Really worried about Mom

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Lavender, Feb 7, 2016.

  1. Lavender

    Lavender New Member

    Hello everyone. I'm really glad to have found this forum! My problem is not about me, but about my Mom.

    I know she is the only one who can change her situation, there is nothing I can do directly, but I am so worried about her and I guess I just need to vent, so please bear with me.

    My brother is 50 and moved in with Mom just before Christmas. Mom survives on a basic State Pension of around £100 a week, plus a pension credit of £25 a week. She divorced my step father about 16 years ago, and moved to the small market town where I lived so she could be close to me and my new baby and toddler. The divorce was amicable and they remained fond of each other.

    My brother carried on living with my step father in the house my step~father owned. My brother has never lived an independent life, never had a full time job, never had a romantic relationship and always looked to others to provide for him. My brother has worked a series of low paid jobs, very part time, which allowed him time to pursue his 'other interests'. He never paid my step father any rent. My brother has had good job opportunities handed to him in the past but has always turned them down.

    My step~father passed away 2 and a half years ago, and my brother carried on living in the house, now inherited by my 2 step brothers. After a period of grace, my step brother asked my brother to move out of the house. My brother refused and wouldn't talk to my step brother. Meanwhile, the house is deteriorating and needs all kinds of repairs. My brother never paid any rent, so my step~father and step~brother could not afford to have repairs carried out.

    My step brother had to resort to legal action to get my brother evicted and my brother asked Mom's elderly siblings to let him live with them. When they refused, my brother was surprised and angry, saying that they should take him in as he is family.

    My mother made it clear that she would not see my brother living on the streets, and has taken him in. She lives in a local authority house and had her rent subsidised due to low income. She's informed the authorities that he's living with her now and so she has lost her pension credit, lost her single person's discount on her council tax and had her rent increased to the full amount of £117 per week. This is more than her State Pension.

    The increase has been back dated to when he moved in (middle of December), so now she owes about £900. She told my brother that she could not afford to keep him unless he pays his way. She has savings of about £6,000 which will not last very long at this rate. He has savings of more than £16,000, not sure of the amount, but it's enough not to qualify for benefits in his own right.

    The council have told him to privately rent, they cannot help him. When Mom told my brother about the mounting debts, he mumbled something about going to the council 'if he has time'.

    He's carried on working at his zero hours contract job in the next city, but it takes him 3 hours to commute there on public transport, taking 2 buses (he does not drive) and 3 hours to commute back. Some days, he does not even earn enough to cover his bus fare!

    He says he hates the market town Mom lives in, and wants to move back to the city. But he makes no effort to do so. He might be able to afford a room in a shared house in the city, but thinks that a shared house is beneath him. Myself and my partner offered to help him find accommodation in the city, pointing him in the direction of government agencies that could help him with benefits as such, but he thanked us for our advice and did nothing.

    I have had a tricky relationship with my brother, ever since my teens when he chased me around the house with a knife on more than one occasion, and I locked myself in the bathroom to be safe. Mom did not protect me, and I married young and left home. He did not speak to me for years, despite living in the same house. I was afraid of him, so is Mom, she never stood up to him. He banned me and my (then) husband from the house (her house), so that we could not even visit at Christmas. Mom tried to reason with him and persuade him to let us come, but my brother put his foot down and refused. She felt so bad that she tried to give us money for a hotel, which we of course declined.

    He's never been formally diagnosed with a mental disorder, but we all know something is not right with him.

    He is unpredictable and volatile, thinks the world 'owes' him, has some funny ideas about people, has unrealistic expectations about his life (he wanted to be an athlete, but didn't train seriously, wanted to be an author, but didn't write anything, wanted to be a podiatrist, even got a degree in it, but never applied for any jobs once he graduated). I think he's approaching his mid life crisis just as Mom is entering her 80's. She's in poor health now, and I worry.

    He's openly disrespectful to her, even in public, patting her on the head and saying in a baby voice, "You don't understand a word I'm saying, do you?" It's horrible to watch. My sons, who are 16 and 19 now, think he's loser and have no time for him. My Mom is losing her relationship with her grandsons, who she loves very much, because of this. It feels as though she has 'chosen' my brother over us.

