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I quit my job recently to help care for my 92yr old Mom. She has a history of, nervous breakdowns, depression, hypochondria and the worst part for me is isolated outbursts yelling at me and her dog when she knows no one else is around. She lives alone, can cook and drive still etc. when not sick. She is overweight, on at least 20 pills a day also when not sick. This is in my opinion from her and her years of illness abuse with her doctor. I thought I could handle it better by quitting work, because it was just so stressful doing both. But 6 months into it, she's more needy and hyper focused on her newly found daily ailments that only her doctor and an another appointment to discuss can fix, resulting in going over things and him telling her to see another doctor....eye dr, hand surgeon, bladder specialist, to revisit things she's already addressed and can't be changed or are one time incidents. I am starting to break out in face, ear and neck hives and get panic attacks and headaches. I'm now trying to do a day on and a day I am unavailable, routine and trying meditation to calm the histamine breakouts but now my blood pressure is also being affected....My guilt is so heavy because she had her Mom live with her and thinks that she should be able to live with my husband and I, because that's the way it should be in her mind. I was adopted and thankfully have not got the tendency she has for constant attention and over excentuation of illnesses but she is starting to really affect my health. I go over do errands and cleaning, try to visit etc. But she always stresses about concerns and her needs etc..adding more to the list of what she wants me to fix or change in her life. Any advice??

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Thank you all, I'm going to put a plan together that hopefully limits my exposure and still helps her. My husband and I apprecite all the input, so many things said here made sense. Reviewing my life long relationship with her illness also helped me see I can't go back full time to what I know without a doubt will be toxic for me.
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I think I would do a lot of reading about patients who suffer with psychosomatic aliments AND have her evaluated to see if there is ALSO cognitive decline or dementia, based on your observations. I might even discuss it with a mental health professional.

I have the psychosomatic problem in my family and it's very stressful. The main problem is that even if the patient acknowledges that is what is going on, they may not really accept it or accept treatment for the mental disorder. Thus, they live in misery with these mystery ailments, some actual and some created by their brain. There's not much you can do about it. I've discussed it with my LO's doctors and have decided to stay out of it. I don't engage her or have any input into her ailments, except to say, contact your doctor. You have to learn how to protect your own health. You can't get ahead, but, she'll never find the right answer or treatment...ever. It's part of the condition. So, I hope you do find some way to get out from the situation.

If she's incompetent, I'd explore ways that others can be responsible for her. They normally are roughest on family. If she is, I'd allow her to make her health care arrangements. I'm not sure where the guilty part comes into play. I think that my LO is the ONE who should feel GUILTY, not me. I'm not the one stressing out the family, creating stress and running up unnecessary doctor bills. It's unfortunate, but, it's the truth. Sad, but true.
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Missy,

At 92, your mom has lifelong ingrained, unhealthy habits. Trying to get her to change is pounding sand. Trying to meet all of her needs is too much for one person. You need help. You've got some excellent advice here! We all need to work "smarter", not harder!

Last summer I tried to be Ms. Fixit for my 92-yearold mom with mixed dementia. Her primary doctor, I discovered, was heavily into referrals. In one month, Mom was scheduled for 9 different consults with specialists. Mom loves to go to the doctor and complain, demands they do something, then objects when they give her a pill. This is the way modern medicine works. None of her issues were related to poor health habits like your mom's, just the consequence of aging on different body systems.

My stress level went through the roof. With no prior blood pressure issues, my BP crept higher and higher. Insomnia, digestive upsets, cardiac issues reared their ugly heads. I couldn't sleep. I slipped into unhealthy habits, trying to cope. Finally, I squeezed in time to go to my own doctor. My issues were all stress-related. My doctor told me it was either me or my mom. I made a few lifestyle changes per her recommendations.

I found an internist who specializes in geriatric patients. She had me cancel all the appointments with specialists and changed our focus from "fixing everything" to comfort care. She visits mom at her memory care unit (so I don't have to take her) and treats her symptomatically, the key word being "comfort care." What a change! What a relief! Mom is better, I think. I'm better.

