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Mom with stage four copd, passive aggressive and needy. Hubby is surly and demanding. Autistic son needs to move back in, but have no room for him. I have non-life-threatening but chronic health issues I need to deal with but don't have time. What do I do?

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Thanks Mag! Wow are you right on target. My really good therapist I had was male, and the one I just had the poor trial with was a female newbie. I'm trying to get the meds, but having to go throught the VA. The first challenge is getting the appointment...the second is being on guinea-pig repeat until we find something that clicks...it takes forever and is frustrating But I think something has clicked, and I'm about to go on a 8 day respite to recharge my batteries...perhaps my attitude will be better when I get back (after I address all the complaints of the things that went wrong while I was gone with the simple cheery "well, what's done is done: I'm back now!") Curtain hit the nail on the head with having to develop the ability to let other people suffer a little. They'll live, and if they don't, it's not because of my actions, it's because of theirs....it's not that I don't care, it's just that I need to go find something of myself that still has the energy to give.
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amicablem

Sometimes the gender of the therapist matters because of who we have our major issues with. This is not always the case but sometimes it is. Thus, it is something to consider.

The good thing about not getting someone of the same gender of your abuser is that you are less likely to transfer all of your anger onto them. Next and probably more important, you will not as likely shut down on them emotionally because of their gender is the same as your abuser.

Your situation does not call for someone who is fresh out of graduate school who just finished their clinical training as a counselor or as a clinical social worker. Personally, I prefer people to go to a clinical social worker because they usually more on top of things concerning family dynamics plus they have some clinical training. It may also be needed to have some stabilizing meds in your life to help deal with situational anxiety and depression while you work on getting your freedom.

I've not said anything new, just a few extra things to consider.
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amicable, I bet there are times you want to say "What do you think this is, a Holiday Inn?"... remember that commercial.

The next time Mom complains about dinner... hand her a list of telephone numbers for places that deliver meals. She could probably order on-line using her iPad :)

Your Mom might still qualify for Medicaid waivers to help pay part of the assisted living, some States offer that... it's worth looking into. Otherwise, have her spend down the money she has so she can qualify for Medicaid, like having her hire a Caregiver of her own.
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Just an opinion here but the only real answer is you have to be willing to let other people suffer. This is something those of us with a self concept of being a "good person" have a very hard time with. Your continued sacrifices support the wellbeing of this whole family but at what point do you get to just be a human being rather than a superhero? And how long will those around you let you save them - as long as you can but that may be long after the point of being able to save yourself.
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BTW, it's very difficult to get her out of the house. She uses a walker and a huge oxygen bottle, and gets winded easily…but once she's out she wants to be gon for hours (that is she could look around in the drug store or the warehouse store for hours, and doesn't even notice that her O2 bottle's nearly empty) meanwhile my feet are falling off and I have dinner to cook and chores to do...
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Sorry for all the run-ons…I just read all that back..whew.
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Thanks guys…just to know someone is out there really helps. No, mom can't afford AL…it's in the neighborhood of 7K a month here, and she's simply not eligible for medicaid yet. And she doesn't want to go…she's a "loner". Doesn't like other people's company…nobody's interesting/intelligent/liberal enough for her. Yesterday Kid 2 had a simple medical problem that I was trying to get a fix on, and mom blurts out her VERY UNWANTED position. I actually told her to shut up and let me deal with my own daughter, thankyouverymuch. She knows all this about medicine, but acts all confused about her own meds and doesn't take them as she should and does nothing but sit in her room, play games on the computer, sleep, eat peanut butter and crackers, comes down for ice cream bitching that there isn't a 4 course dinner on the table every night (which by the way, if I fix, she can't manage to get downstairs to the table with 30 minutes notice, or she's not hungry, or she doesn't like "it's just that you all have very different tastes in food than I do". I buy stuff for her to fix herself, but she won't eat anything healthy, and hell she's a big girl and can decide what she will and will not eat. I have too much to do to spend time encouraging her to take care of herself when she doesn't even have the self-worth to do it on her own. She complains constantly of her bowels, which is disgusting, but won't bother to move around a bit so they'll work properly. She complains about how dirty and messy her room is, but won't lift a finger to clean a thing or hire someone to do it (which she could well afford). I am NOT going to touch it unless it becomes a health/fire hazard. Every time I go up there, she's on the toilet, reading on her iPad, wants to have a conversation through the door, which I can't hear unless it's opened, and then the smell…ugh. She might have given birth to me and nurtured me well for the first few years, but as soon as she drove my father off, she turned into I don't know what. I could not wait to move out. Our relationship got better over the years, until we bought her a house which she could not take care of and ruined with her smoking. We went to an elder care lawyer, and at least she did her advance directive and her will, not that there's much to leave) but I should have had him draw up a care agreement etc. I have POA, and am managing whatever assets I could finally convince her to let go of. I haven't touched any of her money except for her care, but she often complains that she's poor now, or tells me that it's really my money. I just wanted to avoid it going down the drain. Truthfully, I just withdrew it from the same joint account that I deposited 2/3 of her mortgage payment in for 7 years, so I'm hoping it shouldn't trigger any gifting for medicaid or income problems with IRS…explained all to atty and he seemed ok with it. She was just paying back what she owed me for subsidizing her housing for 7 years (ha…not quite, but whatever). Now she does give me money monthly for storage, food, utilities, transportation, etc which I figured at 1/4 of the monthly fixed expenses and I do keep very good track of where it went. I don't really NEED the money, but she SHOULD be paying her way. I was letting her live here rent free at first, but then came to my senses…
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...before you're reduced to ashes.
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Somebody has to go. Mom, husband, kid. Pick one. You can not be the only one in your family responsible for everthing that gets done. Get mom in assited living. Do not spend your money, make her spend hers and when that runs out she applies for medicaid. Hubby didn't like the trip you planned, tell him to take one by himself. I hope I'm not misjudging the situation but you are being treated like a doormat. Stand up for yourself before you're reduced. Maybe this sounds harsh but go back and read this thread. Something has to happen soon.
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Amicable, thanks for the update. Oh my gosh, you have a lot on that plate, and it looks like a really big plate.

