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My father died 18yrs ago and since then I've been taking care of my mom financially (she's been living with me all this time)…and she's driving me crazy. Today she asked me to take pictures of the decorations around the house, I asked her to give me a break since I had just woken up and was starting to pay the bills. Well, she got mad and took down all the decorations in the house and started crying…she's been diagnosed with anxiety and depression but never wants to be on medication.

She constantly makes me feel guilty…today she even said that if these were her final Christmas that she hoped I felt bad because I had ruined them for her. She feels that since we are each others only family and that she's my mom that I have to drop everything to do whatever she wants and when I don't she becomes upset…that I do more favors for other people, like my friends, than I do for her. Anything can set her off and then she spends days in that mood. I feel that I don't have anyone to talk to…I don't want my friends to think she's a bitch if I share with them every time she does something that upsets me.

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I went through a caregiving situation similar to what I am hearing from you all. I cared for and lived with a family member who I think had narcissistic personality disorder and was a lifelong sociopath. It was tough because these unhealthy aspects were patterns set decades ago when I was a child, and those sort of patterns are really hard to break.

I firmly believe, unless the person has dementia, the only way to make it "better" is to stand up for yourself. Stop apologizing, stop letting them tell you what you should think and how you should live, and stop letting them set the tone of every interaction.

Standing up for yourself as adult doesn't mean being a bully or being overly harsh; it means doing what you have to do, even if it's hard. For me, I took some time to really think about what I was no longer willing to tolerate, and when I had my thoughts in order, I sat down and said what I had to say. Don't leave the topic open for discussion, just say your part and that's it.

A few words of warning, however: don't say things you don't mean to follow through with, that just undermines your authority. Also, be prepared for outsiders and family members who aren't involved in the caregiving to hear the other side of the story, which will probably include distortions if not outright lies about what you say.

People will, sadly, treat you the way you let them many times. Good luck, I hope you all find some peace and relief in your situations.
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Well I had a real horrid weekend, my dad 88 was mean, and intolerable to me and my mom 86 is demanding me to do things every 10 minutes. My father refuse in care help with showering, my mom is so worried about spending a penny yet she can't do anything but berade me, insult me and get my dad yelling at me. Just venting. Need to let it out because I don't want to go crazy. Anyone have some suggestions I certainly will listen.Thanks
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Welcome to the club. I'm halfway's crazy already from dealing this this crap. It's a curse that many have to deal with. I wish it on no one.
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You have all help me feel better that I am not the only one, I will be coming on just so that I keep my sanity. My mom has been so cruel and mean saying I hate her, that I want her dead just because she doesn't get her way and won't help herself get well.
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Onmyown, first of all, big hug. Your living situation is no fun for you. And your family situation, there being just the one of you, and just the one of your mother, isn't so great either. Though having said that siblings aren't necessarily all they're cracked up to be…

I'm not surprised your mother's driving you round the bend. There's another lovely lady on the forum too who loves her mother to pieces but is exhausted by her need for constant attention, even though that attention is positive. Having any person being emotionally entirely dependent on you is so, so wearing. You feel responsible for making her happy, but how on earth can you do that? Responsibility without power… not something to be wished on anyone.

Warning: there is a 'but' coming. Here it is. The saddest part of this problem isn't the guilt you (or I) feel, or our natural impatience with someone who seems not to want to help herself. The saddest part is the way your mother is feeling. She's afraid, she's lonely, things she used to enjoy (Christmas and all the trimmings, e.g.) lie in ruins, literally - and yes, whose fault is that?! But they still do. Her landscape is pretty bleak, and the only bright part in it (yes that's you) is (from her point of view) trying to get away.

I don't mean you're not absolutely right to take steps to have some life of your own. I agree that you certainly should, it will make you a happier person and a better caregiver; and I'm trying myself to make some moves towards doing that. But meanwhile, what sort of thing can you do to comfort and reassure your mother? She desperately needs to feel loved. Not just looked after as in not homeless, but actively loved. Don't we all?

After the life she's had, I don't think I will ever succeed in making my mother believe that she is important, that her wishes matter, and that I and everyone she knows well love her. But after things got to a really low point for her this time last year, and a terribly low point for me this summer, I'm now working every day on making her feel more secure. My goodness this forum certainly helps me with that, too.

Carry on the good work of building your own friendships, networks, life outside home, that's really important. But instead of - I don't know how to put it, in my own case it felt like trying to hide away from my mother, trying constantly just to get away from her for a short time, get some relief from her misery. Anyway, instead of that, however you'd put it yourself, when you are with her, be extra loving. A quick hug instead of a cross word, even if the cross word is a completely natural reaction. "Give me two minutes and I'll be with you" rather than "For God's sake, does it have to be NOW?" That kind of thing.

I expect you're already a lot better at coping with your mother than I was earlier this year (you couldn't be much worse), but maybe you can think of some of responses that could be kinder than your first reaction to how she behaves?

