Mom asked me to move in to provide care 2 yrs. ago, new state. She’s 87, barely able to walk, hearing impaired, but pretty sharp. I love my mom, she’s quite a lovely person, tho she’s very materialistic and slightly narcissistic. I’m the opposite and tend to deny my needs for someone else’s benefit because I believe(d) in it. I’m the one kid who isn’t married, so I felt it was my duty to care for her.

In these two years, I have had little help from siblings (emotional support would help). I don’t know anyone here, so have no local support. I am now on Medicare but have no other medical supplements & worry about what will become of me after mom passes (not once has she mentioned my future, and that hurts me). It seems it’s all about her. That’s not the mom I knew.

I am feeling used, taken advantage of, and like I’m a servant, not a daughter. My usual optimism and loving kindness are fading, and I don’t like that. I don’t know who I am anymore. I’m afraid of my future and can see nothing to look forward to unless I take some action. I asked mom last year to pay me something. She was upset, but finally said she’d give me $500/mo. I was shocked at how little she valued my services 24/7.

I’ve read posts stating that $15-$20/hr. is fair compared to agency rates. I also read one post stating a flat rate of $75/night is charged for the entire night.

What I’m thinking is that I should get the figures & facts ready for mom, then make a case. If she won’t hear it, I may have to find a job elsewhere. She can afford it, she just doesn’t wish to part with her money.

And, for once, I need to know I tried, so I don’t regret it.

I have a background in physical medicine & rehab, have cared for others most of my adult life and have considerable knowledge to help my mother, such as, interpreting medical reports/drugs, problem-solving.

I’m handy around the house, am a good cook, making her terrific meals she enjoys and raves about, I care for the house, laundry, etc. I don’t think a random agency aide could come close to the care I provide my mom.

I’m burning out with resentments and with the unconcern for ME, too! I keep trying to manage it, but I can’t any longer. Before I make a rash decision, I would be most grateful to hear your thoughts, especially, on what rate Upper Michigan caregivers are paid, and a little cheerleading on taking charge!

I am a newby to this site, but have benefitted so very much from all of your posts. Thank you.

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Here is just an idea. I’m sure you can choose your own words and make your case much better than I did.

“Dear Mom,

I think you are delightful. I admire you very much.
You are an astute business woman.
I, however, have not managed my life as well as you have. I have to make some changes.

I have a very few good years left to prepare for my old age. I realize that I have great value as a live-in caretaker or geriatric manager. I intend to go back to school to get whatever certification I need to establish my credentials. I might just get a CNA certification and dive in to see which part of caregiving suits me best or work on my PT associates degree.

I know that I’m bondable, a good cook, medically articulate and unencumbered. All of those atributes will help me find my way.

I’ve learned there is a great need for women my age and at my skill level. I know you will be relieved that I have found a way to support myself. At least I have a plan.

I was willing to give my dear siblings a reprieve from upsetting their own retirements but see now that I don’t have that luxury since I am alone and must make my own way.

I know you may not have realized how dire my situation is. I’ve been unsuccessful in articulating this to you in the past. So I’m hoping this letter will allow you to understand my position and aid me in my resolve to shore up my finances. You have been a wonderful mom but unfortunately I am not able to retire and keep you company indefinitely.

I felt it was only fair that I let you know so that you can plan for your own future. These past two years have hopefully given you a reprieve from having to be concerned with healthcare assistance.

Thankfully you are prepared financially. I know you will support my efforts and I really appreciate that. Of course until I have to move, I’ll be happy to help you where and when I can. My focus will just have to shift to my own future.
I’m sure you’ll have no problem finding a replacement.

Love you Mom
Helpful Answer (41)
Slartabart May 2019
You are so kind to give quite a lot of thought to my situation. I have read your letter over and over and it gives me a good start. I am not rushing forward, but
all of this input is helpful . Thank you! 00XX
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Tell your Mom that you are going to get a job doing home care for dependent seniors. Tell her how much you will be paid and that she will have to hire someone to come in to care for her in your absence. That will highlight your worth. If she wants to pay you that will be fine, If not she can pay someone else the going rate. You have the experience and would be hired on the spot. Your absence for 32 to 40 hours a week will shake things up.
Helpful Answer (35)
Slartabart May 2019
I had a similar idea but thought I would get my ducks in a row. Mom does have insurance that will pay for $100/day for home care, they just won’t pay a family member unless employed by an agency. When I called several agencies last yr., they all said they would not hire someone to be placed in a specific home, as that would create staffing resentments/problems. I get it.
So, I might ask/tell mom that we should get started on the insurance thing and get some aides in here so I can get a break. She won’t like it. See what all of you lovely helpers are doing for me? You’re helping to unlock this paralysis that’s gotten hold of me! I am grateful for your ideas and help. XXOO
I can understand the upset that you and your future seem to matter so little or not at all.

