I am an only adult child taking care of my 80 year old mother who is controlling and being very difficult. Any advice?

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Im 35 my mom is 80 and has a life time of health issues. I was adopted when my parents were much older. My dad passed away 3 years ago and now it's just my mom and I. She has a ton of health issues.. anxiety, stubberness to the max. Very controlling and its her way or no way. I'm back in school to change careers and its so hard to study and concentrate when most of the focus is on her or listening to her negative comments about how her life is that and this and everything needs to drop so she can get whatever "urgent" errand done. I get my one or 2 day breaks rarely. We have a family friend stay with her when I go work out which is 2 days a week for 2 hours. I need more than that. But otherwise I'm her main caregiver. She has no regard for when I'm busy or on the phone. I can't have a girlfriend because no one wants someone who can't do much but stay at home. The moments of freedom I do enjoy and I'm barely in classes because I'll feel even more locked in my insignificance. She searches for arguments. For example today we had a pretty busy day and the evening was chill and I was supposed to load the dishwasher and I had told her I will do all of that stuff after I finish my tea that I had just made and she had agreed and it was chill all relaxed. I went to check on my class stuff for 10 min and I hear a bunch of grunting and complaining about her back this and dishes that. I walk in there and I said hey remember I was going to finish this when I'm done with my tea go relax a bit and she screamed at me that I don't do nothing and I'll never do them. And I reminded her of the convo we had and she got nasty with me so I got nasty back. :( Then she goes to bed and explains some stuff to me and is all relaxed. As if she needed that confrontation before she goes to bed to show that she has control. I'm lost here and I feel like I'm missing out on my life and opportunities that I'll never have.

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Just considering the info you have given us. I’m really worried about you SS. 35. That’s the age when even in today’s times you should be feeling a real sense of urgency about your own life.
I think you need to clear your head and give mom a change.
Try to get a welding job to start at the end of the semester. Move out. Hire her help to come in and take over her care. If you can’t afford to pay rent then stay a little longer until you get savings going. Maybe you can take the night shift with mom and reduce her cost but just until you can get going with your job.
Three or four months of this and you both should be motivated for you to get your education completed.
I can’t figure out if you are too young or too old for this position of full time caretaker but you do have to think about your own future. You are basically deciding not to have a family or life of your own. I suppose you could do as your parents did and start late. Well you are already doing that.
Your mom is not THAT old. Were her surgeries not successful?
If loading a dishwasher hurts her back she could do her dishes at the sink.
You have no visible means of supporting yourself and you haven’t worked as a welder in three years?
If I were her I would be more worried about what is going to become of YOU.
There are services for people her age but not so much for your age. A young able bodied man should be out building his own life.
I’m sorry I’m giving you a hard time but I think you need to toughen up and get back out there. She’s going to feel better when she sees you flourish. As parents we all want to see our children be established with a family.
You don’t need to be spending your life fussing over when the dishwasher gets loaded. Well. Scratch that last part. A lot of married people do that too. Which kind of makes my point. You are complaining about everyday problems. Go get a job SS. We want you to have ALL the problems (and happiness) the rest of us have.
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Thank you for all of the love and feedback.

I cant leave the house. I wish I could but it's just my mom and I. Im back in school full time but that is going choppy and slow due to her needs and care. Not saying those are not valid. I was a welder fabricator for 6 years before she needed a second back surgery so I quit a good job to help her out then decided to change careers to a physical therapist assistant. But now since ive been a caregiver for all of my life I don't know if I want to do that.
We have a caregiver who comes and stays so I can go workout or do an occasional weekend trip to keep myself sane and feel significant.
She won't take counseling she tried many and she doesn't want to put in any work and if they talk about her personal problems about working about her she leaves or doesn't want to hear it. She doesn't want to accept that she is getting old.. Im sure no one does and Ill be in the same boat one day. But i wish there was a way to help her accept that this is how it is now
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freqflyer, you certainly have good points about the changes in Mother's life, and how they may affect her disposition.

The other day I woke up thinking about what I was going to have for dinner. And the thought ended with "Coy will like that, too." OMG. Coy died 5 years ago. Where did that thought come from? When you lose your life partner, missing him is never far from the surface. BUT if your mourning is still guiding your day-to-day disposition, something is wrong. Being a widow really doesn't give you a pass on being controlling, unappreciative, and just plain mean three years later. If she is that stuck in her grief she needs some counselling, in my opinion.