    At the moment, myself and my partner provide a listening ear for Mom. I'm not sure what else we can do. The situation will reach crisis point soon. My brother does not give her any money for rent, food or utilities. She has always been frugal, shopping at charity shops and being careful with money. She can't afford to provide for him. My fear is that she will do so until her own savings run out and she will be evicted from the house, unable to pay the rent. She will lose the way of life she has spent the last 16 years building up in her adopted market town. I don't know what will happen then. Mom is beside herself with worry.
     
  2. A dad

    A dad Active Member

    Ok first thing first your mother did not chose him over your family she does not have to chose and should not choose. To have a relationship with her you have to tolerate your brother he is a mess but that does not means that have to stop you from keeping a relationship with your mother.
    When my brother was like yours I powered trough in spite of seeing him abusing her kindness because I knew she will not chose us over him not because she loved him more then us it was because she could never abandon him.
    You can not change her mind but you do not have to cut all connections with her. My advice tolerate him and be there for her.
     
  3. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    Are their agencies for the aged in your community? It the states, we have the department for the aging, and sometimes they can help older adults who are being taken advantage of. I hope she finds a way to have him removed from her place. So hard to watch what is happening, and not to have any control... KSM
     
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Im sorry you have to see this but you cant force your mother to take care of herself. Sadly she is not the only one refusing to make an abusive, money sucking relative leave. You and I would have made other choices, but that is us and your mother is her own person.
    It may be best to detach from her choices as you cant control them. Listen if you like but dont give advice. She already knows how you feel. Then live your own life and hope mom will one day value herself enough to make him leave. Until then, you are powerless over her decisions.
    You do not need to deal with abusive brother at all. It is up to you. He doesnt sound like somebody who enhances anyones life.
    Hugs for your hurting heart.
     
  5. JMom

    JMom Member

    I wish I had answers for you. I'm glad you're here. I too have a 46 year old brother who still lives with mom. I felt the same as you. I decided to just invite her out for lunch. I pick her up for lunch so we can see her and she can see her granddaughters. I just say I don't agree with you helping brother, but it's not my decision.

    I also don't discuss him with her, she won't feel the need to defend him and I won't feel the need to shame her or him. I just don't talk to him.

    I'd encourage you to see her when you can, apart from him. There are adult protective services if you worry about her being taken advantage of or being threatened. They are experts in that field and will know how to intervene. She will have to male a decision not to let him in if they get him out.

    It's tough. Sounds Luke she's caught up in it. I'm praying for your mom to have peace, for you and your family to have time with her and your brother to get help with his dysfunction. I hope you find peace today. Thank you for being an advocate for your sweet mother.
     
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  6. pigless in VA

    pigless in VA Active Member

    Welcome, Lavender. I'm so sorry that you are worried about your mother. I agree with your sons that your brother is a loser. It doesn't much matter what his issues are. He is a leech, and there is nothing you can do about it. Your mother is unable to put him on the street. She wouldn't be able to live with herself if she made that choice. Your brother is absolutely taking advantage of her love. I know this is incredibly painful to watch, but it is up to your mother to decide when enough is enough.
     
  7. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Oh boy, this is hard. Mom is being taken advantage of, and is probably quite frightened by the whole situation. What else can she do? Her son is abusive.....I agree with the other comments about elderly services. I don't see any other way. In the States there are agencies that advocate for the elderly, do you have something similar in your country?

    I agree there is something very wrong with your brother. I would not attempt to try to reason with him.

    I hope that your country has services to help mom. It is hard enough to be 80 years old, but to have this happen is a terrible thing. She must feel trapped. I think that the stress would have a horrible affect on her health. What power does she have? None. She is old and fragile and being taken advantage of by her own son.
    This is happening to the elderly everywhere.
    Maybe you could make some calls, and try to find resources to help her.

    I hope that there is a solution, the sooner the better.

    So sorry for the heartache of this.
    Keep posting and let us know how you are doing.

    (((HUGS)))
    leafy
     
  8. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Wow. We are all over the map on this situation. Some of us think mother could be an elder abuse victim, others see her as a free agent.
    Your brother sounds abusive. He takes what he can get without care of who he hurts.
    Ditto here.
    I agree with this with the following exception.

