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What is it about a parent that focuses on one child to meet their needs, especially in their elderly years? Why do they single out on that one child as the chosen one. I asked my mother, one time, what would she do without me or my husband if something happened to us. She stated she did not know. I have two other siblings who are willing to help, but would rather choose me. It gets tiring to always place boundaries and distancing myself from her constant wants and needs to be the "CHOSEN ONE" Why can't she accept that I do not want the responsibility nor will I accept the responsibility. She is so ignorantly relentless in her quest to reel me back in to her life of wants and needs. What will it take to get her to accept other willing help and stop trying to rely on me solely?

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My Mother will be 90 years old in August, and yes, people do tell me - all the time - that I am so lucky to have her. I am happy that she is still with us, I love her very much. HOWEVER, I never have any Peace of Mind, I worry about her 24 hours a day, and the stress is going to kill me. There are so many problems involved. My Mother lives alone in her 3 family house, and refuses to let any outside agency help her. She is blind in one eye, and has several Eye Specialists who are trying to save her remaining eyesight. They recommended the Association for the Blind to help her with Visual Aids. She said no, has refused all help. She has already had a few falls, lucky, just minor injuries. So, it's not a matter of IF she will fall again, it is When, and the next time could be very bad. Also, I Live 30 miles and 1 Hour away from her. She lives in Chelsea, next to Boston, & I live in a Suburb south west of her. To get to her house, we have to contend with the traffic on the Massachusetts Turnpike, the tunnels and the Tobin Bridge. It has become a nightmare to drive to her house. We moved away to the suburbs 40 years ago. My husband and I, and our 3 kids, always drove to Chelsea for the Holidays, or to my Aunt's house in Wilmington, MA. - also a long drive for us. I have one younger brother, who is married, he also lives in Chelsea, 1/2 mile from my Mother's house, about 5 minutes away. He has a good job, and is not available during the week, to help or check on our Mother. For the last 40 years, he has not wanted to drive to our house, and bring my Mother to visit us. In July of 2005, almost 9 years ago, I was self-employed, so I was able to take some temporary time off from work to stay with my Mother and Dad, for 3 weeks. BIG MISTAKE !! The few weeks turned into 9 years of helping them, but also, when my Daughter realized that I was not working, she assumed that I would babysit the Grandchildren, and so I found myself providing free Childcare for many years. So that summer of 2005, my Mother had an eye operation and needed eye drops every few hours. I loved having that time with them, and spent precious time with my Dad. He had Congestive Heart Failure, and other problems, but he could do things for himself. The problem was that he would do nothing all day, and my Mother waited on him, hand & foot, making 3 meals a day. In 2006, my Mother needed another eye operation, and I felt that it was my duty to stay with her again, to help with meds, etc. But this time, my Father had been hoarding, and would drop crumbs from his food all over the house. The result was that they were infested with mice. I was horrified by the thought of sleeping at their house, so I told my Mother that we should have a cleaning company come in, to clean the house. She got very mad and would not speak to me for 2 months. She said she would not get the operation, but I found out from my Aunt, that she did have it, and was doing just fine without me. This made me realize that I made a huge mistake, leaving my job. Plus, I was not contributing to Social Security all those years, resulting in less retirement funds. So, recently, my Cousin lost her job, her Mother had died, and she was very lonely. She also lives in Chelsea, and volunteered to take my Mother shopping, to Doctor visits, etc. The only problem is, she asked my Mom for financial help, she could not pay her rent and bills. My Mother ended up going into her savings, and gave this cousin $20,000.00 which she spent in just 6 months. She kept asking for more money. I was shocked about this, because my Mother is brilliant, has no dementia, and is careful with money. This cousin swore that she didn't ask for money, she said my Mother offered to help her. I get that, but I can't understand why my Mother would hand over so much. Another problem, my Mother plays mind games with my brother. She won't ask him for help, he told me that he does call to take her shopping, and she says no. This goes on, all the time. I am going crazy. I am going to go back to Counseling, to see what I need to do about this situation. Thanks.
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I have the same problem w/ my sister. We used to be close. Now she hates me. When we speak, we only talk about my dad this, & my dad that. I have tried to make an effort to have a conversation without mentioning "our dad" at all. We seem to have very little any more to say. She does not want to be involved at all, except on the first of the month when she always needs $$$. She was used to getting $$ without helping out at all. So, of course, she hates having to let dad stay with her to give me a break. I live w/ dad at his house. It is run-down and sis says she would rather die than live there. So, dad pays her rent. That's the kind of dysfunction that goes on. His house is going down the tubes so her rent is paid & she can live with her grandiose dissolution's that she is above the rest of the family. sad. But, I don't know what to do about it. I have tried talking to him & my siblings. But, no one wants to deal w/ my sis's tantrums. My dad has become very clingy & won't do anything socially without one of his kids being involved. Won't go anywhere (senior center) any more. So, I feel stuck, too. And sad. I still have a child at home in school. I am a single mom w/ no help. It gets so tiring sometimes. I wish I had some advice to give. But, maybe I can just offer that I know how it is to be "stuck" in the role that your in. I feel for you sister.
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I have been the sole caregiver for my both inlaws the past and now my own mother. This time it is different. I am taking it my personal and trying to set my boundaries. Only setting certain days for doctor appt. and arrends. I just lost my dad with a sudden heart attack and mom is not doing well so looking forward to a bumpy ride.
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My brother and I are in this situation--There's only the two of us--We brought Mother back here to Mn. from Cal. after a stroke---Not a serious one but enough to have to get her into Ass. living. My brother has always been the chosen one. Mother has never really liked me that much and the feeling's mutial. My brother was the one she would love to have around alllll the time. I won't hear of it. I love my Brother and would not tolerate him having to be at her "beck 'n' call -everytime she wants something. We didn't really sit down and write a list of duties but my brother takes care of her bills/paper work---and takes her to doctor appt.s I run errands for her and clean do shopping that sort of thing so it's pretty much down the middle. (we use our personal strengths) If either one of us had to do it all---we'd lose our collective minds. Glad you said that the sibs are willing to help----so they should just do it. EXAMPLE: Mom wants you to go clothes shopping and clean kitchen-----your sib shows up---Mom protests---your sib says--I'm here---My sister is tied up---if you want the clothes purchased and the kitchen cleaned---I'M It TODAY!. Sometimes you just have to force the issue. If you all insist this is the way of doing business with Mom--she'll get the message---but --you'll have to be consistant and not back down--none of you---Good luck and God bless--we're making it work!
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The weight of being the caregiver daughter has lightened up a lot with everyone's suggestions here and also I finally posted an ad on craigslist for a driver. We now have a nice long list of perfectly nice people. Mom no longer panics at being alone and enjoys meeting the new people in her life who drive her around or keep her company. I noticed that now my time with her has better quality to it and I am not so grumpy feeling helplessly absorbed by her.
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debralee - when I read what you wrote, I see that you are wishing your mother was different than she is, and that she would change, so she would be less of a "headache" for you. Many of us have been and are there. I get more peace when I accept that my mother is as she is and is very unlikely to change. I would rather not have to enforce boundaries, deal with her self centeredness, her mental illness and the fall out from that, my sister's narcissism and worse, and so on, but those are the realities of my life.

