How do I deal with my mother that cry's all the time?

Asked by

my mother who is 88 yrs old cries all the time and gets mad at me a lot. she is really hard to deal with. i try to help her everyway i can but she seems like she's always mad at me. for instance she called me today crying that her cat was sick. all i told her i didn't know what was wrong i was not a vet she got mad and hung up on me. help as i am a only child and this situation is getting really unbearable.

Answers 1 to 10 of 28
Top Answer
I don't attend these discussions often, as I really should, but I'm so busy I don't seem to get the chance. however, one of the times I was involved, a fellow member made a passing simple comment that has stuck with me and has really become the motto I live by day to day. If your mom has alzheimers or some other aging disease, as it seems she does, albeit if it's "only" depression, it may be that you are simply not going to be able to make her happy. Our responsibility as caregivers sometimes reaches the point where all we can do is make sure our mother or father is safe, as comfortable as possible, and secure. I'm not saying don't try to cater to her emotional needs to the extent possible, but if you're all at the point where nothing seems to make her happy, and no medication can be prescribed to help, then just do your best to meet her physical needs, and don't rake yourself over the coals because you can't also meet her emotional needs.
who does your mom live with- does she have alzheimers- my mom laughs always when watcing americas funiest videos- she loves kids - so we make sure she sees her great grand daughter daily and my friends bring their kids over too - my mom has alz- 79 yrs. old- she lives withe me has for the last 4 months- so sorry - it
is hard- you just want them to be happy - good luck
It sounds as if your mom lives alone. I have cats and a dog and before I had kids, they were my children. Your mom's cat may be a big part of her world. If the cat needs to go to the vet, perhaps you could help her take it there or it could just be something simple like changing it's food. Ask her the symptoms and look it up on the internet for her. Offering a real solution may help her feel better. 88 is fairly old and if she lives alone, there may be other things that are overwhelming her and she is reaching out for help and when you don't actually help, she gets mad. Try to focus on her problems one by one and offer help where you can.. My mom is 87 and lives with us...when she was 81 she lived alone and was having trouble keeping up with her house, her meds, etc and finally she fell and was put in a nursing home to heal her fractured pelvis. Through all the doctor's evaluations and focus on her abilities, we saw that she wouldn't and shouldn't be living on her own - it was at that time we moved her in with us.
My 90 year old mother-in-law living with us was depressed all the time also. Her mind is pretty good but she went to doctor and they prescribed some good Anti-depresents or "Anxiety" preventing drugs. You might want to take her to a doctor and go in with her and talk to the doctor yourself. In our particular case we all work, so she is left to herself all day 8-4 and since she has maculare degeneration of the eyes she cant see to read anymore so she is in pretty much 97% in solitude all day. We of course give her audio tape books to listen to, and she really likes that a lot, it takes her mind off stuff. Solitude is never good for anyone, especially an older person. Sometimes I think living in a nursing home sutuation might stimulate her mind better but her 3 daughters have not decided to go that direction yet. Good luck with see the audion tapes and/or the doctor? Either way, Get her mind busy, and give her some Audio Tapes of some Good Books, it cheap and like I said takes her mind off things around her.
Remember the old saying: "If you let the mind wonder it will." Try not to let the mind wonder, keep it busy. Sometimes when we get older the mind acts like a child. When "teachers" have a young child crying, unrulely, or anything else we "RE-DIRECT THEM". Get their mind on something else, have them do something that will "help" them forget their external problems.
Probably nothing is 100%, but you can try these small adjustments for little or no cost. Good Luck.
Moonbeam - could it be that your mom just wanted to tell someone about the cat and NOT expect you to fix it? At your mom's age - and mine Mom's too - they talk a lot but don't want anything changed. It's really hard to understand the difference between needs and wants. What my mom wanted one day was often forgotten the next. that said, sometimes she'd get ahold of some odd request and talk about it daily for 3 months. (Example: finding some tiny blue vase my grandmother had that disappeared decades ago) I'd just say, "yes, Mom.... I'll tryto find that..." then change the subject. Dealing with odd or repeated requests is part of care giving and we often have to learn to let a lot go. The above comment about realizing we can 't do all they ask is important, especially since some requests are bizarre or impossible. We have to learn to use distraction or redirect their conversation - for OUR sanity not necessarily theirs. Best of luck.

