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taking care of DM(18 Posts)
First time poster, long time lurker. Hoping for some advice re DM. Sorry for the long post.
I was not originally from the UK and left my home country approx five years ago. The reason of my move was because of the lack of opportunity to make a good life back home. Where I came from, unless you come from a well-connected family, it is generally very hard to turn your life around (So a fresh graduate working in a standard profession would never be able to save to buy a decent house and likely to spend the next 40 years working just to make ends meet).
So fast forward few years, after considerable struggle here, with language, exams etc. I am now qualified and working in a job I enjoy. The issue here is I am an only child, DF passed away many years ago, so it’s just DM back home. The last time I was home, she blamed me for leaving her by herself and that I abandoned her and did not take care of her. To add a bit of context, since DF passed away about 18 y ago, DM has not been able to organise her life. For example when I was still at school, I needed a copy of my birth certificate and DM had to turn the house upside down to find it. It took her a month to find it and I remember that she said she was ill for weeks as a result of the stress of trying to find the document.
She never worked (have been living off DF’s inheritance) and always living her life in such chaotic manner. The house always a mess so that we never had guests over. My late DF left number of small properties which should give a steady stream of income (not much but certainly enough for one person to live). They are however now vacant as she never get around to let them out. She has blamed all these to my late DF (for not taking care his health and as a result leaving her with a young DD) and more recently me. In her opinion, I should not bugger off to another country and should stay at home to take care of her. I wasn’t saying that she is lazy but a bit more that she is helpless and doesn’t have a discipline to get up and sort things out (she often gets ill/headache/stomach problems when trying to solve day to day issues such as dealing plumbers/estate agents etc).
DM in her 50s now, DF’s inheritance has now gone and I send her few hundred pounds per month which I am happy to do but it seems that this enable her to continue her chaotic lifestyle. She never tidy up and fix anything in the house since DF passed away that neighbours and relatives started to talk. As a result, she now can’t face living in the house and ended up renting a studio room in another town, which she hates (the room is small, she can’t cook properly). She wants me to send more money (so she can rent a bigger room) but I am trying to buy a house here so a bit of struggle for me to send more than few hundred pounds a month. Also, I don’t think that renting a bigger room would solve the core problem. I suggested for her to sell one of the properties but she refused and said she doesn’t want to turn a property that appreciates in value into money in a bank which generate very little interest.
For the first five years, leaving the UK is out of the question as I needed to be here to meet the condition for an indefinite leave to remain but in a year time I could actually go home if I want to. I suppose this would be the right thing to do so I can take care of DM as I am the only one she got and clearly she doesn’t have the ability to sort her life out. The only thing is by doing so I will have to give up what I’ve worked so hard here in the UK and go back to the life I tried to escape few years ago (I was very unhappy working & living in my home country). Whilst I know that this is what DM really want, I am not sure this is best course of action?
The thing is I think I am a motivated and efficient person when it comes to my own life but when I tried to help DM, I am always fail to achieved anything. Last year I took 3 months unpaid leave so I have time to help her but each day passed and nothing gets done. Either she got a headache so can we please put off discussing the problems until tomorrow or she is adamant that my suggestion won’t do. For example I suggested to call a professional cleaning service to clean one of the flats we would like to let out, she refused as she wants to personally sorting things in the flat (she has been doing this in the past three years and the flat is still full of stuffs). I supposed I should take control and does not gives in to her way of doing things as we would never gets things done otherwise.
Thank you for reading. Any thought/ideas would be much appreciated.
Let her go, cut the rope.
You need to immediate cease helping your mother because all that is doing now is keeping her in the long maintained state of learned helplessness. What you have tried does not work and will not work because she remains uncooperative. She will always be un-cooperative and not listen to your sensible suggestions. You bailing her out with money also gives her no real incentive, infact any incentive, to reassess her whole approach to how she is doing things.
Its her choice that she has a chaotic lifestyle, that is not your fault. Please stop sending her money you can ill afford as well. All that does to you is give you a false sense of control.
Taking three months unpaid leave cost you money as well as time that you will not get back. You would have been far better off putting that time to better use, any other use actually.
