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My dad died in his sleep in 2010. He was 75 and even though he was retired, he worked like a 50 year old. My parents lived on 15 acres since their early 20's. There is always something to clean up, repair, pull to the brush pile, burn, trim, or mow. Before he died he said if something happens to me first, you need to get your mom to move to a smaller house in town. Well it is 9 years later and she is still there. My husband and I have an ongoing to-do list all summer long. When anything is said about moving to town or checking out assisted or supportive living she becomes defensive, "why do people keep telling me I need to move?" Well... because we are tired.


We have our own home that we would like to enjoy on our days off. We enjoy camping, gardening at our house, festivals and friends. Instead we have to drive two hours round trip, mow for 4 hours, pick up sticks trim bushes etc. I am now 56 my husband is 62. Last summer he had a head injury and spent weeks in the hospital and even more weeks in a rehabilitation hospital that was three hours from home. I worked my 4 days a week and went every weekend to see him living weekends at Ronald McDonald house, (they truly are angels!). I came back late every Sunday night and spent every Monday mowing our yard, doing laundry, paying bills so I could do it all again the next week. My daughter stepped up to mow at my mom's but she was on unemployment last summer. Luckily my husband has recovered 95%!


Now the thought of going back to our handyman schedule this upcoming summer is just making us angry. You never know how much time is left on this earth and his accident was a stark reminder of that. I don't want to take care of my mom's place in the country. We chose to live in town because it is easier. I am angry that I am expected to take care of something that was their life choice, it shouldn't be my burden. My daughter found a new job, and now works a lot of overtime and my niece, who isn't much younger than I, already shuffles mom to all of the doctor appointments. I have degenerative discs and narrowed spaces in my neck causing nerve pain in my upper extremities. I have been in physical therapy and have been told I should never lift more than 25 lb again. I have had nerve ablations to my lumbar spine and I also have lupus. So being in the sun is not good for me. If I manage these problems properly I can avoid worsening symptoms and continue to work. I tell all this to my mom and she listens, asks me how I feel but the list making continues. I don't want to spend the last year's of her life being angry or fighting with her but I am becoming resentful and so is my husband. How do you walk away from the list while keeping your mom?

If I am doing the math correctly, your Mom is mid-80s or so.

It’s possible that some [SOME] of her defensiveness and resistance to change is the onset of dementia.

For many, the early signs are: black-and-white thinking; diminished ability to reason; decreased executive function.

This early haze is difficult for us adult kids to suss out. Especially if parent has always been self-centered, eccentric, bombastic or demanding.

Oh - it’s also difficult for us adult kids to suss out because we are not neurologists.

Do you have medical & financial POA? If so, you have authority for next steps if Mom is medically unable to live at home. (This includes being able to manage Mom’s $ and sell her property.)

POA is a huge responsibility, and it can be a burden. But.

If Mom does not deem you worthy of being POA, you are (essentially) an unpaid chorehorse.

I can relate. Been there, done that. My schedule/travel was not as brutal as yours. But I, too, spent a significant % of my free time and mental resources co-living Mom’s life. All the while, I was not POA.

The very things I did for Mom (shopping, yard work, chores, supervising her check-writing) became the things that barely got done at my house. Mom had other options. But I let my heart rule my head.

And Mom fueled the fire with outsized intractability. Which was, in hindsight, an early symptom of you-know-what.

The ‘good daughter’ narrative is strong. It’s also (frequently) a red herring that masks fear, co-dependency and “not wanting to look bad.”

Weese, you can change this. You can back off. You can set boundaries. It will feel soooo uncomfortable (at first) that you might be tempted to revert to your current grind. Don’t!

Put head before your heart. Prioritize. Get tough.

