Mum is Impossible

Hi All,
My sister and I have really been struggling with Mum for the last 3/4 years. Mum is 88, we lost Dad in 2013 to Dementia and a short stay in a care home it was really hard on us all to deal with and still is at times. At first Mum coped living on her own with the help of her little dog and daily visits from my sister who lived just 5 mins away. Gradually though after about 3/4 years she started to decline, not looking after herself or the house properly and constantly complaining about hating living alone and needing company. Then her little dog passed about 6 months ago (at 17) and she hit rock bottom, she would spend all day sitting on a hard chair in the bay window at the front of her house making up stories about anyone who walked passed the house. Mum wasn’t bothering to eat or wash regularly and then started having falls, she had 3 in 1 month, twice in the garden in freezing conditions and only got help by dragging herself in across the garden through mud and reaching the phone. I live 50 miles away (hence my sister being the main care giver) hoping I could do more to help we thought it would be a good idea for my sister and mum to both sell their houses pool the money and have mum in a safe place where she would be looked after and I could also help and give my sister a break now and again. Mum moved into my sisters house 3 weeks ago and they all moved (sister, her husband and mum) 8 days ago, already problems are mounting. Before the move we had many family meetings about how to best manage mums loneliness and care, she agreed it would be a wonderful idea on more than a dozen occasions, her only condition being she had her own space and privacy which we all agreed. We are now just 8 days after the move and she hasn’t stopped complaining, she has what she asked for (company and her own space) but refuses to use her “own space” and keeps sitting in main living room moaning because my brother-in-law is watching sport even though she has her own room, her own tv, her own radio, her own bed and living quarters. They even have plans to build her own annexe with living room, bedroom, en-suite but still that isn’t good enough. My sister has been running around for the last 4 years cleaning for her, shopping, cooking, washing and all see receives in thanks is constant moaning and how she would be better off in a home (which we now can’t afford since pooling the houses). She is not diagnosed with Dementia but shows all the early signs, she is completely unreasonable and cantankerous and is making my sisters life and her husbands life a living hell even though they have both been so accommodating. Today she announced she has made a mistake and wants to go back to her old house which she loved, this after saying up until a month ago she hated it, hated being on her own and almost burning it to the ground after leaving the gas on one morning. Mum has been hard work for as long as I remember from the age of 4 (I’m now 58) I remember her after moving to a beautiful semi-detached house in the suburbs my dad would come home from work to find her in the garden with her head in her hands crying because all she could hear was the birds and no-one spoke to her, she wanted to go back to old house, that was over 50 years ago and still it continues, no dementia then. She overdosed when I was 10, I still remember it vividly to this day. She has always thrown moody strops and created a bad atmosphere whenever things don’t line up with her way of thinking. She screams and cries gives the silent treatment and then shuts down and refuses to talk about whatever has upset her. Childhood was a constant feeling of walking on eggshells because of mums moods and not wanting to upset her. Because of that I would spend as much time as I could out of the house, I didn’t want to be the cause of the next explosion or be around when someone else was, it was a horrible atmosphere that I wanted no part of. So she has always been moody, awkward, childish and demanding and now she is elderly is getting even worse. My sister and her husband are now stuck with her in their house, I feel I need to help but don’t how and we are not sure what to do for the best. On top of that I feel guilty for feeling the way I do and really resenting her for a lifetime of controlling behaviour and still having such a negative influence on everybody she comes into contact with. I could go on and mention many more strange behaviours but this post is now long enough - what can we do ?

You are never going to be able to please mum! Is your sister still in her old house, or anew one?

All moved into a new house with pooled money (sister, her husband and mum). I did warn my sister mum would never be happy even if she moved her in Buckingham Palace with butler service but she felt a sense of duty and also we both resented throwing my mum and dads life work to care home fees.

What was agreed in writing to cover the possibility of it not working? Who owns the house?

There is nothing in writing, the house is in my sisters and husbands name and my sister and I have POA.

I am due to go round tomorrow for a “family chat” mum included to see if we can come to some kind of arrangement but I really don’t expect any sensible suggestions from mum as to what it is that would make her happy, I’m sure she will repeat how she wants to go back her old house.

If this arrangement all goes pear shaped and your Mum does have to go into care because your sister can’t cope or your Mum deteriorates so that she needs 24/7 care then pooling her money with family will be seen as a deprivation of assets and she will have to pay for her care.

Reading your posts again, I’m wondering if mum remembers that she does have “her own living quarters”?
Dementia may have robbed her of her ability to retain this information.
When she says she wants to go back to her “old house” I wonder which house that is. Where she moved from, or one further back?
Living in her share of the house, not all over the house, will be difficult for her to get used to.
After all, in a normal set up, families spend free time together, often watching TV in the lounge.
Maybe BIL needs to say, “Come on mum, you have your own TV so I can watch what i want here, and you can watch what you want in your room”. My eldest son lives with me, the garage is converted to a bedroom, we each have a Sky box so he can watch his programmes and I can watch mine.
After just a few days, it’s a matter of gently but firmly reminding her of where her rooms are.