My widowed mother has turned into Dad!

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My mother, a farm girl from the depression era, was raised to be a servant to her man. For 60+ years she babied him (and her kids) and we all adored her because she was sweet. We were relieved he went first because she was so pleasant. Dad was a selfish, cranky, surly guy...not abusive, just stubborn, opinionated, judgmental, intolerant, sometimes comical, but always demanded his way. He passed away 5 years ago. I thought that would free up Mom to be herself. WRONG. It freed her up to be HIM!!! Oh my gosh! She was healthy and took physical care of him until the day he died. At that moment, she grabbed his walker, stooped over, and BECAME HIM! She is now in an assisted living, SHE insisted upon going), still healthy, and 92, impatient, picky, nasty, fault-finding, judgmental, filled with hate and negativism about everything. She hates everybody there but refuses to move. She says phrases Dad said and makes faces he made when disgusted with something. She throws her hands in the air and pouts. She's never happy with anything or anyone, family or help. She never mentions Dad and doesn't seem to miss him. She claims she doesn't want to "bother us kids", but she makes demands of us because she doesn't like the flavor of toothpaste we got her or her socks are getting stretched out. She doesn't like the way my brother looks at his wife (he loves his wife and they dutifully visit her and do favors for her), she gasps if the help brings her orange juice instead of cranberry, she refuses to eat if they have potatoes cooked one way and not the other. Yesterday, a visitor was supposed to come "sometime after 1:30 pm" so Mom refused to go to noon lunch because she might miss her. I said, "Mom, she said sometime AFTER 1:30. She has other appointments before you. It depends on how her other appointments go, and could be as late as 4:30." At 1:00 Mom was pouting and glaring at the door, saying her martyr thing, "Well, of course she's late. I'm not important. I might as well just die and quit bothering everybody." That was the first time in two years the stress dripped out of my eyes and down my cheeks all the way home. Every visit I make is an errand of some kind. She fills my visits with what she wants me to do and complaining about my sweet brother & sister in-law. And everything else. The way I handle it is praying all the way there, visiting NOT on a strict schedule but about 3 times a week when I can break away from life and have the stamina, and praying all the way home. And getting "release" by writing complaint letters to my girlfriend (who says I should also write a journal) and you.


How old is your mom and what medical conditions does she have? I wonder if your mom is having some cognitive decline that she held in check through sheer willpower while your dad was alive. Now she's letting it all hang out and you're seeing her cognitive decline. That's my guess. Has she been to the doctor for a good physical lately? If not, get her in and let the doctor know ahead of time about her change in personality.
Sorry, I see you say she's 92 above...I missed that.
I think you are right about the cognitive decline, although she has passed all the tests she's had recently. She's always been apprehensive, with unnecessary fears and martyr traits. Those are actually normal, just more pronounced now. She just had her doctor exam and blood work...everything is within normal and better BP than mine. It's her personality. The surprise is that she added Dad's traits on top of her own. She's never been without him in adulthood and I think it's her way of coping with her elderly fears even though her life is easier without him. She always deferred to him...I have noticed things like her refusal to "play Bingo if that XXX person is there. I hate XXX. Can you imagine how Dad would have hated her?" Yes, I can imagine how Dad would hate her and what he'd do. I was mainly just wondering if anyone has ever seen this adopting traits thing happen before.
That is so interesting. I've not heard of that before. I'll bet "interesting" isn't your word for it, but from the outside it is fascinating.

Let us know if you get any medical insight into the phenomenon.
This is off the wall, but it was something I was reading yesterday. I tend to read weird things. The article talked about how unsettled spirits might settle in the bodies of living people. I don't think we should show this scientifically, but it was interesting to think what if they could.

The explanation is probably simpler. She knew his mannerisms after so many years and adopted some of them when he died. My mother has been doing this quite a bit lately. My father never talked. He sat in the same chair for about 20 years and looked out the window. Sometimes he would get a bungee leg exerciser and use it. The past few months my mother has been spending more time in that chair, looking out the window. She tracked down the leg exerciser and uses it, too. I don't like this at all, because my father wasted away in that chair. I don't like to be reminded of it. It was awful.
Ex, is there a geriatric psychiatris who comes to the facility to see clients, or can you get your mother an appointment to see one outside? It sounds as though she needs meds to help with rumination, anxiety and maybe depression. Don't talk about it, just take her.
Babalou, I learn so Much from you on this site, and I love that if I don't quite understand the full meaning of a word, I can tap on it and bring it up. You mentioned RUMINATION, ANXIETY AND FEAR, so I "tapped" on rumination, and found several interesting articles, and one interesting one in PSYCOLOGY TODAY, that gave a good explanation of "The Seven Hidden dangers of Brooding and Rumination", that I suggest our Original Poster should read up on this, as it appears to have some significance on what they are dealing with their Mother and that there are ways and medications that can help to alleviate it, however the OP's Mom would have to be open to the treatment, wouldn't she? This is all very interesting, but I'm sure very distressing to you Exhausted101, and I'm sorry how this is affecting your life, especially since you never expected this would be how your Mom would be in her life post Dad.

It is very interesting how people do react in their lives after losing their spouse after very long marriages, as is the case with my FIL (married 54 years). In the 12 years since his wife has passed, I can't recall more than 10 times, that he has even mention his wifes name, let alone had full on conversations about her and their life together. I don't push, as I'm guessing that this is a defence mechanism so that ge doesn't get upset, but he doesn't seem upset, nor does he ever act as if he misses her. I'm not sure what to do in this circumstance. It's not like I avoid the topic of her, as she was very special to me, but yea, I don't want to upset him. My husband finds this difficult to understand as well.
I would guess, if I had to guess, that your mother harbored a certain amount of negativity before your father's decline. She was stuck in the role of being sweet, but Dad's judgement and hostility was an outlet for her. He did it for her, but now he's gone. He served as a barrier between her and the "awful" world of other people, so she could relax and stay "sweet." Of course, being 92 is just hard, and my mother-in-law is grumpy in ways that she never was before; she also does not edit her opinions as much as before. Maybe, the brain loses some of that function. I could not believe the racism my mother exhibited in the last year of her life. It was very bizarre, as I was raised to regard people equally by her!
I would explore what treatment that might help her feel less distress. Perhaps medication could help her. Have they tired that?

I'm not sure that I could handle it. God bless you!
Quit going to see her do much if it is exhausting you so much. Sounds like the facility is ok with her and you are absorbing all the stress. Stop doing that, for your own sake. How about some counseling for you?

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