Author Topic: Stressing over my spendy, abusive mother's aging and fiscal irresponsibility  (Read 3499 times)

babysnowbyrd

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Most of the time I'm fine and content to wait and see how things ACTUALLY turn out with my mother's choices etc and deal with things as they come along. But every once in a while something happens which makes me try to mentally start planning/stressing out about my mother's future when I don't even know all the variables.

I mean, there's definitely SOME value to at least getting some ideas, right? Even if it's premature?

My mother is a grab bag of personality/mental disorders including narcissism, hypochondria, depression, hoarding and shopoholic tendencies. Growing up with her was tough, and all of her children have distanced themselves (physically and mentally) but we do still keep in touch although minimally to keep our own lives as drama free as possible.

She is married but that marriage seems to be breaking down and it's obvious she wants to be on her own. She and her husband live in his house, and she has filled quite a bit of it with junk. She does yard sales all the time and gets some money back, but it's usually only the tip of the iceberg and she just buys more junk to bring back into the house. I believe it's a major cause in the breakdown of her relationship with her husband.

She keeps hinting at one of us children either taking her in with us or buying a house with a mother in law suite so she can live in it. This is not happening for two main reasons: First, none of us have the physical room to house her in anyway. Nor are any of us able to afford a mortgage. Secondly, and more majorly than anything else, none of us feel any desire to live with her as she's so incredibly toxic. She will NOT ever change since her narcissism protects her from even considering the possibility that her circumstances are largely the result of her own actions/bad choices. She is perpetually the victim and is capable of amazing feats of mental gymnastics to blame others for her problems.

It would be exhausting to live with her both financially and psychologically. Whoever lives with her would have to constantly deal with her attempts at emotional, mental, and financial manipulation, guilt trips, gaslighting, playing the victim, nonstop talk about her health concerns/complaints, excessive shopping, the probable filling of every empty space with complete junk, and inevitable tantrums every time she doesn't get what she wants.

So it's really the fear of any of us being forced by circumstances of her own making into living in the same house gets me in a mental loop of trying to figure out how, if necessary, we could somehow help my mother have her basic needs met, but still keep the necessary physical and emotional distance to protect our own well-being and sanity.

Her only income is SSI and in our area, there's no way she can live on her own with just that money. I can't remember the exact amount anymore, but I did know at one point and after a bit of google-fu for our state it was obvious she probably wouldn't even be able to afford Section 8 housing and even if she could get Section 8, there is a huge waiting list from what I could find. Like up to 2 years even. She's not even old enough for 55+ communities yet, though her health is so bad you'd think she was in her late 70's or older.

I can keep searching, but most living arrangements seem to be more than what her SSI would be which makes living with her children the only feasible option were she to leave her current husband and that's what starts to freak me out. None of us are willing to, but I could see myself agreeing to take on my mother in order to protect one particular brother who has a young family from the chaos she would cause them if she somehow managed to worm her way into their home life.

I also live in a state with Filial Responsibility laws though I don't know much about them or what they may entail.

Anyway, thanks for listening. Not sure there's an answer but I find this to be a pretty solid community and I'm open to ideas/stories/anecdotes.







former player

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I hope you and your siblings can all support each other in staying strong.  "No" is a complete sentence.  It sounds as though you will all need to continue saying no for the rest of your mother's life.

Would your mother be entitled to alimony or some other settlement from her husband?  Would she look for someone other than her children to latch onto for support?

If she can't afford to live near you, even with state subsidized housing, she will have to move.  Future healthcare seems like a potential major issue, so could she be persuaded to move to a location with better/cheaper/more convenient healthcare?




reeshau

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I'm sorry you have to go through this.  First off:  yes, it's always better to think things through, even if it's unpleasant, than having to think on the fly.  Being forced or hurried causes you to make mistakes, and worsens the damage to her and to you.  This whole community is about thinking through your life and acting with intention, rather than getting caught reacting to circumstances.

One question:  while you say all the children have distanced themselves from her, how are you with each other?  Has this affected the whole family, or do you think you are united in outlook / resources / approach to have a common solution?  It could be that a group intervention sends a stronger message to your mother.

You also mention a number of mental health issues.  It would seem to me a big part of the solution is getting her in mental health care.  It's obvious that it will be difficult to get care, and have it be effective, if she won't wake up to the issues she has caused.  But whatever you do, I would make counseling / psych care a condition of any help given.

