Hi everyone. I came online to do a search because I needed to find someone to talk to that understood. I ended up here.

Please understand that I'm new to this. I'm an only child. My parents live about an hour & 1/2 from me & my hubby. We have no children yet. I am very close to my parents. However, in the last 11 months or so, my feelings have really been thrown in every direction possible. My parents are both in their late 70's. Between the two of them, my mom is the one who's gown downhill the most in the past 2-3 yrs. She's diabetic, has bad arthritis in her back that affects her walking and has congestive heart failure. We were dealing w/that and everything was as well as could be expected. Then, about 2 yrs ago, she started falling. She did that 3 times and the last time was the worst. She got out of the hospital 3 days b4 Christmas last yr. She had meltdown on me when I told her daddy, hubby & I had everything taken care of as far as Christmas dinner. She went into this spill about how I should do everything myself bc they are old & sick. That came out of nowhere! My dad had health probs, but he was able bodied. Plus, HE volunteered to help. I would have never tried to put anything on him if I knew he couldn't do it. She then went on to tell me I don't care about them bc when I visit, I stay a good 2 hrs and leave. REALLY? Since when is arriving at the house @ 10 a.m. and leaving @ 7:00 after cleaning and cooking meals only TWO HOURS?! It really hurt my feelings and I was so upset that I didn't wanna go home for Christmas. I went on though but honestly, that was my very 1st Christmas that I didn't enjoy one bit. My gf said although its hard, just try to ignore it bc that's not her talking...its her illness. That was really hard to swallow. I walked on eggshells for a couple of months after that incident.

Things have been pretty good until recently. Now, my dad's health has gone downhill. He has prostate cancer & is now on a light chemo treatment for 6 wks. The dr. is hoping this will stop the growth. My dad is in really good spirits. He had a few rough days, but overall, he's doing ok. In the last month, my mom has really been giving me the blues. When I was @ home doing things for them 3 wks ago, she mentioned she's gonna have to call someone to come clean bc daddy just isn't able to do it anymore. After she kept falling, he pretty much took over all chores inside & out(except for when I go in to help). I gave her a confused look & told her she didn't need to do that bc I didn't mind coming to do it. Instead of being grateful, I got a snappy reply of, "well, you don't come weekly, so that's why I said we need someone." Okaaaaay. I let that go. Last week, she made another snappy comment about how she would like to have things done & go places but she knew there was no chance of me coming in town before Thanksgiving. So she was out of luck on that note. I calmly reminded her that she can always call me if she needs me and she knows that. I was hurt but I didn't cry w/her on the phone. The 3rd blow came this afternoon when I talked to her & dad. He had his treatment & said the dr. was pleased w/his progress. I get on the phone w/her and it was absolute dread & guilt that washed over me from the moment she said hi. She brought up having to call someone to come clean the house again. I told her I knew the house couldn't be THAT bad bc we just visited them 3 wks ago. I cleaned that day. They are not nasty, sloppy people. She popped off with, "well ALL YOU CLEANED was the bathroom..that's all you ever clean when you come." I felt my heart drop into my stomach & tears instantly formed. I pushed 'em back and told her she knew darn well I'd cleaned the whole kitchen along w/sweeping too bc she said she was appreciative of what I did. Now, all of a sudden, she forgets?!? On top of that, I cooked enough for them to have meals for two weeks. I was so hurt when I hung up w/her. I had already made plans to go home again this week, but honestly I dread it. I told my hubby that I don't understand. Here I am doing the best I can. I feel that I'm a good daughter. I'm sorry that I don't live in town or closer, but there's nothing I can do about that right now. I feel very unappreciated and sad. I have 2 friends who live in the same town and don't even try to do anything for their mothers. Here I am trying to balance taking care of them and my life as well and I feel like my mom can only think what i'm doing is not enough.

What can I do? I already feel guilty about not being able to be there in 20 or 30 min. I don't need any ADDITIONAL help from her. Why doesn't she realize I'm a good daughter? I'm so upset about this & its starting to affect me. I hardly sleep @ night and i've gained 10 pds bc of stress eating. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Your gf is right -- "that's not her talking...its her illness." It is very tough to accept, but probably easier than thinking she is deliberately hurting you.

Does she have any other signs of dementia? Cause this sure sounds like some kind of cognitive impairment.

As for practical steps: You live too far to be her regular house cleaner. Dad can no longer do it. Next time she brings it up offer to help her find someone. Many caregivers on here would be THRILLED if they could talk their parents into accepting some outside help. Even if Mom turns it into a complaint about you, it is basically a sound idea that needs implementing. Yes, they need some homemaking help. Believe me, you'll have more than sufficient opportunity to help them in other ways over the years ahead! Embrace this willingness to bring in outside help with both hands! Don't let your own hurt feelings get in the way of taking this practical step.

