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I'm 28 and I've been taking care of my mother for the past ten years. Up until 5 years ago, it was minor (I did all the driving, shopping, most of the housekeeping). 5 years ago, my mother had a complication from surgery that drastically altered our lives. Now, I basically do everything. I can't leave her alone for long periods of time because of memory and stability problems. I am her poa, we are cotrustees on her trust fund. Just recently her brother was diagnosed with terminal cancer (and that's being added to my responsibilities) and since the diagnosis, my mom has been intolerable. She has significant impulse control, she's depressed, bipolar, and she keeps trying to spend money that she shouldn't, and every time I tell her "no" she throws a fit. This whole situation has left me angry, bitter, frustrated, depressed. I don't take any time for myself (my mother won't allow it), I feel so stuck... and I end up hating myself for the way I feel towards her. Is there something I can do so that I don't feel so negatively?

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Quixotic, just bear in my that while you can set rules for someone living with you, the trick is can they be enforced.
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I'm glad you found validation. I made a friend about a year and a half ago that gave me somewhat of a sense of validation. He understands what I'm going through and can relate, which helps a little.

After the past few days of fighting with my mother, yesterday evening she said that once my uncle dies, she's going to buy a house and live by herself. This is not a new threat, usually the threat is to kick me out knowing I have no where to go. This time was different in the sense that I (somewhat selfishly) said that sounded great. She's going to look into what services she can get and I'll no longer be taking care of her. Talking to my friend this morning, he mentioned that eventually she'll blow through her money and show up at my door. If it's my place though, I'll be able to set the rules and if she doesn't like them she can go elsewhere. I'm hoping she doesn't change her mind on this, it would be so incredibly nice to take control of my own life.
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I will validate your feelings. They are REAL.

I know that when I was having such a difficult time with dealing with a similar situation, all I really needed was a break & someone to listen to me.
I needed to be validated. I did find that from ONE person on this site.
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You have a son. You have trust issues. You should be in therapy for the sake of your son. He is your primary responsibility. Mom's trust money should be used to hire care and when that runs out she applies for Medicaid.

It would be a better plan if mom went to assisted living as a private pay patient, if you are a state in which Medicaid is accepted in AL.
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.....If something was to happen to me, honestly I have no clue what would happen to my mom. She'd have to go into a facility of some sort or hire people to care for her....

Okay, Quixotic, it's time for you to play "possum.". (There you are lying on the side of the road and gee, look who goes flying by on the way out to dinner, your three so so busy cousins.)

I really think you could be the only ONE in your age group going through this and you have to find it within you to stop it and stop it sooner rather than later. You have access to your Mother's funds, use them now and don't worry about what will be left for...later. You have to start by saving yourself. You're not the freaking hire help (please let your busy cousins know in a nice enough way that you're having a difficult time with just your Mother; having your uncle there sort of made sense, but in a very limited way, if he was helping with your Mother. But now that he is ill it is so way over time for your busy-bee cousins to step up and take over the care of their father. If they can't do it personally ask them and then make them contribute monetarily or with their own TIME because you are looking into hiring professional caregivers, bringing one in for a few hours each day, a few days each week, and if you can swing it, have someone there for part of every day of every week. whatever Mother's money can handle sounds right to me. Why oh why would your cousins feel you should care for their beloved father, now when he needs the love and closeness of his girls. If they think you have it under control let them know that though you have it under control, there's a big chance it'll all come day like a house of cards if you get so tired of being the ONLY ONE in charge (I share this with you but I am much much older and I still resent it every waking moment because in my case I don't sense that anyone truly appreciates the stuff that is our responsibility and how everything almost always turns out to be NOT as simple and easy as one would hope it to be) that you decide to purchase a one way air ticket to the other coast or another continent, waving wildly from to the three of them from the taxi window. I see that picture in my mind's eye, and I like it because I can see you, sweetheart, are free at last.