It doesn’t mean you love Mom any less. It means you are exercising your right to honor yourself and take care of yourself. You matter, too. (((big hugs)))
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TrinidadLady Mar 5, 2019
Your reply was perfect!
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Why on earth are you falling for that handy-man schedule deal? You may have obligations to care for aging parents, but certainly not for bricks and mortar, lawns and shrubs. The elder who wants to stay in their home has the obligation to either do the necessary upkeep, pay for it to be done, or to change their living situation.  This is THEIR obligation, not their kids'. After all, it is their failing health that is the problem and they need to own the reality. There is simply no obligation to ensure that elders do not have to face unpleasant realities.  Your answer can be "I no longer am willing to spend my time and energy on that. Too many other priorities."  They don't like it?  Well, that's life.
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NeedHelpWithMom Mar 7, 2019
Rovana,

Cheap labor, huh?
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I am probably not in a great position to give advice (I joined this forum just this week because I am a 35 year old whose mother in law is similarly foisting her life upon ours), but as someone with similar health problems (you have lupus, I have RA... you have disc issues, I have ankylosing spondylitis), I wanted to point out that you cannot reasonably continue to do those things long term if you hope to avoid flares and injuries and live the long and robust life you still have ahead of you. You know by now that autoimmune disease flares can be triggered by stress, let alone the kind of work it takes to maintain and repair two homes. I have been thinking a lot lately (in the context of my own newfound situation) about the concept of sacrifice and the concept of quality of life. The quality of life benefits your mom gets out of continuing to live in a large house she doesn’t really need is not proportionate to the sacrifice you are making of your time, sanity and health. The net quality of life sum here is a large deficit for you and a marginal gain for her. The two do not balance.
Change is hard. But find mom a smaller place. She will adjust. Gentle hugs to you for your lupus.
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BlackHole Mar 5, 2019
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New here. Just had to chime in.
We are accustomed to dealing with our parents as full-fledged responsible adults. It's hard to pinpoint when they stop being that. Dementia is hard to tell apart from plain old stubbornness.
(My own mother, 92, and my father -who died in 2004- had a deep wish to not be a burden to their three daughters. They bought LTC insurance and downsized. Mom is now in Assisted Living and remains Adult enough to know it was the right move to make.)
I think it's important to have a one-on-one conversation in person and stress your relationship. When Mom was insisting on trying to balance her checkbook every month, even though she kept a huge balance and I kept an eye out online, we would have our long-distance conversations almost entirely about money. Not much personal. It was not fun and it was hard. I complained to her about the way she kept her checkbook and tried to give her tools to make it all easier. Usually there was balance; when there wasn't, oh, my! But she would say, It's working fine; I would say, THIS in not "working." I kept at it for a long time until finally, in person while visiting, I told her, I can't do this anymore. It's too stressful and we don't get to enjoy each other. There's no need for it. **We are not going to do this anymore.**
She accepted this, and she realized I was right. When it was time for her to stop driving, we did a cutback first (only to church on Sundays), knowing that she would feel increasingly uncomfortable driving to the point that she would give it up. And that is what happened.
My mother has been willing to move, twice now - very unlike your tough situation. My point is to stress "the importance of the personal relationship" in order to break through the obstinance.
It also helps to put yourself in your mother's shoes. She would be giving up what she knows. Change is daunting at her age, and frightening for anyone who is hanging on to bits and pieces of his or her formerly adult, full-brained life. Also, I think a lack of empathy starts to grow as one gets really old. The world shrinks and pretty soon it's "all about me." The imagination is insufficient to even think about being someplace else.
Be kind - but be firm about what you are willing to do. When she talks about the issues/problems she wants you to tackle, bring up your own issues. Bring up things that widen her world again. Ultimately, you do have to say no, and stick to it. Allow her to save face in your conversations about these matters, too. Example: Tell her you've not done a good job keeping her up-to-date on your own goings-on and how much her household maintenance has affected you and your husband, and in fact you hadn't quite come fully to grips with this yourself till recently. Continuing: We can't change what's past but we do need, the both of us, to see our way forward. Etc. Etc.
Plan out some steps - bit by bit, inch by inch. Don't overwhelm yourself with the huge thought of oh my goodness what am I going to do. Tell her when you will be visiting and what you two will be doing - out for lunch?, a bit of shopping? Another visit, perhaps have a yard/property service come out and meet with the two of you. Let her hear about the cost. Talk about the prospect you yourself might have to hire things out.
Remember also that you are trying to what is best for her, not just for you.
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NeedHelpWithMom Mar 7, 2019
Parenting the old,

I like how you say to widen their world. So true, they do become so narrow minded. I don’t even think they realize it half the time.
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Weese - You have to change your view of your mother and your relationship with her. That's easy said than done. Answer these:

Since she's your mother, you think you have to do anything and everything she wants to keep her happy at any expense. Why?

