For my entire life, so long as my parents were concerned, nothing I could do was good enough. I expended a lot of energy doing & excelling, looking for approval that never materialized. Now my mother is widowed, mid-90s and lives in a 55+ IL. I am 30 minutes away from her; my bro & his wife live a few blocks. Mom's proud to be "independent." It's a charade, of course. The only things she does for herself are dress/undress, toilet, in/out of bed, and feed herself--when she bothers to eat. She also participates in a couple of group activities at the facility each week. My B & SIL do *literally* everything else for her, bathing, laundry, cleaning, doctor appointments, groceries, and cooking included. I've dithered in guilt since I found out how much they've begun doing. On the other hand, in the past when I've offered to help I've been brushed off. To my relief, actually. But now they want me to start cleaning her apartment regularly. She has fired I don't know how many cleaners because they couldn't please her, so there's no future in suggesting she hire someone. I foresee nothing but grief from her if I take it on. Would it be fair for me to set ground rules? As in, she has to be out of the apartment when I'm cleaning, and the first complaint from her ends the whole arrangement? Personally, I think she belongs in AL. But I stay out of decision-making, as my B is her POA.

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Dear "Hummer,"

I'm sorry you've spent your entire life trying to please parents who can't be pleased. You need to realize that even though your dad has passed away and it's just you and your mom along with B and SIL, that won't change. First of all, we really need to be comfortable and accepting of ourselves and not try to please ANYONE - this will only lead to feeling hurt, unloved and unaccepted.

Boundaries are a necessity in every aspect of our lives whether it's with family, bosses, co-workers or friends. So yes, it's is quite fair to set ground rules and actually they need to be set. It will be so much harder now because they weren't established early on. It's like raising children, you can't let them do whatever they want, then becoming problem children and then trying to set boundaries - it get's to a point where they will totally ignore those newly set rules and run roughshod over you. Same in this situation - you will really need to stand your ground as if your feet are in concrete to pull this off.

I get the impression your mom has been catered to her whole life and that's why NO ONE can please her. So it's not just you and I'm sure when you were younger, you took it upon yourself to believe it was "you."

Your mom never seems to be satisfied or happy for that matter. I like the two rules you want to set if you are going to start cleaning her apartment at the request of your B and SIL.

I tend to agree with you, it would be good to get her into AL but, your hands seem to be tied since you're not her POA and I don't know what type of relationship you have with your B and SIL in regards to whether they would listen to your advice/suggestions or opinions.

Good luck in however you decide to handle the situation!
Helpful Answer (12)
DILKimba Oct 2020
Excellent advice! The only thing I would add is that the motivation to do this is to help lighten the load on B and SIL, not to please mom. If you go in with that motivation it might be more tolerable.
Absolutely. Say 3 hours a week once a week or whatever? If that doesn't work, offer to hire a cleaner. If none of that works, oh well, you tried. You will be trying, and if it doesn't work you will say that you have tried. If they feel she needs a higher level of care, then they are there to take care of that as her POA. Good luck. The good thing is that you already KNOW you will not live up to her expectations; but then she hasn't lived up to yours either, so all's fair, hee hee.
You can always ALSO say that you are quite certain, given history, that your housekeeping skills will not live up to her expectations. That you would rather say, do shopping with a list, laundry, or other chores on a weekly basis. You could ALSO say that you are willing to HIRE in help, but not to DO it yourself, as you feel you have already learned the lessons of being "not good enough" and don't need a repeat on them. I feel bad for your brother and SIL as well, but they have made this choice. We can't make choices for others. Only for ourselves.
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ArtistDaughter Oct 2020
Love what you say that the mom hasn't lived up to Hummer's expectations. At some point we have to stop being the child.
Usually we get the ones who are doing all the caregiving work posting on here. So it's a switch that it's someone who hasn't been helping and now is being asked to do something and doesn't want to.

BUT!!!! YOU are the one who wrote here, so YOU are the one I'm concerned about. There is no reason why you should start cleaning her apartment. You know how it will go, and I admire you for not even wanting to try it out. Set the boundary now and stick to it.

I also think your brother and his wife shouldn't be doing all for her, but they are not on this board and so they will have to learn about boundaries another way.

Obviously, your mother needs to be in a living situation where she gets more help from people on-site.

What is your relationship with your brother and his wife like? Is there any chance they could come around to seeing that NONE OF YOU should be doing all the caregiving work to uphold the charade of her "independent" living?
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Hummer Oct 2020
Mom always pitted us against each other, so we were never close. As adults our only contact relates to her issues.

I believe caretaking has increased and become burdensome in just the past few months. I can only assume that they'll eventually decide it's time. I've pointed out that by the time you start considering a higher level of caretaking it probably should have happened 3 months ago.
There's nothing wrong with giving the housekeeping thing a go. If it doesn't work out, then you know this isn't for you and steps can be taken to find another cleaner.

I would suggest that Mom NOT be present when you clean. She may object to the way you are doing something and precious time would be spent dithering over how to clean what.

