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E-nuff4me Show full post »
Ditto on what Prodigal said. Love it! Use the wheel chair and attendant. Super idea and a Golden Opportunity!
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'You must transition into the kind of relationship your sister has achieved with your mother if you genuinely have decided to survive. You know that now, even if you aren't comfortable with it yet.'

'Look closely at how your sister behaves. See if you can pick up any behaviors, mannerisms, or expressions that she uses to get respect from your mom'.

I have made a list of some of the behaviors that my sister uses towards my mom.

gets out of things by having a bad memory, she forgot

will only do what she has to do for mom

will do extras sometime but only on her time table not moms

not let anything go, if it has to be done, it has to be done

tease, joke or call mom on it when mom acts ridiculous

nag mom if she wants a certain behavior from mom

make excuses to do what she wants

has strong boundaries and keeps them

won't take any nonsense from mom

speaks her opinion

is too busy to help

uses her health to get out of things

Is able to say no

I never looked at my sister like this before and I always thought she was mean and selfish but now she looks like a strong and healthy person.

My sister has learned many survival tactics and I have only learned to obey and please mom and neither are on this list!


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I have no idea whether your sister is a nice person or not. But none of the behaviors you listed make her "mean and selfish" ... which you seem to have suddenly realized. No, this list sounds like a blueprint for how to survive contact with a manipulative aging narcissist. Very healthy and sane stuff. Your turn!

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I just had a thought. You have mentioned that your sister seems "mad at you" for having to take over stuff with your mother. It's possible that she's just irritated at your mother or simply the circumstances she finds herself in ... and that you take it personally. But it's also possible that sis is mad that she's now stuck wrangling an out-of-control geriatric toddler who you have spoiled rotten over the years! When you get on the same page as sis, using similar coping techniques ... when mom has consistent boundaries imposed on her ... it will get a little harder for her to manipulate and misbehave. I believe parents call this 'presenting a united front.'

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Hi Enuff,
yeah, those definitely sound like *boundaries* to me.
In fact, a lot of those things you listed are what we suggest to others when they post here, looking for advice on how to 'step back' from dear-old-demanding-mom-or-dad but still be able to help them. and not totally abandon them.
As an aside, your sister may still be a selfish and self-absorbed person (in addition, lol) - but that selfishness is what tends to allow her to set those firm boundaries and stick to them.
A little selfishness, sure does not hurt in these elderly care situations.
Does your sister ever feel any guilt or sadness, who knows??? But she has definitely set her boundaries.
I hope you can too. They do not have to be the same exact ones, but tailored to what your heart and soul can put up with.
Much love.
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'an out-of-control geriatric toddler who you have spoiled rotten over the years'

Prodigal that's a pretty good description, for sure.

Being the youngest of 8 siblings mom got everything she wanted from her 'well to do' mom and family and then my dad took over and then I took over and now my sister. Mom prides herself on always having someone to look after her even if there never was much money in later years.

My sister would always say that mom doesn't phone her or ask her over for dinner and how lucky I was to have mom in my life more. I don't really know why my sister is angry and maybe it's a combination of all the reasons you pointed out Prodigal but I think too when she finally got mom in her life she was quite surprised. She was expecting a mother that was more caring and loving not to be her mother's slave. I don't think either me or my sister knew really what each of us was going through. Now that I am kind of on the outs with mom, I can see some of the stuff my sister had to deal with. My mother actually thinks that I am jealous of the time she is spending with my sister

I took my aunt to visit mom today and as soon as mom started saying that she may not be able to go to the wedding because she was having trouble with her hands and feet etc. I said we could hire an attendant and she could go in a wheelchair as my sister would really like her to attend.

Mom was quite surprised by that and fumbled around for words for a moment but my aunt was there so she let it go with little reaction. Then I said that I have actually been looking at wheelchairs myself lately as I am having more trouble walking and maybe I can get one to go in the trunk of my car and may have to use it at the wedding.

Then mom said that one of her neighbors has a light weight wheelchair that she could get for herself, I guess not to be out done by me.

