Why does my mother bring out the worst in me???

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I care for my mother - she does not have dementia, but seems to have every other ailment under the sun. Diabetic for over 40 years, rheumatoid arthritis, congestive heart failure, thyroid & gallbladder removed when she was young, atrial fibrillation (now reliant upon a pacemaker), osteoporosis, diabetic foot ulcers, rectal cancer in 2005 which has left her incontinent, etc. etc. - the poor woman was dealt a really sh*tty hand in the health department, that's for sure. She broke her right hip earlier this year, and had that replaced in september. She was gone for 3 months at a SNF for rehab, and I felt like it was the first time I could breathe in a long time.

Now that she is back home (she lives in my home), I immediately noted how different I feel. I am chewing my fingers again, my temper is short, I'm anxious, I feel like I am a snarky smart-assed 15 year old whenever I respond to her...and I'm going to be 50 in July! To put it bluntly, I DO NOT LIKE the person that I become when I am around my mother, but I feel like I am powerless to stop it!

Obviously she is frail and she needs my help - am I resentful of that?? Am I trying to push her away, or prepare myself for what I know is to come down the road??? I just don't get it. She has never been the most positive person - always complaining about something & making comments about people's appearances that aren't exactly complimentary, but she's always been that way - it's not like it's news to me.

I know she can't help (to some extent) the position she is in, but there are days where I feel she COULD help me out a bit more than she does. Sorry for being graphic, but when she gets poop on the inside of her clothes because she didn't make it to the bathroom on time & the diaper leaked....she can certainly rinse them out or at the very least say something instead of just rolling the clothes up, poop and all, into a ball & leaving them in her room until she has a full washer load, can't she??? I have stuck my hand into god-knows-what more often than I care to admit, and I get SO PISSED OFF. To me, there is no excuse for that behavior, whether she's embarrassed by it or not. As a result, I have ruined a few of her articles of clothing by soaking them into a bucket with bleach water, but what does she expect me to do??? Just put her crap-filled clothes into my washing machine????? She then turns around & yells at me for ruining her clothes. UGH!!!

Instead of enjoying time with her, I feel like all I do is bitch & moan about every little thing she does to everyone. My huband & my oldest daughter are around her enough to sympathize with me for what I put up with, but everyone else looks at me like I'm a raging bi*ch for talking about my mother like that. I guess I need to be more cautious of who I vent to (THANK GOD FOR THIS BOARD!) but seriously...she brings out the worst in me and I just don't know how to handle it. (((vent over...whew!)))

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@Peg - Ugh - no easy answers for sure... vent away! :)
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Our parents install those buttons that makes us feel that way,I believe.My mother is a challenge also,she won't take her meds,throws dirty tp in the wastepaper basket instead of the toilet,won't shower and hoards food fro her shopping expeditions with my sister.She then eats junk all day and is sick.However,I have come to realize its the dementia,and I am not angry at her.She would never do this in her younger days,well most of it,lol.You need more time for you,out of the house,or maybe get her out so you can be alone:) My sister is supposed to be helping me and she has not been giving me any time alone.We all need it! Big hugs to you
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No, they don't want to see me or anyone else. That would be fun if they did. My brother visited two weeks ago and my niece went yesterday. . .all I hear on the phone is "we're glad they're gone", so I suspect they are happy when I leave, too! Many conversations have been made about moving them closer, but where I live it would cost them 3x's what they are paying now and financially that is out of the question. They did live 45 minutes away from me and 10 minutes away from my brother, but my step-mother had a dispute with my sister-in-law so they sold their home and moved 300 miles away from all of us! All you have said would be excellent advise in a normal situation. My brother was going to visit them one month, then I was going the next. It costs me $700 everytime. . .so that is off the chart. Gas, hotel, food. . .money that I don't have every other month and neither does my brother. I know there is no answer, just happy that I have somewhere to vent my issues.
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Oh wow, Peg - sorry to hear about that! You definitely have your plate full, don't you? I don't suppose there are any family members that live closer to them that can check up on them once in awhile for you? I don't know what type of retirement village they are in, but near us the only senior apartment-type complexes are all in name only - the only qualifications are that you have to be 55+ to live in one, and self-sufficient/independent. They don't offer any help beyond providing housing. It sounds like an assisted living complex would be better for them & would provide you with more peace of mind. I suspect they just want to see you, so they "create" issues that force you to drive down there & visit with them? Other than encouraging them to either move closer to you, or into an assisted living facility is about all you can do. Maybe have a standing date with them would help alleviate their drama (the 3rd weekend of every month, etc.)? good luck!
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Well, I was looking for someone that understood what I am going thru and WHAMMO. . .there you are! I have an elderly father and step-mother that live in a retirement village. They can go on to assisted living, then to skilled nursing. No, they want to wallow in self-pity and send me running 300 miles. I contact the head office to see what the guidelines are/and liability on their part to continue living in their apartment. The problem is - they "fake" many ailments for attention. . .a perfectly good wheel chair is in the second bedroom - unused, but so needed that it was imperative to be purchased. Now my step-mother only uses it when they are in the facility. Most of their problems are real, but we are having difficulty determining when a 300 mile trip is to be made or if a day should pass before we pack and rush down the highway. They need friendships, etc., but isolate themselves. I feel that the retirement center should have some responsibility in encouraging them out of their apartment. . .if they can't, what can I do from afar? I call them - find out the social scene - tell them to take a nice walk in the sunshine or join in activities (such as the great gym four doors down), give them a new recipe (because their eating habits are terrible), and pray they attend church services! I don't get anywhere except a headache and more problems than I can face. I am also the sole caregiver to my husband that has Alzheimer's! Double whammy!
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@Imabarbiegirl, Welcome! That's exactly what this site is for! This is about the only place where you can ask for advice on things you never thought you'd be asking for advice on, vent your frustrations and say what is on your mind and no one (usually) will judge because we've all been through the same or similar situations. Everyone has a different level of tolerance when dealing with caregiving for a parent, and I have found out mine is fairly low compared to some of the saints on this board (and I mean that in the most respectful way possible...they are saints for putting up with and handling what they do!) I do get frustrated easily and have never been good at keeping a lid on my emotions (I'm italian..what can i say? lol) but I am trying to get better at it. There are days I bite my tongue so often it should be bleeding, and others where I think "well that wasn't so bad...why can't more days be like this?" I guess the best word that describes caregiving in my opinion is "rollercoaster" - you just never know from day to day which way it's going to turn or whether you're going up or down, but you hang on for dear life and try to survive the ride! :)
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Purplesushi & Wits end...Today was the first day I actually opened up this site in my email. You are both life savers!!! I have been a caregiver for my mother for 2 years now after my best friend my Dad passed. I moved my husband and 2 teens into my mom's house to keep her happy and comfortable. I have had many pity parties for 1!! in last 2 years. I can relate to practically every thing you have mentioned. I'm not ALONE!! I guess I need to tune in here more often for some support. Reading some of the other threads even made me chuckle a little yet some brought me to tears. I knew it wouldn't be easy...but never imagined it would be like this. She is 84 with Parkinson's but basically healthy in ever other aspect. I was always closer to my Dad being only daughter of 2 children. Mom was always very critical of me all my life...has not changed. And I love who ever said if they do try and go out for some "me" time you end up paying for it when you get home! My husband is a Saint and has more patience with her and situation then I do! My children have adapted better then I thought they would. I will be checking this site daily for some inspiration and comaradery:) Thank you:)
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You might want to pick your battles. Some things, like physical therapy, are more important than others (like bleach on the clothes).

