Is this constant "exhaustion" common and does it go away?


My mother has moderate dmentia and has had 4 fractures since last August. 1) knee 2) wrist 3) T-12 compression vertebrae and, most recently, 4) fractured acetabulum.
I have many reasons to feel blessed; she has her own financial resources and we can afford her current assisted care facility, my siblings are all in agreement with the decisions made so far (I am P.O.W.).
My question is, why is this so exhausting and is there a way to get past it. I cannot seem to go to sleep or wake up without her being first and last thought.
She is narcissistic, selfish, and only wants to talk about herself and how sad she is, how awful her life is. She refuses to make friends, get acquainted or even try in her new facility. Instead she relies completely on family member visits and calls but then forgets about them as she looks to the next. She is an empty bucket that can't be filled and I know this but it doesnt seem to help my exhaustion and that of my siblings.
I am so happy to have found this forum; I actually Googled "narcissistic with dementia" to find you. Any "me too's" or words of advice are appreciated.

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H'm! Juddha, what I make of your mother is just "H'm!" Okay, be like that!

Have you got caller display on your phone??? Might come in handy on otherwise peaceful early mornings.

Er… You can't say she never gives you anything :) ?

And don't waste any more high quality work on her.

Sheesh. Nice to be appreciated, isn't it?

Look. One makes allowances. One accepts people for who they are. One tries to avoid taking personally bad manners and slights that aren't personal but are just part-and-parcel of one's friend's or relative's more unfortunate characteristics (and, of course, especially on the AC forum, her illness). But in the end… If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a bitch.

You still love her. It's just that it might make life easier if you give up trying to put any construction on her behaviour that avoids telling it like it is?

I hope this doesn't offend you. I'm uncomfortable making negative remarks about other people's kin: we're allowed to criticise our own but that doesn't mean it's ok for outsiders to do it. But you did ask!

And, above all, if shrugging her off means you get to have a really good day, then that looks like the way to go.
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Mom called me first thing in the morning: "Well, what happened?" she starts with right out of blue.
"What? I just got up?"
"I haven't heard from you!"
(we hadn't planned a thing.)
what followed is:
"Woe is me, I can't do this and that. Drop everything, your working, your caring for your own life. Rescue me." That was the main idea of it. "What are doing today?" she demanded more than asked.
"I haven't had breakfast yet-"
"OH, call me later then." and without giving me a chance to say more she hung up on me.

My reaction: a few minutes of anger and then I resolved to go about my life for the day: working at home. I called her later and invited her to go to the park. She could sit somewhere but I need to walk around for an hour. Luckily she didn't want to go. Because she agrees to boundaries but then breaks them left and right once she gets me to do one thing and we fight over everything these days.

But I felt really good about being firm, being able to switch and not dwell on that exchange. I had a really nice day. Then I brought over some cartons for her for her move and she hands me a bag of two hand me down shirts, all her old stockings, a nice drawing of mine that I gave her, and my poetry books that I wrote.

I read my poems at dinner time. Wow, I am not kidding. They are really awesome. This was the best part of my day. But it saddens me that Mom gave them back to me. I have my own copies.

What do you make of this?
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(((((((Pati)))))) I know the feeling. Have you been checked for Chronic fatigue? I have had it for years and have sessions of being exhausted. I have read it is more common in people with narcissistic mothers/parents. I think one factor is that you are always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I have a narc sister too, so even now, when mother is safely placed in a hospital, and the social worker understands that I deal at arm's length (for my own survival), I have the tension of what will my sis do next. Since you are thinking of your mum day and night, it sounds like you need to detach and focus more on you, things you like, that are good for you and so on. Do you have any goals for yourself, hobbies, fun things to plan, outings?? We are groomed by our negative parent to focus on making them happy - the impossible task, serving them, jumping at their every whim...

There are a number of good sites on the internet for detaching with love. Melody Beattie and others have written good books. One essential is to "Shift Your Focus from Controlling Your Loved One's Behavior to Creating Your Own Happiness". You can't make anyone happy except yourself. So start making the "thought" habit of focussing on you rather than on your mother. It is possible to change thought habits like any other habit. Determine to think about something positive, develop an "attitude of gratitude", Plan something good for you each day - even something very small. I have found that I need periods of what I call "extreme self care", when I reach bottom. Then I focus on me and what I need - like a proper diet, rest, relaxation, moderate exercise, socialization, brain activity - crossword puzzles , computer games, a good book, gardening, getting out in nature I try to build these into my life anyway, but at times decide to banish all concerns about mother and sister - not easy I know, but you can work on it, and think about/ focus on my needs. Think about things that uplift you. Basically, I think you are in a habit of worrying. I know I can get that way too.