We are our parents' advocate/caretakers, but that doesn't mean we can solve every problem. They can be ornery, contrary, demanding, manipulative and downright abusive. Placing an emotional distance between myself and Mom really helped. It requires a daily, conscious effort to keep from slipping back into my former inmeshment. A book that really helped me was "Coping With Your Difficult Older Parent, A Guide for Stressed-Out Children" by Grace Lebow & Barbara Kane, with Irwin Lebow. This book's focus is on you, the caregiver.

Wishing you the very best! Take care of yourself! Your health matters, too!
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Oh my gosh Thank you so, so much. I really appreciate this. Just telling you all what I have has made me produce a severe headache and my stomach is very nervous. I thought I could handle her better off work but it's made things worse. I seen decline in her abilities coming but was not focusing in on the possibility of her mental health and mine getting worse. My husband said last night, he hated to say it but since she knows I'm off work now she's gotten worse. I said well I seen her getting worse that's why I worked to transfer out of my work responsibilities....he said no I mean she's depending on you more emotionally....creating things for you to handle for her. He's right, you all are....I'm going to have to step back, create boundaries, get her assistance. She refuses to talk about assisted living. Anyone coming in to help, and anyone else like a caregiver taking her to her drs appts. She yells and says it should be her DAUGHTER! Then she says fine I'll take care of things and talking stops. My brother also adopted left years ago at 18, comes home once a year, belittles me for thints he says he'd do if he were only living closer, then when home always cuts his visit short. This has been toxic and one sided for years, yet she favors him and he says she'd live with him if closer. She won't go live there because if her Dr. And I don't think he even would do it. I finally told him to quit telling her that, it's unfair to have it thrown at me and my husband when we get to this point in talking with her. I can't physically move her when she falls or needs help. I get that mentally but I can't seem to rid myself or handle well the guilt and internal pressure of caregiving for her. I'm going to have to insist on external help coming in more. Or relocation for her. I'm literally making myself sick coming to grips with this. I was good at and loved my job. Time fir a new chapter but it can't be the only one caregiving for her. I think it will take a village. :/ I'll loOK into the boys and read more on this site. Thank you, I hit bottom yesterday, after being there daily she called me when I said I'd be unavailable....I answered...she thinks her dog has a lump and is very very sick...wanted me to take her in immediately.. I said Mom she was fine yesterday I had her out back playing, she's eating and using the bathroom right....Yes....but your not seeing what I'm seeing she's very sick...I told her you've said that before, we are not taking her in until you are no longer sick yourself, I can only deal with one of you at a time. The dog is overweight, and likely has a fatty spot. I asked how she was feeling now that her cold antibiotic had kicked in...she said Im not doing well but thats ok. Ugh! I called 4 hours later to see if I could bring her soup and Mom was all perky, "shes doing just fine and she can't eat my soup!" "Its too salty for her!!" Mind you I use very little salt because of my bp and we eat healthy. :/ Everytime I make anything she says it caused her ankles to swell, even tho that happens all the time on her food. She is focused on whoe....and on my attention. I'm so screwed.
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Just my opinion;

I agree that's it's a good idea for Missy's mom to have a pharmacist cross reference her meds for interactions. Couldn't hurt.

Doctors also have that ability on the computer when they order or refill meds. An alert will pop up when there is risk of one medication that interacts with another.

As for how many she takes, chances are a couple of them could be stopped (and maybe some are "as needed" only) but stating that she should not take more than 5 pills a day might not be a good idea. Many people have multiple physical illnesses and each illness needs to be addressed. Most people will be prescribed a medicine to alleviate the symptoms or keep the disease in check of EACH disease or condition.
If she keeps it to 5, who decides what illness *don't* get treated?

It never hurts to have the doctor check the medication interaction site on the computer before you leave, just to be on the safe side. You can also have a consultation with the pharmacist when you pick up the meds. You can look it up for yourself on Drugs.com. A triple check, easily done.

Doctors actually ARE competent for knowing about drug interactions. They learn it in the Pharmacology part of their training.

Just like a hairstylist who colors or perms your hair, she'd better know the interaction of the different chemicals or else your hair can break off or burn up.
Nobody wants to take a handful of meds everyday but sometimes it's inevitable. At least she's alive and can function.
I agree she needs a psychiatric evaluation.
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Hi Missy,
From what you've described, your body is trying to tell you to get OUT of this situation. All the illnesses-hives, panic attacks and headaches-are stress related.

