Why do I have absolutely no compassion, empathy and sympathy for my elderly mom of 80 years, old I ask? I guess because I feel she chose her destiny. From the age of 10 , I recall begging my mom to stop smoking. I am a retired 57 y/o registered nurse with 32 years experience in home health nursing. She has smoked for 60 years and is that fragile little women dragging around her oxygen tube to the patio to smoke. Makes me sick. She made this choice. She has never drank water or eaten healthy a day in her life. While I juice daily, eat mostly organic and vegetarian. I was dx. with breast cancer 9/16. It was a rough road but I got through it because of my general healthy body. It was Estrogren induced which was out of my control. I feel good. I want to live each day to its fullest. It eats away at me daily that my mom could care less about her health. She is of sound mind. She is able to smoke and drink wine coolers all day and night, but is too tired to change her diapers. WTF.....I go crazy when I walk in her home and she smells and is lying on couch with a saturated diaper that has seeped thru her clothing, bedding, leather couch. I go into a frenzy and demand she gets in shower and I shower her. She LIES continually. Yes, I took my meds. Yes, I showered. Yes, I changed my diapers. I live across the street in my own home. I am overwhelmed with caring for the houses, six cats and mom. Actually, I can do it and am very very energetic and active. It's her REFUSAL to allow help. We had home health in the past. Hospice in the past. Both more work and stress on me. I then had to supervise them and mom. Mom supports me and throws that in my dad daily. All I ask of her is to keep herself dry, clean, fed, and take her meds. She preoccupies herself with needing a car she hasn't been able to drive in 2 years since she has been on oxygen. I finally sold it and got lots of grieve. We argue daily. I just had surgery and she called me the next day to ask where I hid her cigarettes. Really......never asked how I was. Is this forgetfulness or deliberate? I'll never know. I am an a only child. I actually don't even like her. I feel like a horrible person, for having these feelings. I dread walking into her home to hear her complaints and have to smell the odor of urine. She has the ability to walk. She has the ability to change her diapers. She refuses a live in, which she really doesn't need. I can HELP HER, but she won't let me. She is always too tired to shower, change her diapers etc. But, ambulated around patio and garage with oxygen smoking and drinking wine coolers. We all make CHOICES. She led a very unhealthy life and is paying the consequences. She refuses to go to doctors. SORRY, for me feeling sorry for myself and venting, but some days feel so HOPELESS. How can you help someone who refuses to help themselves or allow help from others? I feel guilty everyday for not being kind, loving, gentle and compassionate. I try to go there everyday with a new fresh start of being that kind daughter, but as soon as I arrive and find her oblivious to her surroundings. Literally lying in her saturated diapers, smoking, not eating the food I left her, not taking her meds. I left out. I go into B@#$* mode. Any suggestions? Any advice? Anybody else dealing with same issues?

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It sounds as though you have never "individuated" from you mother.

The way life is supposed to work, you grow up, aquire an education and a career and you move into your own sphere of influence. If/when your parents have needs of elder care, you can coordinate from where you are, using their resources.

You are NOT required to move in with them.

You are NOT to expect that they will support you.

If you have access to therapy/counseling, please go and see someone who can help you move on. You are in a very unhealthy spot.
Helpful Answer (13)

Ilove; I hope that you are still working.

And if you're not, you got back to work immediately.

RNs are in great demand.

Your mother has made poor choices in life; it is not within your locus of control to make choices for her.  She can say "only YOU can care for me".  You are allowed to say, "sorry mom, no can do; you need professional care and I need a job". 

You CAN choose how to live YOUR life.

You are NOT responsible for your mother.
Helpful Answer (13)

You CAN choose how to live YOUR life. (Yes, there is an echo in here.)

First of all, as you very well know as an RN, stopping smoking would not cure her lung disease or extend her life at this point. My mom's wonderful geriatrician would shake her head and say she did not understand why family fussed so at folks about smoking when the damage was already done. Wouldn't it be better to add joy to such a person's life, rather than more stress?

You have been right about the risks of your mother's smoking since you were 10 years old. You have not been able to change her addiction in 47 years. Why do you think you should suddenly be able to do it now?

Forget about your mother's smoking. It is a done deal. Yes. It is troublesome to accept. Accept it anyway.

Your mother's behavior sounds like she is cognitively impaired. Sitting in soiled disposables? Not showering? The illogical desire for a car. Not eating food prepared for her. Not inquiring about your health after your surgery. I don't know whether this is dementia or the result of her lung disease or her treatments or something else, but there is something very wrong in her brain. She is NOT of sound mind. Expecting her to behave normally is just not realistic. Have you ever worked with the cognitively impaired as a nurse? What worked best in those situations?

As you say, We all make CHOICES. She led a very unhealthy life and is paying the consequences. Seems to me those consequences are sufficient punishment, if that is how you look at it. You don't need to add your anger and disgust.

My father smoked. I wanted him to stop since I was a child and learned about the potential health consequences. He didn't. He made his choices. He developed COPD. My 6 siblings and I heard him cough and gasp for breath. We didn't judge him. We all had our own bad decisions to live with. We were kind, loving, gentle and compassionate. Nobody even thought of saying or acting like "I told you so." We were very sad, but we did not turn into bitches. What would that have accomplished? Dad died of lung cancer in his mid 70s, knowing we all loved him. (Mother, who smoked perhaps more than he did, lived to age 96.)