You cannot help someone who really does not want to be helped at all, she just wants you around now simply so you can look after her (like your late father also did, he also enabled her).
Doing the right thing here is refusing to enable her as you have done.
Attila, Thank you for the thought. I love her and truly care about her. It is breaking my heart that her standard of life is deteriorating. I know you are absolutely right that it is silly putting aside thousands each year so that she can rent a studio flat whilst she has a big house which she can’t live anymore because of the mess and I agreed, in the hindsight it was also a waste of three months taking an unpaid leave last year. Not to mention that I had to work much harder before and after to allow me to take the extended leave.
Last time we spoke, she was in tears essentially saying I am a selfish daughter, does not love her and does not want sacrifice my comfortable life here whilst she is struggling. She said, she will only have another 15- 20 years or so left and I would regret it for abandoning her when she is gone and what is the point of having children if they don’t take care of you in your old age.
She seems to think that her current state was due to the past history and I am now contributing to it. When I was young, she told me that marriage and having children has ruined her life and if she never had me, she would have a happy and fulfilling life. I felt really sorry for her and promised that when I’ve grown up, I will take care of her and she won’t have to worry about a thing. But now as you can see I failed to do so.
Now she is saying that if I did not go abroad and left her by herself, she wouldn’t got into this terrible state. There is a bit truth in this as if I was there things would not get completely out of control in the last few years. But even if I now let’s say decided to go home for two years (and therefore putting everything in the UK on hold), I am not so sure I can fix her life. Each time, I try to do this, we are always end up in circle. The main thing is really just to clean the house so she can live in there which sounds like a simple thing to do but for some reason it seems so difficult.
I understand that she finds everything so hopeless and I really want to help but just don’t know how. In her mind, the only way to resolve this is for me to get home and take care of her or if not the least I can do is to send her money so she can afford a bigger studio to rent.
I don't know what to do
A very difficult situation when you do not live locally
One big family house unoccupied (do bills still have to be paid ?)
Some smaller properties unoccupied (do bills still have to be paid ?)
You are paying for your mother to rent a small flat
Paying for your mother to rent makes zero/negative financial sense for you and your mother short and long term
Your mother is in 50's which is young !
Your mother has never worked
You took 3 months unpaid leave but resolved none of the ongoing issues
I assume the properties are all in your mothers name
If you moved back home to look after your mother what do you think would change ?
If you stopped paying for your mother to rent what do you think will happen ?
Why is your mother refusing your help ?
Can you get some sort of power of attorney so that you become responsible for your mothers assets & ultimately her well being ?
Thanks C8ton for putting all the facts so making things a bit clearer.
She still lives half of the time in the family house but she said she need to get away every couple weeks as it is hard for her (with the neighbours and relatives being nosy) so bills still get paid. No bills in relation to the smaller properties. All the properties are in both of our names.
If I moved back home, I would be able to spend every weekend to sort out the mess in the family home. It was basically 18 years worth of mess (since my DF passed away) She refused to get a professional cleaner to get in and clean so the only way is for me to come to do it myself with her.
I would not expect this to be easy. I tried to empty the garage with her last year. It was a time consuming and difficult process as she did not want to throw thing away, so each time I want to throw a thing, I had to negotiate it with her and convinced her that it is no use to keep the object in question. This is I guess, part of the problem, the family home is full of stuffs because she never throw thing away. We still have an old tv from the 90s and the last time I checked, the crib when I was a baby was still in my room.
If I am going to be honest I doubt that I would be able change things drastically. She does not like a big change and refused anything that she thinks might shake her world, she wants a small thing to be done little by little over a long period of time.
I don't think she refusing my help but the way she sees it, the only way I can help is if I moved back home and be there for her as she struggles to get by without me. She often finds a simple thing is overwhelming. for example she said that the journey from our home town to another town (where she rents the studio flat) is tiring as require couple train changes etc. Setting aside our disagreement that I think she should not rent the flat from the first place, I suggested that I pay for a car hire to take her there. She could not cope with this as with the car hire you need to be ready at specified time and it take her hours to get out of the house and she said she can't really plan things and the fact that the driver is waiting for her at specified time gives her so much stresses. What she needs is a car hire that she can call the minute she is ready. So many other issues are like this, we are going in circle and couldn't find a solution.