My mom had similar issues with an older sister, who had mental health issues short of dementia as she got older.  My Mom split guardianship duties with another sister, but it got bad enough they had to put her on an allowance, so that she didn't spend her rent or food money on cigarettes (she was supposedly trying to quit) or phone scams.  It was a sad duty, but I always thought it was the ultimate expression of love, because both of them knew it would not be acknowledge by the sister who had the condition.  They had each other, though, to help them through practically and spiritually.

If you are looking for a happy ending, or even an ending any time soon (i.e. cutting ties), you might not get it.  What you can get is a way to be loving while minimizing the impact to your own situation.  It's a much more modest expectation, but again thinking through it can help you prepare for that, and not act on impulse in response to any anger or resentment you feel about the situation as it really unfolds.

Again, back to a practical level:  does your mother have any close friends?  If she still can't live on her own, maybe she is a candidate for a roommate or some other shared living environment.

Maenad

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First, I recommend the "raised by narcissists" sub-Reddit. There's some good advice and commiseration there from people who know what you've been through.

If you have decent relationships with your siblings, set up a group discussion of some kind so you all know where you stand with respect to yourselves. Not a "I think you should take in mom if she needs it", but "this is what I am or am not willing to do". This will help keep her from playing you against one another.

Any time you're talking to her and she mentions living with you, say, "No mom, that's not going to happen." Warn her ahead of time. This is for your benefit, because I'm guessing she won't listen.

Research elder assistance programs in her current state and others nearby. "Mom, here's the list of agencies that can help you find a place to live", or "If you move to [location] there are a lot of great resources for seniors - here's a list". Even though she isn't a senior yet, she will be someday, and those agencies can help.

Ultimately, your mom is reaping what she's sown. It's easy for those of us with more "normal" parents to clutch our pearls, but if someone isn't even 55 yet and has burned all those bridges, there's a reason for it. And people like that tend to land on their feet enough times that it prevents them from learning a healthier way to interact with the world.

And talk to a lawyer about filial responsibility laws - they'll be able to give you an accurate read on how likely it is to impact you. My guess is: not very. I get the feeling they're more of a scare tactic (in the US anyway) than a real threat.

lizzzi

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Doesn't she automatically get Medicaid (for health insurance) if she's on SSI?. And she could probably get Food Stamps. When the chips fall,  you could make a referral  to Adult Protective Services in her county. You don't say if you live geographically close or not, but my brothers and I found that living hundreds of miles away from our toxic mother helped a lot.

babysnowbyrd

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Yes, I think we all have each other's support so far.

I don't think she can really get alimony from her husband. He is also retired. He gets SSI and has a pension or two maybe? I'm not sure she's entitled to any money from that.

On the other hand, he is not so happy either, so maybe he'd be willing to shell out (if he's able) to get her out of his house. who knows.

I guess it's possible she'd marry again but I very much doubt it at this point.

chasesfish

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I'm sorry for what you're going through.  Its good you've put a lot of thought in this.

In my situation, my wife and I have casually discussed what level of support we would provide each parent.  I have little advice, other than set hard boundaries with yourself on what level of support you'll provide.  Even consider writing them down if in the future you are tempted to change it.

babysnowbyrd

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One question:  while you say all the children have distanced themselves from her, how are you with each other?  Has this affected the whole family, or do you think you are united in outlook / resources / approach to have a common solution?  It could be that a group intervention sends a stronger message to your mother.

I think we are united in the sense that we will try to shoulder the burden together if it comes to that. But not on a specific solution. One idea I had was that if it happens in a few years, I may be able to get a mortgage then and would buy something in her own town with a SEPERATE MIL suite and rent the main house to renters. That way, the mortgage gets paid, she can basically live for "free" and yet still not with us. She is generally more well behaved around strangers, so I think it's doable as long as we keep in close enough contact with both parties to make sure things are good.

Also, I would be very clear with my mother that having good renters means she gets a free place to live. And that if she thinks she can drive the renters away and that one of her children will go ahead and move in that home that she is mistaken and no renters=we sell the property and she's on her own again.

It's not a perfect plan, but I think it's plausible. Of course, I would not be able to get a mortgage on my own home, but I would continue to rent.

Quote
You also mention a number of mental health issues.  It would seem to me a big part of the solution is getting her in mental health care.  It's obvious that it will be difficult to get care, and have it be effective, if she won't wake up to the issues she has caused.  But whatever you do, I would make counseling / psych care a condition of any help given.

