My mom needs some help, she is living her last years miserable and unhappy. What Can I do for Mom?

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Mom lives in assisted living and has everything she needs. Nice place but expensive. Mom is depleting her savings in order to afford to live there. Yet she is always complaining and unhappy. I have been her caregiver for over 6 years. It is not easy to handle moms needs and then listen to all the complaints. Today I went to the store early to get mom some things she wanted. When I arrived this morning with her items , she started on me, eventually she told me to just leave, as she says I never stay long and always just come and go anyway. Mom can be very mean and I should be so blessed to have what she has. I have always done what is in her best interest and what mom has wanted, and now she blames me for everything she is unhappy about. Mom say she does not know what to do . I am totaly stressed , what can I or should I do, her money will run out in a couple of years. She can be very mean to me, it seems everthing is my fault. Yet everyone says how sweet mom is, seems she is fine with others but her sone gets all the negative.... Help..!! I am loosing it trying to make my mom happy to the point that it is affecting me , my wife and daily life in general. Mom wants me to listen and do for her all the time. If I do not run or jump when she calls then I do not care. I am having a hard time with this .. It is beginning to affect my health. Scott

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I had to put my foot down a few months ago because my mother's whims were ruling my life. She'd book appointments for several days each week - various doctors appointments, follow-ups, and dentist visits, for herself and dad. Then, there'd be shopping and errands, the emergency gallon of milk, loaf of bread, Rx to be picked up, broken hearing aide, etc. She kept me hopping. I finally had to tell her that Wednesdays or Thursdays were good for me. I still go by frequently, but on my terms. I just can't run over to her house, which is only 9 miles away, every time she has a problem with the TV remote or a grocery store has eggs on sale or she can't live without a new pair of pajamas. It was making my kids upset and resentful. Jeanne gave some great ideas. My mother still sneaks in the appointments on other days of the week, and I still tolerate it, but I'm not jumping through hoops every single day now. I check in with her every day and I see her lots during the week, but I only give her two days a week to monopolize. She still drives me insane with her chronic complaining and criticizing, but its at a much more bearable level when its on my terms. Good luck. Its pretty frustrating when other people tell you what a wonderfully sweet old lady Mom is, when some days, you want to gouge your own eyeballs out at the thought of spending another minute listening to the negativity that oozes from her mouth incessantly! I sound like a monster. Really, Scott, I just wanted to tell you that I can understand how you must feel, and that Jeanne is spot on about setting boundaries. And it helps me keep my eyeballs intact.
This seems to be a delimma for most of us cargivers. I am working on not giving up my entire life to give my mom support. I have been starting to look at this entire life experience as a training period on how I don't want to be with my children when I am older. It seems as though the grown child who does the most and cares the most, is the target for an unhappy parent. After almost 3 years I am just now beginning to question on why I am so compelled to jump at my others every need. She too is in a nice assisted living home, and I an fearful that I made her too dependent on me to fill her time. There is staff there to help her but she often waits for me. I can't change overnight but I am beginning to question how much of each day I run to her apartment. I suppose I am co- dependent in my care of her and it is very unfair to my wonderful husband and our life together. This is all a learning experience for those of us trying to make our way through this period of our lives. All of those who write here make this journey a little less difficult by sharing their honest and deep feelings. . We are not alone.
We do have a responsibility to ensure our elderly parent is safely taken care of, but we also have a responsibility to not destroy our own lives in the process. That is why I say to take the time to look up at the sky, the trees and listen to the birds as that keeps us centered back to a place of some peace.

Scott, you didn't say whether your mother has always been impossible to please, or if this is a new behavior in her old age. If this is a new behavior, I would bring it to the attention of her doctor. If it is new, it might be signalling some developing problem that could be addressed medically.

Why is your mother in AL? What are her impairments? Does she have mobility problems? Most ALs have bus service for shopping trips. Is she unable to shop for herself? All those things that she wants you to do -- could she do some of them herself, or have them done by AL staff? I'm just trying to get a sense of what she needs compared to what she wants.

I seriously doubt that your mother is going to change. The situation is miserable for both of you. Something has to change. That means, I conclude, that it is you that will have to change. She is pleasant and sweet with other people? -- you should allow and encourage her to spend more time with other people, and less time with you. That would automatically sweeten both of your lives.

Do you believe her when she tells you not running and jumping means you don't care about her? No? Well, then, just dismiss her opinion as being wrong. YOU know you care about her and are doing your best. You may never get Mother's acknowledgement of that fact, but that doesn't make it less true. Be proud of what you are doing.

Since you are NEVER going to please her, no matter what you do, and this is NOT YOUR FAULT, set some reasonable boundaries around what you do for/with her. For example, set a day and time when you will do her shopping (if she truly cannot do it herself), You will get everything she tells you about through the night before. If she forgets something, you'll get it at you next scheduled time. No emergency runs. In addition to the shopping, you and your wife will have her over for Sunday Dinner once a month, and you will visit her on Tuesdays. You will call her in the evening to hear how her day went on the nights you don't see her. In other words, you are doing the giving and you will set the terms of what and when you give.

The Assisted in the expensive Assisted Living Facility she is in comes from the staff there. People who have no local family at all can get by there just fine. She has the bonus of having family help. That is great, but it should not be all-consuming to the family.

