Disconnected with mom. Any suggestions on how I can change my attitude?


My mom has the beginnings of dementia. I don’t know what stage. All I know is this woman living with me is someone I can’t relate to. She has been here almost five years. I was told she wouldn’t make it until Christmas and she’s still here at 92. She weighs 85 pounds. Has COPD and Celiacs Disease. I started her out in my living room, then moved all my dining room out for her to have that room. Now she is up in what use to be my sewing room. I don’t have a downstairs bedroom. My husband is her cook. I’m her maid, ha! My daughter comes and plays scrabble with her weekly. Between the three of us I believe she is getting excellent care. My question is I don’t like interacting with her. We barely speak and I know it is because I’ve taken over as her Trustee at her request. That means she can no longer give money to my brother. It seems as if I am a broken record when I post so I apologize for that. I don’t want to be sorry when she dies because I wasn’t a better daughter. I don’t want to be relieved when she passes. She talks to everyone else so pleasantly (on the phone as no one else comes to see her in the family). Any suggestions on how I can change my attitude?



Patticake2, my mother passed away 2 weeks ago.i often asked her about her favorite memories. She also had none! I found it so upsetting! She only talked about her terrible father whom she hated. I asked her what about all the beautiful gardens she had made, the house she had designed and built, ( never mind us children ) and she just shook her head.
I also had a barrier up with her, I think it was because she was negative, and there was only so much I could take.
Now that she has gone, the fact that she couldn’t recall anything positive and good, is even worse.
So maybe that’s your protection.

blannie thank you for your kind words. The way each one of you understand the care giving issues is such a comfort. I talk to my husband and daughter, but it is this group that always gets me back on track.

Patticake you ARE the trusted daughter. I think often parents want to save their wayward children or help the children with disabilities so that their other accomplished children get short shrift in terms of time and care. It speaks to what a great daughter you were. Your mom didn't have to worry about you. And most moms are moms until the day they die. My mom would fuss at me about being out after dark (I'm 67) or ask if I needed a coat or needed more light when I read. So if a parent has a child with issues, I imagine that need to rescue/save that child or children goes on until the end.

You sound like a wonderful, caring daughter and you should be proud of what you're doing for your mom.

I can relate to what you're saying, though for different reasons. Sometimes, when I hear other people talk about my mom, I wonder if it's the same person that I know. It's like the rest of the world knows one woman and I got the other one. lol Long story, but, I deal with it. I mean.....what's the alternative? I try to look on the bright side and not focus on the other. And, mine doesn't have dementia. If she did, I might be more able to understand.

Still, with the dementia, you pretty much have to REALLY lower your expectations. I think that a lot of the reasoning, judgment, manners and just what is fair get erased from their brain. It's not fair, but, it happens, sadly. Sometimes, I just pretend that things are different in my mind. I just get a very cheery attitude and set about the day to make it happy, joyous and loving. Sometimes, it works. lol I hope you can find some solace and know that if she didn't have dementia, she'd might just sit down and thank you from the bottom of her heart for your good handling of her finances or not. I've found that certain people in my family get the special treatment from my parents......always a sob story that they buy hook, line and sinker. So, I just do what I know is right and sometimes, that's all we can do. I find some solace in that.

Jeannegibbs Thank you so much for that reponse. It helped a lot. I am going to think of that when I am down. I am a trusted daughter.

Patti, I'm not sure if it is any consolation, but some of Mom's behavior is typical of dementia, and not necessarily specifically directed at you.

For example, my mother had very bad short-term memory problems, as many do with dementia, and she also had trouble with memories of the past. For example, I once asked her if they churned butter on the farm while she was growing up. She said, "well, I suppose we did. That is what people did then."

I doubt that my mother would have been able to give any of us children a special memory about our childhood. No one asked her. Instead we shared our special memories with her, especially the funny ones. "Ma, I was thinking on the way over here of the time Roger painted the cat. Poor cat! But when you went after it with a towel ..." or "You were a good cook, Ma, but some of your most memorable meals didn't turn out so well. I remember the time you dyed the gravy ..." None of us felt bad about our relationships with mother, and she had warm feelings about us, but she really couldn't remember much of the past.

Do you share some of your special childhood memories? (BTW, my ma could never remember the stories but she enjoyed hearing them!)

