My mother always wanted me to be her "good little girl", which turned out to be "take care of me and be my only friend forever".
Each Christmas it gets worse. When I was young, my dad was a rageholic, mom got mad at him, took it out on me, never let me out of her sight, gave no affirmations, didn't let me grow up. My two brothers lucked out and got out. Now at 55, she's 87, she lives alone, is frail and needs a walker, her house is falling apart, she's lonely (she has two sisters, but doesn't want to tell them her problems), she's depressed (my middle brother died of cancer on Christmas day, 5 years ago), she does not go out and socialize, won't accept public assistance, and wants me to come home and take care of her. I live 2 hours away, am married, and can't possible live there.

Christmas day did it. She started at 5:30 am to make the big old meal, and was ready to collapse when I got there at 4:30 pm. She hadn't eaten or taken her meds and was wiped out. She put me to work before I could take my coat off. I told her to sit down and eat, I will finish cooking. She had 5 dishes cooking at once in a crowded little kitchen, kept telling me what to do. I had to heat oil and check something else, before I knew it, the oil was on fire. She told me where the baking soda was right away (she's had a fire before). I couldn't figure out where the oven mitts were. All she was using was an old hand towel and told me to use it to put the tray of fish filits on the bottom rack, RIGHT NEAR THE HOT ELEMENT.

I had to keep telling her to sit down and slow down. Somehow she managed to get up and take the tray of fish filets out with the old towel, the edge right up near the hot element. We ate fast, the others got to sit and relax, as usual, and she got up and started putting dishes and food away. She was bent over with her elbow on the chair,trying to put cookies in a bag. I had to tell her to sit down, had to put all the food away, and stack the dishes, open some presents, hurry out the door (I have an upper respiratory infection and was beat), and drive 2 hours home. I got home and had the feeling she'd knock herself out by morning.
I haven't called. My husband worked that night, I was to go to my daughter in law's house and relax, but was too sick to go. No wonder I go into spirals starting in October.

My problem and question is: what do I do? I am working on recovery for PTSD, but this tends to blow me out of the water. My older brother is POA, sits there, doesn't see a thing, gets to relax, lives within 10 minutes of her and doesn't think she needs help or help to fix the house. It's dangerous, old, inaccessible, dirty, fuel sucking....I have wanted to get her social services, a personal assistant, weatherization, supplemental income, VA benefits, but she refuses to sign up for any of it. She doesn't want anyone to see her home, she's afraid they will "put her in a home". I tried to talk to my brother, but he is unreasonable, won't talk to me, thinks I am a liberal socialist, "busybody" when I found the hole in the foundation at the back of the house. No one knows what I am going through, she only does this around me. I told her "I am not moving back home! (I thought we were over this discussion).She got upset. That's what a daughter is for! (Her mother was a slave-driver to her, but not her sisters. This wackiness has come full circle.

Some say to let the cards fall as they will. I cannot stand by and watch a human being suffer, it just seems irresponsible to me, but I know I can't fix her.

Without the POA, I can't get assistance for her. I gave my brother a note and told him to contact me about giving me medical durable power of attorney, put her assets in a trust for her future care, get the VA benefits she's entitled to; at least meet with me. He doesn't return my phone calls or e-mail me, tells me she'll go into a home over his dead body (which just might happen, his health is not good.).

I am ready to graduate school with a career in Medical Assisting, my second career after being on disability for major depressive episodes. I do not want this hanging over me, and people playing head games with me right now when I am finally ready to get on with my life. I have to start an internship in two weeks and have to be well-balanced to do it. I believe she's depressed and a danger to herself. She does not have LifeAlert, fell at least once and laid in the hall all night. No one comes in regularly to see her and she won't set up the answering machine.

So, you see, I have two issues: my mental well-being (what to do, other than nothing) and her well-being (could someone get in trouble for elder abuse here?).

Fortunately, instead of just crying, I am trying to resolve this matter in a way that gets her the help she needs, gets my brother off his duff, and my head back into taking care of myself for once. Not many supporters out there, it's hard for people to understand what all this manipulation can do to an adult child after 55 years, but I am sure there are other adult children out there just like me that would know exactly what this feels like, I just don't know how to reach out to them.

Well, you must have your hands full with this one. I live in Pennsylvania, we have Area Aging Offices that provide services, one of which is legal help. She won't tell me her doctors names or medications, but I know she takes an antidepressant. I am seriously concerned about her mental competency, especially since she had no pot-holders in sight, (remember?) and I think this issue has become urgent.

I don't have the money or time or stability of mind to drive back and forth, but I planned Fridays off during my internship to go back with my husband to get into agency offices and to try to get some resolution to this matter by blowing the family secrets.

Whatever advice you can give is appreciated. This story should be a topic for a Psych Central newsletter, I really think other survivors are trapped in the same old family nuttiness and don't have the resources, financially or morally, to resolve them. Perhaps a lawyer could comment.

