I am going mad trying to please my mom. How do I keep her happy?

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My 83 year old mother suffered a stroke 7 months ago, it was in her spine and she has slowly lost the use of her right leg, and is now in a wheelchair most of her days. I was living on the other side of the country but raced to be with her and subsequently took care of her once she came out of hospital, it was hell.

I have never had a good relationship with her and have spent most of my life trying to live as far away as possible from her. But I really felt that this was the end for her and told myself to stop being so selfish and nasty and try to be a good daughter. We lasted about a month before her nastiness got to me, and I took off back home, and I missed my husband, so was pleased to be gone.

She then had a fall which really knocked her confidence badly, I was a little hesitant to drop everything and race over to her again, my sister who only lives an hour away I hoped would look after her, but mum wanted me (god knows why). When I saw her lying in bed she looked so small and old, again I felt so guilty, I decided to give up my job, give up my life, and I made a promise to take care of her, she didn't want to go in a home. She told me it was my duty and that I owed her...I know emotional blackmail, and it worked.

Cutting a very long story short, I've moved her and I into a new house, its been 2 weeks and I think I'm losing my marbles. If I so much as have a bad day or go out or have an argument with my husband, she gets so nasty, and gossips about me to anyone who will listen. She says I'm cruel and unkind to her, when my days are completely taken caring for her cookin, cleanin, showering, and makin sure she is comfortable. I take her out most days and have almost thrown the wheelchair and jumped on it trying to get it in and out of the car. But its never enough. The tears from her are constant and I feel like the most evil person ever. My husband is ready to run a mile as I am just so miserable.

I have one day off a week that I go into town to shop or just sit and have a coffee. I have tried as others have to get her involved in more social activities, but she wont have anything to do with 'old' people, and if I push it I'm being evil again. In 6 months I've been out one night with my husband because she refuses to be on her own, even tho she has a St John life link alarm. If I don't go and check on her in bedroom every 30 mins she gets annoyed. i just get sick of running after her like a slave.

I'm ready to run a mile again, but this time I cant, I need help but have no idea who can help me, friends and my family know what she is like and I think they are so relieved the pressure is off them that they leave me to it...Help...anyone else relate to me????

