My Mother has had a hard life, meaning my Dad was violent and they divorced, she was never able to support us or support herself so she went from man to man. At any rate, she found a wonderful husband, her senior, and they lived happily for 33 years together. After he past, I stay with her a while, then she purchased the house next door because we thought it would be wise as she gets older. Not wise at all as it's seem to create problems for me. I helped her move, set up all her bills on auto pay except for a couple of credit cards. I handle her medicine orders. I thought doing this would help her since she has no knowledge of how to handle any business. She was always a homemaker and only had to cook and clean. Never learned about those things. I did all this to keep her from being overwhelmed so she could just live her life and be happy.

Well, that's not the case. She's lonely, she calls a lot, and is always asking about something. She'll just call to ask what I'm doing. Plus she wants to 'see' me all the time. I figure I see her enough as I take out the trash once a week, clean her yard, fix anything on the house that needs fixing, and drive her everywhere. I go to the doctor with her and some days we're together six or more hours. But it's never enough and I feel trapped. Like I don't have a life anymore.

Might I add I have many chronic illnesses myself and being an only child there's no one else. Her siblings that live in the area only come by every so often or call. The thing is this. She wants us to go and do Mother and daughter things together, or she just wants to see me everyday. I have to call at least once a day. I feel guilty. I do things for her and then don't do my stuff because of my illnesses. It's wearing on me badly. I feel like I'm 24/7. I am thankful she has her own home because I don't think I can stand being there in the same house. She can't make decisions and when trying to have a reasonable conversation, she's out of the ball park and it's frustrating to try and even make her understand. We have nothing in common. She likes cooking, crochet, quilts, etc., and I don't have time to do those kinds of things. Any advise on how to handle this? Thanks.

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Oh, Dixie my darling. You open by saying that your mother has had a hard life. I don't suppose yours was a walk in the park, was it, while all this was going on?

Your mother depends on you absolutely. Arguably it's not her fault, she's never learned any better, but you know what? It's definitely not your fault either.

If you can't bear the weight of it - and who could, honestly? - you need to transfer her, at least partly, to other people. Look around for locally available options, from day care to ALF, and delegate ruthlessly. I'm not going to comment further on your mother's personality because I don't know her; but whether or not she has an identifiable, diagnosable personality disorder strictly speaking, you will find it helpful to read up on 'The Waif - how to love her without rescuing her' in Christine Lawson's book about Borderline Mothers.

You love your mother so you need to know she'll be okay. That's natural and fair. But recognising that you have your own needs - and my goodness I share your love of solitude! - is a really important step that you've taken: well done. Finding a balance you're comfortable with between caring for her but not being overwhelmed by her won't be easy. I'm afraid your mother will never be a strong, independent, happy woman (neither will mine), but here's a thought: I think that both of our mothers would like us to be. If we can do one good thing for them, it's making sure that we're okay.

I know a man who is a retired economist. Very clever, very analytical brain, very clear view of life. Once a fortnight, he does a four hundred mile round trip to visit his mother and spend the day with her. She has advanced Alzheimers, but even before then she was a fluffy little homebody without an analytical thought in her head. So? She's his mother and he loves her. I find it very sweet. I also wonder how his brain doesn't implode by the end of the afternoon's conversation.

Your mother has been hurt a great deal over the years, but not by you. You can't, either, make everything okay for her now, so late in the day. You can seek out companionship for her, you can make sure her care needs are met, but you cannot make her happy. If you can accept the sadness of her life yet be very clear that it is not your doing, then what you will feel about her is not undeserved guilt but simple, human sympathy. I think, hope, that could make all the difference.
Helpful Answer (12)

What you said about her crafts made me think you need to find her a crocheting or quilting circle. Some churches have groups that sew, knit, and do other things. My neighbor is in a sewing group at our church. She enjoys it very much and even goes on sewing camp outings. The women are good friends who enjoy each other's company.

If you belong to a church, see if they have any groups your mother might be interested in. It may be something she would enjoy.
Helpful Answer (8)

I agree that she needs something else to keep her busy and that interaction with other adults would be great. Senior center? Library book club? Needle craft groups sponsored by a craft store. What does your local art center offer?

Could you structure your time with her into obvious chunks. Every Sunday afternoon you go to a coffee shop and have dessert together. You have her over for dinner on Wednesday. You bring a treat from the bakery and have coffee with her Friday mornings. Pick something you can do together on a regular basis, and then cut down on the extraneous things between outings. It is nice that you take out the garbage for her, but I'm sure that is not her idea of "seeing" you. And that probably isn't a memory of her that you will cherish when she is gone, either.

