My Mother keeps pretending to be sicker than she is. Any suggestions?

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My mom is 85. She keeps pretending to be sicker than she is. She also pretends that she can't speak well. Some would ask, "How do I know." It's easy . She gets sick every Saturday, when home health doesn't come. She does this to frustrate me and make me stay home. My sister nearby is a drunk. The one downtown doesn't care too much. The one in Alabama just sends texts telling me what to do. I'm seeing a counselor . For a while I just prayed for death to come to me. I still don't enjoy living. I lost my best sister in January. My mom faked a heart attack to avoid the funeral. Does anyone have any suggestions ? I live with her but I need to move out but don't want a guilty conscious when she dies, if she precedes me in death. Any thoughts ?

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Nia, most of us will encourage you to move out and I'm glad that you are getting counseling. As was mentioned, if you still feel suicidal, you need immediate help but it does sound like you've moved more into chronic depression. Ask your counselor if you should see an MD for possible medication. In fact, a complete checkup is a good idea. Caregivers tend to let those things go.

I loved Jude's wise (as always) answer. Her idea that you change days for the caregiver to take off is terrific. If possible, vary the day so that your mother is kept off guard. That is counter to what I'd normally suggest but your case does sound like one of manipulation.

You mother needs to move into an assisted living facility or have a caregiver move in with her. Your siblings won't help and you've done this too long on your own. There's no need for guilt. She's supposed to predecease you. That's natural.

Line up care or, if need be, turn her over the adult protective services so they can force something through. Then move on with your own life. You can visit as you feel that you are able, but you can't let your mother end your life which could happen without change.

Please read this whole thread. There's a lot of wisdom here.
Carol
Nia, I am too damned stubborn to succumb to feelings of suicide! I get depressed, but I am not a victim! I am just tired of my mother dumping her anxiety and emotional stress on me! I think Jude said it best....Caregiving and caring are two entirely different things - to be a caregiver you have to care but to care you DO NOT have to be a caregiver. My brother and I realize now (amazing how we seem to automatically suppress abuse and neglect) that our mother used us all of our lives. She is the same personality as your Mom and I think the hardest part about all of this is maintaining a level of compassion and understanding while figuring out the lines between what we can do and what we should do because of the type of parents we have.

As children of an emotionally dependent, narcissistic parent(s) we are struggling to become adults. Our parents didn't know how to make the distinction between their roles as our parents and their left-over emotional needs as children who were probably abused and neglected themselves. I know exactly why my mother is so broken emotionally! Some of it is of her own doing. When we were young, she could suppress the feelings of hopelessness more because she had small children to distract her from the memories of emotional loss and abuse. She developed very ineffective coping mechanisms, but luckily didn't subject herself to addictive habits, just extreme codependency. My mother made me her substitute spouse from a young age. I have always felt emotionally responsible for my mother and I was pulling away from her because I was angry with her for burdening me with that. She controlled me and manipulated me until about 4 yrs ago when she had a mild stroke. She has been over-playing this stroke like you wouldn't believe. The stroke was her only hope of pulling me back in.
I haven't had a life for about 4 years now. I want to be in a relationship and deeply value family. I plan to take my life back and in doing so, i will have to make some very hard emotional decisions where my parents are concerned.

A few good things that I have learned through all of this are:
1) you can't want more for someone than they want for themselves.
2) I have a choice in exactly how much I want to give and take from this situation. That doesn't mean that I won't have to make sacrifices to be there for them, but I don't have to sacrifice "ME" to help them.
3) Helping my parents doesn't mean that I have to conform to their dysfunctional way of dealing with things. Helping them means keeping them as independent as they can be, for as long as they can be.

I will not do things for them that they can do for themselves. That is the problem with co-dependence. Codependent people look for others to save them when in reality they don't really need saving. This is very hard and emotionally taxing, but knowing that there are a lot of other people dealing with the same issues helps. The advice that I've gotten from others has been comforting and has helped me grow stronger each day. Learn how to set boundaries with your mother and don't feel bad about having to do that. I have so many people trying to make me feel guilty about drawing boundaries because they don't know how to do it. Learn to draw boundaries Nia!
Right Nia I know this one incredibly well - my Mum has been doing this for a very long time. Firstly if you are having suicidal thoughts then you may need more immediate help - this may well be antidepressants but that is OK most of us have the need for support in one form or another from time to time. Your counsellor will advise you on this though.

The second thing is your md needs to know what she is doing and you should ask for some help from them The US lasses and lads will tell you what they are - I am in UK so it is different for us.

She can pretend she is as sick as she likes every Saturday but I would frustrate that by asking the home health to come one Saturday and not on a Friday or some other day - you only have to play that card once or twice to have proof that she is playing you up.

