Please help. I didn't mean for this to be so long and bless your big heart for being kind enough to spare me the time to read this. I am torn up inside and could really use some assistance. Thanks:

I am a 45 year old woman with two young adult daughters. My mother is 77 years old. My wonderful father died in 2005.I am trying to start a home based business. There are only four of us in our family. There is NOBODY else, no one. Here's the issue. I love my mom, I really do, but she wants to see me every single day. She doesn't want to go anywhere without me, except to the hairdresser, grocery shopping and that's it.

She has only one friend who she sees about once a week. I have encouraged her to talk to her neighbors and invite them over. She won't. I even said I would make her food and drop it off at her house so she wouldn't have to cook. Nope, won't do it.

I would love to see my mother once or twice a week, but she wants to see me every day. I feel guilty as hell. I see her 4 to 5 times a week for about 4 to 8 hours a day and I am ready to burst with misery about her being here so much and guilt about my seflish attitude for not wanting her here as much as she is. And I hate it. I cannot stand seeing her so much. She doesn't talk, just sits on the sofa waiting for someone to talk to her. She is very very lonely. I get that, but she doesn't want to do anything without me.

I have encouraged her to: go to the senior centre, volunteer, join a book club, invite someone over from church. Her response? "No, because my hips hurt/back hurts etc" or my ultimate favorite of "Karen, these people have families. I am not going to ask them to do something with me when they have families of their own." I encourage my daughters to spend time with their grandmother but they really don't want to because she either a) complains, b) doesn't talk, or c) all of the above.

In the ideal situation, my mother would come over every single day and sit on my sofa until I come downstairs, oh so joyful to see her and then I would tell her all the wonderful things that have happened in my wonderful life since I last saw her (yesterday). But I don't have exciting stories to tell. I just don't. The conversations are always one sided. I have to think of something to say and she responds with yes or no, or talks very little and then stops until I have to think of something else to say. It's exhausting.

My mother attends church weekly and once in a while goes to a function there. I've encouraged her to do more as have people at church but she has only one pet project: spending time with me. That is her ultimate goal every single day of her life. And truthfully, it's draining.

There are many things she could do but doesn't want to. Everyone loves my mother. She truly is a good, kind, decent person. But I just can't stand seeing her day after day after day and racking my brains to come up with some conversation. She routinely says, "Karen, talk to me, just say anything" and do try. I swear I do.

The stress is killing me. I spoke to her doctor and she is on an antidepressant, but that does not cure her loneliness. It does not stop her from calling everyday to find out "when can I come over?" It does not stop me from cringing at the thought of spending so much time with her. If I say that I am busy, she whispers "Oh, okay" in a very soft unhappy voice, and sure that means I don't have to see her that day, but I do the next.

I never get to spend anytime alone with my own children. A few days ago I said, "Mom, I think that me and the kids will go to see a movie, just the three of us. I haven't spent any time alone with them for months and months now." Her wistful response, "Oh, I wish I could go." I felt like screaming, "God damn it mother. I spend more time with you than anyone. You are choking me and sucking all my happiness out of me. Go find someone to talk to. How selfish a person are you that you demand to spend so much time with me but you can't let me spend two hours with my children once, just once. I more or less told her this but she said, "I just wanted to tell you how I felt, that's all."

What do I do? I have tried reasoning with her many times. If I am gentle or if I am strong or if I am nice or if I am mean, it results in the same thing: her saying "Fine. I won't bother you anymore then. You live your life. Goodbye." And then her calling me the next day. So truthfully, what is the point having hurt feelings and anger if nothing every changes?

I am at the point right now where I truthfully feel I could hurt her or me because I cannnot take it anymore.

What do I do? She is sitting downstairs on my sofa now. It is about 5pm and she has been here since 1pm. On Wednesdays I need to take her to her doctor, which will of course mean that she will say after the appointment, "Is it okay if I just sit on your sofa? I'm not coming in your house to run all over it. I won't bother you?" On Friday she has a morning appt too which will result in the same thing.

Today I said to her, "Do you want to come out to lunch with me today (to a place she likes) or to dinner (a place she doesn't like)" She chose lunch, and idiot that I am, I figured when we got back 2 hours ago that she would leave. She didn't. Instead she said she will "find something to eat" at the place we are going to for dinner, so now that means she will be here until 8pm.

Am I a selfish horrible person? My mother is so wonderful and kind and gives me money all the time and will do anything for me. I feel like I should be doing all of this with a smile on my face instead of with anger and resentment in my heart. I am crying buckets right now and feel like a complete moron. Am I?

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Hi. You deserve to take time for yourself and your daughters. You're doing a LOT for your mother. Ultimately she is responsible for how she feels, you're not. Back down on how much time you're spending with your mom and don't let her make you feel guilty. You may have to live with her being unhappy with you for a while, but you really do need to keep your sanity and your health for your sake and for your daughters'.

