Is anyone out there dealing with a half-parent/half-child?


My mom is 87 and has had a tough year, losing my dad as well as going through surgery for cancer. I think she's doing remarkably well, but things are not exactly ok.

She lives in an independent living community, and basically she's lucid and rational about the day to day elements of her life that haven't changed for 50 years. You wouldn't meet her and think "poor old gal, she's losing it", but she can't retain understanding about how to do anything new, at the same time that she is demanding and stubborn about having these things.

I understand that she wants to retain her control and dignity and I have no wish to insult her, but she doesn't have the same attitude toward me! I was incompetent and bought a cheap phone that's "broken" (she forgets to push the talk button and doesn't understand the concept of a menu.) I didn't know any better so I bought a bad computer that logs her out of her email whenever the power goes out. If I don't agree to her wishes to have a caller ID phone or a computer then I'm "childish" and "selfish" or "inconsiderate". Ergh.

This sort of thing definitely extends to finances as well, which means it's more than inconvenient, it's expensive.

I'm not exactly sure what I hope to get from this post, but I guess I'm wondering if anyone out there is dealing with a "half-parent / half-child" . I've never been a parent myself and I have no idea how to set limits here. How do you make the decision to take more control, and how do you actually DO that??

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brdlvr1, yes. Being honest, not only is her life going to be totally upended, so are ours.

My mother lives in fantasy land and she has lived there for my whole life. Anything that doesn't agree with her and how she wants things to be is not real. This includes my feelings, needs and perceptions. I've spent a long time away because the constant attack on my sense of self and reality was intolerable.

She is holding tight to her delusional world view. She should have a rotary phone that tells her who's calling. She should have a cell phone that does what she wants regardless of what button she pushes. She may have been in the hospital for six weeks while paperwork of all sorts went to total hell and I had to fly 2000 miles and drop my own life to fix it, but that didn't really happen and it will definitely never happen again. And I am a disobedient, sloppy, lazy and selfish child, it's somehow MY fault, if things don't go her way.

It's always been this craziness. But now she's subtly losing it, without dropping any of the denial or the shaming or blaming. Whatever she says is reality. Sometimes it doesn't matter. No, they don't take the chicken at Wegmans restaurant that doesn't get sold and freeze it to sell in the grocery store. People other than sailors get tattoos. "Really poor negroes" (and omg, wince, Mom!) don't eat lard, any more than anyone else does. Offensive, a century out of date or maybe just completely wrong, but it doesn't really matter, she's an old lady with no filter. However, "I'll never get sick again", "the checks only didn't get deposited once (she still can't drive, are they going to drive themselves to the bank?)" "we can do that (important thing I have to be here to do) some other time" ... those things are not only wrong, they're *impactive.*

I think the issue for me is that when my Dad was alive, he was the voice of reason. She didn't actually believe him, but he was The Authority Figure and so his decisions were law. I however am not The Authority Figure, which means *her* word should be law, even when it's fantasy. We have never had a dynamic in which I was respected, and I have no idea how we start.
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Nose bleeds...she needs to see a doctor. Frequent nose bleeds can mean high BP which could result in a stroke. If u haven't done it, call her primary doctor.
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Very relevant to my situation reading all of these answers. My mother becomes defiant, rebellious, and angry if I tell her she needs to go to the doctor or any other suggestion I may have. Her response is I've done fine so far so leave me alone. What she fails to realize, like a child, is that her whole life may be upended if she has a serious problem due to not wanting to know about her state of health. She just wants life to go on merrily and not have a care in the world. Wait if she has to go to AL, then her outlook may change.
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My mother goes back and forth between being an adult and a child. The adult wants to control and the child needs to be taken care of. I would actually rather deal with the mean adult than the appeasing child. It is confusing. I have to admit the similarities end there, solocaregiver. My mother rejected technology after the 1960s. She refuses to use cordless or wireless phones. She never used a VHS or video player. It took her forever to start using a remote control. She is totally technology shy. The problem there is everything she wants is from the old days. It's hard to find old style technology. It's like hunting for a Model T among all the Toyotas. Whistles and bells just confuse her, so I hunt for dinosaur technologies when I buy any appliances or gizmos. It's hard to find things that aren't computerized now.