Medications can/do help - SSRIs, once they start working, really do work especially on the disproportionate anxiety. But your mother's problem isn't all in her head. She does have real things to be depressed and anxious about that the meds can't cure. Cuddles can help those, if she's the cuddly type, or whatever equivalent form of sympathy suits her personality. I really hope things start improving for both of you very soon.
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She sounds more bi-polar and narcissistic than just "anxiety" or "depression" - whether she is your mother or not, she does not have the right to treat you the way she is treating you, and you do NOT have to put up with it.
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Don't share it to anyone that can't even solve your problem. Talk to an expert to help you with your mother's problem. That ain't easy, I know. You always carry the guilt but you shouldn't have to! You have to do something to start her medication right away!

and you deserve a hug for sharing this.
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Taking DOWN the decorations you worked hard to put up before it is even Christmas strikes me as almost unbearably cruel. Unless she was confused and thought Christmas was over already...see if she realizes what she did or not, not to berate her but to try to find out if she was just being mean in which case limits have to be set, versus losing her concept of time. And, maybe she would be willing to put them back up, maybe she would grasp the emotional blow to you was not something she should have inflicted. My mom could be almost that harsh sometimes, someone would send a card or photo and she would want it thrown away, she would not even want me to keep it if I wanted it.
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Sounds like you would benefit the most at this time going to talk to a good therapist, 18 years is a long time to be playing this game.
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blannie, you are correct…my mom has always been a handful, it was just easier when my dad was alive. Even her brother and sisters and nephews find her difficult…she has offended some of them when we have gone back to Puerto Rico on vacation. We are a latin family and having your children live at home till they are married is not uncommon…as well as having a multi-generation home but my mom being a handful has never made it easy on me. I have gone to christian counselors, and would love it if she would go with me so that we could get counseling together but she would never discuss family issues with a stranger. I have set some boundaries over the years, some she does respect others she doesn't, why? because she is my mom and she thinks that that trumps everything else.

I have lived on my own before, I've been a flight attendant for almost 20 years so I have spent a lot of time away from my family. My parents helped me with my 1st apartment. The first 5 years of being a flight attendant are hard, specially financially so when my dad and brother died I was living at home with my family to save some money. After that there was no reason to move out and leave my mom on her own…my family was involved in a car crash, my mom and I survived but my dad and brother didn't. She is partially handicapped so she really can't keep a job and I've tried talking to her about going to church with me, or going to one of those senior centers but it's always NO. I just wish I could find a way to express myself without her taking offense to anything bad I say and for her to also express herself so that I can understand where she's coming from
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It sounds like you're living with a difficult mother who is very dependent on and possessive of you. I wondered if she gets out to mingle with other people. At her age, getting paying job would be difficult, but would she be interested in volunteer work. Or might she be interested in going to a senior center -- maybe even find a man friend there. There is so much she can do.

It can be exasperating to be the only outlet for a person. It is probably worrisome to see you date someone. What would happen to her if you should marry? She may not think this openly, even to herself.

The decoration behavior you described -- my mother does things like this sometimes, though not quite so extreme. It can really raise my blood pressure. I know that it is just temper that comes from feeling out of control in my mother's case. She has a difficult time realizing that I'm not 16 anymore and that I should obey her without question. She gets extremely angry when I do not. I've not found any answers for the behaviors except to wait for the storm to pass. You have my empathy, onmyown.
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Wow. Your mom is 76? This could be going on for another 20 years or more. Are you really prepared for that? Please get some counselling regarding setting boundaries and doing what is right for you.

Depression and anxiety can be serious mental health issues, even without dementia and/or personality disorders. If she is not willing to get help for her health issues you need to learn to deal with them in a way least damaging to you.

Another issue here is that apparently you have never lived on your own. You have always lived with a parent. Is that true? If you are thinking that some day you might want to live with a partner or spouse and possibly even start a family, I think it is very important that you live on your own for a while first. I hope you aren't going to wait 20 years or more to do that.

What does your mother genuinely need from you? Can you provide that without living with her? Seems to me that would be better all the way around if you each could live independently.
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Is there any way she can be involved in something - Elder Day Care or something similar? My MIL refuses to go and yet she tells everyone how much fun her sister has at her ALF playing games and doing things. When older ones are unable to drive and their friends die off and they lose contact and YOU end up being their EVERYTHING - well, it just isn't healthy. We all need friends and social interaction - even your mom. You may have to have a fight and MAKE her try it - she will probably find out it is a pleasure and look forward to it. My MIL calls sittersize classes 'suicide classes' and refuses.

So be it. Thankfully, she has her own apt. and I close the door on her 95% of the time. I have taken MY life back - and I no longer feel bad when she tells friends that she 'sits here day after day and never sees a soul' - I know she is lying, God knows she is lying - hopefully - the friends know she is lying. I can't change her and I will no longer allow her to turn me into a puddle of guilt for not giving my every waking minute to her.