Bringing that up makes me wonder if your unsatisfactory relationship with your mom goes back to childhood. Do you think you were neglected in favor of the more difficult children?

In her right mind, your mother obviously trusted you and valued your competence, when she stepped aside so you could be trustee. There must have been some period there where you were viewed as the good daughter. 

I wonder if seeing a therapist about your disappointment in your relationship would help you?

I will try and make sense of this. My mom was being financial abused by my brother for years before she made her Trust. She was in sound mind then and made me Trustee. (She asked the lawyer if she could not have any responsibilities so the lawyer had her step down and have me take her place and my daughter is co Trustee.) Mom knew her dementia would get worse so she wanted things in place. She thought though that I would continue to give my brother money. I made a plan with her to wean him off of his “allowance”. I have followed the plan and now she still wants to give him money. He is a mooch and could work if he wanted to. At one point he had more of an income than my mom since she was giving him so much.
Now there is tension because as jeannegibbs said her mind is broken and she doesn’t remember the plan or even care that when her money is gone I still take care of her. My brother will not come and see her and stops calling unless she sends him cash in the mail (she has a stash somewhere in her room). The reason I find it hard to talk to her is she either wants me to send money, complains about her living here, and never wants to talk to me as a loving daughter but as the person who is ‘in control’. I’ll give you an example ... Mom, would you tell me some special memories you have as me as a child? She says I have none. I say ok mom I’ll let you think about it and ask you tomorrow. Tomorrow comes and she says nope have none.
Now, I was a good child, didn’t get in trouble, honor roll student and voted queen of my school. My sister was a run around, bad grades and always in trouble. My brother was a pot head fron 8 th grade.
I guess this all sounds stupid and petty. I just would like to not feel bad about my relationship with my mom before she dies. But I guess it’s too late.
Thank you for each answer. Each different and yet each one made sense. I always feel better talking in this special place.

Oh sister, I will be relieved when my Mom passes and I am being the best daughter in the world, since I am her only one. She is 90. That was/is her on-going joke when she would tell others I was her favorite daughter. She thought that was so damned funny. She is being a s***. I won't tolerate it. She has been here less than a year, our rent is too expensive, she keeps handing out cash to grandkids and not paying her rent to me, so we end the lease this June and she is gone. I flat out will not live with her. It is like living with her old mean Dad, and Grampa was nasty to the dog too. Won't tolerate it.
There is a really cool faithful quantum physicist by the name of Caroline Leaf who taught me that I am the one to make myself feel guilty, mad, sad, etc. If someone says or does something to you, you can reject feelings that are not healthy instead of allowing them and re-thinking them and having seeds grow into trees in your brain. Don't let old steroetypes and "ways" convince you you are doing bad. you have free-will choice and if others don't like it they can lump it! I am on your side and don't make yourself feel bad. I'm not even giving it a solid year...LOL!!

CM, did you notice that Mom has dementia? She doesn't need a rational, logical "reason" to be mean. You are right that she shouldn't be mean because her daughter is following her instructions, but when has that ever stopped someone with dementia?

Patti, does your mother specifically say that she is mad because she can't give money to your brother? Or is that your interpretation? If you read posts here you will see that many loved ones are "mean" to their caregivers without even a semi-logical excuse. They just lash out at someone who they are confident will continue to love them/care for them even if they show their nasty side. And goodness knows, they have a lot to be frustrated, angry, anxious, and nasty about.

Like most caregivers, you have plenty of reasons to be unhappy, too. You are exhausting yourself and going out of your way to try to give her a comfortable environment. And instead of appreciation, you get meanness! Grrrr ...

What helped me was recognizing that my loved one's brain was broken. I could no longer expect him to behave as he had in the past. If your mom is just beginning the dementia journey it might help you to learn as much as you can about the disease. Then it should be easier to blame the true source of the meanness -- the disease, not your dear mother.

I'm confused.

You're barely on speaking terms. You say the reason for this is that you have *done as she asked* and taken over as Trustee. And/but this means that your brother can no longer exploit her. But a) she asked you to; and b) she no longer has to choose between giving your brother money she can't afford or being mean to him - you've relieved her of that. So why should this mean she isn't speaking to you?

Or are you just so uncomfortable about this that you avoid her - in which case it's more that you're not speaking to her than vice versa, isn't it?

Help me with this - can you pinpoint where the blockage in communication is, exactly, do you think?