Answers 1 to 10 of 35
Wow you sound like such a devoted and caring daughter that anyone would love to have as their daughter. I am not sure what to say but to hang in there because you are doing an excellent job and going above and behind what anyone could ever possibly ask for.There are some agencies who have caregivers that you pay if your mom would allow it and the funds hold out. I think that this could give you an opportunity to sneak away at times and have some alone time or some time with friends if at all possible. I hope for the best for you.
I totally understand your misery!!! My 85 yr-old mother isn't happy unless she's criticizing, arguing or putting something or someone down. There is also an international conspiracy to rearrange, throw away, spill, misplace and keep her locked in the house. Oh, by-the-way, she has never, I repeat NEVER made a mistake. If you don't believe me, ask her.
I understand your pain. I am an only child and my 87 yr-old father passed away a few months ago. I quit my job to help take care of him after two strokes. Hospice was a huge help. I had hoped that after he passed away that she would be "easier to take" in that she would be the center of attention. I was wrong! She does take a "stress medicine", celexa. It helps, however she only takes it when she thinks shes stressed. I take her where ever she wants to go. She has a wheelchair due to the fact that she is very unstable on her feet. She wants to drive....she can't stand up alone, is deaf in one ear and can't hear out of the other one and has limited vision.
No matter what I do she yells at me and criticizes whatever it is I am attempting to do for her. I know that some of her anger and frustration is because of her aging and her constant, "word search" for what she wants to say. She has also developed a long list of conditions that she has diagnosed. She has so much anger and I am the sole recipient. I am searching for some sort of help. She won't go anywhere with anyone but me. Other family members have offered to help, she won't have any part of it. They have come to the conclusion that it's easier to leave her alone and just call and check on her occasionally. I tend to agree with them.
I hear and feel your pain. I wish I had some great advice. All I can offer is an outlet to scream and holler and cuss like a sailor if you like. I'll remember you in my thoughts and prayers and if I come across some great idea or solution for caregivers that have totally lost their minds, I'll let you know. We could start a group "Crazy Caregivers Unite". What do you think?
I hope the best for you and your mother.
Rubyjkat, while my Mom is not nasty to me, I can relate to the controlling unhappy and complaining ways that can drive a sane person into the rubber room! You have done what 3 people probably couldn't do, but I caution you about giving up your life for hers. When they are gone, what will we have and we don't want to end up like them. Sounds to me, you need outside help, and make it clear to her that she has no choice, you're doing this for her and you.
My Dad is really exercising his meaness, I warned him that if he continues to yell at me and be disrespectful to me and the NH staff I would not visit him under those circumstances. Well upon a 2 week vacation from him, as soon as I walked in the door, he started yelling that he asked for a drink and they gave him a different drink, I mean YELLING. I tried to speak quietly with him but he wanted everyone to hear, so I said good bye until you get back to treating me with dignity.
Sometimes, no many times we have to be the ones who control the wheel, especially when our own health and lives are involved.
I hope for the best decision for your mom and for YOURSELF...your husband needs you too!
Wow am I glad I find this place...there are more people like me out there...sounds terrible but thank goodness, Logic somewhere in me figured I wasn't the only one to be going through this, but it is an incrediably isolating place to be in being a caregiver. Today is a new day, and I woke up with a new attitude to take control, I announced to mum and hubby that we are going out today, no more staying at home. I'm off to chch with mum in tow, she tried to argue, but I said nup, we're going because I want to go shopping!!! She started on how I hate pushing the wheelchair etc, I said, actually I love that wheelchair I just have a few issues with it not wanting to fold up and go easily in the car. Today I will be in control...fingers crossed it will last..Thank you so much for your posts, it really has perked me up.
Ruby, I'm new here so I'm not sure we're supposed to be asking questions but I'm wondering if there's more to the story here that you haven't included that could certainly be affecting how you are feeling about taking care of your Mom. Some parents try to control their children with money and because you said you gave everything up and moved yourself and your Mom (no mention of your husband) into a "new" house (maybe one that your mother financed? because it would be difficult for most people to give everything up and move across the country into a new house) maybe your mother is expecting a whole lot in return and it will never be enough, no matter what you do and she is holding that over you. If this was the case, I would guess that it's not going to be worth it unless you decide that you are willing to take the abuse in exchange for a new house and taking care of.
Top Answer
"Please my mom" is the wrong goal, because it leaves the success or failure of your actions in someone else's hands. "Do my best to do the right thing" is the right goal, because when you've done your best you've succeeded, independent of whether the other person is a grump or an angel.
Ruby
My hat goes off to you. Despite the challenge, it sounds like you are on top of it. Even so, I know from personal experience, this is a job that seemingly never ends. Even in my quiet moments, I find myself mentally making plans for mom's needs. I have learned to deal with the ingratitude and anger by accepting that is something that I cannot control for my mom. My mom is in a home, but I make twice daily visits to ensure that things go as they should to the best of my ability.
For some reason, it seems like dementia and Alzheimers brings out the worst parts of a person's personality. I hope a cure is found one day.
Best wishes
Oh sweetie, I can relate. I have a similar situation with my mother. My mother also suffered a stroke but is not in a wheel chair. She uses a walker and a motorized scooter to get around. But, she still complains that she is unahppy and cannot do anything. My mother also makes me feel guilty. My mother was living with a male friend and they had an agreement that my mother would do all the cooking, cleaning, etc and buy the food. While the friend paid the mortgage and all other bills. It was a good arrangement as they both shared expenses and kept each other company. Then, when my mother had her stroke things changed. She lost the use of the entire right side of her body and also has a heart condiiton. She could no longer do her part of the agreement. The friend kicked her out of the house because he could not take care of her due to his own health problems.
