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I am an only child, with no children, a wonderful husband who I am trying to protect from all of my mother's drama. I have a 88 year old mom who is physically healthy. She has always been independent, and when my dad died 15 years ago, she accepted and moved on. I had only been married a month, and it was no problem at old. Fast forward 15 years later, she had a little health blip about a year and a half ago, and it has been an emotional roller coaster for me daily. I love her, and I visit her in her own home every other day. I call her or she calls me alot during the day. I try to hide those phone calls from my husband. I am alway taking out the trash or going down stairs to do something to speak with her briefly. I feel sorry for her because she is sooooooo extremely lonely. She has outlived her friends and her family only cares about themselves. I guess I have an emotional outburst every time I see her. She has no emotion at all. I have tears streaming or having outbursts, and it doesn't effect her. She can't try or even get mad. All she says to me all the time is that she would be so much better if she moved in with my husband and I. I tell her daily that that will never happen. She keeps saying it. I have told her and told her. I have hung up the phone, I have thrown a fit, and it doesn't phase her. I tell her I will not give up my marriage for her. I love her but she doesn't love me enough to stop saying it.


I told her I would talk to my husband and visit her daily to help. I told her I could retire. I told her I could hire a companion. No to it all except moving in with us. There is something with she and I that I can't figure out. I tell her that. I pretty much tell her everything I feel. I told her that one good thing going through this is to maybe work out what our deep down problem is before one of us die. We love each other, but not until she has started behaving like this, did we ever hug or tell each other we love each other. I, like you, am emotionally drained. I pray for her, I pray with her daily. Nothing ever changes.


When she visits our house for dinner, about once a month, my husband thinks all of this may be my imagination cause she seems okay. Not quite as spunky as she use to be. I tell him, believe me, you have no idea. I just keep it to myself, because he went through some things with his mom, and I just want to protect him from this problem. She is physically healthy other wise. We worries about everything. She has financial resources, but she has regrets not spending her money on things. She spent it on me and my dad, but really her. Now she is looking back and hates everything. She hates her house, trees, leaves, bills, being alone, not having any friends. Sometimes, I think me. I tell her that too. She is miserable, and she was never like that. She has always been hard on me, so what I do for her, she doesn't like. I try so hard to please her. I guess I always have. I tell her that too. I tell her things through our lives together that hurt me. When I was born, she had Post Partum depression, and I think it is back. I have told her doctor, and she just says that it is a difficult situation. She is in her right mind (no dementia or anything; she actually helps me remember stuff and she does her own checkbook in her head. I check behind her) The doctor said that we can't make her take meds to help. When she gets upset about money or things, she starts chattering. Anyway, I just need to just get this out for someone to read this and know I am not all alone. Being an only child with a sick parent is hard. I thought losing my dad from Cancer was tough, but this is so much worse. Thanks for reading. see less

