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So many of us on this platform are tormented about saying no to those we care for. We, as good children, people, etc., don't want our elders to suffer. However, caregiving can take over our lives, and all of a sudden (or over a course of 10 years), we find ourselves exhausted and depleted.



Here are some of the things I've said to my mom about caregiving. I hope it helps.



Before she was in need of any care, I told her I would not be able to be her caregiver because I had a husband and two kids, and they would always come first. I was sorry, but I would not devote my middle age to her senior years, because I didn't want to miss out on things with my children and grandchildren. I was blunt, and she got angry (she helped care for her dad, but she's one of 10 kids; I'm one of three, and my brother is estranged from the family, and my sister lives 300 miles away).



I include my mom in many of our family activities and take her out for fun trips or just to break up her routine. But nothing is ever enough. She complains about me to her friends, siblings, my sister, and I just accept that. My sister and I are really close, and as for the rest of them, they either believe her or they don't, but I don't try to prove anything.



When she asks me to do something that I just can't, here are a few other things that I've said that seem effective.



"I'm sorry, I can't."
"I have other plans that day that can't be changed."
"I'm sorry, I have an appointment," (appointment might be night out with friends, but the word seems to work.)
"You'll have to make other arrangements."



If she asks why, or what are they, I just repeat the sentence. Sure, she gets mad that I'm not turning my life upside down to accommodate her, but if I stick to that line, then glance at my watch, she usually stops.



A couple months ago, she broke her foot doing something foolish, and I said, "Mom, I'm at my limit here. I don't have the skills to do more than this. Anything else, and you'll have to have an aide or go to rehab." That also seemed to work, the idea that a stranger would be in her house, helping her get upstairs and shower and stuff. We did force her to get a stair glide; she was very angry, but now that she has it, she loves it.



Does anyone else have tips on saying no and protecting their sanity?

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Just to clarify, my mom doesn't have dementia. She has a few memory lapses, but she has not been diagnosed with dementia. My profile states that clearly, so please don't think I'm being mean to a person with an irreversible illness.
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OMG we have a similar type of Mom. I am right there with you. I will not do more than I am capable of. I am NOT signing up for yrs of being the Caregiver. I will organize & set up when the time comes. $ is not an issue. Her horrible attitudes are. My Mom isn't charming. Borderline + NPD. I am more than happy to call her Housekeeper to come back (she refuses to allow her back) or hire on an once a week errand person (she refuses)..but NOPE...not laying down rest of my days to be her verbal punching bag. I have a career, kids (not married or with kids of their own yet)... I can do a lot for her in terms of hiring on the proper people (she refuses most everything).. take her to the Doc when I am up (I sched her appts around my visits) but NOPE.. I refuse to fall prey to her every whim. Full of negativity, hatred (yells and cusses) and complaints. I worked to become the person I am.. and I have a responsibility to my kids & sig other & career.. *I SOOOO admire elderly who have great attitudes-hobbies--friends--are friendly to neighbors.. not what I'm dealing with. Thanks for posting this. Reaffirms to me when I read these types of BOUNDARIES posts.
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"GRANDMA, if you want my help, I'm going to do it my way. If you want it done YOUR way, you need to hire someone."

A child would not be eligible or able to be a caregiver. Presumably, you are an adult. Adults have agency and the right and ability to say "no".
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You are so much more assertive then me I really hope to learn from you. I struggle greatly to say no to my elderly grandmother that I caretake for. She makes me feel like I am still a child. She is extremely demanding to do things her way and wants to teach me how to do everything. As her granddaughter It is very hard to say no I feel as though I’m talking back. The relationship is what makes it so hard
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You have on your profile Mom suffers from a Dementia. That right there is part of the problem. You cannot reason with her. A time will come when what you are doing right now may not work. A time she can no longer be alone. But good for now that she has excepted your boundries.

I think my generation, those raised in the 50s and 60s were not taught how to say no. I never said no to my parents. I did what I was told. We are taught to help others. JOY-Jesus, Others, then you. I guess others could mean your husband and children but I took it as people outside my family circle. Well I learned that there was a lot of "no good deed goes unpunished" People took advantage and I backed off. No is really hard to say and not offend people. I don't plan on going to a 55th Class Reunion next month. I have been to every reunion for 50 yrs. My GFs first was the 50th. I had asked her for 50 yrs to go it was always No. I didn't ask why. So she calls and asks me if I am going, I said "No". Her "why not" me "I don't want to" her "oh ok". Why don't I want to go, have no reason, just don't want to go. But see, I am suppose to except a No but my No I have to have a reason. I am learning.

When we say No, we are not responsible for the reaction we receive. (Boundries by Townsend and Cloud)
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Just recalled something my YB told me. Mom used to called him incessantly to the tune of over a hundred times one day. One evening she robo called him to check her front door. He told her he would check it the next day. She kept calling demanding he come right now. Finally around 2am he gave in and drove over. When he arrived she asked why he was there. Because you called me to come check your door. No I didn't call you she insisted. She genuinely couldn't figure out why he thought she had called. Mom lives here with me now. YB has mom's number blocked.
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I learned to say NO when my father started expecting me to leave work to take him to the same doctor twice in one day. First time I fell for it. Sadly second time I did too. But the third time I stood my ground. I asked him how he was going to get back to the doctor and he just looked at me utterly confused....of course I was going to rearrange my day for him. This wasn't a matter of rearranging my day...this was me taking time off of work! I pointed out I was already going into work late because of the appointment he just had..I could not continue to take off time for all his appointments. I am sure he had no idea I was using vacation time every time I took him someplace. I suggested he call one of his retired friends. No, he didn't want to BOTHER them. So I said, but it is ok to bother me and make me miss work??? But I am his daughter. Apparently, that is my job. He did call his friend and they did go back to the doctor later that day....NOT BECAUSE HE NEEDED TO...he just wanted to introduce the doctor to his retired doctor friend! And there you have it...other people's time means nothing to him, this was just a social call to him.
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TeethGrinder65, I remember back when my folks just needed minor help with things, I talked to them that if they needed a caregiver, would they want someone who was.....

a senior citizen
a person who wasn't trained to be a caregiver
a person who didn't like to drive
a person who didn't cook

Their answer was a firm "no". Then I said, "that person would be me". Well, they looked at me like my hair was on fire. I honestly thought they still viewed me as someone still in their 20's and 30's filled with unending energy.

Oh how I wish I could have set boundaries with my parents at the beginning as it was so difficult to start to say "I can't possibly do that" later on. Any time I did, Dad would say he would start driving again [I knew my Mom was behind that] and that was a major button with me.
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My late FIL posted a sign on his wall that read "What part of NO don't you understand? "

No is great word. I find that repeating your NO answer three times as needed is enough. The other person is repeating their demand aren't they?

You aren't obligated to give in just because they keep asking, or if you cant come up with creative answers.
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Teeth, I think that saying "no" to a parent is part of being an adult. And being able to tolerate their anger is as well.

I was fortunate that my mom didn't expect me to rearrange my life or give up time working or being with my family (she didn't expect it of my brothers, either).

This did NOT make it any easier to say "no mom, I can't do this anymore" when, due to cognitive decline, she started having "emergencies" everyday that forced me to leave work in Brooklyn and drive an hour north to her isolated home in Westchester.

I have no suggestions other than to say that we all get to make our own choices and set our own limits.
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