How can I speak to my mother rationally without her thinking I am telling her what to do and that I don't care?

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My mother is quite active for 80yrs, has a loving husband she has been married to for a few years. My mother seems to overplay sickness and when I ask her questions about what the doctor has prescribed or that it couldn't be a certain thing she hangs up on me. She calls my sister and tells her that she is never going to phone me again when she is not well. I only ask her to listen to what the doctors say but she seems to overplay the situation. Not sure if it is attention she is seeking or she just wants to vent her own frustrations. This has been going on for a long time with me in particular as I guess being the eldest I am always the brunt of her anger. If I am not at home when she calls she leaves very nasty messages. I work full time and and am home most evenings. When I phone her back she always says " I have tried ringing you and you are never around"! Her husband is very attentive and she has a lot of friends but even gets angry with them at times. I just find it difficult to cope with the way she speaks about me to my sister and she has done the same when my sister has questioned her as well. She seems to play one off the other. Any suggestions on how to speak to her rationally without her thinking I am telling her what to do and that I don't care.

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I am no doctor and I certainly don't have a lot of experience except with my own mother and grandmother..Not knowing your mom's personality, however, I would like to take a stab in the dark here and say that maybe she's worried and maybe a little bit scared about either her health or well being. Something is causing her to lash out in anger and traditionally anger comes from hurt. How is she hurting emotionally? That could be the key question for you to try and answer...looking at her overall health and life. My mother and grandmother have had periods of extreme anger (and of course a person always takes it out on those closest to them), and the root cause is usually, fear, worry or emotional hurt.
Is this new behavior for your mother, or has she been like this since your childhood? Are there any other behaviors that are new that concern you? How is her memory?

Is it necessary for you to discuss her health? It doesn't sound like you are the on-site caregiver doling out her medicines, right? So if she "overplays" having symtoms x y and z, what if you sympathized briefly and then moved the conversation in another direction. "I'm so sorry you are having that experience, Mother! I'm sure your doctor can help you through it. Is there anything I can do to help? ..... I saw a bedspread today that would be perfect in the guest room you are remodeling. Do you want to go out with me on Saturday and look at it?"
Sanity, make sure you and your sister keep your own communication flowing freely. Don't let your mother stick a wedge between you two. When I first started looking after my mother-in-law, she would tell me stuff about my other sister-in-law. Now it wasn't really bad, nasty stuff, but still... Well I'm pretty much an open book, and I hate keeping secrets. So when she would say 'don't tell her I said that' the first thing I would do was talk to my sister-in-law and tell her. Like I said, if it's not National Security secrets, I'm talking. Well it turned out M-I-L was talking about me too!! Oh my gosh we laughed about that let me tell ya. Anyway, that was just in the beginning, now she's stopped doing that nonsense. I would also make good friends with your moms new husband, he could be a wealth of information to you and your sister. It got so that I started going with my mom and dad to all my mother's dr. appts. because she would hear something that he/she either didn't say, or what she THOUGHT the dr. should've said. But while my mom wasn't too happy that I started coming to her appts. she eventually came to appreciate that I did. My mother would tell my sister something that she said the doctor had told her, and my sister would tell mom 'I'm calling in the big guns (me) mom, to find out what's really happening'. Before my mother died last year, she was calling me 'the big guns'. and we'd all laugh.
I made sure I went with my father to his doctor's appointments. It turned out he had the onset of dementia, and couldn't remember what the doctor said. The doctor told me, "It is absolutely crucial that a cognizant person comes with the elderly to the appointments. If they come alone, and can't remember what they are told, I consider it abuse by neglect". Since then, if I can't make the appointments, I send a paid professional caregiver to take notes and make sure the medications and adjustments are communicated properly. Your mother may be in a state of decline mentally, and "lashing out" is one of the symptoms, as the frustration of not remembering can cause anger and resentment. Yeah, as "NancyH" says, "Call in the big guns"!

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