It could be that if she no longer can depend on you to talk to her whenever she wants, she will take some responsibility for getting out and joining church groups, etc. That way you might be able to start her on a transition that's healthier for both of you. GOOD LUCK and God bless.
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aww . she just loves begin with you and yuo are her best friend , she is also feeling safe begin around you .
knowing she s up at the age and is scared of begin alone .
my dad is 86 yrs old , he does not like to be around people otherthan me .
so i know what ure going thru , he moved in with me cuz he needed care 24-7 and i was willin to do that . at least ur mom is not begin loud or abusevie and causin you all kinds of problems ,
better enjoy her now cuz my friend she aint going to be around forever ,
my dad stays in the living room and i stay out in family room where my computer is and i take my break away from him . he ususaly sleeping or watching tv . i tried to get him move around do excerise . noooooooooooooo he says ,
your mom loves you and wants to be with you . i wish i have a mom . i lost her 20 yrs ago , (cancer) so dad is all i have left and i dont mind him sittin in living room and smile every time i see him .
im very close to my daughter and i think i ll do the same thing when i get old . im 47 ..:-)
give your momma a big hug for me ....
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Dear karenp, I think the comment above is not at all helpful to you. You need help, not someone to tell you that you should feel lucky that you have a mom and should love her more and give her a big hug.

It's a tough situation for you and there's no easy or perfect solution. I would suggest that you focus on acceptance of your mother's behavior and find ways that you can go on with your life even if she's sitting on your couch. If she makes comments when you want to go to a movie with your daughters, she is being unreasonable. You can respond to that by giving in, being angry, and trying to change her, or by doing what you want and knowing in your heart that it's unreasonable for her to need you so much. By the way, does your mother live by herself? If so, you really need to try to get her into a home. Many seniors fiercely resist going into a home, but once they get there find that they have a big circle of new friends and activities.

Ultimately, you hold the power, not her. She needs your help and companionship, but there is a limit to what you can give. If you can get past your guilt and do for yourself what you need, at least one of you will be happy. Your mother will not be happy even if you see her every day. She is looking for something deeper that you can't give.

Best of luck to you.
Helpful Answer (7)

Karen--I went through the same thing with my Mom and I can tell you this--DON"T do it.
My Mom is in a nursing home now-she's 93 and she still is only happy if I'm visiting her.
Do your best to seperate yourself from her now, see her at the most, once a week, I wish I would have done just that.
I love my Mom with all my heart but we all need freedom too.
I don't believe your doing her or yourself any favors by giving into her every whim.
My Mom doesn't even know how to make friends, she never had to, I was there all the time, don't do that to yourself.
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KarenP I too feel for you. I am going through something similar as my sister, brother-n-law, and their 2 kids live with my mom, however she just called me and said they were all gone and asked if I could come over. I just left at 6:00 pm. She then called back after 3 times and said "never mind" they're here.

I too say cherish the times because when she's gone, she's gone. You won't be able to pick up the phone and listen to her. I also say you do indeed need time for yourself and your kids. Don't feel guilty for your feelings I think we've all experienced those from time to time.

Just know that I'm not alone helps me, and it will help you too. When I find myself resenting my mom, I disappear. I don't answer my phone at all and that's for my peace of mind. I know that my sister and her family are there and they will do their best. I also enlisted in home care for my mom but that's a different story in itself.

Keep on keeping on Karen and you will be blessed for doing what you're doing.
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Dear karenp

I am so glad that people started responding quickly to your plea - I believe you truly are feeling desperate. And I can understand why because during all the 69 years my mom has been my mom she never seemed capable of being happy/content with her own company. I have learned one thing from this: a person cannot give someone else happiness or contentment - a person has to find it for him/herself.
I believe you have a RIGHT to make a life for yourself (you have been trying to start a new one on your own since the death of your husband and I imagine that is hard enough as, in addition to the stress of starting up a home-based business, I imagine you are still suffering heartbreak from the loss of your husband) and I believe you have a RIGHT to spend time with just your daughters.
You did not say how long your mother has been so dependent or why she is so dependent. Have you always been her whole life? If so, it will be tough to make a change but you must do it for your own sanity and in the end, the change should benefit your mother too. I don't know how far you want to push tough love but I think you need to start using at least a little.
And DON'T allow guilt to creep into the picture. It seems to me from what you wrote that your mother knows how to use guilt to manipulate you. I don't think that's very loving of HER. You wrote that she is kind and decent, gives you money and will do anything for you. If she will do anything for you, then expect more freedom from her.
She is not an OLD woman - she should be making more of a life for herself. Is there some reason WHY she can't? You wrote that she goes to church weekly. If she is a church-attending type woman I would think that there must be some job she could do for the church. Has she EVER done that type of thing? Has she ever volunteered for any charity? If she has always been a stay-at-home mom who never went out except to grocery shop or get her hair done, then you will have to gently but firmly get her doing something else besides being with you. There must be something she is capable of doing. Maybe your daughters could help you out that way - have them find something that their grandmother can do and ask them to get her started doing it. YOU need a well-deserved break. Please keep us posted as to what happens.
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Wow, thank you all so much for your wonderful comments. I jumped out of bed this morning and rushed right over to the computer to see if anyone had responded. Thank you all once again.

