Elderly mom's behavior

hoopskyt

hoopskyt

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#1
I had to move my 82 year old mother in with me 2 years ago. She was not able to stay in her home 2000 miles away any longer and blew most of her retirement money on jewelry and general crap. At the time I did that, I was taking care of my husband and adult son who both had Huntington's Disease. In 2017 my husband and son passed away in the same week. Since then my mother thinks I am free to be her best friend. She has pushed her way into my social circle. She invites herself to activities I do with my friends. She copies everything about me. She has changed what she wears, the purses she carries, the activities she wants to do so she's exactly like me. When she lived on her own, she did her own thing and had her own style but now she wants to be my twin. If I do an activity without her, she expects me to do something with her the following day. She has spent the last 20 years doing nothing but going to beauty appointments, watching tv, and eating. Because of choices she made back then, she now has heart failure and mobility problems. Yet she thinks she can do much more than she's capable of doing and expects me to figure out "how" to work things out so she can do things that she's physically not capable of doing (i.e. going to Disneyland, going to concerts or sporting events with me that require lots of walking). She won't make any decisions anymore and asks me nonstop what she should do and gets mad if I encourage her to do what she wants. I'm still grieving the loss of my husband and son, trying to get my life back after taking care of them 24/7 but she wants to be with me constantly. She's so much work to take places because of her mobility problems and it's exhausting. I'm going crazy. YES, I've tried telling her I need space but she believes she is giving me lots of space which isn't true.
 
Liza9560

Liza9560

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#2
What if you started going to yoga classes? Like, yoga for the elderly? She will either go with you and get better, or not go with you and you’ll have some healthy alone time. 🤷🏻‍♀️
 
hoopskyt

hoopskyt

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#3
I do a water aerobics class 3 or 4 times a week so I do have that time without her. If it wasn’t in the morning she would probably want to go to that but most times she’s not even awake when I go. Even though our dogs bark when I come home from that, she gets mad if I don’t go to her and tell her I’m home.
 
Liza9560

Liza9560

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#4
Jeez...I feel like I’d tell her over and over again that she’s NOT giving you your space. And if she wants to be a baby about it, let her. Ignore her crap and act nice when you interact, but hold fast to your point, and leave if she starts shrieking or something.
 
hoopskyt

hoopskyt

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#5
Somehow I posted in two different places here. On the other post, I received this message that I thought was excellent:

While the sense of obligation isn't likely to wane much, there remain boundaries that we must demand they respect for our own emotional well-being and I'd like to share with you some that I reinforce with my 85 year old mother:

1. I'm her son, not her doctor. I will not diagnose or suggest what to do when a chronic or new ailment is manifesting. However, I will accompany her to appointments.
2. I'm her son, not her therapist. There are things she should not tell me in order to unburden herself, there are worries and fears that don't belong to me and I will not and cannot carry them. However, I will accompany her to see a psychiatrist and ensure to the best of my ability that she takes her required medication.
3. I'm her son, not her partner. I cannot remedy the loneliness felt by many seniors, widows or widowers by folding my life into hers. She can make friends, meet new people and be social without my direction. However, I will help her explore lifelong learning courses at the local community college or university and help her find age-appropriate vacations such as those offered by Elderhostle/Road Scholar.
4. I'm her son, not her nurse. I cannot make my life about caretaking for her, I must live it. When a time comes that someone needs to care for her part-time or full-time, we will find a nurse or assisted living situation that respects both our needs. However, I won't abandon her I'll assure her that I plan to remain a loving, caring presence in her life.

These are some of the boundaries I've put in place to respect myself and my health. I hope you find them useful to and affirming of your own life.
 
Bizzarebitrary

Bizzarebitrary

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#6
There we are! Good, thanks @hoopskyt for bringing over my post so that we can discuss this in a forum where others facing similar challenges might read it. Hopefully we can support one another.

I'm pleased you found the boundaries post useful but how can we implement these. In my view, we'll have a problem enforcing boundaries while we're held as emotional hostages by the parent we support. They know us well and what buttons to push to make us fold like a kitchen towel.

One asset we have is knowledge of what they told us and when we were young children in need of boundaries. Our parent remembers when we cried and threw tantrums and they learned not to accept this behavior. Now we need to teach ourselves to not accept theirs.

I worked on this in therapy. It felt right to get impartial advice from a professional who could help me identify and inventory my values. I had to know what was most important to me before I could choose strategies that reflected these values. I also wanted to learn skills to sort out and cope with the emotional problems of being a caregiver. And finally, I had to learn how not to internalize the emotional aggression flung at me whenever my mother decided to yank my chain.

Bottom line: We have to take care of ourselves before we can care for our parents. Our emotional and physical health is the priority.

A therapist is very helpful but you can try to do this work alone using information in books or what's available on the web. I'll leave some links to help you get started and let's continue the dialog using our experiences, what's worked and what hasn't.

Parenting the Parent: Caring for Elderly Parents

When your narcissistic parent is sick or elderly

A guide to caring for a narcissistic senior
 
hoopskyt

hoopskyt

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#8
It's a daily thing. I've been keeping the recommendations from the above post in mind a lot and that helps. She recently had an arthritis flare up in her foot and wanted me to do everything for her. I kept remembering the part about not being her doctor or her nurse. She kept trying to get me to tell her what was wrong but I stuck to my guns and told her only she knew her pain level and whether or not she should see a doctor but to let me know and I would take her. After a week of not being able to go anywhere, she finally said she wanted to get an x-ray because she was convinced she had fractured it. I calmly took her in the wheelchair to urgent care and she got one only to be told she has arthritis and she is making it worse by not moving on it. She didn't want to believe that doctor and again wanted me to figure out what was wrong . . . look it up on the internet for her. I told her to tell her GP when she saw him a couple days later. She goes to a geriatric guy who is no nonense but very thorough. He looked at her x-ray results and told her the same thing. It's arthritis and she needs to keep moving even if it hurts her. It fell on deaf ears and she still is not doing much but I've let that go. It's her life. I won't lie though, it's been kinda nice because she doesn't want to do too much because it hurts to go out so I've had a little break for the moment.
 
Liza9560

Liza9560

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#9
I’m glad you’ve experienced a bit of relief, even if it’s because she’s been down for the count.

I bet you’re familiar with this awesome show:
Sit and Be Fit
I used to watch it on PBS. It has an ASMR effect on me. Maybe it could benefit your mom?
She must be so grumpy inside, to be blowing off her doctors and giving you such a hard time. Maybe she feels scared about coming to the end of her life having been a grumpy grump for so long. Might there be a therapist she can talk to?
Sounds like you’re staying strong! Good luck and keep keeping on!
 
hoopskyt

hoopskyt

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#10
I am familiar with sit and be fit. They offer something similar at the community center less than a mile away from me as well. I have suggested both many times. When I went to a therapist after the deaths of my husband and son from Huntington's Disease, I went to a therapist for a while. I talked with her many times about how that can be helpful with all sorts of problems and feelings. She told me she was glad it was helpful for me but she didn't need anything like that and didn't think it would help her even if she did. Thanks for suggesting it though. I'm always open to mentioning new things despite the fact that unless it involves food or alcohol or a party, she is not interested.