My (75) Mother made the decision to have her own terminally ill daughter move in with her a year ago and to become her daughters main caregiver. Her family knew that Mom was not at all prepared to take on this role as she herself needs assistance --- but Mom refused to listen to us and felt we were ‘un-loving’ instead of ‘smart’ and moved daughter into spare room and her home became a 24/7 medical arena. Now a year has passed and Mom continues drowning and being more depressed than ever. I want my Mother to get her OWN help and address her OWN needs, but she gets mad at me every time I inquire about her addressing her own depression and perhaps get counseling or join a support group and getting her to a better place. I am ANGRY at my mother for not taking care of her own needs, and for not being ‘open’ to getting help. But do I have the right to be angry?

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Certainly you have a right to your feelings. And your mom has the right to hers. The real issue isn't about feelings, it is about actions. Whether you are angry or sad or disgusted, etc., what actions can you take that might help the situation?

Your mother was depressed before Daughter moved in, right? You say she needed help then. For the depression, or other issues? What were you and family doing at that time to help her? Could you continue that?

Helping someone with depression can be pretty tricky. Often depression robs us of taking initiative and it can be very helpful if someone nudges us into action. And often anger is just below the surface and will erupt if we perceive we are being forced to do what someone else wants us to do. Yikes! Striking a balance between helpful nudging and unwelcome pressure can be very difficult for well-meaning people. Hang in there!

You've seen some things that don't work -- that only elicit anger. Stop doing them. Perhaps later you can try again to suggest counseling, etc. in a different way. (By the way, I think that this long-term depression is going to need medication as well as counseling, talk groups, etc. This is a medical problem.) For now, let that approach lie dormant.

Do you have siblings or other relatives close by? What if two of you show up and you say, "I'm going to stay here and visit with Daughter. Janice wants your help selecting an outfit for a wedding, and then you can go to lunch. I probably won't do as well as you do with Daughter, but I think we can get by for a couple of hours." Getting breaks from the caregiving situation is important for Mom, but she may not have the initiative to arrange that on her own.

Instead of suggesting ways to improve her health (which she isn't ready to hear right now) how about focusing on ways to minimize some of the stress of caregiving? Suggest she hire a house cleaner. Offer to help her find one. Bring over meals -- homecooked or from the deli or a restaurant a couple times a week. Anything you can do to relieve some of the usual household tasks so she can focus energy on Daughter will be useful.

You are a very loving son. I hope you can find productive ways to express that love.
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It sounds like you and mom have a lot in common. Mom is trying to care for her daughter. You are trying to care for your mom. You are both angry. What would you have your mother do about her daughter? Is her daughter not your sister? Without being drawn into caring for your mothers daughter how can you support your mothers efforts? Are you angry with your mothers daughter for being ill and needing help? Does she have others in her life who could be taking care of her? Does she have resources other than her mother? Have you lost your mother to her daughter? Does your mother bring her worries about her daughter to you? Are you concerned that you will be asked to care for your mothers daughter?
To answer your question. Of course you have a right to your feelings. If you are expressing anger at your mother it probably isn't the best use of your energy and doesn't seem to be working. Try to really understand where she is coming from. If she constantly wants to talk to you about her daughter, it might be because she values your input and wants your support. Try to move past anger for your own sake. It sounds like your ideas for your mom are right on, a support group, help with her depression, but she's not interested in hearing that. Try a different approach to give your mom a little support that you clearly see she needs.
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You can be angry, yes, but keep in mind that your mother is apparently still of sound mind and able to make her own decisions. Unless she is diagnosed with something that makes her less so (like dementia or alzheimers) and displays poor decision making (setting fires by forgetting to turn burners off, having auto accidents due to declining driving skills and allowing her house to become hoarded and unsanitary), there is little you can do to push the issue of her getting help for herself.

It's sad, but it appears this is what she wants to do, even though she's angry and depressed.
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