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My mother has always been a "complainer" and wears her heart on her sleeve. Every ache, pain and disappointment has been articulated throughout her lifetime. Since she has truly become more frail and has a range of medical issues, the complaining is non-stop, 24/7. From morning to night I hear a litany of complaints that start with her neck, back, stomach - virtually every part of her body and bodily function. She is on dialysis and most certainly has some serious issues and I don't expect her to suffer silently. But the constant complaints have left me depressed, weary and, often quite angry with her. When we are with others, she behaves quite differently and, in fact, at a recent family gathering, I was told by several people how "well" she appeared to be doing! When it is the two of us, as it often is, the complaints do not stop, nor do the grunts, groans and moans. I have tried to speak to her about this but she tells me that she is old and sick and "entitled" to complain. I have seen people with terminal diagnoses with a more positive and pleasant attitude. I know she is not going to change at 85 years old but how can I cope with this continual barrage of misery? She sees a psychiatrist regularly and is on anti-depressants. She refuses to consider an outside caregiver or assisted living. I feel abused and defeated....and dread old age because of what I hear all day.

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Wow you must know my mother because I couldn't have described it any better myself ! I know this thread is old but I've been going through this for a while now. She has always been high strung but after my father passed we didn't speak for about 5 yrs for reasons to this day I really don't understand but that's another post. Anyway last year I called her and after talking for a while about different things she asked me to move home with her. At the time it seemed to be the logical thing to do as my job of 15 yrs had went out of business and I was thinking of starting my own I wasn't in a relationship and I knew she was having health problems so I agreed. But my God I wasn't ready for the nonstop complaining. And I mean nonstop. The first thing out of her mouth in the morning is something hurts. And as the days go own it's as though she's more helpless than the previous day. I know she has arthritis and I know it's painful but for god sakes if your not willing to try some solution then why say anything ! Help me understand that. I like to find solutions to problems not just whine about them. And it's like this all the time except when she's with her friends out somewhere then for some bizarre reason her ailments disappear and don't reappear until she's at home in the living room with me. When I acknowledge her constant moaning and sighing and ask her what's wrong now her answer is always I'm just old and I hurt. You'll be old one day and then you'll understand.........really ? She's 70 OK not that old really. I know a lot of 85 yr Olds walking the street and doing yard work. Seriously. But I know one thing I won't be old if it comes to me bitchin 24/7 I'll end it myself before I put someone thru that misery.
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I am a landlady. Recently I was approached by a pleasant, articulate son looking for a room near him for his mother so that they could be close. She is 79, but very spy and mobile, he said. She was living with her other son, who was abusing her.

Before I agreed I wanted her to see my home. Nope - she lives too far away. Then I insisted on meeting her. She lives 100 km away, but it was en route to the cottage.

The lady was quick to point out that she was descended from nobility. Her son was abusing her by making her live in the basement (an in-law suite). She could not move without a walker, and could not use stairs. She never stopped complaining: ex husband, sons, etc. and she asked if she could take my bedroom, on the main floor, as the two other rooms are upstairs.

She obviously needed assisted living. When I told #! son, he confessed he was shocked, but then, he hardly knew her: she abandoned him at 2 years old.