But I agree, she sure may not be thrilled with this phase of her life!
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sure - I wonder about your mother's health issues too -dementia or other mental health problems. She certainly is controlling. I agree with Jeanne Gibbs as to how to respond to her. Don't let her suck you into an argument/confrontation. My mother seemed to need them too, and was much more relaxed afterwards, and the rest of us were stressed out. They (the confrontations) didn't accomplish anything practical.
I also agree with others that you need freedom to live your own life, to have friends, to do your studies, to develop your career. The local Agency for Aging and also Social Services may be able to give you some ideas about alternate ways your mother can get care. In my view, it would be better if you could be out on your own, pursuing your life goals, and playing a smaller part by supporting your mother, but not being her main caregiver. Her health will deteriorate, her needs will increase, and it is not fair that you should give up more of your life looking after her. You need a plan with that in mind. Have you ever lived away from home?
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Some people - I'm not one of them - can't relax until the dishes are done, and being reassured that they'll get done "later" doesn't make such unfortunates feel any better. In which case, while you were quite rightly relaxing after your tea, and checking your stuff, your mother's teeth will have been on edge. Either clear the dishes straight away or thank your mother for doing it. Don't expect her to chill out about something that drives her up the wall.

As I say, I'm not like that. I can ignore dirty dishes for hours on end, quite happily. I think your mother is probably even now a better housekeeper than I ever was.

When do you expect to fly the nest? I only ask, because a close friend of mine now has her two sons back at home, one 33 and one 29, both gainfully/purposefully employed. She loves them very, very much. She is not sure how much longer she can stand having them in the house. I just wondered if I could offer her any hope through your example.
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“She needed that confrontation...to show that she has control.”

Such wisdom in your own words. The knowing is much easier than the doing. I, too, in my mid-30s came home to care for “dying” parents, 15 long years later, with almost every day similar to the example you’ve sited, they passed. It never got better.

If she’s able to load the dishwasher and complain, hurray, she can still multitask. She is only out to nitpick and goad you into a fight.

Ignore her. Let her fuss. When she needs help, hire a caregiver, look into assisted living, find her a companion, friend, church person etc.

Love her. But love yourself more. Love yourself enough to not miss out on the life and the opportunities that are uniquely yours.
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SureSquid, sometimes we need to step into Mom's shoes for awhile to see life from her side. The love of her life, your Dad, had passed away and I bet she misses him dearly. That in itself can make a person unhappy, grumpy, and very resentful as your Mom and Dad probably had planned to grow very old together.

And you need to remember, your Mom's world has grown so much smaller. There are things she just can't do for herself or it takes effort to do. She doesn't like this phase of her life.

Now that you and Mom are living under the same roof, here comes the adult/child dynamics where in your Mom's eyes you go back to being a teenager. She doesn't see you as an adult and won't take any recommendations that you might have. Only thing she know how to do now is fuss at you.

Would Mom be able to budget the cost of living in Independent Living, where she rents a nice apartment where the facility has weekly housekeeping, weekly linen service, meals in the main dining room, plus activities and social hours. Imagine all the new friends she could meet. It all depends on the equity she has in her home, if she owns the house. Independent Living averages around $6k per month.

Just food for thought.
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Why are you there?

I know you are in school, but can you support yourself if you move out?

Mother sure knows how to win, doesn't she? By rustling around in the kitchen she not only pulled you out of your room but got a good confrontation going and got you to do the dishes, too. You said you would do them a little later, when you were ready. Why didn't you stick to that? Let her fuss in the kitchen as loudly as she wants. Ignore her. When you are ready go into the kitchen. If she is still there, say cheerfully, "Well I'm ready to take over now." If she fusses about having to do it herself, say mildly "I did say I'd do them. I guess you forgot or didn't believe me. You can finish or I will. Which do you want?"

You are missing out on your life by devoting yourself to caregiving. Continue loving her, sure. Help her in reasonable ways. Learn to stand up to her in firm but not angry ways. Help her arrange the help she truly needs. Just don't provide it all yourself.
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Dear SureSquid,

I can really sympathize with you. I know you are doing the best you can to care for your elderly mom. It sure isn't easy. She might have some undiagnosed issues like diabetes or dementia for her to be acting out. My dad was like this after his stroke. He would say go get me food and then he would be made I was gone for hours. But in reality I was only gone for 20 minutes. He was not taking his medications so this affected him as well.

You are still very young and have your whole life ahead of you. Maybe consider talking to a social worker and consider your options. It is time for assisted living? nursing home? or maybe hire more caregivers to stay with your mom.

I know its hard to find the right balance, but I hope you do. Because I know feeling stuck is not a good place to be.
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