Need to vent a little-long

goldenbuckeyeApril 6, 2006

but I don't really know where to start. I guess I resent being a Mother to my Mother. Go ahead, beat me over the head for saying that! My Mother (Dad is too even more so than Mom) is retarded but I didn't realize just how much till she came to live with me about 3 years ago. She somehow over the years learned to cover it pretty well but the older she gets the more it shows. That's not really what I need to vent about.

Her and Dad lived together on their own pretty much unsupervised for over 50 years, (I don't know how I survived literally) and during that time Mom learned some bad habits such as manipulating and controling. She's addicted to the telephone (even though she doesn't know anything to talk about except how's your dog and how's your cat; what did you have for dinner; what are you having for supper, who died , how's the weather, do you have any news (gossip), who married who 50 years ago and who's kin to who? There's very few variates from the above conversation just depending on who she's talking to except to ask people to send her something. It's been a book, persimmons, plants, pecans and pictures. She doesn't understand what she reads, she ate one persimmon out of 6, I have to plant the plants most of what I don't even want or have a place for and we didn't need the pecans. She has pictures of people she doesn't even know! I noticed her asking people for things even when I went to visit before she came to live with us and told her she shouldn't do that and she would always say she didn't ask but I know she did. I put my foot down on that and told her I was going to start returning the packages because she shouldn't be doing that.

We live almost a thousand miles from where she lived so all her calls are long distance. The telephone has been a real problem because she stayed on it and we couldn't get any calls from anyone. We tried a seperate line for her but that wasn't a solution. Not many people want to have the same conversation with the same person everyday. Some people got answering machines so they could screen their calls. Some people would just hang up on her and she'd think something was wrong with the phone and keep calling back. I'm very protective of her and don't want to hurt her feelings so I tried limiting her calls to 4 a day especially after I saw on the phone bill where she made 22 calls in one day. I did that to keep from hurting her feelings by telling her the truth. If I ask her to stay off the phone because we are expecting an important call it doesn't matter. As soon as our backs are turned or she thinks we can't hear she's on the phone or I should say was. I threatened to take her phone out. That didn't work so I had to actually take it out for a day. One day I was in town and tried for an hour and a half to call home and couldn't. The 4 calls a day didn't work either because she'd lie about the number of calls even though I had the phone bill in my hand and I know I didn't call those people so we had to go with she has to ask to use the phone. I hate having to do that!

She doesn't want to get out and meet people probably because she knows she's different but she doesn't think of herself as being retarded. She refuses to go to the senior citizens center. Everybody that comes thru our door gets asked are you married, how many kids do you have, how old are they ect. ect.? How can I stop that without hurting her feelings?

I can't be as relaxed, loving and kind as I'd like to be with her because I have to be so firm and I resent that. If I give an inch she takes a mile! I know she can't help being retarded. She is about like a 3 year old. DH and I both have racked our brains trying to come up with some hobbies for her to get some pleasure out of life but she just doesn't know how to do anything and it's so-o-o hard to teach her anything. She did learn to quilt years ago and she still does that but she doesn't do a good job.

She tries to be so controling!!!! If she could she'd have me on a leash turning flips for her entertainment, literally!

I so much want her to be happy but the only things that make her happy is gossiping on the phone, giving orders, spending money and eating herself to death. As for spending money; it makes her feel powerful to spend money. She has more things than she needs so she wants to buy me things. I don't need anything and she gets upset when I tell her I don't need anything. When she does give a person something she won't quit talking about it. If she gave you something 2 years ago everytime she sees it she mentions she gave it to you. Get the picture?

She has a 32" TV in her room but she wants to control what's watched on my TV in the LR. I tell her if she wants to watch something different she'll have to watch it in her room but the really sad thing is, she doesn't understand what she's watching. She doesn't know the difference between the movie and a commercial!

In the beginning I took her shopping with me a lot but I gave up on that. She can never buy enough to make her happy! Nothing is ever enough.

She tries to make people think she wants to do for herself but she doesn't. She'd like it if someone did everything for her. To give you an example; I saw her sitting not 2' for the kitchen sink and call Dad to come get her a glass of water! She just wants everybody to do for her but I have her do what she can for herself because she needs the exercise. She's a diabetic and went barefoot winter and summer for several years after Daddy quit putting her shoes and socks on her simply because she refused to do it herself. (He would put them on her if she had to go to the doctor) Her floors were dirty and cold and she was all the time getting diabetic sores on her feet. Just before she came home with me she was in the hospital for a week with gangrene in her great toe. She has had one small sore within the first 6 months she was here and it healed quickly. A diabetic should not go barefooted. It's a wonder she didn't lose a leg or both. She took insulin for years but within 2 months of eating properly she doesn't have to take anything to control her sugar but the damage is already done to her heart, kidneys and nerve endings ect. She eats everything we eat except she eats in moderation and has snacks in between meals.

