When is enough, enough?

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My mother is 71 yrs. old. She has suffered from depression/bipolar tendencies most of her life but has refused any help or medications to treat the symptoms. My dad and mom divorced when I was 5 (I'm now 44) and she never remarried but lived with her boyfriend for 29 yrs. before he passed away 10 yrs. ago. That relationship was physically and mentally abusing for the first 5 yrs. or more. She has lived on her own for 10yrs. She does not like living by herself and makes note of it everyday I talked to her as well as my brothers ( I have 2 older than me) and we have paid her rent for the last 10 years as well. She is stubborn, argumentative, manipulative, resentful of others lives even her own children, nasty at times, and selfish. As a result of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for over 40 yrs. she has been diagnosed with severe emphasima and congestive heart failure. She refuses to stop smoking and is supposed to be on oxygen 24/7. She does not use the oxygen like she should, she does not do all her breathing treatments like she should and does not follow-up with doctors appointments without a fight and that includes the 4 hospital visits within the last 2 yrs. due to the relapse of the emphasima and congestive heart failure. Oh, she has not gone to a dentist in years or a gyno and I other underlying ailments that are getting worse and she will not address them. She lives in a studio apartment and can get around fine. I do her grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, and pick up her mail every day or every other day because she can not walk to the mailbox anymore due to her breathing. I do other odds and ends stuff also. After this last hospital stay I had a nurse come out to her home and check her vitals and make sure she knew how to take care of her conditions. A social workers also came out to talk to her about her feelings, etc. After six weeks ( insurance only paid for six weeks of service) the nurse told me she has been noncompliant and refuses to make any changes to better her health. She also turned down all the services from the social worker (ex. meds for depression, meal on wheels, senior activities, etc.) This would not only benefit her but it would have helped alleviate some of the stress I feel from helping her and then coming home to my own family and house. She wants me there 24/7 to take care of her and keep her company and entertain her. She receives ss and is on welfare. She spends money (qvc and hsn) that she does not have and continues to ask me or my brothers for money like we are a bank. She also has a car (that my husband and I gave her 5 yrs. ago) that is not working right now and we help with those expenses. We have not gotten it fixed yet because she should not be driving due to the fact that she always complains about seeing double. She makes reference to my brothers and I all the time about us buying her a house and a new car. She refuses to believe she has health problems and that we can not buy her a house and a new car. She blames everyone for the life she lives and for her health problems. She calls me all day long and when she cannot get a hold of me she gets mad. Because of her mental illness she has been alienated by her own brothers and sisters, including her own mother who was always crying that someone has to do something about her. Now I don't want to sound like she is an awful person, because when she was married to my dad everyone said she seemed fine. I do have some fond memories of my mother, just not that many. When I was 12 yrs. old my brothers and I had to move in with my dad because my mom could not longer provide for us financially and she was very depressed at the time. I don't blame her for her mental illness which I think has a direct effect on her not helping herself physically but I am emotionally drained and tired of arguing with her all the time. She says she doesn't care anymore. I love my mother but I have these feelings of resentment against her for making me feel guilty for the way she has chosen to live her life. I am blessed to by a stay home mom to my now teenage sons and I truly believe I am still home because I was meant to help my mom but I don't know how much more I can take. I am all she has because she choses to not befriend anyone and my brothers work all the time. I feel like I am not doing enough, although I know I'm doing a lot and I sometimes feel like a bad daughter because I have these feelings of resentment and being tied down.

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I appreciate the sharing of isolation on these posts, not being able to talk to even my best friend about the situation as she doesn't understand. Hubby sure doesn't get it so here I am. Mother dearest refuses to take her financial planner's advice and has refused to take even her doctor's advice in the past. She is extremely strong-willed and will do as she pleases. She uses me as her scapegoat now that my disabled sister has died. I am to blame for the changes in her will to disinherit family members and on and on it goes. She's now phoning and telling me what a lovely message I left on her machine when I haven't called in weeks. Yesterday I was told emphatically by a counselor that if I don't let go and reach the place where I no longer care what happens to her estate, I will be very ill. It's her life and she has the choice until she's deemed mentally incompetent to do with it whatever she wants. I want to detach with love, but for now I pray just to detach anyway I can.
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About the smoking:

As it became clear that our mother could no longer live alone and we started researching facilities we found that none of them permitted smoking in the resident rooms. Some of them had a smoking area (such as a porch) but many did not. We had Mom try out e-cigarettes, and guess what? She was perfectly content with them (after smoking for 78 years!) She is a little unclear about how they work, and she once tried lighting one with a match when she was here, but these are MUCH safer than real cigarettes. No more burn holes in her furniture and worry about worse. She now lives with my sister, who would not have permitted smoking in the house either, and who was especially worried about fire hazards.

This probably isn't a solution for every situation, but it sure made our lives easier and Mom's life safer.

About paying for a care center: Unless Mom's insurance is specifically for Long Term Care, it is unlikely you'll find facilities that will accept it. But she may qualify for Medicaid, and many facilities accept that. Worth considering ...
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I've had similar struggles with my mom without going into the details; but she too is non-compliant, dismissive of any outside services, help and "dependent on me" as the only daughter and last person who will have any contact with her (and I'm long distance). It is/was VERY STRESSFUL to try to make her safe, healthy and happy.

But like JeanneGibbs says, it was "a choice". I finally reached my breaking point in trying to be all things and "control" her behavior for her best interest. For my own health, well being and that of my family; I finally set firm boundaries and gave myself permission to let it go.