She has tried counseling before, but narcissism is immune to counseling. She cannot be truly honest with herself or admit any wrongdoing. I think their minds would crack before they could take an honest look at themselves. They don't see it as healing or productive in anyway.

Quote
Again, back to a practical level:  does your mother have any close friends?  If she still can't live on her own, maybe she is a candidate for a roommate or some other shared living environment.

She has a toxic friend that would maybe take her in. I think they would deserve each other, but that might be a bit much to hope for. Or if it did happen, it probably wouldn't be long term before they get sick of each other.
 

Sibley

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There is a concept that everyone's pretty comfortable with as regards children, but not adults/the elderly. It still applies: expected consequences.

When you're a kid, if you're mean to the other kids on the playground, then no one wants to play with you. Expected consequence.

When you're an adult, the same concept applies. Your mother has gone through her life being generally toxic and abusive. As a result, she has driven away many, if not all, of the people around her. Now that she's elderly, the expected consequence is that her adult children don't want to deal with her. Does it suck for her? YES. Does that mean it should change? NO.

Your mother receives some income. She has the ability to apply for government services - senior housing, food stamps, etc. She can apply for Medicaid or if she's old enough, Medicare. You or your siblings can decide that you're willing to assist her with obtain aid. Or you can call Adult Protective Services and get them to help her sort it out.

She can hint all she wants. The best thing that you and your siblings can do is to sit down, decide exactly what you're collectively willing to do and who is willing to do it, then communicate that to her. Give her the information, let her deal with it.

----
FYI- narcissists (and other personality disorders/traits) can actually get therapy to address the underlying issues. It requires HARD work from them, and since mostly they don't think there's anything wrong, they're not willing to actually put in the work. But it is technically possible.

honeybbq

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I think we have the same mother!! Except mine is not married and basically a hermit.

2nd to the raised by narcissists subreddit. Very good stuff there.

Also to those that suggest mental help - other than the interventions my sibling and I have staged, she will not get mental help, doesn't think she needs it, and blames us for everything anyways. You can't help people who don't want to be fixed and who don't believe anything is wrong. Better to leave well enough alone and distance yourself.

Neither my sibling nor I will let her live with us. I live 1500 miles away, so I'm pretty safe.  I don't plan on helping her with any expenses in old age, even though I could.

OP, I suggest just letting the chips fall where they may. She won't be the only old person on Medicaid and living off SS. She may not like where she lives in the end, but that's her problem. At least she has a husband to lean on for now. Let her be a burden to him. He CHOOSE her. You did not.

SunnyDays

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I would first check out the filial responsibility law to see what you would HAVE to do.  Then add up what her various social benefits would come to.  Then what would the minimal housing arrangement / living expenses cost?  Then you will know what the difference would be that you and sib(s) would need to make up.  Whatever that number is, I'm sure it would be a lot more manageable than having her live with either/any of you and destroying your lives and relationships.  As Sibley says, treatment for personality disorders is basically useless, because of a lack of motivation to change due to not seeing themselves as "sick."  The best you can do is maintain an emotional (and physical, if possible) distance while ensuring she doesn't starve or become homeless, through means other than yourselves.

rubybeth

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This sounds terribly familiar. I'm so sorry you're going through this. The poster that talked about natural consequences is onto it. You and other family members will need to be clear about what you can provide in terms of support. My spouse has had to tell his parent that they can never live with us. It's not an option for exactly the same reasons you list (difficult to treat mental health issues combined with physical health limitations and constant negativity/complaining). It's tough, but the parent is an adult and supposedly mentally functional enough to care for themselves, so that should be the expectation. Feel free to message me if you want to talk more in private.

I wasn't familiar with filial responsibility laws and looked them up in a terror (my state does not have them and it seems they are not enforced everywhere), so you might want to check on that and even consult with a lawyer for how that might play out.

frugaldrummer

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Is there a cheap part of your state (or a neighboring state if her SSI would transfer?) where she could rent an apartment for very little?  If so, then I would approach your siblings about chipping in for an apartment - preferably far away.

If, say, she could rent a studio apartment for $750 in some small podunk town somewhere, it might be worth three of you paying $250 a month and calling it a day. She could pay her other expenses out of SSI and food stamps, and you'd know she has a roof over her head.

