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My Mom, 79, suffered a series of maladies ending with her being housebound. 2.5 years ago I discussed coming to stay here at her house part time to assist her in managing her increasing needs.
1.5 years ago I came and set up a room in her big house. Last April, I left after having a particularly big blowout argument over whether I might use more than the 1 room I set up for myself (covid stress etc) I bought a nice RV and set it up on her large previously purpose built pad. I've been back in town since July.
Literally have done every thing she asks (it's the least I can do), and she doesn't ask much.
Additionally, once in a while, ALWAYS on a day I have taken off from work (btw I work sometimes 25 days at a stretch, very accommodating workshifts etc, independent contractor) she will manufacture some crisis or crises and eventually we will be at odds. From nowhere it'll be finances, or politics, or her other children, or my dead Father (2 husbands ago) or maybe that she just desperately wants to be right about something.
Here's the kicker,
now every single time there is even one bit of resistance from me toward whichever nonsense I'm supposed to be terrified of along with her, she says:
"If you act like this, you're gone"
or,
"you've always disappointed me"
or
"what have you ever done for me?"
always with the deepest of sincerity and
1 day later she will have acted as though none of it happened.
How would any of you approach this?
Thank You

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You are facing an impossible situation. I would love to be encouraging and see the bright side of things. The truth is that I despise ‘Pollyanna’ types and prefer realists.

I believe that we can be optimistic if a situation is promising. You don’t have that. Your mom has shown you what her reality is. You don’t have the capability of changing her.

Either accept what you have at hand or arrange for others to care for her. I fully realize that these decisions can be difficult to make. Start with making a list of pros and cons.

Continue to reach out for help. Often we are so close to a situation that we become blind to it. Listen carefully, learn and process the information.

Best wishes to you and your family.
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Mom got old & got health problems. She didn't want them (who does?). Her anger is valid. But it's hers to own.

Boundaries. When it is directed at you, stay calm. Acknowledge she is angry. But don't accept the abuse. Have replies ready.

"If you act like this, you're gone"
R: I can see you are angry, I'll go now & talk to you later when you are calm

"you've always disappointed me"
R: sorry you feel that way

"what have you ever done for me?"
R: I'm going out now, see you later

Or my favorite from a long thread on the site "I ain't gunna be your whipping post". Out the door. Bam.

Basically don't answer back to her actual words. Just slide on out of the conversation. I would probably have smoke blowing out my ears, so I would have to physically remove myself from the room & take deep breaths.

Let her curse & argue with the air.
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Trials, have you ever considered that your mom might be HAPPIER in a nice facility with lots of other folks who like to complain about their lives and their children?

I'm very serious. Step back and let her actions lead to the logical consequences.
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I've tried so hard to be supportive and accommodating.
I knew she would use covid as an excuse to not use her health and houshold help we had set up. They're gone.
I knew she wouldn't keep up w/dr appts, she just wont.

I'm always notified then left holding the bag when her schemes come to roost. she tells me when her dr appt is then I'll make sure not to schedule anything for that day then she will call me late the night before or even the morning of and cancel.

She has decided to be miserable.
Her friends on the internet are the most important relationships she has.

I'm not one to dwell on flaws and faults. Her personality defects are not mine. She can go as negative as she wants and affect me little.

She is looking for other ways to affect me. She has called my grown daughter to complain about my insensitivity toward her. She has sowed disinformation regarding what I do. She is a professional victim.

I hate to think I'm not able to navigate her old age with her. If I leave, she will be in elder care within 6 months guaranteed.

I don't want to let it happen, she doesn't want to let it happen.

