How to deal with overly demanding unappreciative elderly mother?

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I stumbled across this site and while it is in some way comforting to know other people are in the same boat, I also wonder if perhaps I have it easy relative to many who post here.
My mom has always been a high anxiety, intense, demanding, nothing ever good enough type of person. I feel she ruined my childhood (and resent my dad for putting up with her behavior, his coping mechanism was to just ignore her rather than deal with it). On the other hand, people have worse childhoods and still overcome it.
My parents are now hovering around ninety still living in the home I grew up in. In my mom's defense, she wanted to move into senior housing years ago to get rid of the responsibility of maintaining a home and be able to have access to the social activities and other services in a senior home. My dad was stubborn and did not want to move.
Fast forward, my dad has been diagnosed with Alzheimers (mid stage) so it is a burden for my mom to take care of and she does need help. I live about 12 miles away, am single, no family, lost my job but am financially established, so I am the sibling that always gets called to help with chores around the house, driving on errands etc. The problem is no matter how much I do my mom is not satisfied, she only demands more, tells me about how all of her other friends and relatives have kids who do so much more for them, etc. I soon began to realize that no matter how much I did it would not be enough. I promised I would come one whole day a week to do whatever she wanted me to do, then other days as required . That soon morphed into two days, then three days, etc. And the funny part is that since I am not working, it would otherwise provide me with something of meaning to do if she was not so darn unappreciative, demanding, difficult to be with . My dad has issues with his dementia so I help give him baths, stuff like that, but he is much easier to deal with than my mom. She is high anxiety, I got her MD to give her anxiety meds which my mom will not take. She has this nervous habit of buzzing all the time, like a mosquito in your ear all the time and it literally drives you nuts to be around. She cannot locate any of her financial statements, so I bought a file cabinet and files to bring over so she could organize these things. She has not done it, so one day I said lets do it together, but she will not find the paperwork so I can organize it. I have asked her to apply for a local service that provides transportation for elderly people for certain errands, but she will not fill it out, I think in part because of shame of not wanting to take an old persons transportation service. She rather would have be come all the time to drive her around. When I bring her to the grocery store, she gets enough for a couple of days. I say get enough for a week but she will not do it.
I get tired of all the work, but more than the actual time and effort, am tired of her dysfunctional personality, the buzzing, the lack of appreciation, the demandingness, etc.
I have tried to set boundaries that she always manipulates (I know my fault, but she manipulates by using guilt). Then I feel doubly guilty as I come on here and see even worse situations people have so I feel I don't have a right to feel bad.
Since I am not working, I would like to bolt the winter for a few weeks, but cannot as my parents are so dependent on me.
Anyway, just ranting and venting I know.

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Start with standing in front of the mirror and say, "No, find someone else to do it. Here's the phone and call them." If she acts up tell her that you are leaving and you will come back for a visit in 5 days. Don't be afraid to pull back and only do grocery shopping but she must understand that she has to make arrangements for their care and you ain't it and you are not setting up help for her. Therapy would help you do this.
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Yea, CTTN55, when you say "I would do more for my mother if she weren't so unappreciative" that hits the nail on the head for me. That is really the key issue in MY case. I cannot be ordered to live with them, can I? They need to move into an assisted living situation. I hate that for my dads sake as he loves being in his home, but short of my being there to take care of them 24/7, there is no other option.
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I would do more for my mother if she weren't so unappreciative. When she tells me outright that MY time isn't as valuable's as the brother's who hasn't been to see her in over a year now (and one time didn't bother to visit my parents for FIVE years!), well, that hurts. (And all I'd suggested was that HE do the Internet research that she was ordering me to do.) And then I'm told I'm "sick in the head," etc.

Karsten, what I could see happening to you is that you will eventually (probably soon) be ordered to live with your parents. Are you going to be willing to do that? When you say that your parents would be in deep water without you, isn't that only because they are so used to you?

Do you really want to be their 24/7 caregiver until they are both gone? Can they afford in-home help?

You have been extraordinarily generous already. But I think you have reached your limit!
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Kirsten,

I’ve always thought that for us children of narcissistic co-depending parents there is a big exception when it comes to lying, meaning I think we not only are allowed to hide the truth when required, many times it is truly a necessity..

We have a terrible time setting boundaries, I personally think it is actually too late when parents are elderly. If we never were able to do it earlier in life, to set strong boundaries without guilt when our parents are old and sick it’s nearly impossible. So we have a free pass to “modifying the truth” to help us survive.

My point is, can you make up a part time job? Or a plumbing problem at home that requires you to be there? Or a cold? Hopefully when you were employed your mom understood and respected the fact you couldn’t be available every time she wanted you to go help. So, resource to that or anything else that helps the lack of boundaries.

I know many will believe my advice is unorthodox and shows lack of character...well, maybe so but for me, for us, people barely surviving and in need of a temporary way out, a break, I think all avenues are valid.

Two things I’ve read on this thread that are SO accurate:

1) From Carla, about boundaries being the hardest to establish when parents are old and helpless vs when we are young and helpless..truth is, it’s always hard with parents with personality disorders!

