I am at the end of my rope. I love my mom, but she thinks I owe her for her support of me over the years. I moved to her home to care for her after she asked me to. I spent the first year without any payment to me, to pay off my debt to her.
Now, 6 yrs. later, my sister tells me that mom said I still owe her. That is wrong. I don’t like this sneaking around, telling siblings things she doesn’t tell me! Mom has become someone who likes to be the victim, it seems. She always needed to be the center of attention.

I love mom very much, but she has changed. I have heard her on the phone, saying things to my 2 siblings that just aren’t true. I am a very private, conscientious person, pretty much sacrificing my last best years because mom wants to “die at home”. Not sure I can do this much longer. And sibs don’t listen, they don’t want to hear. They just want me to stay to care for mom.
I turned 70 this year. I don’t feel so great. What about me?

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Dear Quarkles, How about this for a plan. Change the details as much as you like! You decide that you are willing to do the night shift and breakfast. You say what $ you will require - it probably depends on how much input will be needed overnight and before breakfast. Then you will be gone for the rest of the day. Perhaps you agree to put dinner on the table, no earlier than 7pm so that you really do have a day free, and of course that affects the $ you require. You tell sister and M, and any other relatives who need to know. Whatever the reaction, you do it.

Do you really need a house of your own to go to while you are ‘off duty’? It’s bound to be expensive, even if prices weren’t going up. Is there somewhere else you can spend time in your ‘small town’? Could you get a job, for interest and for something to do during the day? Even caring for someone else would be a change, on better emotional terms than being M’s servant. Volunteering might also be an improvement on servitude.

IF you get told that you can’t stay in the house on those terms, LEAVE TOWN. Make your own life. When M dies or goes into care, you will need to make your own life anyway, and the sooner you try the better!

PS Thank you for your message to me, it was a surprise and I appreciated it.
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Your siblings have POA. Tell them you are 70 years old and you need to retire for the sake of your health. Sibs have to step up as POA and back you up to Mom that other arrangements for her care need to be made .
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There's a running theme in this when it comes to "entitlement". Our parent is the same way and has thrown each of us under the bus when it comes to a combination of twisting words and playing one against the other. All three of us understand this. Having said that though, I've actually stepped waaaaaay back in terms of "how" and "who" I'm communicating with at any given time. For me it's better this way and the result has been minimal agitation.
Take my advice on this; IGNORE IT. It's not worth it and in the end, this won't matter. The only thing that will matter is your mental health. At 70, I'd put ME first.
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I have no doubt that you love your mom. I loved my mother too, but being a full time caregiver nearly killed me.

Lots of parents have helped their children get over a hump. This doesn’t mean that the children owe them for the rest of their lives.

Your siblings aren’t going to step in to help. Mom will have to make other arrangements if you decide to walk away.

I certainly hope that you do decide to return to your life. You have paid your debt and then some.

Wishing you well as you sort through this situation.
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"Also, mom has plenty of funds, but does not want to spend anything for her care. She has LTC insurance, but doesn’t wish to go to a facility."

What a mind boggling WASTE of money it's been for mother to have purchased LTC insurance and now refuse to use it! Waste who-knows-how-many thousands upon thousands of dollars yet REFUSE to pay YOU for your caregiving services over the years! $500 a month is a slap in the face.

She's already PAID for care, to an insurance company, but won't use it bc she has you as her indentured servant.

Angry yet?

You certainly should be!

You love mom very much, yet she is taking serious advantage of you, along with your "sibs". That's not how love is reciprocated.

It's one thing being a penny pinching cheapskate. It's another thing entirely to victimize your own daughter to save a buck. Does she plan to be buried with all her money? Or is she holding The Almighty Inheritance over your head? You'll probably be dead, God forbid, by then if that's the case. Women like this live to 100 bc they're working their "loved ones" into an early grave.

Wise up before time runs out.
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Give up. Walk away. You could die before she does. Reclaim your life.
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Quarkles Oct 24, 2023
Thanks for your reply. That’s what I want to do—walk away. I feel I AM going to die before she does. I have been TRAINED by mom to take care of her, from early on. It’s hard to disengage from that training. I hope I can. I must. Thanks.
What about you?
You have been the sibling who chose to paint herself into a bad corner.
Time to talk honestly with your other sibling(s) who (wisely) didn't get into this pickle.
As you have moved in with Mom, you can move out as well. Let the siblings know that is the plan.
Anyone who moves in with parent or parent with them needs a SOLID elder law attorney to make a shared living expenses plan, and a contract of care. We on AC have seen many who move in end up homeless and jobless, and without a job history or savings when the parent is dead.

