My mother, who is a highly functioning 84-year-old, stepped over the line as far as verbal abuse. How do I handle this?

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She has always used me as her"whipping post" although I was always her child that stayed out of trouble and was attentive. She glories in feeling that she " has the right to be mean at times because of her age" and she certainly did so with me on Wednesday. I am her primary care giver and what she did not realize, was that I had just left a therapy session with a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome due to years of being the child and adult child who dealt with her drinking as well as the major issues with my father's very painful and drawn out death. I am a recently retired teacher (35 years), and want to start enjoy life without anxiety as I take care of my mother as well as at least one older sibling. I intend to be emotionally healthy. Mother insists on living on our farm in the house that my Dad left to me by herself. (3400 square feet/189 years old) with no neighbors.I have checked on her religiously day after day to ensure she lived through the night or had not fallen and was safely locked in at night. My question is: Since I have had enough, what can I do to ensure her safety without daily contact? I am thinking of every third day, perhaps. My siblings all live long distance by phone and are much older themselves. The younger one is either in the Middle East or Africa. I know I am whining, but I truly want to change my life without neglecting her. I hate to say this, but she has never been very kind to me and I am never a priority. I love her, respect her as my mother, but I do not like her. Thank you for any help you can give. I am looking for solutions.

Answers 1 to 10 of 24
I just read your post Rebecca and I must say I can relate. I have always been my Mother's whipping post and she can be very mean and hateful. Her Mother was this way and it is just so sad to me. My Grandmother loved me and was very attentive to me and I think that has always bothered my Mom. My Grandmother has been gone for a long time. But my Mom will be 85 in April, I have tried everything with her. At times (when it suites her) she can be nice. I would say distance yourself as much as possible( I know that is easier said than done) and take care of you. Encourage your other siblings to call her and think seriously of Lifeline (or something like it) so she can get help if she needs it. One thing I taught my children was becareful about your words cause words can HURT!
(as you and I well know, and they cannot be taken back ) take care J
Can you get an alert bracelet and monitoring service for her? That way, she can summon help if she needs it. I applaud you drawing the line, it's the only way to show her tha bad behavior is NOT rewarded. Good luck!
Thank you for both answers. My husband and I are going to try to find a monitoring service that might work in her rural area. If one works, we are willing to pay for it. Does anyone know of a monitoring service that works in rural areas? I really wanted to become close to my mother and create a loving relationship. I just can't and won't do it to myself and my family anymore. She is just plain mean and enjoys it. My grandmother and father would be appalled by her behavior. Thank you for your help!
RLP, I was wondering why she thought she could move into a house that was yours? Seems to me you have more power than you give yourself credit for. If your mom needs live-in help or whatever, don't you have every right to insist on it? And I wouldn't be afraid to bring that little tidbit of information to her attention either.
if necessary think of her having place in assisted living facility and or get someone else to be her caregiver for couple hrs of the need the break not the hassle ....if the house is urs then she has to share domicile so check the fine print...just cuz she mean doesnt mean she has problems adjusting to be single ...there have to be daycare senior centers in the area that can pick her up and allow her to mellow with some of her own age...she needs stimulation and maybe grief counselling age doesnt give a right to have her evaluated and have the house evaluated ; to see if she is at risk for living in that big place with no type of aid could put her at injury...only takes the littlest things but i understand what you are saying of the PTSD ...hubby has it and I may have it but i have anxiety disorder that gets to be a real bear and i end up losing sleep ask for advice and call social services are already caring for an older sibling time for someone else to step in....I wish i had that ....but i take care of my husband and raise 2 young children so praise ur strength in setting the limits...toxicity can be a bad thing..
You want to be close to your mother and create a loving relationship. I want to be 4 inches taller and have naturally curly hair. Sigh. We can't always have what we want, can we?

You can control your own behavior. You can be loving. I doubt that you can control the nature of the relationship. With the help of your therapist perhaps you can turn your attention to more attainable goals.

It is your house. If having your mother living in it alone is causing you too much stress, change that. One option is to insist she hire paid help. Another, of course, is for her to move to a care center of some sort. You can make the rules. If she is going to live in your house she has to 1), 2), 3) -- whatever conditions will relieve your anxiety. She won't agree to those terms? Offer to help her house hunt.

I am so glad you are working toward your own mental well-being. You could have Mother to deal with for another 10 to 15 years, perhaps with increased needs. Don't wait that long to take charge of your own happiness!
Years ago I read a book about Difficult People sadly my Mother is that difficult person in my life... I love her because I know I supposed to, however I don't really like her much and I would happily ignore her except I feel an obligation to her. My Dad passed away and my sisters for the most part do not wish to be bothered. Some days are harder that others and today sadly is one of those days. If things don't change soon, I will be the one taking the anxiety pills and the anti-depressants, that is what my sister thinks I should get for Mother.
Thank you for all of your answers. My father left the farm in trust so that my mother could stay in her house but the house was technically mine. I cannot win with her and no longer want to fight her one-sided battle that involves her wanting to control everything. I am going to back off for a while and ask a few of her friends to check on her some. I think she is going to have to implode and realize that she cannot keep living alone. She had a traumatic brain injury 4 years ago and does not always remember everything. I will try to protect her from a distance and let her come to her own understanding about limitations. I am not trying to be harsh, but I have just been diagnosed with COPD even though I have never smoked. I am just weary. Please forgive my whining. I am usually tougher than this. Rebecca
Oh Rebecca don't feel badly... just take care of you... I have never smoked either and I have bad asthma... sometimes I get so tired!!! take care and God Bless....
My mother is 93 and acts the same she feels entitled to be mean except when it suits her needs-I keep a distance as much as I can -my sister lives near her and when I go to visit my sister has me stay with her-my sister because she has seen Mom in action with me and her verbal digs to me-I know I can not have a relationship with her I do not argue back because of her age and when I am with her I have decided to just ignor her digs-you may have to face the fact she does not want a relationship with her I would call social service and relate to them your concerns-since she has the right to live there and wants to-they will have to get her assesed as to her safety and with the decision not comming from you she can get mad as hell but will have to go along with their ideas -you need to be away from her -tell social services about her family that could give a hand-you do not deserve to be treated this way and should not be expected to put up with it any longer-she may have to be placed but it will be up to her in the long run-please call social services right away and get help-you may have to rescue yourself from this situation-I had to with my husband-he pushed me to the point I could not and would not care for him-it was his behaivor that got him placed. You need to take care of yourself-she made the decision when she treated you so badly-I had the same thing with my mother growing up so I relate very much with you. Keep us posted-we can all help each other there are so many going through the same things with their parents and spouses.

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