My best friend has a stepmother who has borderline personality disorder. She retired to a small town in Texas where her biological daughter lives, and although she only has a small social security income, it's apparently enough for a cheap rental in that small town.

(Oh - and obviously, if you do this, pay the rent directly to the landlord, not to her.)
« Last Edit: April 10, 2019, 01:30:43 PM by frugaldrummer »

SheWhoWalksAtLunch

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I wasn't familiar with filial responsibility laws and looked them up in a terror

+1

six-car-habit

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 Mobile home - trailer park rental space.  Many take Recreational vehicles / "5th wheel trailers"  if she could afford one of those.  If not most trailer parks have rental units already on site....

  Does she have absolutely Zero potential to work ?  Or would she not attempt that anyhow, since it might disqualify her from SSI benefits ?  Is it Social security retirement benefits she gets- or Social security disability style ?

frugaldrummer

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Btw here's an article on cities where she could get a cheap apartment:  https://www.cheatsheet.com/culture/cities-rent-apartment-600-less.html/

Small towns may be even cheaper.

mspym

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It definitely sounds worth checking with a lawyer about what the exact liability you and your siblings have re filial responsibility and how often these laws are actually enforced in your state. A number of states have these laws on the book but seldom use them, so *fingers crossed*.

Someone on this board posted that with these people, you can't fret or game out what they are going to do. All you can do is accept that they are going to do whatever it is they are going to do and your defense is to have clearly stated boundaries and stick to them*. "That's not going to work for me" "You can't  move in with us" "Here are some resources, this is all the help I can give you" and broken record it like a champ. Make sure your siblings are on the same page so she can't triangulate.

I think the house for renters with a granny flat would be a good solution for someone else. Her hoard would soon drive out decent tenants and then you may have extreme difficulty getting her out so the place could be sold**. It looks like it has the potential for a huge legal mess that you don't want.

*my sincere apologies to whoever's words it is that I am so clumsily paraphrasing!
**I spend a lot of time on r/legaladvice and filial responsibility laws and tenants rights are evergreen

Cool Friend

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My personal way of avoiding this stress was to cut her out of my life entirely. It's not the main reason why I made that choice, but she stole money from me when I was a teenager trying to save for college, so there's no way she wouldn't try to drain me dry in adulthood to fund her wildly irresponsible life choices.  She received an inheritance from her parents when they died a couple years ago.  If she pisses that away, I'd tell her (if I spoke to her, which I don't) what she always told me whenever I needed clothes, food, love, support, boundaries, or respect: "tough shit."

ETA Totally understand if you're not willing to do that, just something to think about.

FLBiker

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+1 on firm boundaries and allowing consequences

Admittedly, I've gotten a lot of my healthier emotional habits from AA, but a lot of the "helping" that people do in situations like these (ie paying for a place, letting the parent move in, etc.) feel like enabling from my POV.

My wife and I have talked very frankly about what the boundaries are for our various parents -- ie which ones would and would not be invited to move in with us.

Note that you can't control your siblings, either.  And if one of them allows her to move in with them, I'd caution against "saving" them.

frugaldrummer

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Just want to remind everyone that hoarding is a sign of mental illness. Not absolving the OPs mother for all her behaviors, but she sounds seriously mentally ill. Expecting her to "pull herself up by her bootstraps" is useless. Unfortunately she's not likely to get well (treatment is very difficult and most are not willing) but it's appropriate to try to ensure she's housed and fed - just preferably far away and at the least cost.

remizidae

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It's hard for me to understand people who agonize over family members that they don't even seem to like. Once you're over 18, you never have to deal with family again if you don't want to! It's one o f the great things about being an adult. You don't even have to take their calls. If you choose to stay involved, well, know you're imposing this stress on yourself.

mm1970

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Just want to remind everyone that hoarding is a sign of mental illness. Not absolving the OPs mother for all her behaviors, but she sounds seriously mentally ill. Expecting her to "pull herself up by her bootstraps" is useless. Unfortunately she's not likely to get well (treatment is very difficult and most are not willing) but it's appropriate to try to ensure she's housed and fed - just preferably far away and at the least cost.
The disagreement here, I think, is whether or not you think it is OP's job to ensure that.

frugaliknowit

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I would NOT buy any real estate to provide your mother a place to live (in-law unit, etc.).  This might seem practical, but is riddled with potential problems with YOU on the hook.

