How do I deal with an aging parent who just relocated from out of state and has a hard time adjusting? - AgingCare.com

How do I deal with an aging parent who just relocated from out of state and has a hard time adjusting?

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I am an only child and moved my mother from out of state 6 months ago to be close to use as I am expecting my first child and also because she could no longer keep her house as her neighborhood was deteriorating. She misses her house, the couple of friends she had as well as very nice neighbors but still spent a lot of time alone. Now she lives in a beautiful apartment 5 minutes from us and has everything you can imagine in walking/short driving distance from her - grocery stores, senior center, churches, lively downtown, etc.. I have spent so much time trying to integrate her into the community that I have neglected my own affairs, all while being pregnant and working full time. I have searched for local churches, senior centers, even found a small teaching job ( 3 hours a week) I know she would love and she says no to everything. I offer to go with her to activities so she doesn't feel awkward at first and in the end she ends up refusing to go. All she wants to do is find a reason to come to our house every day to do housework which I appreciate but she's using that as an excuse not to live her own life. When I want to spend time alone with my husband or see a friend alone, she either becomes very sad, gives me a guilt trip, or wants to tag along but I need time away from her as well. I also spend a lot of time driving her around for errands because she says she's afraid to drive in a new area. She can still drive but says she is afraid although she doesn't need to drive more than a couple of miles to anything she needs. I offered to drive with her to the key places she needs to go using a GPS and she always says no. I need time for my own life and can never do anything without feeling guilty about it. She is perfectly capable of making a phone call, driving and making connections but she doesn't want to help herself. I can only lead her to things but cannot force her. Initially she will say yes to trying new things but then never does anything about it. What is really frustrating is that she then complains how lonely she is and has nothing to do when she could fill up her days with really nice activities. This has been a huge burden on me and it's becoming increasingly difficult for me to run around so much for her as I am 8 months pregnant and very tired. She also comes by a lot without calling and this upsets my husband. We are also helping her financially and I feel like the least she could do is make an effort to help herself. I don't mind helping her out but what hurts is that she refuses to create her own life and then turns around and says how horrible her life is. I'm really worried when the baby is here that she will be here all the time and use the baby as another excuse not do do anything for herself. I really spend a lot of time with her (almost too much) so she doesn't feel alone but I cannot be her only social outlet. This is starting to stress me out so much that I cannot sleep and feel depressed. It's also affecting my marriage as I feel the need to talk about it to my husband all the time but he is becoming very annoyed at how much of a toll this has taken on me. I really want her to be happy, make friends and feel better but she is not making an effort. I know this takes time but she's not making any effort. What can I do?

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Stephan makes a very good point. It is very difficult, especially as we get older, to make a major move like this. To leave everything and all that is familiar would be difficult for me for sure and I am only about 5 years younger than your mom.
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Your post is so clear, so fair and loving and so well-written I am tempted to suggest that you show it to your mother, but that might be too harsh. It sounds like your mom is grieving. Does she see a counselor? If she is a church-goer there may be a Stephan Ministry program available. I believe many churches train lay people to weekly visit people in crisis, need or grief, and some people find it helpful. Sometimes we forget how hard this kind of transition can be, and almost none of us are old enough to really know what a move like this is like for an older person. It would be tragic for the stress, hurt and anger to escalate and cause a rift -- especially during such a happy time as you start your new family.
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Thanks Blannie. It's one of the blessings of having grown up in a female-dominated family. I observed and listened carefully. I have an edge on most men I know b/c I can transcend the gender barriers and identify, understand, and often appreciate the nuances of the female psyche. In sum, I was well trained! ... Some of my friends at the gym say they're surprised I'm not running around with D-cup implants and 6" heels. My answer to them is always "Stop hating."
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Eddie, it's SO refreshing to hear that male perspective with, "don't be shy girl, make it clear there's a loving man in your home that needs some attention too." I love that!!
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Cutting that reverse umbilical cord is going to be hard, particularly when you moved her to begin with. Plus you've about to drop that baby and will need all the help you can get; even with your husband pitching in. A heart-to-heart with Mom is definitely in order, but the last thing you want to do is alienate her to the point she'll threaten to pack return to the old neighborhood where she'd planted actual roots. ... In the meantime, start with having her call before coming by. And don't be shy girl, make it clear there's a loving man in your home that needs some attention too.
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hbibkefriend you're finding your voice with your mom - woohoo!! Don't be surprised if she's sulky or mad or sarcastic...you're changing the equation and she won't like that. She's groomed you over years and years to do exactly what she wants. It's not going to be easy to change that, but as you set small boundaries and see the benefits and results from them, it will embolden you to take more control of your life. Treat her like you would a child with temper tantrums. Let her have her "time out" if she misbehaves. She has to learn that she can't manipulate you through her childish behavior. Over time she'll learn.