Listen to the first responder... I totally agree amd have seen this situation many times as a caregiver. You have No Idea what 24/7 caregiving in your home will be like... here's a little picture. NO privacy...you Will be at her becon call day and night. You will be her life...you will have no life. All this Unpaid and she Will expect it all for free and for you to cover any and all of her personal expenses food clothing entertainiment...she will not want to contribute even if she financially can. She will behave how she pleases...rude entitled childish. She does not care about your marriage. One day sooner then later her health will change because she is already elderly and age is Not going to improve that fact. Are you ready to bath toilet feed her and do non stop laundry when she becomes incontinent amd non stop shopping and doctor apointments and changing your whole house to fit her declining health needs/installing and making your house handicap accessible. Those are the simple chores...what if she falls and becomes incapacitated and needs You to be her arms legs eyes ears Everything. You have no idea what taking care of an elderly person is really like ~ if you did you wouldn't even be asking about it here you would already know the answer and it is a firm and emotionless NO right back to her as she is giving you this treatment. There will be No pleasing her. She herself has no idea how much WORK she is and will be. She had her life and now is your time.
40%of caregivers Die before the person they are taking care of does. Elderly people do Not care about this...they want Their needs taken care of and no worries who it hurts or what it ruins in its wake. I try to share the cold hard truth about what caregiving is Really like. Spend 15 minutes googling caregiver burn out and you will see what your future holds. From what you've disceibed here she fits the mold of totally destroying your life and marriage. There are lots of nice nursing homes she would be around people her own age and she can choose to be miserable there just like she is choosing to be now in her own home and she Will be in yours. You Cant make her happy ~ she has to choose to be happy Herself.
If you have the money to hire 24/7 care that will be a companion for her then maybe that could be a next step In Her Home Not Yours. But even then she will behave as I have discribed above and she Will burn out caregivers and it Will be a lot of work for you to manage that as well and she will Still want you there just as much. So the time has come to be the adult/parent to her and be firm and make decisons for her best interest that keeps You Out of direct care for her. She pays for her own care or you if you want and can afford but don't attwmpt to become her caregiver or turn your home into Her private care home because you and your husband will have No life. That is a Fact.
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Please know that you can’t fix what’s going on with your mother. She’s faced big life changes with losing people and learning to live alone and it’s left her depressed. My dad got this way and now takes a small dose of Zoloft to help with his being down. If she’s willing to try this, great, but if she’s not, it doesn’t become your issue to attempt to solve. Your priority needs to be your own home and husband. Stop taking so many calls from her, don’t hide and talk to her, when it’s not a good time let the call go to voicemail and check it at your convenience. Stop having the conversation about her moving in with you, it’s been answered so no more discussions, when she brings it up say you’re not talking about that and get off the phone. If you’re visiting and she brings it up, then leave. We teach people how to treat us, time to teach mom that the moving in isn’t a topic any longer. Listen to one complaint a day, no more, it’s bringing you down and doesn’t help her. Talk about positive things and when she doesn’t want that, stop participating. Mulling over the same dreary gripes only depresses you both. And back to what I first typed, you can’t fix this! I’m glad you love your mom, but she’s responsible for her own happiness, no one can provide that for another. I wish you peace and positive time with your husband and friends
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LittleOrchid May 15, 2020
Yes! I particularly like your suggestion that a call or visit be terminated at the re-introduction of closed topics. It is something I have recommended to my sisters, though I do find it hard to do. It does work, though. When I am more consistent in this bit of advice I do find my time with Mom much more enjoyable.