I'm an only child myself, but my circumstances are not like yours.

From your previous questions connected to your profile, I see where your mother is on some sort of anti-anxiety medicine but you don't know what it is. I suggest that you find out what it is, the dosage and contact the doctor. Plus, I'd inform her doctor about these symptoms of what might be depression along with the anxiety. I also notice that your mother is not good on her feet and you are afraid she might fall which is understandable. I'd would get a home health nurse to come out and evaluate if she really is safe at home.

I hope that you have medical and durable POA for your mother already. If not, try to get it very quickly. You might very well be at the point where some other form of care other than you doing everything needs to be done. Does your mother have a long term care insurance policy? What financial means does she have? Has your mother always been quick to get mad with you or has this just taken place recently?

Moonbeam, you haven't told us if your mom lives alone.
Moonbeam - I can relate to a few of the things you're going through. I'm an only child too (unmarried), my father has the Alzheimer's and my mom's health is up and down. When it was down the end of last year I took time off while she was in the hospital and took care of my dad and was her hospital advocate. My dad's mind isn't horrible but his short term memory isn't great and he has a temper. And he sleeps a lot (depression perhaps). So I had to learn that his questions that we just went over would probably have to be gone over again. And again. Or if he didn't hear me (he's pretty deaf) I'd have to repeat again. And again. It was frustrating and I fell into the horrible trap of being snippy. I had to tell myself every single time it's not his fault, his body is failing him so don't yell or get snippy. It is hard. It's the hardest thing I have to deal with when it comes to his problems. If he asked questions that needed research, or some kind of future action I got to the point where I would say, Of course I'll look into it for us and as soon as I have info we can decide what to do. I think it made him feel like he still had the ability to make decisions and was valuable. I think your mom was just hoping you'd make an appointment and assure her that you care about her cat too and you'd help her when she needs it.

They do become children as they get older and need more affirmation and comforting. I try real hard to tell myself that it could be me and they would be as kind as possible if tables were turned. It's hard.

Please, please, please get some kind of help for you with your mom. Those three months lead to a mini-breakdown for me and I'm just now starting to feel strong again. I did the typical only child thing: I can do it, I'm okay, I don't need any help right now. I did have some help at the beginning but when she came home it was tough caring for her and my dad. To his credit, my dad was somehow able to pull it together when she came home and he was really helpful. But it's still overwhelming. Then things around the house started to fail (roof caved in from water damage) and I was spent. I had to go back home (Chicago) and help from here. That's even worse since you don't really know what's going on and they often lie - not in a mean way but in an I-don't-want-to-worry-you way.

Trying to work and take care of them long distance screwed up my job performance and I ended up going on medical leave. Anyway, I'm much better now :) and I've learned a lot of ways to help deal with the stress. If you're not seeing a therapist try finding one who will help you with stress relief options and as someone you can just vent to. I've learned a lot and if/when this happens again I'll be more prepared. I can't guarantee I won't get frustrated and snippy but I do think it will take a lot more for that to happen. And I don't think I'll break down again. I really hope not!
Even if you don't know what is wrong with the cat, it would probably make your mother feel better if you simply acknowledge how she is feeling. You can say something like "You must be worried if you think your cat is not well. I am sorry you feel that way. Let's give it a day and see how the cat does - maybe it is the heat"
There are some very good comments - taking it step by step, one thing at a time is good advice. It sounds to me as though your mother is scared - maybe you can help her feel better and then it will be easier for you, too.
I agree very much with the above. Very often validation of a person's feelings about something is more important than the thing or fixing the issue itself. Otherwise the person either feels cut off, invalidated or like we are going to take responsibility for fixing how they feel. People need their feelings validated and also given the opportunity to own and work through their own feelings themselves.

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support