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My Mother is 90 years old, and still lives alone in the house that she owns in Chelsea, MA just outside of Boston. I have one brother who lives 1/2 half mile away from my Mother, a 5 minute drive by car. My brother has POA and my Mother named him as the Executor of her will. My Mother has added him to her checking and savings account. He told me he would help our Mother out by picking up her medications, and food, and would take her food shopping, since she wants to go with him to pick out her own food. So far, he only takes her once in a great while, and my Mother ends up taking a taxi to the Drug Store, Bank, and food shopping. She told me she does not want to impose on his time, he has things to do on the weekends, then she complains that she has to pay for a taxi cab. All the relatives think that me and my husband should be the ones to take her on errands and to her Doctor appointments. We have done that for the last 5 years. However, my husband and I live 30 miles away in the suburbs, about an hours drive, we have lived here for over 41 years. We are now finding it more difficult to make the drive thru the Boston traffic, and my husband and I have had our own health problems and many Doctor visits. My Mother is blind in one eye, and has poor eyesight in her "good eye" all due to years of Glaucoma. She also has hearing loss and was told she needs hearing aids, but refuses to get them. She said they are too expensive and they don't work very well. She has plenty of money to buy them. Her Primary care Doctor, and her Podiatrist told her that she would be able to walk more easily, with better balance, if she would use a cane. She refuses to use one. I have spent days and weeks staying at her house to help her out with many things. I have often put my life on hold. My problem is this: I have tried to have the family get-togethers at my house, but my Mother insists on having everything at her house. She wants to do all the food shopping and all the cooking, which means someone has to go with her. I was getting pretty fed up with this arrangement. I finally spoke up and said that it was not fair that my husband and I are always the ones to drive to her house, and that no one wants to come to our house. I feel so guilty that I said this to her. Am I right or wrong about this?

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At 90 yrs. how many more years, months or days do you think she has left? If you do not feel you can make the trips, then don't. It sounds like you have bent
over backwards to help out. Stop trying to please her and your brother. If she has money then she can pay for taxis, hearing aids and expenses. If she complains, you do not have to listen, change the subject. Take care of yourself and your hubby. Have your own fun!
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Oh boy the generation gap!
I am just passing over to the other side and although my kids have always been able to rely on me for support i have never been the glue that held the family captive. very happy to pass the baton to the kids.
All that being said I know that the bonds of Italian famllies are very strong and this mother is never going to give up her role as Matriach, it just does not happen.
It is the same with sons and goes back to earlier times when they were seen as more valuable than daughters.They were the ones that went out and brought home the bacon,or vension or whatever they could kill with their bows and arrows and traps. They might skin it and cut it up and even put it on the spit over the fire but who had to stand there and turn the handle. you guessed it one of the women while the men "rested" after the hunt. Unfortunately that attitude still exists today and the son can do no wrong idle little b*****d that he may be.
Mom will find every which way to keep the family celebrating at her house and is that such a bad thing? You and your husband do all the work anyway plus three grown daughters to help, how bad can that be? one easy solution I can see is to cook everything the day before at your house,take it to Moms and then all you have to do is reheat it. She is going to order the Italion food anyway so you are stuck with that but if the rest of the family actually likes that at other times just split it up and have everyone take some home. leave enough for grandma and pop several meals in the freezer in small portions. it will come in foil pans so no need to wash them. Don't even think of paper plates that is an insult so suck up washing the good china or sit with grandma and socialize and let the younger family take care of the dishes. come to think of it they can take care of cooking the veg etc and bring them to the celebration. make it easy on yourself. brother is what he and you won't change that so if he can't stand the smell of turkey tell him to take a plate of Italian outside or take it home.
Clothes? does she really need new clothes or do you think she should have them? If her current ones are too bad to wear then find a catalog that offers free shipping both ways and have her choose what she would like and order from there. Get out your tape measure and order by that rather than size. I know the elderly can be frustrating and many caregivers would prefer their loved ones get their social activity from visits to the senior center and those activities but getting taken to the grocery store as Frequentflyer has found is often the only outings they get. this also applies to Dr visits for every little ache and pain. they become important once again and the Dr and nurses humor them. After all they don't care 24/7 so they can be patient for a few minutes.
Probably not to helpful to you but it is my view from sitting on the fence of the great divide. Blessings
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I had an Italian mother who favored my brother and there was no pleasing her, particularly when it came to clothing. She would do the same thing with gifts from family. She would buy size 7 and a half shoes that never fit right. I finally convinced her to buy SAS shoes and when they measured her feet she was a 9. I would definitely try to go the online route and try to get items similar to what she has and likes. Try stores like Penney's or Talbots that have both online and brick and mortar stores. Makes returning easier. My dad also prefers long sleeves even in the Houston heat. Land's End is good for long sleeves out of season.
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EastEagle, ref the clothes in particular, make it fun (yes, I know, but it *could* be!) - next time you're at your mother's house, go through her wardrobe with her and pick out her favourite items; then go on-line and filter ruthlessly until you find almost identical but subtly different ones. Thank the Lord for the internet once our mothers are past the stage of retail being therapy!

