Refusing to go down this long term care road...thoughts? - AgingCare.com

Refusing to go down this long term care road...thoughts?

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I've been reading a bit through the 'questions' and 'discussion' sections on this site and had to register to throw this out and see what comes back ...

It seems the care of a difficult aging parent goes on and on and on. It never stops. It gets better than worse off and on almost nonstop and so many people on this site have given up so much of their lives to care for parents who weren't even necessarily good parents when they had the cognitive abilities.

I don't want to go down that road. I don't want to lose my life to a mother who essentially made her own choices to get where she is now (financially and health wise) and continues to think that someone else is responsible for her life.

I am 42, living in California and trying to deal with my 66 yr old mother in Idaho who is more like an 86 yr old (physically and mentally). She has always been a selfish person, critical and judgmental of most people but me (now I am the one receiving her negativity), she is bipolar, and the doctors believe she has early dementia showing. She also has no friends or family around and no financial resources.
She recently lost her husband to cancer and neither of them did anything to prepare for his future when they knew his time was limited, despite the fact that they were both well enough to put a plan together and I urged them constantly.

I am tired and do not even want to help this person who fights my help. I have tried to help from a far and have made trips to help that went nowhere. I was up there when my stepdad passed and my mother is in denial that she does not have enough money coming in to even pay her bills, let alone live and she argues with me about everything after saying she needs help. Because it's not a definite diagnosis or dementia - the doctors cannot force her into care.
I met a nice lady while I was up there - introduced through an elder care lawyer - she works as a guardian and she's been trying to get her foot in the door to help mom.
Bottom line - mom will have a little death benefit money coming her way and I feel the little sanity I have left is telling me to let mom fail on her own (not be able to pay bills, etc) and realize she is alone so she has to retain this persons assistance.
It seems so cruel, but I can't see giving any more of my life to this person who was never a great mother - her choices all along in life have put emotional, mental, and now financial burdens on her own child. I just can't imagine a child is meant to take this.
Please advise.

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Jenn; I'm going to chime in first here. Anyone on this board will tell you that I'm a bit cold hearted when it comes to uncooperative, noncompliant, non-planning patients. I think that folks with personality disorders and mental illness are best cared for by professionals. I don't think that you are in any sense kicking your mom to the curb by allowing her to continue her downward spiral toward becoming a ward. It's just what she needs.
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I sympathize with you. The one thing where it probably won't go the way you're thinking is that when mom falls on her face that she'll realize that she needs this person's help. She's more likely to not recognize what she needs, and be unable to take the steps she needs to at this late stage in life. I would guess that she is more likely to eventually come to the attention of APS and have a legal guardian appointed for her. And that's okay.
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Jenn "selfish and expected people to do everything for her and do it her way.", yep that was my mother to a T. If people didn't run after and do for her narcissistic self she was so very evil and she hated the neighbours wherever she lived. The last but one house she lived in she couldn't stand the neighbour's husband because he was OMG BLACK! Changed her tune when he started shoveling the snow on her driveway. One time that house was pelted with eggs and it wasn't even halloween so she must have severely pissed someone off.

She lived in the last house for 12 years, the last 4 years of which I lived there to care for her. The next door neighbour, Margaret, was a single early retired school teacher who my mother always referred to as "Old Fancy Pants". It so irked me I one day took her to task. The reason for her hatred of this woman? "She never offered to help me". Well toots, she sees you all dressed up going out in your care and walking your dog, you don't look like you need help. "Never mind, she should have offered because I'm old". Sigh, most all the neighbours were very old, some in wheelchairs.

I got to know Margaret in passing and she was a lovely person. On hearing she had breast cancer I popped a note in her door offering help if needed. She had family and a lot of friends who took turns driving her to chemo. First time I drove her I used my mother's car - I got "she's got a damn nerve using MY CAR!". After that we used my van (a bit dog hairy but Margaret had no allergies) and I got "She's got a damned nerve calling you and saying I want you here and there". Excuse me? I lived in the (freezing) basement and had my own phone line , Margaret would call occasionally and ask how I was fixed for a certain day.

Margaret eventually passed away. I went to her memorial service, taking an elderly neighbour with me. My mother refused to go - "Just tell them I'm not feeling well". I could go on and on for hours describing my mother's life time of being evil, including knocking me around when I was about 6 and putting me in a hospital.

Sher's in a nursing home now. I was so ill last winter with the daily screaming tantrum phone calls and other hell she could create that I had a black out driving my truck at 85kmh and changed my phone number.

