I have let myself be guilted into loaning her money for 10+ years but now the gambling seems like it’s escalating (several thousands to her this year) and now I’m retired and can’t keep doing this. I’m worried about her and also afraid to call (she lives in another state about 500 miles away) since she gets very mean. I’ve called help lines and gone to counseling and know that I need to stop covering her gambling debts but still very worried. Nothing I say seems to really make a difference and really my mom is only satisfied if I give her money and doesn’t want to hear anything. She didn’t used to be like this but now is lonely and doesn’t have any friends and won’t reach out. She doesn’t like my suggestions and honestly doesn’t like me so I don’t know how to help but I know I’ve got to stop covering gambling losses. I am ordering food for her from her grocery store which she appreciates but says I’m treating her like a child by not putting the money she wants in her account. She won’t be able to pay her bills this month but could catch up in a couple of months if she stopped gambling. Sometimes she’s saying things did or didn’t happen that aren’t accurate so I don’t know if that’s just wishful thinking or she’s starting to get confused. There aren’t any other immediate family members. Any ideas would be welcome.

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First, realize you are an enabler. If she were a meth addict would you be giving her money to kill herself because she bullies you?

You are 500 miles away and you allow her to have power over you. You say you have been to counseling so have you heard of co-dependency? Stop giving her YOUR money -- you're gonna need it for yourself! Stop filling her account so that you don't drown along with her.

Are you her durable Power of Attorney for her finances (and/or medical)? You say her addiction is worse and this may be a result of cognitive decline, so not sure any intervention is going to be effective (except literally physically putting her someplace where she can't gamble).

If I were in your shoes I would tell her the new rules: you will not be filling her account with cash for any reason, period. She will start thrashing about and screaming and you will hang up. Hanging up is a real attention-getter. Do it every time she launches into a tirade. She will either give up on calling you or eventually get the message that you're not taking her abusive toxic noise anymore.

You may end up calling social services on her as a vulnerable adult. You can contact her county and talk to a social worker there for advice which may help you. She can become a ward of the state and they will find a facility for her and take care of her basic needs but she won't be starving and on the streets. It's not going to be easy to break the pattern you have voluntarily established, but you need to see that your mom will be an anchor around your neck and she won't care that you both drown. Wishing you find the inner strength and wisdom to deal with the challenges ahead. It's your only real path forward.
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cherokeegrrl54 Aug 2019
Very wise words!! Hope the OP listens to them.......
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First off these are not loans. You will never be repaid. You have enabled her for 10+ years. This is money you have not saved for your own retirement or had to use to enjoy your life now.

Are you paying for her food delivery too? If yes, stop that too. She will not starve, unless she chooses to do so.

You need to back off completely.

You may worry about her, but she is not worried about anything other than gambling, so why should you worry?

Guilt? For what? Not enabling an addict?

How is she gambling? If she gets to casinos, she can get to grocery stores or the food bank.

Have you reported her to her local agency on aging as a vulnerable adult?
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Have you read Co-dependent No More by Melody Beattie, you are an enabler, and she will never stop doing what she is doing, until you stop doing what you are doing. What is your pay off in continuing to do this, does it make you feel better? You have an addiction too, you are addicted to her.
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csoward Aug 2019
Your reply really pulled me up short and made me think of many things that have gone on for decades. Thank you for being frank.
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You have enabled her for years. It is now a habit, or YOUR addiction, if you will. Would you give her money for heroin?
I feel that you are the one needing help here, because I seriously doubt that she will get help. There is always help, but addiction is a very tough one. Please go to Gamblers Anonymous and read all you can; off to Amazon to see the books.

Guilt is an interesting word, and I think I see it more than any other word on the Forum. You feel guilt for stopping your enabling her to throw money away on her addiction? That's a tough one, really. Or are you just honestly afraid to hear what she has to say when she doesn't get her way? Because there is an answer to that. It is called a door. Just "You have a good day and give me a ring when you are in a better mood, won't you" and then off you go.
Please seek some counseling for yourself if you cannot access Gamblers anonymous. Even a visit to your local AA would help. They will be glad to listen to why you are there. And they may have some stellar advice, as they live their lives around what addictions do to us.
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You have become an enabler to her problem. You just have to STOP. She will never be satisfied. I am sorry that this has gone on so long. Her demands are beyond reason. This is a terrible situation for you but no good will come with her continuing to gamble.

My mother was for many years going to move to Paris,lose weight,write books that no one had any interest in. I simply ignore all of this but none of the above was costing untold amounts of money. The stroke she suffered put an end to trying to actively get a book published.

She is now nearly 89 years old,lives in AL and has adapted. Her weight is nearly at its highest but I simply accept this is what she is doing to herself. This behavior does not directly affect my life. That is not your situation at all. You need to look out for yourself. I hope you find the strength to do so. You should not in the least let her guilt absorb you any further. This addiction of hers has already robbed you of so much.

