Her short term memory is not as great and she gets irriitable, understandably, b ecause she is suffering and lonely in her home. My two brothers help out and I try to, but have health issues. I do listen to her on the phone, BUT, she becomes very angry with me at times, especially if she thinks I am criticizing my brothers. She criticizes but that is okay. Yesterday she told me I am a mean person (this is the opposite of all feedback I have gotten in my life and, so, hurts immensely).
Bottom line, she asked me never to call her again because I make her "nervous".
She knows I am ill and wants me well, but I am chronic myself. I keep most of my pain to myself. Feel very guilty that I am a bad daughter who is not taking care of my Mom except by phone and financial help and trying to enlit husband and brothers to help out. She will not allow outside (public helpl) into her home... she had a bad experience in the past with that and I cannot afford private care, even if she would take it. Dysfunctional family here so that it is hard to relate to my brothers so we can work together. Two brothers and mysef is all she has. That is more than many, i realize.
Thank you.

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Deb, don't take this the wrong way but I LOVE your mum! Go girl! What a rebel! That doesn't mean I don't sympathise with you too (going through cupboards and saying "do you have any idea of how old these groceries are???") - Christmas dinner not such fun when you have to fumigate the kitchen first. But you know what? I think you should take a leaf out of your mother's book. "Mother, I am not eating off a filthy plate. Not even to please you. Next Christmas, my house. You don't like it? Deal with it."

Remember that old half-truth that "there are no victims, there are only volunteers." Don't volunteer to be manipulated (or, come to that, made ill) by your wonderful, vivid mother. Best of luck, love x

How long has your mother had the CHF? Is it usually well controlled? Does she have good support from her family doctor and hospital specialists?

Talk to her doctor. If you can't, get advice from your own doctor. You need to ask: is my mother's heart function deteriorating? Is this now affecting her brain function? Also ask about kidney function: heart meds + poor heart function = impaired kidney function = kidney disease symptoms like fatigue, malaise.

My mother has the same condition, diagnosed in 1996 when she got ill enough to be forced to admit to it! She's been really lucky with her brilliant doctors, so for years it didn't much affect her quality of life and she stayed active. But 5 years ago I moved in with her "in case", and 2 years ago she had "a cardiac event" (doctor-speak for: we think she's had a heart attack but we're not sure and anyway she seems to have got away with it) and things went downhill: fatigue, lethargy, feeling ill all the time, worsening depression. Then around 1 year ago she began to seem a bit confused, then suddenly very confused, then she had two small strokes 2 weeks apart. She was lucky, no major disability resulted, but it's taken her 9 months so far to get better (nowhere near as good as before). Meanwhile she's had a broken wrist because her balance is shot to pieces; and her doctors are investigating vascular dementia.

In CHF, the heart muscle is flabby, so what you've got is a pump that doesn't work properly. The wall of the heart stretches, and the heart valves are under tension so they don't snap shut as they should. With each heart beat, not enough blood gets pushed round the system, so not enough oxygen gets to the body's muscles, the brain, the other organs and the heart itself.

As the heart muscle gets larger, slacker and weaker, this problem gets worse. Sometimes the blood can even pool and clot, which can lead to stroke (cerebral infarction) or to heart attack (myocardial infarction, when part of the heart muscle dies). There are good, effective, cheap drugs that treat and prevent blood clots, so check your mother is getting them if there's a risk.

Because the brain isn't getting all the oxygen it needs, the person can become confused and mentally tired for that reason alone, even if he or she hasn't had a stroke as such. And eventually poor oxygen supply will lead to vascular dementia.

I'm hoping it'll help if you can get a clear picture of what's going on with your mother's medical condition. [I'm also assuming you don't already know all this; my apologies if I'm only repeating what you do already know.] When you understand that a person's illness is draining them physically and mentally it's easier not to feel hurt by what they say to you. And, of course, if she's ill, afraid or in pain your mother is not necessarily going to be the person you know and love and who knows and loves you. Literally, she's "not herself."

One evening my sweet, timid, polite mother bit my head off and said "you are so maddening!" She was furious with me because I kept questioning her - I was afraid she was building up to another stroke. If she had a less inhibited personality I'm sure she'd have sworn at me and told me to get out.

And now your mother has told you not to call her again. That must have hurt. Different for me because I live with my mother as her carer and don't have the option of leaving her alone; but I can see your dilemma. Are you seriously supposed to wash your hands of your mother because of what she said? Do you continue to call her when she's told you she doesn't want you to? Did she mean it? Did she really know what she was saying? Will she remember that she said it?

Well, now. Impossible questions to answer. Very hard for you to know what's the best thing to do.

1. Take your time. Don't sulk, but do give yourself time to find out what you need to know about her and her condition and to have a good think about the best way forward. 2. Don't despair. Even if your mother did know what she was saying, did mean it at the time, and does currently remember, that doesn't mean she'll go on feeling like that forever. The door is not locked shut for good. 3. Back off a bit. Caring for your mother and taking on some responsibility for it doesn't have to be done in person all the time. And if she's a private, independent-minded sort of soul, it'll take her time to accept practical help. 4. Nobody is indispensable. You have your own health needs to meet. Don't make promises to yourself or to her about what you can do to help her that aren't realistic. Of course you want to help her, but if you can't, you can't. Doesn't mean you're a bad daughter or an uncaring person.

Could you maybe send her some flowers, if she likes flowers, or just a cheerful card? And a short, plain message, perhaps, something like "I love you. I worry. Call me soon xxx"?

Good luck, I hope it gets easier very soon, and I promise you you haven't done anything wrong.

I don't think the changes are because of CHF. It sounds like dementia onset. At first, it's hard to distinguish her changed behavior from a circumstances caused response from a dementia caused response. When dementia sets in, most of us family members will write the behavior off as anything but dementa. but, I would check this possibility out. I say this because my mother has had CHF for years and years during which she functioned at a high level working jobs, helping other elders, etc without any behavioral changes. Then, she started to change. It took me a while to catch on that something unusual is going on and took her for an evaluation. She was diagnosed with dementia. It's worth looking into.

I noticed lately my Mom has become the same way. Her personality has become very self centered. She is mean and controlling. She calls my siblings and i neat nicks as we like a clean and well cared for home. I tell her we make it our priority for all are hard work in getting the house,her's is dirty and unkept, much like her now. I say Mom it takes only a minute to pick up after yourselves and her response is "deal with it". As Xmas approaches and we will be staying with her for a few days,us kids are dreading it. Dirty sheets, pots and pans etc. We have to clean up just to stay there. Within the next year she will be coming to Iowa to live in an independent living facility near me. I will care for her and her mean and controlling ways. When I suggest she not offend friends and people she says if they don't like me the way I am tough sh.. I can hardly wait ! I am so thankful for finding this web site for advice and to vent. God bless you all.

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