To answer some questions: My mother was married once before. Her ex husband was physically abusive. He smashed her head into a wall and punched her pregnant belly and a myriad of other things she hasn't told me about. She actually had five children with this man. Her first, a baby boy, died at one month of age from pneumonia. Her ex was always abusive to her but not to the children. She lived in Ireland with him at the time and she told me she tried many times to leave him (taking the four children with her), but she could not stay away too long. Remember this is fifty something years ago. They did not have long term places for battered women to go.

She ended up leaving him for good and she left the children too. This was around the time she met my father. Her children ranged in age from nine months to ten years when she left. She did not speak with them again for many many years. I think she feared for her life. Her ex is in the IRA in Ireland and said he would kill her if he could. One of her children contacted my mom when she was about seventeen years old. I met her a few times. I met my other "sister" once. I have never met my "brothers." Growing up as an only child I really really wanted them in my life, but every time I would bring the subject up my mother would tell me not to talk about them. Maybe it was because she felt guilt at abandoning them, I don't know.

I know it seems like I kind of went off track there, and sorry, I guess I did. But I did it just to give you some background.

So although she had four other children, she really doesn't. She says that they "don't bother" with her, and I do see sorrow in her eyes. It's a catch 22 situation. Yeah, she abandoned them, but yes, she was in fear of her life. Either way, those are the facts.

My mothers "job" growing up was to run an excellent household and to take care of my dad and me. She did. The house was always spotless and I was given proper amounts of attention and affection. My mom worked a full time job, but only for a few weeks. She also did dressmaking from the house and she did that for a few hours a week. She never went out of the house unless she was with me or my dad. She never went out with friends, just me and my dad.

That was in England. We emigrated to America in 1981. My mom worked very briefly, a few months, and then went back to being a homemaker. Her life revolved around my wonderful father and me.

However, I do remember her calling me (when I lived four hundred miles away, now I live five minutes away. I moved here, VA, so I could help my mother out since my dad had passed away in 2005) and her saying many times to me, "Your dad doesn't want to be with me,he's exercising/at college so he doesn't have to be with me." And yes, my dad did go to college when he retired and yes, he did go the gym each day, but that's it. He didn't do anything out of the realm of normalcy. I also remember her saying to me, when they would come up to NJ to visit me and the kids before we moved down here, "Karen. Your dad has not said anything to me since we left the house five hours ago. Not one word." My dad would then laugh and say, "What do you want me to say?" It wasn't until I moved down here that I realized that my mother doesn't speak. Again, like I was saying in my previous post, it's always a one sided conversation, with me desperately trying to find something-anything to say to her to fill the empty silence.

My mother does live alone. I have mentioned assisted living to her before. Her doctor, in private, told me it would be the best thing for her, but mom refuses. I brought it up to her a few days ago and she said, "karen, those places are for people to go to when their families don't care about them." Knowing my mother as I do, no amount of me convincing, arguing, enlightening etc would work. I know from past experience that she only gets angry when I say anything "against" her.

This may come into play too, her own mother died when my mother was only two years old. So she grew up without the love of a mother. Her father was in a wheelchair (he was dropped down the stairs by his drunken nanny) his whole life. After her own mother died, she and her brother, a newborn, and her wheelchair bound father went to live with her uncle. My mother told me that in that house, "it was abusive. The uncle would hit his wife. Everyone was drunk. Everyone would smoke. Everyone would curse." My mother is the exact opposite of all those things, maybe because she lived in that environment. She does not curse, smoke, drink, nothing. She dresses very well, keeps her home neat, loves me and my children to the ends of the earth.

Again, the "only" problem is that she wants to see me every single day. It's like she can't breathe without me.

No, my mother has never volunteered. Yes, there are tons and tons of things going on at her church, but she either goes to very very few of them or BEGS me to go with her or doesn't go at all.

I am scared that if I die before her she will have no one. My daughters will not want to spend 20+ hours a week with her and there is no one else.

She is a loving woman, but very very stubborn. She will participate in more activities probably, but only with me. Her general response is "I'll go if you go."

I have never even been on a vacation without her. I know that if I dare to say that me and the kids are going somewhere without her, even for a day trip, she will whine and beg and moan and say that she wants to go to.

I feel like I am being strangled, but I feel terrible about feeling this way.

