and read it to her many different occassions. She lives on social security. She did have a few investments, and with her spending so high, those have been depleted. That's because I did allow her to spend more than she really should have. She was spending almost her entire social security check on supplements, so warnings of excessive spending were certainly warranted, and as POA, according to her lawyer, I absolutely have the right to make those decisions. She is almost 92 now, obviously has not had any concept of how you can only spend what you can afford. Since they were her investments, I did indeed let her use them up, but do not think that was wise on her behalf, but chose to live in peace with her, as I had no idea how long she would live and assumed she would eventually forget about taking so many supplements.
Either your mother is not doing very well at all, or your POA gives you absolutely no right to direct her spending against her wishes.
You can't have it both ways.
Moreover, a power of attorney used on behalf of a person who is unable to make her own decisions is about the big things. Like where to live, and how to pay for care. It isn't about cutting back on vitamin supplements and being made to feel like Cruella de Vil.
You need somebody else to take over while you get a break. At the moment you are trapped in the false belief that nobody else can do it. Worse, with the greatest respect and sympathy, you are not doing the job well. The situation is bad for you, bad for DH, and not great for your mother; and it will only become more difficult and more stressful emotionally as time moves on and her physical (and with it her mental) condition deteriorates.
Suppose (and God forbid) you were to stroke tomorrow and be hospitalized for six months. Who would take care of your mother?
Nobody can be indispensable. That includes you. It is better to think about this in advance and widen the support network than to wait for all choice to be taken out of your and your mother's hands by Fate.
Do you know about these people? - https://iowaaging.gov/
There is a section on caregivers' resources which I hope you'll find a bit of an eye-opener.
Take this to heart: Taking Care Of Your Mother Is NOT All Down To You.
Mom has a heart conditon, but she is doing quite well with that. She has macular, which makes it so she can barely see. But the other conditions I mentioned are related to me. The depression, anxiety etc. You asked about siblings. I have two left that are living. One lives on the west coast and has many health issues, and one lives about 5 hours away and also has many health issues. My sister that lived near me passed 10 years ago, and I was caregiver to her for many months until she passed from cancer. So I'm really the only one who can take this responsibility. My children come visit her and have offered to do what they can, but two of my children own small businesses and work full time at these businesses. One of my daughters has a baby almost due and step children she cares for. My youngest works full time and is also due with a baby in a couple of months. Life is busy for everyone. My husband and I have been married 38 years. We rarely go out, and if we do it's date night at the grocery store. He's a wonderfully supportive husband. My mother has no means to be able to afford assisted living. When she does enter a nursing home, it will have to be paid by medicaid. I'm actually in control of her spending, but as I said, in order to keep peace between us, I let her have her way like a mother with a spoiled child. I honestly never in a million years thought she would be so difficult. When we started this after dad died, she said she was going to be as little trouble as possible and she would spend whatever I said etc. It has been a battle all of the way. Early on I tried to remind her of this, and at that time her memory was good. Now, even if I put my foot down, she throws a fit so horrendous. I finally stood my ground and she finally apologized and said she would never do that again and she would listen to me from now on about her spending. Not more than a week passed by and she had forgotten it all. But she only has short term memory loss. She never forgets which supplements she takes and needs me to order. So the cycle repeats when I deny her even one item due to her overspending. She cried and throws a big fit and says I have no right to tell her how to spend. I explain that I have every right to do so because that's why I'm her POA and she put me in charge for that reason. To make these decisions. The shift in our roles has been a very difficult one for both of us.
Small seeds of resentment can grow into anger. And that can be GOOD! Anger is a valid emotion - can help us decide what we need to change in our environment. It can provide the energy for a change.
Many many people were raised with the ideas that showing anger was 'bad' or 'unfeminine'. Destructive anger & abuse are not cool but what about standing up for yourself? Saying no to the school bully? To that toxic boss? For equal pay?
Gosh I remember I was NEVER allowed to make 'a fuss' in public. What would people THINK of my Mother!!
My other thought.. was having to hide part of yourself away, be on your best behaviour for Mother.. must be so energy-zapping.
What if you showed up as YOU for your Mother. Your whole self. Able to speak your mind more freely. What a great opportunity for your Mother to really get to know the real YOU ☺️
How about "It's your mom's fault for being so freaking selfish".
No loving mother acts this way.
This situation is SO not your fault. How you disengage from it is completely within your power.
There's a movie I want you to watch. Now, Voyager. Bette Davis at her best. Also Claude Rains.
I sympathise with how these things can build. From the day my father died, not 24 hours passed without my either seeing or speaking to my mother (except when she herself was away travelling overseas); and from there care did snowball until the end of her life by which time I was living with her as her primary caregiver 24/7.
It all gets *out of hand.*
And if there is no support, or way, or incentive for a major change of perspective, neither party can see any alternative.
The reason I asked if there is a major cause for celebration ahead is that one way to introduce that essential new perspective is for the enmeshed primary caregiver to take herself - or be taken - completely out of the picture for a defined period. Say, two weeks.
There are adult grandchildren, and one or more siblings. This would be a project needing their input. (Failing that input, respite care is a possibility.)
