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My sister and I are beyond burnout. We have hit a wall. My sister finally found a wonderful assisted living place and moved my mom there. Now, our mom has found a strange man, who we have proof is a con artist, to secretly help her move to a condo where she thinks she can live on her own. She is a major alcoholic, shopaholic, hoarder, and lies all the time. She has caused us pain and strife our entire lives. A massive stroke has caused her to be worse. She just inherited a great deal from her father's death. It is making her think she can do anything, recklessly and in poor judgement. We have called all the resources. We have doctors' reports that insist she cannot live alone and they recommend assisted living. We have worked so hard and tried everything we know to help my mom. I have made an appointment with an attorney to help my mother with estate planning, etc. But, I don't think he can convince my mom that she should stay at the ALF and not try to move out on her own. She lived with me for almost 2 years. I am disabled by severe and chronic illness of my own. Everyone knew I could not do this job of caregiver. My sister tried to take over and had my mom with her for about 6 months. She is also disabled by extreme illnesses. We have come to the point where we wish we could just disappear and never have to think about all this again. We have no lives of our own anymore, no peace...just constant worry and stress about our mom. I'm so tired. We feel lost. Who else can take over and help our mom be okay? I don't want to have her taken to court for an incompetency judgement because I don't know exactly what will happen to her after that. But I do know my sister and I cannot continue with this at all. I'm sorry.

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Get your mother declared incompetent ASAP. That con artist is going to con her out of her inheritance. Suppose he does that and then your mother can't pay for the ALF? Then what?

I say preserve that inheritance (and make sure that you and your sisters get what's left of it after your mother dies, because you deserve it)!
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Sisyphus. Greek. And I am sorry to tell you that this was his fate in perpetuity, in the underworld. He's presumably still at it, then, all these millennia later.

Let's stop the analogy right there! :)

Your description of your mother sounds like classic "waif" behaviour. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I recommend you read "Understanding The Borderline Mother" by Christine Ann Lawson. It is especially helpful as a practical, first aid type guide, including strategies for protecting yourself while supporting the person you care about.

And please do keep venting and processing. Whether you know it or not, other people will both learn from and be comforted by the shared experience. Hugs to you, take care.
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Thank you both for your replies. It helps to have the support and understanding of people in my corner. Yes, Countrymouse, it is very hard to tell if someone is mentally incapacitated (sp)? sometimes. I've seen some signs and witnessed certain things (like my mom storing the oven full with plasticware, plastic bags of chips, cookies, etc. and showing it to me like it was a happy thing and how proud she was for thinking of this great idea. And then, the temper tantrums that are happening almost daily, in public, with everyone. This used to be reserved just for us- family members- at home in private.) When I think about it all, my opinion is that my mother has been somewhat mentally incapacitated her entire life. Due to the severe lifelong drinking, the horrible choices in abusive husbands, and the pain and hell she put us and everyone close to her through despite us begging, crying, and traumatized, asking her to stop/get help. That does not seem like anyone who is perfectly sane. I can't imagine anyone saying that those kind of actions are sane.

Forgive me; I do want to say that, aside from all these nightmares, my mom can be the most beautiful, sweet, caring, and loving person. We just never knew and now never know, which mom we would or will get at any certain moment. The horrible one, or the good one who I believe loves us. I hate this- how complicated it is, and confusing. It hurts. And I know I am not alone. One of billions, probably, from dysfunctional backgrounds. Such a common story.

I will try to talk with the attorney about finding a good guardian. I know it cannot be me or my sister. I might try to call the APS. It's just that my exhaustion has made me almost completely unable to function in life at all for months. When my sister moved here and tried to help by taking over, I thought I could finally rest, recover, and start to feel better and actually get all the things done in my life that had been sitting there, neglected for so long. Instead, my mom's problems just worsened. I've received terrible news by phone calls from my sister, and now the ALF, almost every day. The punishment is still going on daily, even without my mom here in this place. I cannot sleep. I cannot eat much. I try to rest, but it does no good. My body and mind and emotions are so burnt out that I can barely manage to take showers, brush my teeth, etc. I don't have the energy much even to make calls, or talk even with friends at all. I feel like I'm dying. Inside and out. I just hope I can make it to see the attorney on Monday. God. I feel just like that guy, the Greek or Roman god(?) who keeps using all his strength to push that huge rock up the mountain, only to keep having it slip and roll back down again every day. He has to keep doing it, on and on. Finally...well, actually, I don't know what happened to him. Did he get crushed in the end? I feel crushed already. At the bottom, with a huge rock that has collapsed onto me.

Sorry for too much. You don't have to read it all or comment if you don't want to; it actually just helped me to process all of this better by writing it. Thank you.
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I agree with you there, too, Barb - and I'm sure there will have been the usual depressing litany of cock-ups and conspiracies among those in a position of trust this side of the Atlantic too, although I hope they're rare rather than the norm. But as long as the OP and her sister don't get lumbered! - if I were *their* (good) guardian that's what I'd make my priority :)
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CM, I tend to agree that State Guardianship is what is wanted in this situation, but there are situations here in the US where public guardians have been found wanting. I think that guardianship should be discussed with the lawyer and all avenues of getting this lady the care she needs explored.
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The only way you can save your mother from her catastrophically self-destructive (and generally destructive) habits is to have her competency assessed and found wanting. If indeed it is. Your description of alcoholism, compulsive buying, hoarding, lying and recklessness make her sound a nightmare; they don't necessarily add up to mental incapacity.

Still! - you can make an application, and you can submit supporting evidence, and perhaps if the judge is sufficiently appalled it will be found that your mother lacks capacity and a guardian must be appointed.

Where I diverge - not disagree, just diverge - from Barb's good advice is that I am not at all sure that either your sister or you should volunteer to accept guardianship. What for? All that matters to you is that your mother's best interests are in safe hands. A court-appointed guardian acting correctly will have a care to maintain her appropriate family relationships, too, so you need have no worries that you will never see her again or have any input into plans for her future. You won't be making the decisions but you can still express a view; it will be a matter of developing good communications with the professional, independent guardian.

Quite honestly, do you really need any more punishment? Your mother is like an emotional wrecking ball. Stand back!
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You can apply to the courts to be her guardian. Yes, she would be declared incompetent, but you would have final say in where she lives.


It sounds as though a lifetime of mental illness is now compounded by possible vascular dementia. It's a horrific combination and not one that can be dealt with by amateurs.

Don't beat yourself up. This is sad, hard and unrelenting. Talk to the lawyer about the advisability of guardianship.

And report the con artist to APS, perhaps.
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