    Your mother may be being abused by him. Or perhaps it is a free choice on her part; she feels guilt about how he turned out. Or there is some specific incident in the past, about which she feels guilty.

    If this was all there was, we could say, it is up to her. But I for one cannot let go of the possibility that she may be over her head, pressured, and afraid. What to do?
    Here in the States we have laws that protect elders from abuse, even at the hands of their own children. To which KSM and Jmom refer.

    The thing is, this kind of intervention could cause a great deal of pain and discord for your mother and in the family. It is a difficult choice.

    I intervened to protect my mother, but it was with her consent and her full knowledge. In this case your mother has made it clear that she will not tolerate his being put in the street.

    It is enormously painful and even disgusting that a grown, working man is taking advantage of his vulnerable mother. And she is forced to choose to injure irretrievably her own interests, so as to protect him. I am appalled.
    But there is at least a question of abuse here. If she was 40 years old, I would say, her choice. At 80, it is a different story altogether. Particularly if she is on the road to ruin, caused by his influence.

    Is there the possibility of buying him off? Offering him a quantity of money to establish himself elsewhere? The problem with this is what would prevent him from moving back, after he pockets the money. Does she have an attorney, who you can alert. I did this, but I told my mother first. And she called him to say he could speak to me.

    Can you talk directly to your mother and raise with her the issues you have brought up here? Calmly and gently explain your concerns.

    Perhaps another way to approach it is to be there for her, which I think is a dad's approach. There is a lot to say for that. From his way of seeing things, you would cast yourself as a good listener, a source of support, but not advocating one thing or another.

    Really, I do not know what you should do. Maybe after reading the different perspectives you will feel on more solid ground and see what feels right.

    I am so sorry that this is happening. I know, really, how painful and frightening it is. I hope you keep posting and let us know how this develops. I want to know that your Mom is OK in this no-win situation for her. I wish she was not facing this, as I wished my own mother did not have to face horrible betrayal at the end. Take care.

    COPA
     
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    Last edited: Feb 8, 2016
  9. Lavender

    Lavender New Member

    Thank you so much to everyone who has replied. Your insights have been very thought-provoking. I knew I'd come to the right place!

    A dad, I take your point about being there for Mom. Of course we have maintained our relationship with her, but away from the house. She used to love cooking for her grandsons and watching a dvd with them, but they don't like being there when my brother is there. He just makes everyone feel uncomfortable.

    KSM, there are agencies to protect the elderly, and that is an avenue I'm staring to investigate. I'm not sure how much power they have though, especially as Mom says she will not put him out herself.

    SomewhereOutThere, yes, she does know how I feel. I've been trying to help her find solutions. When she heard that I was trying to help my brother find accommodation, she was like "Thank you, God", but as he won't do anything to help himself, she is back to square one.

    JMom, we do take her out for lunch and to see her grandchildren perform in their various concerts. We try to include her as much as we can, and to give her a break from living with my brother. She says she lives for these times. I wish we could do more to help. It's very hard to detach because she just wants to talk about my brother and how things are. To avoid talking about it just feels like we are avoiding the 'elephant in the room'. You are right in saying that Mom will have to be strong enough not to let him back in if elderly protection services get him out. I'm not sure they can get him out without her say-so. I don't think she has reached that stage yet. She wants him to help himself. But I can't see it happening anytime soon.

    Pigless, you've hit the nail on the head. Mom did actually say to me that she wouldn't be able to live with herself if she put him out. Those exact words.

    Leafy, Mom has power, but she is unwilling to use it. She only has to say the word to me and I will call the police and get him out. Mom gave my brother a deadline to move out by the end of January. But that deadline came and went, without comment. Now he has even more reason to not take her seriously.

    Copa, I am sorry to hear your own Mom had problems.

    It didn't occur to me to buy him off, but I know what you mean! I might, if I thought it would work, but my brother isn't actually motivated by money. He doesn't spend it because he's never had to. Someone else has always taken care of the bills. That's why he's been able to save thousands, even on a very part-time salary, he has substantially more savings than me. He's bought himself holidays in Russia and Australia. Thing is, if he can organise those trips for himself, he can surely organise somewhere to live, you'd think.

