Mom's unhappy at assisted living - should I try to talk to her about it? Or let it go? -

Mom's unhappy at assisted living - should I try to talk to her about it? Or let it go?


My mother is 86 - mild dementia, otherwise good health. Much better than my own! After 5 years of incredible stress trying to make it possible for Mom to stay in her own home (a 2 & 1/2 hour drive from where I live with my husband), I took charge of Mom's financials, doctor visits, meds, etc.,..while also figuring out what to do with my younger brother who has mental deficiencies. Last summer I finally got all the ducks in a row and moved Mom to a great assisted living facility. I managed to make it happen in a way that she felt it was her own decision. At that point she felt it was a good decision. The home's a wonderful place that I wouldn't mind living in myself. I have dropped in many, many times and have never been disappointed with their care. Afterwards, I dealt with 40+ years of STUFF in the house and (with a little help from other siblings), got her house sold. That seemed to make Mom upset and she tells everyone "I guess I won't be living there again". I met with the V.A. and managed to get her signed up for the Aid & Attendance pension so she is all set. During this period of time, another brother who I loved most of all, died a horrible and fast death to cancer. While everyone else visited him, I couldn't because of Mom. I even missed the funeral & scattering of ashes. So I arranged a big dinner at a rented hall, making it possible for Mom to visit with old neighbors, church family, etc. while I took care of "business" and avoided the few family who refuse to speak to me because they think I did wrong by Mom. The financial burden has been tough. And - sometimes I found myself needing to stay overnight in Mom's old house, sorting through papers and stuff that reminded me of a childhood I'd rather forget. There's an oldest brother who Mom readily tells everyone is her "favorite" (1st kid) ... who sexually abused me. All those trips back and forth - lawyers, documents, doctors' records (amidst appointments), POA's, etc., finding out I now have diabetes too. All this and then discovering yesterday (for the 2nd time!!) that Mom's writing letters to family stating that "although they take good care of me here and I enjoy the music and activities, what I REALLY want is to live at my daughter's house. But I'll not ask. It wouldn't be fair to her husband". It makes me feel angry! The first time I spotted where she'd written that down, I just let it ride but it drove me crazy. This time I don't know what to do! Mom just wrote out a huge stack of Christmas cards to her entire address book. So how many others has she told this to?? These people don't know what all I've been through! And we TRIED having Mom live with us for a month - all she could do was complain and at the end of it, I had a minor break-down of mental and physical health. It breaks my heart that every time I visit her. On one hand she seems to enjoy it there... but there seems to always be something that I discover... something that will haunt me until the next visit. It makes me not want to visit her - which makes me so sad. I can't sleep, don't eat right, some days I never leave my bed. I find myself re-analysing the entire heart-wrenching decision. While still living at home, Mom had quite a few visitors but they didn't DO ANYTHING - it was all up to me. THEY think it was a hasty move. And hardly anybody visits her now. Or at least that's what SHE tells me. On this website, I read the checklist about when to know it's time to move your loved one...and it was like - yup, check, check... right down the list. I know without a doubt it was time... but now some members of my family won't speak to me because I moved Mom. They think we should've worked it out for her to stay in her home with help there. Then on top of that, the house itself was literally falling down around her, in disrepair. I started trying to get service people in there but it was racking up bills. Then I tried to hire home help for her - they didn't do what I requested and couldn't be relied on (one called me FOUR hours after she was supposed to show up!!). I could not see another answer. But every single day since moving Mom, I fret over it, feel judged and family members and friends have dropped me. While I've had a fair (unfair?) amount of stress in my life -2 betrayals/divorces, major health issues including a spinal injury, devastating losses of loved ones, major life-changing circumstances, etc.. NOTHING prepared me for the stress of this!!! Do I try to TALK to Mom about this letter-writing thing?? Or would that be pointless? Mom doesn't remember what all I've already done or that I'm the only one left who visits on a regular basis, keeps track of her supplies, shops for her, etc., etc., etc.!!! Or am I stuck with just trying to figure out a way to let it all go?

