Hello everyone!

Hi I’m new here and very glad to find such support…
I’m currently trying my best to look after my parents, my Dad is in hospital recovering from a heart attack and pneumonia and my Mum is at home.
Mum has always had everyone looking after her…she can’t walk…is in chronic pain…refuses to take pain relief…won’t have a wheelchair…has had a lifelong ‘poor me’ attitude. She has always ordered my Dad about and made him fetch and carry, even when she wasn’t disabled and now she expects me and my lovely brother to take on the role of servants.
My brother has a full time job, he lives nearby and when my Dad went into hospital, he took it upon himself to visit every morning and every evening. He has his own health issues and wants to move away.
I fully support his decision to do this but because he has been at my Mum’s beck and call for years, she is expecting me to fill this role.
I want to help, but past nastiness from my Mum has meant that I needed to create some boundaries …start as I mean to go on.
I have told her that I love her and want to help, but in my own way.
I have a family and am hoping to get a new job soon, but I also have health issues… I was diagnosed with a small benign brain tumour which causes me some problems and I have chronic pain from arthritis.
My Mum is horrified at my suggestion that she should try to help herself in order to care for my Dad when he comes home.
‘I have cared for him for 60 years, I need caring for’ I don’t think she wants him to come home
‘I won’t be an invalid’ she said this when I suggested a fold up wheelchair so I can easily transport her to the hospital to see him.
When my Dad nearly died, he had collapsed outside on a frosty night going to water the plant that my Mum had nagged him to do that day. He was outside for 20 minutes before she went to look for him.
All she said was that she had had a massive shock and needed me to stay over, which I did for a couple of nights
She refused to go to the hospital to visit, saying 'He’s YOUR father…I don’t like hospitals!
I finally got her to visit 8 days later.
When I have tried to speak to her about some adaptations to their house…it is always…
‘We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it’ ‘I don’t want my home to look like an old people’s home’ etc etc
Anyway, we are now at an impasse…
I am now being given the ‘Silent treatment’ again which is par for the course.
This has always happened when I try to suggest things and it has always been me who offers an olive branch.
I have decided now not to get upset as I have read a lot of your posts about narcissistic and passive aggressive behaviour and have recognised many of these traits in my mother.

I apologise for the long post, but I would welcome any advice or suggestions on how to proceed without losing my mind!XXX

The only power mum has over you, as an adult, is the power you let her have.
You can’t force her to behave differently, but she can’t force you to do anything either!
My mum was housebound for many years, and expected me to run round her too. Counselling helped me see that as an adult I could do what I wanted, and I had a right to time to myself to do what I wanted. Being given permission by the counsellor to put my own needs first was a huge change for me, as I’d been programmed since birth that you should never put yourself first!!!

There is no doubt that the more you do, the more you will be expected to do.

So try to plan your week differently. YOU decide when you go and see mum. Maybe Wednesday evenings.
Then if she wants you to do things other times, say “I can’t mum, but I’ll be there Wednesday”.
If she gives you endless jobs, YOU choose what is most important, and do it at a speed you feel comfortable at. When, inevitably, you are given another job, say “Mum, you asked me to do this, so I want to finish it before taking on anything else”.
Put your answerphone on.

What does mum actually NEED someone to do for her? When did she last have a Needs Assessment from Social Services?

I live in a rural area, and after major surgery couldn’t get out by myself for weeks. My eldest son lives with me, but he has his own work and life. By rearranging how I did things, I could manage fine without going out. Shopping on the internet worked well and I saved money as I didn’t just buy things I fancied in the shops!

Does she claim disability benefits? Have a dishwasher and tumble dryer?

You are going to find it difficult to step back to start with, but it’s really important that mum is made to see that, possibly for the first time in her life, she is going to have to sort herself out.

Wow…Thanks for your reply. I know now that I’m not the only one.
I feel terrible about things as they are and very guilty for the horrible way she makes me feel.
I am just about to leave to visit my Dad again, on my own, Mum hasn’t phoned me because I disagreed with her.
It’s now evident that I am a BAD daughter again.
I set my boundaries last week (for myself, selfishly) and said that I am here if she needs me, but I cannot and will not go to the great lengths that my dear brother does.
I said ring me when you want to go and visit my Dad…silence…
So, I’m going on my own.
I won’t go into how our relationship got so bad…maybe another time.