Siblings aren't always supportive for whatever reason and I would just ignore them for the most part. I would however ask the downtown one if she could spare you a morning as you HAVE to do something really important - doesn't matter what just something. Then when Mum plays up say its fine Mum xxxxx is here see you later and go. I agree with Pam on your Mums medication.

Finally - you DO NOT HAVE TO LIVE WITH HER - if you are not of the type that CAN CAREGIVE then DONT - Caregiving and caring are two entirely different things - to be a caregiver you have to care but to care you DO NOT have to be a caregiver. Do not LET your mum play the guilt card on you - you will be effectively laying the guilt on yourself. - easy to say extremely hard to do.

She SHOULD precede you in death - she is your Mum when all is said and done - and that is the way of life and death. If you find the best option for care for her that DOES NOT include you then you will be able to visit her in a totally different mode and maybe the anxieties will go away for you. Once your mother comes to terms with her loss of control she will turn to other ways but don't let that impact on you - you have a right to a life too.

It's going to be a really bumpy road hun but once travelled the sun will shine on you once more and you will feel far better placed to cope

You deserve to live the rest of your life without guilt and manipulation. If there is no money for an assisted care facility, visit your advice-giving sister with your mom and leave mom (and her suitcase and meds) with sis..without saying a word. Tell her you are getting something out of the car and drive away. It is time that the whole family takes responsibility for an elder. Don't expect them to volunteer. They won't. Please don't be a victim of your sisters' selfishness and you mom's manipulation. You deserve better.
I'm going to bet mom has been controlling all her life, plays the guilt or illness card whenever it works to her advantage. It's good that you are seeing a counselor, but it might help if you could get mom's MD to prescribe anxiolytics for your mother so she does not feel the need to act out. Mothers can and do drive their children to drink or drive them away. By medicating the source of the problem, all four of you will live better.
pretending may be plain old confabulation. Not only is memory damaged their ability to process thoughts and conversations is impaired.

Saying they are sick is common confabulation.. Speech will go for real… Blame Alheimer's... add in manipulation as a controlling device and go bonkers

Everyone and particularly medical personnel and caregivers must understand!

Confabulating and Confabulations

In psychology, confabulation (verb: confabulate) is a memory disturbance, defined as the production of fabricated, distorted or misinterpreted memories about oneself or the world, without the conscious intention to deceive.

Key factors in confabulations are there is no intent to deceive, second the person being unaware that the information is blatantly false. Confabulating is distinct from lying because there is no intent to deceive, and the person being unaware that the information is blatantly false.

Carers challenge: is what they say true? Confabulations become a far greater concern in the later stages, because confabulations are much more likely to be acted upon.

It is difficult for everyone to accept a mind is damaged.

Confabulations are a major annoyance and can be dangerous- when we the take everything in a discussion at face value. Confabulating is very frequently observed in people with Alzheimer's.
What are the chances that every time she is "unwell" on a Saturday you pretend to take it VERY seriously, and hire an agency nurse to come stay (with her $). Don't take no for an answer! After all, she told you she is VERY SICK, and since she is VERY SICK she needs more skilled care than you can possibley give....in fact, maybe moving to nursing nursing would be better, since she is SO SICK. Can't be too careful!
My guess is that a sudden, miraculous recovery will ensue once your little actress realizes the price of crying wolf.
I forgot to mention. I was suicidal but got the help I needed to make life worth living. Don't give up.
My mom will sometimes do this and really it's about fear of dying. We talk about her symptoms, and talk with the nurse practitioner if there is anything new. Usually there isn't, it's more about her feeling depressed. So I try to reassure her that she is ok, and try to get her to do things she enjoys. That seems to snap her out of it, she doesn't want to be too sick to miss out on a trip to a restaurant or movies.
Leila that's the one - Mum bless her is definitely going to die unless I offer the local garden centre for coffee or the restaurant for a meal or the ride out into the forest or the beach for a push along the promenade then there is a miraculous recovery until we get into the car to come home then back to depression. We have talked about a care facility but she doesn't want to go into one and I really don't mind if she wanted to go into one that would be OK - even though I promised Dad I wouldn't PUT her into one - oh what terrible grammar that was! - What she really wants is for us both to go into a warden monitored home - and that I flatly refuse to do - aint going to happen because I know the end result. It will be to all her 'new' friends - i.e. people she has met once or twice, Oh Jude will get that for you - won't you oh of course will come and put the light bulb in and cook you this and would you all like to come for dinner Jude will cook - gluten free? oh Jude can give you some recipes - well I don't want to be her slave - her carer is one thing, everyone else's carer? I don't think so

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