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I’ve posted here before about my elderly mother (who lives with us), her selfish behaviour throughout my life and more recently wondering how my life might change now our son has left home for college. Thank you to all those who have posted support and good ideas. 3 weeks on, since we became empty nesters, my mum’s behaviour has been reasonably ok, as long as I’m on guard, but with the change in our home dynamic I came to a big realisation at the end of last week. I want my life back. I want my mother to move out and into a residential home for her care. She has lived with us for 10 years and during that time I would call myself the caretaker (janitor) in the house, rather than an outright full time caregiver for most of these years. Whilst our son was at home and growing up, my mother has been able to ride along the back of everything I’ve done to run the home: the cooking, cleaning, meal planning, grocery shopping, home and garden maintenance, household finances, etc. Now that our son has gone, I can see the huge burden of responsibility this has been for me, which you expect to have for your children, but which I don’t want any more for my mother and feel that it’s now my and my husband’s time to have our own lives without me having to do everything every day. I am so tired and just want to have days when I can just be, and I’m not mopping up food and drink spills, emptying rubbish bins that I seem to have done just a few minutes earlier, cleaning up little bathroom accidents, ordering stuff online that mum wants, reconciling who owes what after ordering all this stuff, driving to the shops once a week and anything else that needs doing. During these 10 years I’ve had times when I’ve been really overwhelmed, been ill, gone through the menopause with all the exhaustion that brings, and always I have felt the constant burden of responsibility, which never goes away. My mother’s eyesight hasn’t been good these past 10 years and is getting even worse I think, but she is covering it up rather than face the reality. She is 83 and is declining gradually, so there is never any one thing that you can point to and say “you need more help with that” but rather a hundred tiny things that on their own aren’t much, but collectively add up to a big big deal. Also, I can never leave the house without there being a big fuss, almost like separation anxiety, so I have all the burden of responsibility but none of the freedom to deal with these responsibilities, let alone doing anything nice for myself. I now realise that my mother will never make the decision to move into residential care and will stay here until she dies or a health crisis forces that move. On top of all this, I’ve been suffering bad episodes of severe pain for the past 2 years, leaving me unable to walk sometimes. I used to think these were bugs I picked up when swimming, but since I haven’t been swimming since Covid hit, yet the pain has continued, the medics have been investigating. I’m waiting for some test results, but it seems likely I have fibromyalgia. If this is the case, I really need to start looking after myself more. My husband and I are planning to speak to my mother next weekend about this, when we have time to discuss everything properly. He is going to talk to her first, as otherwise she will likely get hysterical with me, and I just don’t have the stamina to deal with hysterics right now. I am certain none of this will go well. But I am determined about this - it is time for her to get proper care elsewhere rather than relying on me anymore. She has the funds to do this so that is not a problem. I’m not posting this to seek approval for my actions. It’s actually a form of therapy for me to write down where I’m at and how I feel. I would however be interested to hear from those who have been in a similar situation, how it went and how they dealt with any resistance.

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Chris,

Geeeez, it seems as though your mom’s ‘gift’ came with strings attached.

I hardly call that a gift. A gift by my definition means a gift from the heart while expecting nothing in return

Your mom hasn’t seen things very accurately and has selective memory but you know the truth and that is what matters the most.

Looks like the worst may be behind you though and much happier days lie ahead for you. This will soon become a distant memory. Time has a way of softening the pain.

Wishing you all the best.
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Chris, as you've stated here before, your mother has been selfish all her life. She is apparently not capable of seeing this situation from anyone's perspective but her own.

I am truly sorry that she doesn't appreciate the home you've given her for the past 10 years, at great cost to your health and privacy.

If she chooses to be a bitter victim, so be it. Her choice.
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Thank you NeedHelp, I do appreciate your support. It's been a difficult 24 hours. The silent treatment continued and then came to a head this morning. My mother gifted me some money 11 years ago, leaving herself enough money should she ever need care in the future. She has today raised this and somehow feels I have taken her money and am now throwing her out. At the time she gifted me the money I made it very clear that she might need paid for care in the future and that she shouldn't give me money she might need. She demonstrated to me and her lawyer at the time that she had sufficient additional funds. The money she gifted to me "without reservation " has been spent on adapting the layout of our house to accommodate her, so there is none to give back anyway. She thinks she would have been better off moving to a smaller house when she was widowed 11 years ago, which would have left her more care money now. She is missing the point that if she hadn't been living with us, she would have needed paid for care at least 3 years ago after a bad fall in our house when we had gone out. By now, all of the money she gifted me would have been eaten up in care fees since then. Also, by living with us and having minimal monthly outgoings, she has been able to set aside substantial amounts of money from her pension for the last 10 years, which she wouldn't have been able to do if running her own home. Is it normal for people to feel this way towards their loved ones when they are facing a move into paid for care? She concluded by saying she didn't want to stay here any more anyway and that there was nothing here for her now that her grandson is at college. I am used to being the scapegoat but was reduced to tears by this - I am just so worthless to her even though I've welcomed her into our home for the last 10 plus years. She is unmoved, and just stood there glaring at me while I cried. Is this the narcissism we have all so often talked about in action, or the actions of a frightened old lady, or maybe a bit of both? I am so weary of all this.
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Chris,