OP and her DH are going away somewhere (anywhere, doesn't matter, it can be a literal staycation if nothing else is practical). A detailed care/support schedule is drawn up and shared out among trustworthy willing volunteers. NB - mother is not consulted about this. Told, yes, has everything explained to her once the plans are in place, but her permission is not necessary and should not be sought in advance.
What happens is this, generally. Mother is fine. Substitute primary care team are fine. Everybody has had a nice time and coped well, and partly because the workload is shared and partly because the novelty hasn't worn off they ALL think grandma is wonderful and caregiving is a joy. Mother will have been a sweethearted pussycat, gracious, appreciative, easygoing. And most of the grinding, tedious elements of the care plan will have been forgotten or shelved and shown to have been unnecessary after all.
Which might leave you feeling a fool, but also shows you the way forward. Shows you what is and is not important when it comes to ensuring your loved one's wellbeing, shows you which battles do and don't need picking. Shows you that there are OTHER WAYS to meet your mother's needs.
Mother leaves your house. One month max. She finds another place to go, or you find it for her. You offer to take her to visit local Assisted Living options so that she can choose one she prefers. If she refuses, she still leaves. You take her to a hotel, and very kindly pay for her first 3 days. You leave her with the phone number for AL. You do not contact her during that time. Her younger friend can pick up the burden if s/he criticises you and thinks things should be different. Your brother can do the same.
You may find that once mother has moved, she actually enjoys AL. Many posters have found this – company, pleasant living arrangements, organised activities including excursions. Probably complaints about the food, but that’s pretty standard, no matter how good food really is. You need to act now like an adult with your own responsibilities. You have already fulfilled any responsibility you have for your mother, other than to make sure that she is safe.
Are you sure you can't afford health insurance? Medicaid expansion has made that possible for a lot of folks.
I think it's time to re-negotiate this contract. Go back to the lawyer with mom and either get a living wage (that will make it possible for you to afford Health Insurance) or quit. What you describe are completely unreasonable terms of employment.
My advice would be to make a clean break of it, but that's up to you.
Frankly, it sounds like your mom would thrive in a nice Assisted Living facility. She sounds lonely and bored at home.
You are correct in that this very one-sided relationship with your mom may be damaging you, physically, mentally, spiritually. It's time to take some baby steps to repair this.
Get a book called Boundaries, by Townsend and Cloud. Start there.
One call a day to or from mom is the new norm.
Practice the phrase "I can't possibly do that."
If she becomes abusive say "I'll talk to you tomorrow when you're feeling better".
Go out one night a week with your husband. Do not talk about your mother.
It sounds like you've been groomed to think that you don't matter. Google Fear, Obligation and Guilt" and you'll see what I mean.
What are your mother's care needs now? There's quite a list of health conditions on your profile page so I imagine you'll be wanting to develop a plan for her.
You mention too that there are siblings, but that as the youngest you are the only one who is able to accommodate supporting your mother. Where are the others, and what involvement do they have with her?
The thing is. If you are unable to create any practical boundaries without things getting even worse, and you are unable to monitor her spending effectively, then I question whether you are the right person to accept responsibility for her wellbeing as she ages and becomes less able to make decisions for herself. So we're going to need think how to "volunteer" some other person or people...
When is your and DH's next significant wedding anniversary or birthday, if you don't mind my asking?
Seven years sounds just right for the NEXT cycle. Yes?
When I saw a councillor, I went from 'how do I learn to stay afloat in this treacherous overwhelming sea' to 'floating'. I then had time to look about me. Evaluate. What was supported me?
One day I though "why am I just floating? I could learn to swim!"
Let the next cycle begin!
There is book that many of our posters recommend called Boundaries. You can probably get it from your local library. It helps you decide on what you are willing to do, and what you are not willing to do. You fix your boundaries, tell your mother what they are, and stick to your decision.
For example, you decide how often you will take her shopping, and you have a list so that if she needs something between the monthly date, you get it next time it’s convenient – without taking a day over it. And on the day that her wonderful shopping trip happens, you have somewhere to leave her for an hour or so while you visit your own children. She may complain, so I’d suggest that you buy ear plugs and put them in when she starts up.
You are not a slave. You are not an employee. She is not your boss. If that $400 a month makes you feel like an employee, work out your hourly rate. It’s below the legal minimum!
You need professional help in understanding your part in the twosome that has become you and Mom. You need help in identifying the difference between GRIEF and GUILT. Guilt assumes you are an evildoer who gets off on the pain of others. Grief suggests that you are stuck doing more than you should be and feeling hopeless to find the answer.
Long and short is that there isn't always a good answer. Mom has had her life. Now it is time for you to have yours. Will there be sadness and tears? Of course, because sadness and tears are all a part of human limitations.
I wish you the best of luck, but I think that you honestly need the guidance of someone with professional training. You will then have choices to make for your own life going forward, but at least you will see them as YOUR OWN CHOICES for your own life.
Good luck; I wish you the best. You already know this isn't working for ANYONE. Now time to try something new and different.