You are also right that letting Mom move in would not fix her base problems. If she is lonely she can and should find people at a senior center with whom she can talk and exchange memories. The ultimate end to many complaints is "you would find others to talk to at a senior residence." The real issue is that sons and daughters do have lives of their own to live, whether Mom likes it or not.
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DO NOT LET THIS WOMAN LIVE WITH YOU! YOU WILL BE RISKING YOUR SANITY EVEN MORE THAN YOU ARE NOW! MAKE SOME CHANGES TODAY! By the way, how are you handling the guilt trips. They come with this type of relationship.
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onlychild55 May 13, 2020
You are exactly right . I have always felt guilty about my life . How do you deal with it . It you had it for 47 years , how do you change . Thx
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Limit calls to one check in call a day. Limit visits to once per week. She is tormenting you with the hope you will break down and let her move in. NO
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onlychild55 May 13, 2020
Thanks so much for your input .
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I am an only child who took care of my mother. I think your biggest stressor here is the fact that you have to hide the phone calls from your husband to your mother. Why is this? You say her drama, but you having to sneak around makes it worse. If your husband can’t handle aging and all the things that go with it, I don’t know if I would be making him that important. I am most sure that if his mother was going through this you would support him better than he’s supporting you right now. We all have to deal with aging parents at one time or another, this is to be understood. It’s an irritant if you have to take the garbage out to talk to your mother and that weighs on a person. I would have your mother go to adult day care centers, where she can meet new friends, that would help considerably because I think she is using you as her source for entertainment, which is why she wants to move in. If she is still independent then she is not ready to move in with you yet or you’re not at that point yet. She’s just bored. She needs to get involved with something. At first my mother rebelled against the adult day centers, then she lived for it and absolutely loved it. It’s the best thing you can do, I know I will do this when I am that age.
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HelpPlease1963 May 17, 2020
Thank you
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Your mother sounds like my mother exactly. My mother died almost 25 years ago and I am dealing with the consequences of her behavior right up to today.I do not trust most women and I am a woman myself. These are the things you need to do TODAY!. But if you are weak we might just as well stop here! I was getting psychiatric help for almost 20 years before I got the backbone to do what I am telling you to do now an it will cost you no money at all. Just know I speak from experience. Stop talking to your mother every day. NOW. I even changed my telephone number so she could not call me. If you have caller ID and you see it is your mother, do not answer that call but let her know she can call 911 if she needs to. My mother called me in tears claiming she could not breath and she needed help. Being the fool I drove there only to find out my Dad was in the backyard and knew nothing of her "situation". I asked her why she did not call my dad and she said nothing. She was thriving on my attention and fear! I know your mother is alone but please, please be aware of the games she is playing at you and your husband expense. You talk to her in secret because you are WRONG. Stop giving in to her and I assure you if she can dial 911 she will do just fine. My mother had a visiting nurse when she had cancer, CANCER! Even during this time my mother was still playing her sick games! What your mother needs and what she wants are two very different things. One of my mother's visiting nurses took me aside and told me that my first obligation was to take care of myself. The second was to take care of my husband and son, not sneaking phone calls or complaining to him since this will drive a wedge your mother would probably love to see happen. I SPEAK THE TRUTH HERE, TRUST ME! You think you are doing right for your mother but you are risking your future health and perhaps your marriage. YOU DO NOT OWE EITHER OF THESE TO YOUR MOTHER. When my mother passed away I felt NOTHING!!!! This is what I allowed her to do to me. Did I feel guilty? NOPE. She wanted to say so much from her deathbed but I told her she needed to rest more. Here is what she managed to say. "I love you, I love everybody." In my mind I answered "too little too late". Her words meant nothing in the light of what she did to me. I got strong through therapy from a professional. Not just one since one of them died while I was in treatment. PLEASE, PLEASE. Recognize the fact that our parents are not perfect and do not want to change. They are capable of doing harm even after they have passed away. I am living proof and I am strong and proud that I survived with my sanity intact. You need to rescue yourself ASAP. You do not owe your mother your sanity nor your marriage and you are risking both. I felt obligated to my mother and she knew it. I stopped accepting the $20.00 bills she placed in my jacket whenever I visited her when I realized this was one facet of our relationship I needed to change. If you are accepting money from your mother you need to stop NOW, TODAY! I told you you would need to be strong and you can start by getting very, very busy when that phone rings. Your future is with your husband, not with your mother. When I was younger I was asked who was my best friend. I proudly stated "my mother". How stupid could I have been? Please start at least by setting down some rule for her and yourself and STOP with the secret phone calls. This is disrespectful and unfair to your husband. Even I did not sink that low. I will think of you often because I fear for you. I have been there and learned too much too late. I am 80 years old and my mother's behavior WHICH I ALLOWED still affects me negatively. But I am a survivor and I wish the same for you. It turns out that my mother was unbeknownst to most who knew her was bulimic, addicted to laxatives, and mentally unstable. All of this from her physician.
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cherokeegrrl54 May 15, 2020
I read this three times with tears in my eyes for you. So glad you got therapy for those many years. You are a strong woman any way you look at it!! A true survivor! Many blessings and much love to you!! 💕🌺
edit..thank you for sharing your situation with all of us. I sure hope it helps the ones who need it most.
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Please read the book Boundaries by Townsend. It will change how you relate to your mom. You need to set boundaries and that book will be your sanity.
As for being an only child that may truly be a blessing. There are many of us here that are caregivers with siblings who couldn’t care less. So they have two battles to deal with. Not only stress from parents but also from siblings not stepping up.
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HelpPlease1963 May 15, 2020
Thank you
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Wow....I don't normally answer here, just lerk but I feel I must say something. I have a brother who lives an hour away. I am the sole caretaker for my mom. My parents were married 71 years, Mom never lived alone and has slight dementia. She could live alone, but would not take proper care of herself. Everyone told me to place her in AL when my dad got sick in January. I am so co-dependent, I just couldn't do that. My husband and I moved in with her and with the pandemic, I am so glad. Mom is very sweet, obedient, compliant, but also needy. Much of the way I care for her is on me because I am going to have to deal with the consequences. I would be willing to talk privately about those issues. My point: play the tape to the end, How are you going to feel when she dies? Are you going to be able to say "I did the best I could"? Can you have an honest and open discussion with your husband about your fears, concerns, and the care of your mom? Hiding things never works out well. You are not responsible for his reaction. I gave my husband a few days to chew on moving in with mom after dad died. He asked a few questions, but he thought long and hard about what this all means. I realize not everyone has a husband like mine. When we moved in, I stopped working and she is now my J O B. I took over her finances and I am getting paid for my services.
It is not easy.......but I had to pick my poison. I take good care of myself. I have a sitter come in when I need a break. I don't believe that moving in will be the worst decision ever made. But, it will put you in a better position to make a move toward AL. Are there any day programs she could attend? This is a tough time to try to do anything like that, but for future reference. I would be willing to talk privately. Taking care of my parents was a privilege. Both Dad and Mom were so appreciative of anything I did/do. I will never regret doing all I could. I know others who do not feel this way. Good luck, keep the Faith but also be true to YOU!
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SandyB66 May 15, 2020
I love your positive reply. I know that a lot of folks have selfish, abusive parents, and I think that is why it is so difficult for them.