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Dear cr0105,

I'm so sorry to hear what you went through. You have tried my friend. You have gone above and beyond to help your mom. The lack of validation and acknowledgement is painful enough, but to have her blame you is unbearable. And than to suffer a loss of a beloved brother. And to be left to clean out a house is just too much.

I am glad you are seeking counseling. I have to agree with others and its best to step back and take care of yourself. I know its not easy after being the family caregiver for so long, but you must protect yourself. I wouldn't bother talking to your mom about the letters. She doesn't seem to get it.

I hope the counseling will help. Take care of yourself. Love yourself. And do as much for yourself, as you have done for your mom. Thinking of you. Sending you love and hugs.
Helpful Answer (1)

Thank you very much for the update, CR. I hope the counseling is helpful.

You know, there are people in assisted living who have no living relatives or no one geographically close. How do they get to doc appts? Ask if some kind of transportation service is available at the alf, for an extra charge, of course. And ask them how they deal with residents who don't have someone local to take them.

Have you ever heard the expressions, "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear," and "You can't get blood out of turnip"? Well, you can't get loving appreciation from someone who isn't capable of it. Your mother is who she is. Likewise, you can't expect understanding from family members who've made up their minds without benefit of facts.

You are doing the right things. Be proud. Hold your head up. And stay with the counseling!
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It took me quite awhile to figure out how to navigate this site. I kept thinking - oh no not even the people here care! But having just read all of the answers here, I cannot be more thankful. You have all said things that helped me get a better perspective. The only thing is, I'm not entirely off the hook with mom..the facility cannot take her to her various Dr appointments & such. But I am seeking counseling, first session this past Monday. Thank you again!!
Helpful Answer (3)

I also endorse the idea of seeking out counseling to help you understand this situation.

I didn't have a perfect childhood, not by a long shot. But I learned early on that I was allowed to say "no" to things that were not in my best interest. I saw my parents set healthy boundaries with toxic family members.

My reading about other people's families on this message board has brought me to the conclusion that the folks who think they have to destroy their own lives in order to cater to their parents are not the folks who had rosy, perfect childhoods. It's the folks who were abandoned, beaten, abused and unloved. They seem to be chasing love that they didn't have, that they can never make up for not having.

I think those of us who had good models of boundaries in childhood find it much easier to say " look, mom, I can't do this anymore". It's still the hardest conversation I've ever had with my mom, but I didn't agonize over saying it. What she wanted ( to live at her home and have us on call to respond to emergencies) was going to be the end of my career and the death of my brother from stress.

But I want to point out that you should separate the nasty folks who think you've abandoned mom from what your mother is writing in those little notes. She says she'd rather live with you, but blames your husband, not you. In her mind, she's being kind. It's exactly the kind of thing I can picture my mom doing.
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Has your mother always been a bit negative during her life? I have a father that seems happiest when there is something to grumble about. The past few months I've made it my mission to ignore his grumbling and my stress levels have gone way down. Don't let others take away your joy. Set boundaries for yourself.
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Please try to figure out a way to let it go. You may need a therapist to help you overcome such a dysfunctional family dynamic and extricate yourself from it. You deserve some peace in your life!
Helpful Answer (5)

I agree with Barb. It's time to distance yourself from the naysayers (who never do anything constructive - they just spout off their negative views) and from mom for a while. Let her miss you and all that you do for her. She doesn't seem to appreciate it anyway.

You made the right choice for your mom and it's too bad she can't appreciate that. We don't always get what we want. You've given her what she needs - now take care of yourself and what YOU need for a change! The world won't end if you step away and let the good facility you've got her in take care of her. Hugs to you - your mom doesn't deserve you and your wonderful care
Helpful Answer (5)

Sweetheart, it sounds like you had a miserable childhood. Why do you feel obligated to give mom exactly what she wants, instead of what she needs?

You are clearly sacrificing your own mental and physical health to give mom a Cadillac old age.
Kudos you you!
You've arranged it all brilliantly, and your reward is your mom's passive aggressive payback. I think I might take two giant steps backward and let mom's needs be taken care of by the good facility she's in. 

If she's going to bad mouth you while you're running yourself ragged, what is the worst she could do if you take care of your own needs for 6 months or so?  
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