Any other takers?
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Make your answering machine your best friend. You set the limits on what feels comfortable for you. Help her with her legitimate needs: food, shelter, clothing. Hire help for her home, health, transportation needs. Have her call the bus, or a private transport service. Who said you HAVE to do it all? If she has money, she can afford help. Boundaries are a wonderful thing, and guilt is not. You can do this. We didn't do enough boundary-setting, because we felt so much was our responsibility. It was not. We regret some of the decisions we made because one parent did not appreciate all we did for them. Violating your own boundaries leads to anger and resentment. Only YOU can change that. You cannot change your mother. With your backbone in place, train yourself to say, "No," "Sorry, not today," "Not right now," etc. It'll be OK. You're not mommy's little girl anymore, but your own woman, and that is perfectly OK to decide what is right for you, as long as it doesn't hurt (physically, etc.) another. (Not talking about the false guilt others try to inflict on us, and we ourselves sometimes pick up.) You don't even own your mom and explaination. Just say, "I'm sorry you feel that way..." on your way out the door. Then give yourself permission to enjoy the freedom God gave you!
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That was a great answer with an answering machine you can control when you speak to her and she may be able to learn to entertain herself and start to make a life for herself-if there is a senior nearby encourage her to go even if you need to take her there the first time.
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that is a very sad story , am so sorry for what your mother has went thru , your father and your mother had no commuications and didnt take her out on dates or anything . she stayed home and had no one eles but you and your father .
well dear she is set at on her own pace and that is how its been for many years . she s livin in fear and doesnt want to go places by herself .
seems to me what i said in my last post nobody agrees with me , love your mom and give her a big hug . your mom desevre happiness . if sittin on the couch makes her happy then by gosh its not hurtin her only happy to be near her only daughter she knows .
she had a rough life and phyiscal damages already been done .
shes clingin on to you cuz you are her happiness. without you only god knows what it will do to her .
maybe you could find someone that is a chatterbox and have her spend some time with your mother . she likes to hear somebody talkin to her .
think about this , your daughter will be moving out when theyre old enuff and you will be in your mothers shoes one day .
i remeber when i was little my oldest sister and my mom would hang out alot , my mom didnt drive (bad eyes). they had a good time ! laugh and we went to yard sales and out to eat . my mom and my oldest sister both were bestfriends ! till my oldest sister remaried some jerk and he took her out of state thousands miles away from home . mom would worry so much , bless her heart , takin her bestfriend and daughter away from her and didnt hear from her for years !my sis was abuse by her husband , till that jerk husband divorced her then sis would call home , only to find that mom has cancer ,
its so sad friend . i am crying right now . it hurts so much . it ruin my sister too . now shes 64 yrs old and has stage one alz . she is still thousands miles away and i cant be there for her .
begin loved and then get slap across face sure aint a way to live . like i said life too short .
if your mom wants to sit on your couch and u wanna go to movies with urdaughter just go ahead and go , tell ur mom u be back in few hrs . turn tv on for her she feels comfertable on your couch . tel her if she s going home tolock the door behind her .
youre the only daughter she has in her life .
i know i see dad everyday i take care of him everyday and there is times i just wanna walk out the front door and just keep going , its cuz im stress out and im tired . i sit out by thebarn and chillout . then i come back in and start all over again . its my dad i cant turn my back on him , he gave me a good life and spoiled me when i was growing up . i tell you i count my blessing to have him for my dad .
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It seems like your Mom can use some help, of the professional variety. Is sounds as though your Mom has some deep issues and would benefit from counseling. Has her doctor ever suggested this? It may require that the doctor go so far as to "insist" that she needs to "be evaluated" and that would at least get her in the door of a mental health professional. Based on your description, I'd enlist the support of her pastor as well. While counseling might help your Mom deal with her fear of being alone, at the same time, her pastor can help her to become involved at the church.

Your Mom is very lukcy to have you as her daughter. What you are handling isn't easy. You need to make sure that you provide yourself with some distance from the situation too, like many of the other comments suggest. In some communities, there is a "friendly visitor" program. Call your local Area Agency on Aging or Eldercare hotline and see if this exists near you.

Finally, the transition to senior housing is often difficult. My blog has a number of articles about this which you might find helpful. I frequently find myself working with families like yours, and while the process may take some time, once your Mom can "own" the idea of transitioning to a different living situation, she might be willing to give it a try. Since it sounds like she is able to make decisions for herself, it is important that you allow her the dignity to be a part of the solution and don't fall into the trap of taking over and saying "this is how it's going to be."

Hang in there.