I have done all I could and believe me, even a DPOA doesn't give you all the rights you think it does if the parent and physicians are not cooperative (I just went thru all of this as I have DPOA for my mom). You can manage bills and medical decisions to an extent -- but you cannot force a parent into a living situation they do not want. Medical POA does not give you the right to choose their living circumstances -- that was a lesson for me. You may have better luck or elder attorney may advise you that you have to go to court to do so. I wasn't willing to fight for guardianship.

Bottom line, you obviously are a wonderful daughter and we can all see that here -- YOU HAVE TO SEE THAT. You have done more than most and likely because you see yourself as "stay at home", living nearby, having the means to help, etc. Its a daily struggle; I know; because even though I've set boundaries, call my mother infrequently, haven't visited in weeks (I'm not ready after our last go round); I still feel the guilt that I should do more. I don't even talk to my closest friends anymore about it because they don't really understand (they weren't the primary caregivers and had other nearby sibs that bore the primary caregiving responsibilities and decisionmaking).

Set boundaries. Decide when and how (time, financials, etc) you will help and communicate that with your mom. Respect her choice if she choses to live unhealthfully or refuses outside help or to help herself.
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I wanted to thank everyone that has responded to my topic. You have given me great advice and I appreciate your honesty and support. I do feel isolated sometimes and I do find comfort in knowing that there are others that have similar situations and have made it through these tough times. It will take some time for me to push those feelings of guilt and responsibility to the background but I know it's what I have to do not only for my own sanity but for my family's as well.

In the meantime, I have been actively researching all the senior care services that are provided by my county and/or state. I was told by a nurse that it would be difficult to find a home care service because my mother still smokes and has oxygen in her apartment. She does not smoke when using the oxygen, thank goodness, but it still poses an unsafe environment. I have looked into assisted living facilities but cannot afford the monthly fees and they do not except her insurance. My last resort, would be searching for a reputable nursing home that excepts her insurance. I'm concerned about her health and want her to be somewhere that she can get the medical attention she requires and I want her to be happy again. As for the POA, my brothers and I have discussed that option, but she probably will not comply willingly. We have a lot to work on, but we're not giving up! Thank you again, and I will take all your advice to heart.
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My heart goes out to you - you are a wonderful, caring daughter and doing all that you possibly can do. The feelings of resentment are perfectly normal and justified when someone refuses to take care of themselves. That is their choice and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Try not to be so tied down by enabling her manipulative propensity as it has become a way of life.

We hear so often on this site of similar situations; I've been through it and learned it was not "my job" anymore to make my mother happy with her life. I had done it forever and we all reach a breaking point. By refusing medication, Meals on wheels, etc. - that is her choice - and as difficult as it is, try not to allow her to make you feel responsible.

My mother ended up in a nursing home - it was recommended by the doctor, social workers, etc. etc. with respect to her mental illness problems and unwillingness to cooperate. Long story short, she ended up quite happy and content after a period of adjustment. Living at home can be lonely. There are quality facilities out there these days offering a comfortable, safe and engaging environment. We all have to adjust to whatever happens to us; the elderly are no exception. Life goes on and as long as she is safe and taken care of; you should not feel any guilt or that you are not doing enough. Sometimes we do too much; and they don't learn to make themselves happy. Take care and blessings to you.
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Any POA done? wow- really sounds like a tough, stressful & exhausting situation.....we're here to listen & support~
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You can't change your mother. You cannot control her behavior. You can control your own behavior.

Mother is free to accept or reject Meals on Wheels. You are free to provide lunch or not provide lunch. If preparing one less meal a day for her would reduce your stress level then you can choose to stop enabling her selfish choice. If the guilt you would feel for doing that would be more stressful than making the meal, you can continue to do it. But it is your choice. I think it is important to recognize that.

The same with money for unnecessary items. You and your brothers can control your own behavior in that regard. You can't change what your mother wants. You can change how you respond.

She won't be compliant with what the healthcare team thinks she should do? Well, then she will probably die earlier than otherwise and/or be more miserable. Those are her decisions. It is very, very painful to watch someone you love have self-destructive behavior. Feeling sad about it is appropriate. Guilt? No. Your mother's behavior is Not Your Fault. Your mother's behavior is not under your control.

Some people have different attitudes, but it is my personal belief that your duty is to see that Mom has food, a clean, safe house, opportunities for social interactions, and access to medical care. I do not believe that you have to (or should) provide these things personally.

Sometimes we each feel like a bad daughter or son or spouse or caregiver. The tasks are overwhelming and there is so much that we cannot control. We aren't perfect even in the things we can control. But I assure you, you are doing more than enough. You are a fine daughter. Feeling some guilt is almost inevitable. Push that feeling to the background and feel proud of what you are doing.
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ill try again. youre raised with your parents being the primary influence on your life. you see their faults and swear to be different than them. congratulations, you have managed to do that. now you have hanging around your next the exact opposite of what youve become and what you believe in. these are just my thoughts today. they arent of any value, im just venting here too.
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i addressed something similar yesterday. it isnt old age or senility necessarily. shes been a hard headed pain in the ass for eight decades. this is my circumstances, im just seeing if yours arent comparable.. you can sure get worn down by an argumentive person who blames things on everyone but themselves..
you try to help them, they block every move you make.. i dont have any helpful suggestions i just understand you on the mental illness and the 2 year old behavior..
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