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Thanks in advance for any suggestions.


My mother is 84. She has had health issues (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, small strokes, heart attack, two bypass surgeries) for over 30 years. She is also a non-compliant patient and as a parent, she was controlling and occasionally abusive. At least once a year, she has medical "emergencies" that require a visit to the ER to be admitted for observation and tests for a few days. Something that, in the past, the entire family would come running and sit with her. 30+ years of that....and more often than not, nothing being found wrong...well, none of us really come running anymore. This past year, her medical 'emergencies' have increased but coincide with stressful/life changing decisions such as, moving into assisted living and closing on the house. She's obsessed with her blood pressure, taking it multiple times a day. I am one of three girls and the only one that lives out-of-state. With small children and a husband who travels, I can't drop everything for these 'emergencies'. Both of my sisters live in the same town with my mom. One has boundaries well-established that she is rarely called for assistance. The other, the one I'm concerned about, is emotionally exhausted and drops everything she has going on to run to mom's aid...basically, she and her family are 24/7 on-call for mom and she, understandably, resents it but can't figure a way out of it. The facility mom is living in....there really is NO reason for her to be calling either of my sisters for anything she needs. I just got off the phone with my sister, who is on her way over to sit with mom in her apartment. She cancelled her own appointment to run over and be with mom. Mom calls her to let her know what her latest blood pressure reading is...for attention, we imagine. Actually, she mentioned she had an appointment and mom asked how long it would be. When told, my mom's reply was "Oh." To which my sister said "I suppose I could cancel it" and mom's reply was "I wish you would, please." Big age difference between my sisters and I, the only reason I share that is because we're at different stages in our own lives and not only does the one sister get called but so does her husband and adult children.


Our father passed away 3 years ago and he catered to mom. There is no replacement for him.


As far as friends of my mom's, most have either quit calling or it is very infrequent. If she has not heard from someone for a while, she does not reach out.


I won't deny that I'm very angry with our mother because I tend to see what she is doing, as being abusive, manipulative to my sister. There is no reason that one elderly woman needs 9 adults to wait on her, hand and foot...especially when she is living in a facility that can take care of everything. Mom says she can't take care of herself but will not relinquish control of anything.


Mom will later apologize for disrupting everyone's lives. To this particular sister, she will shed tears....yes, the push/pull thing.


Any suggestions on how I can help/support my sister in establishing boundaries that she can feel good about? We have a plan for her to take a vacation, that I come down to be physically be 'there', so she can take a break without feeling guilt but it isn't for a few months (Summer when school is out).


I understand that this stage of life mom is in, has fears and anxieties all their own. There is no lack of compassion or understanding on that (although this post doesn't really reflect that). Her fears and anxieties shouldn't become all-consuming demands from my sister and her family...right?


Once again, I am grateful to you all for any suggestions to help and support my sister with this.

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Hey Scattered, I'm going to answer and bump this post up, hopefully others will see it too. I don't think you have the ability to help your sister until she acknowledges there is a problem. You could direct her to this web site, you could read the F.O.G thread and dysfunction thread to get some better ideas on wise words and even books that may help her see things for what they are, but unless she sees the need to set boundaries she will probably disregard your advice because she doesn't see that she needs it.
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Has your mom been evaluated by a geriatric psychiatrist for depression and anxiety? Meds for those conditions helped mom cope with her unpredictable bp better even than having her doctor's cell phone number.

What didn't help? Having one of us kids there. No amount of reassurance helped. Somethinv in mom's brain was broken. She had anxiety that attached itself to whatever was available.

Your sister has to unenmesh herself from your mom. You probably should suggest some therapy.
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It always amazes me the number of people who know they are being manipulated, get frustrated or angry about it, and still don't say "no". I was one of them. Counseling helped. Role playing helped. I actually taped phone calls with my mom so we could roleplay - my therapist using my mom's tactics and me saying, calmly, lovingly "no, that doesn't work for me" and then when mom escalated "I love you, bye". If grandma is causing neice such stress that she dreads coming home - for kittens sake - help the neice say "no!" and reclaim her life and her home. Ignore grandma's calls. Grandma is not physically there - block her. Your family is allowing one nasty old woman to stress out multiple family members and if your siblings can't protect their own children - shame on them. Everyone needs to strap on a pair and say "no" to this manipulative old biddy.
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My mom has often tells about her friend's kids and how they do everything for their mom - run errands, dr. appointments, take her shopping, the whole deal - so she can stay in her home (and doesn't have to pay for help). This was her way of getting us to do the same. Well, in the past 18 months, these people (the "kids") have passed away. Their mom is still in her home, now having to figure out Plan B. And I wonder how much their running around, trying to keep their mom's life from changing, affected their own health.

What your sister needs to realize, as many of us are seeing, is that we're losing contemporaries way too young these days. How many of us have seen people in their 60's and early 70's leaving us? The constant stress of life, caregiving and all are hitting the "sandwich generation" hard.
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if mom is in a place that is caring for her - why does she NEED so much help? If it is a WANT - have your sister do 1 afternoon a week and then disconnect the phone
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The frightening danger that I see could happen without boundaries is that your sister could well find herself all alone one day singing her own song, I did it mom's way. I hope and pray that does not happen.
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What about her husband and children? Surely, they see a need for boundaries? Most husbands that I know, including myself, would see a need for boundaries.

Your sister sounds like your mom groomed her well for her current role. She's in an emotional dance that only your sister can stop being the dance partner in for mom is not going to change. Mom will get angry when your sister stops being her emotional dancing partner, but that is mom's problem.
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So, your sister is an MD? What the blazes is SHE going to do about mom's bp? 'Call the doctor, mom". That needs to be your sister's mantra.

Old people get obsessed about bp and bowels. They need doctors and rnds to reassre them. Not daughters to sit by their sides.
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Maybe if her husband and adult children would back off, that might motivate her to see the need for boundaries for herself. She needs a wake-up call. Sounds like it's possible that husband is emotionally enmeshed with his wife's problem and their adult children are enmeshed with their mom's problem?
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Cmagnum, that is my concern as well.

Kimber 166, precisely! She moved recently to the assisted living center, end of November.

Since she has returned, another resident and their spouse have been bringing mom her lunch to her room. This resident asked when she would be returning to play cards and the reply was the usual "oh, I just don't know when I'll be feeling better." The resident replied, it doesn't take that much energy to get downstairs to sit and use your brain a little. Now, that isn't an exact quote. However, I was happy to hear that a 'peer' told her that. I think it would be good to be around some others who are also in their elder years and not willing to mess with the pity party. Or it could completely go the other way and she never leaves her room then constantly complains how much she hates it there.

I'm an optimist and also an opportunist (if the optimist and pessimist are arguing about the glass of water, I may take a sip of it. -yes, I'm trying to be a little funny.) So I have hopes....meanwhile, do what I can for my sister and go from there. Thanks for all the suggestions, concerns, support....I appreciate it.
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