My mother has a laundry list of health challenges related to age, obesity and depression. She's also extremely stubborn and narrow-minded. She's prone to having major breakdowns and tantrums when things don't go her way.

I don't know how to approach her without hitting a wall. Does anyone have experience talking to, caring for, and otherwise engaging a parent who is so difficult? I don't know where to start or even how to gather my thoughts right now. How do I get involved with her medical care? How do I avoid enabling her? How do I not let frustration get the best of me?

We live on opposite coasts at this time. I'm expecting that I'll either move in with her or have her move to a home near me.

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How do I get involved with her medical care?
You don't

How do I avoid enabling her?
By not helping, Illusion of independence

How do I not let frustration get the best of me?
Don't get involved if she doesn't specifically ask for it

And don't move in with her or move her near you or you'll become her slave 24/7. The personality type you're describing would be awful to deal with in that situation.

It is not your responsibility to care for a stubborn woman that throws tantrums. Let her be the only victim of her bad decisions.
Helpful Answer (26)

Worst mistake you would ever make in your life is to move in. You think it's bad now wait till you're her slave 24/7
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Why on earth would you move in with her?

Is she asking for your assistance? Its HER job to make a plan for her old age.

Children are not a retirement plan.
Helpful Answer (25)
igloo572 Jun 2020
“Children are not a Retirement Plan” that, Barb, is today’s bumper sticker.
I remember ages ago visiting my backside of her 90’s mom at the NH with my then in middle school son (maternal family is filled with later in life kids, my gran had her last at 46) as we drove off, kid sighs big time and looks hard at me and says “they never die in your family do they mom”, turns his head and sighs again. Right then I vowed to do whatever to not place him into being our “retirement plan”.
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Trust me. Stay on opposite coasts. It will never get better. It’s not up to you to take care of her.
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First of all, I don’t suggest you move in with her. If you don’t want to give up your established life, then move her to facility near you. There won’t be any way to make her a reasonable human being if she has been difficult all her life. So figure out what you are willing to do for her and then stick to your guns. Often it seems easier to just give in to get along but this is the rest of your life. If she won’t move, then ask her what HER plan is? She needs a POA that she designates. I would not consider agreeing to assist without having it.
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Beatty Jun 2020
No POA = No
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Have you ever asked Mom her future plans?

"Hey Mom, this came up with a friend's Mom (small therapeutic fib) if you got too old or sick to look after yourself, what's your plan?

Had some great replies in my lot: Spend my money on maids I suppose... Just put me in the nearest nursing home... The old 'shoot me'... I'll just move in with daughter & she can treat me like royalty, ha ha. The last one was shot down in flames by that designated daughter/subject! No that WON'T be happening 😂

The thing is. It's Mom's life. It's up to HER to make a plan (unless deemed medically & legally incompetent).

PS Ask her to get an idea of her thinking - not to promise to make it happen!
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She is into control. Since so much about her she cannot control. She manipulates you. It’s a process. Step back. Verbalize your position. Ignore the ranting.
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We hired a social worker (Aging Life Specialist) to interact with our difficult, out of state parent.

I found her on

It wasn't inexpensive but neither were trips back and forth to handle various emergencies. Good luck!
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My Mother is the epitome of stubborn. She only does things under her own terms. She’s 90. She’s been this way my entire life and it’s pride that will be her demise unfortunately. I live in Florida and she lives in NJ. I’ve tried for 5 months to get her to agree with having a home healthcare nurse help her out. She has Medicaid and Medicare so she’s be fully covered. I even told her I’d pay privately if she wanted a special nurse. She told me absolutely not and she didn’t need any help. I went to NJ for a few weeks to visit and kind of get a grasp on what was going on and find out things she wasn’t telling me with her life. She feels she doesn’t need help, doesn’t want help and she was fine living the way she was. I needed to know. Our phone conversations are just catching up and pleasantries but she would never tell me anything medically because she knew I’d he on her to agree to get help. She had even told me several times I brought up the subject that she would not let the healthcare worker in her apartment. She was having trouble with mobility because her legs were swollen so that was a big issue. She fell in her apartment twice and still she refused help. She lives alone at her age and in addition she didn’t want any help. So now after months (years really because of her stubbornness and pride) we’ve arrived to her present situation. She fell in her apartment and couldn’t get up. Her neighbor just so happened to have knocked on her door to check up on her and heard my Mother yelling for help. Long story short, my Mother was rushed to the hospital and among the laundry list of medical issues she already had we add quite a few more including a heart condition. She never told me of these new medical issues because again her pride didn’t allow her to inform her own daughter. She’s presently in a rehab facility after she was released from the hospital getting physical therapy. It’s been determined by her doctor that she needs to remain at the facility long term because she CAN NOT go back to her apartment to live alone. So there is where things are. As hard as I fought for her to just accept help and her refusing me to no end now she has no other choice but to remain in a nursing home. If she had just stopped fighting the help I was offering and not been so stubborn and prideful she wouldn’t have ended up in this current situation. When I moved to Florida 30 years ago I purchased a house with an extra bedroom and bathroom for my Mother in hopes she’d come live with me and my family and take care of her. She refused and never even entertained that thought. She does things under her own terms to this day and even though she’s now in a facility she’s not cooperating with the staff. I wish you the best of luck.
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Considering that she is a difficult mother please do not have her move in with you. You will lose your life and she will not get the care she needs. She has many health issues which need professional care. Stubborn family members tend to be more cooperative with non family carers on whom her tantrums will have less effect.

If she will give you POA medical that authorizes you to be involved with her health care. If not, all you can do is communicate your concerns with her doctors but they cannot (HIPAA) share anything with you unless your mother oks it, and then you wait till her doctors deem her unable to live alone anymore.

It is easy to say put her in to a home near you but you cannot force an adult who is deemed competent to do anything. However, it might by wise to start looking around at suitable facilities so you are prepared when the time comes. If she has the financial resources to pay for care in a facility, that's great. If not you might want to get familiar with medicaid. At some point, as well as POA medical, she needs to assign a POA financial.

As has been said by others, waiting for the crisis that brings things to a head isn't easy, but sometimes it is the only route available to you. (((((hugs))))) Look after you.
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