Now then. The rest of it. I think you know the answer to this, don't you? Your brother has been getting away with murder but he's not your problem. Your mother is probably too old to learn new tricks. The only thing you can change about your situation in the family is how you deal with it. One word: boundaries. Stop volunteering!
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Thank You All, for your great answers to my problem, everyone had very helpful ideas. I think I should elaborate a little. For some reason, it took me years to realize that my brother has been my Mother's favorite - so that is why he gets away with everything, and one reason why my Mother does not want to ask for his help, or tell him that she really does need more help from him, and that is also the reason why she won't tell him off when he neglects her. I am not saying this out of jealousy (well maybe a little bit). I grew up in this situation, so I think that's why I could not see what was going on. It took some outsiders to point this out to me, and to tell me what was going on. Growing up, I knew that my brother ( he is 2 years younger than me) had a lot more freedom and privileges than I ever did, but I thought it was because he was so needy, and I was more independent. So, getting back to the problem, as I mentioned: My Mother has insisted that we have all Holidays and family get-togethers at her house. Last Thanksgiving, my husband and I got to my Mother's house very early, and we cooked the turkey and all the traditional food, with my husband in charge of cooking and carving the turkey. In the meantime, my Mother had ordered about 8 additional big trays of Italian food, because my brother hates turkey and will not eat the traditional Thanksgiving food - he will only eat Italian food. So, my brother did agree to pick up the food from the Caterer, and my husband and I had to find a way to heat up about 8 more big pans of pasta, meatballs, stuffed shells, etc, etc. in the oven. When my brother entered my Mother's house, and came into the kitchen, he said, "I can smell turkey, that stinks so bad, you know that I hate the smell of turkey." My husband and I, ended up spending the entire day in my Mom's kitchen, cooking all the food with the help of our 3 grown daughters, and they did all the cleaning up and dishwashing. My Mom does not have a dishwasher, and insisted on using china, and refused to use paper plates. When my brother came back into the kitchen when we were washing up, my husband asked him if he would help us. My brother said, you know that I don't wash dishes. There is so much more going on, this is just the tip of the iceberg. I have one more problem. My cousins did take my Mother shopping, twice, since my Mother really needs new clothes for the summer. However, when they got to mall, both times, my Mom said she didn't have the energy to look at clothes. So, it is now my job to find and buy some summer clothes form my Mom. She is 4 feet 9 inches tall, and weighs between 80 and 85 pounds (because she won't eat anything). Also, she is very picky about what she wears. All the relatives have bought her new clothes for Mother's Day, but she ends up not wearing them. If they don't fit, she doesn't want to say anything, because then the person has to take them back to the store and she doesn't want to bother them. I have to try and find clothes that will fit her, and the exact style that she likes: dresses, skirts, and blouses with long sleeves - even in hot weather. I will have to bring them to her, she will have to try them on, and I will have bring them back to the store - if they don't fit, etc. Has anyone been in this situation, and does anyone have any suggestions on how to make this any easier?? Thank You All again.
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EasrEagle, ah, grocery shopping.... bet your Mom would like to go grocery shopping 3 to 4 times a week if she had her way. My Mom was like that and would buy only a few items on each trip. Getting my Mom to finally buy a weeks worth at one store during one trip wasn't easy... I finally had to set boundaries otherwise I wouldn't get any of my own errands done.... maybe that is what your brother is trying to do.
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Can't tell if your mom is trying to uphold the family tradition of having gatherings at her house or if there is some other reason why she can't come to your house. My father in law as he aged could not go to family gatherings at other houses because he was afraid that they did not have a chair with big enough arms that he could push himself out of and did not want anyone to know that he needed help. My 86 year old aunt is only comfortable walking in her house because she has furniture positioned that she can grab onto if she needs to. If mom is more comfortable mobility wise in her house, then I would try to convince her to simplify the shopping, cooking, etc. I find it is best to tell folks what you can and cannot do for them. Try something like Mom, I can't come to Boston and help you with all the shopping and cooking but I can bring some meal items with me from my town. I don't let my dad (89) dictate where I shop when he needs things. I just fold his requests into the shopping I already do for my own family. It is a lot less stressful for me that way.
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Sorry - didn't mean to imply that you were insisting all the family come to your house; could have worded that paragraph a little better!
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1. A large city like Boston should have mass transit, with special services such as dial-a-ride, small bus, connector service, etc, designed for the elderly. It would be much cheaper and safer than a taxi. In my area, these buses have wheelchair lifts as well.

