I’m new to caregiving. Thank God for this site. Hopefully someone has some words of wisdom for me. My mom moved across the country to live near my family when my dad died 2 years ago. Since I am the nice daughter and I love my mom, I'm the special chosen one to be the caregiver. My siblings call mom on the holidays and on her birthday. Other than that, I don’t hear from them. Many times they won’t even return our texts or phone calls. I’ve shouldered the entire burden of moving her cross country and taking care of her every need. My siblings haven't been very helpful at all. In fact I really need them if not only for the moral support, but I’ve been written off. They just can't be bothered. They are both doing very very well financially and enjoy going on extravagant vacations every year. My husband and I have always just managed to keep our heads above water (we lost everything including our home in the Great Recession and will likely never recover financially nor enjoy a retirement). My mom has inherited a good deal of wealth and is a compulsive spender. She has lived a lifestyle far above ours and my dad did everything for her. She expects my husband and me to keep the lifestyle going without any offer of compensation. There is very little she will do for herself.

Lately she has been very angry and manipulative, complaining about what a good life she used to have. She gets angry when we don't include her in everything we do, and if we go several days without calling and checking on her she punishes us somehow in a very passive aggressive way or through some sort of emotional blackmail.

She is already tired of living by herself and wants us to buy a home with attached in law suite, complete with kitchenette and second bedroom for her sewing, both of which are her non-negotiables in a new home. If we pursue this option, we would very likely have to relocate and move our 8th grader to a new school and he wont be able to start high school with his friends next year, She says she will help us buy the home 50/50. but she expects us to sell it if she has to move into an assisted living home so she can use her portion of the money toward it.

I just can’t imagine how the rest of my life is going to play out. I have three children and I have spent a lot less time with them since mom moved near us. It’s only been 2 years but I’ve just had it. I’m already burnt out and worse, I feel terribly guilty but I’m just so angry! Can anyone relate? How in the world do you balance compassion, love and boundaries?

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There are caregivers all over the world, but it is already late here on the West coast of California. I do not consider myself a "seasoned" caregiver, and even they need advice or just to vent at times. So welcome again. Come back in the morning CST
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Helpful Answer (1)

You are not alone in this. It has been over 4 years for me, and I have yet to find that balance you speak of. The only the I can say for certain is that I rely on strength from the Lord. That is the only way I get through each day. I too have Siblings who are missing in action. It is just me. So I understand the lack of moral support you seek.
I can tell you how helpful this site has been. So many loving people who have been through and are going through what we are and some situations more extreme than others. Yet, they all rally here in support of one another, encouraging and advising. So this place you have came to, will be beneficial to you as it has been to me.
The aging care family is a diverse group of caregivers who really care about what one another is going through. They triumph when someone is having a good moment in time and they are saddened when one is struggling or grieving.
You will find support and encouragement here and if you read a lot of posts, it will also allow you to see how things could be worse. And how a lot of individuals are going through extremes that we have not yet faced or have not had to face.
But, most importantly, God alone can give us that strength and courage needed in this long labor of love.
May He help you in your situation.
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Wow thank you. You brought tears. Such sweet and helpful comments from all of you. I used to believe so strongly and still do but I must admit that I’m struggling. I’ve wondered if God as gone MIA as well. I might add that my in-laws live a short distance away and father is in early to mid stage Alzheimer’s. My husband and his siblings have been putting off the difficult conversations that should have been held months ago. But that’s for another thread...
Dear Skippy, you sound like a nice woman who is puzzled by people who aren’t so nice. Your mother sounds puzzled too – Why have things changed? It used to be so nice! Your brother/s and sister/s sound as though they are a lot more realistic, and don’t want to go there because they can see what it’s like.

I think all the ‘seasoned caregivers’ on this wonderful site would say ‘don’t move in with Mom’. The way to ‘balance compassion, love and boundaries’ is to put boundaries first. If you don’t get the boundaries right, your love and compassion will be under enormous pressure and eventually won’t survive. With the right boundaries, you can be a good daughter within sustainable limits.