-- Sheri
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KarenP, at some point I think you're gonna have to grow a thicker skin. It sounds like you do many things for and with her already. First I would reach out to her church and see if there's a senior group. If there is, then talk to the person who runs it, and ask for help. If your mother is as nice as you say she is, then there has got to be some other seniors there that would like to spend time with her. And when someone DOES call and ask her to do something, tell her to go with them because you're unavailable all day. She will have to make the decision, but it's ultimately hers to make. And you know what they say about guilt, 'It's the gift that keeps on giving' so quit driving yourself crazy. Your mom has probably always acted like this when she wanted something, so nothing is really new. I would also give her a warning, tell her that you can see her today, but tomorrow you're tied up. Then she won't hold out hope to see you, and that will give her time to process the fact that she will be alone that day. Also, I'm not sure she really wants to entertained at your house. Maybe she just wants something else to think about and look at. You didn't say whether she still lives alone, if she does I would think about getting her into a retirement/ place to relieve the loneliness a little. Good luck. And give yourself a break from the guilt.
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Your mother is being emotionally manipulative and you are going to have to have the strength to put a stop to it. She is laying a big guilt trip on you and you are getting drawn in deeper and deeper. I'm not saying never spend time with her, but you do need to tell her when you have time available and when you do not. It is her choice to be a burden, but you are allowing her to be one. Do not let her have so much power over your life. I can tell you are at your wits end. I remember Dear Abby responding to someone years ago in a similar situation that "you can't be taken advantage of by another person unless you allow it". I think your mother needs some tough love and you deserve a break and the chance for more control over you life. Get tough and good luck!
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Well thanks again everyone for caring enough to respond. You are all fantastic to take the time out of your busy lives to try to help.

Yes, my mom does live alone. We moved from NJ to VA in 2006, the year following my dad's passing. Me and my adult daughters actually live in her "old" house. She bought a new one and lives only ten minutes away from us. I know that my mom would probably love nothing better than to live with us, but I don't think we could take it. Whenever she is here, she literally looks at me waiting for me to talk. I often find myself staring at the wall, thinking "Say something, anything, she's waiting for you to talk, just talk about how white the walls are ...anything!"

My mother will not go to counseling. I actually told my counselor about the interplay between me and my mom and he suggested I just bring her in, so I did. He spoke with her alone for a few minutes (I had to lie and tell her that he wanted to meet everyone in the family or she would not have gone). When my mom came out she said, "Don't ever bring me back here again. He asked me questions." My mother is a VERY private person. She won't reveal personal information about herself to anyone.

She displays all of the classic symptoms of depression, but refuses to believe she is depressed. I spoke privately with her physician who said that based upon my description she was depressed. Because my mother could not possibly accept the fact that she was depressed (flawed in her mind, I guess), the doctor went out on a limb and said that the medication was prescribed for depression but would help her with her hip pain (she had hip replacements done on both hips and walks with a cane). If the dr. had just said it was for depression, my mom would have said that she was not depressed and would not have taken it!

I contacted the area on aging here. They said that there is a church mom could go to from 10-12pm for lunch. I asked/begged mom to go. Her response, "No Karen. You know I don't eat lunch that early. I'm not going." (She eats breakfast about 11 and lunch about 2 or 3pm).

She is immovable. When she says no, she won't shift. I know that with my own children I try to compromise on some things, but with my mother there has never been any compromising.

She truly does love her priest. He is a great guy. But I have told many people at the church to call her/invite her to things, but she either won't go or will go only intermittently.

The problem is that there are so many empty hours in her day. If she wakes up at 8 and goes to bed at 10, that is 98 hours each week. If I see her 20 hours, there's still 68 hours left. If she busies herself for 8 hours (shopping, hairdressers), there's still 60 hours left for her to do nothing.

Sheri, thanks for saying mom is lucky to have me. I often feel like a horrible cruel daughter for not wanting to spend every waking minute with her! And I would love it if she would go to assisted living or something similar, but she won't. Again, she said that those places are only "for people whose family does not want them anymore." So for her, it would be me abandoning her.

The problem is that I cannot fill the void my dad left. She mourns him and trust me, so do I. They were very close (no surprises there, right?!) and spend many hours together. But I can't fill his shoes. My dad wanted to spend every day of his life with my mom, but I don't want to.

I don't think that any of you are psychologists, but can any of you think why my mom would act like she did in these scenarios:

1. My daughter's boyfriend moved in here about eighteen months ago and my mom constantly complains that I "take care of him." I really don't do anything wonderful for him, but she says I do a lot for him. I don't understand why she is so jealous.

2. Also, I know from experience I can't really have people over here when she is here because she will complain that I "have so many people in the house." I really don't. It's just that she has no one in her house because she never invites anyone over. Funny thing is that they're NOT my friends. They are nineteen, twenty year olds. They are my kids friends, NOT mine. I told my mom this and she said, "I don't believe you." Yeah right, I am a friend to a 17 year old single parent. Me, a 45 year old woman. I am just polite to them and yes I talk to them sometimes. Can you guess why? Yes! Because they actually talk to me! I can't very well ignore them, can I?

3. Also, my daughter's boyfriend asked if his sister could come over. She did. My mom almost flipped because she was here when my mother was not.

Can anyone put their thinking cap on and tell me what any of those three things could mean?

She does not want me to ever go see a movie without her. I told her I don't go without her and she does not believe me. Why can't I see a movie without her? Why can't I go on a vacation without her? Why can't I bring people over to the house? It's like she wants me all to herself.

Sorry for making this so long...again. But I TRULY TRULY APPRECIATE YOU ALL, and I really value you all.

