My Elderly Mom Doesn't Want to do any Activity that Doesn't Include ME!

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My mother is 85, in fair health (she is in dialysis three days a week) and very sharp-minded. Unless I take her somewhere (Target, grocery store, to see grandkids, dinner, etc), she only watches TV. She complains that she "doesn't go anywhere or do anything", yet she refuses to move to assisted living facility (we have visited a few). I have checked out the senior centers and events in our city and they seem to be geared toward seniors who need services such as transportation, meals, etc. Most of her friends have died or she has lost contact over many years. I feel suffocated knowing I am her only companion. I don't want to hire someone to make her life more "social". She is resistant to anything new, including the possibility of a computer. Any ideas?

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Let me just say first I love my mother. However I am her only social outlet. My dad has been gone for over twenty years and even then she really never went anywhere with him for the last few years. She truly is not a social person as far as going to a senior center or groups. She always says she appreciates what I do for her but EVERY time I leave her house she says I sure wish you could stay. I understand she is lonely and being alone in her house all day must be depressing. I have offered numerous times for her to move in with mebut she refuses. I take care of her bills small house repairs cutting grass etc and take her to the grocery store walmart and out to dinner. I spend time with her in one form or fashions at least three times a week and talk to her at least twice a day. I work full time and also take care of my house yard etc and have a 23 year old daughter that I like to spend whatever free time she has with her. I haven't moved from this town because I need to be close to my mom if she needs me. I worry all the time that if something happens to my job I might have to work farther away and couldn't be with her as often. My brother lives in another state and only calls on holidays my sister hasn't spoken to us in years. I just feel sooooo guilty all the time. I just feel bad if shes sad or doesn't feel good or if I want to just go home after work and relax. Ive gained a lot of weight in the last few years..I don't really want to do anything anymore but sit and watch Tv. I just want not to feel so guilty.
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Why can't she respect my need to have a life without her constant inclusions?

Because you don't insist on it. Why shouldn't she try to get by with as much as she can? You'll have to set the boundaries -- she has no incentive to do so.
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Janets, I can really relate to what you are feeling. My widowed mother is 81 with Copd and prefers me to drive her around. I live 35 miles away and it is not always easy to attend to her needs. She also relies on me for her social needs to the point where she wants to be included in all the activities I participate in. She is to afraid to drive to my home, so most of my holidays are being taken up with her at her place with little time to spend with my children and grandchldren, unless I drive her round trip twice in one day because she will not stay over night at my house nor have a lot of people at her house. I have a sister who would love to take her places and spend the holidays with her, but my mother refuses because she doesn't like some of my sisters quirky ways or her immediate family members. My mother has decided my husband and I are the only ones she wants to attend to what she needs. She chose to continue living independently as possible in her own home and I respect those wishes. Why can't she respect my need to have a life without her constant inclusions?
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Janets, come back in a few weeks and let us know how you are doing with your new resolve. It would be great to hear a success story!
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Thank you girlnextdoor and Jeannegibbs. Can we all 3 of us go out for a cocktail, please??? All good points - and I definitely need a slap in the face to stop allowing this manipulation. I don't live with her; rather we are in the same building. I moved into an apartment in her building (a great building so no sacrifice in terms of living here) because it is actually easier to be closer than to feel I need to sleep over when she isn't feeling well. I do spend a fair amount of time in my own place. I think another part of my situation is that I am resentful of my sisters who take it for granted that I will entertain our mom - while telling me that I need to stop doing so. They take vacations when I want - and I am talking major vacations to Europe and beyond because they know I am here. I don't have the means to do that, with or without my mom - but it's the principle, of course. I really liked two suggestions above. Eating at the senior center under the pretense of liking it is ingenious. But mostly, I am going to try to do what Jeannegibbs has said in her last paragraph. I recently did a show (I am a performer) and it was a tremendous release for me. My mom was actually fairly supportive, in that she didn't give me a hard time for going to rehearsals! And she sure enjoyed the show. That made me very happy. I agree about the range between abandonment and enslavement. Very well said. Thank you, ladies.
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It is pretty sad allright janets. And I'm having a really hard time understanding why you allow this manipulation when you can clearly see it for what it is. You had plans for the day. Mother threw a fit. So? "Sorry it upsets you, Mother, but I'll be back in time to help you into bed. I've left your dinner plate in the fridge." Open door. Walk out. You don't even have to tell her where you are going or with whom. You don't have to tell Sister about the fit, at least not until you're relaxing in the food court. Of course your mother is a drain and you are flowing right down it. She gets furious that you have a life of your own? So what? Let her get furious. Your mother thinks you have some nerve making plans without her. I think the real problem is you don't have enough nerve to carry your plans out.

