My mother was a mean spirited, controlling, spiteful woman all her life. When she hit 70 (she's 82 now), she got it in her head that now that she was old, she could take off the gloves & behave anyway she liked. If someone didn't like it....she would just say she was an old woman. That is supposed to make everyone over look anything she does or says. It's her "get out of jail free" card. She should automatically be forgiven because she's old. God knows I've tried to forgive & overlook her behavior because I'm the only person on this earth who will care for her. She has perfected the art of putting on that "sweet innocent old woman" mask for her doctor, the nurses, her brother & sister...but once she gets in private...the mask comes off & she is once again nasty. No one believes me when I tell them what she's really like. She's getting careless lately about letting that mask slip. Still no one wants to help me. Most people now simply avoid her. Yet, they still want to criticize me, give me advice...but no help. She has no idea how close she is to be thrown into a nursing home. Why must I endure this? She sits all day & complains about her life. She names off the people that she feels has disappointed her or abused her (my name is always in the former category) & she wails about why God has punished her by allowing her to live this long & to be stuck in a family full of losers. No matter what I do for her, she tells her brother & sister on their daily phone calls how I never do anything for her. She will be eating her lunch when she calls them & I will hear her tell them how I haven't fed her in 2 days. She went to the doctor 3 weeks ago, yet I heard her tell her sister that she hasn't been to the doctor in over 2 years because I am too lazy & mean to take her. I have shipped her off to another state to spend the winter with my son & nephew. They called me last night from their car. She had them to the point of nervous breakdowns with her constant criticisms, negative comments, telling them they were losers & would never amount to anything & saying how their parents were too. They stayed in their car in subzero temperatures for nearly 5 hours until they saw her bedroom light go off because they were afraid of what they might say or do if they stayed in there with her. These two boys were the only people she ever appeared to like & now she's burned that bridge too. Looks like that experiment failed & I will have her back next week. This is pure hell. And before anyone says, "she might be sick", I have had her checked from head to toe. I have spoken privately with her doctor. His response? There is no magic pill on the market that can turn a mean person into a loving person. She is what she is....and I am stuck with her. Am I the only person with this problem?? I honestly feel as if I am. I see people my age with their parents in stores, at the doctor, out & about. They smile & share laughter. There appears to be such a loving relationship....then I come home to this....it's more than I can bear.
I was home on break and decided that for the next week, I'd just say "yes mamma" to everything. I saw no friends, didn't got out, didn't do anything or wear anything except for what mamma wanted. I realized that I could live that way no more than I could live the other way with non-stop yelling, squabbling, fight-picking, throwing, stomping, and more childishness than you'd see from an actual child.
As people age, their personality is exaggerated, and I have pretty much always known that our time together needs to be limited to not more than about an hour.
I got that confirmed when her apartment wasn't ready in time, and she had to live with me & my family for about a month. It was the longest, most tortuous "brief stay" I've ever been through. At least this time I had my husband and kids on my side. She pulled some real stunts though. Faking a fall, faking a stroke, and faking immobility because her PJs were still in the dryer.
Even after she moved into her own IL place, she was just as demanding and rude. Drive me here, take me there, etc. "I don't care if you are at work!" and so on. I had to erect some new boundaries to protect myself and stop being her pet sheep. I was an emotional basket case.
The kind (and firm) folks here helped me understand that I am not a doormat. I can make changes that help myself. It does not have to be 100% momma's way or the highway. I'm not a child, so I get to make adult decisions about my life and if she didn't like it, she could lump it. I don't need to feel in the wrong for meeting my life obligations, spending time with my family, or even sitting on my butt doing not a doggone thing for an afternoon.
I am in a very fortunate situation in that we found a spot in a good place for her, she has been able to maintain private pay for the first two years (some how) and only recently went on medical assistance. She has moved from IL to full time nursing care, into the dementia ward, and now in hospice. All under the same roof. Yes, it's expensive, but it's not my money. And it's worth every penny to me. I can't imagine what a hellish nightmare it would be to try to have this woman in my house. I won't make myself, my husband, or children live in her dementia world with her.
Mom is clean, fed, given her meds, and they try to include her in activities even though she either refuses or acts up when she gets there. She is visited throughout the day by different people for different reasons. Some staff, some hospice, some medical. There's a good team of people there and I always tell them how much their care means to me.
Look beyond the mean.
Sometimes this behavioral change can mean there has been cognitive decline.
It's the same reason teenagers are so ____ rude and say provocative things.
Their frontal lobe is not complete, and that is where your social filter, appropriate language & behavior, and "good sense" comes from. With elders in decline, it's degenerating.
So if you look at it as a medical neon blinking sign of mental change, it's easier to not take it personally. Diabetes and dementia can go together like chocolate & peanut butter. One does not help the other any.
Have her seen by a neurologist and a dementia specialist for evaluation.
I will also say at the same time that you are not a doormat or the whipping post.
I would have to tell my mother that she was being mean and offensive, and that if she was going to be rude and "ugly" I was leaving - this is your warning. When she continued, I left. I went to leaving my purse, coat, everything in the trunk of the car so I could make a hasty exit if I needed to. My car keys clipped to a belt loop on my pants.
This was a phase that passed. But at the same time, she does take an anti-psychosis pill and Prozac to keep the paranoia, anger, and combativeness down.
When things get to this point, you have to take steps to put literal physical space between you. You can't hold up in an abusive environment, regardless of the cause. It will get to you and it will grind you down to a nub.
