Mom is 90. Lives alone and refuses social outlets other than me. She is getting more and more demanding. She cries and says she is lonely. I work full time and live over an hour away. I have tried EVERYTHING. She refuses any alternative to me. I can never enjoy anything without her guilt. Even when I set boundaries its very hard to hold them because of her CONSTANT harping. She creates a crisis over the simplest tasks (picking up prescriptions, dr visits, grocery shopping). I am really at the end of my rope. I try to do things with my friends or my husband but I can never get rid of the anxiety because I know there will be a price to pay when I get home. There will be an emotional reckoning for me. My mother will exact the proper amount of torture on me because I dared to have a life apart from her. She, of course, says just the opposite. For example, "oh I'm so glad you are getting away. You deserve a vacation." But when I get back she says how lonely she was and hoe she didn't have anything to eat in the house, or she had food but was "so sick" she couldn't cook it. Or she waits until the day before I leave and says she need her prescription filled or some other thing that you really can't refuse. She is very crafty and always seems to outsmart me. Consequently it is sometimes easier just to stay home. My husband has had it. We talk about her EVERYDAY. EVERY.DARN.DAY. He sometimes avoids me now. I really don't know what else I can do. My mother refuses to consider moving into IL, AL, or any help in her home. She refuses to go to the senior center or any other social outlet. A close neighbor lady her own age reached out repeatedly in the hopes of getting a friend herself. Mom refused saying that "she didn't want her coming over all the time."

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It will be hard but for your sanity and marriage you have to set some boundaries. You have tried to find alternates for your mom, but why should she even try to accept that when she knows she can guilt you into doing it all? Mom keeps pushing your button but you don't have to keep jumping or allowing her to control your every thought. When she complains of loneliness you reply "Well you know what I feel you need to do about that, I don't want to hear it". When she needs a prescription have the pharmacy deliver it. Don't tell her when you are going out so she can't sabotage it. Call and visit on a schedule, not whenever she thinks she needs something. And find somewhere else to vent about her and spare your husband, come here or find a support group or your own therapist. You might want to read on the web or here on AC about narcissistic mothers.
Helpful Answer (15)

I've written this before, just recently, and will write it again. There are two people in this relationship - you and your mother. You might not realize it, but you're enabling her. And she's exploiting you. And your husband is a bystander who's forced to accept the situation.

Each's desires, wants and needs must be considered. At this particular time, yours aren't, nor are your husband's. Your other is running the show, commandeering the control and you and your husband are literally be dragged in and along.

In any relationship of two people or more, each has to make some sacrifices so that a balance can be achieved. Your mother isn't making sacrifices, nor is she planning.

You can help her make the sacrifices while simultaneously planning: limit the number of trips. Help her make lists; if it's hard for her, list what you do for her, when, how often, and what purchases she needs. Then make up a list which she can check off when she needs something.

Take control of medicine monitoring to make sure there's at least a few weeks' supply so you don't have to run to the pharmacy at the last minute. It wouldn't even hurt to create a medicine calendar, noting the days when you refilled a script, how many pills were left in the bottle, and the number of days the refill will last. Diary that ahead for a few weeks before the pills will run out, and place the reorder yourself. Just take the whole issue of this last minute med refill away from her.

Allocate her requests to be filled weekly or biweekly. - no more spontaneous interruptions.

You have a right to refuse to be a chauffeur. The trips need to be consolidated. That's the first step in setting boundaries and establishing what you will and won't do.

And don't feel guilty about it. Many of us have gone through this. It takes a while to recover from the disjointed errand service we run and to figure out ways to consolidate it. I still work on that; it takes more planning than I do for my own needs.

I would also have a frank discussion with your husband and let him know you share his concerns, and ask for ideas how he can help with plans that break her rein of control.

Be prepared for some backlash; she isn't going to give up control easily. But the alternative is the affect on your emotional and physical health and perhaps that of your husband's.
Helpful Answer (15)

I was in this very situation. My mom was, is just like yours only I have DPOA and live 6 hrs away. She still lives ALONE in her fortress refusing all help or assistance yet would gladly let me knock myself out to clean, chauffeur, entertain during my visits. She holds the will over our heads like my brother and I really care.

I finally declared that I would no longer be held hostage over the will and I deserved to be happy and not do feel guilty because of moms loneliness. She has reminded me of her power repeatedly and that I can't control her or move her.

This has gone on 6 yrs, mom is almost 94, dementia and still lives alone.

For yrs now, I have replied "you have the power mom to make things different" whenever she says she's lonely, or no one calls her, etc. I stopped visiting so often, I call about once a week.

It has taken me 4 yrs to break the cycle, to stop feeling so guilty and to get on with my own life. I realized how I'd actually sucked the life out of my own family with the angst over mom, and depriving myself of joy because I felt bad if I felt happy.