I am very happy to hear that you have a plan! Fantastic!

I hope that you gave your husband a huge hug and kiss for speaking to your mom. He’s a good man.

Given your mother’s history I know that you aren’t surprised that she gave you grief about her past care.

You know that you have been more than generous in your care so don’t allow her words to cut too deeply. It hurts. I acknowledge that. I’ve been there too. My mom has said some harsh words to me over the years.

We don’t have the power to change anyone else’s behavior. All we can do is accept this is who they are and move forward in our lives.

Looks like you are proceeding in the right direction. Congratulations! 🍾 👍. Let’s toast with a glass of champagne 🥂 to happier days ahead!

Best wishes to you and your family.
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A quick update on how things are going since my last post. My wonderfully supportive husband had “the talk” with my mother on Saturday morning. He was surprised to find it went better than expected, explaining that I would not be able to continue to give her the care I’d been providing, due to my own health needs now. She seemed to be on board, saying she’d always known she’d need residential care at some point and so if it was time now, so be it - she has the funds to pay for at least 5 years care before the state would start funding. We agreed on a timescale of possibly moving out some time in January, giving her time to come to terms with this and for us to find a nice residential care home, stressing there was no rush and that we just needed to find the right place. After that, I spent a lot of time over the weekend checking out local places and we came up with an initial 4 possibilities which I felt would offer my mother the support she needs. In the UK we were then suddenly hit with another national lockdown due to coronavirus, so we thought it best to have a quick drive round each place this week before that’s no longer allowed for the next month. So far so good, but I always knew this would not be so easy. One of the places seemed just right in terms of location, reviews, quality of accommodation, type of care and cost. And that’s when the various barriers came up: “I don’t need care, I could just go and live in a hotel, I don’t want an upstairs room, (nor a downstairs room), I can’t use a lift because of my poor eyesight, if there is no room for my TV unit to go with my TV then the room will be no good, etc etc. We are talking about someone who is incontinent at night (so yes, a hotel would love that), registered as partially sighted so frankly isn’t that safe to get on buses or go to the shops unaided any more, and can’t really see what she’s doing when she’s preparing food and feeding herself. I calmly explained this to her, finishing by pointing out that I didn’t feel I could ever leave the house now in case she had a fall on the stairs while I was out, and how this was a huge problem for me as I couldn’t run the household properly if I could never go out to get something we needed. This seemed to light the fuse, there was a pause while all of this sunk in, followed by “well just put me in a home tomorrow then, I’m sick of talking about this,” before she stormed off to her room. She has been sulking ever since and so everything has gone exactly how I predicted it would go, with her lashing out at me and refusing to take any responsibility for her situation. This is the response I get after 10 years of looking after my mother in our home. The difference compared to all of the other times that I have been the whipping post is that I am very clear that she is moving into a proper professional care environment, rather than me carrying on as we have been doing, so I am able to engage with her in a calm and non emotional way rather than getting upset. I have come to realise over the last few days that a person’s care requirement is a very individual situation and that there is a huge spectrum of care needs. My mother doesn’t need a walking frame yet and is reasonably sharp mentally, but her poor eyesight and incontinence require certain aspects of care. There are other things she could not now do if she had a home of her own, but because she lives with us and I have dealt with these things over the years, she doesn’t see that as any form of care. I also recognise that moving into residential care is a huge step, needs to be handled sensitively, and represents a loss of some independence, but that it must be faced and cannot be brushed aside aside until it becomes a crisis. Sorry that this has turned out to be such a long update but I feel there is some insight here in terms of someone’s perception of their care needs versus the reality of their situation.
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If she says terrible things to you all the more reason to not be her caregiver. And you are right, things cannot be unsaid. Remember that when you waver. Your mother has a lifetime of putting herself first. Recognize that. If it was good enough for her to do that. it should be ok for you to put yourself first too.
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Practice what you want to say. And don't let guilt hold you back.
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Thank you for all of the constructive and supportive advice and links to further information, which I'm now going to read. I am not looking forward to the conversation this weekend, am not sleeping properly and already feel I am carrying around a huge burden of secrecy until we can talk about this properly. I am resolved to do this though, and your supportive words have really helped me to find the words and sentiment to discuss this with mum. I know it's so important to not respond to anger and shouting with more of the same, so am thinking of the right responses that will calmly acknowledge any anger or upset, whilst staying firm about what must be done. I feel that it is absolutely right to point out to her that she has had 10 years of looking after, from me. I think that's more than many people will ever get from their families, but I don't think my mother will see it that way. Thinking about it, I've probably given her more years of care than she gave me. My childhood was mostly spent being looked after by my grandparents, and then my mother left the family home when I was 14. Despite all this, there is always the little inner voice asking how you could do this to your mother, how awful you are, etc etc, but I recognise that is due to years of conditioning to please and appease a narcissistic person. I'm also feeling quite upset that I'm finally able to acknowledge to myself what has happened throughout most of my life. I know it is emotional abuse, and that sounds an enormous overwhelming thing to have been living with and burdened with for most of your life, without really knowing it. I fear the terrible words that may be hurled my way this weekend, as what is said can never be unsaid, but I'm focusing on the end result: getting my life back and being able to look after myself for a change. Thank you again for all of your support.
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There is nothing wrong with wanting to live your life without the responsibility of taking care of another adult. You have already put in 10 years. Of course you mom is not going to see it that way. She is going to say she is not that much trouble...they never see how much they demand of you. No matter when you do it, this will be an uncomfortable conversation. But sooner or later you are going to have to have it. Might as well have it while you are still young enough to enjoy life. Don't wait until you are so beaten down that you give up caring for her because you now need someone to care for you.
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Beatty, thanks for that reference. Here's an article about it:

https://www.ncfr.org/ncfr-report/focus/family-focus-aging/four-phases-aging-beyond-erikson-s-integrity-versus-despair
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I absolutely get the push to live your life now after all those years of giving.

I read this recently & am adding in case it is of interest to you?

Cohen's Four Stages of Maturity:

Phase I—Midlife Reevaluation (ages mid-30s to mid-60s) Phase I is a period of quest more than crisis. ...
Phase II—Liberation (ages late 50s into the 70s) ...

Regardless of your age - time to liberate yourself! 🍾🥂
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It sounds like you are miserable. I would place your mom and do not feel guilty about it.

Best wishes to you and your family.
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I think you're doing the right thing, even with the approach of having your husband talk to your mom first. My mother is always way more dramatic & theatrical with me than she would dare be with my DH, so he's the 'buffer' I need as a go-between. I'm sure you'll get lots of resistance from her.........why wouldn't she resist giving up the cushy life you've afforded her for the past 10 years for a life she knows nothing about? Here's where you get to play up the benefits of life in Assisted Living!!! The activities, the meals, the friends she'll make, the outings, the social life.......etc. etc. And be sure to remind her that you'll visit her and you're not 'abandoning' her at all, just offering her a better lifestyle. And if it were me, I'd play up that your DOCTOR is ordering you to get lots more rest and relaxation due to your health concerns, which is not a lie. I have a friend who's been on disability for the past 10 years due to fibromyalgia alone. It's no joke, and you can't be caring for an elder while you're trying to get that situation under control, that's for sure!

Wishing you the best of luck standing your ground and taking YOUR life back! You deserve to.
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Similar situation, but with me moving away from dad. I can relate.

Wish you success
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You have the absolute support of so many here. I cannot imagine anyone doing what you have done, and the fact your son is gone makes you know that there is not even the support of someone else around who is taking off the constant pressure.
You can expect a good deal of kicking, screaming and accusation now. You were ready for what was coming when your boy went to college. You must be ready for that. DO NOT FIGHT BACK. Simply say that it is now your time. That this is your ONE window of opportunity to have your OWN life, your OWN home, and your own choices. That you are a human with limitations and you have no Sainthood aspirations (remember, bad job description, ugly death with arrows, then we pray to you for eternity to fix everything).
It has to be simple as this is the way it must now be. We will spend a month or two exploring the best place you can afford. We all understand it will be a difficult adjustment. But this is the way it will be.
DO keep us posted. Good luck. We got your back.
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I you’re doing the right thing. Reclaim your live.
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