Tris Prior

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It's hard for me to understand people who agonize over family members that they don't even seem to like. Once you're over 18, you never have to deal with family again if you don't want to! It's one o f the great things about being an adult. You don't even have to take their calls. If you choose to stay involved, well, know you're imposing this stress on yourself.

Some of us have literal decades of programming to undo, re being made to feel responsible for our parent's well-being and happiness. It can be really, really hard to dump the feelings of obligation and guilt, especially when we have been raised since childhood to feel these things and we don't know it's not normal because that is all that we know. In my case, I didn't even know that saying no was an option, because I had never done so in the past and was groomed to put my parent's needs first, always, from a young age. I have unmustachianly been in therapy for a few years now trying to reclaim my life and unlearn these unhealthy patterns. It's not easy!

ysette9

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It's hard for me to understand people who agonize over family members that they don't even seem to like. Once you're over 18, you never have to deal with family again if you don't want to! It's one o f the great things about being an adult. You don't even have to take their calls. If you choose to stay involved, well, know you're imposing this stress on yourself.

Some of us have literal decades of programming to undo, re being made to feel responsible for our parent's well-being and happiness. It can be really, really hard to dump the feelings of obligation and guilt, especially when we have been raised since childhood to feel these things and we don't know it's not normal because that is all that we know. In my case, I didn't even know that saying no was an option, because I had never done so in the past and was groomed to put my parent's needs first, always, from a young age. I have unmustachianly been in therapy for a few years now trying to reclaim my life and unlearn these unhealthy patterns. It's not easy!
I disagree with the use of the word “unmustachian” in this context. I would argue that spending money to get to a healthy mental state so you can have healthy boundaries and take control of your own future is a fantastic use of money. More power to you!

frugaldrummer

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Quote
Quote from: frugaldrummer on Today at 09:04:41 AM

    Just want to remind everyone that hoarding is a sign of mental illness. Not absolving the OPs mother for all her behaviors, but she sounds seriously mentally ill. Expecting her to "pull herself up by her bootstraps" is useless. Unfortunately she's not likely to get well (treatment is very difficult and most are not willing) but it's appropriate to try to ensure she's housed and fed - just preferably far away and at the least cost.

The disagreement here, I think, is whether or not you think it is OP's job to ensure that.

If her mental illness was schizophrenia, would you think it appropriate for her children to try to keep a roof over her head? Honestly, this is a seriously mentally ill woman who will likely be homeless.  If it is within the kids' power to scrape together $600 for a cheap apartment somewhere, and the alternative is homelessness on the street, then I think that would be the right thing to do. Sadly social services for the mental ill are seriously lacking in the U.S.  I'm not saying they have to be involved with her in any other way, but it seems a bare minimum of human decency not to want your mentally ill mother to be sleeping on the sidewalk.

reeshau

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It's hard for me to understand people who agonize over family members that they don't even seem to like. Once you're over 18, you never have to deal with family again if you don't want to! It's one o f the great things about being an adult. You don't even have to take their calls. If you choose to stay involved, well, know you're imposing this stress on yourself.

While the situation as described by OP and others is a lot more serious than you characterize, I have to take exception to your objection about family "you don't even seem to like."  Times change, and everyone needs someone's help at one time or another.  There are altruistic and selfish reasons to reinforce family ties.  More to the point, I used to hate my oldest brother while we were growing up, and the feeling was mutual.  We are good friends now, and enjoy watching our children play together.  I think that kind of change is common.  Changes during adult lives might be less common, but there are many seasons to a life.

Toxic?  Dangerous for you, or your children?  Incorrigible?  Yes, leave / run away / ignore.

Don't like?  Just don't like?  Maybe it's you.  Takes two to tango.

If you still stand by your words, then I am sorry that your family life got you to that point.  I can't imagine it.

Unique User

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OP - I read this and thought maybe you were my sibling from 20 years ago posting.  My mother is still a train wreck, but around 20 years ago I refused to have any contact with her for about 4-5 years because she repeatedly crossed boundaries I had set and told her about.  Amazingly, something happened during that time that reined in the abusive traits.  She eventually apologized for her behavior after my daughter was born and she was upset I still refused to have contact.  I'm sure she was just going through the motions and didn't really believe she had anything to apologize for, but she realized I was not going to back down.   She is 75 now, lives in a mobile home my grandmother bought for her for $50k and still works 20 hours a week.  I helped move her to that lower cost area (55+ mobile home park in the California desert) about 12 years ago and the experience was horrible.  Trying to move an irresponsible hoarder halfway across the country tested my every nerve.  She is still spendy, a hoarder, narcissistic and fiscally irresponsible, but she is not abusive or manipulative to us or our children.  I buy gift cards for fancy restaurants for birthday, christmas, etc and occasionally give her a lump sum for things like a car, but I don't subsidize her lifestyle.  In no way is it ideal, but we really thought we'd have to be supporting her and we don't.  Good luck and I truly mean it, setting boundaries, consequences if those boundaries are crossed and then following through is REALLY hard.   
« Last Edit: April 12, 2019, 06:35:43 AM by Unique User »