I know it is difficult to place boundaries, and it will take time. Keep looking for a good counselor, eventually you will find one that clicks with you.

As you already know, Mom needs to be around people of her own age group. Wouldn't it be great if she found some new best friends to help fill up her time, either at a Senior Center [if there is one close by] and afterwards gab on the phone. Otherwise, your Mom wants you to be Julie McCoy, cruise director.

Does Mom have enough in assets to live in assisted living? Wouldn't she love to have her own place to control? Of course, many elders in her age group have a stereotypical idea of such places, being dark and dank with unsmiling faces. You think you would get her to just visit and get a free lunch there? You could use the free lunch as a ploy. Make it a game going to all the retirement complexes in your area. Mom might surprise you and actually like one.... or not.
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Sigh…7 months later I find myself searching for the same answers. The counselor I had I saw a couple times and didn't develop much of a rapport with…I think she was too young to understand, and she actually did not show up for my appointment with no notice (and they have the nerve to charge me $50 if I don't show up!) Anyway I'm trying to get in with another counselor at the VA, but it's taking forever. Mom is still here, still getting on my nerves, husband is still here but never pays any real attention to me except when he wants sex, which I would love to have if I could just relax enough to get in the mood. Mom only goes to counseling once a month and never really opens up, so nothing changes there. Kid 1 moved back in, I made a little room out of my studio which is filled with stuff but he doesn't seem to mind. Kid 2 went to work and has a boyfriend so is almost never here. Our 10 year wedding anniversary is 3 weeks away, and no reservations made to go do anything (he didn't like the trip I planned, but won't take the reins and plan one himself). Everything is whirling around me and I feel so overwhelmed and sad.
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Get back in school, that way you're out of house and concentrating on yourself rather than home issues, insist because you're so busy mom gets a nurse or moves to AL because you have to do school. Let kid 1 crash on couch for a bit. I also have high functioning autistic kid getting out of community college going to 4 year. Give him more credit, if he can go through school (and it's tougher than people realize) he can and will be able to get a job when he's done and live independently, but you're absolutly right in he will need YOUR push and not an enabler yet loving dad. When he comes home and it's crowded and you're unavailable for mom due to kid 1 and school possibly moving out will look pretty good to mom. Don't bend to her whims, do your thing and explain you're too busy to hang out or even talk...because you will spend all other time with hubby. I caregive my sister in law who lives with us and is dying due to cirrosis because of alcoholism among many many other health issues...although its not my mom, it's harder to deal with a person who's sick due to their own choices. Tough love, make it so you simply don't have the time for her...she starts talking...sorry mom, gotta go because homework or son or hubby. Make no time for her. My mom lives with us forever and several years ago she began to intrude on my relationship and I had to freeze her out. Very hard to do, but it worked. She no longer does that and currently is a great help with my SIL. Do bare minimum for her and don't be her only means of emotional support. Yes, counseling is great, and do that too if you can. Sometimes though, they will say just to do things for your own mental health which is not practical. Sure you can just place mom in AL sure son is overage and should fend for himself.....but is that even something you can live with? Sometimes as parents and as daughters we make sacrifices that may not be HEALTHY for us, but what we can live with. Like another poster said, BOUNDERIES.
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I agree with what is said above, and I typically don't tbink of AL as the go-to solution, but in this case you simply cannot take care of her, as well as your son and yourself (and deal with husband). Set aside 2 hours per week to assist your mom, and adter that she is on her own. Introduce her to a financial planner, or Elder Care lawyer and let them handle all details. Let your mom go.
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You have some very complex issues. They seem to have gone on for so long that change will be difficult. I'm not saying it's impossible, but even with intense counseling, I would not suspect that much change would happen with ingrained behaviors fast enough to give you relief. It sounds very stressful.