I doubt that your mother will change. So all you can do is draw and enforce the boundaries, maintain distance and detachment. Decide what you will do for her and refuse to do anything more. You cannot change your siblings either.

I know it is tiring and discouraging at times. ((((((((((((hugs)))))))))) Do something good for you!

Tips on maintaining boundaries from a blog by kriscarr

1. Communicate your boundaries. Communicating your limits firmly, consistently, succinctly and without strong emotion (without blame and/or judgment) is imperative because one never accomplishes his/her goals by putting the target audience on the defensive. You don’t want to create more conflict. Try saying something like, “It is super important that I avoid stress in my life so that I can heal, which includes X, Y and Z.” Do not justify or rationalize your boundaries. This is not a two-way conversation but rather a polite, calm, firm and respectful statement of your needs – no discussion needed.

2. Communicate the consequences. Once you have communicated your boundaries, be sure to follow with the consequences for violating your boundaries. For those people in your life who are particularly manipulative, controlling, abusive or overbearing, stay firm, be very specific about what you will and will not tolerate, and be even more specific about the consequences that you will enforce if your boundaries are tested and crossed. For example, “If you continue to criticize me, I am going to end our conversation.”

3. Stay firm. Boundary setting is not a two-way conversation. There is no negotiating your boundaries and the consequences you put in place for when your boundaries are violated. Stay firm when it comes to what you will and will not tolerate in your life. You come first, and that is OK.

4. Practice makes perfect. Learning to set boundaries can take time and, like any other skill, you will improve with practice. For many, the idea of standing up for yourself and communicating your desires may feel totally foreign. Don’t worry, with time, it will become a staple in your health and wellness tool box.