I’ll keep this short (it's coming up to dinner time in South Australia). I am sure that more of us will offer good support and good advice. Look after yourself, your husband and your children first.
Helpful Answer (4)
”a nice person who is puzzled by people who aren’t so nice... that should be my life’s motto! I’m definitely a people pleaser. I don’t know how else to be and I’m truly hard on myself when I’m not.
All signs point to therapy...
I'm afraid your siblings, whatever their other shortcomings, are smart to keep their distance. Margaret McKen has pegged it perfectly - you are nice and your mom and siblings aren't.

As you describe your mom, she is lazy and self-centered. She is a user of others. She is apparently OK with the prospect of throwing your family under the bus if the shared home plan she wants to foist on you has to be jettisoned.

I think it's fine to want to offer your love and care, to the best of your abilities. To be a loving daughter. But you need to be realistic about what you're dealing with. For instance, is it possible that your mom has Narcissistic Personality Disorder or another personality disorder? In any event, I think it would be helpful and worth the money to consult a therapist regarding how to have healthy boundaries with your mom.
Helpful Answer (2)
Thank you so much for your response. That is sound advice. If I’ve learbed anything new here it’s to seek the advice of a counselor or therapist before making any major decisions on living arrangements.
What in heaven's name is the point of this shared household idea if your mother is already amenable to the concept of Assisted Living? I should encourage her to skip the interim stage and move straight to a nice facility with continuing care services. That way, she will walk in with all her faculties intact and have time to establish herself as a personality within the community. And you can stop being the unsatisfactory answer to everything when it comes to her social life and support systems. And you can avoid the completely needless financial complications. And, by the way, you can lay to rest your siblings' complacent view that it's fine to leave all this on your hands because you're probably in it for the money.

Do not uproot your little boy at this critical point in his social and educational development.

Feeling guilt as a result of feeling anger is not a good sign if the anger is an appropriate response to real circumstances. Why do you think you feel responsible for your mother's discontent?
Helpful Answer (3)
Hi countrymouse, thanks for your response. My mother is not at all open to assisted living. Ive brought it up several times and she just hears that I’m trying to get rid of her. In her mind, it’s the very last resort. I do love my mom and want the best for her, but how in the world do we decide what that is? I am basically the only family she has left. I try to live by the golden rule and I know I would want to be with family as I age. I just don’t know if I can handle 10+ years of emotional manipulation and watching her just spend all her money while we struggle along.
As for the money, My siblings are well aware that the money legally and irrevocably goes to all three of us. That awareness is maybe both a good thing and a bad thing lol.
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Your mother sounds perfectly capable of looking after herself, just because she expects to play the role of pampered princess doesn't mean you need to buy into that. Her life changed when your father died, that is a reality no matter where she chooses to live. You can not - should not be expected to - take is place, that is reality too. Your mother can spin all the fantastic fantasies she wants about some kind of perfect life where her every whim and need is catered to but that is all they are, fantasy. Your mother sounds like a user, don't allow her to use you!
Helpful Answer (3)

Have you investigated “Independent Living” as part of a potential living arrangement for your mother?

In the NE USA, it is considered the lowest tier of living in a managed community that may offer transportation, dining arrangements, activities, care and upkeep of living facilities.

If your mother is capable of living and managing for herself, you do her no favors, and exhibit no “love” or kindness, by taking away HER responsibilities to HERSELF. The longer she takes an active role in her own life, the longer she will hopefully to keep her abilities to maintain herself.

In your effort to be a good and loyal servant, have you forgotten that “The Lord Helps Those Who HELP THEMSELVES”? However much she manipulates, punishes, gets angry, etc. all of her stuff is meaningless if she has no audience.

”Trying to get rid of her”? If she acts like a sparkly, silver locked little tyrant, emphatically YES!

“GUILT”? Either a POWERFUL MOTIVATOR FOR ACTION AND NECESSARY INTERVENTION, or , VERY IMPORTANTLY, a toxic, energy wasting, negative, useless weight that impedes meaningful progress to an appropriately chosen goal.

If she is “tired of living by herself” SHE needs to come up with better reasons than wanting you to entertain her, and HER SPECIFIC REASONS become the focus and goal of any changes in her current lifestyle.