    I think Mom does feel guilt about the way he's turned out. She never disciplined him as a teen and he took advantage of that. Mom has a background of living with 'difficult men', starting with her father, then my father, then my brother. My step-father was lovely though. Mom asked me recently whether I thought my brother's behaviour was all her fault. I told her that only he is responsible for his actions, he's a grown-up and can choose how to behave. Surely on some level he knows it's wrong?

    My partner and I are taking Mom for lunch on Saturday and I will do as you suggest and calmly and gently explain my concerns to her. And we'll take it from there.
     
  10. pigless in VA

    pigless in VA Active Member

    Absolutely he can. And most grown men have zero desire to live with their mommy. It seems to suit his inscrutable purposes to sponge off of your mother. He is behaving extremely selfishly.

    I wish the two of you the best of luck on Saturday.
     
  11. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Maybe this is his intent, to punish her, and she is going along with it, to punish herself.

    My sister was like this. She wanted to inflict hurt. And to a point, my mother accepted it, because she felt guilty.

    It is a dynamic. A sad and tragic one. I hope that your mother can see her way to rise above it.

    At the end, my sister did a treacherous and horrible thing, a series of them. My mother felt betrayed.

    I am very glad for myself and for her, that she was able to die with me. I suffered terribly, but at the end of the day I am glad I protected her to the extent that I could.

    Actually, it means everything to me, that I did so. Although I suffered enormously because of it, for a very long time, I believe I did the right thing for myself. I defined myself in the way I want to be.

    I believe this is a very important thing to consider. What your best interests are. By that I mean, how do you want to define yourself? How is this about you and how can you act, respond in the way that will make you proud of yourself, now and after your mother is gone.

    Actually, the way I see it is that we define ourselves for eternity in the way we say goodbye to our people. I know that seems like a kind of foolish way to think, but I think it and feel it nonetheless. Which really is all that matters.

    It gives me such a sense of peace to know that when it mattered (to me) I defined myself for eternity in the way I want to be. With respect to my mother, and just as importantly to myself.

    Thank you so much for your thread, Lavender. I have learned so much from it. And I have gotten to know each of you a little bit better, too.

    Thank you.

    COPA
     
  12. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    You've gotten a lot of good advice here. The one thing that hasn't come up, although you've probably thought about it, is how this impacts YOUR future financial security. We have a somewhat similar situation (from a financial point of view) in our family. My SO's (much younger) sister has graduated from college and not really looked for or found work. She is morbidly obese and socially awkward. She had a work study job, so while in college she was able to pay rent, and she paid for August. My SO paid for September because he wanted her to feel stable in her housing while she looked for work. She may have looked for work, but mostly she had magical thinking about how the job she had, which was only for students, would magically become available for her. Since then her mom has been paying rent and, once they came due, her student loans. Her mom barely makes enough to cover her own, frugal expenses, and has MAYBE $8000 put away for retirement, which is what she is using to pay for little sis's expenses. She is going to run out of money very soon. She insists that she (mom) is a grown up and these are her choices, but it seems clear that she assumes that my SO and his other sister will support her when she has zero (she already tried going 1/2 time because she feels too old and tired to work full time in her day care job).

    There is a lot of passive aggressive behavior going on...she WILL end up broke. She WONT own the problem...it will just come to a crisis and my SO and his sister will be left with the bag because, like so many others, they won't be able to let her just be homeless. They see it coming like a train wreck and so do I.

    I guess I tell this story only so you can think about how you and your partner will react when your mom has spent all her money on your brother and can't afford her own housing. I don't have an answer, but maybe thinking about it and setting some boundaries, whatever those are, will be helpful to you.

    For me...I know I won't let her live in my house...not the little sister and not the mom (it is my house). What SO and his sister choose to do will be up to them. It is part of the reason I won't marry him...a lot of financial magical thinking in that part of the family. Not that I am perfect...but I plan for the future.

    Sorry to bring up an unsolveable problem. I feel for you and your frustration and sorrow for your mom.

    Echo
     
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  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    If an elder is mentally competent, he or she can make decisions and it is not considered elder abuse. My 91 year old dad is of sound mind so he has to make all of his own doctor appointments, get his own medical results etc, he doesnt want a poa and is competent.
    Thats why I said its up to mom what hapoens. Brother isnt robbing her. If she knows what she is doing, she is willingly giving her money to him. It doesnt sound like he is tricking her into it.
    If she spends everything on him then you do what you feel is the best solution. There are inexpensitve apartments for competent seniors that are often adequate. Theb brother eould be on his own. Too bad for him.
    In the meantime continue on your life or if you feel brother is abusive try elder abuse. But Mom may be vety angry at you if you do this and may deny she is being abused.
    Tough situation. Prayers offered.
     