It seems to be a common thread with narsasist, sorry I don't believe in slightly narsisitic , all or nothing in my personal experience.

Are you willing to stay at this point? If yes, it is time for a caregiver contract that covers everything, from what you will be doing, how you will be compensated, days and holidays off, how sick days will be handled. I would not let her give you cash, use a payroll agency so you are getting unemployment insurance and workers compensation insurance, as well as her matching your SS and Medicare. You will be an employee at this point, which is in everybody's best interest. No one is going to give you part of their inheritance as an act of goodwill for taking on this responsibility.

Caregiving is a really hard job and you need to be compensated accordingly, especially since she has the money. She would be paying someone and guaranteed that agency or individuals would not care as much as you do.

My dad pays his stepdaughter but I am expected to do more for free. Ouch! Really. Who asks a loved one to give up their financial security and do this for free. I think if you consider me a loved one you would want to do right by me. You wouldn't expect a stranger to do it for free or give a huge discount. Perception huh?

You can do this! You can get the pay you deserve.

If she doesn't want to do it, I'll hire you as a live-in housekeeper and cook, no personal care required. No personal history to guilt you with.

Maybe looking for a job and a place to live will open her eyes. You can't be used unless you allow it. It is okay to say enough is enough, you matter as much as she does. I know it is hard, but this has to be approached as business and not a personal issue. You are valuable and you are providing a valuable service.

🤗🎉🎉👍🎉🎉🤗 You can do it!
Helpful Answer (27)
MargaretMcKen May 2019
'No one is going to give you part of their inheritance as an act of goodwill for taking on this responsibility'. This quote deserves to be engraved in stone!
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I don’t know how to gently put this so sorry but if she is truly narcissist, she’s number one in her book and there is only one entry in that book.
You need to consider your own needs. It sounds like you are used to being used and actually have come to accept it as your place in the family. It’s fine to be peaceable but not to be a doormat. Took me 50 yrs and therapy to understand I was the scapegoat in a family led by a narcissist mother. Please, first get help to learn your self worth.
Then, consider, you have a life ahead after she’s gone. It’s unfair for her to expect you to give your all , including your health. If she can’t care for her self she can hire help or move to an assisted living facility.
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keepingup May 2019
It is shocking and sad the degree to which a narcissistic mother can create a mindset that their adult daughters, mostly, own lives don't matter. It is sprinkled all over this website in the year I have read it. No human has the right to take away another's quality of life because of their own egocentric needs. Caring for someone as they age is usually necessary......but not to the point that the caregiver is exploited. Like you, I hope she finds the self-worth required at this point. 💘
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Approach this job decision like you would any other. Although you have been working for your Mom for several years, your decision to stay is a daily decision. You are “at will” to leave for any reason.

Your marital or relationship status in no way binds you to any job. Any married person could wake up tomorrow single. Likewise, if you choose to be in a relationship, you could certainly choose to do so while providing care.

Your financial status does not bind you to this job either. (In fact, this absolutely provides you an “out.”).

What is the going rate? To replace yourself, per needed hour, the range would be babysitter (or nanny/aupere) rates through RN (service agency) consultant rates. Live-ins demand more or take less pay depending on the location convenience, comfort and other perceived benefits/detriments. This dollar value is difficult to estimate because there are so many factors. Desperate workers will accept less, skilled workers can demand more.

I understand why your mother doesn’t want to liquidate her assets (the knowledge of their existence gives her comfort and security), but even if you were to continue providing your services for free, you would need breaks, you would likely have to hire help, and you do not have the means to “donate” what it would cost to have those hours covered. So it is not rational for her to consider her funds protected for all time.

Don’t rely on a promise of a future bequest. If your mom were to make some deal with you such as, “I’ll leave you the entire (or a certain portion of my estate) in exchange for caregiving - this is an empty promise for many reasons (1) she could change her will at any time, (2) she could outlive her resources, (3) your siblings could already attack the will claiming fraud, undue influence, capacity (even though she has it) based on her current age alone, and completely deplete anything left. (And they would).

Don’t expect your Mom or your siblings to change. You will not get more respect, admiration, assistance, praise, or financial support than they are giving. As free caregiver for my parents, most of my siblings grew resentful and jealous while I was caregiving. (So do not take this job in hope of expectations that cannot likely be fulfilled).