So why am I surprised that she called me again? She changed her mind. Now she wanted to move in..BUT would I consider giving up my bedroom?
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Wow you all hit the nail on the head. My Mom is constantly complaining about some ache or pain, or that she put her back out from sitting or walking. She's also a very negative person ( she's always been a complainer and a negative person) saying nasty things about people, even those she doesn't even know. Mom also is very talented when with other people by putting on a false face, always saying that she's so active and social and how she takes care of herself........not even close to being true. She also won't tell the doctors what going on, that she doesn't eat, exercise and that she's alone the majority of the time. I try to ignore a lot but it's very stressful and I'm working on how to deal with it to keep me okay. Thanks for this site and all your comments, at least we're not alone.
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trryvill, depression is treatable. I don't know if your mother's complaining is treatable, but at least take care of yourself! Please see a therapist about your own depression.
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I so feel your Pain...Not only does my 76 year old mother complain 24/7 she has to be the one to do everything ,because nobody does it right... I have tryed to help her so she will stop her complaining and name calling of everyone but it is in haste..I am frazzeled and so what to just go back to living by myself ,but then she starts her crying and acting like she cant do it on her own... I am so depressed...
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My mother has been complaining for the last 30 years or so. She is seventy years old never smoked or drank in her life, had about 5 relationships with men and each one treated her bad as they all drank and she hated it. My mom has taken time to live with each one of her three children including me as well as some of her friends and partners who all ran away as the said she was too domineering. Wherever she lived she hated it, the place was never good enough the people never treated her well etc etc. When she stayed with me all she did was order me and my children around calling our names every ten minutes or so and asking us to do things or telling us what we need to do. The last place she stayed in was at my brothers house and she was on the phone constantly to me asking me to help her get her own place this was her dream, I don't have enough money to pay her rent for an apartment as my whole family is financially dependant on me or should I say my husband as he is the one that works while I stay at home to take care of the house and all the duties that go with it. Even though my husband gets a good salary my family is constantly in need of money as well as my mom. Anyway to cut a long story short I mananged to get her a little apartment at an old age home about 5Km away from me. I buy her food on a weekly basis I pay for her rent and dstv. She was so excited about having her own place and key to a front door and not having to stay with my brother where they drank every night as she hates alcohol. I visit her at least twice a week take her everywhere she wants to go Drs appointments, shopping, fleamarket on a Saturday and to a club on the Bluff to listen to music and dance on a Sunday with other elderly people. Apart from doing all this for her I have to do her hair once a month and take her to do her nails and eybrows etc. I am physically and mentally tired of all the demands she and my family put on me. Even though I do all this for her she constantly pings me all day to send me messages like these "please help me I am lonely" "please tell me what to do I am so depressed my body aches and I don't know want to live alone". She refuses to walk to the shop as she thinks she will fall as she has a so called pinched nerve but yet she can dance on a Sunday. So she finally has her own home and now she hates it, she says the people are to old, it is too quite, etc etc etc. It just doesn't stop. I know no matter what I do for her it will never be enough cause nothing makes her happy.
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It can drive you bonkers! Here lately when my Mom turns into Mrs. Negativity, I allow her 5 mins to complain, then I change the channel to anything else, if she reverts, I say Mom, I came to spend good times with you, not to spend my time hearing age old complaints, life is too good and too short for this, I will have to leave now, then do so. Things are better but OHH MY!
I wish you well.
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If you think that's bad, I am an adult and my mother is very ill and her husband has left her so I've been taking care of her with my boy friend and she tries to punish me for him laying down with me. We've been together for 6 years, are you kidding me? All I hear is constant complaining everyday now!
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Momma,
Enjoyed your comments about removing yourself from your mom's sphere of influence when she starts in with someone stealing her pearls etc. Misplaced items are stolen items to her, my mom is in that phase too. You have found a way to take care of yourself during this difficult time. Have you tried redirection? You know that the complaining is directed at us, we are the closest target. I used to get worked up into a dither, now like yourself, I just disconnect and try ( try is the operative word here) not to take it personally. I feel like this site is our group therapy session. Take care of you.
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Janet,
It sounds like your mom is less negative now that you spoke to her psychiastrist. It seems that your mom has had a life long habit of complaining. When our parents age it seems that their basic personality becomes more pronounced. She is capable of better behavior when others are present therefore she can do better, it is a choice. She may want attention from you but doesn't realize she is alienating you. With my mom, some days I never know what her mood will be and it can change from minute to minute, hour to hour. When dementia sets in, not sure if your mom has a component of this, the part of the brain that normally inhibits doesn't work like it used to so they tend to not inhibit when they should. Hopefully, when we get old we are happily demented. Hope progress continues in a happy direction.
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My mother has a separate room that she stays in. I have to go through the garage to get to her room. I carry her food, etc. over to her several times a day and visit with her. Most of the time, she wants to lay in her bed. When she is up and happens to start complaining, I just say that I have to go wash the dishes or do the laundry and just leave the room. I also do this when she starts saying that someone stole her pearls, her cane, her shoes, her "whatever". I basically can't stand it and I just say I have some work to do. If there is some way you can just disengage and try not to have conversations with her. For goodness sake, we do everything for these parents of ours and now we have to be their therapist too? NO THANK YOU PLEASE. Get an ipod and listen to some of your favorite music if you don't want to listen. It is not being disrespectful, it is self preservation! Just like our teenagers do with us!
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Senior Day Care or Assisted Living would be a dream! And she would love it. But won't entertain the idea at this point. I love your descriptions, Madge 1! That is my mother to a tee!!!!!!!!!!!
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I know exactly what you mean. This is also part of my mom's "complaining" nature.....she criticizes everyone and everything. I think part of it is her nature because this is nothing new, but when it comes to her own kids and grandkids it gets to be too much. I do believe part of it is a desire to be useful in our lives and our kids' lives. I know my mom thinks no one truly listens to what she has to say - but she doesn't realize it is simply because we are overly saturated with her complaints and comments about everything. I suppose we could give them each a few minutes each day to say how they feel about our kids so they don't feel that their opinions don't matter at all and maybe explain that it is the ongoing complaints and criticisms that are hard to absorb, because I think we agree that they may have something valid to say - it's more about how they say it and how often!
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Since my Dad moved in with us - he wants to constantly complain about my teen-age son.