The few times I was truly able to get mother's apartment CLEAN was when YB took her away for a few hours and I opened windows and got out the bleach. A LOT of junk got thrown away and altho mother couldn't put her finger on what exactly was 'wrong' she was upset over my removing items, cleaning under them and returning them. I also did throw away her throw rugs and dead plants and took all her old books and puzzles and donated them to the Sr Center. (Something she herself would do, but b/c I did it she didn't get the credit!)

We quickly discovered that mom didn't WANT anyone to clean. She was perfectly happy with a semi-organized mess--and when YB found her digging through the garbage cans after I had left--well, the cleaning ended.

You ABSOLUTELY can and should set ground rules, or you or she will be upset. My daughter has a housekeeper and she does specific tasks, and no more. Making a 'to-do' list and the having her OK what she wants done seems to help.

I haven't cleaned for years for her, but boy, do I want to.

Good to stay out of the fray, as it were. It just brought me sadness and anger. Not worth it.
Helpful Answer (9)

Your Mom has a Dementia. If your Mom was hard to please growing up, your not going to be appreciated now. People who suffer from Dementia can no longer reason or appreciate. They become like small children and self-centered.

Don't clean for Mom, clean for ur brother. It must be hard to have to keep hiring someone.

Can u clean while Mom is at an activity? One person living alone should not be too dirty. The dirtiest places would be the bathroom and the Kitchen. Her bedroom and L/R shouldn't need too much. I love the Swiffer products. The dry Mop and the dusters I use all the time. Comet bathroom cleaner I have used for years. Swiffer also has a wet mop. You don't have to do deep cleaning everytime you go. I use an electric broom for vacuuming rooms that aren't used that much. Only using my reg vacuum for deep cleaning.

Boundries are OK but may not work for a person with Dementia. Think Mom as a bad client but u need the money. Let what she says roll off your back. Get earplugs or earbuds and listen to music. Unless she is a hoarder should not take that long to clean.

Like I said, do it for ur brother. Be glad ur not the POA with the responsibility he has. He puts up with Mom a lot more.
Helpful Answer (9)

She does belong in AL. My grandmother was so proud of living independently in her own house and never realized she hadn't been alone for the last two years before we moved her into her niece's home.

It's time to have a heart-to-heart with your brother, POA or not. Too many people think AL, memory care, or whatever the next level of care is somehow a step down toward the grave. Quite the contrary -- it enables the person to have the help they need at the level its needed, and it often makes their lives infinitely better.

If I'd kept my mom in her first nursing home, she'd be dead by now because they didn't really do much for her. I moved her to memory care which covers all level of care from AL to skilled nursing, and she's barreling along very well at 91. I truly didn't think she'd live to be 86 under my dad's loving but limited care, then the first nursing home gave her maybe an extra year. Now I don't know how long she can keep going, because she's getting excellent care.

If your mom needs AL, she needs AL. It isn't some kind of personal failure on her part or anyone else's. It is what it is, so bring up the topic.
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I would not clean your mother's apartment, no way. I'd offer to pay for a cleaning service to do it FOR her, whether she likes the job they do or not.......b/c we all know she is not going to like WHATEVER cleaning job is done for her, including yours. So what's the point? It's not a 'suggestion' you're offering as much as an ultimatum: either I hire someone and pay for it or it doesn't get done.

You can set down all the boundaries you'd like........but that is not going to stop her from complaining. My mother has turned it into an art form, in fact, then when I ask her to stop, she'll say I'M NOT COMPLAINING. In other words, a no-win situation

How you plan to handle YOUR no-win situation is entirely up to you. As long as you don't expect compliance or appreciation from your mother, you'll be all set!

Good luck!
Helpful Answer (7)
Hummer Oct 2020
Thanks for the nudge to re-consider a cleaning service. I'd dismissed it because of her history.
Let her pay for a cleaner. It’s not your responsibility how many she fires. You already sense she will be difficult. Trust those feelings .
Helpful Answer (7)

Put on head phones and listen to great music while you clean. When you have cleaned to your satisfaction, you are done.
Helpful Answer (7)
NeedHelpWithMom Oct 2020
Great idea!
She should be in Assisted Living not IL!
One of the reasons is for her safety.
IF something should happen to her the staff in IL are not allowed to help her get up, if she should fall, they are not allowed to help her with any ADL's In AL she could get that help if she needed it. Without waiting for your brother or sister to show up to help.
Does the facility offer cleaning service / house cleaning? If so that is the way to go.
But yes you should set boundaries.
If you want to take on the job of cleaning you can establish your rules for doing so. Mom needs to be out of the room so either brother or sister in law goes to pick her up and take her for a drive. You can go when lunch is served if that is convenient for you. But I think it would be much easier to have the facility provide cleaning service. If she will not agree to the "rules" or boundaries you want to set then you are really under no obligation to clean her apartment. (You can come and do my place, I will gladly leave while you work)
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