I'm tired of being my mother's "whipping post"! What can I do when her second personality comes out and nothing I do can make her happy?

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My mother is almost 98 yrs old, and has been in a nursing home for 4 years. She has 2 personalities: the" church lady", and the" lady you can't make happy" no matter what you do. I recently moved mother to another nicer, newer Home and thought - now, this is the best one in town, NO MORE COMPLAINTS! wrong....the second personality is back...and to everyone else she is the "church lady"...all smiles and appreciative. When I call her to say hello (I used to call daily, now I've cut back on my phone calls to every other day, and and only visit 2 times a week because I know she is getting the best care available )When I call her, she says things like "welll, I really do have a daughter", or "where have you BEEN?" Our visits consist of how terrible she has it at the Home, and how they mistreat her, how her meals are intolerable, etc I call the Home to inquire about the problems and the nurses can't believe she is complaining, and they see no sign of her discomfort. I honestly think this Home is at no fault, and yes, the other Home did have problems, but I feel very confident in the staff and care she is now receiving. Apparently, she is trying to make me feel guilty that she is a 98 year old woman, living in a nursing home. I am tired of being her "whipping post", and would like some advice on what stategy I can use so I can turn loose and what I can say to her: "sorry you are having a bad day ~I love you and I've tried everything humanly possible to make you happy?" and hang up the phone? I know she has to understand I won't listen to the complaining - should I say, "I'm calling the head nurse right this minute, and hang up"? My brother lives in another state, and comes to visit her once a year, he calls her a couple of times a week, but he is not the designated "whipping post". I appreciate any and all suggestions.

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Sounds like you have some pretty good ideas already... Not putting yourself in the position to have to hear it helps... Your mom sounds just like my dad. Nothing on God's green earth could make him happy... He also was 98 when he died... I finally accepted it was just who he was, I never remember him being happy, so this was not new to me.. But I did what you do, cut the conversation short, would only stay a few minutes if he was grumbling about his care(which was excellent) . I finally realized he was going to have to work out his unhappiness on the "other side". I didn't make him miserable and I wasn't my job to make him happy.. I always thought a lot of his was fear, fear of dieing and leaving so much unsaid and undone... but I have no regrets and like I said sounds like you already know what to do.. Her unhappiness in NOT your fault...so you can't fix what you didn't break.... good luck with putting some distance there and saving your sanity.. hugs to you.
nyelegacy11, your mother sounds like she has a personality disorder where she splits some people into all white like your brother and all black like you the wipping post. Yes, you are right, she is trying to make you feel guilty which is one of the three main tools of emotional blackmail. I suggest that you get the book Emotional Blackmail by Susan Forward. Know that you didn't make your mother this way. You can't fix how she is. And you cannot control how she is. All you can really do is chose a healthier path for yourself which is going to involve some boundaries and detaching with love and may even need some therapy which I recommend as well as having the resolve that you are choosing this healthier path regardless of what your mother does or does not do.
My mother-in-law complains to me all the time about the people, food, service etc. the list goes on and on at the asst living where she lives. BUT she never complains to them in person. Part of that is the because of the era she was raised in, to be polite no matter what, and part of it is just because she'd rather be at home. I could put her up at the Ritz and she'd complain cause it's not home. period. I don't take it personally. There are times though that I get really tired of hearing it so I start whining along with her to the point that I sound like a bratty, wailing, spoiled kid to make my point. Now my m-i-l is a good sport about it and she will laugh when it's brought to her attention, but there have been times in the past she didn't think it was funny. Ask me if I care.
Once you realize that nothing will make them happy, you are half way home. I found the most lovely place for my Mom that looks like any other beautiful townhome complex. The staff is great...they dote on her. Food is wonderful. But the day before I left, she said the most awful things to me...even shocked the hub. It hurt, but I knew in my heart that I was doing the best thing for her. She is getting great care by medical professionals and gets her hair done weekly. Everything is at her fingertips...all the things I used to have to track down for her then beg people to come to her home. The system just does not support family taking care of loved ones at home..you are on your own. I knew her health would suffer if I didn't find a better alternative.
My Mom does the same thing...funny and charming to the staff - weepy with me. So my new tactic is to jump in on the conversation with things I know she likes to talk about. Then I get her on a positive track and she forgets the complaints.
I still do whatever I can do for her...it takes up a good part of my day. But I can breathe easier knowing that I do not have to shoulder everything.
Remind yourself that you have always done what is best for your Mom. When she starts to complain say, "Mom, someone is at the door...I've got to go." Do this consistently, and it may curb the behavior. If not, you have stopped the negativity from entering your ears.
Really, you could work yourself to death and it would never be enough. So stop and redirect your energies to things you like to do. (frankly, I've kinda forgotton what I used to like doing...but that's gonna' change!!)
Take care...Lilli
It sounds like you are doing th best you can. Ask the nursing home if they have a support group for people in your position. You might not feel like you are so alone. I don't believe your Mom is trying to hurt you. She is 98 and she cannot learn to behave like a child would. My Mom was 86 and she had what I called bad days. Nothing I did was going to make her happy. I valued the good days and now those are the ones I remember. My Mom passed away 6 weeks ago. Cherish the good days. Good luck to you.
I am sorry for your loss LilliansBonnie, Even tho we don't know everyone on this sight we do feel for you as so many of us have lost loved ones the past few months.... hugs to you....
I use the old detatchment theory - on another topic I said that I sometime have to treat my mom as I have done a couple of jobs in my life, a job that has poor pay, lousey benefits, long hours, and a crabby boss who knows you run the office but treats you like an oaf. You can't just walk away, so you have to be a carpet occasionally. Believe me, been there. Too often.
Some where on this sight, don't remember who or when, said she used to put up her "invisible caregiver shield" when she had to tend to her charge.. she said the stuff that didn't matter just bounced right off the shield... it's amazing the things we have to come up with to cope..
DT, how are you doing, feeling a little better??? Like the crabby boss theory!!!
hugs to everyone..
ladeeda - Like mom, who I say has her bad days and then has her worse days, I have my good moments, and my bad days (note the difference, I do not have whole good days anymore). We are coping. You?
Being sassy as ever... I may have slipped over the edge at some point and no one has told me, but I like it better here in my own little world.... makes more sense than the day to day "drag me to hell" days we all have.... hope you feel better for a DAY soon... hugs to you...

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