Miss Piggy

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Also, I would be very clear with my mother that having good renters means she gets a free place to live.

From an outsider's perspective, this seems more like a reward than a consequence.

SheWhoWalksAtLunch

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I disagree with the use of the word “unmustachian” in this context. I would argue that spending money to get to a healthy mental state so you can have healthy boundaries and take control of your own future is a fantastic use of money. More power to you!

+1  Mental health is right up there with physical health and safety.  Put your money where it will do the most good and many of the smaller financial issues will take care of themselves.

Tangentially: I wonder sometimes how many of us have developed Mustachian muscles as a result of our desire to get-away-from / avoid-in-future / never-again-have-to-deal-with difficult relatives.... 

AliEli

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OP, I'm in the situation now. I cut off from my mother 5+ years ago, fully expecting that she would be found dead in the agricultural shed she was inhabiting (her choice of abode, there were better options that she refused). She's instead popped up with a terminal illness compounded by dementia. I believe her life expectancy is under 12 months.

As prepared as I have been, the bigger thing I've had to work through has been my own feelings, especially since it has all happened at the same time I was pregnant about to have my second baby. I've stayed out of the family drama loop (court cases etc over mum's care and guardianship), and my view of my mother / family has been cemented through this. It's causes me pain to know that my mother could never choose her kids over her parents & siblings, and I have felt emotionally de-stabilised as a result.

You won't know what will happen to her until it happens, and I really think that the best way to spend the timd getting yourself to an emotionally safe place. Steady ground will help you to find the right choice for you if the situation arises.

Tris Prior

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I disagree with the use of the word “unmustachian” in this context. I would argue that spending money to get to a healthy mental state so you can have healthy boundaries and take control of your own future is a fantastic use of money. More power to you!

+1  Mental health is right up there with physical health and safety.  Put your money where it will do the most good and many of the smaller financial issues will take care of themselves.

Fair enough. Therapy is my largest monthly bill after rent, though, and that definitely does hurt sometimes. But, I do feel it's important and that it's helped me. I could never have stepped back from my family situation without it and though I still struggle with guilt a lot, I'm much happier.

mm1970

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Quote from: frugaldrummer on Today at 09:04:41 AM

    Just want to remind everyone that hoarding is a sign of mental illness. Not absolving the OPs mother for all her behaviors, but she sounds seriously mentally ill. Expecting her to "pull herself up by her bootstraps" is useless. Unfortunately she's not likely to get well (treatment is very difficult and most are not willing) but it's appropriate to try to ensure she's housed and fed - just preferably far away and at the least cost.

The disagreement here, I think, is whether or not you think it is OP's job to ensure that.

If her mental illness was schizophrenia, would you think it appropriate for her children to try to keep a roof over her head? Honestly, this is a seriously mentally ill woman who will likely be homeless.  If it is within the kids' power to scrape together $600 for a cheap apartment somewhere, and the alternative is homelessness on the street, then I think that would be the right thing to do. Sadly social services for the mental ill are seriously lacking in the U.S.  I'm not saying they have to be involved with her in any other way, but it seems a bare minimum of human decency not to want your mentally ill mother to be sleeping on the sidewalk.

I think decency and responsibility, like many things in this world, are a sliding scale.

If it was a mother who was verbally, physically, or sexually abusive while they were growing up, how would you feel?  What about alcohol or drug addiction?

Did she super fuck up her kids?

In any event, it is not MY place to tell someone that I don't know what they are responsible for providing to a mentally ill mother.  I agree that the US is a mess, and as a country we should do better.  But we are so damned independent and so fucking religious that we've CONVINCED people that it is their duty to take care of family NO MATTER WHAT.  And it's bullshit.  So we don't set aside the money as a country to care for others who need the help.  Whether it be illness, mental illness, disability, or whatever.

rubybeth

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I think decency and responsibility, like many things in this world, are a sliding scale.