My hubby told her we are 'neighbors' - neighbors don't spend ALL their time together. We are here in case of an emergency and to see that she has what she needs. Bless him. :0)
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I would be concerned about possible dementia if these are new behaviors your mom is showing, but in reading between the lines, it sounds like she's always been a handful.

It's too bad you've never had the opportunity to live on your own without worrying about how living your own life will make your mom react. You have every right to go out with friends and do your own thing. I'm assuming she could be doing things on her own as well (senior center/church activities/friends) but she probably prefers to just sit and home and run the guilt trip on you. Is that right? If it is, then as others have said, it's high time you set some limits and your mom will just have to deal. It's about time she learned to let you have a life apart from her. She's still young enough that she can also have her own separate life. But that's her choice. You don't have to limit your life if she chooses to be miserable. Let her do that on her own. Get some counseling to help you understand how you can set limits and enjoy your own life. You are NOT responsible for your mom's happiness. She is.
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Is her doctor someone who would recognize early dementia? Can you have her evaluated by a geriatric psychiatrist or neurologist? Her behaviors are symptoms not manifestations of a "strong" personality. They are signs of weakness and fear.
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You do need to set boundaries and have your own life. Is there a way you can go to a family counselor? There is no way I could live with my Mom, she has BPD and is so difficult.
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ba8alou…she is 76 and the doctor checked her out and doesn't think her behavior is related to dementia. I talk to her doctor about her behavior and he believes is from her depression (and also her strong personality) but we have tried several medication and she always stops taking them because of one reason or another.

I was 20 when my dad died so it wasn't like they had a home and then she came to live with me. I was still living at home when he died…once dad died the roles then reversed and I became the head of the household, the income provider. We have moved several times because of my job. She always sees her living arrangement as OUR home…she takes it as an offense if I differentiate between MY house instead of OURS. I think the reason she might be "acting out" is because we recently moved closer to a friend of mine and I have been spending more time with my friend and less time with my mom. This also happens when I start a new relationship and spend more time getting to know him than at home with her.
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Does your mom have a diagnosis of dementia, or of a personality disorder? It sounds to me as though she has a serious mental health issue. Knowing this might help you keep things in perspective. As Jeanne says, setting limits is the key here. You need to wait until a time when your mom is calm and in a relatively good mood to have a little talk about the guidelines that come with living in YOUR home.
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Well all the decorations are down including the Xmas tree…she really showed me, huh? I really don't care about the decorations, I know is the only way she can think of to make me feel guilty. I do appreciate everyone input but its like the old saying…you can take a horse to water but you can't make it drink. I've tried all kinds of things but when she's in her moods everything is a confrontation, there is just no reasoning with her. I just try to stay out of her way and say nothing till it all passes over.

I can see her point of view of certain things but she can't ever see mine. I just wish she was more empathetic…only thing I can do is keep praying and have faith in God that someday things might be a little easier. Just finding this website has made me feel better…it allows me to vent without worry.
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I so sympathize, I had posted for first time the other day how my Mom has angry outbursts, first denies they happened and then like a day later twists it to make me feel I am being ridiculous (guilt) because I tell her she can't talk fresh or yell at me. She calls me Monday night (she lives in condo next door to me) once again says something mean and hangs up! I am left shaking as I can't believe her anger ( I am the only one taking care of her for last 6 1/2 years) I won't be treated like this and have not called or spoken to her, I feel so guilty but feel I must put my foot down as the angry outbursts are accelerating.
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Anxiety and Depression are both very real conditions, just like diabetes and high blood pressure. I am sympathetic to people who have any of those 4 things (and many other conditions.) But if you have diabetes, for example, and you refuse to pay attention to your diet and exercise and won't take the pills or shots prescribed for you, then my sympathy is somewhat reduced.

I'm really sorry that you mom has depression and anxiety. She would feel better (and so would you) if she followed good medical advice regarding exercise, sleep, getting sunshine, getting counselling, and possibly taking medications. She has a right to refuse all this, of course. But her refusal to help herself does not obligate you (in my opinion) to tip-toe around her waiting for the next outburst. It is your house (right?) and you can decoration up if you want them. If you do, put them back up and tell her that you want them there and she is not to remove them. If you only had them up for her sake, then leave them down.

Sounds like you need to set some boundaries and be firm about enforcing them. Since your mom is sick it may feel "mean" to have rules. But it is for the sake of peace and harmony in the household, and that will be best for both of you.

A good person to talk to in this situation is a professional listener -- a trained, objective counselor. At the very least, you deserve some help with all that unearned guilt you are carrying around.
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Thanks guys…I've been ready some of the other discussions and I can see myself in many of them. Our situations are hard but it's good to have a place we can share and that others understand
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Yes, you are being played like a fiddle. The classic guilt card ploy always works. Yes , share this with your friends and you will find out you are all in the same boat. Start rowing together. Captain is totally on target.
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old timers with or without dementia are, imo, going to revert back to the mental / emotional equivalent of a 5 yr old. its not easy to deal with but coming on here and comparing your problems with others can really help you keep a perspective. there are some freakin horor stories on here from time to time .
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