Kindness .... or enabling?
I am a 64-year-old widow with three grown sons who are on their own and doing well. My 91-year-old mother came to live with me 18 months ago in a very comfortable apartment over the garage. She is healthy and does not suffer from dementia. She strikes others as a lovely lady; generous, kind and often wise, if somewhat timid. She has had, since a teenager, serious fears regarding her ability to swallow without choking and fears about being alone, particularly after dark. After several physical examinations and tests there does not seem to be any physical evidence to support her fears of choking but I am not completely convinced that her episodes are without a physical basis. I am recently retired from a 40-year medical career. Because of her fears, mother makes it perfectly clear that she does not want me to leave the house after dark. She has an adequate income and a decent amount of money in stocks and other investments. There is, literally, no one else to care for her or take her in, my only sibling died many years ago. While she and my father were not in the least neglectful parents, they did leave me and my brother with a nanny for much of our childhood and were not attentive parents. I do not feel close to my mother at all but care for her because I believe it is the right thing to do. She is a devout Christian and I do not share her beliefs. After 18 months of not leaving the house after dark I am feeling increasingly angry and resentful. If she were not here I would most certainly come and go as I wished, day or night. Should the fact that she is 91 be taken into account? When I suggest that we hire someone to stay with her when I would like to leave, she bristles and says she does not need a babysitter. I have had her to her physician who has prescribed anti-anxiety medications. She resists taking them as prescribed but they do seem to help when I can talk her into it. My question is simple .... where is the line between enabling her fears and simply being kind to an elderly woman who is beset with anxiety?