My mom is so cunning and manipulating.

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My 86-year-old mom is not smart, but yet is so cunning and manipulating. I'm painting her house, yet all of sudden I'm taking too long. She is always saying I need to do more. I do as much as I can. I have a younger brother who does nothing and is very secretive; she believes every thing he tells her. If I defend myself I am being argumentive. And she says be quiet. She doesn't want neighbors to know how abused she is by me. My brother just avoids her and then he is the good guy and I'm always the trouble maker. He won't talk to me because I asked him to help out, he won't, so I become who she goes to, then she tells me he never back talks her like I do. It is so twisted.


Hoatemooch, I see from your profile that your Mom has Alzheimer's/dementia thus her brain isn't thinking clearly. She is gaming with you, pitting one child against the other. I wonder if she is doing the same thing with your brother.

Are you the around the clock caregiver, as I see that your Mom still lives in her own home? The issue that happens when a grown child returns home to care for the parent, that the child/adult situation starts all over again. You are once again the child with your parent telling you how to do this or that. That is quite common.

Can your mother budget for having caregivers come in to take care of her? Thus if you are living with Mom, then you can go back out on your own.
We both are living there. I asked him to go 50/50 on the loan, he paid for a few months then bailed, left me only making the payment. Then she will tell me to get along with him. The burden on me again. Now I just paint the house and get satisfaction from doing a good job by myself. I'd like to know about gaslighting , I'm a nice guy and being the helper, errands, maintenance, scapegoat, sounding board, but I can't talk back or I hear how bad I've been my whole life.
I'm an expert on gaslighting. It is one of my mother's primary weapons. She has been doing this my entire life. My father was high-functioning autistic and didn't have anything to do with the children. If I said anything, she would say he was normal and it was just me. My big brother abused me my entire childhood, but she would say he wasn't and that I was being too sensitive. There is so much that I can't begin to even touch on it. Basically anytime I realized something was not right, she would say it was fine and that it was me. She has always had bluebirds and butterflies flying around her, while I was the one who remembered wrong. It was crazy making. The bad thing about gaslighting is that it takes away any way you have to defend yourself. You can't talk about something if someone says it never happened. You can't protest something if you're told it's only in your mind. It's a terrible form of child abuse in taking away a child's power.

Now that my mother has dementia, I don't know how much is the dementia and how much is just her being herself. Her reality has always been how she needs things to be. She treats my brothers like they are golden. She treats me okay now, but so much damage has been done that I feel more like an impersonal caregiver most of the time. Sometimes she attempts to praise me -- like today she said I was a useful person to have around when I rewired two lamps. It irritated me. No thank you or anything normal, just that I was useful.

I just go about my day doing the things that need to be done.
BTW, I understand how you feel about your mother saying to get along with your brother. Mine is always telling me that I need to pull my brothers closer, that I need to do things for them. She doesn't accept that it is them that pulled away. If I would only try harder... It's exasperating. Really, she spent her life pushing her children away. It's not up to me to try to pull them back in.
Wow JesseBelle! 
I would have been gone a long time least I think I would? Kind of the same situation with my dad and I...he wasn't there for me much growing up, praising others...ugh. I was kinda lovin it that he and I reconnected some this past year but now I'm over it...I'm seeing that he needs my help now cuz his health is failing & he's broke!

p.s. By the way, I have learned tons from you here!  You have a heart of gold!!

Thank you😍
Sometimes we do what we need to do because we're the only ones. It is probably going to be more that way in the coming years with the funding of old folks programs being cut so much. There is a good point in all this -- I haven't had to pay rent since I've been here and I've been able to work from home without problem. This has let me hold onto my retirement savings. There is a lot of bad, but then there are some benefits. Most of the time I feel like I'd rather be paying rent elsewhere, but someone has to do the caregiving here.
My husband and I were recently both the victims of a gaslighter. I was unfamiliar with this term until recently. So I read up on it and thought I'd share parts of an article by Aletheia Luna that I found informative:

"Gaslighting is so harmful because it promotes anxiety, depression, and with enough frequency in our lives, can sometimes trigger nervous breakdowns. So the question now it: are you being gaslighted? How can you know whether you’re experiencing this subtle form of manipulation in your life? Review the following tell-tale signs:

