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How to Handle an Elder's Controlling Behavior

157 Comments

Apricot - Your roommate's expectations don't have to control you. You can tell her how you can feel. You can set limits on what you're willing to do to help. You can remind her that you're her roommate, not her caregiver or the hired help. If push comes to shove, you can move out.

My roommate 84 expects me 66 to fill in what her caregivers don't provide. Her kids don't help much. I did not sign up for this when I agreed to move in. Help!

Lorraine, I feel for you, as my mother is also difficult, to put it mildly. Is there any way you can just limit contact with your mother? She sounds pretty toxic, and it's unlikely that she'll change at her age.

It also sounds like you're still very affected by her behavior towards you. I know that probably sounds like a given, but I think that for many of us dealing with personality-disordered parents, we've learned to just let it slide off us like water from a duck. Or we limit contact, or both. In my case, both, but it took me a few years of therapy to be able to do either. Don't think counseling is only for sick people. It's even more useful for those of us who have to deal with toxic or narcissistic parents/family members.

I hope you can find ways to keep your mother's behavior from affecting you so much that you cry yourself to sleep at night. Keep coming back and posting - many of us have been through similar situations, and we're all here for you.

I have just been reading and joined this website. I do not know where to start and cry myself to sleep most nights. I did not see my mother for 6 years and we have recently got back in touch. Her behaviour is steadily going back to how it was before and the reason we did not see each other. She is domineering, does not accept my point of view or others. If something does not go her way, she becomes aggressive and blames everyone

How do you deal with the family that just makes excuses for their mothers bad behavior?

How do I manage an elderly father who continuously verbally abuses my elderly mother. Is very controlling of her and blames her for all that is deemed wrong in his eyes?

Dear Heart2Heart,


I am so sorry for your troubles. The hardest thing is to break out of the cycle of being victimized and trying to get approval from our difficult relatives even when you know you shouldn't be seeking it! You have given up enough of your life--it hurt me so much to read that your life could end first! I hope you have a counselor or someone who can help you--I never would have escaped the treachery of my mother had it not been for that! You are entitled to be free and have your own life--maybe identify three small steps you could take toward personal freedom. Just three and stick to it. YOU ARE HERE ON EARTH TO CELEBRATE YOUR LIFE. You have gone above and beyond--now it is time for recalibrating. I am not suggesting you desert your mother but I am suggesting that you need to emotionally close the door and move forward for you a little at a time. Believe me, if I could do it, then you can too! Please write more and let me know how you are doing. I truly care and I honestly feel your pain.

Having a very hard time, like many of you... Carimg for my mother had been the most excruciating, traumatic and nightmarish experience I have ever endured. The control and demands from her is overwhelming. I am broken-hearted that either hers or my life has to end like this.

Thanks for sharing your insights. We had to distance ourselves to meeting up with my mother in law now only at a cafe outside her apartment, as she has paranoia and accuses us and make up stories what aren't real. Her other kids realised this now that she makes things up.

She has been asking for ambulance every 9-14 days the last 2 months, a big factor is she doesn't (want to) take her medicines, and only takes one instead of 4 different meds she needs. She usually gets home less than 24hrs at hospital. My husband is the one who gets a call from her to call the ambulance. And he makes sure the paramedics can get into her apartment (by going there too). Despite this, I still have what I call " daughter guilt", because I know society expects us as kids to do more for our parents. Her manipulative and unhealthy behaviour has been long-standing, and classed as a personality disorder as a minimum. Distancing is our only way to keep sane and not pass all the stress to our daughter.

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Your article has been so helpful. I gave up my life, house, and business to take care of my 97 year old mother. I had to get rid of nearly all my belongings to move into one bedroom in my mother's tiny two bedroom unit. I find that some days are better than others, but aside for having to deal with daily hygiene and cleaning issues, I find my mother is often angry at me for no reason and sometimes belittles me in front of other family members. I find "shopping online" for a change of address and studying part-time has helped to keep me sane, and friends have been fabulous, giving me their shoulder to lean on when things drive me to a point where I think I can't go on. I always had a great relationship with my mother, but now, she often seems like a stranger to me. I suppose I'm dealing with a sense of loss as well. No one else in my family will come to my help or take over my carer role. I feel guilty about feeling so upset about this situation but I have made a commitment to be there for however long it may be. I felt your article gave me some invaluable guidance and information. Thank you.