She wants to talk all the time but doesn't know anything to talk about and the simple talk gets on DH's nerves so bad he's practicaly living in the computer room so he doesn't have to listen to it. There's a TV in the computer room also. He only comes out to go to the bathroom, dinnertable, bed or on his way out the door. He doesn't want to hurt her feelings either. I try to spend some time with both of them so I'm back and forth. I listen to the same things over and over like I never heard them before and to what so and so had for dinner ect.

I don't have it so bad like a lot of you do except for the nerve racking part of it. We do have an aid come in 3 times a week for a couple of hours and we can get a full day on top of that if we just need to get away. She can't be left alone.

She had total knee replacemnet on the 14th of March and went to rehab afterwards. They say she will be there probably another 3 weeks. I'll be glad when she can come home but at the same time I'm enjoying the little bit of freedom. I stayed all day at the hospital with her and went to the NH twice a day for the first week but now I only go once a day. She wants to come home NOW real bad but she isn't able to yet. She needs a lot more rehab. I have some health problems myself one of them being depression and I just can't take getting up all thru the night ect.

She's had both hips replaced and I took care of her both times but it really took it's tole on me and the knee surgery is so different than the hip surgery. The first couple of days it took 4 people to handle her then 3 for several days then 2 and now it's down to one but at the NH those people go home after their shift ends. My shift wouldn't end here at home. She weighs 180 pounds. She lost 50 pounds the first year she was here.

Guess I've vented enough so now ya'll can start kicking my butt. I already know I'm so lucky compared to a lot of you.

BTW I'll never put her in a NH as long as I can take care of her. I'm so glad she's with us, I just wish she wouldn't be so controling and manipulative. My Dr. sent me to a shrink and he said we should just accept it as being her way. That's easy to say when you're not living with it. It gets old fast having someone try to tell you your every move.

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It sounds as if she is a very lonely person and is at that stage of life where she doesn't have enough contact with enough people to suit her. However, she may very well be in the beginning stage of some sort of dementia rather than being retarded. Since she is now in a NH, it might be a good idea to let her stay there as long as possible. See if being around a lot of other people would break the phone habit. People with dementia quite often do much better with others rather than being alone all day.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 11:07AM
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I agree with Agnespuffin in that you should try your level best to keep her in that facility (if they offer residential care in addition to rehab) or find her/them alternate living arrangements.

Despite your best intentions, by having your parents live in your home, you now have FOUR dysfunctional people rather than just the original two. Your father is obviously powerless over this situation and has been for 50 years. Your dear husband has become a reculse, which can't be doing very much for your marriage. :) You are suffering enough already, why on earth are you doing this to yourself? I have found that there is no room for martyrdom in this situation. You will not be getting any prizes for laying your life down for your mom in this way. She is going down and taking you and your DH with her. You cannot allow her to do this any longer, and I sense that you realize this.

You CANNOT CHANGE HER OR HER BEHAVIOR!! As long as there is a telephone in your home, she will find it and continue to use it and therefore interfere with the otherwise peaceful lives of the poor souls whom she is calling. You have a responsibility to these people to keep your mother from calling them. If I were on the receiving end of those calls, as nice as I am, I would be blaming YOU for allowing her to keep calling me! There is a point where even though people surely understand her mental capabilities, it becomes harrassment in their eyes.

Her entrance into rehab is your golden opportunity to begin to look for a long term solution to this situation. Run, do not walk to the Social Worker/Case Manager at the NH where your mom is, and ask her what your alternatives are. She/he may be able to give you suggestions on how to make this work out for all involved.

You didn't mention how old your parents are, so it is hard to figure out how long you could be doing this. But it appears as though she will be outliving you if you keep her in your home. It sounds as though she has financial resources to burn. You don't need more stuff... so do what you can to help them preserve what money they have so that perhaps they can afford one of the nicer assisted living or residential nh's in your area.

You will not be able to physically manage a 180 pound mother for very long before tossing yourself into the hospital. You must think rationally at this point. Your husband can't possibly be loving this arrangement. There is a point where you can say that you have done your level best to make this arrangement work and must find an alternative before it becomes a true family tragedy. You and your husband deserve to enjoy your own future together! You cannot, MUST not feel guilty either. Then you will be able to start the work of taking care of yourself and your DH and returning your home to a peaceful, sane haven.