Our local Council on Aging was my lifesaver. (Though the resentment is rearing it's head again as now I need rotator cuff surgery and of course I want a rest and wow, is it easy for my one sibling and his wife to change the subject on that subject: REST. ! My sweet husband just started to have a heart problem (afib) and I want to be able to be there for him and to carefully laser in and get for him whatever should be the proper care. You see he too was a victim of malpractice, his at the hands of two very quite inept doctors at the Mayo Clinic (which meant no local attorney would even touch the case, the Mayo Clinic being so powerful in this area. So forget settlement; Mayo just ended any possibility he might go back and continue his successful career, doing work he loved and which took us all over the world as it paid our bills!). Now totally broke and hounded daily by the IRS I just want my husband with me for a long, long time.

Here's the part from which you might learn so pay attention: signs of my husband's illness went unnoticed for many many months because men are quiet about very serious illnesses as opposed to say stubbing their toe. So women have to stay on their toes and look for the signs of illness when it comes to their SO. I fell down on the job. I let myself get caught up with the gripes of my stepfather, a man who can't even boil an egg and acts like God meant for him to always have someone do it for him; and I was brought down every single day by his totally negative attitude, not by the quiet needs so easily taken care of my sweet
demented Mother. Don't allow your three cousins to use you and your good nature and your desire to do what is right for your Mother and for your uncle. Because they will do this until you become ill, they will stand by and allow you to go on because gee you are so good and you have everything under control; They will watch as you break a bone, as you sprain an ankle and you also break a bone. You will be limping around the house with your arm in a sling and they will have some reason, they will be able to rationalize, to tell themselves that you want to do this by yourself, you want to remain in control. You want to ruin your life because gee you got started on it at the same age as most girls go off to college and start fending off the sophomore guys on campus who think sweet little freshman girls are there just to make them happy. To take care of their needs. As far as I am concerned you have not had a life of your own and it is time to kickstart it alive.

The local Council on Aging (there I go again with that) will help you TAKE BACK YOUR LIFE. If need be, you will be means tested. You might have to pinch in and pay a small amount of the actual cost for the help sent your way. But even at that it's a good thing you're doing as these jobs usually go to people who really need the job, someone who might have attended classes or whatever so that they will be qualified to do the work, to be the angel who comes to help save your life. There are of course other ways to get out of your mess. But it begins with you. Please take a look at your situation by playing that's not you, you're the outsider. When you read the posts of the people who badly want to help you, read your post again every time. See if it makes you want to go on as you have these last ten years.

Where are your best friends from high school, Quixotic? Wherever they are, ring them up, catch up on old times: Listen to their story. THEN tell them yours and what you've been up to the past ten years. Maybe these young women, your own age, can help, maybe give you a push, maybe that's all you need to get that fire started in your heart, the desire and the need to alter the boundaries and scope of your world, to that which is, let's see, a bit more normal! BTW the new world will include you and your love for her. Just not doing it and showing it in such a "sick" sort of way. I will pray for you. That I am and to whom I will be praying shouldn't worry you or give you one extra thought. It is just that like all of the rest I care that you get back on the right track, and praying is about the only thing I'm able to do about it from here where I sit. So continue to be strong but please now is the time to start using that good brain you've too.

Sorry for the length.! But it's free advice
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I wasn't really ever chosen, I was just the only one who was there to take on the responsibility. Members of my family tell me that I should do something with my life (I was in college at the time my mom got to the point she needed someone with her virtually all the time, before college I worked full time), but no one steps up to help. Part of the reason my uncle moved in with us was to help me take care of my mom, but since he lives here I don't think any of his girls feel the need to help out (plus he has a strained relationship with all three).

If something was to happen to me, honestly I have no clue what would happen to my mom. She'd have to go into a facility of some sort or hire people to care for her.

I can admit that I'm terrified about what doing this will do to my future. My mother's health is not good (Past year she was in and out of the hospital quit a bit - maybe 15 or so times). I know at some point I'm going to have to give up and accept that I can't give up my entire life to take care of her. She has made sure to lay guilt on early about the possibility of her ever going to a nursing home. It's not something I would ever want to do, but I accept that at some point I'm going to have to take charge of my own life.