I, too got sick when I was tricked into accepting a position that lied about the job description within the company I worked for. I lost 30 lbs. (a first in my life), had shortness of breath, abd. cramps, diarrhea, nausea, body aches, headaches, sweating, fast heart beat, tremors, dread, panic, elevated blood pressure, etc. because of a *job*. It drove me to seek medical and mental help. It got so bad I was taken off work (on disability) and was sent to an out-patient counseling program 4 hours a day/6 days a week. I saw a psychiatrist, who asked if I wanted medication, but I wanted to try to solve this without meds first. I was going to force myself to like this job!!
After 4 weeks in group therapy, I learned I needed to "give myself PERMISSION to quit the job". (I had a lot of years with the company and it meant being 1 year short of retirement employee health benefits.) I was trying to stay for that.
BUT AT WHAT COST TO ME? To be a neurotic nut completely driven by my anxieties? NO! I no longer controlled the anxiety, the anxiety controlled me.

Your body is "revolting" over the decision to care for your mom. You will continue to experience stress symptoms until they become unbearable (hopefully not kill you.)
You will have to seek help then as you no longer will be able to function.

Missy, your desires are noble (to care for your mom) but there's too much water under the bridge between you and your mom to make this work. You can NOT be her savior, especially at such a high cost to you.

For the sake of your health and for your husbands sake, you MUST change this situation. Look at it as a life or death situation (yours).

Get your siblings involved. Call the Area on Aging. Call APS (adult protective services) if you don't think she's safe. Enlist the help of the MD that agreed with you. Move her to an Assisted Living facility-lots of socialization there and lots of other chronic complainers to complain to.

If your mother is of sound mind, unfortunately she can do whatever she wants. But that doesn't mean you need to accompany her.

Your best bet would be to get into counseling, read books about getting over guilt (especially parental guilt--look on Amazon), and read about setting boundaries.

Many on this board refer to FOG-Fear, Obligation & Guilt. Research it.

You "took" a job, like me, that didn't turn out to be how it was described.
I quit and felt 110% better. You will too. Get out before you become a statistic.
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Thank you all so much, I feel such guilt and I know its affecting my health. I needed to talk about it at least, so I appreciate any advice. She has never seen a Mental Health professional. I got alone once long ago with her Doctor and said "As she's coming to you with all these ailments please realize it's depression and anxiety really causing her visits''...he said her name and said "she's not depressed!! She's so happy!!" I insisted and he told me if it was true we would need to get her to ask about it so he could address it, 2 years later and my asking her to please address it, she was finally given an anti depressant, but would not stay on it for various reasons. So many years followed without help. I just took her in to a substitute Dr. because she has a cold and her Dr. was away, This Dr. was actually taken aback, first they thought the file was not transferring, but once it finally did many dates of visits for years and years he had to scroll thru...he said what's this...no notes...a few popped up here and there but the multitude of dates were just crazy...so many, many visits. I said "she's a frequent flyer"...he said "Yes she sure is"...to his credit he started to go over her Meds...she has 2 for anxiety and one for depression in the loot. He asked her if they were working with one saying "this one makes you not crabby", she said "well they must be working" and laughed. She has a very complex need for attention, she always has had that. She clings to people, needs to be needed etc. She talks a lot about how only her Dr. can help her. She says "he knows me like a book" . She has involved personal talks with the drs aids knowing things she should not know about all of them. It's an extended family to her. While I understand they do not know I wasted my childhood years caring for her. When my Grandma died my Mom fell apart for at least 4 years, I did a lot of things a little girl should not have had to do daily, I carried and cleaned her many vomit buckets, made dinner did laundry etc. She finally went to a support group called recovery, I don't know for what but she found a few friendships that helped her. Our shades were pulled for all those years and the light finally hit our living room again. I will never forget having to hide and stay quiet because she did not want us to go to the door. Her Doctor's nurse is a neighbor girl, my Mom has attached to her Mom now and had her driving her to appointments etc. They all look at me like I am not doing enough. But they dont see our past and what she does to me still, yelling etc., her Doctor asked me if I worked, I told him I retired recently. He said well good now you can help her, I said I can only be part of her care team not 100%. I was being honest. On top of everything else she does what she calls telling stories, I call it lying. She puts me in a very awkward position, in endless ways when the conversations come back around to me. One of my Aunts said Mom's bipolar...I don't know but I know it's very tricky dealing with her many emotions. I gave up a very good job, truly wanting to be more available to help her. I'm not sure now that I can while protecting myself enough from her mental illness. She just had an accessment from the local senior help, she had them uncheck 2 of the items, telling them she has no need for extra help. Its always a big show of how well she is doing rather than honesty with her. She would not join senior groups, couldn't be bothered, wouldn't go to senior lunch etc...afraid my Dad would like it too much or find a friend...food is huge to her, finding and trying new recipes etc. That is her passion. I'm hoping that now that I do her shopping from her list, she makes healthier choices, part of her big issue is about what other people think, so it might work in her favor to not be able to consume so much that she says she never eats. I pick up wrappers from or empty trash from things she doesn't touch supposidly. :) I will talk to her senior accessment manager, that might help. I doubt I can do any good with her doctor. He and his office staff all deserve a special crown tho, they have not brought her out of her illnesses but they are all very, very kind to her.
Thanks again for letting me vent, I needed this outlet, not having one, I feel like it's destroying me. Dad i's gone now and I have a Dr. but only take BP med. My doc sees me once yrly. I go the other direction and hardly see a Dr., probably because of my being dragged into her apps for years. I'll just mention I had a bleeding ulcer at 11, went thru upper GI''s to get to the bottom of my stomach pains, the tension in house was hard on me, her Doctor back then told me to be a kid, to leave the house and play outside as much as I could....he knew her and seen what was happening to me. I took his advice like it was a ticket to freedon, I'm a huge nature girl now. :)
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Missy, are you seeing your own doctor regarding the panic attacks and other health related issues from the stress of caregiving? I had the panic attacks but only when driving. My parents were constantly going to doctor appointments and I had to use their car, which I hated to drive, thus the driving attacks grew and grew.

