I have come to the point where I just want to withdraw from 99% of responsibility for helping to take care of my mother.


My mother is 86 and still lives in her own home. She is very hearing impaired but refuses to admit it and get hearing aids. It's agony trying to talk to her on the phone, so I've almost given up. She refuses to allow anyone to clean and de-clutter her house even though it is a safety hazard. Every time I try to have a conversation with her on the phone, I end it after about one minute because otherwise it will become a screaming event - she is verbally abusive to me (to put it mildly) - and I will end it by hanging up on her. Ten minutes later, she acts like nothing happened and I'm still in the turmoil of hurt feelings and rocketing blood pressure. I'm 67 and I do not want to continue to subject myself to this stress. A few months ago, I thought I was going to have a stroke or heart attack due to the stress. I do have one sibling, brother, and he drives my mother to some medical appointments and to the grocery store or walmart. I take her to most of her doctor appointments. I have decided to stop making even simple suggestions that might help keep her safe and able to continue to live in her home. Every suggestion is met with defensive remarks about how she's managing just fine. All of her defensive statements to me are in a shrill, sometimes screaming, voice. She sometimes screams "okay, mama!" I want to stop communicating with her. And, so, I'm feeling very guilty about it. What has anyone else done in this situation?

This discussion has been closed for comment. Start a New Discussion.


Thank you everyone for your comments and suggestions! I will try some of the strategies you suggested. It's heart-wrenching to see my own mother living like this and to be essentially helpless to change it.

My mom is now in the final stages of dementia but when she began the whole telling at me and being very abusive (verbally), I asked her doctor to put her on Celexa. It worked wonders!! She's still impossible to please but at least she complains a lot nicer. I hope you find some answers.

I don't know the answer for you but I do know that when my mom (who is now in the final stages of dementia) started yelling at me and being very abusive verbally, I asked her doctor to put her on Celexa. It worked wonders! There's still no pleasing her but at least she complains in a lot nicer way. I hope you find the answers.

Dear guiltandanger,

I am so sorry to hear what you are going through. At 67 years old, you have already given a lot of time and effort to your mother. I know its not easy. I can see why you would want to back away. I grew up wanting to please my parents but sometimes even the most patient person gets terribly burned out being the good son or daughter.

I hope you will talk to your brother about your level of frustration and need for respite. You do have to put your own mental and physical well being first. It might be time to call in Adult Protective Services or have your mother moved into Assisted Living or a nursing home. Of course you want your mother to be safe, so hopefully your brother can broach the topic with her and ensure she has the proper care.

Thinking of you and hope you can find an option that reduces your stress.

I know that my housebound mother's world has narrowed, but it's by her own choice. Unless it involves her health and safety (we made her condo association make her front step -- sidewalk had settled -- up to code, we made them put a curb cut at the cluster mailboxes and we made them deal with a plumbing issue involving a broken pipe), I am trying not to involve myself in her silly crusades. It's bad enough that I have to hear about them!

I DON'T have "care" of my mother, but your post resonates with me.

She occasionally wants me to call someone to chew them out about something--a catalog that she ordered from and isn't happy with their product--her paper didn't come, her mail is mishandled. The list is endless.

Mostly I listen to her vent. If it's a problem that I CAN, in fact, deal with for her, I ASK MY BROTHER first (he has control of her) and if he lets me, I deal with the problem at hand.

It's always kind of silly and small, but to her, it's huge. I try to respect that her life is very compromised and "small" and to her these issues are big. I am glad she's not mad at the president or someone in "power", that I simply won't do.

guiltandanger, I hear you (no pun intended) about the frustration of trying to communicate with a mother who has hearing problems (and won't do anything about them). I have to repeat Every. Darned. Thing to my mother.

My mother is 91, and lives alone (in a one-story condo) about 7 minutes from me. Atrial fibrillation, blind in one eye, very poor balance, neuropathy in her feet, hard of hearing, and her reasoning is going. I am her Dummy Driver Daughter. 

She obsesses about things. Her main crusade is against Big Pharma-caused Vitamin B6 toxicity. She's convinced she had it (she didn't), and now she is waging war against the makers of Centrum Silver. She has talked to the FDA, NIH, med malpractice attorney, state medical board and a local medical school. She filed a FOIA request from the FDA, and she has no idea what she's doing. She is convinced that the FDA and NIH are going to force the pharmaceutical companies to change their vitamin formulations on HER orders. !?!?! She called the FDA again last week, and they told her they will "open an investigation." (I'm sure it will be an open-and-shut investigation.) She wanted me to email her "documentation" to the FDA. I balked, and she started the crying (and I'm sure shaking, although I didn't see it since this was over the phone) routine, calling me a "nasty person," that I owed her, that I didn't do much at all for her, etc. I caved and said I would do ONE mail, and that was it. She decided to give me $20. Yes, I took it. I wasn't going to ask for it, but maybe this $20 will discourage her from asking me to do this sort of thing again. And if I hadn't taken the $20, she might have tried to do get me to do more.

They are going to want her Centrum vitamin bottles at some point. She thinks the FDA will send someone to her door to get them (good luck with that, Mom....even if they come to the door you will never hear the doorbell ring!). I'm sure she will be instructed to mail them. If this is the case, I will drive her to the post office, and she can wait on that line and deal with the rude clerks. It will be during a day and time when we are already out and about. 

Oh, and my mother said her hearing is going, and that it happens to everyone. And to wait until I am 91! She refuses to consider hearing aids.

I can imagine how well these telephone conversations go during her crusades...

She's also hot about the USPS not delivering to her (approved) doorside mailbox instead of a cluster mailbox during the last week or so. One of her senators will be getting a call about THAT (might have already happened).

I completely understand with the frustration. It's not easy, thats for sure!

Detach. Detach. Detach. Reduce contact with her. Especially reduce contact where you are trying to get her to do something she doesn't want to do.

You certainly don't have to tolerate her verbal abuse. "I'll come back when you are feeling less upset, Mother."

I'm 72 and getting used to hearing aides. It is MUCH harder than I expected. I'm not at all confident that someone 86 and perhaps somewhat cognitively impaired would be successful. I have no experience with them, but I know there are phones available for the hearing-impaired. I wonder if that would be a better option to try?

Sometimes what feels like guilt is actually the conflict within you between feeling like you should be taking care of your mom, and wanting to protect yourself from the nastiness. If your nature is to be nurturing, then it's very difficult to accept a need to pull back. Cm's advice above is pretty solid.

This discussion has been closed for comment. Start a New Discussion.