Trust what others have advised. Change the way you react and set those boundaries. I can honestly say it hasn't changed anything in my moms and my relationship. She is the same and actually our relationship is better because I stopped praying for her to change and spent the last year changing myself. We actually enjoy each other, she senses my calm and now knows she can't get a rise out of me anymore. i literally have let go.

Save yourself 4 yrs. let go. It's hard at first but stay strong.
Helpful Answer (12)

I had a therapist tell me something very important. Since my parents were still mentally sharp, that any decision they made then they had to take full responsibility for that decision.

Such as living alone in their 90's in a house with a lot of stairs. If they fall down the stairs, well it was from THEIR choice to live in that house, not mine.

My Mom refused caregivers and cleaning teams, again she had to take responsibility for HER choice. That means if she had to do all the housework, well it was HER decision, not mine.

I know it wasn't easy advice to follow as I wanted to please my parents and they had no one else since I was the only child, and I had no children. But it was exhausting.
Helpful Answer (11)

Wow, I really want to help you. Others have given great advice.

Your mother isn't going to be happy unless she makes you as miserable as she is.

I'm glad your husband is refusing to let her ever live with you!
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You made vows to your husband. Please give him and yourself top billing in this.
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I can empathize with your situation. My dad just passed in Sunday. My Mom passed 2003. I'm the nurse and daughter and my parents moved into the house next door to my in 2000 so I could care for my mother who had dementia. Please know you cannot help your mother if you do not take care of yourself which includes quality time with your husband. I know you feel you are responsible for her well being. You are doing everything you possibly can be doing for her. I believe modern technology etc extends our time on earth, but does not extend the quality of life. Are you medical POA and/or executed of your moms will? Do you have siblings. This IS a 24/7 job. No weekends off no vacations. At some point you will have to insist your mom AND you need outside help. We don't know how long this journey will take. I believe in GOD and truly believe there is an incredible universe where we all go, and love and our energy force never rise. We own a soul, yet borrow a body. No storm lasts forever. Does your mom have a living will? Have you discussed what she wants after her demise? I truly want to help you. I was a caregiver for both parents for almost 20 years. I want to use my experiences to help others. My purpose in life was to raise my daughter, love my husband and care for my parents. I now want to help others through this PRE-GREIVING process.
Helpful Answer (6)

I particularly liked the "you deserve a vacation" part. Goodness that took me back. Not being able to go out because I couldn't leave her alone, and her saying "oh, perhaps another time - but YOU go..." Drives you to drink (cooking sherry in the kitchen, obviously, since you can't get out to a decent bar).

And how do they get to be so snotty about their peer group!!! Poor neighbour lady, it's a shame; but one older person at a time is plenty enough to worry about...

Well. There are two people enmeshed in this situation - you and your mother - and she a) is not going to change and b) arguably shouldn't have to. I mean what, exactly, do you expect of her? That she'll suddenly decide to broaden her social circle and make new friends? Some 90 year olds do like to, it's true, but they tend to have been the mixers and shakers of their groups. If she's never been that sort it's a bit late for her to start.

So that leaves just you. You can change how you react to what she says, and how that influences how you behave. You will need help and moral support doing this, and don't use your husband because he might break (like my exSO did, so I know whereof I speak).

Fast forward to when you've done a lot of work on this, you will be setting your own schedule and your mother will still be playing her games. The difference is you will have got the hang of pre-empting her sabotage through militant organisation, and developed special ears with ear-lids that filter out emotional blackmail as distinguished from genuine needs, and so although the situation won't have changed it won't bother you anything like as much as it totally understandably does right now.

Is there anyone in your community - counsellor, therapist or fellow caregiver, for example - who could support you?
Helpful Answer (6)

When dealing with my mother someone once told me "that when there are no quick solutions to a situation the next best thing ""try to do what you can and then know THAT IS ALL YOU CAN DO!

You can't force your mom to change, she may have to suffer the consequences of her actions or stubbornness. I understand that you may have a certain degree of anxiety about all of this, but you can only do so much.

What hit home with me, when you stated "we talk about her every day, every darn day". My husband was also getting tired of my mom being the focal point of every conversation. She was consuming our life. It sounds like you reached a breaking point. Just be point blank with her. Mom I love you but I can't be here all the time, give her other options and if she refuses, she refuses. If things get to a point where she obviously needs more help, have social services step in.

Good luck!
Helpful Answer (6)

CM, you made a very good point which I obviously missed. Moms can change her reaction to the situation. Great psychological insight. Your comment reminded me I've read that so often, but it's often easy to forget.

I think though that you've addressed a key element in the stress caregivers face - how we react to situations with limited changeability, and people who either can't or won't change.

Thanks for that wake-up call!
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