Something is “off” about your friend, partner, son, daughter, mother, father, sister, brother, colleagues, boss, or other person in your life … but you can’t quite explain or pinpoint what.
You frequently second-guess your ability to remember the details of past events leaving you psychologically powerless.
You feel confused and disorientated.
You feel threatened and on-edge around this person, but you don’t know why.
You feel the need to apologize all the time for what you do or who you are.
You never quite feel “good enough” and try to live up to the expectations and demands of others, even if they are unreasonable or harm you in some way.
You feel like there’s something fundamentally wrong with you, e.g. you’re neurotic or are “losing it.”
You feel like you’re constantly overreacting or are “too sensitive.”
You feel isolated, hopeless, misunderstood and depressed.
You find it hard to trust your own judgment, and given a choice, you choose to believe the judgment of the abuser.
You feel scared and as though “something is terribly wrong,” but you don’t know what or why.
You find it hard to make decisions because you distrust yourself.
You feel as though you’re a much weaker version of yourself, and you were much more strong and confident in the past.
You feel guilty for not feeling happy like you used to.
You’ve become afraid of “speaking up” or expressing your emotions, so you stay silent instead."

That last one - staying silent - has been my strategy with people for a long time. Luckily I usually trust my gut and steer clear of people who "rub me the wrong way" and this has been a problem in my husband's family because many members of his family believe that family must be loved, accepted, and socialized with always. And they don't like that I do my own thing most of the time. My husband's family is now falling apart. My family, on the other hand, is much more a "live and let live" bunch of people. There is a huge cultural divide between my family and my husband's family. But that doesn't explain the level of gaslighting and avoidance that seem to be acceptable in his family.
It might make the caretaking family member feel better about themselves, if they can blame the person who is suffering with dementia on being mean, manipulative or gaslighting, but, it's not really helpful when it comes to dealing with a person who has brain damage. It really breaks my heart that the family member is receiving blame and being attributed as a bad person, due to a medical condition that prevents them from thinking clearly.

Your profile indicates that your mother suffers from dementia and/or alzheimers. I'd try to read as much as possible about what is going on with her brain and then make some decisions as to how caretaking for someone with this condition is often frustrating, challenging, stressful and the kind of thing that you really have to develop a tough skin about.

Due to the damage that a person sustains to the brain, they may never see things in a reasonable manner, award the good deeds from the caretaker, show appreciation, etc. It's often a resistant patient who is difficult to manage and nearly impossible to make happy. It's no reflection on the caretaker, but, a result of brain damage. It's so cruel, but, predictable.

I hope you can garner some relief from the knowledge that you are not at fault and that you have to sometimes give yourself credit, pat yourself on the back and understand that a person with brain damage just isn't able to assist you with navigating through this horrible condition.
It's not really that simple. The person had a life before dementia. They don't fall into dementia overnight. They grow into it. They are both the person they were before dementia and the one they are after it. You can't really separate out the two, though after dementia, caregivers often have to put aside the person someone used to be.

Something happened here today that reminded me of the old gaslighting. The numbers and other marks on the toaster oven have melted and come off. I told my mother we should get a new one -- she burns her toast every morning and I just guess at what time I'm putting on. She told me that we didn't need another, that she could see the numbers just fine and there was nothing wrong with them. Of course, I could see the numbers were gone. It was very similar to gaslighting, but I know this was because she doesn't see well, so probably doesn't know that numbers (white enamel paint) have melted.

This one didn't really matter and I know it was an age thing. But it really was the knee-jerk response from someone who spent their life gaslighting -- There is no problem, something is wrong with you. A person doesn't stop being who they were because they have dementia. They become the same person with dementia added onto it.
I agree with JessieBelle. The disease doesn't excuse all behavior.
I sometimes see the attitude of "Their brain is broken! It's not their fault!" as a reason to put up with abuse from the elder. (Oh, there's usually a "Take care of yourself!" piece of advice, that is nearly impossible with some of the described situations, so it doesn't really mean much.)
I like the respondents who say to not put up with abuse, no matter what.
If more people had the "don't put up with abuse" attitude, then maybe 30-40% of caregivers wouldn't die before the ones they are caregiving for...

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