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My mother-in-law will never do anything with anyone except family. The good news is, she would rather be alone apparently then make new friends. She never has been sociable like her deceased husband was. She always said all she needs is her family. We go to a small community church and make sure she goes with us. They have a senior lunch once a week that either my husband or I make sure she attends. Because of her macular degeneration, she can't see faces anymore, so it's especially hard for her to socialize. The only way she would ever get out to be around strangers is, for me to take her. There are things I would rather be doing, but it's important she's around people her own age. I know she only goes for my sake, and I only do it for hers. ha. She never has had a 'friend' before and knows nothing as to how to make friends or be a friend for that matter. My sister-in-law and I have been her best friends now for 2 years, and she is just now at (85) learning about friendship.
I am sorry Karen that your mother is depressed, but like I said you've got to get a thicker skin. There is no reason why you should tell her any specifics as to where you're going with your daughters. You're going to be busy all day, period. Maybe you should take your girls, or go by yourself and get away for a few days. Take a mini vacation of sorts, and leave her to her own devices. Tell her you'll miss her too, but that it's a done deal you're going to be gone. Unless she's suicidal, I don't see the harm of leaving her alone for a few days. Anyway, just a thought.
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karenp, is your mom's jealousy and demandedness new? Sounds like it's beyond depression. Are your familiar with Narcissism or NPD? Just a thought. Google it...
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Karen, I am not a psychologist, but re: the issues with your daughter's boyfriend and other visitors in your house. Try putting it in this perspective: for a moment, don't think of her as your mom. Think of her as a controlling, stalking, abusing boyfriend. They shut everyone out of your life so you are their "only". Then you have no friends or resources to fall back on when the abuse gets bad. Now, I'm not saying your mother is going to start physically abusing you, but she IS emotionally abusing you. She is controlling, manipulative, and it is happening because YOU are enabling her. Back away. The answering machine is a great idea. If listening to her pleas drives you crazy, do you have caller ID? Turn off the answering machine when you see her calling and just let it ring. Also, it's been said her before many times, Boundaries, Boundaries. Set them. Keep them. Give her your schedule of when you will visit: MWF 10-12 or something. Stick to the schedule. When the time is up, leave. Try a different approach with the church. Rather than trying to get her to go out to activities, see if they have people who will go to her house and visit. With my mom, I hired a lady one day/week to sit with her and just talk. It did wonders for getting mom's mind out of herself and onto other people's lives.
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PLEASE stop feeling guilty. YOU are in control and you will have to get a thick skin. I have been through the same thing with my Mother, and she will ALWAYS try to make me feel guilty. You CANNOT CHANGE HER, so you have to change yourself. Do not allow her to dictate your life. My Mother is now in assisted living and her dementia is such that she sometimes remembers how many times a week I have been there and sometimes not. You will have to "wean" yourself from her. Your current family needs you and your time. If she lives by herself, see if there is a senior day care that will come pick her up, she could use some socialization, but you can't make her go. If she does go into assisted living, don't go see her every single day. As long as she can depend on your company and yours only, she will. She will, maybe after a few months, get used to the idea and get used to others. You will actually be doing her a favor by spending less time with her. STOP FEELING GUILTY RIGHT NOW!!
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Those who can't see the forest for the trees have a hard time accepting this. I think this dear lady is trying, but it takes a while for the light to peak through where she "see" and can hear the truth. She definitely needs help to make the changes necessary to break the patterns that have her bound. (Actually some are needier than others, but we do need each other at times on this journey.) What you are all saying is correct, and very important. Bless you dear fellow Caregivers who take the time to respond with your wisdom and practical advice! And bless the dear ones struggling with similar situations... Our prayers are with you.
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Well, she could be living WITH YOU or YOU WITH HER 24/7. What got my mom off this dead zone was...Zoloft. Took about a week, then I had a spark to work with.

this sounds like many of the stages I went through with Mom (I moved in with her to care for her almost 8 years ago), where I made demands that she SHOULD... wash her own dishes, take a shower (after 3 weeks), make activities for herself, call her friends. She could NOT do any of those, but I nagged her to do them. Ultimately, I had to do them for her. Other phases of me demanding, and she's driving me CRAZY damn it, is to wipe using the toilet, to flush the toilet, to put on a pad, to used the remote control to lower the volume instead of covering her ears. Dozens of little behaviors...she could no longer do, no matter how many times I described WHY and HOW.

So, she has Alzheimer's...and there are phases they just cannot do any more. And I had to accept it. Then I felt more at peace.

Each time it was "easier" to just admit she was incapable and do it for her. Activities, I finally decided I'd REALLY set things up to do and see what she would like, which is interact with nature and seeing music being played. I built her a squirrel feeding table set into a bar across the kitchen door. And she throws peanuts to her babies while I make breakfast. She CAN throw peanuts and googoo to her babies. And I like doing this also.

Once I found she conducted along to compelling classical music (a favorite activity of mine), I started to collect DVDs, especially the Andre Rieu ones where he speaks in English. I love seeing those videos, dozens of times. Mama Mia we've seen dozens of times. Start renting videos and see what strikes her fancy. Do your chores and pop in and out and make comments about the video. Sing along with Dancing Queen.