You will need to set your priorities as Jeannegibbs states above. I think I might seek counseling with someone who might help me gain the strength to tell people what I thought, how I felt and what was going to happen. You decide and then make it happen. It's tough, but it' better than the alternative.

If mom can afford to self pay for AL, perhaps a financial planner could explain how that would work. I'd get all that straight, as I located her a nice place where she would certainly be more comfortable than in such a stressful situation. At least see if she will agree to go somewhere for a few weeks to let you recharge your batteries. Good luck with your situation.
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Your mom made poor financial choices. That is not your fault. You can "do" for her, but she doesn't have to live with you.
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As the mother of a son with lower functioning autism, I can understand the real need for you to help and support Kid1 to greater independence. You are the only person in the world who can do that for him. Your mother on the other hand, can probably survive somewhere else such as a personal care home or assisted living and may even grow to like it in time. I was faced with the situation of taking care of my elderly father and my son in the same house and things came to a boiling point for me. I had to reason with my father that I could not be everything to everybody and he was willing to start using up his savings to go to an assisted living place. I still do a lot for my father (finances, doctor visits, medication, etc.) but somehow I am able to balance things better now that he is living elsewhere. I came to the realization that my son comes first since his needs are the harder to get outside help with. I also realized that I love my son the most of any other person in the world and it is he that I most wanted to be there for. I think it is very important to let everyone in your family know what you are able to do for them and what you are not. You need to let your mom know that you are no longer able to care for her in your home given your responsibility to your son. You need to let her know what you are willing to do for her to help her find a new place to live and how you will give her support when she moves there. It was very hard for us at first but now that my father has been living in his place for a year, things are better for everyone. My husband also retired while my dad was living with us and that was a new dynamic as well. My husband enjoys quiet time to explore mathematics and physics and my dad always wanted the TV on. I had the responsibility to my husband to let him enjoy his time at home after so many years of working hard. My dad was just odd man out and had to stop living in our home, but he still receives a lot of support from us. It is not all or nothing.
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I'm glad you've got a new therapist. I wonder if she will suggest some family counseling, or couple counseling. Keep us posted on how things go for you.
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Jessie, thank you…you are so right about needing to create my own boundaries, I've always had trouble with that. Probably most of my husband's behavior stems from me being so miserable all the time (and the fact that he recently retired and doesn't know what to do with himself). He's very traditionally "role-oriented" and does NOT like to be the one to take somebody to the doctor or cook dinner or keep house. He keeps up the yard and helps a little with the laundry, but what I really need from him is encouragement and companionship, not another teenage son to keep after. My son is very willing to help out with the housework and yard work when he's here, and never causes a bit of trouble really…just keeps to himself and is very even-tempered except when my hubby starts nagging him about what he's gonna do with his life…then he just shuts down and I feel like it's a personal assault on me. Hubby always seems to be critical of me and the kids, meanwhile his son who doesn't live with us dropped out of high school and stays in trouble…just another source of repeated irritation and defensiveness for me. I feel sorry for my new therapist…she's gonna have a job on her hands.
