Having my mother living with us is driving me insane. What can I do?

Follow
Share

My mother was supposed to move in for a few months, as she was moving from another state and didn't have the finances to be on her own at first. It has now been close to 3 years. I have tried to get her to get a 'real' job, so that she can save some money and move into her own place, but there is always an excuse as to why she can't. She has some health issues, but nothing life-threatening. She is 67. She drives and has her own car. She is constantly telling me how lonely she is and how she feels so badly about decisions she has made in her life, but every time I suggest something for her to do, there is always a reason why it won't work. I am slowly going crazy over it. I do not want it to interfere with the relationship I have with my husband. I have such stress and anxiety over it all, I am making myself sick. My brother and his wife live 5 minutes away, but SIL doesn't want her moving in with them, nor does my mother want to move in with her. They have a larger house and no kids. We have a smaller house with 2 teen daughters. The girls are currently sharing a room because my mother has the third bedroom. All of this is eerily reminiscent of what my mother went through with her mother. When she moved in she SWORE she would not become her mother, but what she doesn't realize is that she is very much becoming like her. Every time I bring up even a hint of discussion about getting her own place, or a real job, she gets very upset and mopes for days. I just don't know how to handle it anymore.

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
6

Answers

Show:
Thank you all for the advice. When she was thinking of moving back to our state, we suggested that she could move in temporarily. I have texts saved, from her, telling me how it will only be for a few months, til she can get back on her feet, and how she's really going to start getting out there and living life again. She had been living with a man, for about 9 years. They are still friends, and they didn't necessarily split up, but he was having some financial issues of his own, she had been picking up the slack until she was laid off, and she wanted to move back to be closer to her family.

Around the time she was preparing to move, a friend of mine was in the process of opening a small business. She suggested my mother could be her receptionist. That was all well and good, but she didn't open for about 3 or 4 months after my mother got here. During that time, I told her to look for something else, whether it was part time, until she started working for my friend, or just something better than what she was going to have with her. Needless to say, she didn't. She kept saying she was 'semi-retired'. I had to remind her that in order to be semi-retired, you had to have the financial ability not to work, which she didn't. And she didn't like me telling her that. She has been working for my friend, although I use that term VERY loosely - they are only open 5 days a week in the summer and 4 in the winter, and even then, my friend likes to close early a lot and goes out of town a lot. She works maybe 20-25 hours a week, but that is when they are open the hours they are supposed to be. She has since started working with another woman, a few hours here and there, helping to file in her office. Again, there have been weeks, especially around holidays, where she won't work for either of them for 10-14 days at a time. And then gets upset because she has no money. She'll make a comment about, "maybe I need to look for something else as a job", and all I can do is tell her I've been saying that for 2 1/2 years.

She was in a car accident a couple of years ago, and is waiting on a settlement from that, and so she uses that excuse all the time, too. "When I get that money...blah, blah, blah". The thing is, it's not going to be a gigantic windfall. It will take care of her for a year or two. I also try to explain to her had the accident never happened, what would she be doing then?? She has some lingering effects from it, but she is still able to work. She has also had some kidney stone issues, as well as sinus / bronchitis/pneumonia issues. Minor surgeries for some of those things, but again, nothing life-threatening.

She definitely is depressed. She has admitted that much to me. I know, years ago, she was on an antidepressant. I think I need to talk to her about getting on it again. I'm sure one of her excuses will be that it makes her gain weight. Between all of the steroids and other medications she has had to be on, and not doing anything, she has gained some weight, but she's not terrible. She was always a tiny, little thing and I know the round belly she has now is a hit to her self-esteem, but she otherwise looks fantastic for her age.

I got her water-aerobics classes, a few months after she moved in. I wanted her to get out, meet people her age, and get some exercise. She went a handful of times, but then quit because it was too cold (Jan-March classes) and too early in the morning (they started at 8 am). I have also signed her up for other ladies groups in the area, which I signed up as well, so that I could take her to some of their meet-ups, but again, she always has an excuse. They're too old. They're too young. She doesn't like the looks of them. All false.

I think my first course of action is to get her back on the antidepressants and get her through the holidays. And to insist that she needs to start giving me money each week. My husband had also suggested what 97yomom said - take the money she 'pays' me, and actually put it away for her, for when she moves out. Not only will it give her a little buffer, it will make sure she knows what she needs to be saving each week (not that she goes shopping all the time, but this way she will know she has a strict budget).

Thank you, again, for all of your wise words. It helps to be able to 'talk' to others and just get it off my chest.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

Volunteer work is always a good idea but it will interfere with your mom finding a job that pays = another excuse.

Your mom doesn't seem to mind taking advantage of you, it might be time to be blunt with her. However, if you tell her she has, let's say, 3 months to get a job and find a place of her own what is the consequence if she doesn't? You may be able to say, "Mom you have 3 months to find a job and an apartment or....." What's the end of that sentence? Or what?

It's been 3 years and it was supposed to be just a few months? I'd hate to see you back here in 20 years saying, "She still won't leave!"
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

atwitsend41, I have a feeling your Mom lacks in self-confidence.