Set some boundaries. She calls a lot? "Mom, I'm real busy right now. Could we talk about this when we have coffee on Friday?"
Helpful Answer (8)

Ah, Dixie. This is hard. From your expanded description, it sounds to me like your mother's dementia may be at the heart of the problem. See if there is an adult day health center in your area. These generally have transportation to pick up and return the participants and also provide lunch and often a simple breakfast. I doubt your mother will be overjoyed to go, but I urge you to be very persuasive.

People with dementia can seldom live alone as the illness progresses. It clearly would not be a good idea for her to move in with you. So what is going to happen as the disease progresses and she needs monitoring around the clock? Even though Mom is relatively young, dementia changes everything. I suggest you start the process of looking at housing options now.

How is Mom set financially? Will she be able to pay her own way in assisted living or memory care or a nursing home, when the time comes? If she may need to apply for Medicaid that is something to look into now also.

Because you have little in common, have your own medical conditions, and have little patience, you can't be her companion. I get that. Because you love her, and want the best for her, I think you need to start planning for her future. I'm sorry that this falls on you.
Helpful Answer (7)

DixieDarlin1, sounds like your Mom needs some of her own girl friends to chum around with. Is there a senior center nearby? Or a ladies' church group? Could she do some volunteer work? There are seniors in their 80's still doing volunteer work at our local hospital :)

My parents expect me to be Julie McCoy "your cruise director", but I am not the cruise director type.... I've spent my adult life having a full-time career, and my Mom's job was being a housewife which she loved.... Mom is surprised I don't know the cost of groceries.... my brain is overloaded with work, no room to store the price per pound of bananas :P

My Dad would go to Home Depot every week if I said yes to those shopping trips as I am my parents' driver. But to spend 2 hours in the store roaming around and Dad only have one light bulb and a tube of Epoxy in his cart at checkout, is not my idea of time management. In my world, time is money. I think that I could have done 2 loads of laundry and did some work from home. So the next day there is 3 loads of laundry but I am too exhausted to bother.... I have age related decline as I am also a senior.

I wish you luck in finding something that will entertain your Mom that will give you some freedom.
Helpful Answer (6)

Dixie, I have a similar relationship with my mother, who sounds like she has similar personal issues too. I have been handling my parents personal affairs for 2.5 years the only one. Had a brother, but he died in 85 from cancer. My Dad handled everything financially and my Mom functioned as you describe yours. My Dad is now placed in a Dementia facility and Mom is home alone...barely handling it...but refusing in home assistance other than 'family'.
My Dad made the arrangements to have them both cared for, and I suggest you look into this soon. Find an eldercare attorney and ask about power of attorney for her finances; health care power of attorney, so you can converse with her doctors and they you, get her will and other wishes in order, in case she should have a stroke or sudden severe illness or impairment, so you know her desires for CPR, on going medical care etc. An eldercare attorney will walk you through all this. If Mom seems negative about it, you may need to explain to her that obviously she wants/needs you to take care of things, but should she get ill in some way where she is unable to express her wishes, and this paperwork is not in place, you cannot legally automatically just take care of everything. It's time in her life to get this stuff arranged. Now, my parents also had a living trust, and that protects the house, car and other assets from being grabbed, even now that Dad is on Medicaid. You might ask about that, although these things, I think are to be done 5 years before you need to utilize least there is something called a 5 yr lookback and if you've done the wrong things, then there's a penalty period or waiting period before Medicaid starts paying. Another good reason for the assure all is done right. Once you have the POAs....Mom can still be in charge of decisions that she is still capable of deciding, but you have a bit more power. If I were in your place, and had POAs, I would be having a private app't with Mom's doctor and I would be asking for a neuro psych eval to assess her mentally for any dementia or other behavioral issues that could be either treated or at least known about, with ideas as to how to work with them and her. She may not agree to this by herself, but if you and the doctor are partnered in ideas to make things better for Mom and you, then doctor can order it. Once Mom qualifies for Medicaid, she can have some paid help in the home. Once you are in charge of and aware of her income/outgo etc, you may be able to budget for some respite care, or PT caregiver to relieve you. IF push comes to shove with your Mom, you may have to make it clear to her that YOUR OWN DOCTOR is telling you that you have to slow down (whether or not it's true, it will be if you keep pushing yourself!) and try to explain to her that without you having some help keeping her safe and OK, what is she going to do if you are no longer there??? I went over this with my Mom and it's really cut down on her manipulations. Another technique....if she wants your companionship....let her know that you need to get others to do some of the chores you do, so that you can 'enjoy' just spending fun time being her daughter.....IF that works for you! She needs to be willing to 'try' your suggestions too...and not blow them off. With my Dad, he didn't want any help in their strangers....yet things were not going well. I asked him to 'try' for 30 days by explaining that if neighbors called Adult Protective Services because they didn't think my folks were doing OK alone, then APS would decide how to fix things, but if we had home health involved, then we could show there was an agency, a caregiver and a plan to keep them safe. I live 5 hours away and there is no other family closer to them than our daughter who is 2 hours no one could run over there every time there was a little repair or they messed up the remote or the smoke alarm went off etc. Once Mom was alone, I set her up with an alarm system, that has a video camera and she has the panic necklace. I set her alarm when she is in for the night and I can watch on camera from my computer or phone to see if she's home OK or to bed OK or up in the AM. So, when she starts calling me 5-10 times/day, I can say, " Mom, I can see that you are OK there, but I am really busy and wont be able to answer until around.....(time). And I wean her. I learned a lot about these kinds of parents from a book called BOUNDARIES by two doctors:Dr. Henry Cloud, Dr. John Townsend There is also one specific to dealing with elderly parents who have poor boundaries too. What I had to come to realize, with some counseling and reading, is that it was NOT my responsibility to make sure my parents were happy....only that they were SAFE! People with poor boundaries want to suck everyone in to their needs and they naturally ignore anyone else's needs. YOU have a right to your own life, no matter how needy your mom is. You have a right to privacy; to time with your husband and family; to your 'alone' time if that is important to your well being and to care for your own health. So Mom must learn to do things where she's with others either willingly or by being pushed...otherwise, she must learn to be happy at home alone, except for the time you can give her while still caring for YOU. That's called maintaining boundaries. It's hard in the beginning, but I took some suggestions from books and tried to communicate using them, and was amazed at how easy it is to change the dialog if one person changes how the communications go! Books are on Amazon and not expensive. Boundaries is Christian based, with some scriptural references so if that does not fit for you, just ignore them. They helped me immensely. Good luck and if you need to bounce off any specific ideas, just get in touch with me on here!
Helpful Answer (6)

