I'm living in a manipulative, exhausting war zone of caregiving. Any advice?


My wife and I originally, wanted to move my then 78 yr old mother, cross country to be near us, both for family contact & so that we could look after her as her mental and/physical health deteriorated...My younger Brother and sister, subsequently, withdrew their "promised" financial support in this endeavor. The 3 of have been living together. ......I don't even know where to begin, other than too say that the dog & have been ready to move into the garage, be asked to leave, or choose to leave...Clearly there is SO much more, our 15 yr relationship, is at best "floundering", and it's a manipulative, exhausting war zone....I don't know where, who , how to begin to start in trying the doownward spriral....There are, of course, health issues, elderly mental health issues, and now financial issues...It's seems to be a NEVER ending nitemare...PLEASE ADVISE ! ?

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I fear we tend to think our situations to death. Trying so hard to understand why our parents and siblings are the way they are. My sister is worthless. If she was charged with looking after my mother, my mom would probably be dead in three days -- and want to be! In the end, the "Why" doesn't matter. The only thing that does is taking care of yourself. Understanding has never brought peace of mind. Only forgiveness does, and the first person to start with ---- is yourself.
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Finances are often least complex, so let's start there. Originally the intention was that Mother should have her own living arrangement and this would require additional funds, which Sibs promised to share but then backed out. So ... Mom moved in with you. Have I understood the situation correctly?

What is Mother's monthly income? Does she have any assets? Where did she live and how was she paying for it before she moved? Is she capable of independent living? Have you looked for subsidized housing? Does she need care? Would she qualify both medically and financially for Medicaid? Give us more information about the financial picture and perhaps some of us can make suggestions.

Your profile says Mom has depression, but it sounds like more than that is going on. Is she being treated for the depression? Does she have dementia? Has she always been manipulative or is this new?

It sounds like she needs a new place to live, where you can visit her as a loving son, not as a soldier in a combat zone! So tell us more about her finances and her health.
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There is no advice or answers. This is shit on earth. And it will never get better. You will never resolve this situation. As someone who has lived in this hell for close to three years, all I can say is 'protect your self.' If you seek 'answers,' you will only drive yourself more crazy. just wait for the elderly to die and hope to reclaim your life. Period. Hard, but true.
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I have read a a lot of the discussions. Basically, we are, all, in the same position. It almost seems as if we are being punished for doing what is right. I don't understand it. I am always told, "You'll be blessed in the end". I don't know (maybe we will) but this is not helping me now. I wanted my mother to come live with me (foolishly thinking that her attitude would improve). Boy, was I wrong! I am tired ; but I always make it through another day. Caregivers are
strong people. A lot of people can't and won't do it. Yet, these same people want to be critical. My hat goes off to all of us. We pray that we make it through another day and are thankful that we did.
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Well.... quite a variety of answers. What I have seen from people around me is that many times although not true in my circumstance as an only child is that family likes to try and appear to care in the end stages of life to see what they can get from it. All you can do is your best, but don't wear yourself out too much in the process. Do what you know is right and stick to your guns.

The one thing I always said with my mother (long story) is that I always went to the top of the mountain with her as far as I could go. Eventually she paid a price for her own choices and behavior. If she involved others in her drama I would go as far as I could go and then it was hands off.

The key for me became even as a caregiver is that it was boundaries. I had to set boundaries that I could live with and I did. Surprisingly after her death I have no regrets because my mother lived her life a chosen way. She surrounded herself with people who were vile and bottom feeders. I had to fend off what I could and how I could legally, but if she wanted them in her life, I had to find a way to still protect her while giving her freedom of choice.

I learned to walk a fine line, but it worked. I have no regrets except for my own mother who missed out on so much of life because of her behavior or her psychological issues were never diagnosed so she could live life to the fullest, but that was between she and my father. I had to respect that whether I liked it or not.

If you put some of the boundaries in place for your own life, I suspect that things will become a bit clearer for you and you may even find yourself distancing from people that you thought you really liked because you see their behavior.