It is awesome that you cook meals for them to heat up later. Great help! When Mom complains that you don't do anything for her, later in the conversation ask how she liked your such-and-such meal. Try not to take it personally that she doesn't remember or appreciate your efforts. Unless she has been like this all your life, it is the illness talking. Now, how about looking into Meals on Wheels? Not only is that a nutritious meal once a day that they don't even have to heat up, but it is someone coming to the house every day, someone to socialize with for just a few minutes. Your cooking efforts will go farther if they get some other meals provided.

While Mom is receptive to outside help, do either of them need a visiting nurse? Who manages their medications? Do you think they are doing well with that task? Can they still shower unassisted?

Your mother had a meltdown when she first got out of the hospital last year. Suddenly she had to accept that she couldn't do things she took for granted in the past. Maybe on some weird level it made her feel better to claim that you didn't do it right (because she couldn't do it at all). And now she faces another blow. Her husband has cancer. He can no longer do things she counted on him to do. Her life is spinning more out her control. She is frightened. Why she should take that out on you is a huge mystery. But I suspect her behavior has little to do with you and much to do with her fear, and possibly with early stage dementia.

If at all possible, drop the guilt. If you can't fully let go of it, push it way to the background and make decisions without consulting the guilt.

Know that you are a good daughter. Believe it. Talk to your girlfriend about it. Talk to your husband about it. Come here and post so we can tell you that you ARE a good daughter. None of that means as much as hearing your mother say it, but that just may not possible at this time. Whether she acknowledges it or not, you are a good daughter.
Helpful Answer (17)

i have just joined this group but your post really urged me to write. i too have dealt with a father who tried to make me feel guilty for not living near him and helping. one of the things i and my siblings chalked it up to was a narcissistic personality. which is partially true but what we didn't know was that he had early cognitive impairment that was affecting his personality. To make a long story short, he moved into independent living but after that he gave us continual hell with verbal abuse. My sister and i knew he suffered from anxiety all his life and some depression so we did an intervention and went to his doctor with him and got him on meds for it. That made a HUGE difference and we felt we got our dad back. Now he is moving to my city to be closer to family and i will be primary caretaker. To be able to handle this I went to see a therapist. What she told me is to not let my dad push my buttons and that his behavior was manipulative. That is not all she said, but won't go into that here. From what you write I can see that she is a master at this and it has probably gotten worse due to her declining health and dare I say it...her cognitive impairment You should try to get her to her doctor for testing for this. Once you get a label on it that will help. What you are trying to do is please someone who cant be pleased and you will not win. Plus her memory will not allow her to really remember all you do. When my father once called to yell at me about something, I said in a very low and calm voice, "did you call to yell at me?"...that put his behavior back on him and took him aback enough that he calmed down some. You must find ways to handle her personality changes and demands and I suggest a couple of sessions with a good therapist. Your mental health is vital and you need coping skills. You can not allow guilt and manipulation to do this to you. You are worth more than that. it does help to tell yourself it's her disease and not you, but that only goes so far to help. How you deal with this needs tools. Please take care of yourself. Prayer helped me through this too. I wish you peace. Namaste.
Helpful Answer (11)

Yes, jeannegibbs' response is right on. It sounds like your mom has some cognitive impairment that's affecting her personality. I know how you feel. I invested a great deal of time fixing up my mom's house after my Dad died so she would have nice surroundings (i live 1 hour away). My mom was usually a sweet, appreciative person. Her responses at each visit was "great, now you'll sell it and kick me out." I started dreading going to her house. I was so discouraged. I spoke to my sister who explained this is not our mother talking. This is her fear, confusion and stress talking. Mom realized she was having memory problems and that really scared her.

Your mom doesn't have control of her life anymore. She sees her support system changing (her husband is sick, her daughter lives far away, she has serious health problems.) It is not possible for you to fix all of your parents problems. You are there to assist but not to own the situation.

It is not practical for you to be their house cleaner. We gave my mom a housecleaning service for Christmas for 6 months. After that, she liked it and kept the service going. She could afford it. I don't know what your parents' financial situation is. Make it clear to your mom that you will be there for them (but you must set boundaries and stick to them).

Your Dad sounds like a reasonable person. Maybe you can start planting the seeds to consider assisted living. You can visit places on your own or with your parents. If you start looking now, there is no stress to make decisions. Just see what it's all about. They may like the idea of someday living close by you.

In the meantime, talk to your Dad about your concerns about Mom. Mom's doctor can set up a neurological evaluation. Please don't take your mom's comments as a true reflection of who you are. You are entitled to have your own life with your husband.
Helpful Answer (6)

Yup, Jeanne got it right. I'd also see if I could get your mom checked for some cognitive decline. It might not be Alzheimers, it could just be medication induced mental fogginess.

