Are there any positive caregiver success stories out there? Are all old women mean and negative?

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This site has been so helpful to me since my mother came to live with us. I think I might question my sanity if I did not hear so many stories like my own. I read here over and over about elderly women in particular who are mean spirited, paranoid, manipulative, selfish & negative. I totally relate as that is what I am witnessing.


The only time my mother seems to be happy is in the rare instance that one of her paranoid predictions actually comes to fruition, or some terrible thing happens to someone. She has a look of total glee at those times. She loves to say "I told you so" and since she is always and I do mean always negative the only thing she can be right about is a negative prediction. Sometimes it is an atmosphere of pure evil around her.


My question is are there any full time caregivers who are caring for a loving sweet appreciative friend or relative? Or by the time an elderly woman reaches this stage are they all as "mean as a snake". Are there any stories where a sweet old lady had to come live with a relative and actually brought joy and happiness?


My mother has always had personality disorders, but now it is like every negative aspect is times 100 and the positive aspects have disappeared. She has done all of the right things physically, healthy diet, exercise, regular checkups, now at age eighty plus she only takes two pills a day for mild hypertension, has few physical ailments, just a mean nasty spirit........


It makes me physically ill to think of getting old and treating those trying to care for me with such ingratitude, or for that matter just being that miserable myself. Right now I have no desire to eat right, exercise and take care of myself, so that I can outlive my mind and hang around to make my family miserable.


Sorry to rant, I'm beginning to sound just like her..... Just wish I could see light at the end of the tunnel. Her Dr. will not listen to me and she will not go to another Dr. and refuses to take anti-depressants or anxiety meds.

28 Comments

Oh, DonnaCG, do you HAVE to have your mother live with you? That would wear down the spirit, I'm afraid.

I was fulltime caregiver for my husband, who died three months ago at age 86. He had dementia 9+ years. My son said the other day, "I'm sure glad Dad kept his personality to the end." And he more or less did. The words most often used in condolence cards where "kind" and "gentle." Oh, he had a period of paranoia. And he was grumpy once in a while but by and large he was the same positive upbeat guy he'd always been.

My sister is now our mother's fulltime caregiver. To give my sister respite and to visit with my mother I have her one weekend a month. This is all new so I can't say any time for sure until Mom settles in to routines and feels more comfortable with her surroundings. She has absolutely no sense of time, and that makes her sound quite demanding. "Jeanne, where is that tea you were bringing?" "I haven't even gotten into the kitchen yet, Mom." LoL. The dementia has also made her more self-centered. I don't think overall she has brought joy and happiness to my sister's house, but she hasn't made their life a misery, either. And my sister reported that she had periods of being her old self for several hours during the last few days. It would be nice if more of that comes through when she is fully settled in.

There is no doubt in my mind the dementia robs a person of many of their personality traits and what it leaves in their place is not an improvement! But some to retain their essential personality. If that was full of negativity and dementia adds its own dark view of things -- Yee-ikes!

I'm not sure I could take your mother even one weekend a month, DonnaCG! My heart goes out to you.
Hi I am Liz, I live with my 97 year old mother. I believe my mother has sometimes disease. She sleeps a lot more than she did before this past September[2012]. At that time she had one toe ambutated, and they had to put an arterial shunt in her leg. She was in the hospital for about a week. After that she seems to loose bits of herself, mentally as well as physically. Put getting back to your question my mom has always played "mom manipulation card" [I have done so much for you and you can do this little[big] thing for me..]. I would have to say when my mom is up and around [mobility and other things [she does not want to do for herself] keep her down; she is very nice and like her old self, the other half she plays that card. And when someone comes to visit she mostly all sweetness and light. I have learned to indicate agreement with her with she talking, I only look for clues that she means what she says and/ or that she needs something; otherwise I just "nod my head' and continue what I was doing when she went off. Her little spasms only last around 90 minutes or so, and she back to the start [being sweet].
Donna; I feel so bad for you; know that we're all here for you. My mom is nearly 90 and still quite sweet and thoughtful. She does not live with me; she is in an independent living facility. Why does your mother have to live with you? She has personality disorders? I.e., she's mentally ill? And won't get help? And this is YOUR problem? I don't believe that we owe our parents our mental and physical health, even if they were the best parents ever. If you can, figure out how to get care for your mom outside your home, or at the least, get someone else to care for her while you go to work, do volunteer work, ANYTHING that will get you away from her. Hugs to you.

