Mother will not do Activities on Her Own Therefore Smothers/needs Me

by Nancy R
(Oregon)

Mom is 83 and lives in an Active Retirement community. They have planned activities. There is also a Senior Center with activities. She will not participate in anything and waits for the weekends so that I will come over and do something with her (out to lunch, over to my house, shopping.).


She says she's bored and that she wants to spend time with me on the weekends because she has nothing to do all week. Well, I'm 54 y/o, her only daughter. (three brothers live 1100 miles away and I don't have any resentment about them not taking care of mom--it would be impractical). I have my own family, husband and 24 y/o daughter who lives at home. I work 40+ hours per week at a pretty stressful job. I have a house to take care of, grocery shopping, laundry to get done on the weekends. My husband is a huge help inside the house for me but we also have one acre that needs tending every week too.

I rarely get a chance to do any fun gardening like working with my flowers or rearranging beds. I also would like a social life on the weekends too, meeting up with family or friends or maybe just some quiet time to read a book or watch a movie. Well, I really have only one day to do what I want/need to do. Up until this point, I've had to entertain Mom on one of my weekend days and I'm just plain tired of doing it.

My main gripe is that she will not even try to reach out and make friends and participate in activities that are provided for her. As such, I resent now having to entertain her. I've done weekends like this for over 5 years now. I have to also let you know that I see her at least once during the week to take her to doctor's appointments, running prescription refills to her, groceries etc.

How much am I obligated to do when she won't help herself out? She calls me every day at work so I know exactly what she has had for breakfast, lunch and dinner; any calls she received from family or friends; and gossip going on at the place she lives--therefore there is nothing to talk about when we do see each other. I'm ready to scream right now because I am so smothered.

How do I get her to understand that I am not her entertainment director? That she needs to be responsible for her entertainment. How do I get this across to her without it seeming that I am abandoning her on the weekends?

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Caregiver Balance
by: Anonymous

I think your post is one most of us can relate to. I am struggling with a similar issue. How do I care for others while also caring for myself? Scripture says we are to love others AS MUCH as we love ourselves. Why then do most of us let our parents run us ragged?

So as I write to you I am really writing to myself. What amount of time, what amount of socializing with your mother would feel OK to you. Perhaps we should both start there. If you are a giver, and your Mom is a taker, then there will always be tension. So, to soften that tension could you decide each Monday how much time and energy you can give her. Then you can tell her each Monday,"Mom, this is when I can meet with you this week". Hold your boundaries like you have been doing and perhaps eventually she might start meeting her needs more on her own.

You could also meet with the social director at the retirement community and they more often than not will put social folks on your mother's tail and they will reach out to her. Then if she still says she is lonely, you know it is of her own choice.

However, may I just encourage you that you are doing a GREAT job and that you are a wonderful daughter!

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Pam been There still Doing this
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Hi, God bless you for all the help you have already given. I am experiencing the same. Mom may be very depressed if she isn't taking an antidepressant.... talk to her doctor and I suggest this step will be to both your advantages. Take care

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Thanks!
by: Nancy

Since my original post last month, I am doing better at not being at Mom's beck and call.

Yesterday's phone call was a prime example: Her:I don't know how I'll get to the hair dresser's tomorrow, the bus from here doesn't run on Wednesdays. Me: Gee, I'm sorry Mom. I'm taking you to the doctor next Tuesday, I can drop you off after your appointment and the Manor's bus can pick you up later. Her: Yeah, I guess that'll work but my hair really needs doing. Me: Gee, I don't know what else you can do. I think it'll just have to wait till Tuesday. Now, in the past I would have taken a later lunch hour to run her to get her hair done and hopefully get back to work on time. This would involve about 20 miles of extra driving just to retrieve her and drop her off. NO MORE! and I'm starting to feel liberated!

She is not suffering (well maybe her vanity!) but unless it is a health issue I'm not going to sweat about it. Thanks for the comment and support knowing I'm not alone.

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Read her the list of things you must get done
by: Anonymous

It's gone on for 5 yrs, it won't stop until you do. She isn't considering you, at all. I also know from experience with my own mother, she probably never will. Read her the list and tell her and mean it, "I won't be coming over. I have to do these things. The community center where you live has X scheduled, you should go." Put a jab in, "If I was hit by a car, what would you do? You have to develop a life."

I walked out and did not go back. She'd run my life in the ground and spend me broke, if I allowed it.
Mom has been fine, now, her mental capacities are failing. No one wants to listen. They sure as hell want me to fix it.

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I hear ya...loud & clear
by: Kaye T., Oregon

I am experiencing the same situation...with my 88 year old father. After my mothers death 18 months ago, I finally got him moved into a beautiful, two year old retirement apartment with great staff, food, activities, no housework, no yard work...I felt like, wow, how can I get in on this? Where do I sign up?
After spending all summer finding him a place, clearing out the house, (Mom was a serious pack rat) getting the house on the market..I felt he should be happy to get into such a great place and have fun. But of course, he is not. He misses his wife. He feels guilty having fun without her.

He hasn't told me these things, but I know him pretty well, and I know how he thinks. He never was one to participate, unless it was something he thought of, or involved hunting or fishing.

I am hoping he will take small steps to get involved. I am making an effort to not be "so available" when he calls..i.e.: Dad I was just on my way out the door, I'll have to call you later. I am also now setting up a schedule where I will see him on Tuesdays and Fridays for lunch.

Shopping will be done then. I am learning to say NO, I can't talk right now. NO, I have a list a mile long to take care of. NO, I have plans with friends. Even if it is not exactly true, this is going to have to happen for my own sanity. I'll let you know how it goes. Screen your calls and just don't answer the phone. Have work take messages and not put the call through. Just hang in there.

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