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Thanks Pam and Jeanne…you all give great advice, which I read with interest often. I do respect your opinions. I would LOVE to move mom into assisted living, but she can't afford it and doesn't qualify for medicaid because she was too bullheaded to listen to the atty's advice about her finances. My dad used money to control her…after they divorced, she never remarried but remains very bitter even tho it was 40 years ago, and she is adamant about not giving up control of her limited assets. My son is very smart, but has the emotional development of a 13 year old…I don't really know how to go about finding a place for him. He has 2 more years of college benefits from the VA, and I'd like him to finish his bachelors, but he has no idea what he wants to do, and not a lot in the way of marketable skills. I'm hoping a degree would at least help him find employment to support himself with. He's very sweet, but so ADD that a bomb could go off while he's on the computer and he wouldn't hear or notice, so even keeping him around to help with Mom is not an option. He is very naive and very limited in his range of interests. He was doing better with regular therapy, but we lost his health insurance and FL medicaid offers no help for autism services. His dad is next to useless when it comes to trying to make him do anything, even his college homework. I am actively seeking help for my depression…been down this road and got better before, I'm sure I can do it again. My marriage is worth saving, I think...my husband has sacrificed so much to help care for my mom and he's very good about not taking sides. It's a weird mix. He's basically a very good man, very hardworking and responsible, but he is not at all compassionate or empathetic. I know my head's not in the right place right now…I'm irritable and angry and drained. I don't even know how to approach my mom about suggesting that she live elsewhere. She will panic and cry, plead and create all sorts of drama. I've done everything I could to try to encourage her to use senior services that wouldn't cost her anything, but that would involve taking some responsibility for her own care, which she absolutely will not do. She "doesn't want to bother anyone" - "I can manage just fine" - When she wants something although she says "I hate to bother you" but she'll take forever in the store looking around and all I can think about is how I'm going to manage to get dinner made and finally put my foot down. I know it's hard for her not being able to drive or go anywhere without a big oxygen bottle, but I'm not the one who made her smoke for 60 years or neglect her emotional and physical health, but now I feel like I'm just stuck with all her bad choices. It could be different, she could have been disabled through no fault of her own…and I would be in the same boat probably. I hate that I sound so whiny…I was just looking forward to having some time to pursue my own interests and I feel like I'm stuck in a s*** sandwich of my own making.
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Priorities:
1) Your own health. First, because you are a good person and deserve this. And then because you can't do anything else for anybody if you don't deal with this.
2) Your marriage. Is it worth saving? If it is, it is worth A LOT of effort.
3) Your children. There comes a point where they should be independent and rely on you only for some emotional support. It looks like one of yours isn't quite there yet. Your job should be to get him there, as far as he can go, and then help him get additional support if he still needs it, like a sheltered living community. It would be doing him no favors if you let him slip back into a totally dependent role.
4) Your mother. The relationship you describe does not sound healthy. And it sounds like it might be interfering with the higher priorities in your life. Yes, you've made a number of mistakes with her so far. Focus on correcting those and helping her into a place she will be happier and you will have less responsibility for her.
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Your health is failing because there is WAY too much stress. Get mom to Assisted Living where she can play with people her own age. Tell kids that little birds leave the nest at 21, so make them plan ahead or plan on paying pops one third of their paycheck for board. Roll up your hero cape and put it away.
When your health fails, you have taken on too much.
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amicable, what a mess to be in. I can tell from the things that you are doing that you have been feeling a lot of despair. There does seem to be only two things you can do -- move your mother into a care facility OR change the dynamics of the family where you live now. Everyone would have to be willing to work on the second option. Your mother would have to learn to look to others for companionship. Your husband would have to come back in the fold. And you would have to get your ducks lined up and headed in the same direction. As I was reading what you wrote, I wondered how much the problem was with your mother and how much was in the way you were reacting to her. It is hard when you live together. You have to set up distinct boundaries so you can have time to yourself, time for your husband, and time for your children. If your mother is taking up too much time, it is up to you to set the boundaries. You have the right to do that.

