I feel that life is passing me by.

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I don't mean to complain, but I just want to vent for a minute! Of three sisters, I live the closest to Mom, who seems to want me around a great deal more than I want to be or am used to. My Mom and I (88 nad 65 respectively) used to be close and have fun together. Now that Dad is gone, however, she has become very dependent, needy, and demanding. She makes fun of the fact that I have friends and go out to socialize and meet new people. I am a widow and would like to put some zest and love back into my life. I could do without the constant negative feedback from Mom! Aside from just ignoring what she says, is there a good thing to say to indicate that my needs are different from hers? I know that I am not alone in this predicament by a long shot, but I sure could use a pep talk. I find that if I do things for and by myself that my patience with Mom greatly increases. All ideas are appreciated!


I unfortunately don't have any suggestions but just know that you are not alone. I am 38 & currently helping care for my father who has dementia. My mother also has become very dependent & frequently makes fun of me. I feel like I constantly do, do, do for her but then get the guilt trip when I try to do anything for myself. I too feel like life is passing by me & wonder if I'll ever be free of the negativity. Unfortunately, I've found that talking to my mother about our different interests doesn't help. I've learned to accept that her ridicule & negative comments are her way to manipulate me into staying or doing things for her. Bottom line, you have to take care of yourself first so that you can be there for her. I find that when I take a break, I have more patience with my mom, even if just for a little while. Best wishes!
avidreader, the answer is in your post. "I find that if I do things for and by myself that my patience with Mom greatly increases."

Do things for an by yourself. Do them whether mother ridicules you or tries to guilt you. You do not need your mother's approval. I believe you said in an earlier post that your mother has some cognitive issues, and perhaps early stage dementia. If that is the case it may not be possible to "teach" her new responses. You may just have to learn to ignore all her negative feedback, and perhaps limit the amount of time you spend with her. Leave the room when she starts getting negative.