Thanks everyone for the advice and listening to my ranting. It's nice to know there are people who understand (no one in my age group seems to be going through anything like what I am). It's nice just knowing that I'm not alone.
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Quixotic, what has me worried is that you could be in your 40's and still living at home caring for your mother. I really don't think in the master plan of life that when you were born that your mother wanted you to be her caregiver when you were 18 years old. Why were you chosen to be the caregiver, and not your cousins... since you are also caring for your uncle? Isn't your life just as important as your cousins?

I worry that before you know it, you will be getting close to retirement age and have no retirement fund, nor any social security nor Medicare [which is paid from your social security] because you didn't contribute to the fund. Then history would be repeating itself with your son being your caregiver.

Think of it this way, what if something happened to you.... where would your mother go to be taken care of?
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My mom has a trust fund due to a medical malpractice settlement. It's not large and as much as she likes spending money on things she doesn't need, it won't last so I've tried to take care of her by myself to make it last longer. Although she has the depression and bipolar, she will not take medications for it (she tried several and didn't like the side effects) or see a counselor. I would love to get away, but I feel like if I do I'll be "out of the family". My mother is always on excellent behavior when others are around so they have no clue what it's like to put up with her. I'm an only child so there isn't really anyone I can lean on either. Both of my mother's parents have passed, and she doesn't handle authority well, which makes things more difficult.

As far as my uncle, he's like a dad to me. He has three daughters, but they're all so busy with their own lives I knew it'd fall on me to care for him when he got the diagnosis. He's on hospice now, which also allows for respite care (which makes me feel so much better knowing that's am option).

I know that I should see a counselor, but between a lack of time and my own issues (trust is the big one, I find it extremely hard to trust anyone), I don't know that I could ever be successful at it. I feel like my complaints about the situation I'm in are almost "whiny". This is far from where I feel I should be at this point in my life (I have a son, but I've found dating to be near impossible when my time is demanded by my mother), and I hate feeling this way. Doesn't help that my only pay is $400 a month (that just started on December, before that my mom would buy me what I needed, but adding for anything felt like I was always asking for too much. It's just not a happy situation.
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You're responsible for your uncle with terminal cancer also? Oh dear, it's time for both trust funds to be used to secure help with their care.
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You have to insist on the time for yourself and not leave Mom in charge of that. It is very hard and you are very young to have to reverse roles and be the adult in charge, but it sounds like you are. If there is someone else in the world that Mom might regard as an authority figure who would be in your corner - maybe a pastor, a counselor, an eldercare attorney - and you should use Mom's funds to pay for those kinds of services when truly needed - it might help. Above all, do not hate yourself for hating the mess you are in. It is a mess and no one can reasonably be happy living like that with constant negative feedback and restriction on doing anything that might give you some happiness or at least a break now and then.
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If your Mom has a trust fund, maybe it is time for her to take out some money to use for her own care, like hiring a caregiver during the day so that you can go to work and save for your own future. And if your Mom has a trust fund, chances are so does her brother, he could do the same thing.

So sorry to hear that you have been doing all this since you were 18 years old. No teenager should have to be a Caregiver to their parent.
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Quixotic, I have a strong feeling that you need to get away. Your life seems like it has been laid out almost like a sacrifice to your mother. I know you probably also worry that the mental illness your mother has may show up in you one day. It may be, but most likely not. Is there a way that you can see your own mental health counselor? I was thinking it would be great to have someone to talk to and also act as a guide for what is available for your mother. If you call your county's Dept of Human Services, they may have some ideas about where to get help.

I do feel you need to get away from this situation and visit your mother like a normal 28-year old would. Maybe without all the heavy baggage you will be able to build a life of your own.
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She sounds like early to moderate stage dementia. Anxiety meds would certainly help, such as Xanax, Ativan or Klonopin. The word "cancer" is very upsetting to older folks who see it as a death sentence. If anxiety meds do not improve her coping skills, ask the MD about a low level of anti depressant.
Start looking at ALF's now, keep your options open and be ready when the time comes. If she is the widow of a wartime vet, also look at VA benefits.
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