The problem is that in my trying to hold my ground with her has now caused a riff in our relationship. If I tell her I can't do it, she gets very angry with me, hangs up on me, and goes into a deep depression.* I am angry and upset of course, but then I mellow and think about the fact that she may not have that much longer to live and don't want her spending her last year miserable. (She is 85 yrs. old)
Short answer -- what BUM said.*
Longer answer --* I can't advise you on the money side - my father is alive and handling finances for himself and for my mother.* But I gather from what others say that your mother could easily make it on her current budget.*
What I can do, if you'll allow me to, is add to BUM's comments on the emotional factors.* I certainly recognize THAT part of the problem.* Your mother seems to have convinced you that you are not only responsible for her financial shortfall but for her happiness and emotional well-being too.*
You need to know that you are NOT responsible for these things.* Your mother has the ability to choose her actions and their consequences. At present, she chooses to ask her daughter to help support her lifestyle rather than budget for herself.
I have recently experienced a good dose of this myself from my sister and NO amount of reasoning, begging pleading, etc. etc. could convince her that I don't owe her a living.* I came to realize that she doesn't WANT to hear it.*
So long as my financial resources continue to be available to her, she will use them.* When I begin to withdraw them, there will be hell to pay.
This can be terribly hurtful -- you might expect your mother to be thankful for what you've done thus far but instead, she is angry and resentful that you don't do more.
The good news is that you and I have choices also.* We can choose to take care of those who would otherwise be well able to care for themselves, or we can choose to honor our own needs and the life energy we put into building a financial future, and gently and lovingly remove support from others.*
It's a hard row to hoe -- every time I refuse to help my little sister I feel terrible -- I define myself as a caring, loving person and having to say "no" makes me feel selfish and heartless.* I've decided that this is worth it, however, because I also avoid the feeling that I'm a willing doormat who can't stand up for myself.
Is it possible that you came to this forum to confirm what you already know?* That your mother is well-able to care for herself?* That her carelessness with your hard-earned financial resources is not fair?* That you have a right to stand up to her?
Whatever you do, I wish you the very best.* You have been caring and loving to others -- it may just be time to extend those good aspects of your character to yourself.