That all said, bless you for trying to take this all on. Every single step of this road is HARD! Your motives are pure, but the situation is toxic to all of you and you must salvage what you can before it takes more of a toll on you and your DH.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 2:06PM
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Agnespuffin There's no doubt she's retarded but she may be beginning dementia as well. She isn't interacting with the other residents because she really doesn't know how. The rehab is in the same section as assisted living and it seems most of those people are fairly intelligent from what I've seen. In the nursing home section most of them are about like vegetables. The ones who aren't don't have their mind. She interacts with the employees but they get paid to interact! Some of them say they just love her but I'm sure there's some who probably don't really like her.
As for being alone all day, she is never alone. I think she'd talk all day long if she had someone to talk to but there's only so much you can talk to her about. I rack my brain trying to find something to talk to her about.
I don't think anything will break the phone habit. I think that's the main reason she wants to come home so bad because she says everyone there is very good to her. I think talking on the phone makes her feel normal somehow and I know it makes her feel powerful. So does spending money. She doesn't have a lot of it either. She lives off SSI. They did have a small nest egg but when my sister took over Dad's guardianship she went through it very quickly. She's addicted to spending money too. Between what the VA pays her and Dad's check she gets around 1,500.00 a month for taking care of him and knowing my sister the way I do I'm sure she wouldn't be taking care of him if she wasn't getting the money. I'm sure you're wondering how Dad gets a VA check with his severe retardation. The fact is the military goofed up by keeping him too long. He was a good looking young man and didn't look retarded at all. They probably just thought to start with that he was just a dumb country hick. Someone in charge was't paying enough attention or wasn't too smart themselves.
Twiz-- You're probably right about the NH but I can't make myself do that yet and I don't think DH would want that at this time in spite of the situation. I have to keep a firm hand with her to keep her in line. She's a little better about the phone since she knows I can see every call she makes on the bill. We also have unlimited calling for a flat fee now and that helps a lot. Actually there were a few people who like for her to call but 2 of them passed away in the last 6 months. There's a few people who expect her to call every few weeks. I think she's finally getting the message that some people don't want to talk to her. I do intend to leave her in rehab as long as possible because she needs it and so do we. She'll probably be there another 3 weeks at least. We're taking advantage of the time to just be together and also take care of some business matters.
I only have Mom. My sister has dad about 800 miles away. There's no way either of us could take care of the both of them. Mom didn't want to go there and Dad didn't want to come here so it worked out for the best. It's sad to say but I don't care much for my sister because she's a manipulative very controling person so we talk very little. When we did talk a lot it was very emontionaly draining for me. I don't need that.
I'm already working with her Social Worker/Case Manager at the area agency on aging to arrange respite care so we can do some of the things we want such as going fishing in the new bass boat we bought last fall. That pretty thing hasn't even been in the water yet! If we can pull everything together we plan to go to Canada in August for 2 weeks and maybe Lake Erie for a few days in Sept. As soon as the weather permits we plan to go fising in the local lakes and river at least once a week. I talked to the case worker this morning and it seems we can get respite care for like 3 days a month and up to 15 days at a time.
Mom will soon be 81 and with all her health problems I'm sure she wouldn't be living today if it wasn't for the excellent care I give her. I know I can't physically handle her with her weight being what it is and I've told her this. As much as I'd hate it when the time comes that she needs lifting I'll have to send her to a NH. I already have a bad back.
She loves sympathy and attention and a few months ago she was insinuating to an aide that I was mean to her. That was because I won't let her have a little dog that she can't take care of and I won't because we just lost one last Oct. and I'm still greiving over him. I told her if she thought I was mean maybe should go live with my sister and she would find out what mean is. I do beleive my sister would be abusive to her. I apologized to the aid for my outburst but I told her I have nothing to hid but I can't tolorate that kind of manipulative behavior. I think the aid may have said something to her supervisor who is the visiting nurse because the next time she came to visit she made the comment that she told the aids they are only in the home for a short time and don't really know what goes on. This aid was a fill in for her regular aid. All the regular aids and the nurses know I would never abuse her or allow anyone else to.
I'm not looking for sympathy or any prizes or martyrdom, I just needed to vent a little. I don't think she'd live very long in a NH and as I said I don't think my DH would want that anymore than I do at this time. I just have to continue to be firm with her and take the necessary steps to see that DH and I can have some quality time together.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 1:30AM
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rosies - sounds like you are thinking this through - feel free to continue to vent. That is what we are all here for.

I' am so happy for you that you have this break. You have been so good to her, and need some time for yourselves.

Good luck with the fishing venture... sounds heavenly!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 7:28AM
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