An update on my Mom in AL. Let's just say "the honeymoon is over"!

After looking after Mom, who lived with me for 5 years, I gave up on life and tended to her needs. When I had the opportunity of taking a vacation with friends earlier this year, I jumped at the chance. I arranged her stay at an AL facility while I was away. She was happy, until she had 3 falls which landed her in the hospital, miraculously no injuries, bruises only, (She refused to use a walker, she does now!)

When I returned we both agreed she should stay full time, she was fine with that since she was once again enjoying herself there. Looking back I think she was enjoying the attention of being the new kid on the block and the constant care from the Wellness Center in the facility.

Within a few weeks of my return I found out I needed Colon surgery and ended up staying in the hospital for 4 weeks. Thank goodness she was settled in AL. That's when things began going sideways.

My daughters would bring her to visit me. On the first visit she didn't talk to me...said "there is nothing to talk about".?!? The phone calls during my stay while I was trying to heal were endless and upsetting, complaint after complaint. The worst was during my second week, Covid took its toll in her AL and they were confined to their rooms during the outbreak. She would call me endlessly crying and screaming that she was in jail. On the third day she said the home gave her the go-ahead that she could visit me?!?! Nope!! The home was in contact with my daughters during this time rather than burden me while in recovery. What I found out afterwards was that she tried removing the screen from her room (without success), I suppose she thought she could jump out and run away?

When I was able to go home I was stationary for several weeks. The calls of complaints were escalating. She was bored. She has very few interests. There are endless activities at her home, but.... the people were not so nice anymore, she doesn't like card games or movies, she started skipping out on many outings incl. Restaurant outings because she didn't like the restaurants chosen, the ladies shopping excursions were stupid, the food wasn't good anymore (my cooking was so much better), day trips were boring, she would misplace items and say they were stolen (nothing stolen, all found in her room), her room was filthy (spotless everytime I go there), they lost her clothes in the laundry (nothing missing), and on and on. She says life was so wonderful with me, but truth is she was miserable...constantly crying or slamming doors. Grass is always greener syndrome?

And it gets worse. I start Chemo treatments next week, a 6 month program. I have told her over and over that I don't know how I will be feeling, or well enough for visits and taking her out for lunches, etc. Mom is extremely healthy, she is 97. Her only issue is arthritis in some of her fingers, not steady on her feet anymore and hearing (that is declining, she has hearing aids).

Over the past few weeks our constant conversations are about her worries that she may get sick and catch a cold and how can she prevent this, or if she is taking enough vitamins.......over and over. Then she will end the conversation saying she loves me and thinks about me.

It really sucks being an only child! I don't know how I will get through the next six months. My constant need to make her happy and oddly feeling guilty about her unhappiness is now turning to anger. I really have had enough of this daily circus.... would like a little support from her during this time. Just don't know how to cope with all of this anymore.

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Your mother doesn't get to plague you during cancer treatments. (She shouldn't do it the rest of the time either, but REALLY? What planet is she living on?)

Get her evaluated for anxiety and depression by the geriatric psychiatrist who sees patients at the AL. (Talk to the DON about arranging this).

You are NOT responsible for your mother's happiness; neither are you her permanent entertainment committee. Please tell her so and put down some boundaries.
Helpful Answer (8)
anonymous1732518 Oct 4, 2023
She's realized too late she had it good living with her daughter.
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I'm so sorry you are dealing with this.
You have to take care of you.
Mom is being taken care of.
Your Mom will not be happy , but that is not your job to keep her happy.
She has activities available to her, she's choosing to not participate.
You should not feel guilty. The elderly often complain. They know they are declining and become very self centered. I know you would like support from her but she may not be able to do that. At her age she may also have some dementia which will make her self absorbed and not able to be very supportive towards you.
Keep your phone calls brief. "Sorry Mom , I have to go to an appointment."
When she complains, " Sorry you feel that way mom,' Or try to change the subject.
Helpful Answer (7)

Only child, I went back and read some of your previous posts.

Check out this site on Personality Disorders:

It sounds like mom has always been emotionally needy and somewhat dependent.

Please get her seen by a Geriatric Psychiatrist; I recall your saying she refused counseling in the past, but in your shoes, I would insist on an evaluation.

Meds might mitigate her constant sadness and anxiety, but you are going to need to learn how to protect your privacy and health.
Helpful Answer (7)

I'm an only child, too. My 94-year old Mom lives next door to me. As she ages she becomes more and more negative (and she was always on the negative sider her whole life). She eats dinner with me and my hubs almost every night. I have a boundary with her: no negative or depressing topics, no angry political talk, etc. My hubs (who now has more patience with her than me) will take out his phone and show her funny Instagram memes or YouTube videos to get her off her negativity. She barely asks about our lives, and focuses on all her tiny medical maladies (she too is very healthy, with only arthritis).

You need to find and defend your boundaries with your Mom. She is probably depressed and needs meds. This would be merciful for her, since she is in cognitive decline and is less and less able to bring her mind around to a more happy and peaceful place. Dementia robs people of their reason and logic and judgment. It robs them of their empathy for others.