Ok I'm on a roll here so then I said the the plans we talked about for driving to the wedding were off and she will have to get my sister to take her as I decided that I wasn't going to drive all of them. She complained she couldn't get into her car so I said yes she could as she did it before. Then she said it was hard though and I replied there will be lots of people there to help and it's time that the younger, healthier ones took over.

Still on a roll. I said it doesn't make any sense at all for me to be looking after her when I am worse off then she is. Someone else was going to have to step up. Then my aunt said 'yes and you need help yourself and should be asking your kids to help you'. Thanks aunty. I couldn't look at mom but she made no reply.

Mom was very subdued after that, didn't say much of anything, no more complaints anyway.

I know this was a sneaky way to do it and I feel like a real coward speaking up to mom with my aunt there but I just had to get the words out and the rest I think that I can handle myself.

I hope I got this right this time.

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YAY! enuff !! Gosh, that is wonderful. You stood up for yourself. Who cares if Aunt was there, you needed that moral support and you knew your Mom would not go into hysterics with her sister sitting there - AGREEING.

I know it was probably pretty stressful for you, but it will make you stronger and you will feel better about it.
This is great news. Keep up the good work. Think of it this way - no one else around you is afraid to speak their mind(s), why should you be ?
have a great day today. And don't answer the phone if it is your mom calling. Or your sister. Promise ? Just be: UNAVAILABLE.

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>I know this was a sneaky way to do it and I feel like a real coward speaking up to mom with my aunt there but I just had to get the words out and the rest I think that I can handle myself.

The last thing I would call you is 'a coward', you accidently stumbled upon one of THE most important rules of dealing with Nparents- NEVER see them alone.  Always have someone with you face to face so they HAVE to behave.  If you are on the phone use a speakerphone or the other person on an extension and you call her together.  You noticed how easily NMom caved when your aunt was there?  Your Aunt was there as a witness and to back you up to confirm YOU need help far more than she does.  NMom couldn't rip you to pieces with a witness and she didn't want to act like a spoiled brat in front of her sister.

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I agree.  You are not a coward.  You are smart!!!!!!!!

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Well Hallelujah!! This is MAJOR progress! OhDear is right, there are a zillion advantages to dealing with a narcissistic parent with someone else around. I'm stuck dealing with my mother alone so much of the time I tend to forget this invaluable tactic. There have been times in the past when my mother has been acting up especially bad and I wheedled my husband into going with me when I had to visit. Mom won't do her worst stuff in front of him. One of my friends comes with me sometimes also. It's like having a bodyguard. Plus you have a witness to what you said and what she said and anything that was agreed to. When we're alone, if I miraculously manage to talk my mother into something (rare) it doesn't matter because she's liable to deny everything the next time we talk. If somebody else hears her say it, she's cornered!

I hope you really meant it when you talked to your mother and aunt about using a wheelchair at the wedding. A public statement like that is going to be worth its weight in gold and diamonds in the days ahead. Your sisters and anyone else so inclined will have a hard time summoning up the nerve to complain about you not slaving after mom to anyone who saw you in that wheelchair at your niece's wedding. And it will be darn awkward to call you and lecture you on doing 'your part' of taking care of mom too (never mind that you have already put up with her more than they ever will).

I don't know how much you know about wheelchairs, so I thought I'd mention some of your options. You can rent one from a medical supply store (about $30 for a week) or you can purchase one (they are not cheap). My recommendation if you're attending the event with a helper would be to rent or even buy what is called a "transport chair." These only weigh 15-20 pounds (as opposed to 50+ pounds for a regular wheelchair) and are easy for someone to load in and out of the car. The disadvantage is that they do not have the two large wheels that enable you to roll yourself -- all four wheels are smaller and the chair is designed to be pushed by someone else. So you will have to have someone with you to move you about. One tip: these chairs cost several hundred dollars retail at a medical supply store, but I ordered one online ( for about a third of that.

If you can't afford to hire an attendant (would your disability coverage perhaps include this? maybe the cost of the wheelchair too?) ... another possibility is to rent/buy one of those four-wheel walkers with a seat. You can use this to take the pressure off your body while walking and then turn around and sit on it when you're really tired. This might be helpful if there is limited seating at your niece's reception. Also, if you get too tired, someone there can push you around on this contraption while you are sitting on it.

