How can I help my Mom adjust, and prevent myself from burning out?

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I have posted several questions before and everyone is so kind and helpful. I am feeling overwhelmed right now and could use some advice.


My mom has been in a nursing home since May. She is 67, has MS, and broke her hip this year which has resulted in her not being able to transfer herself so she needs 24 hour care now. I have a family and cannot take care of her, my husband works long hours and rarely gets a day off, and we have a 5 year old, almost 3 year old, and I am due with our next baby girl in a month.


The only other help I get is from my MIL, she visits my mom once a week. My mom is about 15-20 minutes away from where we live and I have been visiting her three times a week, about two hours each time. I am letting my mom know that soon I won't be able to visit as often once the new baby is born, and she only complains about how lonely she is and how depressing it is when no one visits her. I try my hardest not to feel guilty, I am doing the best I can and I am sorry she can't see that. I get pretty frustrated. Her memory is also getting bad. I will tell her things several times and each time she says, "no one ever told me that". Just this past weekend for some reason she thought I was visiting when I never told her I was going there. She called me crying that she was expecting me and waiting around.


I have tried to get her to try out the activities the nursing home has. She said she has gone to them and they are ridiculous and there are so many wheelchairs she can't even enter the room. She doesn't go outside because all the doors in the place need to have a code entered and the doors are all very heavy. Other residents do go outside, it is a pain for them but they do wait at the door for someone to let them in and out. I understand that inconvenience on her but I wish she would just try.


I have been part time taking care of her since I was 16. It is hard for me to fully stop and just let her handle it on her own, I feel that is unfair to her. I am not wanting to do that but I do want her to try to get her own life at the nursing home, if that is even possible, and not have her life revolve around me. I feel selfish but I know at this time in my life, my husband and children do need to come first.

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The reason my mom won't take antidepressants is because it is a drug... she stays away from any drug unless she is in severe pain. It is how she has always been. She tries to do things "naturally" and I try to tell her some natural things can be worse for you than some drugs are. But she is stubborn about it and will not change her mind. My sister and I (she used to live with my sister until she moved across country) have tried to get her to understand better for over ten years. My mom also avoids doctors at all costs.

Sending my mom a card to make up for the days I'm not visiting is a very good idea. Mail can always brighten someones day. I'll ask my siblings (I also have a brother who also lives across the country) to do the same also.

I will discuss with activities about seeing if they can help her be more involved and if there's someone else they can kind of match her with. It never hurts.

Thank you everyone.
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EB, what is your mom's objection to antidepressants ?

Lou, are items ACTUALLY being stolen or is that mom's dementia talking?

Have you spoken to the director of the facility? The ombudsman ?

Is YOUR mom on antidepressant meds?
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my mother is 90 years old and in a nursing home is she has dementia if she doesn't remember that I was just there so when I go in which is every single day she yells at me for not being there I'm at the point where I just sit in the parking lot and cry I have no life all I do is go in to take care of her don't you try to make her feel better my poor husband has not had a home cook meal and forever she has other children but they refused to visit her at all so all of it is put on me and I feel so guilty if I don't go and make sure she's OK things are getting stolen out of her room I reported it they say its not their problem they're not going to replace itsome days I just feel like running away
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I wish I could wave a magic wand to make your guilt evaporate. Two hours three times a week is an incredible amount of time to spend with your mom. Kudos to you. And God bless your MIL for helping.

Three months is not such a long time for your mom to adjust to her new living arrangement. Give her more time. There are a few things I did for mom that seemed to help her. I tried to include others when I visited. I'd help two or three people outside with mom, and as they sat together, I'd "be right back" and get them little sundaes from DQ. I'd often bring mom what her little Southern Belle self called pretties...maybe some talc or splash...a pair of sparkly ear rings or elastic bracelet...a bag of a favorite candy...some flowers. Nothing expensive. From Walgreen's most of the time. Just a little happy surprise once a week or so.

Every month I brought a 2-pound box of good candy for staff. I learned their names and made it a point to thank them for helping mom. The idea being that they deserve appreciation AND maybe they'd be just a bit more friendly to my mom. I'd say it worked.

