wjjlyj Asked May 2012

How do I deal with negativity of my aging parents?

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Live nearby helping out feel used up and defeated never good enough

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As you can see, you're not alone. I too, live nearby and hear all the negativity about the heat, about the cold, about my father, about teh neigbors, about the past, about the present, about the future. It's exhausting and draining. I'm sorry to say the only way you can stop feeling so defeated and have it ruin every day is to stay away. I have taken a huge step back in caring for both my parents because they are sucking the life out of me and out of my marriage. I only do what is totally necessary. Dad in a NH now so the situation keeps morphing. But my mother is such a negative Nelly. To the point where we just don't want to be around her. Yes, it's extremely sad but I have a life to live. My two selfish siblings are living their fairytale lives while I do ALL the work. Enough. So my advice is to just back off. You will be amazed at how you feel. And if you get the guilt trip and she says why don't come around as much, TELL her!!! You're not being mean, you're just being loyal to yourself.

Much luv - SS
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3pinkroses May 2012
I can relate to both of the above - (this does not include my father who was a saint). But, mother thrives on negativity. It is so draining and not healthy to listen to on a routine basis. The negativity can actually suck the energy out of me - so I redirect or stay away for a time. It does help.

You seem to be burnt out and not appreciated from what you said. Negativity is a choice - and you don't have to listen to it. When my mother is negative on the phone - I cut the conversation short. If she is negative during a visit - I leave.