I still think the wheelchair and the attendant will have maximum impact. Don't be embarrassed, don't be deterred by the extra expense. This could save your life. Literally.

Oh and make sure you get a picture of you at the wedding in the wheelchair with your attendant to mail to the supervisor of your mother's social worker. Attach a note that says, "Dear Supervisor, this is not a photo of Mrs. So-and-So, who your employee refuses to recommend for a nursing home. This is a photo of the person your employee insists should be Mrs. So-and-So's caregiver. I think it's time for a meeting to discuss reality."
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'I know it was probably pretty stressful for you'

'daughter'(beth) my whole time here one this site has been pretty stressful and I have been squirming in my seat a few times. I can understand what is happening to me better now with my mom and all but  I still don't know why it's so hard to do what I have to
 I always thought I behaved the way I did because that was my personality so there was nothing you could do about it.  I looked up personality in the dictionary. 
Personality......collective character, behavioral, temperamental, emotional, and mental traits of a person.
I can see now that most or these traits can be changed and are not permanent and can and have been manipulated by my  n'mom.

I have been believing for so long that I had to try to be as loving and caring as I could and if I had to suffer to do this all the better because that only meant I was more loving.  To realize my mother probably programed that into me so I could serve her is really painful to accept and is not who I really am but only a reflection of her.

OhDear and Splotchy I guess just lucked out having my aunt there and in my corner because that is what did it for me as she is the matriarch of the family and in our family nobody messes with the head of the family. I better work fast to get my mom under some control because she's next in line.  Thanks for the support but I still feel like I cheated a bit.

Just read you post Prodigal re wheelchairs and I did look at them in a health care store near me about 2 years ago and like you say everything they had was too heavy and they did not mention about anything lighter being available so I will have to seriously look into them again maybe a different store. I would like one that I could handle myself though because I am alone most of the time.  I already actually have 2 walkers the kind that you describe, one I use around my apt etc and the other I keep in the trunk of my car to use if necessary.  Even that is heavy for me to lift out of the car when I am alone so I don't use it often when I am out.  I really wish that whoever is making these walkers and things for people would realize that most people who need them can't lift them and maneuver them in and out of cars etc. by themselves and make them a lot lighter and easier to handle.... just one of my beefs!

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Hey Enuff, I've been told the best wheelchair for a disabled person who doesn't have someone to help are those big-wheel titanium wheelchairs. This is what you see wheelchair athletes using. These are extremely lightweight and relatively easy to roll yourself around in. Plus many of us gals need to build a little more upper body strength anyway. But the things are pretty pricey. Still, look for deals on the internet and second-hand in the paper and on Craig's list. I think this might be a good investment for you both in practical terms (actually needing to use it!) plus setting a tough visual boundary for your would-be slave traders.

I'm sorry your time on this board has been stressful! Surely not more stressful than the pickle you found yourself in with your mother and sisters? But ... I understand. Insights are often painful at first, and change is always tough. You shouldn't be hard on yourself over that. Even after all these years of re-structuring my relationship with mom, it is still hard. Really hard. But it's worth it to be a healthier, happier person with a life of her own. Well ... mostly a life of my own (lol). I used to think that happiness was something that came naturally and was supposed to be easy and if it wasn't there, it wasn't there. Now I understand that happiness is actually a lot of work ... but that I can have it if I want it bad enough.

Did I mention relapses? Sometimes I manage mom, sometimes I just fall apart. Just do what you can when you can. Be as gentle with yourself as possible during this time. You're dealing with so much between your mom and your illness. Baby yourself!

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I'm so glad to read you are letting others in your family know you can't be your Mother's attendant. Hooray for you! That is really great. And, no need to feel guilt. Having your Aunt there is awesome! I'd be wondering if God had arranged that opportunity for me.... and I'd be thanking Him for that!

I was thinking of you yesterday and hoping you know it is fine to get up and dance if you want to. If anyone says anything, tell them the truth that you are not totally handicapped. ... you deserve to dance if you choose to. You can collapse into the wheel chair and do the drama queen thing if needed, saying how getting to dance was worth the pain or something...