It's that way with many things. She may ask me to pick up some food or household item. I tell her they don't make it anymore. She finds it hard to believe that old brand-name products are gone. The funny thing is that she fusses at me like I'm the cause of the demise. She probably doesn't really believe me.
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Dear solecaregiver,

I can empathize and sympathize with what you are going through. It is a strange dynamic when you are having these power struggles with your parent. There is a role reversal that is not comfortable for the parent or the adult child. But its life. And we all do the best we can. I too struggled with my dad as his health declined. I never thought it would get to that point. As a pleaser and pacifist, it was hard to take control and start making decisions. I never seemed to do anything right in my dad's eyes. It was tough but we carried on till his passing. We all do what we can even if our elderly parents don't feel its good enough. At least we tried.
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Well, sometimes you have to bring the hammer down on your parent who needs help because they need to realize you're the only one who will help them. If you're not doing it right (in their opinion), back away until they ask for your help.

My mom is 97 and at various times she's resisted mightily my attempts to keep her safe and functioning well. Sometimes you have to wait for an emergency situation to make a change. My mom lives in independent living (with a TON of help from me). She refused and refused to let me get people to give her meds, even though I knew she was forgetting them or telling me she'd taken them when she hadn't. We were at a stalemate until she forgot her blood thinner for 3 days and wound up in the ER. At that point, I said, "I'm getting you help." She knew I was totally ticked and she didn't fight me because I'm the only person helping her. She is totally dependent on me. And she was fine with them once they started. Makes you want to tear your hair out!

Now she's having nosebleeds about every four days, which means I have to rush over to deal with it. I want to hire people to look in on her a couple of times a day, but guess what? She doesn't want that. One more nosebleed and it's out of her hands. My mom's memory is shot, so she doesn't remember she's had nosebleeds or been in the ER for that, so it's very hard on me. She's as happy as a clam while I'm going nuts with worry and stress. So I empathize with you two. Just hold your ground. We're trying to help our folks, whether they realize it or admit it.
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Thank you, Sea Turtle, it really does sound like you're in a similar situation. Mom just got out of "memory care lite" last week after having some surgical delirium. She was really having trouble for a while but now is back to her former state of cognitive health. I have to admit, that level of care is more than she needs. What she needs is my Dad, who's been a buffer between her and the real world for 60 years.  The teenager metaphor is good; I'd say she's about the level of a 10 year old right now - a basic understanding of how to take care of herself but extremely little comprehension about what goes on outside her cottage.

I actually have a POA in place. When my Dad died we wound up with a lawyer who did the POA and HCD as a matter of course. I guess the problem is more of a dynamic between us. It's always been two on one and Mom has had 54 years of being narcissistic and dismissive of my sense of self and my reality. It's never been good. Regardless of her actual state of functioning, the idea that I make decisions for her is unthinkable to her, POA or not.

Anyway, like I said I don't know if there is an "answer" here, but thanks for listening!
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Hi, Solocaregiver, I am in a similar place as you with a half-parent, half-child mother. I'm also an only child and have also never been a parent.

Mom is also recovering from cancer surgery (will be 83 next week) and had to move to assisted living ("memory care light" as I call it). My dad just died last week; he was in an Alzheimer's facility since February 2016.

I think of my mom before I moved her to A/L as like a responsible teenager at home alone when the parents are on a vacation, in other words, she was fully capable of handling her life as long as it was simple and nothing went wrong. But her judgment was impaired e.g., she thought nothing of standing on a chair to get the holiday decorations off the top shelf of the closet, even though she'd had 3 pretty serious falls the prior year and even been hospitalized, she paid credit card fraud without noticing anything wrong about a cash advance made at a casino, etc.

The good thing is, I had already gotten health care directive and POA on both Mom and Dad the prior year, also got the house into a trust. I just did it. I found a competent estate planning attorney, had the documents drafted, showed them to Mom and Dad and explained how this was going to make all of our lives easier, especially mine, as I am an only child and was already their executor (they did have wills). They agreed with me, so the attorney, who was also a notary, came to the house with the documents for Mom and Dad to sign and it was done.

Do you think an approach like this might work with your mom? Would she be agreeable to signing these documents if you put it into the context that it is helping you to help her?
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