I need advice for dealing with my mom (87) who has so many issues it's truly mind boggling!

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She's depressed, lonely, scared! She won't eat right, misses meals, can't sleep, is a horder, at the same time a clean freak germaphobe, is argumentative, a complete family gossip, incapable of learning anything new yet resentful that we all have iPods and new phones, drives when she wants to and at other times has to rely others at her own whim. The list goes on and on. I make frozen homemade meals for her each week (she always has plenty of food); we take her out to eat at least 2-3 times a week; she has a First Alert which I pay for yet she doesn't wear it all the time and hides the remote unit in the bottom of her purse; she will not take ant sleeping pills or antidepressants,she won't do her back exercises for her severe back problems (yet I took her to rehab for three months two times a week); her house and paperwork are out of control (stacks and stacks of junk mail which she has a fit if anyone touches it) . She won't let anyone clean for her and the few times doc the adult grandkids did, she talked incessantly about how bad of a job they did. She never feels good except yet she's not dying of anything and catastrophises every little ache and pain. I take her to all her Dr appt and hear exactly what the Drs say and she'll totally make up a diagnoses when telling someone else (Dr put her on the lowest possible amount of oxygen only at night so she might sleep better and now she tells everyone he said she could die without it! When I say she's negative about everything, I mean everything. She loves being around the great grandkids talking about how sweet, smart and adorable they are. But somehow it all slides into either worry about safety or health (and if course no one is raising their kids as well as she did hers) or she thinks the ones who have working moms are "poor little things not getting the right attention". Her constant companion while at home is Fox News (she hears half of the story and makes up the rest) or The Golden Girls (she loves their hairstyles!). My kids just keep telling me to accept what is and believe me I work on it daily! My mom lost her sister three years ago, then her youngest child, my 8 years younger brother of a sudden heart attack almost 3 years ago, then my dad 18 months ago... So I realize she's had major hits in life. She will never, ever, ever leave the house she and Daddy built and to even bring it up makes her fighting mad. She won't allow help or anyone even coming in part time foray reason. She's starting to forget a lot of things but no where near where we could do anything legally. It's just all so wearing on me and I find myself feeling guilty when I do something for myself. I know it's all going to get worse as she fails and I want so much for these years to be happy for her. After Daddy died she was with me and my husband for6 months. That's another long story...she wasn't happy here yet resented it terribly when she went home. She spends the night with me frequently or with another adult grandchild. No attest what we coif never seems enough.

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Dear Laralu,

You are an amazing daughter. I'm so sorry to hear what you've had to put up with. Certainly not easy. I hope you can get some respite. Please try to be as kind and gentle to yourself. Give yourself a break. Its overwhelming when dealing an elderly parent. Thinking of you.
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I just re-read all your posts and sound and compassionate advice. As an update: well, I do try to "distance" myself...more emotionally than physically. I am trying to not respond to some of her negativity however I haven't yet mastered not responding when she says really outrageous things that she is totally making up (I know she's not lying, she's re-inventing her truth and believing it). I have found if I say nothing and don't attempt to correct her or set the record straight, she goes on and on and thinking that she's right, gets upset. OR, if I try to gently suggest that something isn't so, she accuses me of trying to make her thing she's crazy and that I am lying. It's truly the "damned if you do, damned if you don't" conundrum. And dumb ol' me....I don't see it coming until she slams me with something. As an example, the other day we were having what I thought was a rather positive conversation about doing things with other people (she had gone to church by herself and then went into the church hall afterwards for coffee and donuts and struck up a conversation with some people). I was praising her for doing so, even acknowledging that it must have been hard but telling her that if she went back next week, she would already know some people and that's how relationships are started. Well, that all backfired! She launched into an attack that she wasn't like me that she and Daddy had always put their families first and they she didn't need anyone except her family. I then pointed out that having friends was a healthy thing. She responded with another "attack" on me telling me that I had more friends than I knew what to do with (she is resentful that I have maintained contact with people I worked with for years and have lunch once or twice a year with them)...then she REALLY went off and demanded that when she died she didn't want [name of my very best friend for the last 40 years) in HER HOUSE GOING THROUGH ALL HER STUFF!!! This absolutely flabbergasted me and I told her that "of course, I wouldn't have anyone in except family". To which she insisted that I had told her over and over that when she died I was going to just get [Best Friend] in to help me throw stuff away. I wound up defending myself, saying that was just not true and I had never said anything (yes, I know, I should have somehow just told her not to worry that would never happen, but I know that would have not stopped her rant. She would then have asked me why I had said it if I wasn't planning on having [Best Friend] in. She wound up slamming the phone down on me. Later my brother told me she had told him not to let my friend come in the house. He believed her that I had said that! That's the part that drives me crazy. Her re-telling others things that never happened! She mentions surgeries that she's never had or makes minor surgeries out to be extremely serious. So I know my path is not going to get easier. I know I have to only try to mitigate my responses and not take her comments, moods, jealousies and daily dramas to heart. I won't go into being at the hospital all night a few weeks ago for her "heart". It wasn't...but I live in fear the one time I don't take her in, that it will be. My dad had the best attitude and always had a clever way of putting things in perspective. One of his classic comments was: Things go along like this for a while, then they get worse! I guess that's where I am. Thank you all again for your wise and insightful responses. God bless you all!
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My grandmothers both lived alone well into their 90's, very independent and healthy. We SO respected them and I really do understand that some people are "elderly" at 30, some NEVER get there.