One thing I wonder is if your mother moves out and son1 moves back home if there would be the same dynamic, but with a different person. It may be a good time to stop and ask yourself how you could make it better on yourself. You can't change the people around you, but you can make changes in yourself and set up strong interpersonal boundaries. Perhaps talking to a counselor about your own depression would help, do you think? Please let us know how it is going for you. Sometimes when things won't straighten out for us, we have to make changes so that they do. Much luck!
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I meant no idea what to do with Kid1 in the last paragraph, sorry for the confusion!
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More details: Mom has COPD and various other problems. Her place was getting too expensive and she was getting frailer, so we moved her down here several years ago. She refused to live in a condo or townhouse, and couldn't find a single family home, so hubby and I co-signed a mortgage with her and paid most of the payment so she could pay the rest from interest on savings. That was my first mistake.
She never made any attempt to socialize with anyone other than me, discouraged me from working, so that I would be free to spend time with her, yet I had kids and hubby to take care of too. Kid 1, special needs, mildly autistic, graduated high school and 1 year of tech,which he didn't do so well in. Went to live with his dad and go to community college. Now that's done, his dad has not done anything to help make him independent. He doesn't drive, shop or anything although he was nearly able to when he left my house.
Anyway, about 3 years ago, thinking kid1 would eventually get a job and support himself, bought a house with room for me & hubby and mom and teenage kid2, who is amazing and helpful. Mom could no longer live alone, and there wasn't room for all of us and all her stuff in either of our houses, so had to sell the other 2 and get a bigger one. This house has very large bedrooms which was ideal for her situation, but not as many as our old house, so there's no guest room anymore.
Mom supposedly had 2 years to go, so thought I could deal with this, but truthfully it has been pretty much of a nightmare with no end in sight, as she is paranoid, needy, critical and alternates between those things and laying on thick being compassionate…she causes stress between me and hubby, and then acts all sympathetic to me when we're not getting along, trying to make me run to mommy for comfort. She chats endlessly about stuff I couldn't give a crap about. Bad news on TV, people arguing on Facebook etc. She was an alcoholic, but doesn't drink now due to meds. She has always been very emotionally needy and relies solely on me for companionship. My health is failing some from running her around and having no time to take care of my own needs or have any kind of social life…she lays on the guilt, passive aggressively, every time she can't find some useless piece of junk she couldn't part with and only uses once a year that is not immediately available when she looks for it.
How I wish I could get away for a few weeks with my husband and try to regain our couple-ness as we have been spatting a lot. But mom won't let anybody or nurses come in to see her, and doesn't have any friends. I don't want to lay it all on Kid2, who is great but will still try to get away with stuff while I'm away. I tried it for a week once and never heard the end of it from Mom.
Anyway, Kid1 is graduating junior college with no specific major, doesn't know what he wants to do, not ready for a job, not able to live independently and I need him to come back here so I can have another go at rebuilding his independence since his father is loving, but enabling and won't get him therapy or anything even tho I said I'd pay for it. I'm completely frustrated, overwhelmed, furiously angry and depressed, feeling trapped and like my marriage is failing since me and hubby never have any basis for connection any more. I can barely manage any intimacy anymore.
I tried to go to grad school just to get out of the house, but the program is awful and none other in my field is available and I'm too far down the road to switch schools. I took off this semester, and I made an appt with a counselor, but I've been through that process before and it takes a lot of time, patience and effort to get to the heart of things and start setting them right again.
I tried to get mom to go to counseling for her depression, but she always has an excuse...finish denture fitting, make eye appt first, get through this round of hospital follow ups, etc, etc, etc... I feel very used by my mom, put down and misunderstood by hubby, and feel like this nightmare will never end.
I have no idea what I'm going to do with Kid2. Anymore I wish I could just run away and live by myself, just for the peace. The only thing keeping me sane is Kid2, who is wonderful and sympathetic but needs to live own life and doesn't need my emotional burden. I was hoping by this time Mom would be in nursing home, she can't afford and doesn't want AL, even tho she gets SS and VA pension but won't use up her small savings so doesn't qualify for Medicaid. Seems like she has cleverly orchestrated it all to squeeze every last drop of patience and time from me. My brother is no help except for commiserating, he lives far away and he and wife are caring for her live-in mom too. He has zero assets, and I'm trying to protect my own so I can afford AL when I need it.
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