If she's just in AL and doesn't require skilled nursing, maybe she needs the diversion of going to a day program. Maybe you need to cut back on number of visits to get your sea legs back. You have to protect yourself because nobody else is going to.
My mom was not one for lectures or explanations, but she could convey a lot in a short phrase. Whenever there was something in the paper or on tv about a wife beater she would shake her head and say, "I'd like to see the man who would hit me twice!" As an adult I know that those situations can be very complicated, but her message was not only to her sons, that beating your wife was totally unacceptable, but to her daughters that accepting abuse was not what she expected of us.
You really, really, don't have to continue to accept your mother's constant abuse. Really. If you'd had my swell mom giving you lessons in childhood, you'd know that!
No! You do NOT have to forgive and quietly take everything she dishes out. Old age does give her some passes. If she is slow in her movements or comprehension, be patient. If her hearing or vision decline, be patient and help her find medical solutions if any are available. If she loses interest in some things she used to like, don't nag her.
But old age as an excuse for mean behavior? No, no, no.
It's all well and good to say "lay down the law" with this type parent, but that really doesn't actually accomplish anything at all with her sort.
Age and dementia play well into her gaslighting. Now she invents the facts and gets very angry when I don't go with her facts. We had an event last night where she told me I was lucky she took me in when I had nowhere else to go. I reminded her she had asked me for years to help them. She denied she ever did. And I honestly think she may not remember, because it would hurt her pride if she did. So she rewrote the story or me as the needy urchin child. So my reality again was denied and again things became my fault.
Sometimes I think it would be easier to deal with someone who came after me with rocks or knives than someone who uses passive-aggressive techniques such as gaslighting. Gaslighting works on your self esteem and sanity. If I didn't know what she was doing I would be a mess.
My mother has fairly advanced VaD, but doesn't need a nursing home yet. It is tempting to walk away, but it would create a huge mess if I did. I do have to admit that it is hard to stay and that I won't mind it when the end comes. I just hope I have a few good years left.
I do have to admit that I had a thought of what a title of the book of my life would be. Don't Do What I Did came to mind right away.
Though they'd never spoken, she hated the lady next door and always referred to her as "old fancy pants". One day I rounded on her for an explanation and got "Well, she should have offered to help me". I replied she sees you dressed to the nines, walking the dog, going shopping in your car - you don't look like you need help. Her answer was "because I'm old".
The lady was a school teacher and, while I cared for Mommie Dearest ("MD"), she retired and in walking my own dog, she and I waved. I heard from a neighbour that she'd developed breast cancer and popped a note in her mail box saying if I could help at all let me know. Along with friends and relatives, I drove her to chemo occasionally. First time I took MD's car as my van was a bit dog hairy. I got "She's got a damned nerve using MY car". After that we took the van and I got "She's got a damned nerve calling you to run her around" ... I had my own phone line in the cold gloomy basement where I lived so MD had no idea who called me or for what, but you see it was all about her, had been all about her life long and screw everyone else. When the lady passed away I went to the remembrance service, taking an elderly neighbour with me. MD refused to go "Just tell them I'm not feeling well". She wouldn't lift a finger to help her own parents when they were very old "too much trouble, can't be bothered" and wouldn't associate with anyone unless there was something in it for her.
She continued her ways for the three years she was in a nursing home, hated everyone, though she did try to cozy up to the male residents which got her nowhere much to her horror, then she despised them as well. One funny story - I was visiting one day and a male aide came into the room. Alan was a lovely young man and he was telling us what he and his BOYFRIEND were doing for Christmas, while MD lay in her bed and batted her eyelashes at him. I don't know how I kept a straight face.
Having abused me life long and eventually driving me close to a nervous breakdown, MD passed in September. There is no other family and she'd burned so many bridges she had no friends so she died alone. Even people who she had known, when advised of her passing, never asked if there would be a service or something ... no-one cared and I personally was very grateful she was gone.
Get her into a nursing home and let the staff care for her and tolerate her. After all, after 8 hours they get to go home to peace and sanity ... caregivers 24/7 never do.
I like Carla's suggestion of having a frank talk with her, although I suspect she'll pout and get angry. At least try to let her know her attitude is not acceptable and if it doesn't change she'll be living someplace else.
In the meantime, start researching local facilities, interviewing, even bringing home brochures for her to look at to let her know you're serious. It seems cruel, but it isn't as cruel as the way she's treating you and your family.
You don't mention assets; does she have sufficient funds to pay for AL or IL?
You can't make her into a loving person, but you might be able to force her to contain herself somewhat. You can stop her in her tracks and tell her you're not lifting another finger for her until she apologizes or retracts what she just said. You can remind her that you're taking care of her out of the goodness of your heart and she's be totally sunk if she succeeded in destroying the goodness of your heart. You can actually consider putting her in a nursing home if she's eligible for one, or forcing her to spend her money for paid care if she has any.
Bottom line is, she holds all the cards right now because you're not using the power that you have. You don't absolutely have to take care of her. You should know that and she should know that. It's up to you to make that count for something. If she wants your help, she needs to control her abusive comments and attitude. You're not a slave. You're not obligated to care for her no matter how badly you're treated.
As for the happy pairs you see in public, remember you're only seeing them in public. My mother and I appear to get along well in public also, Behind closed doors it's quite another matter. It may be so for many of the others that you see.