Your mom sounds challenging, and I think all of us who have commented feel your pain, in some way. It is a fine line between caring and taking over their lives. We're now moving into the very unpleasant side of caring for Mother..she id becoming alternately rude as all get out, or so sweet you don't know who she is.

Take some time to step back and consider all options. As far as her "issues"--well they are hers and can't be your unless you choose to make them so. That's hard to do and easy to say. I do have to distance myself from my mother. But I have a child who has chosen to distance herself from me, so I know how that hurts..but she has to, to stay sane, I guess. It hurts when you are on both sides of that coin.
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Llamalover47, I think you're way off base with some of your comments. Depending on the person, a 95 year old certainly CAN live on her own and be just fine. Not every older person suffers from dementia, or depression, or hoarding. If you notice signs that trouble you in your elderly relative, such as forgetting people they know well, or not remembering recent events, by all means you can get help. However, don't mistake what you term stubbornness, or not living by your sense of cleanliness, or social awareness, as signs that the loved one needs to move from their home. Let's respect our elders here! I understand one's desire to remain in their own home as long as possible. Can you imagine having lived more than 80 or 90 years, and seeing the changes that have come along in society, and possibly resisting some of those changes yourself? Can you imagine how the one place you feel the safest, the most at ease, the most able to care for yourself, is your own home? I worked hard to keep my mother in her home as long as I could, and when I needed to move her out of it, it broke my heart! Elderly people, even when they are 80 or 90 or 100 deserve our respect!
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Llamalover47

Could be, he did die pretty quick when it was mentioned he was gong to long term care.
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1 RareFind

On some of these Hoarders episodes, the hoarder has also used plastic bottles for urine and/or have crapped on the floor or pile and not cleaned it up.
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JoAnn29: It is quite common for elders to keep junk mail. My poor brother had to go through his in laws' residence after they both deceased. THEY KEPT EVERYTHING! The oldest item he found amongst the junk mail was a Teddy Roosevelt pinback! No joke!
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Lucywinks: The word "consternation" is what I took away from your post. We all certainly know that a 95 year old woman can't control her own life! Good grief! Yes, you needed help for yourself well before you realized it, but thank God you did get it!
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When my MIL was in rehab it was determined she would not return home so her boys and wives started cleaning out her house. The chest of drawers that had been my FILs before he passed, was full of junk mail she had put in plastic grocery bags but didn't throw out. Some of it was cards sent by the Vets, tons of them. Then tose TU gifts from Readers digest and others for being a good customer. Again tons. Found where she had put the samr items away in different places and then buy more of the same thing. Since she lived in Fla and her boys lived in Ga, Miss, and NJ, we didn't see her regularly. Didn't start noticing any changes until the holidays before her rehab in Feb. She wouldn't come live with any of us. She chose to move to Fla away fro family in NJ 20 yrs before. You need to document everything. Then talk to her doctor about getting her evaluated.
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I can relate to your question. I'm the only remaining family member left who cares enough about my 95 year old grandmother to actually be available to her. She insists on living independently and controlling every aspect of her life in spite of herself. I and others including friends and professionals can see that she has needs with assorted aspects of her life, and she resists help. She prefers things her way just as you have explained, as odd as they may be. This may be due to depression, stubbornness, dimentia, confusion or who knows on any given day. It gives all of us anxiety, grief, sadness, consternation, guilt, a range of emotions. I want to see her in the best of circumstances, make the best decisions, the right choices, but due to the reasons above which I am clearly unable to control, I've learned to let go as much as possible. Add to that a difficult relationship with a narcissistic personality, and controlling abusive relationship and I've been walking on eggshells for a lifetime! The good news is that I finally figured it much of it out in recent years and got therapy to understand my relationship with her knowing that I was going to be needed in her later years, and I needed to take care of me. I highly suggest you get therapy to learn how not to let your relative's situation and/or your relative herself control your life. These are important life lessons going forward in many situations and relationships that will carry you forward. You'll have a lot less anxiety. I wish you much luck.
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