Since she's your mother, she's entitled to run and ruin your life. Why?

What is the worst thing that could happen if you don't do what she wants and she's not happy?

If your mom didn't have you (you weren't born, or you live in another state/country), what would your mother do?

Would your mother demand a nice lady living next door to do all these things for her?

If you were that nice lady living next door, would you do those things?

You have to stop thinking of her as your mother and you as her obedient daughter. You have to think of yourself as an adult mature woman who is her own person and who has a life and responsibility to her own family, and your mother as another adult who should take responsibility for her own life and her own choices.
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This is crazy! My mum was expecting the same deal. Although she expected me to move 700 miles so I could keep her yard as she ages. She expected me to retire at 50 or 55 and move so I could be her assistant. We don't get along. I hate cutting my own yard. I don't understand how our parents think we will or want to give up years and years to live their life. I would never expect my children to give up their life to live mine. I hope to be visited and checked on, but not hovered over. There is a point where our parents need to downsize and then consider long term care. I'm in my 40's and I'm already thinking about senior living, AL, and NH....when its time. I don't want to be a burden on anyone. I want my mum to be safe and well cared for.....I know I could not do a proper job.
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Thank you all for your help! I seriously needed to hear this. I always try to reason it out with "supporting evidence". I need to treat this summer just like I did last summer. I didn't give her fifty reasons why I couldn't be there when my husband was injured and I didn't feel guilty for taking Monday's to care for myself either. My husband, through the worst of his brain injury kept telling me to go home early on Sunday nights and take care of me for 24 hours so I didn't get sick. He empowered me then and I just need to keep the momentum! So glad I found you all here yesterday, thanks again to all my new peeps!!
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BlackHole Mar 5, 2019
👍🏼 No excuses. No justifications. Just no.
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Weese1,
You wrote a novel explaining all your reasons to quit taking care of the country place. You should never feel so defensive! You are right!! The only reason you need is that it's not your home, or your life. ITS HERS! You should copy this forum post to a printable word document, and take it to her to read. If she has her senses about her, she will cease to make the takeover of your life an expectation. I hope she has the resources to hire help for all the chores and duties a country life requires. If she doesn't, maybe a young family member hankering for the lifestyle could come in and pick it up. If not, her only choice is to sell the country estate and downsize, to make her life manageable by HER. Good luck and know that you are deeply heard.
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My parents moved 4 doors down from my husband & I while they were in their 60s. Our neighborhood has 1-acre lots in Florida where everything grows like weeds. Now they are 77 and 80, and Dad has been in memory care for 2 years. Mom refuses to move to an apartment, says she will "die in that house" but complains incessantly about caring for the house, paying bills, etc. She doesn't even venture out into the yard and sits all day with the curtains drawn shut. My husband and I work full time+. We tried at first to help her keep up with the yard but I was run totally ragged trying to care for our property and hers with my one day off work per week. I finally got her to hire a lawn care service (she complains about them). She's also tried to guilt me into coming over to clean her house but, again, I can barely keep up with ours. It makes me angry because she sits and wallows in self-pity 24/7 while the house is going downhill. I CANNOT WAIT TO STICK A FOR-SALE SIGN IN THAT YARD and I resent that my parents moved almost next door to me and now she refuses to downsize when it is so obviously what needs to happen. You need to tell your mom you cannot do it anymore.
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I like Polarbear's questions. Maybe the very next conversation you have with her has to go something like this:

Mom: "I want to continue devouring your life."

You: "NO."
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Jannner Mar 7, 2019
😂😂😂
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