I am sorry. I suggest you meet with family and tell them you are finding your own place now, even if it is a rented room in someone else's home.
You do not mention who is POA for Mom, her competency, nor plans for care, but there needs to be some now. What Mom "wants" in so far as dying at home, or anything else, matters not at all if she has not the funds to pay for assisted home care.
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Quarkles Oct 24, 2023
Alva, thanks for sharing your opinions and the hard truth. I appreciate your thoughts. They make a difference. K

Also, mom has plenty of funds, but does not want to spend anything for her care. She has LTC insurance, but doesn’t wish to go to a facility.
I have HCP, sister and step-bro. have financial POA.
Quarkles, you need to think about yourself first, before thinking about your mother’s issues. From the sound of it, your mother helped you financially in the past. You ‘paid it off’ by working unpaid caring for her in her house for a year. Do you really feel that you still owe her, and if so, what and why. Do you owe her money? How much and why? Were they ‘gifts’? If so, why do you ‘owe her’? Or were they ‘loans’ with the expectation of repayment? If so, have you already repaid (plus interest)?

Perhaps what you feel you still ‘owe’ was coming to your rescue at a time when you were low? Giving you a home? How did she expect you to repay that, and how did you expect to repay it? Or was it too a ‘gift’? Do you feel you have to repay ‘gifts’?

You mother has it stuck in her mind that you still ‘owe her’. You think it has passed, but in the back of your mind you still believe in it. You resent it being pushed to your sister, but you think that your sister believes in it too, at least at some level.

When you are clear yourself, my suggestion would be to talk to sister first, not in too much detail but saying that you have already repaid any obligation. Then talk to sister about where to go from here. If you don’t want to stay in the house on the current terms, it would be best if you and sister both agree on a plan for the future. Perhaps you stay living in the house, perhaps doing the night shift, unless that is becoming impossible. Perhaps M gets the care she needs from day care in one form or another, freeing you up from being ‘her everything’. And if that doesn’t work, does she move to AL or a NH? That may involve you personally to think about where and how you will live. You are propping up the current situation, so you can choose to stop, but you and sister are both involved in what happens after that.

Mother’s mindset is likely to get worse, and it is increasing likely to be accepted by sister and others. So you do need to think about yourself. It’s about your own future, not really about making mother more reasonable.
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Quarkles Oct 24, 2023
Thanks, Margaret, for your help.

yes, I owed mom for loans in the past. No, I don’t owe her another cent, in fact, she owes me for my 6 yrs. of care, for which she refused to pay a fair wage. After the year of repayment of my loan, she offered $500/mo. I was so shocked, I didn’t answer her right away. I double checked on google what the dept. of labor said. In Michigan, the low average salary for a live-in was about $35k/yr, with room and board and at least 1-2 days off per wk. That’s not much money for 24/7. But mom had a fit and said she would not pay me that. She then offered $1500/mo. But then, yearly, added $100/mo. , so, I think this year I finally broke the $20k/yr. mark. She started my wages at the poverty level mark, for 24/7 coverage, never offered me time off, and acts like she’s sacrificing to do so.

Good point to raise the issue of “gifts”. No, I do not think gifts are to be repaid. I did have her loans to repay, and have discharged that obligation. But later, I heard from sister that mom feels I owe her for “years of support”. That simply is not true, so I wonder if mom feels the gifts she offered over the years, counts as “owing” her. I suspect so. She’s weird about people “owing” her—grandchildren “owing” her for Birthday checks, etc. Kind of disgusting to me.

I think you are right, that mom has it stuck in her head that I “owe” her, likely an imaginary thing, OR an escape from the guilt she might have for hijacking my life. I no longer live MY life, I liver HER life. It’s probably sick that I let this happen. But I have a lot of guilt and shame and that skews a healthier outlook. Childhood abuse from Dad, which mom never stopped from happening. Also neglect from mom. I never had confidence, and felt I needed to protect my mother. That’s all I’ll say about that. It might shed light on this unhealthy relationship I have with mother. The siblings don’t seem to see that. They run from the truth: both are millionaires, and they can hardly be bothered to deal with this situation. In fairness, I believe my sibs don’t know WHAT to think. Mom likes to play the victim, and tells them one thing and I believe I am being treated unfairly, so I tell them my view. It’s a mess, and they don’t want to be involved. If it were MY sibling, I would want to help resolve it.

I DID talk with sister saying my obligation had been repaid.
Yes, I agree, sister & I should agree on the plan for the future.