2. I think your mother is trying not to reveal her discomfort in traveling but still trying to maintain some semblance of family get-togethers.

3. If you still want to have the family dinners, perhaps the family can take turns bringing her to your house. That could also apply to grocery shopping. But include get-togethers at her house as well so it doesn't seem as she's being left out as hostess. And if she does feel more comfortable there, go with the flow.

It's hard to know how much emotional energy and fatigue an older person feels from worry about traveling, travel itself, and especially after a vicious winter like Boston just had. She may have safety issues as a silent concern.

4. Your mother is probably battling recognition of the changes in her life and trying to hold onto what she has. I'd give her some leeway. Until we've been in that position, it's hard to realize how unsettling and frightening it can be.
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Very difficult, that kind of generational handover. The trick is to get the materfamilias to lay down her duties and enjoy being made a grand fuss of. Are the opinionated relatives likely to help with that? Would your house be more convenient for them too, so that they might set aside tradition?

I don't see anything wrong with your suggesting change. I suppose it's a pity that you waited until you were already cheesed off and exasperated so that perhaps it sounded like resentment rather than a constructive proposal? - but never mind, can't be helped.

What are the demands on your brother's time that your mother is so reluctant to intrude on? I notice she has no problem with imposing on you..! Ain't that always the way.

I know this is easier said than done, but some of the best-adjusted people I have known are the ones who are able, guilt-free, to please themselves. They don't get aerated or defensive about it, they just say the equivalent of "this is too much and we're not doing it." So what I'd recommend, if you can pull it off, I admit that I personally am still working on it, is that you judge each event in future on its own merits, decide whether it's worth your and your husband's effort and trouble, and accept or decline the invitation to participate accordingly. Then lean heavily on that fine maxim: "never apologise. Never explain."

This is a bit of a heads-up for your brother, though. Is he aware that his mother is asking for less help than she needs from him because she doesn't like to bother him? If not, he needs to be made so; because if he's not going to be able to do more for her in the future then the family needs to come up with a better plan now.
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If these events are to continue at Mon's, have everyone bring a dish and cut the cooking way down. You all have spoiled her this long and it isn't going to change. Maybe, pick the important gatherings to attend and stay home for the minor ones.
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Near-end of life is a really tough time to change traditions. Mom sound like she is still somewhat independent, and bless her, she is trying to be respectful of both you brothers and your time.....she could be much more demanding.
Personally, I would play along, help her cook at her place.
Are you proposing picking up and dropping mom off to have events at your place? Do you think bro should do that? I am assuming you are talking about a handful of holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter?, Mothers Day.

Not judging, just saying, I would bite my tongue and play along....been there done that....family events are not necessarily fun, sometimes they are great exercises in civility and compromise. Additionally I reward myself with "me" days where I do only what I want.
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Of course everyone wants to do things the way they always have been done, family traditions and rituals are deeply ingrained, much more so in some than in other. How often do you all get together at mom's place? I think unless you are talking about an unreasonable number of visits then you can suck it up and attend. It doesn't mean you can't host your own barbecue and invite the family out to your place too, in fact it might be a good way to start getting them all used to gathering in a new location. If mom won't attend then so be it, at least the rest of the family could be setting up a new tradition for keeping in touch after mom is gone, because in my experience after the central figure in a family passes the glue that binds a family together is often gone.

The other issue is your mom's complaints. This is harder as she is obviously pushing your buttons, but just let her complain! It is not necessary for you to fix things or to try and be the intermediary between your mom and brother. You can't blame him because you have been guilted into running errands for her, especially since she can well afford the taxi. What would happen if you didn't run over there to help her with her shopping? Perhaps look into having groceries delivered? Others have noted that our parents tend to forget that we are getting older as well and can't be expected to do the things we used to once do easily. It's all about learning to set boundaries, and learning to deal with the fallout from that.
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Having lived in Boston for many years I completely understand. The traffic is a nightmare and just try to find parking. I no longer go in to visit friends because of that and from my experience people in the city seldom venture out, even to see family.
Are there any elder transport services available for your Mom? That might help with her errands. How you do family get togethers is a personal choice. It sounds like your Moms house is no longer the best place. It can be difficult to let go of tradition especially for our elders. It's also rough to be the one who sees the writing on the wall and the instigator of change. Be firm but gentle with her. Do what you have to do but be prepared for backlash. This stuff is hard. I wish you well.
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