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My dad passed away almost 20 years ago. At that time, my mother was in excellent health. Now, at 93, she is still living in her own home, but suffers from osteoperosis and the beginnings of glaucoma. Her mind is as sharp as it ever was. My brother and sister live next door to her and my brother has taken on the role of caregiver. I live in another town about 40 miles away. I call her every day (sometimes more than once) and almost always see her at least once a week. So, here is the issue - my brother goes to my mother’s house no less than 10 times a days, prepares all of her meals and takes them to her, and spends the night with her at least 2-3 times a week. My mother calls him in the middle of the night because she can’t sleep so he runs to her like it might be the end. Lately, my mother has begun to have “emergencies” and demands to be taken either to the ER or to the doctor for absolutely nothing. This past week was oneof those times. She is constantly telling me how my brother just “can’t keep doing this without some help” but the problem is my mother want him to do everything for her, but wants me and my sister to be there too. She refuses to use a walker, or get up out of bed and move around, yet she complains of weakness. A few weeks ago I stayed the weekend with her, only to overhear her telling my brother how what I had prepared for her to eat “looked like what you make, but it wasn’t hot.” Everytime I visit with her it’s a lecture about how I have abandoned her because I don’t stay with her at night, when the truth is she wants BOTH of us there. I have said if she is unable to stay by herself for any amount of time we should be thinking about a facility that can meet her needs 24/7. She is right - my brother cannot care for her like this much longer (he is 72) but she refuses to talk about a place for her. He refuses it too. The truth is, she has used guilt to get her way our entire lives and now is no different, except now i dread the idea of soending any time with her or even making a phone call. Every single day our conversations eventually end up with how awful things are and how I never help do anything. How do I respond to the constant guilt trips and her crying wolf without doing irreparable damage?? My sister refuses to give in to any of it, but it eats away at me.

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Boundaries. It's a book. Look it up.

Also, Google Fear, Obligation and Guilt (FOG)
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Thank you all - and here’s the thing that I failed to mention: she DOES have someone who comes 5 days a week for 9 hours a day, yet my brother STILL does what he does. She is a hypochondriac (has been for as long as I can remember) and every little thing is possibly terminal. And I know for a fact she has deliberately lied about what a doctor said to her so we might feel sympathy for her.
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Dear CSuser1,

I know you are doing the best you can for your mother. I cannot believe your brother at 72 years old is doing as much as he has all these years. That is admirable of him. But like you said it is getting to a breaking point. Do you think you can get a social worker to help with a family meeting? All the siblings and your mother. It's time to get everyone's perspective and feelings on the table.

With my own grandmother things came to a head when she was 90 years old. With 7 siblings none of them wanted to be her main caregiver or be running to her house for every emergency. Finally, she was hospitalized and they forced her into a nursing home. It wasn't ideal. Growing up we all have our issues with our parents. Where was the honest communication?

I'm like your brother and I easily succumbed to guilt and gave up my life to do what my parents wanted. I have to say its not a good road to take because the resentment and anger just eats away at you.

It's not an easy situation but I hope you find an option that works for your family. Thinking of you.
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Mom is a master puppeteer and it sounds like she always has been. And you all are her puppets. You say her mind is sharp, but when my mom called 911 three times in one week, I knew something was up. She was admitted to the hospital, tested and found not able to live on her own. She had no choice in going to a facility. She was negative and a Drama Queen all my life, too.

Your brother is a willing “puppet” and you will get nowhere arguing with him. Take care of #1 (yourself) first. If you brother wants to tote and fetch for Mom, let him. You can’t change him. Cut down on the visits and the calls. Worse comes to worst, you will have to call in home health care which will REALLY pee Mom off, but will be necessary at that point. Step back from this situation. Easier said than done, I know. But it’s the only way you can keep your sanity.
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Refuse to give in to any of it. Follow your sister's example, but temper it with your own brand of kindness.

Continue to talk to her on the phone at least once a day, but make it clear that the topic of more physical help from you is out-of-bounds. The first several times be patient while explaining this. After that be firm. "Should we change the subject, Mom, or should I call you back tomorrow?" Don't be mad or mean about it. Just be firm and follow through. Continue your weekly visits, but with the same off-limits rules in place.

The longer version: "Mother, I don't blame you for not wanting to be alone in this house. I would feel the same way. You are having vision issues and some mobility problems. What if you have a problem and you are all alone? I will be very happy to help you find a suitable place where you never have to be alone and there is always someone who can come immediately when you need help. I will be very happy to help you find in-home aides to help you while you stay here. But Brother and I have our own lives to live and cannot be at your service all the time or at short notice."

It would be ideal if you and Brother could present a united front. But if need be, you can stand alone ... or perhaps with your sister.

Don't dread contact with your mother. Refuse to listen to the dreadful bits.
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