Conversation, there is none here. Lucky to get a yes/no or have her choose between juice/milk. Lucky to get a "isn't that cute," "Those are my Babies," and "I think I have to go to the bathroom" out of her. Conversation is me putting words into the kats' mouths, into the parakeets' mouths, and making a comedy routine out of it. I include her in on the joke. What I did is create an artificial life to talk about to interact with...a fabricated society of pets. So find something outside of your self that you create in the home. If you have a cable TV recorder box, record programs like music specials and keep the ones she resonates with.

You might hire a teen afterschool companion for your mom to do things with her out of the house. Pay for them both to go to the movies or hear "The Messiah" or go to the petting zoo. She may get attached to her companion and have something external to talk about. Or she may not be capable of it any more. What are her meds like, any cause drowsiness? Bet she has 2-3 like Mom does. Perhaps you can try a 2 week test of "without" to see if your Mom perks up.
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I really feel for you - it sounds like you little mother is so lonely and you are her best friend - capture that - when she is gone you will really miss her.

Maybe it would help if you had a set time for her to be there with you, say, she could come over for dinner, help with the kitchen clean up and then either go home, go for a walk with you or one of the kids or help the kids with homework. She needs to know when you need YOUR TIME to do your work, etc. and you shouldn't feel guilty if you and the kids go out to do something that she can't attend.

Try to keep a good attitude and get some ME TIME for yourself and also, consider getting some counceling since this is so difficult for you right now. It's OK to be frustrated...

Pray, a lot!
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This is exactly why adult senior centers, senior housing, and assisted living started! At one time our society functioned on nuclear families, here we all lived either in the same house (the Waltons) or in the same area. And, at that time there were fewer demands made on people outside of the family unit. There are reasons that worked...and why we have moved to the retirement options. We are social creatures. We were not designed to live "alone". Mom needs more opportunities to socialize.

When someone mentioned finding her a "home", that didn't mean that the only option was a nursing home. That is no longer the case. There are BEAUTIFUL senior independent facilities as well as assisted living facilities. I agree with one writer who said that most seniors are resistant to moving, but once they are there, they LOVE the interaction!!

You have reached the end of your rope! You have even mentioned that you were afraid that you might hurt her. Please, take a break for yourself. No one will benefit from this continued spiral. You are entitled to some time for you, but Mom is also entitled to respect and loving support. You just don't have that available in your "bag of tricks" right now!!!

I wish you much luck and support to help the both of you right now!!!
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Karen, I hope you are feeling less desperate now. You have been given wonderfully thoughtful advice by many caring people. You can sort through this advice and decide what to do. The choice is YOURS - you CAN take control. No one has suggested that you should abandon your mother but I believe all have said that you need to lead your own life and not feel guilty about doing it. Obviously your mother feels no guilt about stealing your life from you so you have to learn to feel no guilt about getting it back from her.

I truly feel sorry for your mother but if she makes you feel like you could hurt her, then there is something wrong with this picture. In one of your postings, you wrote that your father spent many hours with your mother but in another posting you said that he went off to university to take courses and that he didn't talk to her during a long journey with her. This leads me to believe that he was trying to escape her neediness also. It sounds to me like she has needed counselling for years. Just because your mother said you mustn't ever take her back to the psychologist because he asked questions, doesn't mean you have to listen to her. Would you listen to a child who didn't want to go to a doctor again if that child needed to see a doctor?

As I see it, you have to choose between using tough love or being an enabler. How did your mother ever come to believe that she even had the RIGHT to question who came to YOUR house? How long has she had this belief? She does this because she wants ALL of you and ALL of your time. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that she treated your father in the same way. It seems to me that she totally lacks self-confidence so she absolutely clings to anyone that she manages to latch onto - like a leech.

I think she needs to change or the rest of her life will be totally miserable. I am nearly her age and I can't imagine going into old age feeling as she does. I know MY daughter wouldn't allow it!! She would take control and say lovingly but firmly "Mom, you are a sick puppy and you need help. I will take you for first interviews with two or three psychologists (or counsellors) and you get to choose which one you want to stick with to help you get better."

Karen, please stop making excuses for your mother and stop letting her boss you around. This is good for neither of you. BUT it is YOUR choice. Changes could be made and a year from now you could each be leading such different lives that you BOTH would ENJOY being together two or three times a week to discuss what's happening. :-) Or you can allow things to continue as they are. :-( My hope for you is that you choose the former rather than the latter. May you be granted the wisdom and the strength to do what is best for everyone concerned. With love, lcs
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We went through something similar with my mother-in-law. The family said that she was being difficult.

Then, I had to take care of my Dad. I learned that he wasn't just being difficult. He was not able to take the actions needed to help himself. My father was diagnosed with a mild case of vascular dementia. He was gradually losing his ability to function in the real world.