Have her do some volunteer work, that will give her a start in gaining some self-confidence and sometimes volunteer work could lead to a full-time or part-time job. It gets her out of the house and she will make new friends. What type of employment did your Mom have in the past that she enjoyed? Find something that is similar.

Even though I have a career at 70, I still do volunteer work one day a week at a local regional hospital. It really can brighten one's day.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

I would start with the notion that while being sensitive is a great thing, it's likely that mom is not going to go gracefully or without hurt feelings. But, sometimes, that's the case.

Maybe, your belief that the stay would only be a few months was one sided. She knows your feelings about her moving out or she wouldn't get mopey when you bring it up. I might take a gentle approach and then just be blunt.

I would start by requiring her to see a doctor to rule out actual medical problems that could be causing her feeling low, no motivation, loss of interest, such as depression and get it treated. Medication may really help her mood and get her out more. If she resists, I'd insist. It is your home.

I'd then try to get her into some kind of activity and go with her to get her introduced and acclimated. It's intimidating to go into a group of strangers by yourself. Maybe, she needs someone for security until she gets her wings. This may include, an art class, senior group, Silver Sneakers, swimming, book club, etc. whatever she might get into. I wouldn't take no for an answer. You're dressed, we're going, type of thing.

After she's gotten her spirits up and has more friends, the day you say you found a cute place you want her to see, might not be so sad for her. She might even have her own idea of becoming more independent.

If all fails, seek legal counsel about the laws regarding eviction. You have to give legal notice. It may sound harsh, but, your kids shouldn't suffer because their parents have not properly addressed grandmother. It's not so bad to share a bedroom, but it is hard on a kid to live in a home with resentment and stress.
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

There was a post almost identical to yours, posted perhaps within the last year. I tried unsuccessfully to find it.

I think your mother has the almost classic "yes, but" approach. Yes, she'll agree with you, but there are always issues why something won't work or can't be done.

In addition to 97YOM's advice, you might want to help yourself put things in perspective (I know well that feeling that thoughts are battling with each other for dominance and you can't think clearly). Take one issue at a time, note her various objections.

I.e., as to getting a job: what are her specific concerns and how can they be addressed? She has transportation, seems relatively healthy, so what are her concerns and how can each be addressed?

As to social activities, what are her interests? Would she enjoy going to a senior center? If not, a book club? What did she do for socialization during her earlier years, say in her 30's, 40's, and 50's?

Help "guide" her to make good decisions that she eventually feels are her own decisions. She may actually be facing some level of confidence loss if she's been out of work. Or it could be that she really doesn't want to go back to work.

It's time consuming, but it might help put her objections in perspective and help her realize that you can't accept these excuses and subordinate your own needs.
Helpful Answer (4)
Report

This is going to sound harsh and I apologize for that but given the circumstances you describe please consider it.
Of course, as in all good diet books you always start with a disclaimer as in make sure she's in good health. She needs to be eating right, walking every day and sleeping well. She needs a physical. She needs therapy to get unstuck from whatever is holding her back. Medicare pays for therapy. This should run simultaneous with the following steps and not be a road block to action.
Usually when Dr Phil has these type episodes where someone needs to move, it's the grown children who need a nudge out the door but I'm thinking many of the steps would be the same. He always tells the family that it's a group project so all of you have to support your mom toward these goals.
Your heart was in the right place but clearly she hasn't created a life while living with you. Going to work and managing her own affairs will give her much needed motivation to get going. I wouldn't speak to her about it again until you have your resolve in place and have spoken with your brother and have a plan in place. If you have your plan in place she won't have time to mope. You can't let it bother you if she does. It won't serve her or you. Perhaps you'll need a little therapy yourself to stay on task with her. It's her life you are trying to jump start and she's resistant so stronger action is needed.
1. Set a deadline. Maybe it's 90 days. Determine if she has the funds to get her own place now. If living with you was supposed to give her time to save funds and yet she hasn't, then she's not likely to in the future. If it's a matter of needing a first and last, perhaps brother and you can discuss if you could help with that.
f you don't charge her room and board, start now. Don't tell her but if you can, save what she pays you and when there is enough to make a difference tell her she now has enough to make her deposit on an apartment.
2. If she doesn't have the funds to make her monthly rent then her job is to spend her time looking for a job until she finds one. At least 8 hours a day. So the day starts with a walk and she's tired enough to sleep well at night.
3. I think a contract is utilized. A list of steps she is going to take, the deadline and her agreement to comply. If she balks you might have to evict her. If you think she will balk, perhaps you should have the eviction paperwork available. Depending on the laws where you live that is a real possibility. Your intention here is to make her understand that you need her to take you seriously.
Put your daughters and husband first. Give your primary family an opportunity before your daughters are grown and gone.
What you've tried hasn't worked for you. This can also be a good life learning experience for your daughters. That they have to make strong efforts to support themselves I'm not trying to say that you are teaching the kids to be mean to their grandmother. If she has problems work on the problems but ignoring the situation won't make it go away.
With an eye to the future include brother in your plan. You might as well learn now if he is going to support you in caring for her in the future when she really isn't able to care for herself. Your husband doesn't like the situation anymore than brothers wife would but your husband shouldn't be penalized because he has been willing to support you. You have to know what your bottom line is before she will know. So, it starts with you.
Helpful Answer (5)
Report

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.