My mom and I have never had a close relationship; she's lived a highly structured, suburban, bourgeois lifestyle, while I've been a kind of artist and bohemian with many different life experiences and having to adapt to many changes throughout the years. Now that she's on her own, living in her condo but showing some signs of cognitive decline and struggling to manage our family's estate (she's the executor), I feel compelled to come to her aid, but at the same time am experiencing significant pushback because she insists on dealing with these issues via 'old school' tech (by phone, by writing), while I try to point out that society's moved on whether we like it or not. I understand that she's frightened and intimidated by the online world, and at this point have no expectations of her joining it, but am often called up to 'fix' issues because she's confused and/or won't accept the world's moved on. All this has resulted in a lot of grief, conflict, anger and, for me, utter burnout. I just want to walk away from all this nonsense.

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Your mother is from a different generation than you; one that writes letters and uses the telephone to communicate. She also has some cognitive impairment issues going on, so learning new things isn't really possible at this point in time. Expecting her to do so is unrealistic on your part, so it's a good idea to enter her world instead of thinking she's going to enter yours. That is, if you truly want to help her with the issues she has.

Any 'child' of a parent with dementia wants to walk away sometimes because the anger, frustration, grief and conflict we feel is very, very real. I feel it myself with my own mother who suffers from dementia. Just last night she called me asking for my son's phone number. We've gone over this topic 1000x. I've typed up the family phone numbers in huge font and taped them to her dry erase board in her suite at the Memory Care ALF. Many times. Last night she insisted one of the caregivers 'pulled the paper down and tore it up into tiny pieces and threw it in the garbage.' Which we all know didn't happen. So I told her to get a piece of paper and a pen, which she wasn't able to do (this exact thing has happened no less than 100x in the past). By the time I ended the conversation with her, I felt like I needed a bottle of wine and an edible. I know it's 'not her fault' and all the rest of the verbiage, but sometimes it's all too much. She really shouldn't have a phone in her suite at all, but it's her last line of communication to the family (when she's able to use it) so I can't and won't take it away from her.

So, like cxmoody wisely said, schedule a day a week (or whatever) that you will go over and help your mother with whatever she needs help with. On her terms, with paper and pen, the telephone, or on your computer without her help. When I took over paying my parents' bills and took over their checkbook back in 2013, I did things MY way and they weren't even aware of 'how'. Worked out just fine, too. Now I manage my mother's entire life and she's 100% clueless of the mechanisms behind it, which is fine by me. She could have a dollar or a million dollars, she has no idea. The entire burden of her finances is on me.

I feel compelled to say to you that your mother probably won't be able to live alone for much longer, once her cognitive impairment declines a bit more. This is just the beginning of the giant mess that unfolds when a parent develops dementia and is stubborn and lives alone. It may be a good idea for you to speak to an Elder Care attorney to get some advice about the future, about getting POA for her, and just getting family estate matters discussed. If mom is struggling with these matters as the executor (shudder), she can wind up fouling up the finances entirely!!! The EC attorney may be able to guide you accordingly.

Wishing you the best of luck with everything you have on your plate.
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to lealonnie1

For me, I limit my time in my mother’s presence.

She NEVER liked me, and let me know it. Still doesn’t, but I am the only one who visits.

Perhaps, scheduling a “technology/bill paying/doctor/yard work appt time” (different challenges for each of us, here) per week would limit the frequency of expectations put on you.

It would assure her that she will be getting help on Tuesday evenings, for example, and help you to know that you won’t be called you over and over through the week. 😎
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Reply to cxmoody

Limit your visits to what is tolerable for you. My counselor fixed my guilt. She told me “you are not responsible for your moms must be sure she is safe, has food and a roof over her head”. Live your own life. When she gets unsafe in the world..then it is time to find her a managed place to live. P.S. old school is what a lot of my friends do at 70 yrs old. Their choice.. maybe we should not insist others use all this technology…does it really make life better? …Good luck!
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Reply to Sadinroanokeva
Polar154Sons Oct 9, 2021
Thanks Sadinroanokeva. Your counselor's advice is one that I have now heard from a number of sources and makes good sense. I intend on following it. And, as I've already indicated, I've totally fine with my mom's 'old school' methods, have no intent on changing these (unless asked to do so). Does it make life better - huge, existential mixed bag response!
Sounds like Mom is holding onto her independence with a strong grip. Her way or no way!