When I start acting ratty because my elderly handicapped mother is bothering me, I try to change my own reactions to her actions. At some point I just have to accept the reality of the situation (the deafness, the confusion, the exhaustion, the endless doctor's appointments, the poop) because my goal is to lead a happy useful and fulfilling life and to provide my mother with the best and happiest, healthiest life possible as well. This doesn't include too many arguments and strife and hard feelings. I'd like to preserve the cordiality of my home.

The most trivial example is that I will say something, and she says "What?" and I say it again, and get the same reaction, and after a while I get the impression she really isn't trying very hard to hear me and I raise my voice, and she looks so offended and says "Well, you don't have to yell at me..." and this goes on every day. I say "You're going deaf, and you can't hear me, so of course I have to raise my voice" and she says....well, it goes on and on. You get the picture.

So I am trying to find an alternative to getting frustrated. Because they say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results... Perhaps instead of repeating myself I will take a deep breath, look her right in the face, smile and repeat myself gently while she is looking at me (instead of staring at the floor, or having her eyes closed, or looking in the other direction.

It's worth a try.
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SUSHI:

The reason our parents push our buttons so easily is because they installed them. They know exactly where they are and what it takes to make us flip at the drop of a hat.

Needy people = entrapment, and it sounds like you are a prisoner in your own home because you've allowed her to rent space in your head and take over your house.

As gently as you can, let her know who's in charge and that she needs to "get with the program" lest other living arrangements are made. ... You're certainly nobody's doormat.
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@papadoc (and everyone else!) - thank you so much for your response. I was at my wits end the day I posted that question (obviously...haha) and things have calmed down since then. I have had a LONG talk with her about her laundry issues as that has been one of the biggest sources of frustration for me. She has been a lot better about rinsing things out when needed and before I put any of her clothes into the washer I will ask if there are any "surprises" in the basket for me I should be aware of. If she says no, and I find out otherwise, I bring the article(s) of clothing back in & ask her to take care of it. So far that has only happened twice.
I still have issues with her going against orders and doing things she shouldn't be doing as far as her hip recovery goes. I spoke to her orthopedist about it, and he said "all we can do is suggest she follow the precautions, we can't force her to follow them - the responsibility lies with her at this point." I told him that if it happens again, to please know that I have done everything in my power to prevent it - she's just not working with me. He said "I understand completely - I have to say that your mother is one of my more challenging patients" haha! Challenging..I like that word. Needless to say, I am learning to choose my battles and trying really hard to take a deep breath before arguing with her over the "big stuff". Thanks for the suggestions.
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