How can I find a support group to help me learn how to communicate effectively with my 'not so elder' mother?


I'm a 37yo single female who has a 63yo mother that I recently moved closer to me. She has always lived with my older sister, who hasn't always provided the best type of living environment for my mother.

Mom has had many health issues, CHF, diabetes, obesity, several mild heart attacks, severe pain in her knees, COPD, etc. She has had many episodes that she has "bounced" back from, which we were sure there was no way that she could. My sister kept my mom locked in her house all day and forbid her from even going outside, mostly because my mom would go get the mail and open all of my sister's mail and read it or hide it. She would never take my mother anywhere, and complained with my mother's social skill declined to the point that she is now unable to socialize with most of the general population without acting like a complete child. Please know that my mother has a tendency to steal as well....and with her COPD issues, she would steal cigarettes from my sister and brother in law (who roll their own cigarettes). My sister, in her defense, was very frustrated and the only coping mechanism she could muster, was to make my mother a hermit and hope that she would just "go away". She finally reached her breaking point during one of my mother's frequent visit's to the emergency room, which later lead to a hospital admission that lasted for more than 2 weeks, because my sister forbid my mother from coming back. My sister forced my hand to get involved and the only option that I had was to get social services involved. They arranged for my mother to be placed in a senior home that would take all of her disability money and would keep her locked up in a home as well. My mother, as you can imagine, was miserable. She just wanted a little independence, and no would would let her out that cage. She would call me crying and begging for me to get her out of that home.

So, after a little research, I moved her to a low-income housing for seniors facility located about 2 blocks from my job. She is now able to pay her own rent, go grocery shopping, go to her doctor's appts, do whatever she wants. Even managing her own medication. The only thing that I manage for her is her money, in that she gets a portion of her disability income every week to prevent her from spending it as soon as she gets it.......which leads me to my current question.

I realize that my mother is difficult due to her declining health and complete lack of social skills. She is desperate for some sort of interaction with me, so much that I have had to tell her to stop just showing up at my job. But she just becomes extremely negative and tells me all of the things that I don't do for her. She tells me how I don't call her, I don't come see her, I won't let her come to my job....and the list goes on. I know that she's just trying to reach out to me because I'm the only one left who will have anything to do with her. But I moved her into that type of facility for a reason. To develop her social skills and make some new friends. I moved out of her house at the age of 17 and have had a close but distant relationship with her since then. She has not been a 'major' part of my life for 20 years.

I would like to know what resources I can look up in my local area (Clearwater, Florida) that would help me understand what she is going through so that I can communicate with her more effectively. I am not a 'caregiver' as much as just a frustrated daughter that manages her money for her.

I would love to find a group locally that has similar experiences and can provide some insight into my situation. I don't want to cut my mom off completely, but I don't want to be her main source of attention either.

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Try the Florida state website and look under "aging". You should find their National Family Caregivers Support Program. You could type that phrase in the search box with "Florida", however some of the programs have slightly different names.
Anyway, each state has a federally funded version of the program. Contact these people and ask for suggestions. I'm sure they can offer support, and may some good resources. Good luck,
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Have your tried the hospital in Clearwater? I was there briefly and they seem to have a Wonderful senior center. It had exercise classes where everyone seemed to be friends with each other. If she lives near ther she could walk to it and enjoy the people and informative health related sessions they offer.
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I like Carol's Answer however, As an Alzheimer's patient (early stage) I would recommend that people go to or call 1-800-272-3900. That is the national office for the Alzeimer's Association. They have many ways to help and put you in local contact with local agencies where you live. There are numerous helps for both the Alzheimer's patient and their caregiver. All the best, Pastor Kaye
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