Doing This All on My Own

by Mary
(Louisville, KY)

Hello, I live with and care for my elderly Mother. She just turned 79. She has as clear a mind as she ever did but physically she has sharply declined. She has Type II diabetes and subsequent renal failure. She isn't on dialysis yet but probably within the next two years she will be. She has hypertension and some chronic pain issues with her back.


When my mother retired from work at 63 she sat in a chair and watched game shows. That's all she has done and that is all she wants to do. Her muscles have atrophied to the point where she can barely walk through the house. Her Doctors have told her this but she thinks I tell them to say that to her. I have a younger sister, she is almost 44. She absolutely refuses to help me with Mom. She tells me that because I moved in with her, it's my "problem to deal with". She knows that I moved in with Mom because I had an apartment and my sister had a house at the time.

Whenever I ask my sister for help or try to talk to her about how difficult it is to deal with her all the time, my sister says and I quote, "it sucks to be you". I want to badly to just box her ears when she does that which is all the time.

She barely even visits my Mother and she lives 15 minutes away. She doesn't work and her children are grown. Mom always takes up for my sister. She does nothing wrong and when Mom admits that she has, she doesn't want to upset her by saying anything to it. Of course, Mom is on my case 24/7 for something.

Mom has always been very self center and man can she put on a guilt trip. I don't usually fall for them anymore but it is so frustrating. I can't go anywhere without her wanting me to bring something back for her. If I do go somewhere and don't tell her where I am going until after, she gets mad and says," did you ever think I might like to go with you"? "You could have asked me to go along". Then I'm stuck thinking about what to say. Can't tell her I was trying to get a minute for myself.

Mom is very depressing and pessimistic by nature. I try to keep things lighthearted and funny, otherwise I might lose what's left of my mind. How do I get my sister to understand, care and help? I've tried everything I can think of.

She's out having a great time every day and my life is just passing me by. I'm really getting tired of it. I love my mother and I love this time with her but I am having a hard time with my sister's attitude. I am on anti-depressants and nerve pills as it is. I'm just about at my wits end. Please help.

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On your own...
by: Renata

Mary I am concerned for you. You need to seriously arrange for support for yourself. Let siblings give toward your getting this help for yourself at least. e.g. You can save this money to take a time-out and pay someone to visit with Mom till you return. Because your Mom sounds like a handful and then some...

I had a friend who is the same age as my mother (70). She was diabetic amputee and gave her children total horror! She was a master at manipulation and everything she said in anger was to force you to give her what she wanted - and she must have what she wants. If she can't get it herself, she'll subdue the mind of another to give her what she wants. I helped care for her in my own home for three months.

I put an end to it, because I have my own mother to care for and her demanding behavior was negatively impacting on my normally well-behaved mother plus she robbed my mother of my attention because this lady wanted ALL the ATTENTION including my own personal time.

I usually encourage people to do as you have done - move in with mom - but in this case, I wonder...Are you certain that your preferred sister have not considered selling mom's house and putting her into a full-time care facility when the time was right i.e. when your mom is left with no other choice?

I would ask you if your Mom is willing to give you Power of Attorney. If not you then who? If it is your sister, then you could be in for a difficult ride - with no control over this situation.

If I were you I'd get the responsibility (legal) aspects settled first before making deciding on any long-term living arrangements. Then you might have the respect of your mother (somewhat) should you have to care for her yourself.

Good luck!

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by: sylvie

I am staying with my parents until this Friday, and it has been really hard on me too. I understand what you are going through. My brother, 48 years, runs away when ever there is a problem. I just go to my room, play music, or go out onto the beach, as they live on the beach.

I try to remember they are older, but I have the same problem when ever I do anything for them. My dad always asks can me and my husband move earlier, and my mom always thinks I think she is stupid and dumb.

Tell your sister that you would like at least a day to yourself and maybe she could come and check on your mother once in awhile. If she doesn't help you, just keep doing the best that you can. Good luck, and remember in the end you will be gratified in what you are doing.

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