Don't let them control you. Control your choices, your reasons and if other things get in the way of that then you need to accept or reject it when it comes to caring for those you love. None of us can really decide that, but I found for me, boundaries was the key in my mother's insanity.
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I agree it is good to see if there are financial alternatives.If you do move her somewhere please don't be out of site out of mind to her care. These institutions that are more costly don't always do the best job either even if you are paying over $3000. An adult family home starts out about that price assisted living is more. If you use have to use medicare the invironment is usually adequate but not like being in a loving home of a relative, so visit often. If there is contention as you say then she is not any happier than you are.You can't have a fight if you don't fight back. I am still telling my self that every day. Bite your tongue and don't react.
I to take care of my mom without any help from my brother. It bothers him to even talk on the phone to her because she is losing her short term memory and says the same things repeatedly...it makes him sad. I say "live my life". I am losing my mom on a daily basis right before my eyes. Yes at times I feel sorry for myself, why do I not get any graditude? I do at times feel annoyed at her because of the snide remarks about how bad she has it here. Then the next second she is all nice and happy. It really is like raising a child. I raised 7 of them. Financially my mom could go anywhere and probably have enough money to last till she passes... she is 86 this year. I did have her in an assisted living and it cost $3800 a month she had 3 meals a day if she wanted. Meds delivered, various entertainment, her room cleaned, laundry service.
Problem was she wouldn't let the cleaners in to clean(she said she already did it herself) she hadn't. Meds were given on an empty stomach that made her sick.. She was never clean, her hair never combed, dirty clothes, didn't remember how to brush her teeth or put in her hearing aids.. She didn't even realize she was dirty and smelled. My mom was always clean and beautiful. They told me they couldn't make her shower. It is against the law. Meds were given on an empty stomach and she was always combative with me when I was there and tried to get her cleaned up, wash her clothes, clean the kitty litter box( awful mess). My husband agreed it would be better for her to live with us and I had the power of attorney anyway. It has been 9 months and we are still figuring it out and have some bad days too. The thing that has helped me the most is giving her vitamins. We tried all of the ALZ drugs and she was very combative even to the point of hitting me and being verbally abusive and cussing even in public. Her neurologist is very proactive about vitamins anyway and we took her off the ALZ meds. She isn't on any other meds as she stopped taking them herself before she left her home with her docs permission. I think she really wanted to die, was depressed about losing her memory. I have always taken the natural approach with my husband and my medical care as well. DR prescribed a high dose B with folate called Cerofolin. It is not covered by insurance and is $85 a month. She gets a coconut oil capsule, 5000 vit D, 400 vit E. Sam-E on an empty stomach before breakfast.( Is a natural mood elavator and helps with joint pain) a fish oil capsule for her heart, CoQ 10 for her heart and a multi vit for women over 50. May not work for everyone but it sure has worked for her. I can tell you she is more pleasant with me, happier, still has a terrible memory but can carry on a decent conversation about current news when she watches the news. Will now watch a movie all the way throudh with us. Loves music and cartoons. If her quality of life is better so is ours. Death will come to all of us when it is time. My mom wishing to die never made it happen and all of us wanting our lives to be more pleasant is not just going to make it happen either. There is "always" an answer to every problem but you have to find it. It is not always easy but why live in agony. ASK YOURSELF HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO GIVE UP ALL OF YOUR INDEPENDENCE JUST TO LIVE WITH A RELATIVE THAT DIDN'T WANT YOU THERE ANYWAY. I THINK WE WOULD ALL BE A LITTLE CRANKY. Care giving should only be done by someone who cares about the other person but still loves themselves enough to know when enough is enough .
Good luck everyone.
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An interesting collection of solutions, I am in much the same situation as many of you but one thing I have noticed that hasn't been mentioned (could be it's just me) I have recently realized that my brothers who occasionally keep in touch with mother and only by phone - one offers no $ support - one offers some support in a monumental birthday party which we need to organize - both suggest that even a week or two having mother at their house is more than they could handle - my sister thank God does give me some respite from the 20+ years of being responsible for OUR mother - in 1990 mother moved 600 miles away from her home to be closer to me and my family. Her objective was to spare my younger brother from feeling responsible for her care which she thought was unfair to him. Not sure how it was fair to me but perhaps she instinctivly knew that I would not place her in a nursing home while my brothers would have gladly justified that move years ago. When my brothers do call Mothers speaks and sounds pretty normal so as far as they are concerned she is just fine where she is - my recent revelation . . . when mother does pass on my brothers will have the luxury of remembering her as loving/ supportive/ positive etc.just as she was when she raised us unlike my searing images of a manipulative/ argumentative/ nasty/ individual with no short term memory who relies on me for her every need and total assistance. Same family totally different memories. c'est le vie (sp?)
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You are not responsible for other people's choices. Do as much as you can, but take care of yourself first. That means do not accept abuse from anyone, the parents the spouse or the siblings.
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Hang in there. I am in the same boat of hell dealing with my elderly parents. I am an only child also. Ge help from as many services available to you. I have not quite yet been able to develop the "Thick Skin" needed to cope and not go insane with mounting responsibility. It's a juggling act. Work, home, family, travelling to care for parents. The list grows every day. Perhaps counselling? My mother-in-law suggested that to me. Perhaps not a bad idea. You are only one person. Not an army. I see elderly people everyday that are still able to care for them selves and are enjoying life and not sitting around reliving events that took place 60 years ago. My mother didn't take care of herself. She let her feet go to hell and then slowly the rest of her as well. She blames everyone but HERSELF for all the physical problems she has. Do what you can for them, that's all you can do. I have been dealing with this for 21 years now. Try to keep your sense of humour. It will save you in the long run. Caregiving is the hardest job in the world. Hugs to you all !!!!
Anksana-moon (my name is egyptian)
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GSW - I love the idea that someone else is a late bloomer, at 64..... I'm 69, and feel as if it's finally my time....! what I'm learning at last, is to take time to step back, and realize I need lots of time to sift and regroup. You can get away from some of the demands if you learn a few catch phrases for your mom - like "Good idea. I'll write that "partial denture" on my list, thanks. Anything else?" Or change the subject, say you're making a list, and end on a positive note, no matter what, and hang up. Then unplug the phone for long enough for you to have good breaks - overnight, or in mornings, etc. The more you run yourself down to help, the more vulnerable you feel and she is in the habit of turning to you with her anxieties.

I also got some perspective and value of my own goals when I wrote out my life story and showed it to someone, like where I went and when and why - and it helped me see my unique value and interests. With that clearer in my mind, and some help from Al Anon for contacts, and even just trust in a universe that makes sense and we all grow - I am taking more time in between jumping into new challenges, making time to add my real goals to my plans, even if they might take some planning and preparation. I don't think it's any waste of time to help one's family, but if you are waiting for the moment when they say "thanks, that's enough", you'll have a long wait. Just figure you are doing your part and that's enough, add more positives and some fun to your meetings, and set your own schedule. Is there not a Council on Aging or some other senior center where you can locally find someone to help YOU, in sorting out worries about helping HER.. some of those illnesses will be real, but most can wait until your regular visit....
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