I have shared with mom & sibs for 3 yrs., that I need to get a cheap little house. The market isn’t cooperating,but, I need to have somewhere to go weekly. I need to have a future. I wake up in the middle of the night, terrified. My bro has paid for little getaways 3 times a year, very generous. But now, I need to get out of here weekly. I look at every day. The inventory is very, very low here in this small town. That is my plan: get a house (rentals are tripled here), escape 2-3 days, weekly, and try to help mom, too. If that doesn’t work, I have done the groundwork with two assisted living facilities.

I AM at the end of my rope. I just keep trying not to be. Your KIND and HELPFUL note was a blessing to me. I will read it countless times. It helps to not feel so alone.

Thank you so very much! K
You had a financial debt to Mom? Did you owe Mom 131K? Because that is what 24/7 care would be after a year at $15 an hour. After 6 years I think you probably paid that debt off many times.

Time to tell family you are now 70 and can no longer can care for Mom. Be ready to move out. So get ur ducks in a row before u do this.
Helpful Answer (5)
SnoopyLove Oct 23, 2023
Excellent point!
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You don't owe your mom the experience of dying at home, which is overrated anyway. Her wish becomes your burden to carry, and she doesn't care one bit about you if she insists that you make this sacrifice.

It's time to tell mom that you are older now and can't do this anymore. You have your own health problems. Mom can die at home but it won't be you who takes care of her.

Your siblings take over so she can die at home. Or she hires caregivers so she can die at home (she will need at least two). Or she can give up the ridiculous idea of dying at home and go to a facility. There's nothing wrong with living out one's life in a place where there are multiple caregivers who have the training to provide 24/7 care. And the activities and friends such an experience provides are way better than what a family caregiver can do.

I hope you have another place to live. If not, start looking, and good luck.
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Quarkles Oct 24, 2023
Fawnby, thank you so much for your thoughts. Everything you said rang true.
I have struggled over the years thinking I would never do what she’s doing to me to someone I love. I would never even hint that they “owe” me. That isn’t love. “Conditional love”, maybe. Lately, I’m trying to figure out if my mom ever loved me at all. She never had much empathy and always seemed to love material things so much. She had favorite daughters in this family, and I was not one of them. I am different than she is. Very kind, loving, generous and helpful. She wants what she wants. Now. Always has. But, she’s charming and fun. All 4 of us kids simply adored her (dad was emotionally unavailable and abusive).
Perhaps I am trying to get her to love me, in the way I think love should be. But this cost is too high.

No, I don’t have a place to live, but I’m trying. Been trying to buy a cheap little house for 3 yrs. Little is available in this small town and rents have tripled.

Again, thanks for your thoughts, thanks for caring. Your response helped to strengthen me. Both my sibs will visit over Thanksgiving. I believe I will plan a meeting of the minds.
Your Mother is 91 years old. Please consider that she is now at the beginnings of cognitive decline and memory impairment. This is how it starts: slowly and in a way that feels confusing to family. My own MIL would tell a different version of the same story to her 3 sons. We couldn't figure out why because there seemed to be no reason for it. We finally figured out she had memory impairment, didn't even remember if she'd eaten that day, would tell me over the phone what she ate in detail but when I went there in person there was no food refuse in the trash, no dirty dishes, and food rotting in her fridge. She sincerely believed what she told me was true/accurate, but it wasn't and we couldn't convince her otherwise.

Therefore, get your Mother tested with her primary doctor. There are other conditions that can mimic dementia-like symptoms, like a UTI, a thyroid problem, dehydration, vitamin deficiency, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, etc. An accurate diagnosis will be important going forward. This is mostly how dementia is diagnosed: by eliminating all other possibilities.

If she does have cognitive impairment, you need to practice not reacting to her as if she's her prior self (it's harder to do than you may imagine). That person is leaving in bits and pieces. I found Teepa Snow videos on YouTube extremenly educational. She's an expert on dementia and caregiving. I wish you all the best on this journey.
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Quarkles Oct 24, 2023
Geaton, Thanks so much for your kindness and effort in replying. I appreciate it. It caused me to think outside of my fear.
I do know that mom has cognitive decline. Some days are better than others. Yes, it is very difficult to NOT react to her as if she is her prior self. It’s extra hard, because she has not treated me well. I struggle to rise above it, but am not sure if she is being self-centered, as always, or is exhibiting signs of dementia. Still, she is not treating me well, and I came to help her because she asked me to. It is breaking my heart. I think I need to leave.
Thank you so much for helping. K
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