No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

by Alexis
(Oregon)

There ARE No Siblings--I'm The Helper Monkey Daughter


I'm an only child of an 88-year-old mother with dementia. I'm 64, and I see what's left of my good years being sacrificed for her.

My relationship with my mother was always, um, *difficult*. I know she loves me, but she's also overbearing, stubborn, arrogant, and now, unreasonable, angry and nuts. She treats me like I'm a teenager. She's in a decline but, like others here, I'm worried she'll go on for another five years or more.

She really should not be living alone in her house, but I cannot budge her. She's incompetent and frail because she went to bed 20 years ago and has lived an isolated life.

I'm her only social contact, and she has expected me to provide entertainment, even a vacation (!!), which I've ignored. I live about 10 miles from her, and I make trips back and forth several times a week, sometimes twice in the same day.

She calls constantly to gripe, to get reminders about what day it is, etc. I had to give up my job because of the unending interruptions (recently she called 19 times in one day), so my income has fallen dramatically.

If I don't answer the phone she gets mad. If I answer the phone, she's already mad. It's just awful.

I keep track of her medications, her schedule of doctor appointments, do her shopping, buy her cigarettes--yes, she still smokes, even with COPD--and I run other errands.

She doesn't remember things she says, and sometimes I can't ignore them or let them slide. The advice about remaining patient and calm in the face of insults and name-calling is good for a saint, not me. She's forever demanding back her house keys and I usually refuse. Once, in a fit of exasperation, I gave them back. Then she got mad about that.

She won't let me bring in outside help and she won't go anywhere else. Meals on Wheels is out, but she complains that she has nothing substantial to eat.

I tell her I'll get whatever she wants, but she always says she doesn't know. So I have to make educated guesses.

It has to be really easy, because even heating something in the microwave now counts as cooking to her.

Her house is dark, stuffy, and gloomy because she won't open the blinds or the windows, even on nicer days.

If I could walk away tomorrow, I'd do it without looking back. I feel all alone in this--well, I guess I am. The situation has impacted my relationships with others and I'm often in a funk.

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