Follow
Share

My 86-year-old mom is not smart, but yet is so cunning and manipulating. I'm painting her house, yet all of sudden I'm taking too long. She is always saying I need to do more. I do as much as I can. I have a younger brother who does nothing and is very secretive; she believes every thing he tells her. If I defend myself I am being argumentive. And she says be quiet. She doesn't want neighbors to know how abused she is by me. My brother just avoids her and then he is the good guy and I'm always the trouble maker. He won't talk to me because I asked him to help out, he won't, so I become who she goes to, then she tells me he never back talks her like I do. It is so twisted.

This discussion has been closed for comment. Start a New Discussion.
Find Care & Housing
I agree Jessie. It is a continuum. The dementia takes over more and more and they lose more and more control, but in the meanwhile they are quite capable of choosing their tactics and their words. Mother has not essentially changed. She is still critical and negative, as she always was though the meds have improved that somewhat, and with increasing dementia she is less verbal.
(5)
Report

That's right, JessieBelle--they still have their original personality. In the original comment, it sounds like a lifelong pattern in the family for the brother to be the golden child and the commenter the scapegoat/Cinderella who does the heavy lifting but never gets credit. These are the golden children and scapegoats of narcissistic parents. This pattern has probably been going on for decades and now that the parent is elderly and the family is thrown together again the pattern rears its head and is compounded by the mother's dementia.
(2)
Report

Sunny, people don't fall into dementia. They grow into it. Someone in the early and middle stages are capable of doing many things. In fact, they may stick to old ways of doing things because of familiarity. Can people with dementia be narcissistic or manipulative? Of course, they can, particularly before the brain damage becomes extremely severe.
(3)
Report

As Jeannegibbs posted upthread, here's a thread from here about how sometimes behavior in people who have dementia can seem manipulative.

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/dementia-behavior-manipulation-154554.htm

I think that the orignial poster for this thread had in her profile that her mother had dementia. It's important to not ignore that fact as they are not capable of intentional and manipulative behavior that they may have engaged in before the dementia. If we fail to recognize that, it's not really fair to the patient nor productive.
(0)
Report

Gaslighting, stonewalling and treating certain children as "golden" and others as scapegoats are traits of narcissistic personality disorder. About 70% of narcissists were born with the condition-it is often genetic and runs through the family from generation to generation. As the narcissist ages the traits become worse. Sounds like many of the people in this thread are dealing with parents who are narcissists. You can't change or improve it but you can learn about it and how to protect yourself. Two great YouTube channels are Understanding Narcissism and Quinn Holliday at Assc Direct. Don't ask me how I know all this....
(1)
Report

wow...your post is almost identical to mine!
why do they not 'get it' that they should be grateful that we are taking our precious time to help them.
my mom is hateful and mean and nothing is ever good enough...so im going to just quit doin it and then maybe she will appreciate it.
(2)
Report

Regarding manipulation and dementia, please have a look at this AC article: https://www.agingcare.com/articles/dementia-behavior-manipulation-154554.htm

HATEMOOCH007, was your mother manipulative all your life? Did she always favor your brother? Did she always think you couldn't do anything fast enough, correct enough, or good enough? Did you grow up in a fairly dysfunctional family? Do you think that your mother was mentally ill before she developed dementia?

All of these are important considerations for the present situation.
(1)
Report

This is a deep and important discussion and I'm so glad to be reading all of your wise perspectives.

Maturity is about being fully grown, reaching a stage of mental or emotional development that is consistent with adulthood, and being capable of thinking and planning carefully and thoroughly. That last one my mother emphasized when I was growing up: thinking and planning carefully and thoroughly. It was a lesson that made me believe in what was right for me. My mother let me beat to a different drummer.

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." Henry David Thoreau, Walden, Conclusion, 1854

If caregiving is right for you, then I believe it's possible to establish healthy boundaries and "pull outside the abuse". However, if you hate caregiving and are forcing yourself to do it then I think you owe it to yourself to pursue the life you want. After all, it's your life and this ain't no dress rehearsal!

Too many caregivers die prematurely from the stress of caregiving. There are social workers at the county and state levels and at area hospitals. Nursing homes exist for a reason as do psychiatric hospitals. I imagine there is relief to be had knowing that the person is getting the care they need. They may not want the care (inertia and denial are so much easier) but if it's what they need then it's the right thing to do.
(2)
Report

I don't think so. I don't think it would be that black or white.
(0)
Report

"Or there's another possibility -- The child who was emotionally abused is mature enough to pull outside the abuse and do what needs to be done without abusing the parent."