Is there any way your folks would move closer to you, into an assisted living facility? My folks lived 3 hours away from me and as I'd get more and more desperate calls about needing help, I finally said, "I can't handle the stress". Thankfully my folks also saw the need from their end, so moved to a facility five minutes from my condo. That was 12 years ago. My dad died 4 years ago, after going from their independent living apartment over to the skilled nursing side for three months after he was coming to the end of his battle with lung cancer. My mom is still able to live in independent living, with a LOT of help from me. They were both happier with my involvement and it cut my stress down by lot. There was/is still stress, but it's more manageable when you can get to your folks in minutes instead of hours.

The other thing is, you have to learn to pace yourself with both your emotions and what you'll do for your folks. So don't get too down over any one thing, because this is a marathon, not a sprint and you have to take care of yourself so that you can manage it.
Helpful Answer (5)

One of the first things I did when my mother started to fail was to get a housekeeper. I knew I wouldn't be able to do everything - dr. appts, food, personal care, etc. I still have to do some minor cleaning but it is easier to than having to do the whole shebang. Good advice given above. You're doing great, do what you can and don't let it get you down.
Helpful Answer (3)

Your mom may have some dementia. Even if not, chronic illness changes people, as well as the loss of control over their own lives. Help her hire the help she needs, otherwise as much as it hurts, it is part of caregiving you really have to smile through it, it helps me to think of how I would hope to be treated while I'm doing the housework, driving to doctors appointments, etc... Good luck.
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I haven't read through everything already said, so bear with me if I repeat what has been posted.
I have been there. It still hurts when mom says something harsh, even though I have known for 7 years it is her dementia...Now to your parents...sit down with them the next time you visit. Try to do it when everyone is relaxed. Get your mom (especially) to sit with you and go over what needs to be done and when at the house. Have her be a part of the decisions about her own home. She is losing so much and much of what she says to you could be chalked up to her frustration. If they need to hire someone to come clean, look into your counties Department of Aging. Many of them have excellent resources for older folks aging in place. Above it all, know that you ARE a good daughter, your parents love you and that it is their ill health that creates the snarky tone.
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It really is okay to let your parents hire people to help them. That your mother even brought it up is wonderful - let her do it with your support. It is a fiction that a parent's children especially their only child will be able to just take care of everything so that they can continue to live with the same level of autonomy and privacy as before. Most of the time it just isn't possible and that doesn't have to mean the adult child is inadequate or bad. Assess her needs, meet what you can and facilitate getting the rest met in other ways. This is how I'm approaching things and I still fight with the guilt, but in real terms it is all that one can do.
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I can relate to this situation. My father died 18 years ago, and since then my mother lived in her own house from age 82. At that time I lived pretty close to her (1 hour drive) and saw her at least weekly. Things seemed pretty good for awhile, and she started getting some help with housekeeping as her mobility decreased. Fast forward to 2 years ago - my then 98 year old mother was showing definite signs of dementia, accusing people of stealing things that no-one would steal (like handkerchiefs) and getting angry with me pretty much all the time. Since I now had to visit her from very far away, it is an expensive trip and one I had grown to dread, just like BlueBirdgrl. She would fire her housekeepers and home support workers on a regular basis if she was unhappy with some small thing they did. She was becoming increasingly paranoid, as her hearing got worse and worse yet she refused hearing aids. Now, 2 years later, she is 100 years old and was finally moved to a nursing home in early September. She is now considered mentally incompetent, so I as her Power of Attorney took over paying bills, and got her house sold. However she continues to be furious with me over pretty much everything. One clue that it was not my "real" mom talking was when she told my husband that I broke her heart by running away from home. Note I was 18 months old when that happened. Her insight into her own situation and what is going on around her is drastically reduced, so I am learning to not get hooked into her verbally abusive behaviour. One strategy I tried that worked when I was up for a two week visit just last month, was that whenever she started talking angrily or rudely to me, I left the room. My husband, never her target, said she'd eventually ask where I was, and when he informed her that I would return if she would be nice to me, invariably she wanted to see me and for a few minutes, would be all sweetness and light.
This makes you crazy, but you are not the crazy one. Your mother is losing control not only over her situation, but over her mind. Even though you are the target, this is just because her mind is not working properly and she is lashing out when you are convenient.
I agree, help her find a housekeeper. Talk to your parents about assisted living, and try to take them on a tour of a couple of places near their home. (Be sure to see them first by yourself.) Get your Mom to a doctor to assess her cognitive functioning. It is a long time, often, from when the family first notices something wrong mentally, until the medical people notice it, but detailing times and incidents for the doctor will help him or her.
Hang in there and keep us posted.
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Find a housekeeper for her. But seems like she wants you around more, but is going about it in way that drives you the other way. After getting her a housekeeper, ask what she would like next. Dinner with you every week? Outings with you? Playing Scrabble with you? Going for msni pedis with you?
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