I even told my parents that I get panic attacks when driving, but all they could say was "then who would drive us?". Guilt big time.

If you primary doctor recommend prescription meds to calm you, try them. Start out with a half a dose, then work your way up to the regular dosage. I could kick myself for avoiding said meds.

If you can, go back to work, or at least do volunteer work doing something you really enjoy in the meantime. Set boundaries with Mom, learn to say "sorry, i can't possibly do that". Not all of us are cut out to be hands-on caregivers, I wasn't.
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You are NOT responsible for your mother, nor her ailments. It is her job to get herself help if she needs it. If she asks you to help her do that, than go ahead if you feel it is okay for you. However, under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you move your mother in with you. I have gone over this time and again with my own mother and she is only 73. She thinks (as others do) because her grandmother lived with them at the end and my grandmother lived with my aunt, that this is the way life should be. All I can say is every situation is different and those times were different. You should not have to give up your job to take care of your mother. Set some boundaries. Tell your mother that as of one month from today you will be going back to work and will no longer be able to help her. Tell her you are more than willing to contact the local office of the aging or home health care companies in order for her to be able to get some professional help in, but that you are no longer available. You must take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else. That isn't being selfish, it is being responsible for your own health.
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Your mom is probably on too many medications, to begin with. I'd have a pharmacist look at her whole list of meds. There's no way they're not impacting her overall health because of interactions between meds. Anything over five meds or so is probably too many. But let a qualified pharmacist look at the list and ask if any of them might be interacting negatively with each other. Doctors aren't trained to understand that kind of impact.

It sounds like her doctor doesn't manage her well and she needs to see someone about the mental side of her issues. She might do well on a medication to ease her anxiety about her health and her obsession with it.

Does she get to see other people or do things? Sometimes when you're isolated, you focus on yourself because that's all that is there. Could she do daycare several times a week?

But the bottom line is that you've changed your life to accommodate your mom and that's not making things better, it's making things worse. I'd try to go back to your job if possible. Or one similar. And limit your contact with your mom. She's probably not going to change, so you have to. There's no benefit to having her take you down with her. I agree a needs assessment is a good idea. And DO NOT, under ANY circumstances, move her in with you! Never, never, never!
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How are her mental health issues being addressed? Does she see a psychiatrist regularly?

Set some healthy boundaries for yourself. Have professional needs assessment done by your local Area Agency on aging. Find out what her legitimate needs are and assess her resources.

And go back to work!
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