A couple of months ago I complained to my 85 year old mother that she was drinking too much, and making it very hard to enjoy being with her when I visit. She does not remember these occasions well, does not believe it, and claims that the whole idea is a fabrication.
She became very negative towards me in response. Now she has decided that "we're not having Christmas" this year. We have traditionally gathered at her house. She's punishing my sister, and her grandchildren as well. My sister still speaks with her, which is how I know about it. Mom asked me not to call her anymore. She sounds depressed and angry when she chooses to answer the phone.
My mother has always been addicted to alcohol, and so was my father until he passed away. She has had better control over her drinking, but it appears to be affecting her more strongly as she ages. She is still very active, drives her car, and takes care of her own home and property.
On a couple of occasions in the past, my sister and I have spoken to her about the drinking. She never seems to realize when her behavior is being strongly affected, even if she can barely walk around. She remembers the next day that we gave her a hard time, but has no idea why. The last time we complained 4-5 years ago, she started saying "No more interventions!" That's her label, not ours.
The last year has included a few very embarassing scenes in restaurants, and some behavior and language in front of my sister's children that was particularly regrettable. My wife's parents did not drink, making it that much worse to deal with her mother in law.
So I brought up the topic when my mother asked to go to dinner in a restaurant two months ago. The previous time we had been there, she was drinking even before we left the house. She said some disturbing things that our waiter, a member of a minority, should never have heard. She said she has no memory of it, and threatened to buy a tape recorder to disprove my false claims.
I can't think of a fix for this. I don't think that "going back to normal" is an option at this point. Normal was getting bad, or I wouldn't have mentioned the drinking to her again. I know that the ideal solution would be to get her to seek help, but there is phenomenal stubbornness involved.
I feel bad because of how this has affected our holidays. If there's a bright side, it's that the difficulties we had dealing with her drinking last Christmas won't be an issue. But at the same time, I am concerned about my mother sitting alone with nothing but the booze this year, while we do the best we can to celebrate.