Riding the roller coaster.

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My mom is very high maintenance. She always has been. My grandfather did everything she wanted and then she married my dad at 17 and he became the one at her beck and call. My dad passed away 2 1/2 years ago. I moved my mom to Indiana from Arizona because she was in poor health and unable to care for herself. Now I'm exhausted.

She doesn't live with me. She's in assisted living. She's well cared for and loved at her residence. She's made a couple of friends, three meals per day are prepared in the dining room. Nothing is good enough for her though. She curls her nose if you ask how anything is (people to food to the weather). Last week two separate caregivers came to her apartment, which I furnished because she broke her hip a week before she was to move in. It's really nice. When these two women came in and commented on how nice her apartment is, she curled her nose and shrugged her shoulders. She may as well have punched me in the stomach. Everything I've done for 2 1/2 years is wrong or not good enough.

Now she's mad at me because I hired (after she met and approved) a home health care company that can help keep her out of the hospital. She's battled lung cancer and heart disease. She called me Monday and said she was congested and coughing with a bad cold, so I called the nurse practitioner went to her place, wrote a prescription, checked on her via the phone today and is going back to see her again tomorrow. She is acting like I had her locked in a closet!

She wants me to take her to the doctor instead (the doctor she doesn't like, of course). I'm at my wit's end. I give up! The NP just called and said she's going to see her tomorrow, but it may be time for Hospice. Now I'm angry with her still and I feel guilty because I've almost wished her dead since she screamed at me on Monday and scolded me again for something I've done to try and help her.

How do you deal with the roller coaster of loving someone that drives you to want to choke them or walk away completely and then the guilt that comes when you are reminded just how short of a time they might have?

Thanks for sharing your experiences with me.


You have done all you could. The Hospice was coming up soon no matter what you say or think. The roller coaster ride gets wilder, so see your own MD and ask for an anxiety med to help you through. Stay in touch with us here, we are your safety net and place to vent your feelings.
It sounds like your mother will never be happy with what you do. At least she won't show you that she is. Has it always been this way? The best you can do is what needs to be done and not worry that it will meet her approval. Chances are that approval is something that you won't be able to get. Many people who are dependent on others resent the dependence they feel, so don't show gratitude to their caregivers. It isn't you. You are doing an excellent job. I don't think a mother could have asked for better. She'll probably not tell you that, though, so you just have to remind yourself.
Thanks ladies. I'm getting ready to put on my big girl panties, as it were, and go to the store for her and see how she's doing. I'm feeling very stuck today. I really should be there now. It's 11 a.m. and I'm not even showered. I know I'll start heading back up the roller coaster soon and will be better tomorrow - or as soon as I get off of my butt and do the next right thing. ;-)
Here's an update on the palliative care I have set up for my mom: She's seen the nurse practitioner, the doctor, and RN. They are all amazed at how good she's doing. She's stopped using the oxygen. Her oxygen levels are up to 97%. Blood pressure, heart rate are both good. Her lungs sound clear. The RN said she doesn't think my mom needs weekly visits from her or the palliative care - let alone Hospice that was recommended a month ago. Now the roller coaster is moving again - not sure if it's up or down or how long this stage will last. Is this common?
exhausted, I have been going through this with my mother. She is in a up mood and is doing a lot better. This is giving me mixed emotions. I am glad she is feeling better, but it makes me aware that this could go on for years. I can't do this for years. It has me scrambling, wondering how I am going to handle things.
I just recently started on ths roller coaster ride. Mom had a massive heart attack about 18 years ago and the last few years have seen her health starting to decline. She is going through the beginning stages of dementia, has COPD and asthma (still smokes). She complains about needing things done around her house but when I try to take care of them she won't let me and then will hire outside help and complain that I don't help. Frustrating! I am a nurse and my co-workers are great to talk to a let me vent when I need to. Sometimes just having someone to talk to helps. A favorite stress reliever of mine is to vacuum. I know it might sound crazy but I imagine all the tiny little pieces of lint or whatever are on the floor are my Mom issues and I vacuum them up and throw the problems in the trash. It works for me. I know things will only get worse but as long as the carpet holds out I should be ok.
Jessiebelle, thank you for you message. I'm right there. I'm not really wishing my mom would die, but I often fear how long this can go on (and afraid she could outlive me. That sounds awful, but it's true.
Sherridene: My mother does the same thing! She wanted her summer clothes out. Easy, I packed them in a bin in the fall. I go to her closet, get them out and start swapping out winter and summer..."What are you doing?" comes from the living-room. "Oh come on. Just leave it!" It took me all of about 15 minutes and I had to listen to this - so frustrating! Anything I start to do for her, "Oh, don't do that now..." "What are you doing?" "Leave that alone!" She lost her lower partial. I know it's in the nightstand drawer where she stashes everything, but I also know if I start to really look for it, I'll catch h*ll. At least now I understand why I was so confused as a child - I couldn't win then either. And yes, she wants to hire someone to come in and do this stuff - even though she already has housekeeping at the AL. I feel your pain.
This is a roller coaster, and there is no end to the many confusing emotions. Even when my mom goes, it won't be the end for some of the feelings. The physical lows & rallies go on & on. More intervention = more attention = better results. Better results mean a reduction in cares = less attention = a low swing. Up & down we go, around & around. I get motion sick.

Do what you can, and let that be enough. You will never hear thank you. Keep your heart and mind safe with boundaries. Live your own life. Look into emotional detachment, a concept I learned on this site that has saved me a lot of personal wear & tear. We can still love our elders without being dragged to death in their wake.
ExhaustedMomma, your mother may very well be reacting to her own situation, at her declining health, physical limitations, and directing all that anger at you. Why? Because you're there and she can get away with it.

Most people don't want to grow old, limited and dependent on someone else. However, it does sounds as though your mother has been used to being the center of attention so it's not going to stop now. Just try and turn her complaints back to her with requests for specific advice on what she wants, instead of the repeated complaints. Tell her you want solutions, not gripes!

Set time aside for yourself; from what you describe she's being well cared for so you can take some down time to just unwind, perhaps every time you visit her. Stop for a dairy queen or flavored coffee, stop at a bookstore, go for a short walk in the park. Treat yourself after every encounter so you can look forward to the relaxing aftermath as a reward for dealing with your mother's anger.

When my father was in a SNF some distance from where I was staying, I began to dread going, not because of his behavior but because the medical conditions were so complex and we weren't getting much encouragement for solving them.

On the way home I passed a farm with bison; it was winter, so they typically were releasing large quantities of steam every time they breathed. It was such a peaceful scene that I grew to enjoy going to the SNF because I could be calmed by the bucolic scene of bison in pastures.

(Sometimes I also treated myself to a dairy queen as well, even though it was winter! It was my reward.)

Another thing you can do is calmly and sweetly tell her that you're doing everything you can but she's not pleased, you don't know what else to do and ask her for suggestions (positive ones!). Turn the tables on her and let her think about solutions instead of complaints.

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