If Mom does have dementia, she will need someone around more and more. She eventually will not be able to live alone. Start planning ahead for that now. And the plan SHOULDN'T be you'll spend more and more time with her. Start looking into in-home help. It may not be too early to look into care centers. I'm sure that you love your mother very much. Keep in mind that you deserve a happy life, too.
Avidreader~Would your mother be willing to go to the senior center for a few hours a couple times a week so she could meet other people and socialize? I know many elders don't always want to socialize and want their family to be their main focus. If she is impaired in anyway, maybe adult day care would be good for her. Is she involved in a church family so she can socialize in different activities at the church? I hope you can find a happy medium!!
My father is a horribly selfish person. He is VERY high-maintenance (MUST have a certain kind of bagel, yogurt, color of clothing on a particular day, etc.) He is living with my husband, daughter and me and is very demanding. Everything must be done when he says so. (For example, his car--which he can no longer drive--needs to be taken in for a checkup within a two-month time frame--before the end of Feb. 2013. I told him my husband and I would coordinate in January after the holidays. I am also coming off a surgery three days ago, and am more tired than usual, in addition to the general health issues I have, A nurse on the phone even told me I need to be in resting mode in order to recover better.) My father is yelling at me to take the car in next week--before Christmas--or between Christmas and New Year's. I told him I need that time to pace myself to get ready for the holidays and relax with my 8-year-old while she's on school vacation. He insists it's going to be his way, and then yells at me because I am "making his life so difficult." I am getting so depressed to think that my life is revolving around this unappreciative, toxic man. He is the one making my life a living hell. When I sit down to eat a meal (rarely do I get two in during the day), he hovers around me, giving me more orders and a verbal barrage of things to do. I am to the point that I don't want to be in my own house because I am so miserable. He is becoming more forgetful, but blames me that I am the one who "didn't buy the spaghetti sauce" he asked for, or I am "confusing one check with another reimbursement." In the end, he finds the stuff, and then blames me that he misplaced it "because he doesn't have as much space as he did at his house for things, and that it's my fault that I am not giving him 1500 square feet." Assisted living would not really help. (I guarantee you that his space would be even smaller there!) I would still have to run his errands on his ridiculous schedule. He even told me I should volunteer less at my daughter's school so I can be available on demand for him! I think he's jealous of his only grandchild because I can't devote my entire life COMPLETELY to him. Part of it is that he has always been difficult, but it is getting worse. We are going to a doctor appointment on Friday, and I am ready to ask the physician to schedule cognitive testing for him. (He's also forgetting conversations, last-minute schedule changes, etc.) I feel sorry for him on a certain level (my mom died 12 years ago), but he is so mean sometimes. I try to get him to do positive things with my daughter (work on a puzzle or game, ask her how her day is). At first I thought that he would become nicer if he stopped focusing on himself. However, he barely talks to my daughter. I know no one can really help me. I just needed to vent. Thanks for listening.
Thank you, everyone. Your feedback means a lot to me. My mother refuses to call a local senior help agency for anything, even though another elderly lady has raved about them. She says she doesn't want to spend the money (of which she has an abundance). I have also offered time and again to take her to the Senior Center -- or anywhere! -- to meet some same-age friends. She absolutely refuses, saying, "This is my life and I want to be alone." Well, that's not quite true! She wants ME! My problem is I feel sorry for her, stubborn as she is. Sunday night I went out for dinner with friends, and she later told me she didn't eat dinner, even though I'd bought food for her. She said she couldn't figure out how to use the oven! Seriously! I can see right through all this. I remember raising my son and worrying if he didn't eat. Another wise mother said, "When he's hungry, he'll eat." Friends, I want to get off the manipulation train! I don't plan to let any of her strategies deter me. However, I do fear when she really, as one of you said, can't manage on her own. I have sibling issues in addition to Mom issues. We all have durable POAs, and I wonder what ability that gives us to use her money for her own care. She claims we can't use it until she passes, and I don't believe that's the case. Can we exercise it if she's competent? Again, any input will be most appreciated. I wish we could all talk in person! I've been thinking of starting a local Meetup group for caregivers in my area. I wish you all a peaceful, joyful holiday.
We are all on the same "parent boat" together. I am an only child and there is no one else to take care of everyone. My father has vascular dementia that is in a constant state of decline. When his memory started getting so bad and his attitude towards us started to turn nasty, I knew I had to get him and myself some help.
I took him to see a neurologist, who confirmed the diagnosis. I do have a DPOA on my father that I had him sign when he started staying with me, because he was unable to handle his own affairs.
The doctor placed him on several medications. Aricept helped in the beginning, but with vascular dementia, the cost isn't worth the outcome. What we really found that helped to stabilize his mood was Depakote and Zoloft. The Depakote had to be doubled over time.
The doctor also gave me a book entitled "The 36 Hour Day." It's an excellent read. I would also highly suggest that you read the Stages of ALZ and Dementia. If it is dementia, you'll need to find out what kind, which can be done via an MRI, other testing and communication from you to the doctor.
My father is now between the 5th and 6th stages of 7. No, he does not show appreciation, he doesn't really like it if my husband go out and my daughter calls to check on him and he doesn't always like the situation. He'd much rather live on his own, but understands that he is now unable.
He goes to the Senior Citizen Center everyday that he likes. Some days he elects not to go, depending on what's going on. The bus picks him up at 9 and drops him off at 2:30.
I also take care of my husband and grand daughter, so this gives me time away. My husband is able to watch our grand daughter so that I can get errands ran and get away to do some things I enjoy.
I'd say to start with your loved ones doctor first and go from there. My father wasn't totally open to the fact of going to the senior center, but now he doesn't know he'll do around the house if he doesn't go.
As for what I fix for him to eat, he's diabetic. I cook accordingly and we add what we want. Some things I can't control, but I am the main cook and bottle washer around here. I didn't fix a different meal for my children and I'm not about to fix a different meal for him either, just because he wants something else. "I'd" like to fix what I really want, but my husband I go out to lunch every now and again, so that we can remain sane too.
Get the DPOA's, speak with the doctors and find something that will work for all of you.
I do have days that are unbearable, but life is much better via medication.
I don't respond very often anymore because so often I see people "complaining" who are their own worst enemies. But, avidreader, I think you are actually very perceptive and having the same difficulty a lot of us do with manipulative parents. Even though we are adults and deserve their respect, too, we seem to be hard wired to continue in the same old child/parent role. As another person pointed out, you did an eloquent job of answering your own question in your initial post. Sometimes I wonder if it would help to pretend that you are giving advice to someone else. What would you tell a friend who is in your situation? It's easier when you can take your personal emotions out of it. My father died in October and while I loved him, I often didn't like him very much. He was extremely pushy and manipulative to the point where I finally talked to a therapist. I cannot tell you how helpful that was and it was such a relief to be able to vent out loud, have another person hear me and validate my feelings. She really helped me clarify that I needed boundaries and it was okay for me to say "no." I'm 60 and now I have my mother who is 93, has dementia and is in assisted living. As difficult as my dad was, she is a delight. She is still kind and thoughtful and totally undemanding. At first I butted heads with her because of things she couldn't help. Now I ignore those things and just go with the flow. I am so blessed and I truly wish the same for you. However, if your mother cannot give that to you, then you have to learn to be okay with taking it for yourself. You are not being selfish and, honestly, it might help if you didn't tell her about everything you are doing with your personal time. I admire you for wanting more in your life!
It's really hard to remember when you are hearing all those negative messages that, at this age and with dementia, our parents have no EDIT button. I find the same kind of manipulation techniques from Mom as I did from the kids when they were small. "Don't go Mommy! Please stay!" I agree with jeannegibbs, you already have the answer! When you are fresh and rejuvinated from your personal time, it will carry over into your caregiving.
I've realized my Mom is "land-marking" She has to have certain things in certain places. If they are moved (or sold) she becomes disoriented and starts to panic.

The same goes for ME! I'm one of her land marks! If I leave and someone else comes in to take care of her, she panics...

Happy Holidays! (Bah, Humbug!)
@avidreader - I feel the exact same way as you and I think many of us do. I am at wits end to know what to do anymore. With the holidays coming and all I am trying to be cheerful but it is nearly impossible to do when you are exhausted before it is even here. I have to make some decisions soon as well as my health is taking a dive and there seems no way out anymore. I too want to run away for a while and maybe if I did get away I could come back to my situation in a different spirit. There is the part of me that feels so bad about my father and the other part of me that says I can not do this any longer. What a dilemma for the mind. I have not even got a Christmas tree up and am not in the mood. I hope I feel better tomorrow. I totally understand what you wrote and I send you hugs and much love.

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