There are so many here who wish for different mothers or wish the negative aspects of their personality were not there. It affects us greatly but at some point we have to put what is important first. The well being we need for ourselves and those we share a life or relationship with comes before any negative behaviors trying to destroy that.
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This may not be helpful at all, but we recently went to a casino for a concert. Though I’d been to a few of them before , for some reason this time I really saw it through different eyes. The crowd was huge, a lot of seniors, many of them in what I’d describe as almost transfixed by the place, maybe zombie like. The staff without fail was overly solicitous, super friendly with everyone, constantly asking if anyone needed anything. The place was beautiful inside, decorated luxuriously, we noticed the seats for gambling looked far more comfortable than the seats for the concert. On the casino floor fountain drinks were free, snack foods circulated. Not to stereotype, but it was obvious that many of the people didn’t have money, their clothes, lack of personal care, such as bad teeth reflected it (not a criticism, just noticeable) The huge thing for me was realizing the casino may be the best many people are treated in their lives, the prettiest place they come, the friendliest place, the tastiest, all one big fantasy not related to real life. No wonder it’s addicting. I left sad.
I agree with the advice you’ve been given. It’s great you’re doing grocery delivery for your mom, great peace of mind knowing she’ll have food. But no more money. I genuinely hope she’ll be able to break away from her addiction and find a new outlet for belonging
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NeedHelpWithMom Aug 2019

You nailed it! Who do you think paid for all of the glitz and glam? The customers! It is a business. House always wins. The few that do win are lucky. The addicts put all the money back!
csoward, as long as she knows that you will step in and pay she will continue to gamble.

My mom has been a gambler my entire life, I believe that is why I was raised in Las Vegas, so she had easy access to a casino.

I finally had to explain to her that I would not be bailing her out because she chooses to gamble every penny with no thought for the repercussions. She has always behaved like your mom when her actions were questioned or she didn't get her way. It is what everyone that is doing whatever they want without care for anything or anyone but themselves does. They lash out and blame, it moves the focus off their behavior that they don't want to change. If you persist you get the silent treatment as a way of punishing you for your bad behavior. It's a nasty circular cycle. Step away from giving her any money and let it shake out. 8 or 84 our actions have consequences and she needs to learn the hard way. I have seen my mom spend 25k in one week end. I wasn't even earning that annually at that point, so it can get worse. The more you give the more she will spend on gambling.

She won't get counseling because she doesn't want to change. When it hurts enough she may be willing to look at getting help.

Best of luck, it's a sucky situation for sure.
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I bet it would help you to consult your finance guy, or attorney. Cuz I didn't wake up to the 'fiancial truth' until my neighbor informed me that I was giving WAY too much money to my kids, (which I wud need for retirement). Neighbor's a broker & bank guy, &I'm glad for his candor. (It's sad that I feel the need to buy my kids affection), but they live with their dad, & it's hard not to miss them & want to make up for the past. Hope you will take care of your own future, & save the money for your needs, not your thoughtless mother. Just sayin'...
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She complains that you're treating her like a child. On the contrary, you are treating her like a gambling addict. Whether or not to tell her that, bluntly, in so many words, I'm not sure. If you think it would pull her up short, do.

if you think the gambling is escalating, and on top of that you're losing confidence in her clarity, her judgement, her thinking, whatever you want to call it - is it possible for you to go and see her? I know 500 miles is a heck of a journey, but I think it's the only way to get a clear view of what's going on with her.
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csoward Aug 2019
I have been going to visit about every 3 months for the last couple of years because it seems like she needs help around her place and isn't cooking, but every suggestion I make is turned down. I was planning on going in a couple of weeks for her birthday, but honestly don't want any more tirades, but on the other hand, she does seems to need help. when I go and is appreciative. But then she calls for money and blows up when I resist, but this time I said I can't do this anymore and now we haven't spoken for a week, which is actually about normal, although in July it was more frequent when she realized how much in the hole she was. Thanks for your note.
I just want to say that you need to let go of your guilt. You are looking out for her by buying her food.

I am sure that you know that the only reason that she wants money in her account is for gambling, not groceries, not bills, not anything other than gambling.

Addicts have a one track mind.

You are already helping her by not giving her money. Banish your guilt because you have nothing to feel guilty about.

I did the same as you, stopped giving cash to an addict. My brother was addicted to drugs. I bought him groceries but didn’t give him cash. I took him to the store to buy groceries. He would get cash from my mom but not me.

You know she can’t be trusted. The truth is that addicts lie. They are liars so they can get cash. Gamblers who are addicted never come out ahead because even if they win they put it all back into more gambling. It’s a horrible mind game.
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