I know it is hard to look at ourselves and see things about ourselves--I've lost my "rose colored glasses " too! Seeing things as they are is hard to take.

One thing though, I don't think your Mother was evil in anyway programing you to "serve her". I think the family attitude and school of thought they were raised with is what we are dealing with.. ... and the fact is our parents are living longer, more age related issues and families are not close by enough to give the help like in the old days.... But, our elderly don't see that. It is just "expected" we do for them as they did, or were taught to do.

Hope that makes sense?

Well, to add to that, as their mind ages, it seem to me that reason and fairness are still expected, but they are not the same person anymore. That leave us with no choice but to set boundaries. And the built in DNA knows what they want and expect from us... which makes it really hard because the older they get, the more the need.. and a lot of us are not spring chickens anymore to to be able to do it. Not our fault! And pushing yourself into a wheel chair permanently is just not right! If that happens, you won't be much help to her anyway, so why do it?

It is really hard to say, "No" to something we know they expect. I think the hardest thing in caring for our parents is to disconnect those darn DNA programed buttons we have inside.

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Thanks for the info Prodigal.  I thought there were lighter weight wheelchairs around just didn't know where to start. When I use my walker, I can walk a lot farther but I would like something that could get me around without walking.
Three years ago I got a battery operated scooter and it's good to get around near my place and all but not very practical for me as I live quite a way out from stores etc. and I think it was just a mistake to get it.

 I don't really feel safe in it either and it's big and cumbersome and I would need a lift (2-3 thousand and not covered on plan) on my car to take it with me and I don't want to be driving around with that thing on the back my car anyway. Thank goodness my health care plan paid for the scooter (it cost more then my car) but maybe I could trade it in for one of those fancy wheelchairs.

As for the stress, yes even though it has been stressful for me I'm a way lot better then before for sure. My anger has really lessened ( no road rage anymore) and I'm not in state of panic all the time. I have an appt. with my psychiatrist today and I haven't seen her for 3 weeks so I wonder if she will see the difference.

I really feel privileged to have all of you patiently waiting for me to catch on to all of this and I sincerely thank you for your caring support.

I see what you mean Prodigal it is hard work and will continue to be hard work for you and me and all of us but now that I can see that it's doable it's certainly a whole lot better then letting that craziness continue.  My mom has called me 4 times since yesterday's visit, left very nice messages no reproaches or anything but I am sure she just wants me to know that she is still here.......... waiting........!

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Lil: "One thing though, I don't think your Mother was evil in anyway programing you to "serve her"."

I have to disagree with you there, Lil, although I wouldn't use the word 'evil' to describe how Enuff's mother has programmed her. The word I would choose is 'wrong.' The situation Enuff finds herself in is not just the natural result of her mother aging and needing more help than Enuff can provide with age and health problems of her own. It's not that simple. From what I've read in Enuff's posts, her mother has expected the family to 'serve' her to an inappropriate degree throughout her life and theirs -- since Enuff was a small child. And this particular mother has often behaved in an abusive manner when she didn't get the unreasonable levels of attention and servitude she has always expected. I believe this type of mindset is selfish and destructive, and I believe it is deliberate. There are those who say that if someone has, for instance, a narcissistic personality disorder, then they 'can't help it' and therefore should not be held accountable for their behavior. I don't see it that way.

Lil also wrote: "I think the family attitude and school of thought they were raised with is what we are dealing with ... It is just "expected" we do for them as they did, or were taught to do."

Again, I disagree. I do not think what Enuff or I are dealing with can be explained away as generational issues. My mother certainly never slaved for her invalid mother in the way she expected me to do for her, and she certainly never allowed her mother to live with her the way she expected to move in with me. No, it was straight to the nursing home for my grandmother and my mother seems to consider herself a saint for buying her stamps on a regular basis! I would be very much surprised to hear that Enuff's mother spent the last 20 or 30 years of her life waiting on Enuff's grandmother and fulfilling her every wish. Offhand Enuff's mother doesn't strike me as the kind of person who sacrifices herself for others.

I don't think DNA programs us to destroy ourselves for our parents. Our children perhaps, but not our parents. No, I think that kind of programming comes from the parent herself and to some extent from society.

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