You say "She now needs me to care for her." No she doesn't She needs SOMEONE to take care of her. Perhaps a whole team of someones. But she doesn't really need care by someone who doesn't even like her and turns into bitch mode when she walks in the door.

Please go and see a therapist who can help you deal with your feelings of guilt and hopelessness. (And yes, another echo.)
Helpful Answer (12)

Echoing what others have said, the adult child of 2 cigarette and alcohol addicts.....your mother is smoking all the time and drinking every day? Then your mother is an addict.

By providing access to her cigarettes and liquor, you are enabling your mother. You've made your devil's bargain with her. Even if neither of you uttered the words out loud, you've made an agreement: you will let her support you, and you will continue to provide her with access to her addictive substances. This is a form of co-dependency. Her addictions have both of you under their thumb.

Harsh words, I know. But truthful ones. You said you didn't want a pity party.

Your mom can't find energy to wipe her own butt and change her own Depends, but she can find energy to smoke and drink. That's because addiction is stronger than any other impulse left in her mind and body. Addiction takes control of a person's brain, and the addictions are now in charge.

My mom has been sober for years, but continued to be like your mom with cigarettes until very recently - others on this forum can attest to the battle I went through. My mom would laze around in a leaky Depends, getting sh** all over the furniture and walls, chain smoking until the very air choked me out of the place.

Eventually, I put my foot down, because I was done cleaning up her sh** - metaphorically and physically. I started rationing out her cigarettes, and told her she could ask for them, but I wasn't going to leave them with her to chain smoke and give me cancer. I implemented daily home support, which she tried to refuse, to help her with the tasks she was unwilling or unable to do on her own. I told her it was either this or I would put her in a care home (this is important) WHERE SHE WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO SMOKE INDOORS, NEVERMIND SMOKE WHENEVER SHE WANTED. I told her I was no longer capable of taking care of her the way things were.

(By the way, I can attest to the power of nicotine addiction, and it's not as easy to give up smoking as you seem to think it is. Quitting took me many, many tries, and it was the hardest thing I've ever done. And I did it because I WANTED to stop. And I STILL want to smoke. Nothing changes that.  I just don't. A person has to WANT to quit, and your mother doesn't want to - so how do you really expect things to go?)

You're in a precarious position of losing your financial support system if you do this. But there really isn't any other way. Either you become independent again and take charge of your mom's vices and/or get some home supports in place, or you suck it up and learn to make peace with the bargain you've made.  Or you stay miserable. 

And yes, you need outside home support.  No matter how much experience you have, you are too emotionally and mentally enmeshed with your mom, and all the issues around your mom's behaviours, to do this by yourself without losing your mind.  Remember that your mom's addictions are controlling you right now, too. 

And yes, use her addictions as leverage for home support and doctor's care, if that's what you have to do.  Refuse to supply her with these things on demand, and tell her you won't buy them again until she accepts outside help.  Dole them out as rewards if you have to do that, too.  And stand your ground. 

Listen, I get it. I know exactly what you feel. Sometimes I would look at my mother, chain smoking in a sh***y diaper, becoming mean and nasty and just soooo d***ed....pathetic, really. It was pathetic. And I'd think, "How could she even claim to love me when she can't even love herself?" (By the way, she doesn't smoke at all anymore.)

The reason I could do what I did is I spent a lot of time in Al-Anon - the 12 step group for friends and families of alcoholics - when I was younger, and I learned how to break the cycle of co-dependency, and how to love with detachment. I strongly suggest you get yourself to an Al-Anon meeting as soon as you can. You can find out when the meetings are by calling the number for Alcoholics Anonymous in the white pages of your phone book.
Helpful Answer (6)

I am dealing with similar issues. Not as many physical issues but neurotic issues, which makes her into a needy infant while I need to be taking care of my ALZ dad in a nursing home (and while he has the real problem, he is much easier to deal with than my mom). What others here tell me and I believe is true I am enabling my mom by allowing her to take advantage of me. As long as I let her get away with it, why shouldn't see. I wonder if that would apply to you?
Helpful Answer (5)

Echo, echo, echo
Helpful Answer (5)