Thanks for reading me out. Offthemap


2671 days ago
Hi offthemap,

you have my sympathy and I understand you're in a tough position - you care about your mother but you don't want to look like the bad guy. I understand how you feel an unhealthy bond to your mom - I was the last of 5 kids and my mother was widowed at the age of 34 when I was 2. She made the last 2, myself and my brother feel like we had to stay home. It's healthy you realize this is a toxic relationship.

I'm not a lawyer or doctor, so unfortunately I can't offer that kind of advice. Your mom is afraid of losing her independence and change can seem frightening. Does she own her home - it would be nice if she could get into an 'assisted living facility' as opposed to a 'nursing home'? This way she would still have some degree of independence, but still get help.

Did you say you brother has power of attorney over her affairs? She really does need to reach out to the community services available to her. Change is scary and it seems like she can't see how her situation is overwhelming her. I realize this is a very delicate situation and your help may be interpreted as interference, which could cause a rift. If your brother does have power of attorney, he's not doing a good job helping her. I wish you strength during this difficult time.

2671 days ago
My mother owns her own home, but refuses to move, won't even let me speak the words. I really think it would kill her, I think her independence is the last thing she thinks she has. By the way, I am in therapy, thank God.

My brother has power of attorney but does not see a problem. I have an aunt I could talk to who is pretty reasonable, it would be like telling "family secrets", but maybe she could help me.

2671 days ago
My mother owns her own home, but refuses to move, won't even let me speak the words. I really think it would kill her, I think her independence is the last thing she thinks she has. By the way, I am in therapy, thank God.

My brother has power of attorney but does not see a problem. I have an aunt I could talk to who is pretty reasonable, it would be like telling "family secrets", but maybe she could help me.

2671 days ago
Sorry, just getting used to this system.

2671 days ago

my sympathy for the difficult situation you are in!

I do think you need to involve social services or the senior care agency, and let it be known that you brother is not exercising his POA wisely for the benefit of your mother. Hopefully they will investigate and she will get the services and proper care she needs.

2671 days ago
Take care of your self first, then you will be in a better position to take care of others, both professionaly and at home. We all have our limations, we cant take care of everything and everyone!

Your post was very discriptive and painted a good picture of what's happening. Remember to take care of your self, reduce stress in your life first, then you will be in a good and wise postion to deal with your elderly mother in a positive manner.

2668 days ago
I am trying to take care of myself, but am experiencing confusion, sadness, anger, fear of another upheaval (my brother sent me a real wierd e-mail yesterday, I think he's off the deep end). There is no one looking after my mother, who may be severely depressed. Taking care of myself seems to mean taking control of this unstable situation where there is imminent harm to my mother. I am not able to idly stand by and let someone be in danger. THAT's stressful. I am focusing my energy on trying to "feel" what is going on in my head and my body, instead of reacting.

I am making plans to control further freakish behavior. Called Area Aging for an assessment of her needs, she has many, like no LifeAlert. I am not giving into her insistance that I am the only one who can take care of her.

My brother is not acting in her best interest as POA, my mom can get legal services through her county agency, and, if action is taken now, they can help her stay in her home, but she needs to accept their support and help. If she falls, which she has, or has an emergency, there is no one who checks in daily to help her. Nothing is in writing for anyone to notify me or give me consent to speak to her and make medical decisions if she is hospitalized and can't speak for herself. I don't feel it's wise to let these things hang out there unresolved just waiting for an emergency to come up. That would bring about surprise stress and why do that to myself. At least I can consult with authorities that know what to do now, while, things are quiet. My brother is useless at this point, even though he is to be acting in her best interest which he is not. I am directing my anger at him for his abuse of me (calling me a busybody because I am trying to get her personal assistance and possible medical help, since I think she's depressed).

No, she will definitely be mad at me for helping her in a way that is not the way she wants, but at least she will be getting services that I couldn't possibly provide even if I was there.

Bad timing, but I think this will remove my stress of worrying about her, even though I don't know I am doing it, and the county agency can help me.

Why are there no support groups for Adult Children trying to take care of Elderly Children? There has to be others like me out there and it seems that the holidays are always when things blow up; a time when there are very few support systems out there or open. There seems to be a big need for this. Keep the posts of support going.

2665 days ago
Wow what a difficult situation!! Unfortunately I don't live in the US so I cant comment on any legal matters, but as someone suggested, is there some sort of social agency who can look into the fact that your brother is not acting for the best on behalf of your mother? These situations are very hard, but the thing to remember is not to make yourself feel guilty about this! Your mother needs to change the POA, and if she won't do that, for whatever reason, that is not your fault. Make it clear to her that you could take better car of her if she perhaps made you the POA instead.

Best wishes and good luck!!!