Is it maturity, though, to "pull outside the abuse"? Would it be immaturity if someone couldn't do that?
(0)
Report

Oh, I LOVE this discussion!
"Gaslighting", new term for me today...VERY interesting..,,,,
(1)
Report

Or there's another possibility -- The child who was emotionally abused is mature enough to pull outside the abuse and do what needs to be done without abusing the parent.
(4)
Report

I have read that it's not advisable for an adult child, who has suffered abuse by a parent, to be that parent's caretaker, when the parent becomes sick, disabled, has dementia, etc. I suppose it goes back to the resentment and pain the adult child still carries, through no fault of their own. That pain is understandable, but, it really is not fair to the parent, who may now have no memory of what happened. The dynamic is still there. I suspect that's why there is so much resentment and blame on seniors who have dementia. Especially, if their early life traits were negative. The injuries may be old, but, the pain still fresh.

I think that as long as the dementia patient is viewed as the person who hurt me or manipulated me, there is a risk to both parties. It would concern me. Working this hurt out with a professional would be helpful, imo. Seeking penance from the dementia patient will likely prove illusive.
(3)
Report

Very good point, BarbBrookly, and one I hadn't considered. In many families with these situations, there's a lot more broken than just the elder's brain!
(3)
Report

I think there are a lot of folks here whose parents were mentally ill before they developed dementia. 

Those traits seem exacerbated by the dementia. Throw in a lifetime of growing up, thinking that what your parents were like ( throwing tantrums, breaking plates, falling down drunks, not dealing with sexual abuse within the family, to name a few examples) was "normal" makes dealing with a now even more broken brain extra hard.

A lifetime of dysfunction family life has left many with maladaptive coping mechanisms.
(6)
Report

I agree with JessieBelle. The disease doesn't excuse all behavior.
I sometimes see the attitude of "Their brain is broken! It's not their fault!" as a reason to put up with abuse from the elder. (Oh, there's usually a "Take care of yourself!" piece of advice, that is nearly impossible with some of the described situations, so it doesn't really mean much.)
I like the respondents who say to not put up with abuse, no matter what.
If more people had the "don't put up with abuse" attitude, then maybe 30-40% of caregivers wouldn't die before the ones they are caregiving for...
(6)
Report

It's not really that simple. The person had a life before dementia. They don't fall into dementia overnight. They grow into it. They are both the person they were before dementia and the one they are after it. You can't really separate out the two, though after dementia, caregivers often have to put aside the person someone used to be.

Something happened here today that reminded me of the old gaslighting. The numbers and other marks on the toaster oven have melted and come off. I told my mother we should get a new one -- she burns her toast every morning and I just guess at what time I'm putting on. She told me that we didn't need another, that she could see the numbers just fine and there was nothing wrong with them. Of course, I could see the numbers were gone. It was very similar to gaslighting, but I know this was because she doesn't see well, so probably doesn't know that numbers (white enamel paint) have melted.

This one didn't really matter and I know it was an age thing. But it really was the knee-jerk response from someone who spent their life gaslighting -- There is no problem, something is wrong with you. A person doesn't stop being who they were because they have dementia. They become the same person with dementia added onto it.
(8)
Report

It might make the caretaking family member feel better about themselves, if they can blame the person who is suffering with dementia on being mean, manipulative or gaslighting, but, it's not really helpful when it comes to dealing with a person who has brain damage. It really breaks my heart that the family member is receiving blame and being attributed as a bad person, due to a medical condition that prevents them from thinking clearly.

Your profile indicates that your mother suffers from dementia and/or alzheimers. I'd try to read as much as possible about what is going on with her brain and then make some decisions as to how caretaking for someone with this condition is often frustrating, challenging, stressful and the kind of thing that you really have to develop a tough skin about.

Due to the damage that a person sustains to the brain, they may never see things in a reasonable manner, award the good deeds from the caretaker, show appreciation, etc. It's often a resistant patient who is difficult to manage and nearly impossible to make happy. It's no reflection on the caretaker, but, a result of brain damage. It's so cruel, but, predictable.

I hope you can garner some relief from the knowledge that you are not at fault and that you have to sometimes give yourself credit, pat yourself on the back and understand that a person with brain damage just isn't able to assist you with navigating through this horrible condition.
(1)
Report

My husband and I were recently both the victims of a gaslighter. I was unfamiliar with this term until recently. So I read up on it and thought I'd share parts of an article by Aletheia Luna that I found informative:

"Gaslighting is so harmful because it promotes anxiety, depression, and with enough frequency in our lives, can sometimes trigger nervous breakdowns. So the question now it: are you being gaslighted? How can you know whether you’re experiencing this subtle form of manipulation in your life? Review the following tell-tale signs:

Something is “off” about your friend, partner, son, daughter, mother, father, sister, brother, colleagues, boss, or other person in your life … but you can’t quite explain or pinpoint what.
You frequently second-guess your ability to remember the details of past events leaving you psychologically powerless.
You feel confused and disorientated.
You feel threatened and on-edge around this person, but you don’t know why.
You feel the need to apologize all the time for what you do or who you are.
You never quite feel “good enough” and try to live up to the expectations and demands of others, even if they are unreasonable or harm you in some way.
You feel like there’s something fundamentally wrong with you, e.g. you’re neurotic or are “losing it.”
You feel like you’re constantly overreacting or are “too sensitive.”
You feel isolated, hopeless, misunderstood and depressed.
You find it hard to trust your own judgment, and given a choice, you choose to believe the judgment of the abuser.
You feel scared and as though “something is terribly wrong,” but you don’t know what or why.
You find it hard to make decisions because you distrust yourself.
You feel as though you’re a much weaker version of yourself, and you were much more strong and confident in the past.
You feel guilty for not feeling happy like you used to.
You’ve become afraid of “speaking up” or expressing your emotions, so you stay silent instead."

That last one - staying silent - has been my strategy with people for a long time. Luckily I usually trust my gut and steer clear of people who "rub me the wrong way" and this has been a problem in my husband's family because many members of his family believe that family must be loved, accepted, and socialized with always. And they don't like that I do my own thing most of the time. My husband's family is now falling apart. My family, on the other hand, is much more a "live and let live" bunch of people. There is a huge cultural divide between my family and my husband's family. But that doesn't explain the level of gaslighting and avoidance that seem to be acceptable in his family.
(5)
Report

Sometimes we do what we need to do because we're the only ones. It is probably going to be more that way in the coming years with the funding of old folks programs being cut so much. There is a good point in all this -- I haven't had to pay rent since I've been here and I've been able to work from home without problem. This has let me hold onto my retirement savings. There is a lot of bad, but then there are some benefits. Most of the time I feel like I'd rather be paying rent elsewhere, but someone has to do the caregiving here.
(4)
Report

Wow JesseBelle! 
I would have been gone a long time ago...at least I think I would? Kind of the same situation with my dad and I...he wasn't there for me much growing up, praising others...ugh. I was kinda lovin it that he and I reconnected some this past year but now I'm over it...I'm seeing that he needs my help now cuz his health is failing & he's broke!
Blah!

p.s. By the way, I have learned tons from you here!  You have a heart of gold!!

Thank you😍
(6)
Report

BTW, I understand how you feel about your mother saying to get along with your brother. Mine is always telling me that I need to pull my brothers closer, that I need to do things for them. She doesn't accept that it is them that pulled away. If I would only try harder... It's exasperating. Really, she spent her life pushing her children away. It's not up to me to try to pull them back in.
(6)
Report

I'm an expert on gaslighting. It is one of my mother's primary weapons. She has been doing this my entire life. My father was high-functioning autistic and didn't have anything to do with the children. If I said anything, she would say he was normal and it was just me. My big brother abused me my entire childhood, but she would say he wasn't and that I was being too sensitive. There is so much that I can't begin to even touch on it. Basically anytime I realized something was not right, she would say it was fine and that it was me. She has always had bluebirds and butterflies flying around her, while I was the one who remembered wrong. It was crazy making. The bad thing about gaslighting is that it takes away any way you have to defend yourself. You can't talk about something if someone says it never happened. You can't protest something if you're told it's only in your mind. It's a terrible form of child abuse in taking away a child's power.

Now that my mother has dementia, I don't know how much is the dementia and how much is just her being herself. Her reality has always been how she needs things to be. She treats my brothers like they are golden. She treats me okay now, but so much damage has been done that I feel more like an impersonal caregiver most of the time. Sometimes she attempts to praise me -- like today she said I was a useful person to have around when I rewired two lamps. It irritated me. No thank you or anything normal, just that I was useful.

I just go about my day doing the things that need to be done.
(5)
Report

We both are living there. I asked him to go 50/50 on the loan, he paid for a few months then bailed, left me only making the payment. Then she will tell me to get along with him. The burden on me again. Now I just paint the house and get satisfaction from doing a good job by myself. I'd like to know about gaslighting , I'm a nice guy and being the helper, errands, maintenance, scapegoat, sounding board, but I can't talk back or I hear how bad I've been my whole life.
(0)
Report

Hoatemooch, I see from your profile that your Mom has Alzheimer's/dementia thus her brain isn't thinking clearly. She is gaming with you, pitting one child against the other. I wonder if she is doing the same thing with your brother.

Are you the around the clock caregiver, as I see that your Mom still lives in her own home? The issue that happens when a grown child returns home to care for the parent, that the child/adult situation starts all over again. You are once again the child with your parent telling you how to do this or that. That is quite common.

Can your mother budget for having caregivers come in to take care of her? Thus if you are living with Mom, then you can go back out on your own.
(4)
Report

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