How does one get along with a vituperous rattlesnake!!!???
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lealonnie1 Oct 25, 2020
You don't 'get along with a vituperous rattlesnake'.........you do what you have to do to avoid getting bitten by said rattlesnake. You wear protective gear so when the snake tries to bite, he hits a plate of armor instead of the soft flesh of your underbelly. You set down boundaries in other words, and when they're crossed, you leave. You let her know what she's saying is unacceptable and you leave her presence or hang up the phone EACH time she crosses the line you've drawn. After a while, even a demented elder gets the picture that you have self respect and won't tolerate the behavior anymore. IF she wants help from you, she has to act civilized and stop biting.
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Many of us have found out that if your elder is competent you cannot be proactive in dealing with a potential decline. You basically have to be reactive when an event occurs.

With that said, if your mother says such things to you I think it is time she finds out what you not doing anything for her really is like. Just because she is your mother doesn't mean you should let hurtful comment slide. Would she tolerate hurtful comments from you?

My father had dementia. It was very rare he would get snippy with me. And if he did he would get it right back at him. He knew that was something I would not tolerate. His mother was awful to everyone. And she was like that because everyone let her get away with it. That made a lasting impression on me when I was a child and I knew how I was to react as an adult if I was ever in such a situation.
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LoopyLoo Oct 25, 2020
"His mother was awful to everyone. And she was like that because everyone let her get away with it." EXACTLY! I get so tired of excuses people make when their elder treats them, or others, badly.

Excuses are always a variation of: He's just old. She's just cranky. They've always been like that. Oh, just ignore it. They don't mean it. Just laugh it off. You have respect them. She doesn't know any better. He's just that way.

Yes, we all have bad days. Getting old is hard. Feeling more pain/sickness than good can be exhausting. But when someone is constantly crapping on the people who took time out of their lives, work, and their own families to help you... then that person doesn't like you, appreciate you, and considers you a nuisance and not a helper.

My mom broke her foot and ankle after a fall. I sat with her doing the day, did her errands, did house things, rolled her around the house, did the laundry.

I wouldn't get two steps into the door and she'd bark "You're late!" (I wasn't!) or barely acknowledge I was there. Nothing I did was enough, but that's been her attitude throughout my life, so no surprise there. She'd fuss that I didn't vacuum downstairs. Erm, the floors were not dirty and she never told me she wanted me to vacuum, until she complained that I hadn't! I told her I couldn't read her mind, and all she had to do was ask me to do it, and I would. If I didn't buy the exact item for her at the store (only when the store was out of the brand she wanted)... you'd have thought I'd brought home poison and I was the worst daughter that ever lived. Yelled and complained. When she said her legs hurt, I suggested maybe you could lie down for a bit? She snapped back, "I'm not going to sleep all day!". I said nothing about sleeping! Lying down and taking some pressure off her legs was all I was saying. No matter how I tried to help, she'd just stay mad and bitter. I was her verbal punching bag.

So, after two weeks of this, I was done. I calmly told her she didn't seem to want my help, that I must be doing more harm than good. Cue the guilt trip: "Well, I guess I have to hire someone to help me." "I guess I have to do this on my own." We both knew good and well she wouldn't hire anyone and she didn't live alone since my father was there after work. Then I got the silent treatment. Let her stew for a day and then called her. I repeated that she didn't seem happy with me there. And then? She snipped "Well, all you did was sleep on the couch all day"!!! I couldn't believe it. Flat out lying! I said "Now you KNOW that is not true." And she did know it. I said I'd willingly help her, would give her my kidney if she needed it, but I was tired of the complaining, yelling, and snapping.

I did go back to caring for her and the negativity was gone. Sometimes you just have to call someone out for their behavior!
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If your mother doesn’t respect you, I’m not sure how much respect she deserves. If she is verbally abusive or makes threats she really does not appreciate your efforts on her behalf.
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My dad can be very annoying one day, and nice the next day. It hurts and is painful. What I try to do is understand that he's in pain, both physically and mentally. So no matter what I do, he's still miserable. The hardest part is knowing that we can't fix them, it is what it is, sadly. I help him how I can and know I did my best.

I am planning on moving and hiring someone else.

