Last One Standing

by Lucy
(Sarasota)


I live with and take care of my 82 year old narcissistic mother. I have MS, so I do not drive. All of my family members stay away, knowing they will be insulted harshly if they call or come over. I have bought so many gifts for her just to get some peace, my cards are maxed out. No one seems to know what to do, but I really resent them knowing I am sacrificing any joy to make sure she's okay.

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Some suggestions
by: Gina

Hi Lucy, I'm so sorry that you are in this very unpleasant situation. You definitely have a right to feel the way you do, but I encourage you to take some actions to move towards an improved life situation. Sometimes, just checking one small thing off a list per day can help you feel like there may be light at the end of the tunnel.

- you say your siblings "don't know what to do"...um, they DO know they just DON'T WANT to do it. Time for them to put on their big kid pants and deal with reality and YOU are going to have to drive it or nothing will ever change for the better. Solving problems is often work, but well worth it.

- are you on SSDI? Is your mom on Medicaid or very low income? She may qualify to have social services come in to assess her for support, like light housekeeping and meals. Also, since there are limited Medicaid beds in senior care facilities, you may want to all around and get an idea if there is a waiting list. Even if you don't think she'd voluntarily go into a nursing home, you never know what will happen in the coming years. Put your name on a few waiting lists. There's no obligation and you can be put back at the bottom if you pass this time. FL might have enough places that there isn't a wait.

- your credit card debt needs to be dealt with. If you need help working it down and living on a budget many people have benefited from watching Dave Ramsey videos (I think it's free but not sure...he also has books and you could find a used one). Bankruptcy should be a last resort but you may need to consider it if creditors are harassing you.

- Call a family meeting with your siblings (but not your mom). Tell them that you are at your emotional, physical and financial wit's end and that you plan on moving out by XX date an will no longer do ANY care taking since you are burnt out, sick and financially wrecked. I would look into Section 8 housing and literally move away because I don't get the sense that your siblings are going to take your ultimatum seriously until moving day. Maybe you don't want to move but you don't have any other leverage than your care taking services. You should research how much a full-time caretaker makes and bring that amount to the discussion with your sibs. Tell them you will consider staying but it will require you being paid by them if they don't provide XX hours of help every week. It will still be cheaper than a nursing home for your mom.They will be shocked, and maybe even mad, but you must do this. They will get over it.

- If you are successful in arranging this meeting, make sure you have all your goals on paper and try to be business-like about it so that the discussions don't veer into unproductive emotional territory. The point is to solve the problems at hand now and in the future as your mom continues to age and your MS progresses.Are THEY going to take care of YOU? Whatever they commit to do to help with your mom, make sure you keep them accountable. Don't let them continue to get away with being jerks.

- your mom had her whole life to plan for the inevitable. You're under no obligation to be her full-time maid, chef, etc. You are not responsible for her happiness. Stop being a doormat, but start making reasonable demands of your siblings. If they don't step up to the plate you should seriously move out -- its the only leverage you have. But you need to be specific about how you want them to help.

- does any one have Durable Power of Attorney for your mom? If not, it needs to be you since you are currently her caretaker. Other sibs can also be PoA simultaneously, but I wouldn't have too many of them included as it could bog down any decisions.

At any rate YOU have to decide what you want and then commit to working to achieve it. It won't be easy and it probably won't be quick, but it will get better if you have a plan and keep people accountable like the adults they are. Wishing you well!

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your mom
by: Anonymous

Buying gifts is not an uncommon thing to do, though it's financially detrimental. I was in a horrible marriage many years ago and shopped and shopped and shopped foolishly thinking I could buy happiness in a store and come home to hang it on the wall. Doesn't work. You're doing the same thing. Stop.

So, is your mother yours now for good with no hope of her leaving? If that's the case, about all you can do is change your attitude about it because trust me, she will not change hers and if your situation is bad now it's only going to get worse as she ages. Sorry, that's the way it is.

You have a lot on your plate having MS with no help apparently from your siblings and how utterly selfish of them all considering your situation. But again, it is what it is and sometimes that's what you have to deal with.

My mother is also mean and nasty and even my daughter's visits have become less frequent. I understand no one wanting to come here, but it makes me mad none the less because does she think I want to be here? No! I feel deserted. My mom is horribly mean to anyone I attempt to get stay with her so I can get out sometimes (and I'm talking maybe 45 minutes a week) and when I do that she stays angry at me for days with the silent treatment, slamming doors, etc. So much tension it's just unbearable.

Is there any way she can go to a home? Would you do that? Will the country provide financial aid if she has no funds?

You call your mom a narcissist. Was she always that way or is that new? If it's new, then it's part of what is going on in her brain. If she was always that way, could be it will only become worse.

It's very hard to tell people to take a deep breath and accept their horrible situations, but if there is no solution that's about all anyone can do and it does make it easier. I try to reach for compassion as I realize a great deal of her behavior is not her fault, it's a scientific fault of what is happening in the brain and that's not her fault. Sure, I still get angry and that's only natural.

Please stop trying to buy happiness with your credit cards as you've only now hurt yourself. You aren't going to find it in a store. Really look at your situation and see what can change. It also helps to accept the role of the adult and look at your mom as a child. That gives YOU more control. Having your mom live with you creates a confusing set of emotions because you still feel like the little girl. When I began viewing my mom as a child, things became somewhat easier for me as time has gone on.

I don't know if any of this will help you. Vent when you need to because that helps as well. Take care.

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