“When we hate (I will add fear) our enemies, we are giving them power over us: power over our sleep, our appetites, our blood pressure, our health, and our happiness.” ― Dale Carnegie, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

My sig other is away this week, so I am choosing to focus on me. and what feels good for me. Me worrying about my mother and sister is not going to change them or the circumstances, it s only going to drag me down, I am letting it go for now, I can always start worrying again next week if I want to, lol

Accept that your mum will always be a complainer and unhappy and it is not your job to change that. In fact, you can't. I know the trapped feeing, and as I am coming up 77 and my mother is 102, I have had to find ways to get out from under it. This has gone on too long and may continue for a while yet. So, as they say, "get a life" and I don't mean that unkindly. Dust off some goals from the past and start working on them. Do good things for you starting now!!! Just to be safe. also include a good physical check up, to be sure there is nothing physically wrong with you. Another idea is to see a counsellor, and/or join a caregiver's support group. Lots of good ideas here too, and also people who understand what you are going through. Writing things out helps. Let us know how you make out and do something good for you today.
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Olmaandme: thank you for your perspective. Yes, I am fortunate that my father had the foresight to put funds aside to care for my mother in case she needed it. I learned a long time ago, however, not to judge other's struggles as no one really knows what someone's life has been like. I hope you are learning that lesson as well.
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When you have these thoughts about how horrible the situation is for you remind yourself how lucky you are.
Come here and read the day to day struggles of those who can not afford a nursing home for their aged elderly.
It might put things into perspective for you.
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GardenArtist: thank you for your excellent points. Yes, the "zero" end game is probably the cause for much of the tiredness. Her problems, for the first time in my life, I cannot resolve.
zipping up my "rhino suit" as I write this.
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Blannie; thank you so much for pointing out the "freudian slip". How very telling! Yes, I do feel like a prisoner of war. As an older adult I thought I was prepared for my mothers life to end but somehow, blindly, didn't picture it like this; one brain cell at a time with what seems like ony the "nasty" left behind.
Countrymouse, thank you for going further with the empty bucket analogy. It is true that she will likely never be happy again and I would assert has forgotten how. Our contributions to her comfort are the important things. As to her falls. Only one, her last one Resulting in the acetabulum fracture was while she was in the ALF. She is now on a monitored alarm system which she calls "prison".
Thank you all so much, I feel this is a blessing to have this community.
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Just wanted to give you my support, and I am exhausted too! The above reasons make sense to me! Hugs
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I think it is similar to being on "high alert" all of the time, as one never knows when there will be an emergency; a fall in the home, a stroke, a visit to the ER. In addition, it is especially hard if you have a narcissistic parent. I think moods are contagious, and my mother is in a bad mood most of the time, and she is also a constant complainer. It is very draining being around negative people, and exhaustion is the unfortunate result. I wish I had an answer for you about exhaustion, as I myself, wake up tired about two or three days a week. The days when I wake up refreshed, obviously, those are better days. In addition, exercise, eating well, and cutting back/eliminating caffeine can help.
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I love the Freudian acronym - thanks for spotting that one, Blannie!

Patilee, you say "She is an empty bucket that can't be filled and I know this but it doesnt seem to help my exhaustion and that of my siblings." For me, getting past just acknowledging that point to acting on it is the key thing.

I have a beloved SIL who does this. She believes, even though she knows it's unreasonable, that if she only tries hard enough, works hard enough, thinks about nothing else and waits for that eureka moment… then her mother will be happy.

Whatever 'happy' means, in that context.

It's a fantasy. So somehow, you and your siblings need to switch your attention from the impossible end goal - mother's happiness - to deciding what reasonable contribution each of you can make. Or, to use your apposite turn of phrase, focus on how much you each want to put in the bucket rather than how full the bucket gets.

Hm. I'm reluctant to criticise any ALF, knowing only too well how hard falls are to prevent completely, but I have to say that four pretty major fractures in 10 months… that's not a great record, is it. I hope she's getting her money's worth of care where she is. Does she have osteoporosis? Any other conditions apart from her moderate dementia? I wonder if it might be time to think about stepping up the level of support.

I'm sure you and siblings have also considered this important point: that the more you flutter around her, the less incentive she has to connect with her peers and the staff at the ALF. Honest, you're doing her no favours socially.

As for how you switch off in between times… Ah, well now. I dropped my mother off for a week's respite care this afternoon. So WHY, you may ask, am I here on the forum instead of down the pub with a freshly-drawn pint of ale in my hand?

Last orders in 17 minutes. Best of luck! - keep us posted.
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