If you can't do it anymore, that's fine, have someone else help instead.
All the best
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Personally, if my mother was to say these things to me, sure it would hurt, however, I would choose to ignore her simply because she is my mother.

If you respect your mother no matter how she treats you, you will never have any regrets.

I hope I have "positively" encouraged you. : )
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In reality, everyone (including you) is entitled to have their own feelings & opinions on a subject. It's not necessary for you to agree with your mother 100% of the time on 100% of all the matters that come up in life. If she feels that it IS necessary, and that you do nothing for her ANYWAY, and that you've always been a disappointment, then why are you breaking your back to do so much for her?

That is the question to ask yourself as you plan your next move here. My mother is SO nervous, worried, scared & OCD about everything that she's barely able to function..........she's always been like this, despite the fact that nothing bad has ever happened to her. When I was a kid, I couldn't leave my bedroom window open in summer (with no A/C in the house) because a murderer would get into my room thru the open window and kill me. I used to get bags of ice to put on my body to keep from sweating to death.

Nowadays, with moderate dementia & living in a Memory Care Assisted Living (thank God), she's even WORSE with the worrying and paranoia. I don't play into it at ALL and try to talk her down off whatever ledge she's teetering on at any given moment. It never works though, because she doesn't WANT to be talked down off of said ledge.........so I wind up saying Goodnight Mom, and hanging up the phone. The next day, she's forgotten that anything happened the previous day, so there's no mention of it at all. That's the nature of dementia.

Since you are living on the same property but not in the same house as your mother, you can end the 'discussions' once they get too argumentative. My mother LOVES to argue and has turned it into an art form. Of course, the dementia precludes her TO being argumentative, and being a contrary person to begin with, just makes for an ugly situation entirely.

If your mother is developing or already has dementia, nothing you can say or do will alter her behavior. Nothing. So you have to learn how to diffuse the situation and/or leave the room/hang up the phone when the ugliness gets to be too great. You can always remind her, too, that you are there out of the goodness of your heart, not because you HAVE to be there, and if she would prefer you leave, you will be happy to. It's up to YOU mother. Play nice or I move my RV elsewhere.

Wishing you the best of luck dealing with a difficult situation. Sending you a huge and a prayer for strength.
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I think she does suffer some impairment but it is minor for the most part.
What she is able to do in spades is lash out from a place where she has brooded, assembled and made real a world view and one of me that has no basis in shared human kindness or emotion. She is in a word, vicious.
Literally striking out whenever she is not 100% catered to. She thinks I owe her fealty and anyone would have to show me and PROVE im wrong.
She's a mess, and if I don't do what I do here, she's going to care a whole bunch when the first awful incident sees her go to managed care, she cant live here like she does w/o help, she has driven every caregiver and helper away either by cancellations or by just dropping the ball
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lealonnie1 Oct 25, 2020
I've heard people refer to advanced dementia as being 'minor'...........or mild.........where an elder's behavior is over the TOP and still the offspring think it's no biggie. Is this vicious behavior 'new' to your mom, or something that's always been? With dementia, what always was gets way WORSE, magnified 100X.

Sometimes, we 'kids' have to wait for some crisis to befall our mother or father before action can be taken. So, if she falls, say, and breaks her hip, goes to the hospital and then rehab, rehab may refuse to allow her to return back home to independent living (that's what happened w my father and what ultimately got both of them placed into Assisted Living back in 2014). I knew something terrible was going to happen b/c he was going downhill fast, but my hands were tied to actually DO anything, until the incident I mentioned.
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Does your Mom have some dementia?
Was your Mom once an entirely different person, or is this more or less how your Mom has been throughout her life?
What goals or expectations do you have of the future? At 79 your Mom has easily another decade or so to live. People do not often have epiphanies that change who they are or how they react.
I am very happy you are not in the same household, because this DOES allow you to remove yourself from the situation.
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