It will be a process of 'letting go' for her. In her own time.
But here are some suggestions. Examine each type of thing that comes up that needs fixing by you.

What level of importance is it? What are the risks? The consequences?

Eg she calls a store to deliver new clothing items & they won't post until she posts them a cheque. Could be ordered online in 5 mins but she can't do tech - so let her wait a month for her items. (Low risk. Consequences are hers).

For high risk issues (family estate) I would get an intermediate. It's amazing how folk listen to a 'professional'... The benefits will be in triplicate: 1. Mom will be consulted, respected, still feel in charge. 2. The matter is worked out with a professional. 3. Your stress over the issue will reduce.

Plus the added bonus of improving your relationship with Mom - instead of butting heads.

(In my family we got an intermediate trustee which has done all this with great success).

Think of it as instead of telling her how to do things a new way - offer her choices. Then instead of you 'fixing' each of her problems - point out solutions & again options for her to choose from.

Many times, we all (whether children, elder or adult with disabilities) want someone to help US to do something - not just take it over/take it from us.

As Alzheimer's is progressive, & most Dementias (vascular can stay stable for a length of time) it may be useful to have a diagnoses, although sometimes not. Also some elders will never agree.

If Mom has a trusted Doctor, is it possible she would consent to a Neurologist & neuro exam? That would highlight if she should be still at the helm of the financial matters. But having that or not - the result is really the same. An intermediate will be useful & getting the legal papers in order for the future is needed.

Hope this gives you a few ideas.
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Reply to Beatty

I’m having trouble determining the problem, as your responses indicate you’re no longer bothered by your mom’s refusal to use the Internet, which seemed a significant issue of frustration.

It seems to me that you and your mom just have different ways of dealing with things. And now that you’re in a position to be responsible for her this is causing some friction. Which is totally understandable. But I think it has less to do with how your mom chooses to do things and more so related to your relationship with her.

Thats not a judgment. Your description of the significant differences between you and your mother seems to show a little contempt for her preferences. Highly-structured and bourgeois is a pretty vibrant depiction and I would argue not a sympathetic one. Which is also not a judgment, just an observation. Folks here have varied types of relationships with their families for varied reasons. So I’m not here to question the reason why. I mention it because I think the way you view your mother has a direct impact on your own stamina and well being.

so I feel compelled to recommend a therapist for you to discuss how to move past the issues with your mother to improve your experience in helping her. Because it’s only going to get more difficult.
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Reply to bngbng
Polar154Sons Oct 9, 2021
Thanks for this, bngbng. You said that my mom and I 'have different ways of dealing with things'. I think that scratches the surface but the conflict between us goes well beyond that, although I'm not going to get into a protracted discussion of that issue because it's not really relevant here.

And the 'contempt for her preferences' has more to do with her attitudes towards the world of the less fortunate and her lack of empathy for their struggles than anything else - including my own. To be fair, she mostly means well and is caring and generous on a number of other levels, so I'm talking about my ambivalence of feelings toward her.

As for your comment about a therapist, I already have had a good one for several years and am actively working through the issues pertaining to my caregiving for my mom. But in any case, you've touched on a number of important issues.
Your mother can continue to usr telephone and writing and paper checks as long as she wants to and is cognitively able to do so. If she is losing her ability to manage these details, she can hire an agency or an individual to help with office and estate affairs. She does not need to switch to all digital/computer technology. If you prefer digital management for your own affairs, have at it. If your mother wants to use the telephone and pen and paper, that is perfectly acceptable. If your concern is about her confusion and mistakes, hiring an office assistance can help.
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Reply to RedVanAnnie
Polar154Sons Oct 9, 2021
Thanks for your feedback, RedVanAnnie. You've brought up some of the key issues to be dealt with.