My nephew's wife has breast cancer and two young children. She never ever has complained; I live with debilitating chronic pain and don't take it out on my family. So - constant negativity feels like a poison to me. And I am getting frustrated by all the negativity just because one is getting old. It is part of life - they need to learn to deal with it. Take care.
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Chauna May 2012
I, too, am caring for my elderly mother....who is very moody, negative and verbally abusive. I walk on egg shells and pins and needles from sun up to sun down. It is absolutely breaking my spirit. I feel as though I am slipping into a depression because of it. Everything I do, say, think, feel is wrong. If she is hungry, she demands that I go out (to the farthest restauraunt she can think of) and get her something to eat. Then, when I get back with it, she barely eats any of it. If I make something to eat for her, it doesnt taste good, its not seasoned enough (or too much) and she barely eats any of it, either. She is very demanding and bossy. And nosy!!!! OMG she has to know what I'm doing, when, where, with who, etc. She complains when I'm on my laptop or cell phone. And dont let me even think of watching tv. That is out of the question. She deliberately throws digs to aggravate me. And everything I say or feel is shot down. She will go to the ends of the earth to find negativity in everything. She screams and hollers daily. I have tried reasoning (doesnt work). I have tried ignoring (doesnt work). I have one and only one person in my life who has been my rock through all of this. If it werent for him and this fantastic web site, I dont know if I would have an ounce of sanity left. This is the absolute hardest thing I have ever done in my life !!!!
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labbydog May 2012
I have that situation, as well. My father was a saint and passed away 3 years ago. Now I know what he put up with, and I don't know how. My mother is 96, in excellent health, well off financially. Despite that, she moans and complains about every little thing. As a previous poster said, my mother also points out everyone who is fat, ethnic, different from her in any way. I finally twisted her arm enough to get her into an independent/assisted living facility in her own town (I live 2 hours away) 3 months ago, and now all she does is complain about it. Everybody is in walkers, has canes, etc. there's nothing to do there, the van doesn't go enough places, yadda, yadda. I have a sister who lives 45 minutes away and she does nothing, yet my mother makes excuses for her, and abuses me every chance she gets. I visit her about once a month (I also have my own family to take care of!), call her every night. I finally just said to myself, "She is an unhappy person, and has always been that way." It doesn't help to tell her how lucky she is to have her health and her wealth. Some people just thrive in their own misery. When I see her like this, I tell myself, "This is a lesson for me. I will NEVER treat my son this way if I am lucky enough to live to her age." I can empathize with you all. Hang in there, but don't forget to take care of yourselves first.
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JudymW May 2012
I wish I knew the answer to this. My mother oozes negativity, from the look on her face, to the talking she does at me (not a conversation if its her ranting at me - nothing is good enough and I'm her audience.). Complain, complain, pity party... that's what I get from her. I try to distract her, pointing out a bird in the yard, or a cute baby in the store, just anything to divert her attention. Sometimes it works, sometimes, she doesn't want the bird in her backyard (its making a mess or eating the cat food or pooping on the patio) or the mom pushing the cart has a big ass (she likes to point out fat people and I'm not skinny by any means, so its a dig at me) and that's what my mother focuses on rather than the cute baby. I've learned to tune her out for the most part. But, I've got to deal with her tomorrow, and so far, I've eaten everything I can get my hands on today and haven't even showered yet. I've packed on the pounds since spending time with her. Talk about pity party! I like brandywine's gorilla idea. I'm going to try that tomorrow. Thanks, brandywine! :) ... so, wjjlyj, I feel your pain... maybe try distraction? Try to learn to tune it out? Imagine the gorilla? Be careful about pointing out the good things in their lives though. I tried that. My mother took great pleasure in shooting everything I mentioned down in flames! She lost her voice once and I was so happy. But, she dug up a dry erase board and tormented the crap out of me with it! Good luck!
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Debi1306 May 2012
I too am caring for my aging/ill mother. It is not easy and has been a "journey" at best. I have found the only way to "disarm" mother is to walk up to her and give her a great big hug and a heartfelt I LOVE YOU. Try it, it works. She is so shocked everytime I do it that she can't say a word. I feel like she feels unloveable and that is where the negativity comes from..... Good Luck guys. Right there with you!
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It's very hard to do, but assume that absolutely none of the words she uses is actually what she means to say. For five minutes at a time, try translating every single thing she says that's negative into her saying "I'm feeling out of control"."I'm scared." "I feel really terrible about myself." I say five minutes because the other thing you have to do is not hang around all the time. Get in there, take care of PRACTICAL matters, and get out. Don't just offer yourself as a punching bag. JudymW, do you want to let your mother to not only make you miserable in the meantime but also actually kill you? You see the connection between how empty you feel in response to her and your emotional eating -- use that knowledge. You're way ahead of the people who are in trouble with eating but don't have any idea why. If you can't afford any kind of therapy or professional support -- but it's cheaper than diabetes -- then do this: For a month, just notice and track both your eating and your feelings. Keep a diary. Practice not beating up on yourself about anything, just notice. Paying attention to yourself in a way that's understanding and non-judgmental -- unlike what your mother does -- may be more healing than you can even imagine. Everyone (including me!): It's the negative messages we say to OURSELVES that is the most damaging. Example: When we hear ourselves think "This is really hard on me, I feel like I can't cope another minute" that's fine. But what comes next?" "I SHOULD be able to cope with this just fine. I should be stronger than this..... therefore... I'm weak. I'm a failure....." We may not even hear ourselves make those conclusions. But THAT's where the trouble is.
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hart May 2012
My heart goes out to you because dealing with aging parents is difficult. I came to the realization yesterday that it is not my fault. My dad's negative attitude has everything to do with him and not me. I am the daughter and it is my job to be respectful, compassionate, care for him, take him shopping, call him and make sure he is fed, watered and living in a clean home. But, it is not my job to make him happy. My mom always tried to make us the keepers of their happiness and now that I have given up I feel better. Whenever he starts in on my teenagers, my husband, my yard, my home, my piles of laundry, my weight (30 lbs gained, lost and regained in the last 3 years) I excuse myself for a minute and go wash my hands. I don't know why but the act of washing my hands washes his negative energy from me and I find the courage to go back out and face him. I try to remember that he is not the father I knew in my childhood. He is old, scared and lonely. Take it one day at a time, you are allowed to be angry, sad and overwhelmed. I found that writing in a journal helps, reading the posts on this website helps and drowning my frustration in ice cream helps. I would not recommend the last one but we want you to know that we are here for you in this community supporting you and your parents.
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wjjlyi, Been there, done that. All I can say is that you have to ignore their neg as much as you can. I kinda pretend some gorilla is talking to me and is not to be taken seriously. I know it is a weird thought.
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vhope00 May 2012
My mother has always had the tendency to be critical and negative but have developing ALZ those personality traits have become magnified. At times I could really understand how elderly people could be abused! One day, after I couldn't take it anymore (I tried distraction, ignoring, reminding myself of her condition, etc.) I just agreed it was shi**y day. She paused and took a breath and continued. I eventually asked her if she really thought everything was horrible and there was nothing "okay" in her life, because if so I was worried about her and thought she was depressed. My mom actually responded to me and said she wasn't depressed. I asked her if she realized that she sounds very negative and complains about everything? I was able to do this in a very calm manner, reminded to keep my voice level. I asked if maybe it wasn't just a habit? I have to say she continued to be negative but it has reduced and when she gets on a roll, I ask her if it's one of those days, she'll chuckle and either stop or she will ignore me and continue, which I guess is an affirmative. I have learned that I need to take a break when she is too much, because the negativity is poisonous and toxic. Our visits are not going to go well and so I do whatever errand/task I need to do with her and let her know the visit will be short and I will talk to her later that day (by phone-short call) and will visit another day. This is a tough one and a struggle.
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