My father died in November. He was her carer. Since then I have spent every night and a good deal of day at her home. My husband stays at our home at night as she won't let our dogs stay at her house, as they would 'traumatise her 3 cats' . Recently we've been trying to spend a few hours in the evening at our home. There has always been a problem when I get back.

Last night I got back to
find her wandering around looking for my father and she had been outside in cold. She is very unsteady and frail and could have fallen.

Her GP says that she is 100% mentally 'with it' and she thinks she is attention seeking.

She refuses to have carers to help out as she thinks she can look after herself.

When I take her at her word and try to separate myself from her a bit she always makes me feel guilty for leaving her by little comments such as ' Its not the same watching TV on your own'.

My sister has come and stayed for four days since Dads death and that is the only break my husband and I have had.

I run a small Internet business but this has had to be put on hold as I don't have time to apply myself to it.

I have always had a good relationship with her. My Mother however has always been very self centred and selfish. Along with this she is very anti social and has only been out of house in the last 20 years for medically related appointments. Everyone has to come to see her. When they do she always moans and complains before they come.

She even makes her grandchildren feel unwelcome at times.

Can anyone suggest how I can handle this situation please.

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Exmoor, a couple of thoughts. First of all, I'm so sorry for the loss of your father. As Jeanne says, this is a time to be gentle with yourself. That's tough to do if you are suddenly needing to take care of someone else as well.

It sounds as though your mom may have had some underlying mental health issues before your dad's death. Hasn't been out in 20 years? Hmmmm? Does the gp think THAT'S just attention seeking as well?

We often hear from folks on this board who have one elderly parent pass away, only to discover that the remaining parent has far greater deficits than were previously suspected or noticed, because the caregiver parent was covering up so well. Do you think that Dad was doing such an effective job of making up for mom's impairments that no one else noticed?

I think that you should take mom to see a geriatric specialist and/or psychiatrist in the near future. I'm glad that you've arranged for a needs assessment!   Make sure that you are present when it occurs, to gently correct any mis-impressions that your mother presents ("oh, I'm fine; it's just that my daughter won't come over often enough").

And do some reading on this board both about "FOG"--fear, obligation and guilt; and about narcissistic parents. It sounds possible that you've been exposed to both.

Please take care of your own health, first and foremost, and come back and let us know how things are going for you. We care!
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Thank you. I do realise she is grieving and it is only a short time since he died.

I think with support she can remain in her own home but that's the problem, she does not accept she needs help.

I feel she is manipulating me into feeling guilty about breaking away from 24:7 care I've been giving her. My husband and children are furious that she is doing this and are encouraging me to step back even more than I am.

From a selfish position, I feel absolutely drained, have been drinking more than I should to keep calm and have and have lost over a stone in weight.

I have arranged for an assessment of her abilities and needs, with her knowledge, but in UK everything  moves slowly so the wait for this could be quite a long time.

Some times I feel really sad and sorry for her, other times very angry towards her. I never show this side to her though.
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This woman has been a widow for less than 3 months. Her husband was also caring for her. Her life has completely turned upside down. Confusion and crying and being crabby is all part of the grieving process. Have these behaviors just started or intensified in the last few months? The first few months after the death of a spouse can be really, really terrible.

If this might be her grief behavior I'd give it a little more time.

If it continues or you don't think it is related to mourning, I'd get a second medical opinion, for starters. Wandering around in the cold and looking for her deceased husband may not really be 100% with it, ya know? Perhaps consulting a geriatrician is called for.

It sounds like your mother is not safe to leave alone. Is that your assessment? And it also sounds like you have a life of your own -- a husband, dogs, a home? So you are not going to be able to do more than you are now. Ideally you'll do less than you are now.

If she does need full time supervision there are only 2 options I can think of: she goes to a care center or she brings help into the home. One or the other.

But if the geriatrician concurs that she is pretty much "with it" then detaching a bit more and more would be a good move. But understand that she might need extra support so soon after losing her life partner.

You are probably also deeply mourning the death of your father. Be good to you!
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