Jeannegibbs,Grammyteacher....Thank you for your advise and opinions. I am sure I have some underlying bitterness because my mom was never an outgoing, fun, social person as myself. She is a loner. I am angry that she never did anything fun with me my entire life. Even when she was healthy she worked and came home. Now, I'm 57 y/o got dx. with breast Cancer 9/16. Had 3 months of chemo, lost all my hair. Then May 2, 2017 bilateral mastectomy with a skin flap from my back and 3 positive nodes removed from my left axilla. I had expanders put in. I came out of surgery with 6 drains. I then healed and got ready for radiation treatment for a few months. I had the expanders in until Wed. 3/21/18. On that day they were exchanged for silicone implants. I am on Arimidex (an estrogen blocking agent) which has given me joint and bone pain. One of its main side effects. I also get Zometa infusions every 6 months. I don't want a pity party, but I've been through a rough 1 and a half years. I know it's not an excuse, but I truly believe STRESS brings on disease. I need to find ways to cope with her situation so I am not so stressed. I by no means expect to her stop smoking and drinking. I supply her with 2 cartons of cigs and wine coolers. That's her life. That's her addiction. I get it. As a nurse I never tried change ones behavior. I provided them with a healthy alternative, safety measures, comfort measures and supportive care to their families. While doctors supply them with drugs. Drugs cause side effects. Then drugs for the side effects. I will never put Mom in a nursing home or Assisted Living facility. I will allow her to die with her smokes (as she wishes). I just wished she cared about herself. She has never cared about herself her entire life. This saddens me. Her priorities are backwards. She more worried about feeding the birds and squirrels than herself. She is driving me crazy. I have friends who are supportive and I go out frequently with them to enjoy life! And my CATS give me unconditional love. I guess in a nutshell I should be thankful for what I have now. My health is good and I feel good. Mom actually did more today than I've seen her do in months. I guess it's because I am recovering from surgery and she has to. I want to allow her to do as much for herself as she can. Getting old sucks. Losing the ability to be independent is a major crisis in the elderly. I just wish my Mom would accept it, let go of control and accept the help instead of resisting it. The cigarettes have controlled her life. Now the oxygen is in control. Thanks for allowing me once again to vent.
Helpful Answer (5)

Cats; I'm so glad that your mom did something positive and that maybe, MAYBE she recognizes that after surgery, your ability to do for her is limited. We've got a lot of narc parents on this board whose response to a child's serious illness is "but what will happen to us if you can't drive us?"

I think that, as a group, we skew not toward "oh you poor dear, of course your life is terrible, come I'll pat your hand".

We tend to tell people what we think they should "do".

Because clearly, when people post terrible conundrums on a board like this, we assume that they want the truth about how to change their situation.

I'm sorry that what I posted seemed cruel to some readers. I WILL point out that you didn't mention your cancer dx in the initial question; it adds nuance to your situation that is not addressed in the first responses.

I had a long conversation with a good friend today whose mom has dementia and who is driving her crazy with anxious phone calls. I asked my friend, for probably the 10th time today "is your mom on meds for anxiety?". "No, I don't want my mom taking any more meds".

Well, honey, if you're not going to treat the primary symptom of her illness, then you are going to keep getting those phone calls.

We can only change our own actions.
Helpful Answer (5)

Cats - I apologize if I was too harsh.  I am accustomed to a tough love approach when it comes to addiction, and that has usually included those who enable addiction.  It's hard to approach it differently, because that's what's worked for me.  But yes, I do apologize if you feel I was too harsh. 

Perhaps I misread you, but it seemed to me you were looking for ways to cope with your mother's behaviours. Having been down this road, I do see your mom's behaviours (beyond just the smoking and drinking) as those of an addict. To me, the best way to cope with an addict's behaviours is stop enabling the addict. To me, the best way to end the stress of dealing with an addict is to stop being co-dependent with the addict. I do have strong feelings about enabling and co-dependency - I, personally, feel that's the opposite of helping. But I do recognize it's your life to live, so I will back slowly out of the thread and let you do what ya gotta do.

That said, I really do recommend Al-Anon. If you want to learn how to detach from her behaviours, that's the place to be. If you want to learn how to let go of those things that are out of your control, that's the place to be. If you want the support of people who've been through, or are still going through, what you are dealing with, then that's the place to be.
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I'm a little shocked at the unsympathetic responses you have received too.

I have an older sister who is only 61 and has had nothing but one health problem or another for the last 30 years. Her adult children, one 34, another almost 30 still live at home. Neither contributes to the household but considering the example they were given growing up, I am not surprised. My sister and her husband were hosting parties at their home from the time both these kids were in diapers. Raucous, depraved parties where my sister had to be carried to bed cause she was passed out drunk most nights. Only reason I know this is cause her husband thought it so amusing he took pictures of it. My other siblings attended these parties. My brother was proud to admit he had sex with some woman he didn't even know downstairs at one of these parties. I asked one time, who was minding the kids while all this was going on? That was met with a blank look.

Now my sister who has smoked like a chimney since she was fifteen and never exercised or took vitamins etc. is an absolute wreck. She has the skin of a ninety- year old woman. Every e-mail I get from her is a long page of whines and complaints. Never has anything positive to say. When I recently moved to my new condo I invited her over to see it. She doesn't even acknowledge that I asked.

At this rate, I can imagine how she'll be when she hits her seventies or eighties. That is if she lives that long. I used to sympathize but frankly am sick of her complaining and whining. She actually said to me one day "why are my kid's such losers?" Ah, figure it out Bud, maybe cause you and your fat husband were too busy partying to give a hoot about them? She told me her doctor told her to quit smoking cause her heart was racing all the time. She proudly told me that she had a cigarette as soon as she left his office.

So, to the O P, I sympathize with you. I think you have done enough for your Mom. If the only reason you continue is cause she is supporting you financially I think you need to try to do something about that and then wash your hands of the situation.
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