To be clear, I'm NOT insisting she makes any changes in the way she deals with the world. Phoning and writing are not the issue here; it's my concern over what seems declining cognitive ability and some already evident confusion and mistakes. Office assistance sounds like another great idea that I'll look into.
What's wrong with her using the phone and writing letters? Who's demanding she do stuff online?

Take as your starting point the position that your mother is right. Unless she's dealing in Bitcoin or something I can't offhand think of any admin task she can't continue as she always has. Sure, government departments and large business are all moving on line but the traditional channels are still functioning perfectly well. If you run into jobsworths and "computer says no" people wanting to contact your mother, back her up. They can write, or they can phone. They're the ones who are being set in their ways if they refuse.

Meanwhile, I'd be surprised if none of her contemporaries are silver surfers - don't any of her friends have iPads or similar? Are there any courses for seniors locally? If you'd like her to start making use of technology, introduce her through the fun side first.
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Reply to Countrymouse

I have a very similar relationship with my mother. We have lived very different lives. Hers was a narcissistic, controlling one. She was a stay at home mom. She never got involved or helped in her children's or grandchildren's lives.
My life is my choice and it is polar opposite.

Now @ 85 with dementia and poor health I am her primary caregiver. I have learned to accept her life was her own and maybe she did the best she knew how. However I am much calmer and happier setting boundaries. Caregivers were hired and I take 1/2 day each week to be with her.

Less anxiety and stress for me. My sister and I share responsibilities but do a lot online ( meds, groceries, etc).

Take care of yourself and find peace and serenity. Enjoy your life!
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Reply to InFamilyService
Polar154Sons Oct 9, 2021
Many thanks, InFamilyService. Your relationship with your mom sounds similar to mine. From my perspective, we have radically different outlooks on life (this predates her current aging issues) and has meant that in providing caregiving for her now has thrown those different philosophies into conflict.

Is her 'life her own'? Absolutely. Did she 'do her best' often difficult circumstances while my dad was still alive? I'm convinced of that. Are boundaries needed now that we're 'in close quarters' than having been so for many years? Again, no argument there.

Since I don't have any siblings who could, at least to some extent, pick up the slack in terms of caregiving, an outside caregiver sounds like a great idea - and could lower stress and anxiety levels.

Thanks for your support and suggestions!
I would try to shield her from the internet, it could bring many problems. Scammers to name one.
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Reply to Isabelsdaughter
Polar154Sons Oct 9, 2021
Thanks Isabelsdaugher. Just to clarify, she's living basically 'offline', so no worries here.
I WAS taking my mom to Bingo on Tuesdays. Pick her up at 9:30, drive 3 blocks and drop her off. Return at 11 and take her home.

This went on for about 6-8 weeks (?) She was just so overly grateful and so phony with her gratitude I would be grinding my teeth. She'd find an excuse to call me every Monday night (whereas she literally NEVER called me, for any reason).

I had major foot surgery 13 weeks ago. I arranged for my brother (with whom she LIVES) to take her to Bingo. And stepped out.

The surgery was big time--repairing a grade 4 broken ankle/foot. Did she so much as call me once to see if I had LIVED? Nope. I was of no use to her, so I am not on her radar. I am healing, but it's very slow and I will be into December before I can walk w/o pain, I imagine.

It would hurt, I guess, but she has NEVER been the one to instigate any kind of communication. Ever.

And, yeah, she drives me round the bend, but since she can't remember my phone number, she has to get someone to call for her--I never hear from her.

No guilt. Guilt is for when you've done something bad. I haven't. You haven't. Replace guilt with acceptance--it is what it is.

Unless you are actively trying to make mom's life awful---there's no need for guilt.

My therapist asked me once if I thought my mom had ANY 'guilt' about how she neglects ME and my sibs and I was quick to state that no, she really only cares about my youngest sister and her one friend (who drives her around).
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Reply to Midkid58

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