One night, early on, he started in. I put up my hand in the 'talk to the hand' position and just said ~ I don't want to hear it.

That was very helpful. Now when he talks about my son - it's still not positive (though he never does it when my son is around) . . but it's like he wants it to be he and I against my son. NO WAY will that ever happen. Just the ever-so-slight criticisms.

It's to the point that I don't even like to share the good things about my son with him. I don't know if it's his dementia - but he can only see his imperfections and nothing good. Last night, he started in with that my son seems' unhappy' and I cut him off with an 'I can't and won't criticize him for that". And that ended that conversation.

It really has driven a wedge between my father and I. Because I hate to tell his narcissistic self - if I have to chose - it will be my son EVERY TIME. And if he can find nothing good to say about my son - then we will have no conversations about him - at all.

They used to be so close - but living together - one self-absorbed teen-ager and one self-absorbed old guy (with creeping dementia). . . . was a recipe for disaster.
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My Mom is a complainer too. She is a healthy 81 year old but if you ask her how she is you hear the laundry list of complaints. If you tell her should see a doctor for this or that, she will turn it around to "why do you care." Talk about frustrating. So I am trying another approach. For instance yesterday she started complaining about being lonely and missing my Dad. She could hardly get along with my Dad, so I had a hard time listening to that. But I presented her options. She could come stay with me in Florida for the winter (she hasn't been to my house in 12 years), she could be around my brother more (he is too busy), she could call or visit her relatives (they have to call her, she is old), she could go out to lunch with her neighbor when she asks (she doesn't like her). You get the drift. So I tell her that is your options. She claims she wants to go to Assisted Living but just "not yet". The thing is I can hang up the phone, you need some distance from your Mom. Maybe Assisted Living if possible. Or a Senior Day Care.J ust anything to get away from her for a while.
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Thank you for the great responses! I actually did speak to her psychiatrist (together with her) a few weeks ago when she was really verbally abusive to me. He told her in no uncertain terms that she could not do that and it was unacceptable. He said she was lucky to have a daughter who cared for her and that many people on dialysis do not have nearly the same support she has. Since that time she has not been as demonstrably angry with me, so perhaps it's a good idea to speak with him again the next time I take her there. I actually do not think she is aware of how wearing it is for her to complain out loud all day - not only for me but for herself as well.
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thanks for your post Janet... I work for a lady that does the same thing and do not have to be with her 24/7, I do not know how you have kept your sanity... and my lady has health issues too, for those things I have nothing but compassion, but when I hear how nice she is to her friends, to health workers, and then how she talks to me..... I want to walk out the door... my primary task is taking care of her husband with Alz., but she had decided she has a maid also, I did not sign on to clean the house, pick up and keep things clean and neat yes, and today I simply disengaged with her after she snapped my head off.. I am a very outspoken person, and it took everything I had to walk in the other room... and her constant complaints wear on me..... I have even talked with her about getting another caregiver, sometimes people just don't click, but oh no, she is very happy with me... well, I'm sure she is.... I stay professional regardless of how many times I hear her fussing and whining about something......
I don't have any suggestions as I am trying to figure out some ways to deal with this myself.... at least we both know we are not alone..... that has to count for something... if I come up with any MIRACLES I'll let you know.... hugs to you
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I wonder if your mother's psychiatrist would have some tips for you in how to cope with her complaining, Unless your mother has given permission I'm sure that he or she would not talk about your mother, but perhaps could talk in general terms about how to protect your own well-being in the face of constant negativity.

Your mother may be "entitled" to complain, but you are not "obligated" to listen to it constantly.

I hope you can work something out soon.
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Janet I feel your pain. I am married to a man who is 75, had 4 TIA's in 2003, and has always been a rather negative person. Well at least after we got married. He also can put on a great presentation when in public, being a natural salesman. I am now in search of how to get some type of care for him as I can no longer do it. We had a huge fight a while ago and he threatened me. Well that was the last straw so now I am trying to figure out what the next step is for living seperatly. I can only imagine what it must be like for you as your's is a parent. I will share that I had to go on anti-depressents / anti- anxiety to be able to deal with him and the rest of the world as I am the sole financial support and have been laid off for 2.5 yrs. I am so glad I found this site and your comments. Thanks for sharing
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