If it was a mother who was verbally, physically, or sexually abusive while they were growing up, how would you feel?  What about alcohol or drug addiction?

Did she super fuck up her kids?

In any event, it is not MY place to tell someone that I don't know what they are responsible for providing to a mentally ill mother.  I agree that the US is a mess, and as a country we should do better.  But we are so damned independent and so fucking religious that we've CONVINCED people that it is their duty to take care of family NO MATTER WHAT.  And it's bullshit.  So we don't set aside the money as a country to care for others who need the help.  Whether it be illness, mental illness, disability, or whatever.

+1

ysette9

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I think decency and responsibility, like many things in this world, are a sliding scale.

If it was a mother who was verbally, physically, or sexually abusive while they were growing up, how would you feel?  What about alcohol or drug addiction?

Did she super fuck up her kids?

In any event, it is not MY place to tell someone that I don't know what they are responsible for providing to a mentally ill mother.  I agree that the US is a mess, and as a country we should do better.  But we are so damned independent and so fucking religious that we've CONVINCED people that it is their duty to take care of family NO MATTER WHAT.  And it's bullshit.  So we don't set aside the money as a country to care for others who need the help.  Whether it be illness, mental illness, disability, or whatever.

+1
Another thumbs up from me

babysnowbyrd

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I think we have the same mother!! Except mine is not married and basically a hermit.

2nd to the raised by narcissists subreddit. Very good stuff there.

I'm subscribed to that subreddit, but I felt more comfortable posting about her possible retirement issues here.

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Also to those that suggest mental help - other than the interventions my sibling and I have staged, she will not get mental help, doesn't think she needs it, and blames us for everything anyways. You can't help people who don't want to be fixed and who don't believe anything is wrong. Better to leave well enough alone and distance yourself.

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There was a time i tried to get her into counseling. So many times I desperately wanted to somehow fix things. I thought for some reason that there was probably something I could say or do that would finally break through to her and we could move on and heal and have an actually relationship.

Eventually I figured out that having that hope brought me a lot more pain and suffering in the long run and actually gave her more power over the relationship.

It sounds sad--though really it's not--but giving up on a normal relationship was incredibly freeing. I was finally able to divorce myself from responsibility for her actions.

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OP, I suggest just letting the chips fall where they may. She won't be the only old person on Medicaid and living off SS. She may not like where she lives in the end, but that's her problem. At least she has a husband to lean on for now. Let her be a burden to him. He CHOOSE her. You did not.

Yeah, I'm feeling better from all the responses here about letting the "chips fall as they may" as you put it.

It just means for sure 100% that she can NOT know about my financial progress. I have a baby emergency fund now (a la Dave Ramsey) while I'm paying off debt and I'm confident if she knew how much money I had sitting there she'd increase the *hints at her financial situation.

I do feel bad for her husband though. Neither him nor my dad REALLY knew what they were getting into, you know? Narcs can be as sweet as pie when they want to be. I'm not close with my stepdad at all but I genuinely feel bad for him.

babysnowbyrd

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Doesn't she automatically get Medicaid (for health insurance) if she's on SSI?. And she could probably get Food Stamps. When the chips fall,  you could make a referral  to Adult Protective Services in her county. You don't say if you live geographically close or not, but my brothers and I found that living hundreds of miles away from our toxic mother helped a lot.

Yes, she's on medicaid I'm pretty sure. I might have to look more at housing options because even with SSI and Section 8 etc it seems like a lot of things are still out of reach for her.

I'm not sure if she is on food stamps. She does waste a lot of food as well. Fridge full of things that go bad and get thrown out eventually. For two people that "hardly eat" I think she spends like she's still feeding an entire family.

babysnowbyrd

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Mobile home - trailer park rental space.  Many take Recreational vehicles / "5th wheel trailers"  if she could afford one of those.  If not most trailer parks have rental units already on site....

  Does she have absolutely Zero potential to work ?  Or would she not attempt that anyhow, since it might disqualify her from SSI benefits ?  Is it Social security retirement benefits she gets- or Social security disability style ?

I think she'd rather not work (of course, who wouldn't though?)

She genuinely would struggle, and I think would not be capable of much more than Walmart greeter but the closest Walmart to her is like 40 minutes away.

She might want to though, if only to get some more money to waste at yard sales and thrift shops.