You mention emotional toll. Caregiving is wonderful, but can be very bittersweet and depressing when things are hard. Your medical professional background brings a huge benefit, but when caring for a family member, it is harder to stay on an even emotional keel when your loved one faces inevitable decline brought on by aging. You are probably already hurting more than you write.

It sounds like you are a kind, generous, skilled person. You have lots of talents. Like the rest of us, you also have some insecurities.

You feel backed into a corner. Realize that the only person truly blocking you in that corner is yourself.

Make your choices based on what makes you happy, what fulfills your soul, and makes you feel alive. Give yourself permission to follow your own path.
Helpful Answer (22)

It's funny, isn't it.

If you were to approach your mother as an outsider and say to her "thank you for taking part in this survey, Mrs X, which is about thinking persons' attitudes to money and the cost of living. What would you say is the minimum monthly income that a single adult can survive on in your state?" I'm betting she would not tick $500. Let alone $0.

But tangle this up with home and love and family and parents and care of the aged... and suddenly it's as though numbers fly out of the window, and it's suddenly all about not wanting to feel grasping, on the one hand, and not wanting to think that your child only sees you as a piggy bank on the other.

But love won't pay your bills, or save for your future. If I were you, I should go job-hunting. If later on you want to revisit that decision, then your mother can compensate you for loss of earnings and you'll have the payslips to show her. Moreover, having a job will keep you connected and may save your sanity.

You are NOT being mercenary. It is a simple truth that you cannot live on fresh air, and that is the key point that your mother needs to grasp.
Helpful Answer (21)
GraceNBCC May 2019
She might come up with $500, after room & board are covered. That may be what she spent running the household for many years.
I remember my dad saying that he thought if he ever made $30,000 a yr we would be very well off. That was when he graduated law school.
And, if caring for a person you are not related to doesn’t appeal to you, just go out and get a job, period. You are not old and would have no problem getting a job. Places like Target, Wal-Mart, and grocery stores are always hiring. Mom will still have to hire someone to care for her because you won’t be there. If Mom does agree to pay you, make sure you have a Caregiver’s Agreement drawn up. It helps at tax time.
Helpful Answer (19)
Slartabart May 2019
Thanks for your thoughts.
What you need to do is figure out what it would cost Mom for people to do your job. What it would cost for a CNA. There are certified homemakers too. Call an agency and see what they charge. Do u mow the lawn? Find how much that will cost. Then tell Mom u will have to go back to work. You need credit towards SS or you will have nothing to live on when your older. Then give her the list of how much it would cost her to hire people to do what u do. If she ends up willing to pay you, make a contract with her. You will need it if she ever needs Medicaid.
Helpful Answer (16)
Slartabart May 2019
Good ideas. Thanks for helping.
Tell her that you need to earn a living and that you must go out and take care of other people because you need the money. the situation will soon change when she has to pay a stranger for care.
Helpful Answer (16)
Slartabart May 2019
Thanks for your helps!
I may be reading a little too much between the lines here, but a great deal of your post is terribly familiar to me, so here goes...

It's not just a question of what your services are worth. Between that, and the value of what your mother may provide for you in the way of food, shelter, transportation, utilities, etc., the financial question should be pretty easy to figure out with a little thought and research.

The hard part is separating the emotional from the factual. Burnout and resentment are common enough with caregivers, but how much of your inner turmoil has resulted from feeling trapped by your life choices over the years? You've stated that you've dedicated your life to helping others, but now you're 66 and poor. How did that happen? (Not that you have to answer that here... it's your business.)

I have a feeling that focusing on the financial isn't going to help here. Sure, Mom doesn't want to part with her money, your siblings can't or won't offer support, tangible or not, and your mom's eventual estate may very well be divided evenly between her children, regardless of who did what for her (of course, that remains to be seen). This stuff happens, period.

Have an honest conversation with yourself about your life: where you've been, where you are, and how you got there. Once you've sorted all that out, you can think about where to go from here. Look at what you have, and not just at what you want, or what you think you deserve, and carefully evaluate your options for the future, given your age.

It sounds to me that a life of "putting others first" has finally gotten to you, both emotionally and financially. Trust me, I've been there more times than I like to admit. Just remember that self-worth isn't determined by how much you are paid for services rendered, and that some rewards are only realized when we pass from this earthly life.
Helpful Answer (16)
AlvaDeer May 2019
I am with you, PeeWee. I think that a license social worker or psychologist could help iron some of this out. I think that the money is important, and being paid when you cannot work at all because you are already doing an unpaid job is fair. But there is more here. Sounds to me as though perhaps another job is what is wanted here, and Mom should move to assisted living where, suprise suprise, she may find she is happier, as is her daughter.
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