How do I handle constant complaining from my mother?

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My mother is 84, and my aunt is 88. They live together in an apartment about 15 minutes away, and are fiercely independent. Neither drive, and both have heart problems. My aunt is frail, incontinent, hears and sees things, and very unsteady, and in about the third stage of senile dementia. My mother is starting to show signs of early dementia, and very stubborn. She is also very narcissistic in nature, and has been difficult to deal with all of my life. I gave up a full time job five years ago to take them food shopping, to the doctor, dentist, and shopping and lunch on Tues and Thurs of every week. My mother complains constantly that things are getting to be too much for her, as she is no caregiver. They won't consider in home help, or assisted living. If my mother would just relax, she could enjoy all of the blessings that they have. She wants me to add another day so I can take them out because they are bored, even though they could afford to take a cab to shop or hire a dear friend of mine to assist with cleaning and watching my aunt if my mother took the bus to go shopping. They shun the senior citizen center, and most activities that older people could be doing. They want me to be like a servant, with them listening to no suggestions or ideas. I don't want to lose a wonderful job that I have because I can't meet the obligations for it. The pressures from them are intense. I'm digging my heals in so they will at least get in home care or my friend to add to the help that I am already giving. What makes it even harder is that my mother is very selfish and doesn't want to know a thing about my life or concerns, just for me to do her bidding even if it makes no sense. I've had enough, and would appreciate some ideas as to how to field her complaints and how not feel guilty for not giving in to ridiculous and baseless complaints. I don't want to be cruel, but I do want to be firm. I can't even tell my mother that we are taking a cruise this summer, because she would fly into a rage over it. She even begrudges us going to FL to see my husband's family. She wants nothing to do with them, and makes up stories that they were rude to her, and they are very sweet and kind people. I really appreciate any input and suggestions. Thank you!

Answers 1 to 8 of 8
Top Answer

They both sound like my mother: spreading their misery to all four corners, finding fault in everything just to get some attention, and tearing everybody else down so they can feel better about themselves. No matter what to do to ease their "pain and suffering" nothing will ever be good enough on their quest for martyrdom. ... Not even your own trials and tribulations while caring for them. Don't bother trying to identify with them or say you know exactly what they're going through. They'll always do one better.

Alice's "Aw, shut up" to Ralph in The Honeymooners always worked, didn't it? ... All that bitching, moaning, and groaning continues unabated because you put up with it. Time to put a stop to it. It's getting stale.

-- Ed

Don't give up your job by any means!!! If she complains about needing more help, tell her she can fix that by hiring someone. Make it her problem to deal with, not yours....unless she wants you to hire someone. You are right to keep your foot down...and don't feel guilty about it. If you bent over backwards, it wouldn't help anyway.
Please learn this lesson sooner than later: You Deserve Your Own Life. Start drawing lines in the sand now and stand firm. Say things like, "Mom, I can give you a few hours on Saturday, but I have plans after that." Then do no let her guilt you into doing more. Mom has the same NPD personality. She will take exactly how much you give. If I stopped doing everything tomorrow, she would find another victim. Do not wait around for compliments, pats on the back, appreciation, or the recognition that you have your own life. In her warped world, complimenting you shows that she needs you and she never wants you to think she is dependent on you.
These things happen incrementally until you find yourself giving up everything you once loved to do. My Mom had a meltdown the last time we went on a 3 day vacation. We left her with plenty of help and people to call. But somehow she still managed to make us miserable while we were away.
It is time for you to look into assisted living centers for the two. Go look at some, narrow them down to one or two, then hand Mom the brochures. Tell her that you would like to show her a few - many will allow you to have lunch togther. Use a method I used to employ frequently when teaching: "you have two choices A or B....choose one."
Do not continue to give up more of your time. Tell your Mom that you are stretched to your limits and she and your aunt need more time and expertise than you can give. Go back to work more fulltime. Be less available. Offer to hire in-home help as an interim solution. Then keep re-introducing the topic of ALFs.
When they are including you in their caregiving needs you DO have a voice in what their future is going to look like. The reason they are not opting for in-home help is because you are jumping in whenever they need you. (btw, nix the plans to "babysit" them because they are bored. The senior center will come and pick them up for activities.)
Trust me you will not like giving up more of your life.
good luck
Pat like you said, your mother has been like this all her life so why would she change now? Time to take back the power that you have and learn to say no. They think the world revolves around them, time for an attitude adjustment.
Do not sacrifice anything for a narcissistic for they are never satisfied. Know that you did not make your mom the way she is. You can't control how she is. Nor can you fix how she is. You must chose a healthy path for yourself regardless of what she choses for herself. BTW, your mother sounds a lot like my mother in law.
Thank you all for the comments and encouragement! You have no idea how helpful it has been! Bless your hearts!
I have a mother who is 82 and was diagnosed about 2 years ago with midway dementia. She has become very stubborn and I get very frustrated with her, to the point I don;t want to see her which upsets me. My boyfriend says just say ok to everything or yes I understand and not get myself worked up. I leave her at the end of the day and I am so wound up. Please your advise and comments would be GREATLY appreciated.
PAT: Best thing? Get away from them as cruel as that seems. Give then 2 months notice that you will not be with them any longer. You need to do YOU. Tell them, that they have no choice but to get in home care etc. Or to get no care. Up to them.

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