As for running out of money in 2 years, start looking into Medicaid now. Also discuss with the ALF administrator whether they accept Medicaid for residents who have been private pay for a certain number of years. Some places have such a policy and others do not. What is your mother's impairment? Is she likely to need Skilled Nursing care in a couple of years?

I'm sorry that you wound up with a mother who does not/cannot express gratitude and praise. That is sad, but IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. Your are an exceptional son. Be proud of what you do, and start setting some boundaries so that the love you have for Mother does not turn into resentment.
Zanniegirl, most likely your mom trained you like mine did to me to jump in focused mainly on the needs of others which often meant people becoming dependent on me which is not healthy. I'm glad you have gained your insights and yes I can tell you from a husband's perspective with a wife who was once enmeshed with her mother it is unfair, it does hurt for it makes one feel less married, and it does hurt the marriage. It sounds like your mother is safe and cared for which is all you can realistically be responsible for. The rest, like her own emotions about these changes in her life, are really her responsibility to deal with and she will have to the more you set and keep boundaries with her and have your own life as well as focus more on your marriage. You are right that we are not called to be self-destructive martyrs with a trail of collateral damage in our wake which is something that I've too often read on this site.
I am reminded of the first line in the Serenity Prayer ...... "God grant me the serenity to accept the things that I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference."
I totally understand where you are all coming from. My Mother is almost 89 and lives in a Senior Living complex. She is dependent on me for any type of social interaction. This started years ago when my Father passed. She refused to go out for coffee with the neighbor ladies, ride the senior transportation, etc. Several years ago she decided she no longer wanted to go out to the box to pick up her mail so her neighbor lady brings it to her. She said she was not picking up the mail any longer as she "might" fall and break something. She has two walkers that she could use but refuses. She had a heart attack several years ago and has three stents but her cardiologist always gives her a "thumbs up" on her checkups. If my husband and I are doing out of town for a medical appt, she develops chest pains, shortness of breath, etc. She then accuses me of "getting angry" if she tells me about her symptoms. Mother is very much a "drama queen" and there is never anything small going on with her. She has visited the ER too many times to count just knowing it is her heart and it never has been. My husband and I had to be out of town today for his appt and she said she had suffered shortness of breath, chest pain, had taken two nitros, etc. while I was gone. When I went over to check on her and was getting ready to go home, she said "you have been with HIM all day, sit down, you can stay longer with me!" I might add, I live six blocks from her and visit her twice each day! I do all of her shopping and anything she wants done around her apartment, rearranging closets, freezer, fridge, watering flowers, etc. I have two brothers that she would never ask to do anything for her nor would she ask them for anything while my Father lived. My husband and I did all of the running for both of them. Mother seems to feel my brothers are "too busy" to do anything although they are both retired, living an active retirement and I am happy for them. However, they seem to feel they have absolutely NO resonsibility where Mother is concerned. Something I think has been fostered by her attitude that they are not to be bothered. As one of the contributors said, I am definitely learning how NOT to act with our daughter as we grow older. Thanks for listening. Good luck everyone!
Scott, your Mom sounds exactly like mine. I get it. My Mom has been that kind of person, but only looking back have I realized it. Until you're so close to the situation you don't realize how miserable a human being your parent is. I was like you and am figuring things out. I've done everything in my power to make Mom's life happier. It doesn't and don't ever work. I have to accept it.It's too bad, sad really that some people will never be happy. MOM is one of them. She lives with me too. It was my last ditch effort to make her life happier. You guessed it. It didn't work. Everyone else thinks she's just the sweetest person that ever walked c on the face of the earth. Her family knows better.

I am detaching from the emotional stuff as best I can with someone under the same roof. I don't see much advantage to having in AL or NH. I feel I'd be bugged constantly by her out the management, do for now she is here and I have someone that comes 3 days a week right now just for company and do I can get out. I don't particularly like "Dr. Phil" but I remember c one thing he said on a, show years ago that has stuck with me, "we teach people how to treat us", and we've taught well. We've taught demanding narcissistic parents to expect us to meet their every whim and to make them happy. We have to stop it and start making ourselves happy. Maybe some of our parents can still learn, I don't know, but at least since they're not happy anyway, were spinning wheels. I'm finally learning at 64.
Scott, I realize that your question was how can you help your mom, and our answers may seem to be focussed on helping yourself. But to have you sane, calm, tolerant is really going to be good for mother, too. What can you do to make her happy? I'm afraid the answer is absolutely nothing. So please take care of yourself in ways that allow you to be a more effective caregiver for her, a good husband, and a happy person.
@Rene999, Your mother is like a lot of mothers - unhappy and willing to spread it around!

First, I think you need an antidepressant to help you cope with all that negativity. You should also talk to your mother's doctor about slipping her something to improve her mood, as well.

What would happen if your mother was complaining about your sister, and you responded, "Yes, she has always been a selfish b***h." In other words, agree with her that life sucks and then you die. If she doesn't kill you for a sassy answer, I think that it will be easier for you to accept her negativity as something that you can't change, and don't need to change.

Can the two of you make jokes about what idiots the other residents are? If that's too much, just say, "Oh, Mother, you're so good at finding the flaws in people. You could meet Johnny Carson and find him boring." Trying to get her to be nice is a lost cause. Try to get her to laugh.

I don't know if my ideas will work. I just hope you can find some way to cope.
She's very unhappy with her life and she'd like it to end. Sounds like she is intent on making that happen, albeit very slowly.

Perhaps you would be more happy yourself and be doing more good to find a client who wants help living, not dying.

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