Just thanks to you for making me feel better and I’m very grateful for the support XXX

Hi, Forgot to say…
Mum won’t have an assessment of ANY kind, she has enough capital to have full time, quality care, but won’t.
It took me and my brother 6 years to get her to have a downstairs loo so she wouldn’t have to climb the stairs, preferring to gasp with the pain of trying to get up them.
I don’t understand why she won’t take pain killers (well maybe because she likes being in pain) or get a mobility aid.
I DO understand that she is hurting and hates getting older, but that isn’t my fault.
When my Dad comes home (if he does) it would be lovely to see him have a comfy chair and a walk in shower, he needs these things…Mum won’t have it…she likes her antique chairs, so uncomfortable but they ‘look good’ and doesn’t want the disruption of doing the bathroom.
She herself struggles to bath herself every morning…no handles on the bath, no aids of any kind…being a martyr is how she lives. She won’t see that if she had some aids, my brother and I would not worry so much.
Blimey, I didn’t realise how bad things have become…reading my own posts is a revelation!!XXX

Sarah, from today, DUMP THE GUILT!

You are not guilty of anything, after all, you didn’t make mum ill.

Like my mum, your mum seems to find it easier to blame anyone else for whatever situation she is in. It’s time she learned to take responsibility for her own life.

She’s in pain, has the pills to stop it. If she chooses not to take the pills, then it is HER CHOICE.
If (again the same as my own mum) she chooses not to use a wheelchair, and then moans she can’t go out, then all she has to do is use a wheelchair.

Your mum is incredibly lucky to afford whatever she wants, and it’s time she counted her blessings.
Does she pay you for the care you provide??

The bath issue can be sorted within 24 hours. My mum had an Archimedes “rise and fall” bath seat, and even when she was very seriously disabled she could have her bath every morning, something she had always done.
Make sure the hospital arranges an OT visit to the home before dad is discharged, so the OT can arrange whatever aids he needs.
He will also be entitled to 6 weeks free Reablement Care. Make sure he gets this.

Relationships between parents can be very complicated. Again, it is mum’s choice to be with dad, and vice versa.
Give up any idea of “making things better” because their attitudes will be so entrenched that change will be almost impossible. You wlll just end up hopelessly frustrated, as I did.

My mum and dad were collectors of Ercol furniture, and probably had the largest collection anywhere. At least 60 dining chairs, 10 sideboards, 10 dining tables, 5 studio couches etc.etc. Then there was her collection of 15 harmoniums. Crippled with arthritis, she couldn’ t play any of them. (They ended up in a skip later).
Her bungalow near Bournemouth was huge in comparison to my cottage, her front bedroom was large enough to have a spacious ensuite fitted without too much hassle, as it backed onto the bathroom. This would, however, mean she had to empty the room of furniture - mostly stacked on top of each other.
I spent years trying to coax her to let us empty the room, but she refused, keeping hold of what was in the front room was more important. Counselling made me realise that was her choice, she couldn’t or wouldn’t change. Finally, I accepted this.
After yet another long stay in hospital, she was transferred to a nursing home where she spent the rest of her life. I had to empty the place and sell it. Had she agreed to empty the one room and have the ensuite, she could have had a live in nurse and spent her last days at home.

Currently, you are banging your head against a brick wall. Stop banging it. Concentrate on things you enjoy doing. Have a good relationship with your partner, have a good life.

The person who SHOULD be feeling guilty is your MUM!

Thank you once again…
I went to see Dad and the physio has referred him for rehab before home…I REALLY would like to get some things in place FOR HIM before this, but I am realising from your experience, this will never happen, very sad, but hey ho I cannot change Mum OR get her approval.
I am trying not to feel selfish about getting a job again, but my husband has severe depression since being made redundant and we’re broke…can’t talk to Mum about that either!!
All good wishes from me for the weekend, enjoy the lovely weatherXXX

Sarah, sorry to hear about your husband being made redundant. That happened to my husband, twice. Ultimately, it was the best thing that ever happened to us, as he set up his own business which thrived, so much so that we could afford two holidays to Australia before he died. However, in between was a time when buying new undies was a special treat.

Hi Sarah
Sounds like Mum is her own worst enemy which is fine as long as it only affects her
However I am concerned at what the situation maybe when Dad comes home as she doesn’t sound the sort to realise how much will have changed and how much selfless help he will need.
When the powers that be start discussing discharge make sure that they know Mum will not help or care and may well refuse adaptations. Mention her mental state and that you think Dad will be at risk, you may even need to mention the safeguarding word.
It isn’t fair to Dad, and may even be harmful to him if he is released into her ‘care’.
It is a very sad situation but imho, it’s Dad who needs your attention more than Mum now

(Sorry if this sounds harsh, I know I’m only reading it in black and white and don’t know all the background)


When Dad was first in hospital, I kept telling Mum that it’s ‘not about her’ and that Dad was going to need her help if and when he came home.
It didn’t go down too well!
I don’t think she realises that everything has changed. I’m sure Mum thinks things will be back to normal (ie Dad fetching and carrying) so no need for any adaptations.
It’s so very sad.
I’m still getting the silent treatment…nearly a week now…I’m finding it easier as the days pass.
The longer it goes on, the more I realise how little she respects me.
I will not be made into a horrible person…I DO want to help…if only for my Dad’s sakeXX

Mum is probably sulking that she isn’t getting her own way. We sometimes use the term “Elderly Toddler” here, and I think it may apply to mum.

Don’t worry about the silent treatment. Mum is lucky to have a daughter at all, even more so one living near enough to make help a possibility. If she won’t speak to you, then say “if you don’t want to speak to me I might as well go home” and then leave. She is shooting herself in the foot. That is her problem.

You are NOT a bad daughter in any way.


You are so very kind and I am glad to have found this wonderful resource.
I’m sure, that over the coming months I will be trying to learn as much as possible from all your experiences.
You are right when you say I would probably be best doing ‘remote care’, however, my Mum and I once used to enjoy some things together and have had a nice time doing watercolour paintings in the past, it’s just that at the moment, we seem to be toxic to each other, if that makes sense?
I will show my brother this forum, I’m sure it will help us to get through together.

By the way, our younger sister lives about 200 miles away, phones Mum every week and when she comes home, her room is just how she left it.
She doesn’t really understand what Mum and Dad are really like as it’s always ‘holiday time’ when she comes home.
Not her fault, I know, but I think it’s important for her to find out how things stand now and to have some kind of family meeting to plan ahead, so I will be trying to make that happen soon.

Kind regards from meXX


Thanks, Honey Badger,
I’m still getting the silent treatment and now my brother has stopped talking to me…2 weeks now!
I think he is so entrenched in his role…still trying to please mother, I have a feeling that I am now being ostracised.
He has POA over their finances and I don’t know about the health side, but I’m hoping I might help him see that this can’t go on.
I think, since my mother has told him I am hoping to get a job, he might feel that I am abandoning him to his fate.
(Is it called triangulation? We have always been made to communicate through mother, I suppose so she can control what we know about each other)
I will find out later today if I have the job…it is being a Support Worker for people with mental and physical difficulties at a local adult day care centre. It’s a job I have had before and puts everything into perspective…there are people there who are really struggling with their disabilities, but with help from people like me, are able to live a happy and fulfilled life through creativity and companionship.
Needless to say, I have had NO encouragement, NO ‘I hope your interviews go well’…nothing.
This makes me sure I am doing the right thing (for all of us)…I just hope I get it. If I don’t, I now have the confidence to apply for other jobs…AND the motivation to do it!
Ho Hum…we’ll see
Very grateful for being able to vent here and I’m sure I will have need of everyone’s help very soon XXXX

Sarah, good luck with the job. The “silent treatment” is so, so childish!
Forget about praise or encouragement from them, or you will just be continually disappointed. They want you to feel a trapped slave with no self esteem.

Spread your wings and fly, that’s what any good mum would want!

Hi Bowling Bun…I am coming to the conclusion that you’re absolutely right…you have been through all this and despite feeling so so guilty, I MUST put my own family first.
The last few days, since joining this forum, have made me realise all the incidents in my past are now making perfect sense…(too many to go into right now)
I think I will have to write a letter (unsent of course)…maybe a book!!!
Mother is a complex character and would make a good subject to write about, they always say write about what you know, so maybe I will!!!XXXXXX

Hello again…
Just an update.
I wrote a letter to my brother and sister, with the intention of never sending it.
It was a long one, but I finally explained to them why I had needed to make made my boundaries clear. I explained about my mother’s (suspected) narcissistic disorder, my dad’s passive enablement and how badly it has affected me, not only with both parents, but also my relationships with them as my younger siblings.
It’s not only to save my own soul, but to try to help them understand that maybe now is the time to try to heal our relationship so we can best help our parents…As things are at the moment…
Me not wanting to care because of past hurt
My brother doing too much out of fear, obligation and guilt (FOG) as in Out of the Fog website
Much younger sister who lives far away not knowing the real situation.
Anyway, I SENT IT!
I read it a good few times beforehand, mark you, but thought, now or never!

Hoping for a meeting over the weekend with said siblings…I feel relieved having sent it, but there will probably be an aftermath.
Also hoping that while Dad is in rehab for six weeks, we can arrange for some adaptations for him, despite mother’s objections!
(Ha Ha, I know it won’t happen, but have to try, for my dad’s sake)
Well, have a joyful weekend, if possible and I’ll find out whether or not I have been exiled from the family.!