So, as the "good daughter" I brought my mother to live with me and my husband.
All of my children are grown so there are no grandchildren. At first, it was not too bad having her around. I stopped working and spent all my time waiting on her hand and foot. We spent time together outside on my covered patio while she smoked her nasty cigarettes. I haven't seen or spent time with my mother in 20 years. We have talked on the phone and kept in touch. But, I have never had the money to go visit since she lived across the country. We had a lot to catch up on.
After a couple of weeks she started complaining that I didn't prepare her food right, or use the right laundry detergent. She kept warning me what I was going to experience when I got to be her age and she constantly complained about her aches and pains and the fact that she could no longer do the things she used to do. I was ready to go back to work; but, she kept saying that I "was too old and once an employer found out how old I was they would fire me." What?!!!! I am barely 50 years old! I am also taking college classes online to get a degree. She told me that I was wasting my time. A college degree wouldn't get me anywhere especially when employers found out how old I was. She was telling me this due to her "personal experience" when she was 50 and looking for work. She always interuppted me when I would talk to my husband and get involved in our conversations. She would talk to me when I would do my homework. She drove me nuts!! I finally had to do something because it was starting to affect my marriage. I love my mother; but, I love my best friend and partner for life more.
I wasn't about to let my mother ruin my happiness. She was not going to live forever. When it is her time and she is gone, then what? I would be all alone and still miserable. My mother played the guilt card a lot to get her way. She used me like a puppet. One of my friends told me that "she uses me like a punching bag" and advised that no one deserves to be treated like that. I finally decided to put my mother in a elderly retirement apartment. Fortunately, my mother can do some things for herself; although, she won't admit it. I go once a week and do her laundry and cleaning, etc. My mother complains that she doesn't like the "old people that live there. They are boring." She won't get involved in any of the activities. But, you know what? That is HER decision. NOT mine. I make sure that my mother has food (she even gets meals on wheels,) personal items, health care ( I take her to the doctore as needed,) and I do her laundry. The only thing she has to do is heat up her food. She still has to go outside to smoke and she complains that it is too far to walk or ride her scooter. She complains about the safety doors being too heavy since she has no strength in her right arm. I could go on and on about why she isn't happy. My family tells me "she will NEVER be happy and will ALWAYS complain no matter where she is." I finally figured out that she is lonely and wants my company and she is miserable because she wants her life back the way she used to be. I can't give my mother her life back, I can't take away her aches and pains. I cannot give her my life! All we owe our mothers as daughters is to make sure they are safe, fed, clothed, clean and get their medicine and whatever other health care they need. Our mothers do need some of our time. NOT ALL of our time. We have a life too. If your mother starts getting upset and using the guilt card....just simply get up and say I don't deserve this and walk away. Don't let her see you get upset, just hold your composure and let her know that when she wants to have a calm discussion, you will be back. Walk away and when you are down the hall, then cry. Do this a few times and she will get the message. You are a GOOD daughter as I am. But, we tend to let our mothers control our lives and emotions. You are NOT being selfish by putting her in either assisted living or a nursing home. Actually, it is best for you both. I have done some work in a nursing home in the Alzheimers Unit. You would be suprised how many family members just drop their mothers off and forget about them.
I was an assistant activity director and I was the one that spent all my time keeping the residents occupied, listening to them cry, holding their hands, laughing at some old comedy movies, etc. We always recognized their birthdays, did crafts, did excercise, etc. A nursing home isn't all that bad. You just have to choose the right one. Of course, your mother will complain no matter what. But, you have to feel comfortable where she will go and knowing that you will be there at least once a week to check up on her care. You deserve to be happy and to live your life with your beloved husband. He sounds like he has been very supportive for you. My husband has been also and very patient. Being a caregiver isn't easy and you need to get involved in a group with other caregivers to talk about your experiences. You will find that you are not alone. Your family needs to support you also. They need to encourage you to do the right thing and put your mother where she will get the best care and give you some relief. There is just so much that you can do. I hear so many stories like this from other families. You are not selfish because you want to save your marriage. Don't let anyone tell you that you are. Your mental health and happiness are worth something. Believe me, I have been ther and still struggle with some issues. Be strong and do what you know is best for you and your mother. She might be screaming all the way to the facility; but, deep in your heart you know it is the best thing to do. She will eventually accept it; especially when you show her that you didn't abandon her. You will still need to visit, call, take over some of her favorite food, flowers, etc. She will do fine,
I promise!!! I know your pain and your guilt. I wish I could give you a hug and tell you that it will all work out. Take that step and get the family involved. You will be glad you did.
Nobody is mentioning the help that is available from that kindly old family doctor. There are chemicals(otherwise known as medicine or Rx) to help with that problem and there is nothing shameful in relying on them. Come on now -- who would be happy in a nursing home or being bedfast? None of us would be happy confined to a bed. Your doctor can help. Ask about it.
Sounds familiar. I talked with a psychiatrist about my mother. He really wasn't much help. He said she acts like this because she's afraid.

I moved my mother to assisted living near me. It hasn't helped much because she wants me to do everything. The staff tell me she won't let them help her, and she says it's because they don't do it right. But I don't do it right either.

One thing to say when they get especially demanding is "well your just going to have to be unhappy.". We need to remember that out parents happiness is not our problem.

Things are getting better for me. Assisted living doesn't have to be awful. Though the best ones are expensive. She may enjoy contact with others her own age and activities not related to caregiving. Maybe some daycare would be helpful.

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