So, now I look back at the issues with my mother-in-law and think that she may have been experiencing mild dementia, too. She looked like she could do things on her own, but she really couldn't.

Your mom's regular doctor may not want to diagnose dementia because he doesn't see a radical difference in her behavior. Anti-depressants are not a cure for anything. She may need to see a neurologist who can evaluate her ability to function.

Once you know, you will be able to make decisions and take action like looking for an assisted living facility or adult day care. Or, maybe your daughters can help so you can get some time alone. Your mom's behavior may not change but you will know that it is her, not YOU, that has the problem. You are a good woman in a difficult position.
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What awesome and supportive answers on these posts! You Caregivers are the best!!!
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Karen, I am very impressed with all the helpful comments. I wished I had found this site a long time ago. My mom passed this last May and I miss her. I took care of her for 10 years after my dad's passing and your situation sounds a lot like what I went through. It was not so bad in the begining but the more I did for my mom the less she did for herself. She cut herself off from all her friends and family except me and tried many times to make me feel guilty. And she would succeed at times. I did learn that I could only do so much and that she was not going to change. But that I had me and my family to take care of as well. I promished her that I would keep her safe, comfortable and always love her but that I had a family and a life as well. Stick to your guns. You owe it to you and you girls to stay sane and healthy. You come first! Let your mom sit in your house. But tell her you have things to do and can not sit with her all the time. And than keep yourself busy. This is not easy but you very much need time away from your mom and time with you and your girls. You might try not telling her about things you plan to do without her. This way she can't make you feel bad about doing them. Also try limiting the times you ask her out for lunch and dinner. You are very lucky she is going to church and seems to still get around. You sound like a very warm and loving person and sometimes that can be to our disadvantage because we have a hard time saying no. Everybody loved my mom and it was always very madding when she would not try and be social with others. The last 6 months of her life I moved her into my home. It was not always easy. But I do not regret it. My husband and daughters were a big help. I also hired a caregiver to come in once to two times a week so that my husband could go out in the evening for a few hours. Mom did not like this to much but I stuck to my guns and it made it much easier to take care of her. Hang in there ,taking care of our parents is not easy. The one comment about hug your mom. I was not too impressed by what she had to say. But all the other comments are good I think. And you will be blessed.
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i am sorry if i said to hug your mom made an bad impressed .
i am a huggable kind of person .
i dont have a mom and when someone talks about thier mom ijust wanna go hug her .
again im sorry makin a bad impressions .
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I can feel your pain, frustration and impatience. All are justifiable emotions. There is one, however, that you can now stop bowing to. And that is guilt. No one can "make you" feel guilty; you are doing that all by yourself. It is a wasted emotion. You are a wonderful daughter. Being wonderful does not mean being accessible 24/7. Have you ever listened to Dr. Joy Browne on the radio or internet? She has a wonderful saying, which goes something to the effect, you should not be surprised when you act like the welcome mat and someone is wiping their feet on you. Please don't take this as me trying to be mean or not understanding. But when we don't stand up for ourselves, even to our mothers, it just starts a spiral of our resentment and unhappiness. Do you really want to do this dance for years on end? Since you are starting your own business, I think when she calls (if it fits your situation) can't you tell her that you need to go on some business appointments? You can head her off at the pass when you speak with her and say, I am going to be busy running around and doing such an such so I won't be available for the next two days. How about I pick you up the following day at 4 pm, stay for supper, and then I'll have you home by (fill in the blank). You need to take control!!!! She is not going to stop demanding that you spend all sorts of time with her until you set the perameters and the rules! What about your children? Aren't they feeling a little bit resentful of grandmother? They are probably dreading for you to get old, fearful that you will act the same way she does. Stop listening to the sighs and wistful voice that your mother is using to manipulate you. She totally knows how to push your buttons. Yes, she may cry and get that pity party going for herself, but you just have to believe that eventually she is going to realize that she needs to play by your rules in order to get what she wants. It won't be easy to lay down the law with her at first, but try to detach yourself emotionally (this comes with practice), and stick to your script (whatever one you choose to use). Remember, you are a good person - you are entitled to have the life that you want, and that may mean not having your mom on your sofa on a daily basis. Try it! Go for it! You will be a lot happier once you do.
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lhardebeck, you have a right to your own opinion and I am sure you ARE a huggable kind of person and the hugging type too. Your father is very blessed to have you as a daughter. May your relationship with him continue to be acceptable to you until his dying day. I hope you will not feel too lost and lonely once he is gone. Sending love your way - lcs
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ics , thank you . you made me feel better .
i toss and turned all night and couldnt sleep good .
my whole feelings inside was twisted and hurt and felt i must have said it the wrong way . but couldnt see how .
i would hug any old ladies that needs a hug . i miss my mom very much .
yes i would feel lost without my dad . i hope i can be strong , from what i was picturin all night long i think im gonna be torn up .
thank you for sendng your love to my way ..
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