DonnaCG, I think you are my twin sister. I wish I could have a good relationship with my Mom while she is living here. It is like a heavy weight to me, but I am trying to let it roll off of me a little better these days. She is 91, now. I can only think, "How long can this go on?" But, then I see comments from people whose parents are in their mid to late 90's. There are people who are kind and gentle, but if a person has a narcissistic personality disorder like my Mom, they just intensify when they get dementia. My Mom has always been mean, in some ways. I can't seem to find her any alternative living arrangements - not enough money for long term care, but she has given way thousands of dollars in the last 4 years, so she can't qualify for Medicaid, either. If your Mom can afford it, and you are agreeable, I'd put her somewhere else. I am fortunate that I have a sister who will take her one week a month for respite. I try to keep in mind that Mom has dementia, has such a small life, now, etc., and then I think "Well, what about me??? When is someone going to be understanding about me and my trials????" So, I understand, I think, how you feel. I am trying desperately not to ruin my health, and I leave Mom for a little while every day, with the TV on, making sure she has eaten, has water next to her, has her phone, etc., and just go somewhere even it's just for a half hour. You might be amazed at how much better you will feel. I have abandoned my daily walks, but now that it is spring, I am going to force myself to start again. I live by a lake/reservoir where there is a park with a path around it, and it nourishes my soul to be outside in the sunshine and with a view of the water and nature.

Please don't think you are alone. I know exactly what you are talking about. I often wonder, if people who say, "Oh, you're so blessed to still have your mother" or "Oh, my mother is my best friend" are saying those things out of genuine honesty or just because they think that is the right to say. I don't feel either one of those things are true in my case. I never felt that way about my mother, so it is doubly hard to have in my home 24/7.

I also get up at 4:30 so I can some uninterrupted time to myself before she gets up. I love the quiet mornings. Good luck to you, DonnaCG. I know this is rambling, but this is how I roll these days. Lol.
gsw, I want to come live with you. That lake sounds lovely. Sometimes I think of all the things I wanted in life, like the rural home with a pond and a stream, and wonder how I ever ended up living at home with my mother.

Before I came to live here, my ex and I lived in a retirement community in TX. There was a mix of people and many older widows who delighted in mean gossip. Other than that, most of the elders were fun people who saw their children a few times a year. It was always an occasion when kids and grandkids came to visit. I've wondered if mentally healthy elders tend to choose this type of life. They are with people their own age, so they are no longer just little old ladies. There are a few men their own age around to dance with and maybe to date. It certainly keeps a lady interested in life.