I bear so many emotional scars which will never heal - it's like having PTSD for life. She's now in a nursing home, just a shell with Parkinsons, strokes and dementia. My grandparents went really fast yet Mommie Dearest has to linger. One friend said to me that it's karrma - she has to pay in some way for her life time of evil. I don't know. I pay her bills and visit weekly to ensure she has all she needs but I finally have some peace - she can't get at me any more.

I'm rambling but bottom line. you can't help someone who won't be helped, is always right and fights you every inch of the way. You have done the very best by her and you must not feel guilty. When she falls on her face, unable to pay bills or whatever the state will step in. Let her get on with it. It's her choice and she must live with it. You cannot protect someone from themselves!
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Amen to the advice and especially to two statements you made.

"I feel like if I ignore my own line in the sand and continue to try to help her anyway, I will just become a martyr and an enabler." Yes. There can be a fine line between helping and enabling. Stay on the helping side - which in your case may be doing nothing and letting things unfold. Perhaps things will change in the future so that you actually can help - if you want too and under your terms, and perhaps not.

"I just feel so horrible and sad beyond words about the dark and scary road that I feel I am letting her go down." I know the feeling with my own mother other than I know it is not a matter of me letting her go down it, as she obstinately refuses other courses of action. Dear one, I doubt that you could stop her going down her chosen road. Professionals are involved and will become more involved and that is the best way for her and for you. She, like my mother, is experiencing the consequences of a lifetime of choices - sometimes very bad ones - but they were her choices to make. It is sad and it has been sad in the past, to see the havoc she has wreaked, and now continues to in her own life more than in the life of others. But we could not fix it then and we cannot fix it now.

If you were hit by a bus tomorrow your mother would be looked after. Do no further damage to yourself. Get on with your life and let her get on with hers.
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Thank you both for your comments
vegaslady - Luckily for mom, she is still cognitive enough to know what is going on, just very clueless about money and in denial about her abilities. It won't be long (1-2 weeks) before her finances catch up to her and luckily the caseworker/professional guardian person will continue to check in on mom despite not heaving received one red cent as of yet.
ba8alou - I don't judge you as cold-hearted, yet I judge myself to be so for agreeing with your sentiments. If this was my father ---- I would do anything for him should the time ever come as he's been an actual parent and has taken care of his health and finances. Mom has never done that and has always (all her life) been selfish and expected people to do everything for her and do it her way. The latest in our drama was her refusing to let her doctors talk to me about her health despite me informing her several times that I would only help her navigate what's next in life if she was completely open and transparent with whatever I felt I needed to look after her from out of state. I feel like if I ignore my own line in the sand and continue to try to help her anyway, I will just become a martyr and an enabler.
I just feel so horrible and sad beyond words about the dark and scary road that I feel I am letting her go down.
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I think you should hold your ground. I just get the feeling you may be overestimating her capacities. Some people just choose to drive off the cliff and figuratively speaking, she may just do that.
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Thanks again all. Today's gem is her repeating "I didn't know I'd have to be the one to do all of this" when I ask for her to simply call one of the many places I've already been in touch with to give them a verbal authorization to speak with me as I do all the actual work. (Such a pain - some places don't think seeing the original POA is enough!)
...I wanted to yell (but didn't) ...Why don't you think you have to take ANY responsibility for your mess of a life?!?!
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Jenn my mother is dying, in a wonderful NH at age 88. She's had a wonderful life filled with the best, more than anyone could ever hope for. She's been an evil, manipulative narcissist her whole life and I have no feeling for her at all.

It's been a long day and I'll go to bed early. I'll take the phone off the hook as I don't want a call from the NH (again) that she's fallen out of bed, no harm done, just letting you know - in the middle of the night. I need sleep!.
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Jennifer, good for you. You did your homework and made a decision. It 's more than many of us did when we "signed up" for caregiving and gave up our lives in the process.
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Thank you all for your words of encouragement and advice. Mother has been less resistant and hostile the past couple of days, but I'm sure there will be plenty more 'ups and downs' before I even get her set up in a new place to live. The hardest part now is getting her to see just how dire her financial situation is and understanding that her husbands death benefit money will need to go toward paying off bills, movers, helpers, and a new place to live - and she will NOT have financial reserves after that all happens. 'One day at a time' is what I keep hearing, but I fear this will be 'one day at a time' forever. Ugh.
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