You're doing her a great service by expecting her to behave like a responsible adult and not a petulant child who's to be spoiled and catered to at all costs. If she's so miserable, let her move back to her old place. Hang in there, you're heading in the right direction and we're here to support you!
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It sounds like you've come to some very healthy decisions, hbibkefriend. Stay strong!
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Thanks again everyone. I had a talk w/her today but I'm not sure it sunk in. This came after an episode yesterday where I had a nice day planned for all of us. When I called her to arrange the time, she was getting snippy with me and wouldn't tell me why, said she didn't want to go, etc. When I finally got it out of her, she started w/the accusations and then hung up on me when I spoke up. Since she didn't call back ,we resumed the activities without her and I didn't talk to her until this afternoon as I needed day to calm down. I decided to go by her place to have a serious talk with her. I told her I would always keep my time w/my husband and that I am by no means excluding her from my life by setting boundaries. I don't know if she got it or not. She was not very responsive. She just told me I was on a tirade. She said she didn't move here to meet strangers but to be with me and my family. I told her she can be with me but not all of the time and it's up to her what she does on the days I cannot be with her. She said she is not interested in meeting strangers and wants me to stop bugging her about it. I told her that I will stop but she cannot give me a hard time on those days she has no one to talk to. Then she asks why I didn't call her back to discuss the BBQ plans we initially had in the afternoon. Why would I when she hung up on me? I told her I am finished looking for activities for her and she is now on her own. Let's see how this goes. It still breaks my heart when I think of her being alone in her place in a strange environment but she could fix that. I lived alone for several years and felt lonely but I always did something about it and did not take it out on her so she could do the same for herself. She also told me I forced her to come here which I did not. I told her all along it was her decision - no pressure, etc. She says she feels like she cannot stay long when she's at our house for whatever reason. I never gave her a time limit or told her to leave. I think she's too focused on what I say and just interprets everything the wrong way. I am going to focus on my baby and hope she stops this behavior. I hope the baby will give her some purpose and happiness (but within healthy limits). I am also hoping I can be stronger and stand up to her without feeling guilty all the time. This guilt is very dysfunctional and is very destructive.
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You never did say how old your mom is. How old is she? The more you say about her, the more it becomes apparent that she is really trying hard to manipulate you. You walk on eggshells because she's learned how to blow up to divert attention and back you off from the boundary that you're trying to set. She turns it around and "catastrophizes" what you say. You say, "I want Saturdays with my husband" and she turns it around to "You don't love me". Her world is black and white. Either you meet her every demand or you don't love her. You can't win by trying to reason with her. She's acting in an unreasonable way. She's panicked that you're starting to show some backbone and stand up for yourself and your marriage. So it becomes even more important to set CLEAR boundaries and stick to them. No pussyfooting around with language. "Mother, I love you and I love my husband and my new baby. I can spend time with you on Mondays and Wednesday and we can do whatever you want. But the other days are for my husband and my new baby. I love you but that's how it's got to be."

Let her fashion her own life. Offer to move her back where she was if she's so unhappy. Otherwise, it's up to her to build her new life. You've gone above and beyond to help her out, but she doesn't want help to build a life. She just wants to be joined at your hip. And for your own health and happiness, you can't allow that. Back off, limit contact and let her start to do her own thing. It's her life and you can't live it for her. She's in charge of her health and happiness, you're not.
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Dear Hbib, It sounds like your Mom could use an increased dosage of her anti-depressant if it is no longer working. Perfect reason to get her to the doctor.
Additionally, your shy 'introverted' mother seems to wield a lot of power over you. The more you try to please her, the more excuses she seems to find that your solutions are not good enough. When she lived in her home state, she was fully independent and social and she is capable of managing herself just as well in your state. 74 is not that old for a woman of sound mind, intelligence, and ability to drive and take care of herself. She has no valid excuses! Don't you think 6 months is more than enough time to acclimate herself to her new apartment and location? She really has no excuse at this point to be acting so needy and putting so much pressure on you - especially when you are about to deliver - she is running you ragged! I think no matter what you do or how much you try to please her it will never be enough. From the sound of it, she will always find fault with something.
She already let slip her intention to move into your home when the baby comes. Hmmm.... Could that be why her new apt is suddenly too dark and upsets her - maybe planting a little seed here? Caring for a new baby is a joyful experience, but also a ton of physical stress in itself. When you crack from the additional physical and emotional stress she is putting on you, Victory! Now she MUST move in and help take care of the baby and your household as well! Won't your husband love that? Oh, but of course 'it will only be for a little while'. Suddenly her introversion will disappear and she will show you just how capable she is of taking charge of YOUR lives. I bet she will no longer have any problems running around town taking care of your shopping and errands!
Your discomfort with confrontation will be nothing compared to the discomfort you and your husband will experience if she ends up living in your house. Your unwillingness to stand up to her may be your own undoing. No, you shouldn't have to explain to her that you need to live your own life, but I think that is exactly what she needs to hear from you. Until you make that clear, I think she will continue to manipulate you. As your husband said, you need to communicate clearly with her, and let her know that you have done all you possibly could for her based on her interests and talents, and she has rejected it all (you basically wrote the list in your above post), so now she needs to stand on her own two feet and cannot lean on you any further - period. You and your husband are starting a new chapter in your life as parents and she needs to understand that you will be focusing ALL your energies on that, which means she needs to start taking care of her own needs. I would let her know that you are very much looking forward to her being a Grandma also, but not the "live-in" type, nor the 'hovering' type. Make it clear that you and your husband need your SPACE, and cannot handle the daily interruptions and unannounced visits. I would tell her that she needs to call and ASK if it is convenient to visit, and she should not get insulted if you say "No Mom, it's not a good time right now". I would make it clear that if she does get insulted and defensive that it is HER problem and she will just have to get over it - and you do NOT feel guilty since you have not made any unreasonable demands on her. Let her walk on eggshells for a change. I think the only way she will understand that you intend to live your own life is to PROVE it.
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