It is not she is unreliable because she is lazy or does not care, I can see that she is trying hard. It is the same with the flat, she is trying hard to set aside the time to empty the flat but it just so difficult and she said all these things putting a lot of pressure on her and making her ill and she shouldn't be doing it. She said I let her down and not fulfill my responsibility as a daughter to take care of her in the old age.
It's a bit early to say that you have not looked after her in her old age, she has a ways to go yet.
It would be great if you could sort out your mother's problems for her, but I don't think you should sacrifice your life for her. She sounds like she needs therapy.
She does not care about you at all really, she simply wants you to look after her even now. You were not put here to supposedly "fix" your mother. That is not your role in life at all.
Your mother has said some really awful and damaging things to you; things that cannot be readily got passed. She has never apologised for saying that nor has accepted ANY responsibility for her actions. You have never been responsible for her long series of poor choices; it was her choice for instance to get married and have children. She did not have to do any of that and its not your fault either; its hers and hers alone. You were but a child and you did not ask to be born.
She would have got into a state regardless of whether you remained in your home country or not. You are NOT responsible for her actions although she is trying to make you so and has partially succeeded. You cannot help anyone though who does not want to be helped. By using emotional blackmail she further wants to get you back to this country where you can stay and sacrifice your own life to look after her (which is what your late father did as well, he never helped matters either and kept her in a state of learned helplessness).
Could you hire someone locally to check in on her and manage the properties? A sort of a housekeeper/general organiser? Then you could get the properties generating income.
It wouldn't even need to be someone full time but you would need to trust them as they'd have access to her financially and emotionally.
Certainly don't move back. You will lose everything you've worked for and I doubt you'd magically turn her into a happy person. She just wants you down in the same hole she is in.
We have a family member like this - she's utterly bone idle and takes and takes.
Perhaps get her back in the big house, cleaner/carer in as needed and an agent or someone to manage the properties?
I think you need to remind her that unused untidy properties depreciate in value substantially and that as you are a named co-owner you either want her to buy you out or you sell all of them together and she can keep the money. By the sound of things these properties will never be looked after.
She clearly needs some kind of help which you have tried to provide but she has yet to reach that stage where she truly accepts that she needs it. As awful as this sounds you are not responsible for your mum .
For god's sake don't screw up your good life here going back!!
40 years of trying to sort her out, that's what would be ahead of you.
How fortunate that there is property and potential income for her.
- stop sending money home
- tell her you can't afford it
- tell her because you can't afford it, you've arranged a local property manager so the property will generate income again
- she can choose which one she wants to live in
Cut the strings!
You see this woman as chaotic and helpless, so therefore you have to help.
SHE'S NOT HELPLESS!
She's got herself regular money from you and the choice to flit between two properties. She's not helpless at all. She's getting what she wants!
You're working your arse off and she's renting a flat with your money, whilst MULTIPLE properties sit empty?!
Use the money you sending to her, to get some counselling because I think it will be tough for you to break through your guilt and feeling responsible.
Are you Indian/Asian? My MIL is also living alone in India and guilt trips dh for leaving her alone and all other allegations that go with it. She has learned to make ends meet and family running around her because of her life struggles. Even though the struggles are genuine, it's no excuse not to take measures to lead a happy life whatever the circumstances. Gaining sympathy is the easiest way to get help, even if unintentional.
My advice to my husband and you is the same, your maximum responsibility is to take care and provide for your mother but don't hold yourself to be responsible for her own happiness. You need to draw the line somewhere.
If I am going to be honest I doubt that I would be able change things drastically
You're right of course, but I'd add that it's unlikely you could make any difference at all. Your mother's actually very fortunate in having financial options, but all she really wants is for you to return - and as you saw before, even being there won't make a difference as she'll simply refuse any changes. After all, if everything was straightened out you might leave again, and she can't have that, can she?