They can't help but love their parents (as do a lot of abused - physically and verbally - children, as that is who they depend on growing up).

Even though we are adults, we may still feel like children when we are around abusive, nasty parents. And, I empathize with them and agree they need to seek help.

I am an "only", as both of my younger brothers have passed away. I have been caring for my mom for four years. She fell and fractured her neck and I had to move her from Ohio to California. She had very mild memory loss prior, but after the accident, she had full blown Dementia.

We have always been close so I have no bad feelings toward her. I do admit, however, that because she is totally dependent on me, it is very exhausting. I do not take enough care of myself. There is no other family out here except my son and his wife. They help when they can, but both work full-time. And during this time, no one can come to give me some respite.

I feel for those who are giving 24/7 care to someone and hope that you can all get help and find some peace. I wish you the best!!
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I am not an only, but I AM the only female, so I get it. My mom relies on me for everything and I assumed the role because I retired before my brothers. Shortly after my dad passed, mom was dx’d with macular degeneration. She had already gone blind in one eye (from measles as a child). Fast forward 22 years. Mom is 94 and is legally blind, can’t hear and has mild-mod dementia and has sundowners frequently, but not everyday. She is living independently in a senior living facility. She receives meals daily. But every other facet of her life, financial, medical, entertainment (slim to none since Covid), is on me. However, the one thing that has made a huge difference is a $40 camera my husband installed in her apartment where I can see her anytime I want. It gives me great piece of mind to check in on her. If she gets her meds confused (a daily occurrence since she doesn’t place them in the same place twice), she can hold a bottle to the camera and I can help her. I’ve ‘looked’ at bruises, bleeds, lumps and bumps since she seems to think that everything that crops up on her body is a life threatening condition. My mom originally balked at the camera, but when I told her it was for my piece of mind, she backed off. It’s something to consider. It may be helpful to you in relaxing the number of calls you make to her daily. I think you’ll find your mom does better than she lets on. I found that out since getting the camera.
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Pepsi46 May 15, 2020
Well, I think that's a great idea. I never thought of a camera. I didn't think the facilities allowed it.
I think it's the best idea I have heard of in a long time.
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I really feel for you. I am also taking advantage of the really great advice you received with this post.
My hubby is 54 and has an 88 yr old mother. He is an only child. His dad took off early on and started another family. His relatives are pretty much done with his mother due to her nasty demeanor. She is very insulting and has no remorse. She to this day doesnt really get why there is no contact with them and believes when she insults people they should get over it.
She was horrible to my son in childhood and into adulthood. name calling, criticism. He and I discuss the motivations behind her behaviors. She is very narcissistic and borderline. She is trying her best to turn a relative of mine against me. Anyway, she has been playing the need to move in game with us. She is 88, independent and has always been, and strategically lives in a condo where she can walk to everything. It would ruin our relationship to have her move in with us. She claims she would be happy if she did but she has rarely been happy and is a huge fan of misery. I myself am going to invest in a book someone mentioned earlier about boundaries. We also work very challenging jobs and need the peace and comfort of our home. Anyway, I didnt mean to go off on a tangent. You are not alone. You and the replies you received make me feel better. God Bless!
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HelpPlease1963 May 15, 2020
thank you for your input
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