I'm almost thinking I might need to have some kind of oversight with her funds, but I'm honestly not sure how to do that if she's not far gone enough to need a POA or something. I could see her spending her money on junk and then complaining she can't pay bills or something. I wonder if there's a way outside of taking full control to still make sure her bills get paid first with any money she has coming in or something. I don't know :(

babysnowbyrd

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Is there a cheap part of your state (or a neighboring state if her SSI would transfer?) where she could rent an apartment for very little?  If so, then I would approach your siblings about chipping in for an apartment - preferably far away.

If, say, she could rent a studio apartment for $750 in some small podunk town somewhere, it might be worth three of you paying $250 a month and calling it a day. She could pay her other expenses out of SSI and food stamps, and you'd know she has a roof over her head.

My best friend has a stepmother who has borderline personality disorder. She retired to a small town in Texas where her biological daughter lives, and although she only has a small social security income, it's apparently enough for a cheap rental in that small town.

(Oh - and obviously, if you do this, pay the rent directly to the landlord, not to her.)

This is a good idea. I'm curious to know what other people have done in these kinds of situations. Her town is pretty small and rural and it's where she grew up so I don't think she would move to a different state. If we pitched that idea to her, she'd DEFINITELY tell anyone and everyone that her kids hate her so much they paid for her to live as far away from them as they could! Lol.

I'll start looking at rentals in her county and see what they happen to be going for at the moment.

babysnowbyrd

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It's hard for me to understand people who agonize over family members that they don't even seem to like. Once you're over 18, you never have to deal with family again if you don't want to! It's one o f the great things about being an adult. You don't even have to take their calls. If you choose to stay involved, well, know you're imposing this stress on yourself.

Some of us have literal decades of programming to undo, re being made to feel responsible for our parent's well-being and happiness. It can be really, really hard to dump the feelings of obligation and guilt, especially when we have been raised since childhood to feel these things and we don't know it's not normal because that is all that we know. In my case, I didn't even know that saying no was an option, because I had never done so in the past and was groomed to put my parent's needs first, always, from a young age. I have unmustachianly been in therapy for a few years now trying to reclaim my life and unlearn these unhealthy patterns. It's not easy!
I disagree with the use of the word “unmustachian” in this context. I would argue that spending money to get to a healthy mental state so you can have healthy boundaries and take control of your own future is a fantastic use of money. More power to you!
I second this ^^^^ nothing unmustachian about therapy. Same as medical interventions.

babysnowbyrd

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OP - I read this and thought maybe you were my sibling from 20 years ago posting.  My mother is still a train wreck, but around 20 years ago I refused to have any contact with her for about 4-5 years because she repeatedly crossed boundaries I had set and told her about.  Amazingly, something happened during that time that reined in the abusive traits.  She eventually apologized for her behavior after my daughter was born and she was upset I still refused to have contact.  I'm sure she was just going through the motions and didn't really believe she had anything to apologize for, but she realized I was not going to back down.   She is 75 now, lives in a mobile home my grandmother bought for her for $50k and still works 20 hours a week.  I helped move her to that lower cost area (55+ mobile home park in the California desert) about 12 years ago and the experience was horrible.  Trying to move an irresponsible hoarder halfway across the country tested my every nerve.  She is still spendy, a hoarder, narcissistic and fiscally irresponsible, but she is not abusive or manipulative to us or our children.  I buy gift cards for fancy restaurants for birthday, christmas, etc and occasionally give her a lump sum for things like a car, but I don't subsidize her lifestyle.  In no way is it ideal, but we really thought we'd have to be supporting her and we don't.  Good luck and I truly mean it, setting boundaries, consequences if those boundaries are crossed and then following through is REALLY hard.

Thank you for sharing your experience! If I had to help my mother move her junk, well, I just don't know if it would even happen. I don't tolerate anxiety very well (in part thanks to her) so if I had any say in it, I would likely hit my breaking point 30 minutes in and give her some kind of unhealthy ultimatum, ie "You have ONE HOUR to pick 100 things you can't live without and the rest of this is getting donated!!!!"

I've thought that if she does die as young as SHE thinks she will, I really don't want to go through her stuff. There's maybe one or two things I would actually want. So I'd probably help my Stepdad have a HUGE yard sale and let him keep all the money and just donate/toss everything else and be done with it.

Cassie

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If she is on SsI and Medicaid she should qualify for low income apartments where she pays 30% of her income for rent.