About your mom going outSIDE, Im pretty sure all she has to do is ask -- either staff, another resident, or someone visiting another resident. Everybody's helpful if I be simply asks.

Be upbeat when you visit. Don't ask what she's been doing for a while if all you get is a long face and, "Nothing." Try to show up when there's programs and take her in to participate. And don't let her pile any guilt on your plate.

You're a good daughter. She must make her own happiness. You simply can't do it for her.
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Ebeach, Congratulations for new family member when she arrives :~)
Ok, a different thought for you. Think way, way into the future when you and hubby are seniors yourselves. Do you want your children to put their lives and families on hold to make you and or hubby centre of the universe?
You're creating a role model for the future for your children, right now in the present. For their sakes make it a healthy one.
In so doing you'll help you and you're Mum too.
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Following up on Pam's suggestion of entertainment, talk to the activities director and staff and ask them if they'll make a special effort to bring your mother to activities, especially musical ones. It might several tries, but perhaps eventually she'll give in.

I get the impression she's refusing to "engage" because she's mad and is pouting - understandable; she's worried about losing the opportunity for so much of your companionship.

There might be another person with whom your mother could be matched and they could go to the activities together. My mother was very shy and wasn't inclined to go out to activities without accompaniment but met a woman who was more aggressive, befriended my mother, and they began going together.

To substitute for your presence, you could also send cards 2x a week, more or less. Or what I've done in the past for recovering relatives is create a dozen or so cards and send them all at one time, with notes on the front as to the nature of the card - i.e., "open when you feel down and need a pick-me-up", or "when you're feeling great" or similar situations.

I have a massive collection of rubber stamps and used those, along with various sayings, on the envelope, to create cheer before even opening the envelope.

E.g., I have some animal stamps, including the "Mom cat" stamp. One is with Mom cat walking in a pair of high heeled shoes. I wrote to accompany that stamp: "On, my feet are killing me! These shoes are so uncomfortable!."

Then I added a stamp with Mom cat in tennis shoes with the caption: "well, why are you wearing those high heeled shoes? Wear tennis shoes, like me."

I had a lot of fun just stamping and creating the messages. Dad still has the batch of cards I created for him in 2012.
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Thank you! It is so reassuring to hear all of this. My mom refuses to go on meds, she won't take antidepressants, although I think that would help her a lot. I have given her music and she has an activity schedule. I have tried to get her to listen to it or go to something, but I will leave it up to her now.

"Her happiness is her own responsibility"... I have already said that to myself several times today when she complains, and I think that will be my saying to myself when I feel overwhelmed with her. :)
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EB, you can't make your mom happy. She will either adjust on her own timetable or she may NEVER adjust. You are not giving her what she wants - YOU full time. Her world has become very small with her at the center and you can't make her the center of your world. Congratulations on the new baby and remember that good parents are happy when their children grow up and build their own families. All you can do is provide environment for safe and healthy living - her happiness is her own responsibility. Has she take responsibility for yours - didn't think so. Hugs and take care of your children and husband and YOU....
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Number 1. Get her on an antidepressant med. These include Zoloft (sertraline), Paxil (paroxetine), Effexor (venlafaxine), and Prozac (fluoxetine). Other types of antidepressants can also be useful, such as Wellbutrin (bupropion HCl), Serzone (nefazodone), and Desyrel (trazodone) that work well with MS.
Number 2. Visit less often. She has made you into her total home entertainment center. Get a schedule of activities and when you talk to her, remind her to attend bingo, sing along, pet therapy etc. Tell her you will see her on Wednesdays, (or whatever day you pick) and keep it regular.
Number 3. Music. Get her a radio or CD player and play her favorites. My sister who is 68 loves James Taylor, Carly Simon, Jim Croce from the '70's.
Best wishes on the new baby and YES they come FIRST.
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The selfish feeling you have is unwarranted, it isn't based on fact. You have your mother in a safe place.BABY comes first.It isn't your fault or your mom's that she has medical issues that require so much care. It isn't your fault. Please ,celebrate your the arrival of your child and be good to yourself.
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