Don't answer all her calls. Don't even listen to her voicemails. Make up a fib to end phone conversations with her that go off the rails (ie she is criticizing you or complaining incessantly). Plenty of times a week I will abruptly hang up on my Mom (while she's still yapping) telling her I have to take another call that's coming in. You will exhaust yourself waiting for her to be someone she isn't and probably never was.

You are Priority #1. This doesn't mean you don't love your Mom. But you have to love yourself and take care of yourself, especially now that your health is compromised. May you gain peace in your heart as you find the right boundaries.
Helpful Answer (7)

Mother is miserable. Period. With you, without you, in AL or the Palace of Versailles, mother is miserable. It's not your job to fix someone so broken and self centered that her biggest concern is catching a cold while you endure 6 months of chemo for cancer.

I was an only child to a mother like this myself. Take one phone call a day, if that, and mother stays put right where she's at. You have no time or strength to deal with her histrionics now because you have cancer and need to focus on treatments and healing over the next year minimum. Mother can deal with her OWN MISERY for the next year bc sorry, you're busy. The end.

Wishing you the best of luck with all of this.
Helpful Answer (7)

You are currently receiving chemo treatments for cancer, and all your 97 year-old mom cares about is that she might catch a cold?

Wow. Just wow.
Helpful Answer (6)
BurntCaregiver Oct 4, 2023

This level of narcissism is hard to get one's mind around.
Only child here.

The “balance” in your situation is managing your own health in the very best way possible.


Her off the campus visits aren’t helping her OR you, so temporarily (permanently) curtail them.

She is no longer in a position to “support” you OR HERSELF.

She is safely residing, albeit but including the fall risk, in a pleasant place that she has liked before, and can learn to like again.

Her demeanor may be changing because of possible cognitive decline, and her care needs WILL increase while you need tranquility as you recuperate.

Trust yourself. You have done the right thing on her behalf and you have no reason to question yourself.

You need YOU. Highest hopes that you come through chemo comfortably.
Helpful Answer (6)

Oh, my goodness. This is unbelievable. I can't even get my mind around your mother being taken to visit you in the hospital and then complaining at you while in the bed recovering.

You also have cancer and are facing six months of treatment and she's still complaining at you and creating nonsense drama about catching a cold and taking enough vitamins.

Please for your sake, stop allowing her to be brought to visit you and stop taking her calls.
When she calls let the machine pick up and let her leave a message. Then have your daughters or someone else screen them for you and delete any of her rants.

Talk to her once a week on the phone. The second any complaining, gaslighting, or drama starts up you hang up.

What a narcissist. My mother is very similar. Ignore her for a while. She's safe and being cared for. Your time and energy has to be focused on you and your health now. Not her made-up, fabricated, drama nonsense.

Good luck to you and I wish you all the best.
Helpful Answer (6)

Don't accept all of her calls no reason to, she is trying to manipulate you yet again. Tell her you will speak to her once a day, if there is an emergency the home will call you.

I was an only child to my father, none of what you outlined happened, why? Because I had boundaries and I stuck to them. Being an only child does not make you responsible for their happiness and that you are their servant.

You still have not set any boundaries and until you do and stick to them nothing will change, she is driving the car and you are sitting in the back seat.

IMO you have codependency issues, what about getting some therapy?

Ask yourself, what is wrong with this picture?
Helpful Answer (5)

As a cancer Survivor I can tell you that it has very few gifts to bring, but one of them is -- if your experience is anything like my own with the Big C.-- the ability to address things honestly , openly and FINALLY.

You are no longer going to have the strength (I did chemo for 6 months) to play these games.

Will mother like this? No. She will not. She is not going to be able to accept at this point the fact her daughter is dealing with a life threatening illness. She can get around that acceptance nicely with denial. But for you that won't work.

So it will come down to this: "Mom, I am now dealing with recovery from a life threatening disease. I am sorry, but this will make me now selfish in my own defense. I have done what I can to make you safe; I love you. BUT MOM, THIS IS NOW ABOUT ME".

You will be able to go on to tell her your limitations in phone calls and visits right now.

Mom is very likely to say "Well, nice to know finally you don't care about me anymore". She may cry; she will likely be very angry. Just tell her you are sorry that you can't do it all, but you have just had a run in with your own limitations. Just coming to realize you cannot do it all.

You have this. At first you will be very uncomfortable, but this will be easier. I still remember my daughter, who needed help with flea treatment, when I said nope, not me. She said "But YOU are the only one responsible enough or able to help me" and I said "I think what I am now telling you is that I am NOT responsible now to help you, or able".

You are going to look back on this someday after all the trauma and drama, and you are going to recognize the gifts you got out of a hard hard fight. This is going to make you a stronger person, a happier and more appreciative person, and a person certain of her own STRENGTH forevermore.

My cancer, breast with two positive nodes, was 35+ years ago. My whole heart and what soul I have goes out to you! You CAN do this.
Helpful Answer (4)
Onlychild07 Oct 4, 2023
Thank you for your encouragement. Happy to hear you have put Cancer behind you.
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