Thank you both, Jeanne and Countrymouse. I had wondered if it might be the dementia and wondered how I'd truly know if it was. When I ask she says it not and that she just getting old. Denial? Hah! Perhaps. I'm going to go ahead and get the papers done for handling her business. I do it now but I think it might be time for doing it properly/legally.

Jeanne my Mom isn't set financially that's why I worry about her. I am thankful that she does get my Dad's social security as she didn't work. As far as her living conditions, she adamant about 'going to the home', but I figure if she doesn't know in her mind, then it will be all right. I did want to inquire about medicaid since her medications eats most of her money up each month. However, I believe I have to wait until I sell her other home. I think resource wise. Maybe not since we have put about the same money in the newer home. I will look into that option. Thanks. I do want the best for her. I feel so guilty when I'm at home and she's just next door, but I need space. I go to bed wondering what she's doing with herself. I think I may be a co-dependent trying to 'protect' her after seeing her and my Dad physically fight. I think that's where some of that being protective comes from. I dunno really. All I do know her family 'don't have time' to do the visits, take her places, run errands, etc., so I totally make sure she gets what she needs. It might not be right then, because my Mom wants it now, but I will get to it.

Countrymouse, no, my life wasn't a walk in the park. My Mom always wasn't always around while I was growing up. I did what I could do, and learned what I needed to learn, but I'm stronger now for that. I think that's one things that gripes me about my Mom, she's a 'can't' person. She can't learn, she's too old, she didn't have good education, on and on and on. I sometimes wonder if she has a mental issue that's never been diagnosis...or if she's just plain manipulative sometimes. I won't guess that's probably too late now. I don't at present think I need to visit my Mom every single day so I don't. I use to try but I'm so worn out that I've given up about 'being a good daughter'. Like you said, my Mother will never be strong or independent, that's why I set everything up automatically that I could. To take pressure off me and to know she's fine should I get sick. Balance...I try to find balance but I can't. I made out a list for my Mom stating that on so and so day we'll sit down and take care of any business we need to do. That lasted one week. She simple cannot distinguish what's an emergency and what can wait. If it comes in the mail, she calls, and sometimes it only junk mail. Arrgghhhh!!!!! I had even explained that if it isn't damaging the house or harmful to can wait a few day until we sit down to take care of business. She doesn't get it. I have tried to let her have some input into her business stuff because (1) I wanted her to learn, (2) I just felt like that was fair. However, now I just want to take it all over but she won't. That was probably my mistake as I should have just taken over and went on. Elderly parents are like children...they don't come with books. :)

Bless the man that travels round trip, he is an asset for sure. I could deal with that because there's a break in between. But I can't even go out the door unless my Mom knows where I'm going. I feel trapped in this situation. When I have downtime I dream about a far-away-places. I am not happy in my home now. I kick myself for trying to be caring and moving my Mom closer. I thought it was best at the time. Now however, it a emotional drain. I hate saying that about my Mom but it's so true.