  14. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Yikes. Guess this is not the united states. Not sure then how things work. Sorry.
     
  15. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    Hi Lavender,

    Welcome.

    Can your brother apply for council housing for himself so that he doesn't need to live with your mom?

    Can your mom apply for him?

    Worst case scenario, if she can't pay the full rent after using up her savings, can she reapply for housing for just herself after brother leaves?
     
  16. JMom

    JMom Member

    I'm glad you have such a strong bond with your mom wherein you can talk with her about this. I agree with the others, in that, if she can't put him out, there's no need to intervene if there's no abuse.

    The only thing I said to my mom was that she wasn't doing my brother any favors because he needs to know how to care for himself when she's passed.

    I think at this stage in the game, for my brother, it might be too late. I asked my brother what plan B was because mom won't always be there. He had deer in the headlights look. I don't think he ever considered that.

    I sure hope your sibling can see past himself and not burden your mom. I know she would probably have peace and be so proud of him. Said a little prayer for you guys. I'm glad you're here. It helps just to know others have the same experiences and can lend an ear.

    It's strange how familiar we can all feel with one another, but very comforting. Let us know how your sweet mother is doing. :)
     
  17. pigless in VA

    pigless in VA Active Member

    Lavender,

    How did your talk with your mother go?
     
  18. mom_to_3

    mom_to_3 Active Member

    My youngest daughter works for Adult Protective Services, it is a governmental agency. If you have an agency like this I would call and make a report. Let them investigate. Even if they don't find that he is exploiting her and that is the word you want to use, he will be on their radar. I take it you don't live in the U.S. so this agency may be called something else.
     
  19. Lavender

    Lavender New Member

    Hi everyone. Thank you for your supportive messages!

    Well, we took Mom for lunch on Saturday, as planned. We waited for her to bring up the subject of my brother, so she could go at her own pace. Not surprisingly, she agrees that he has got to go, but she wants to 'help' him onto the next stage of his life.

    She's had some chats with him recently. She asked why he lives in the past, always referring to incidents that happened 30 or 40 years ago. He said that it was when he was happiest and has good memories of that time. It's funny when someone else has completely different memories of the same events as you experienced with them. I don't remember a 'happy' childhood at all. In fact, it was a period of stress and anxiety for me.

    Mom told him that he needs to move on and make some happy memories going forward.

    The council have given her 6 months before her benefits will be affected. This is contrary to what she was told before. So, he has 6 months to turn his life around.

    Over lunch, we came up with a plan so she can help him to make it happen. I told her that only she has the power to make the change and that she has a good track record of changing situations that she hasn't been happy in. She was surprised that I saw it like that, but it's true. She even moved continents to leave an abusive relationship when I was a child. So I know she's got it in her. I tried to encourage her by reminding her of her previous successes. My partner is just as positive and supportive of her as I am, so Mom had a double dose on Saturday!

    The plan is that Mom is going to sit down with brother and go through, step by step, the things he needs to do to make the change, starting with, "What do you really want out of your life?". And she is going to let him write the list, with her prompting. The idea being, that if he writes it down, he will take some ownership for making it happen. At least, that's the theory. He will need a lot of hand-holding, she thinks, right down to 'Step One - contact employment agencies in the area'. She thinks he has no idea how to move on. I can't believe that he'd be that stupid, but I'm not going to argue with her.

    She seemed a lot more positive as we dropped her off, because now she has a strategy.

    Lx
     
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  20. pigless in VA

    pigless in VA Active Member

    Good work, Lavender and partner (who I want to call Lilac because I get those two plants confused)!!

    I especially like that you reminded your mother of how much strength it takes to leave an abusive relationship. (been there, done that, got the t-shirt) It's so much better for her to have a plan of action instead of just sitting idly by why your brother is a slug.

    You know your brother pretty well. Do you think he will want to live on his own? Do you think he is afraid to do so?
     
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