I could be wrong, but I've often thought that a parent who would request too much assistance from an adult child over a long time may have a streak of narcissism -- either that or dementia. We see a lot of it here, because people in this situation need someone to talk to that understand what they're going through. I have the feeling that we are in the minority, that most people out there are doing just fine. They don't need to see counselors or get online to blow off steam. :)
Hi Donna. I have been blessed with a sweet considerate mother. She was always that woman with the rose colored glasses on... My dad was really mean and she lived under a lot of stress raising the 7 of us kids. We all hoped that she would outlive him so she could have a life of her own. She did outlive him. She hasn't done too much since he died, but she seems content, happy and much less stressed! This sounds wonderful-and it is. There is always a "but" though isn't there?
I have been caring for mom for-well, 13 years since dad died. Going on 9 years here in my home with my family. And going on 5 years since she has really gotten ill with emphysema, blood clots, congestive heart, diabetes and dementia. She has gone through the grumps-and we treat much of it with humor in this house which has helped enormously. But-no matter what the persons personality, caregiving takes its toll. My health isn't what it should be, I live in stress every day. It does help that she is sweet-that is one less stress that I have to live with Thank God. But my point is, caregiving is demanding under the best circumstances and when you end up doing all of it yourself-learning what siblings won't help out much if any, and your friends disappear, and altho sweet, mom doesn't like you to leave her for fear of whatever.... it is still hard. Yes, there is hope that you will not be like your mom and be negative. And I hope that for all of us. Have I been blessed to have mom with me? Yes, in some ways. Has she brought joy and happiness? Yes, there have been times and we have made some great memories over the years. But I will admit that it has gone on too long for all of us. That my kids are resentful in some ways. And so am I. It is just hard and a huge undertaking and you never know how long it will go on. And, even with a wonderful personality and sense of humor-it gets old. So, yes, there are positive and appreciative people out here. I love my mom and want to keep her happy and know someday I will miss her. I will NEVER tell anyone how lucky or blessed they are to have their parent, cause I think it just makes the caregiver feel more guilty about the feelings of wanting their freedom etc. Am I lucky and blessed to have mom be a happy go lucky personality? Absolutely. But it is still demanding and hard and lonly... I also have learned that I will not put my kids through this. I will put myself in a home-or make sure it is in the works before I lose my mind. My kids already know we do not want this for them.
So, try and stay positive, try and take care of yourself. Being around negative can make you more negative-so please get people in to care for mom so you can get out-it does make a huge difference in your own emotional well being. I find when I am tired or getting sick-it all REALLY gets to me and brings me down big time. So, get your rest.
Many of our mom's and dad's may not have any control on their emotions-or may be so sad and angry that they have lost so much physically and mentally that they just can't hold it together anymore...and some stay as sweet as they ever were (for now anyway!) Let the people around you know that you love them now. Let them know what you are learning from your mom and apologize now for what you may become and let them know you may have no control over it! Then let it go.
I am sorry you and so many others have to live with this constant negativity.I do wish it was easier for you. Mame
I think you need to call her doctor; let him know that without some help with her attitude, she will be living alone. If the doctor thinks it's okay for her to live alone, then work that out. If he thinks she needs to stay with you, tell him how serious her mental state is. I made a similar call to my mother's doctor; I told her that my mother probably wouldn't take a drug just for mental issues but would if the doc could describe the underlying chemical problem in her brain. So the next doctor's visit, the doctor told my mother she had a severe serotonin deficiency and prescribed Prozac. No mention of depression just discussion of brain function. In short: my mother is much better, though still like a character in a Bergman movie. Darkly Norwegian but no longer complaining.
Since people do not change unless a huge miracle transforms them--and the people have to be open to that sort of change--yes, it only gets worse with the passing years. However, once the irritable parent can no longer walk, talk, manipulate, or abuse in whatever form was their mo, the peace and forgiveness can materialize. Sad way to put it, but these are facts.
My belief is that if we, as neglected or abused adult children, know better and have the compassion to provide care, or at least administer care, then we do it.
We can feel resentment and anger at injustice, but I believe that if we accept the challenge and do "the right thing," our children will see a better example, and we will have no other regrets, except for the one we had about our uncaring parent.
To overcome obstacles with grace is a miracle in itself.
Donna - My mother is a delightful person. She always has been. My husband and I live with her, and the 3 of us get along wonderfully. We have lived together for 2 years now. When I come on here and I see the problems that other families have, I feel so lucky. I also have a brother who lives in another state that will come stay with Mom whenever I want to get out of town. He is as involved in her care, though not on a day to day basis, obviously, as I am. We both want the best for her, and we get along great. My husband is also very supportive and tries to help out, although he has a full time job and works very long hours. When I hurt my back a couple weeks ago, though, he was able to shift things around so he could take Mom to her doctor appointments for me during the worst of it (no way was I going to be able to lift her walker in and out of the trunk).

Not everyone is awful when they get old. My MIL actually seems to be mellowing. She just concluded a 2 week visit here, and at 90 years old, this was the first time she and my husband didn't argue about something.
Donna, although you have a tough history with your mom, maybe you can try to shift gears and somehow get into her world. There is a helpful blog that I follow, called The Alzheimer's Reading Room. Bob DeMarco writes a lot about his 9 years of caring for his mother with AD, and his advice about communicating with our elderly parents with dementia has helped me a lot. I've linked to one of his posts about rewiring his brain to communicate with his mom. It's not a lot, but maybe it will help. Not all old ladies are mean-spirited, but those who are can really make their families' lives hellish. Sending positive thoughts your way....

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