My Mom will not take any responsibility. If there's a problem it's because (insert reason why here). If I insist she take responsibility, then she gets angry and tells me I'm just bitter and mean. There is no fixing that issue. You're right it's too late in the game now. I told her one day that the decisions we make tell our future. I told her all the decisions she made back in the day are now here and this is her life. I said you didn't work so there's no retirement, I told her you've never tried to learn, I get excuse after excuse and when I tell her there's way to do things that she just never tried. Again I'm met with either tears or anger. I'm just trying to get her to understand the true. I'm not trying to be 'mean'.

Balance...yes, back to that. I can't find it. Thank you for that word. I couldn't figure out what was wrong since I'm trying so hard. I totally respect everything you've said here. I truly thank all of you for giving advice. I can tell you all have much experience on the issue and well, I wish you didn't have to. I'm going to take all of what you said here and have a long talk with myself.

Please if you think of anything else, let me know. Thank you all! With much respect. I hope you all have a good day. God bless.

Can you tell me what ALF is please?
Helpful Answer (5)

My first question is you say your mom has "some dementia". Has she been to a good neurologist to be tested to see if that's the case? That would be step one if she was my mom - find out what mental limitations you're really working with. Get her to a gerontologist or a neurologist who deals with senior citizens.

I don't know your mom, but it sounds from what you write that she's led a life of making excuses for her inability to take responsibility for her own actions. That doesn't sound like dementia, but with her Parkinsons, it may have evolved into that. She also sounds very manipulative with you and it sounds like that may be a long-standing pattern with her.

You offer her options to make her life happier and she finds a million reasons why that won't work. The only thing she wants is 100% of your time and attention. You have every right to resist that request! Your mom has made her choices (or in some cases, a lack of choices/decisions) and now is reaping those results (as you yourself said). You can't make her healthy or happy. At 67 (speaking as a 64-year old myself) she's far too young to be throwing in the towel on participating in society, even if she has some dementia.

I agree with countrymouse, you need to start investigating long-term care for her that is an assisted living or independent living facility that can transition into memory care if she does have dementia. One more thing I'd do if it was my mom, I'd pay to consult with a good elder care attorney, to find out what to do with the homes she owns, etc. She's got a lot of "baggage" that you need to figure out (sell or rent or whatever). Let that professional advise you as to her best course of action. Also get Powers of Attorney (for healthcare and property) set up for her as well, so you can act on her behalf. The attorney can also help with those.

Good luck and keep us posted. And you are a great daughter - don't ever think otherwise. A lousy daughter would NOT be stressing over all of this. She'd just be doing her thing, ignoring her mom's needs. That is NOT you.
Helpful Answer (4)

Assisted Living Facility.
Helpful Answer (3)

Hi Blannie, I do go with my Mother to her appointments so I can be sure what the doctor tells her to do since sometimes they give her medication and she won't fill it or take it because it cost a lot. I can't be sure she really takes it but I fill it so her fault if she lets it waste. I've taken over filling her medications. I also find lately she tells many "white lies" and that bothers me a lot or makes me have doubts.

Her neurologist says that she's doing well for her age and that some dementia is okay. What he doesn't know is that for instance, he'll give her a pop test of about five words to remember, he'll leave the room, come back and ask her what they were. The whole time he's gone she sits there practicing so she does fine. Another example of what I can deception, she had a fall and thus had to go to the neurologist because we thought her medication wasn't working well. So once we went, he told her she would have to come in every three months. Well she didn't want to, so the next appointment, she brought her crochet (the fine stuff) and pulled it out before he came in. That was so that it appeared the new meds were working fine so she didn't have to come back for a year. Pretty slick.

You're correct when you said, "but it sound from what you write that she's led a life of making excuses for her inability to take responsibility for her own actions." This has been the case as far back as I can remember even when I was old enough to understand. She also plays the 'dumb' card acting like she doesn't understand and on several occasions she told me "I was really never as dumb as people that I was." Well this ticks me off, why act dumb? It really gripes me. I feel she is manipulative and I can't see to free myself mostly my fault I guess but after early years of domestic violence I always took on the role of protector. When my parents married the marriage wasn't equal. My Mom went from child at home to parent/child marriage. While I don't condone what happened I do see how stress would effect my Father. Two jobs and a wife that is childlike, I'm sure that's not was in his head for a relations but things happen.

I'm going to use the advice giving here to begin restructuring my inaction with my Mother. Also the legal stuff given. I had always wondered how I would know when the dementia was taking over. I still wonder but do the best I can. I also feel that I spent too much time trying to figure this all out, but I can't rest if I don't think I have her in the best situation as possible financially/emotionally/health wise. Once I think I have it all in control I can usually rest some.

I do thank you and all the others for the gift of this knowledge on what to do. You all have been a blessing to me. Take care.
Helpful Answer (3)

See All Answers
This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter