Struggling with mum (2)

Hello all, just done an internet search to see if I can find anyone in similar situations to me… Same story as thousands of others; 60 year old female struggling with an elderly mother. I have a sister who lives near her, but fell out with us both some years ago. There are times when I’m jealous of her… I wish I could walk away. Late last night I admitted the words to myself that I just don’t like my mum anymore. Isn’t that awful? She is so demanding and whatever I do, it’s never good enough. I work, and there are times when I wonder if it would be better just to pack it in. Then sometimes I feel like packing it in and not telling her… I try so hard to accommodate taking her to all her doctors, dentist, hospital appointments but sometimes I just can’t make one. She then goes around bad-mouthing me to everyone, telling them how I ‘won’t’ take her. Not ‘can’t. I know it’s pedantic, but it just rankles. On Saturday, I got a call at midnight to say she was in A&E and they’d let me know when she was ready to come home. At 1.45 am, I got into my car, went to the hospital and took her home. I couldn’t sleep when I got home so stayed up. My husband and I then spent the day shopping for food and cooked her 15 meals to freeze. Took them to her, and she tells me that the doctor in A&E was going to come out and tell me off for ‘neglecting’ her!!! How I kept my temper, I do not know. He may or may have not said that, but the fact is she’s been filling his head with stories about me, and how awful I am. The daughter who has spent 11 years first of all helping with my dad with dementia and now her. I work part time because I can’t cope with full time. Sometimes I want to scream at her and tell her how much money I’m losing each year because of that decision. My decision, but nevertheless. In two weeks, she has a hospital appointment 35 miles away that will take 2/3 hours. I really want to go to work that day as I can’t let others down. I could see how angry she was when I told her. My husband will take the day off and take her, but I feel so guilty about inflicting her onto him. Like so many others, I feel like my life is ebbing away. Me and my husband should not be ruled by her. I’ve booked for us to go away in March and already I’m concerned that we won’t get there. Or if we do, I’ll be feeling guilty. She drives him mad as well. He is so patient, but I get so angry and take it out on him some days because he’s the only one that I can tell my darkest thoughts to. The one I haven’t said to him is that this could go on for another 15 years; my grandmother was 99 when she died. In 15 years my husband will be 83 and although he is fit and healthy now, I will then be caring for him. I just despair at times and want to run away from everything. My anger over my sister is all consuming. This sounds really bad, but my mum has written her will and left half to her, despite the fact what we haven’t seen her since my dad’s funeral when she waltzed in and then left. It’s what my dad would have wanted, she said. Then sometimes I calm down and see that she is an old lady with failing health, can hardly walk, and probably hates being dependent on me as much as I hate it. She still misses my dad and talks about him all the time. They were married for 63 years and it must be awful. Her world has shrunk. Sometimes I do try to get her out but she struggles to get in my car and has a bladder the size of a thimble, so we can only go short journeys, so we just sit in her house with me acting like a sulky teenager (or wanting to!). I did get a bit of respite reading a book by Stephanie Calman called How (not) to kill your mother. The ‘not’ is in very small letters and it caught my attention. It’s a brilliant book. The bit where her sister throws away all their mother’s rank tea towels… Do try and get a copy. Anyway, I’ve ranted on enough. I’ve been awake since 3.30 am brooding over whether I should go to A&E and tell the doctor my side of the story!

Hi Jane. Sometimes tough love is required.

“Mum, if what I’m doing isn’t good enough, would you like me to ring social services for you and see what they can do instead?”

You have a right to your own life and can choose not to provide care. Your Mum needs to understand that you’re doing all you can, and then some!

She may be scared and lonely, but she needs to understand that she’s pushing you away.

As for the A&E doctors, if they believe her then you’ll hear from social services. They’ll come in and do an assessment to see what’s really happening. It might even lead to getting some help.

Hello Jane and welcome to the forum. I’m sorry to hear about your situation, its sounds extremely frustrating and tiring with everything you’re trying to juggle. I wanted to let you know about a few of our services I think you might find useful, we’re currently running some online sessions for carers to come together, talk, share advice and generally support each other. The session is called care for a cuppa and runs everyone Monday, its a great way to meet other carers and talk to people who really understand what you’re going through. I’ve attached the link for you below, there’s no pressure to share anything you’re not comfortable with Jane. Also on that page is a link to our share and learn sessions, these are a range of more fun based sessions for carers to join, please have a look and see if one grabs your attention.
with all good wishes

Jane - Stop putting your mum first! You and your husband are important and deserve some respect. Your mum cannot expect you to run around after her like this. Start saying ‘no’ to her and turn your phone off at night.
Work out what you are willing to do to help her and stick to it. For example take Mum shopping once every week and cook her a meal every Sunday. If she needs more help then she will have to have carers.

Time for you to have some counselling, to learn how to manage mum’s never ending demands, I finally did at 60, wish I’d done it 40 years earlier!
You are NOT a little girl, who must do whatever mum wants, immediately.
You are a married woman, with a husband who has to come before mum. Yes, he does!
What is mum’s financial situation? Does she own her house? Have over £23,000 in the bank?
She doesn’t have to have you, just “someone”.
Would it be fair to say that she doesn’t pay you, and is in effect using your money to run around after her?

When did you last have a holiday, or a weekend away???

Thanks for sharing your story.
I too am struggling with my Mum. My sisters and I , with some part -time carers look after her. She is very frail and can do little for herslef. The deafness is the worst part as there is no converstaion and I have to shout everything 3 times before she hears me , and everyone gets bad tempered (she does have hearing aids but they are constantly tuned to the loop system of the tv)…
I spend 2 afternoons/evenings with her a week. It’s quite a long drive for me to get there. I also work and have other committments,
I never really got on with her, she was always bossy and controlling, and now feel guilty that I resent the time I have to spend with her. Her mobility is so bad it’s hard work to get her in and out of the car, so also tend to just sit in her house, and she doesn’t approve of me sitting and doing work on my laptop, think she thinks I should be entertaining her.
I’m finding it more and more difficult to cope , and just the thought of going there makes me depressed, then when I come away I’m so wound up.
She’s critical - always lots of laundry to do, and complains if I use the tumble dryer as its ‘‘expensive’’ and although she can hardly move, will get up and hobble to the dryer to swith it off ! Which winds me up to the point I now try not to get involved with the laundty !
I know this is probably no diferent to mny other peoples stories, but just wanted to share as it’s really getting me down. This has been going on for 2 years now, she’s getting worse and I hardly ever get a break, the thought of it going on for several more years makes me feel hopeless. xx

Does mum have any other carers?
Does she claim Attendance Allowance? It’s intended to make things easier for her, like using a tumble dryer!
Does she have any genuine money worries, or is she just “careful” to the point of being so mean that she won’t spend her money?
How old is she?

Maybe remind her that you do not HAVE to do anything for her at all, you cannot be forced to care.

She’s 93.
She gets an allowance and isn’t short of money, just too ‘‘careful’’ to run the tumble dryer, which ,makes it even more frustrating.
We use a private care agency for 4 sessions a week to give us a bit of a break, but she doesn’t like them (nothing wrong with them) and tends to chase them out of the house instead of asking them to do things.
It’s the risk of falling out with my sisters/ putting more on them that keeps me feeling obliged to go twice a week. x

You cannot be forced to care. Maybe your sisters also don’t want to do things for mum either, but are not brave enough to say?
Maybe they live nearer, don’t work?
Whatever their circumstances, they should not be putting any pressure on you to do more than you want to.
When do you get time off to relax and spend time with your family?
Mum doesn’t even appreciate your visits!

I’d suggest a family meeting - face to face or online - to discuss how you all feel and what you feel capable of doing/want to do. And how to fill any gaps.

Present the situation to your mum as a united front. Not to gang up on her but to make it clear what you are willing to do and she will have to deal with that.

I do know it’s easy for me to say and much harder to do.

Thanks for your support and advice
We need to do something or I feel I’m heading for a breakdown x

Then take time out from caring for mum.
If you don’t put yourself first, no one else will. I learned this way too late in life. If no one likes it, tough.
If mum has plenty of money, but chooses not to use it, then she must take the consequences of her decisions.
I have the impression that she behaves like Queen Bee with daughters running round at her beck and call?
Does she contribute towards your travelling expenses?
Give you anything for the time you devote for her?

Yes, she does give me some petrol money. Unfortunatley it’s easier said than done to not do my share
I’m just exhausted ,mentally and emotionally with the whole thing. In fairness, I have a lot of other stresses going on and it’s everything together is all just too much.
We have suggested maybe she goes into a care home for 2 weeks for respite ( for us not her !) and I thin that would be a start.
Does anyone else find the whole care thing depressing? And any tips to help? x

You don’t have to ask her to go into a care home to give you a break.
You have to say when you will not be able to care for her.
Mum then has a choice. Either carers or residential care.

I know just how hard all this is, believe me. Only now mum has died do I realise how I was emotionally manipulated for years. Even when I’d just come out of hospital after life saving surgery mum was thinking of herself first.
My abdomen had been opened right up, what a male friend called a “guts out” scenario, my scar has faded now but it’s over 12" long.
Mum had taken to her bed while I was in hospital, then her carers mucked up her front door locks and I was the only one with a spare. My husband had to take me over, I couldn’t drive. When I said to mum I needed to sit down, she asked me “what’s the matter”!!!
Even worse, mum’s GP and Social Services tried to bully me into looking after mum over Christmas, just a few days later.
Finally discharged from hospital after a 5 months stay (it turned out mum couldn’t walk because she had broken her leg) again I was bullied by the hospital to care for mum. They wanted me to do “a bit of shopping” for her when I couldn’t even do my own shopping.
No one cared about me, my role as far as everyone concerned was that of slave.

My husband spent years looking after his parents, my parents, and our brain damaged son. He DIED at the age of 58 of a massive heart attack. I’ll always believe the stress of it all was a major contributary cause.

When did you last take a holiday for a week?
Why not? Emotional blackmail?

No one realises how much you are doing until you stop doing it. Your life is every bit as important as mum’s.

Sorry you have had such a difficult time.

I see history repeating itself in my family. My mother and sisters looked after her elderly mum, who was very ill and should have been in a home. I saw the consequences of this on many lives, finances etc Even my mother said many years later that it hadn’t been good for anyone.

I did have a week holiday in November, but that seems an age ago now. I have another week booked for June, but it’s not enough.
My caring issues are made worse by other problems I have going on, so need to sort those as well, all adding up to feeling so overwhelmed I can’t make a decision.

Kathy, when I was totally overwhelmed, newly widowed, newly disabled, I had counselling.
It was hugely helpful being able to talk to someone who focussed on me and my wellbeing, not talking to people who always wanted me to do more for them.
Write a list of everything bothering you, and shuffle it into priority order - easiest to do on a computer.
Then concentrate on the top things.
Your mum wants you and your sisters to do things, but try to think how she would manage if you were all ill, unable to support her. Unless you make a stand, she will ruin your life, expecting more and more until she dies. This happened to a friend of mine. His mum died at 104! Then he was too old to realise any of his own dreams.

I have just joined, and feel similarly to you, it’s good to know we are not alone with such things.

Yes, it’s nice to know we are not alone.
I never knew how hard it would be until I was in this position xx