How to you cope with your clueless elderly mother?

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Being torn between guilt, disappointment and my need not to be manipulated, hurt and confused is awful. My mother never yelled at me or was abusive. Just critical, controlling and not interested. The indifference was the worst. I felt I didn't exist. And now that she is 81 and frail, she expects "closeness", attention and care. When I try to get closer sooner or later she hurts me emotionally with some random remark.

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Being critical, controlling and not interested is detrimental to a relationship. Your mother appears to have always been like this and it is likely to not change. The only thing you can do to protect yourself is to take care of her needs as best you can and leave the rest behind. In most instances, bad behavior from the elderly, only gets worse.

Distance yourself from her unkind comments. If you are trying to get closer and this occurs; then I usually found it best to end the visit or walk away, depending on the situation at hand. Hurting you with words emotionally is a control she most likely will continue trying to have over you. You have done nothing to deserve this and are only trying to be the best caregiver to her that you can be.

In my experience, I developed a tougher skin and it was the only defense mechanism when dealing with a parent who obviously derives some pleasure out of hurting us. It is up to us how we react. Hugs to you and do know I understand. Take care.
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Maybe you should reassess your definition of abuse or maybe neglect. It is not always what you think it is. Sounds very much like my mother and she too at 82 expects us to "make her happy". However when i gave birth to my twin daughters, I had to call my mother in law from another state to come up and help me at night. Mom was not able to miss her sleep, she was 54 at the time. She always did what was good for her. I was used to it. However, she is worse now than ever. I have come to realize that being highly critical, controlling and unavailable are a form of abuse. It is called emotional abuse. Check it out and read some about it. Maybe then you can figure out what to do. Good luck
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