My Mom is 86 yrs young. She is fairly healthy and gets around well. I moved in with her 11 years ago, shortly after my husband died. He was only 52. I think it scared her and she didn't want to be alone when it was her time.
For the most part it was just our normal close relationship. But somewhere along the way it has changed. I can't say I'm a caregiver because she can still take care of herself, but as she has gotten older I have noticed changes.
Sometimes a childish behavior, as in, when I can't do something she wants right away, she comes back with a guilt imposing comment like "Never Mind, I'll do it by myself."
She gets frustrated and stressed and just throws her hands up and says she can't handle this or that.
She now assumes that wherever I go, she's going with me. Before, she would have asked to join me. She just expects to go with me for company parties, visiting my kids, etc.
She has given up driving very far, so I take her where she wants to go most of the time. I have to rearrange my schedule to accomodate her appoinments and so forth. We live a long way from anywhere, so I seldom get to go to town or anywhere else by myself.
I have two sibling within a 5 mile radious but I cannot get them to offer to take her to town once in awhile or even invite her over for dinner once a week. So unless I am at work, we are together.
Some of this I expected with increasing age, but she has continually stopped doing other things. When I realized this was happening, I stopped doing some things like dishes, and her laundry, to keep her moving and active. Things I know she's capable of doing. It scares me everytime something comes up in conversation and she tells me she doesn't think she can do that anymore. I'm afraid that the less she does the less she'll be able to do. I don't want her to give up on life. I know somethings are more difficult and sometimes frustrating for her to do.
I'm just not sure when to push.
I don't know if any of this makes any sense to anybody. I'm just frustrated and worried.

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Thank you All very much. Your answers and comments are encouraging.
I do feel like I've lost my identity sometimes because everyone assumes Mom is coming with me. We are invited together. They send us pictures together.
Appointments are made as they are available and she does try to get them to work out as best she can. Somethings you can't control. It would just be nice if one of my brothers would step up and offer to take her instead of me always changing my schedule. Fortunately, I have an understanding boss.
And I do need to confront my brothers and try to get them to be more helpful.....don't think that will happen, but who knows.
I still have the guilt/concern that I will hurt her feelings if I tell her I want to go by myself somewhere. I think I'm past nipping it in the bud. But maybe something will present itself and allow me the opportunity to go do something on my own that she would not feel left out.
Again, thank you all so much. I just recently found this site. Up until now I've had no one I could talk to other than my kids. And there is just no way they can understand it totally.
Helpful Answer (0)

You've gotten good answers about getting some time to yourself. When I read your post, I could really identify with the dilemma of when to step in to help and when to stand back and let mom do it for herself. My mom is 94 next month and it's an ongoing, moving target for me.

My mom lives in independent living, but I do more and more for her. I would try leaving stuff for my mom to do and if it didn't get done after a reasonable time, I would step in and do it. For example, I now take her garbage down to the garbage room because I'd come over to find an overflowing garbage bin. And that's not like my mom. She still takes her newspapers down to recycling, but for some reason, leaves the trash. She still does her daily dishes, but I've taken over doing her laundry. She doesn't drive any more, so I have to take her everywhere but it's more of a fight to get her to leave her room than her wanting to go places.

I did have a period of time when I had to help my mom shower every week. She was just too fatigued. It led to arguments and tears more than once. But when we got her started on thyroid meds and got her dose adjusted, she got enough energy back that she's now showering on her own.

So if your mom has been pretty independent like mine is, my advice is just to play it by ear and know that those lines will probably change over time. If your mom has always been happy to let others do for her whether she can do something or not, then maybe leave it for her a bit longer before you step in. Or offer to help her do it. There are no right or wrong answers in this.
Helpful Answer (2)

Sometimes you have ask them what day of the week will work for them. Assign a day and stick to it. If mom knows that Tuesday is lunch with sis, she will have something to look forward to.
Helpful Answer (2)

Jeanne had many good ideas and I'd like the stress the going out alone thing. You must maintain your autonomy as much as possible. Your mom does not need to go with you everywhere you go. When my dad lived with me I could not spend time with my brother or my nieces and nephews without having to take my dad along which of course meant more work for me and less time spent with my family. Not once was I ever able to see my brother when it was just us, I was always caring for my dad, the only difference was that it was at my brother's house and not mine. My dad I were almost a couple (in a non-creepy way). We were sent invitations to different parties or other social events together because everyone knew that I cared for my dad. I could never go anywhere alone without dragging my dad along with me. It drove me nuts. Anniversary parties, errands, you name it and there we were and my dad became very, very dependent upon me which sucked the breath right out of me. Luckily, my dad was a sweet and kind gentleman which is why he was invited out so much but gentle nature or no gentle nature it would have been nice to go out on my own sometimes.
Helpful Answer (3)

Do encourage her to do as much as she can herself. If she says "Never Mind, I'll do it by myself" don't fall into the guilt trap. Say, "Could you Mother? I'd appreciate it." But also realize that she may need more help as she ages. It will be a judgment call, and you are the best judge.

Maybe you could be a little more direct with your sisters. "Could you have Mom over to dinner next week, maybe Tuesday or Wednesday? There are some things here I need to get done." Getting some time to yourself is going to be increasingly important, and establishing some patterns now would be good. Also this would give your sisters a chance to see the changes in your mother as they develop.

It sounds like Mother needs to make her appointments to fit into your schedule, rather than you rearranging it for her. You are both in the same pattern you were when she could get herself to her own appointments. Both of you need to learn to make some adjustments now that she is more dependent.

While she is still relatively healthy and can stay alone, do some of your outings on your own. Say, "I'm going into town on my own today, Mom. Anything you want me to pick up for you?" or "Bessy and I are running lots of errands today. I'll be home in time to start dinner." She does not have to automatically have to go everywhere you go. I'd nip that one in the bud.

Things are changing as she gets older. It is good that she is healthy, but few people stay at full vigor into their nineties.
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