I wonder if you've considered that the monthly £100s may actually be hindering change rather then helping her? Personally I'd insist on some action over the empty properties as a condition of sending cash (with a view to stopping it once they're sorted) and mean it - frankly it's hard to see how you can make a difference any other way
Personally I'd insist on some action over the empty properties as a condition of sending cash (with a view to stopping it once they're sorted) and mean it
Sounds like a good plan of action
Thank you all. I wasn't sure about posting initially as I thought strangers on the net would not really understand but what everyone said here cannot be further from the truth and a lot of things have crossed my mind many times before, so this has been a great help!
She does not care about you at all really, she simply wants you to look after her even now
Thanks again Attila, I wouldn't say that though. Four years ago I could not decide whether I will take the job here as I am not sure she would cope without me but after an initial sadness, she calmly said I should go and I can't really afford to pass such a good opportunity. She assured me that she will be just fine and there is no need for me to worry (back then she was still living comfortably in the family home and there was still plenty DF's inheritance left so she did not have to worry about money). My first year here was difficult and there were times that I said to her I wanted to give up and go home but she said no I should not give up and she encouraged me to stay. Throughout me growing up, she also made sure I had a good education and she always wants me to do well in life. so I think her accusation that I am useless daughter and so on probably stemmed from a desperation and a feeling of helplessness.
Having said that I cannot help thinking that she sometimes sees me as someone to fix her problem and she probably would not mind much I am away if she can go on living comfortably.
By using emotional blackmail she further wants to get you back to this country where you can stay and sacrifice your own life to look after her (which is what your late father did as well,
Interesting you said so, I think my late DF know her really well. In the final month before he passed away when he knew that he hasn't got long left, he kept on and on about fixing the broken tap in the bathroom (people thought he was losing his mind). He said mum would never got around to fix it. He was right of course, the tap never got fixed.
Could you hire someone locally to check in on her and manage the properties? A sort of a housekeeper/general organiser?
I thought about this and actually had couple candidates in mind who would be able to do this but the main issue is DM cannot make herself available at a specific time so if my friend need to meet her to sort something out, she wouldn't be able to do that. I think probably more of the case I need to find a work around this issue somehow
Certainly don't move back. You will lose everything you've worked for
I actually sat down with her few times and talked about it rationally and when we discussed facts - pro/con about me moving back, she did admit that moving back home would not really make sense financially and also for the future. We would ended up with more problems, her unhappiness as well as my earnings/job situation.
Although the prospect of living apart for the rest of our lives does worry me. As she gets older, she will need me even more. I did throw an idea about her moving here but she doesn't want to, because she doesn't think she can adjust to the weather here.
Perhaps get her back in the big house
This is really the key! if only I know how to do this. It wouldn't be difficult at all to get someone around to arrange for cleaning and fixing things in the house but the main obstacle is the current mess in the house and she refused anyone other than me to get into the house. She said she will do this herself slowly but realistically I don't think this is even possible, things are just got worse over the years.
Any ideas at all so I can make the family home habitable again? Any suggestions would be gratefully received!
Thank you all. I wasn't sure about posting initially as I thought strangers on the net would not really understand but what everyone said here cannot be further from the truth
sorry what I meant was I can relate to what everyone said here. I wrote another sentence and deleted part of it and reading it again the sentence does not even make sense!
She sounds like she needs therapy.
I think she suffers compulsive hoarding as well as chronic procrastination. I tried to tell her that she has to changed her ways but I couldn’t get through to her. She is adamant that the main cause of the ongoing issues is because (1) she got married and has me which ruined her life, and (2) I abandoned her. We discussed it over and over again but she just did not want to listen to me.
From your op I thought your mum was going to be in her eighties. Not fifties.
Don't go back. Stop sending money. Get a firm to look after properties and rent out, you lose a lot of the income that way but at least some money would be coming in and the Houses looked after.
You sound absolutely lovely and your mum sounds very selfish.
Both one and two of your points above are dreadful things to say, she should be ashamed. You want to help and change her but you can't. People can only change themselves and her attitude shows she never will.
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