The guilt… it’s all consuming. NO matter what I do (or did) for my mother, I am overwhelmed with the guilt of not doing more. She is now 3yrs into dementia (& 88yrs old). She (& my stepfather) made me POA in 2014 (when she was healthy). I am #3 of 4 children. I have 4 college degrees & paid for all of my own schooling. My siblings took the opposite direction (marriage, kids). My parents are divorced & mom remarried. When my mom’s husband took ill to a wheelchair, they had to relocate closer to home & leave behind a lovely retirement home they built. I paid for a new home (including paying off their debt ($55k) so my mother & stepfather could be closer to family for the support & care they both needed (in 2015). Over a year into living in their new home my stepfather passed away. He was broke, with the exception of $25k life ins policy. Thereafter, although I live 2hrs away & work 55hrs+, I did everything for my mother (groceries, health care, cleaning/cooking, & paid for anything extra for the upkeep of the house), despite some family members being only 20mins from her!!! Fast forward, when her doctor & health care workers informed me, she can no longer live on her own, to keep her safe, I moved her (& all her belongings) to my sister’s home 5 states away. My sister is a retired health care worker…makes sense, right? Of course, I was relieved to have someone else take the lead on caring for mom because after 5yrs this meant I was going to get my life back in order. There she has her own bedroom/bathroom & privacy (including extra heath care worker 3x weekly). Unfortunately, she hates living there & now absolutely hates me for moving her. A few months ago, she called & said she is going to commit suicide if I don’t come get her, & if I don’t, I will pay the price with her death. I get that she has sundowners & has always suffered from depression, but even with all this & her dementia, my heart is breaking. How much can a daughter do to help ease the confusion of an aging demented mother? Even before this, I was always feeling guilty that I should be doing more…even though meanwhile my other sister was trying to rip-off & live in my mother/stepfather's retirement home they moved from, & a son that lived 20mins away never-ever went to visit mom or help around the house. I’m the one mom calls when she feels confused, sad or paranoid…Why then do I feel like crap even after everything I have done (emotionally&financially) to make her feel safe & to support her? I just want these feeling of, 'I have not done enough' guilt to stop! Reading the stories here is very helpful & therapy helps, but apparently not enough! Thank you all for sharing your very intimate stories…I am very grateful for this site. Any advice or suggestions are welcome.
So, look honestly at what you DID do for her. Wow - it's a LOT and waaaaay more than most of us would have even considered doing. You're an over achiever. Give yourself credit!!
That last thing to check on is how does your sister think mom is doing? Do you trust your sister? I assume so, so back off a bit. You do NOT need to take every call your mom makes to you. I'm assuming they are excessive - don't answer if they are. Set a limit of how many calls you will take (one a day?) and stick to it.
If she's bad enough to have sundowners, how is she even making all these phone calls? My mom doesn't have that yet but can rarely make calls. But everyone's dementia is different.
Be kind to yourself
No matter what I did for her it 'wasn't enough', to hear her tell it. To hear me tell it, it was plenty. More than enough, in fact, and I took on NONE of her financial bills or issues; she paid her own way through AL and Memory Care AL. I don't harbor any guilt at all b/c I did nothing to cause her problems, could do nothing to cure her problems, and there was nothing I could do to control her problems or her disease EITHER. Old age & infirmity were my mother's issues in life, and I was there to try & help her manage them, that's all. To think I was capable of doing more for her than that was to think I was God, and I know that I'm not. And unless YOU yourself think you're God, what more are you capable of doing than to help your mother feel safe and to support her? You've already done too much as it is, by financing her life and paying off her bills, to your own detriment. And STILL you feel like you haven't 'done enough'. What would it take, exactly, TO make you feel as though you've done enough for her? Answer that question, and I will tell you if you were to meet that goal, it STILL won't feel like enough b/c your mother will still have dementia and based on your math, you'll still be 'the bad daughter' as a result.
It's your thinking that has to change in order for you to find peace. You have to realize that your mother's disease is hers and not yours. Her age & infirmity is something that goes with HER life and not yours. You can't fix 88 with dementia, yet you still insist on trying. Your mother won't be happy no matter WHERE she goes b/c she has dementia and that's what's making her sad & upset. I used to say that I could put my mother up at the Palace of Versailles and she'd complain the gold was tarnished. I could jump through every fiery hoop on earth and STILL she'd be sad & miserable b/c that's who she WAS. Not my fault.
The only time I felt any relief from all the burdens of my mother's life was when she passed away in February. She foisted her ills upon me in spite of the fact there was nothing I could do to 'fix' them. I was her shoulder to cry on, her post to scratch on, and her sounding board to vent to. Me & only me. It's a huge burden to bear, but once I realized I couldn't fix her, it became easier. But there was no relief until she passed, to be honest. That's not to say I don't miss her, I do, just that the burden wasn't lifted until that time.
Wishing you the best of luck coming to YOUR realization that none of mom's problems are your responsibility or your fault.
You can take what she says with a grain of salt.
If she called you and said your sister was beating her, starving her would you believe her? If she called and said someone kept stealing her things would you believe her? If she called and said someone was talking to her all night would you believe her?
What does your sister say?
This is the one that has "boots on the ground" and knows what's going on with mom.
According to your sister is mom adjusted well? Is she doing well? Are there any problems that she can not handle?
Your mom would probably make that same phone call no matter where she was living.
bottom line is ...
Is mom safe where she is? If so that is all that matters.
big question is How is your sister doing?