And 2) From Lkdrymom, about setting yourself on fire to keep others warm...I felt really really hot all of the sudden when I read that! Lol I’ve a feeling I’ve been on fire all my life, yet my mom remains cold..

So, I understand you, I truly do. And yes, many people here are facing terrible situations, with loved ones bedridden with terrible conditions requiring 24/7 attention, or worse. But I will say, when you have a narcissistic old and sick parent (plus other illnesses such as anxiety, panic, co-dependence, etc., in addition to the physical ailments) you have probably the hardest situation in your hands, your mind and your heart, because you spend your entire life feeling inadequate and lonely, and at the end you are forced to grieve your narcissistic parent for years, as you lose them way before they physically go.

That is a devastating experience, very hard to recover from. So don’t feel like a ‘ complainer for nothing’ because if you are I’m too, and I’m afraid we are not alone at all...
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one brother lives in another state, and the other brother lives locally but has wife with BPD who is crazier than my mom so he has his hands full with his wife. Since I am not working, my mom thinks I have nothing else to do but just be there for her whenever she wants. And in a way I do have time for the work, but don't have the patience for the demandingness and lack of appreciation. I look for a job mainly so I can have a reason not to be so available. But many of my job opportunities would cause me to have to relocate and my parents would really be in deep water without me around. I guess that would force the issue, but even I don't know if I would want to do that to them at this stage.
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Karsten, my mother is like yours in some ways. She has told me that she did more for me, so she expects more from me. (Of course, my sibs, all brothers, are out of state.) I know that we all inherit equally, so I'm resentful that I'm expected to do whatever it takes to "preserve the inheritance." She's 91.5, and should be in assisted living (she has the money for it).

So what's the story with your sibs that you are expected to do it all?

Why not go off for your vacation and dump it in their lap(s)?
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I suggest you start to be busy....and by busy, I mean with your life, not theirs. If you can't say NO, say NOT RIGHT NOW. You need to retrain your mom and retrain yourself. Insist she get a full week of groceries, if not she needs to live with the consequences.

Back off on the visits until you are back to one day a week. Start being 'unavailable'. Let mom learn a bit of patience. My father will call and insist he needs to see me right now. He cannot understand why I just don't jump. For one, I am at work. No I will not come after work. It will have to wait until the weekend and that is only if I have free time then. He may not like it, but what is he going to do, he has no choice to live with it.

He will try and manipulate me with threats or little digs. I JUST DON'T CARE anymore. I have run and jumped too many times before. I talked to him today and he told me the end was near. He has used this line at least 100 times before and I told him that. I will stop by on the weekend.

The worst thing is, no one else will do for him. My daughter will visit and he wants to know where I am. It has to be me. I stopped asking my son to visit as my father has no appreciation for his visits.

Remember, you don't have to set yourself on fire to keep others warm. Look into home aides and grocery delivery.
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She sounds narcissistic. Boundaries are essential for your survival.You will never please her or do enough for her. You are being manipulated by FOG -fear, obligation and guilt. You might check out children of narcissistic mothers and FOG on the internet and get some ideas of how to improve your situation.
Make plans for a break and see that they are looked after. There is no law that says you have to do the caregiving, but it is kind and responsible to see that they are being looked after. They don't have to like your choices.
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Karsten - you are not by any means alone in being manipulated by a demanding and ungrateful parent. I often say that the only thing harder than setting boundaries with your parents when you're young and helpless is setting boundaries with them when they're old and helpless.

Your mother is like mine in certain ways. She doesn't want to do anything anymore unless it gives her pleasure or fulfills an immediate need. My mother also won't organize her papers and won't file anything, so my sister and I have taken that over. We make sure her financial files are kept in case she needs to apply for Medicaid in the future. Although of course that means us doing it, not her doing it, even though she doesn't have dementia and could do some of the stuff herself.

I chose to live a little further away from my mother to avoid being expected to be at her beck and call and rush over at her slightest whim. My sister, who lives only a few blocks from my mother, keeps her schedule very full so she always has an excuse why she can't drop everything and run to Mom's.

I am also in the position of not being able to leave the area because my mother is so dependent on me. In my case, it's the opposite. I keep swearing I'll never spend another summer in Florida, yet I haven't left the state of Florida since I moved here more than 7 years ago.

You probably know that your mother will never change. If anything, people seem to become more demanding and more entitled as they age - it's rarely the other way around. If I were you, I'd keep pushing the assisted living possibility with your folks. Believe me, if my mother could afford assisted living, she'd be there. If she were physically able to use the senior transportation, she'd be doing that too.

Kimber is right - you may need counseling. You need to fully believe in your right to set boundaries and free yourself from your mother's power to manipulate you. I wish you luck. Many of us have been exactly where you are.
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I do fear having my parents go into an assisted living or something as I am afraid how my dad will react. Hes confused about everything already and being in an environment other than the home hes been in for 60 years may be tough. If not for my crazy mom, I would probably be willing to move in with him so he could stay in his own home his remaining time, but my moms nutty personality makes that not an option.
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