You are right. This will never end. Unless you end it. Mother isn't going to volunteer to stop doing what she knows will get her way. If you keep caving in the results will keep being the same. If you want to stop envying your friends whose mothers have died, you need to change your behavior and get a life. If this is too hard to do on your own, sign up for some counseling to get you started.

Continue to be loving to your mother. Take her to movies occasionally. Take her to family dinners at your sister's. Shop with her now and then. But don't sacrifice your own life. You are a very dutiful daughter and you deserve respect from your mother, not manipulation. I don't approve of adult children abandoning their sick parents and that is not what I am suggesting. But there is a huge range between abandonment and enslavement. Please position yourself in the healthier middle!
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Boy, Janets, do I know just what you mean. I can't stand being my mother's only social outlet. That bothers me more than anything else. I'm not sure whether you live with her. If you do, I'll tell you what I've been doing lately. I dislike cooking for my mother because she really doesn't like what I make. And I'm too tired for it a lot of the time. So I've been taking her to lunch at the senior center, saying that I like it because then I don't have to cook. She enjoys it too, in spite of herself, and since I'm framing it as a break for me, she doesn't want to say no. That works for me because she lives with me. I'm still there with her but she can talk to other people. That's a small break for me, less pressure. If your mom lives alone, is she perfectly okay doing what needs to be done, cleaning and cooking? If it's a burden for her, you might not hire someone to be social, but maybe you could hire someone on the pretext of helping her. It would be a bonus if she could develop a relationship with that person by having other contact, like, how does she get to her dialysis? Maybe there's something that person could help her to do--especially if you have a ready excuse about why you can't do it. Probably none of these ideas are really helping you in your situation, but I hope they give you other ideas. Good luck!
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My mother has now reached new heights of manipulation (I wrote the original post). One sister lives out of town and (conveniently) seldom flies in to visit. My other sister lives in the suburbs (we are in the city) and works full time and has other responsibilities. She, too, conveniently manages to stay away. My mother is a drain. She has nothing to do, says all her friends are dead (not true) and gets furious at me when I make plans with friends. She says I should go, but there is almost always a payback. Today we really had a brouhaha when my sister in the suburbs asked me if I wanted to meet her and do some shopping and have lunch. I seldom see her unless it is with my mother (we do go there a couple Sundays a month for dinner). My mother flipped her lid and said we have some nerve making plans and not including her since my sister never takes her anywhere. From there it went downhill. My sister backed out of the day saying she doesn't want to be manipulated by my mother so she is making other plans. Now I am stuck alone with my mother today and tomorrow (I had promised her a movie this weekend). It doesn't look as if it will ever end. I feel so guilty as I am actually envious of my friends whose mothers have died!!!! How sick and sad is that????
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Yes, you're absolutely right about so many things. Unless I start feeling good about the things I do with Mum rather than guilty when I don't do things, my resentment will just eat away at me. It's going to be difficult to get out of the rut but I'm definitely going to give it a try. Thanks so much.
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You need to find the Owners Manual you got when you were assigned a mother. If you've lost it, maybe you can find one on the internet -- lord knows that every other kind of manual is on there.

Please look and see if there is a clause that says you are responsible for your mother's social life. Can't find it? Well then, did you sign some kind of an addendum to the original mother/daughter deal that gives you that responsibility?

What I'm getting at is the niggling problem you're having. Your mother would love you to provide her a holiday every week. Hey, I'd love for my kids to do that, too. But they don't OWE me a weekly (or annual) holiday and you don't owe your mother one. The fact that you are willing and able to provide this pleasure to her sometimes is a bonus. Instead of feeling guilty for the times you don't do it, feel proud for the times you do. Really. It is a subtle difference, but it can be huge.

You are not responsible for the state of your parents' marriage. You are not responsible for either of their social lives. That your mother is lonely or bored is not your fault.

You are, however, responsible for your own social life. If you are spending every Friday night and Saturday with Mum, what is happening in your own social life? Isn't this the time you should be building the foundation for the rest of your life? Do you want to get to your mother's age and have no social life of your own? Who would step into the void and provide you with a social life then?

Continue to do nice things for/with your mother. Do them out of love and with pleasure. Drop the sense of obligation. Definitely drop the guilt. If giving up all your Friday nights is cramping your own social life, switch some of mom's time to Sundays or Tuesdays. Be creative and find ways to give Mum some pleasure and also to live your own life. I don't think this is an either/or -- I think that you can do both. You just have to start looking at it differently.

Good luck!
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