How much should my sedentary mother be expected to do for herself?
Last year I moved in with my mother because she lives alone and her health has deteriorated a great deal. She fell a few times in the past, and is afraid of living alone.
I don't want to go into great detail and make this a very long post, but a few salient points as background--my mother is a VERY intelligent woman (former attorney), widowed when I was 5 (I'm now 54). She is also very well-off, and has been extremely generous financially, paying for my son's education, etc. I'm divorced, and I'm ashamed to say that at this point it would be very difficult for me to start up a career again and be financially independent, so in many ways I've put myself in a vulnerable (and perhaps selfish) position with her. She is generous, but she very often uses her money as a tool of control (again, I blame myself for allowing this to be the case at this point in my life, but there it is).
I do love her, but we have never gotten along and in general I find it very difficult to be around her. She can be hyper-critical (I was determined not to let her treat my son the way she treated me as a child) and is prone to rather childish temper-tantrums. I believe she's had depression all her life; a few years ago I was able to persuade her to go on antidepressants. They helped (she became somewhat more pleasant), but it's a really low dose and I've asked her to increase it but she refuses.
She can also be very kind, but any conversation with her is like a minefield--I never know what I might say to set her off on a critical tirade.
I could go on, but I want to get to the main question. My mother has always hated any kind of exercise, and her biggest pleasures have always been sleeping and eating incredibly unhealthy snacks and desserts. When she retired about 20 years ago, she literally said (she says I'm making it up, but I am not) that she basically didn't plan to get off the couch ever again.
Not surprisingly, at 84 she is now overweight, diabetic, with high blood pressure and heart problems (she had triple-bypass about 15 years ago). She is in constant pain because of back problems--I"m quite certain it's because her main activity all day long is sitting on the couch watching TV (which she keeps on 24/7, even when people are trying to have a conversation with her) and, with no muscle left to support her frame and her weight, her skeletal structure is just shot. Her doctors have called her "deconditioned" (again, she denies that they have said this) and have pretty much given up on telling her that she needs PT or some form of exercise because she becomes abusive with them about it.
I certainly understand that pain (which is considerable--she's on all kinds of painkillers to which she's developed a tolerance) makes her even less willing to exercise. But I also know (and I checked with her doctor again recently to make sure that I wasn't just being mean) that her condition and her pain will only get even worse if she doesn't do something other than lie on the couch all day, and doesn't make real changes in her lifestyle. I keep telling her that she could live many more years, but that she will be bedbound very soon if things don't change.
At home, I do help her keep the place neat and clean (she has become very careless about hygiene and cleanliness), drive her to appointments, shop for her, etc. I do sometimes cook for her if she's especially tired or not feeling well (for health reasons of my own--long story--I don't really eat dinner any more). But much of the time I don't do it, because I'm thinking that at least if she gets up and moves around the kitchen, etc., it will at least get her off of the couch and keep everything from atrophying completely. She gets petulant about it, implying that I should do it all, but I just don't. And of course I feel guilty and conflicted.
So the question is--am I just being unkind? I know that I have anger issues about her just letting herself fall apart and become so slovenly (aside from our usual disagreements), and it really just depresses me to see her loll around all day with the damned TV going. I see a lot of her neighbors, all about her age, and some with very serious medical conditions, doing a lot of physical activity.
I've really been on my own about this, and the resentment AND the guilt and uncertainty about what to do (or not do) is driving me crazy. She has money enough to get someone to come in and work with her, and a pool where she could do water exercises in privacy with a trainer, but no.
Any insights/advice/whatever would be greatly appreciated, and sorry for the long post here!