If she has NO REASON to want the shared housing arrangement except to encroach and have more of an audience for her (unreasonable) expectations than she already has, then why are you thinking about even CONSIDERING what she has suggested????

I have had exposure/responsibility for three dear, complicated, loving, generous, complex, women over the last several years. One of the best lessons I’ve learned during this sometimes VERY difficult and painful time, is to come up with a bunch of less than perfect solutions when a problem arises, then pick the best of all those imperfect solutions, considering all who may be harmed or helped in the process, and STICKING TO IT.

Will she throw a tantrum when you tell her that her house idea sounds WONDERFUL but you’ve chosen not to change your son’s school arrangements?
Probably. But you, as her adult child, have family who need to be considered in your decision making, and you’re SURE she’ll understand.

All of us who post here have had to take these steps in one form or another, and more often than not, the decision making is unpleasant and difficult. If your decisions are based on FACTS and reality and balance among all of the parties directly involved, it’s a little more comfortable than throwing in the sponge and letting the oldest (or bossiest or loudest or most stubborn) do the deciding for everyone one else.

Keep reading. It doesn’t get easier with time but it does get easier knowing you’re not alone.

Wanted to add..... a social worker, psychologist, trained counselor- may be a wonderful way of clarifying your ambivalent thinking about moving forward.
Helpful Answer (2)
dawn1947 Nov 2018
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Dear Yippy,
I can relate to your just about everything you talked about, but I am sending healing energy to you💓💓💓💓💓💓💓💓💓
Helpful Answer (0)

Like you, I too am surprised when people don't see or do things the way I do. Not that my thinking is best but its more logical then some.

My MIL was passive agressive. In my 37yrs of marriage I have never heard her 3 sons tell her No. My DH was the one who lived with his parents the longest. MIL talked FIL into moving to Fla. He died 3 yrs after the move. She didn't want to move back so she had to learn to be on her own at 71. We were 16 hrs away, a son 12 hrs another 8 and he saw her the most. About 5 yrs before her death she started thinking about moving back. DH was near retirement. He suggested we would sell our house and find a rancher with a master bedroom for her. But, if we came up short in paying outright for the house, she would have to pay the balance. He was not getting a Mortgage. She never moved back and did pretty well except for the last yr of her life when there was a decline.

I would not go into buying a house with her. You have already had ur problems, you don't need the hassle of selling ur place, moving in together than a couple of years down the line she changes her mind and you lose the house. Also, your whole family has been up rooted. Plus, if she ever needs Medicaid it causes problems when a house is joint ownership. Oh yeah, if you go 50/50 the house is half hers and believe me she will let you know it.

I hope moving near you was her idea. Boundries! Wait till Mom brings up the subject again. Tell her u and DH have talked it over and you feel that its not fair to uproot your children for a move that is not guaranteed to work in ur favor. Its your family that will be sacrificing not her. You can't take the chance that she will change her mind and leave u high and dry with no home. You think the best thing is for her to find an Independent living facility that she will have an apartment, meals, activities and make friends. That she needs to understand that its nice she lives near (little white lie) but your main responsibility is to DH and kids. That now 8 yr old is entering HiSchool she will be involved in much more and she needs u there. I assume you work. That really limits your time. She needs to understand this. You love her, but you can't be it all for her. She has to find her own things to keep busy.
Helpful Answer (2)

Yippyskippy, unless your (late?) father left your mother with only a life interest in his estate and tied the rest up in a trust for the three of you, wills can be changed, and your financially aware siblings will know that.

So if you ever feel that they are looking askance at you or making barbed comments, confront them on the point, don't let it fester.

Your mother has already given active consideration herself to assisted living - her investment in any house you might buy together is conditional on accommodating that possibility, yes?

And put your own, affectionate feelings about your little family to one side. Let's assume that you won't succeed in alienating two or more of your children.

Look. Go and visit some facilities, by yourself. See what you think of them. The idea is to help your mother find a life of her own, which you can support. The shared house plan gives your life, and your husband's, and your children's, to your mother. It's not fair, and it won't either give your mother the same opportunities to flourish as her own person.
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