5. Lose the Guilt: It is quite common for individuals, especially us people-pleasers, to feel guilty or selfish when establishing boundaries and saying “no,” but it is important to recognize that you have the right to take care of yourself without letting limiting belief systems get in the way of your mind-body-spirit health and wellness. Remember, saying “no” to someone often means you are saying “yes” to yourself. Start saying “yes” to yourself today
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It is not only you and her but a lot of it has to do with how your siblings have always dealt with her. A lot of it is trust. She may not trust the others to follow through or do the right thing. Her asking you is a double edge sword. She asks you because you have a kind heart, integrity and are trustworthy. It is not in your nature to say no, do a bad job or whine and moan when someone asks for help. I suggest, what I did with my mother. Set limits. Be clear for your self what, when and how you can help. Much of the requests for help are an excuse to have your company. When older people are alone everything gets blown out of proportion. "I have to go the bathroom all the time". It seems like all I do is take pills". "If I could get just one good nights sleep". Try beating her to the punch. Call her regularly just to talk 10-15 minute. Let her talk and tell her about your day. She can live vicariously through you. Tell her the good stuff, funny things, news... If a request comes up and it isn't urgent, tell her you will talk to her about it next call and call again the next day or day after. Or, make a to do date. "Let's talk Friday to see when we can get together to take care of that". Triage the requests by priority. Also plan ahead for her anticipate when she needs scripts, next doctor visit, etc. Above all make your contacts less about care giving and more about spending time together this should slow her on creating needs, illness/emergencies to get your attention. Having people desire your time is the highest for of praise. You are a good person!
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Being one of 6 children, I was the only one to help my mom when she was alive & my brother's & sister's & I joined forces when my dad became ill at age 76. I was the main care giver overseeing everything from AZ, hiring nurses for Hospice care & flying back & forth from AZ to Chicago weekly till I became too ill to continue. I continued to work as I am an R.N.& Counselor & have come to specialize in Mental Health.
I have always seen this as a gift I can give to others. I just look at things differently. My, how the world changes once one looks differently.
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I'm just beginning this journey as an only child, so no one to even lean on other than my husband and incedible friends. I am learning that boundaries with mom are the only way to keep my life. Caregivers are the best! I have one on weekdays and am looking for a second. Mom said she didn't need one because she had me. I'm so grateful that I stayed strong. She LOVES her caregiver and actually has something to share when I come home from work. Win, win.
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This sounds familiar. I was told that I should not get on a ladder because, 'if something happened to you, what would become of us?'
I am not an only child. I have to look after everything and I'm the one who gets complained to. The sibling gets treated like they are made of gold. Never a harsh word. When I had to have surgery, the main thing they were concerned about was how to get into my funeral policy.
You can imagine how secure I feel being wheeled into the operating room!
In my family the females are treated like crap and the boys like little princes. So that's how I explain it in my own family. Get your mom out of the house and interacting with others - that's what I looking into doing this week
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Debralee, I can tell you that before finding this website and so much support, I was dealing with the exact scenario you have spoken of with your mom. Do not enable her!!! She will continue to manipulate you and NEVER appreciate what you do for her. Get a caregiver to come in several hours a day to interact with your mom or get her out of the house. It's the staying in that makes them crazy. And be firm with her or you will find that your health is beginning to decline. Then what would she do? Live your own life or you will have none.
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Debralee, I feel your pain and am dealing with a similar situation myself. We must listen to the posters who are trying to help us through their own experiences. It's such a challenge. I personally have no answers, I'm just sending out support to you.
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I hear you Debralee, unfortunately my mom has so many debilitating conditions that if I don't care for her she could die. My siblings have NEVER thought of me as a true sister but rather a sister of convenience. We really don't have any communication but whatever is forced because of mom.

It does get very exhausting and makes me angry. Really don't know if the day will ever come when I can forgive them for leaving me alone with this. Of course, mom hasn't helped because I obviously have made it easy for her to attach to me. All this just because I have compassion, empathy and a freaking caring heart!
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You are enabling her by allowing yourself to be reeled back in and as long s you allow her to do it it will only get worse. My father was an enabler. If my mother didn't get her own way she'd sulk, pout, get pissy and not speak to him for days/weeks until he gave in. I could tell you so many horror stories and those are only the ones I know about..

He died of heart failure 15 years ago. His father had a heart problem but that was due to being gassed at Vimy Ridge in WWI and there is no other instance of heart disease in the family. I feel that, after 50+ years of such horrible treatment my father's poor heart just gave out. He was the dearest sweetest man.
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Sure it makes sense, Supply and Demand, like the economist said. Think of it as Keynesian Geriatrics.
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Weird. My initial post disappeared and when I went to write a new one it was suddenly posted.

My post makes no sense.
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It's a supply and demand thing. If you stop supplying your mom with the attention she craves her demand for it will eventually decrease. Continue to set boundaries. If you distance yourself from her over and over and over and then give in out of sheer exhaustion your mom will learn that all she has to do is continue with her demands and eventually you'll give in. You may not be so much the chosen one as you are the caregiver by default since your siblings don't participate in her care or her nonsense.

You may not be so much the chosen one as you are the one who is easier to manipulate.
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She reels you back in because she can. The others are not so easily manipulated. The counselor told us to step back, not rush over at every call, keep to a once a week scheduled visit: "Mom I'll see you on Tuesday". Arrange for caregivers and if she throws them out, let her deal with the deprivation she has chosen. It's like leaving small children with a babysitter. Oh they weep and carry on as you head for the door. Once you have driven away for a night out, they realize the tantrum did not work and they ask the sitter for a cookie.
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