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I have been thrust into the role of caring for my dementia father and limited-mobility mother (both in their 90s). I am the their only child. My parents came to live with me two years ago; seven weeks ago my mother became ill and had to go to rehab and I was caring for my father with the help of caregivers. Now that my mother is home I am criticized for everything I do and don't do. My mother threatens to go "into a home" because she has certain expectations, which she feels are not being met. She complains about the food, medications, room, etc. I try to accommodate but nothing seems like it is ever right. I ask her to express to me what she needs but she expects me to be clairvoyant. My husband doesn't like the situation either because he sees how stressed out I am. I don't like my reaction to her criticism and I try to explain myself but she just gets angry and then starts to cry. I feel so inadequate; I think I am doing my best. I have hired a full-time caregiver, but after she leaves for the day whatever I do is not acceptable. How can I deal with constant negativity? This situation is affecting my health.

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Thank you all for your insightful responses. It is very comforting to know that you care and share your knowledge with those who seek answers.
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D: I have no answers better than the ones that have been posted. I just want to let you know that I so feel for you!

Your mother is clearly suffering from some brain pathology if her sudden criticalness is a new feature of her personality. Talk to her doctor and explain this new dis-inhibition with being critical.
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Demstress,
I'm with Evermore99.
This is YOUR house.

I think our parents don't realize that we are their equals when we become adults. In their minds, we will always be their "kids" and they can tell us what to do.

You need to not worry about pleasing them. You don't need their approval. Get back control of your home.

My situation is different than yours. I took my 94 year old mother with stage 6 dementia into our home. Yes, she is severely demented but one of the reasons we had to move her to another facility was that she complained about everything! All day! We are only human and can only take so much. This WILL affect your marriage in a negative way. It did mine and HE was the one who suggested she live with us! Get them out now before it's too late.

I'm the only child too. It's hard when you have nobody to help. (Although, from what I've read on this board, sometimes siblings don't help at all.)

Set some boundaries now. If the boundaries don't work, check out assisted living facilities in your area and move them there ASAP.

You don't OWE your parents anything. What you are doing is out of love (hopefully and not out of guilt). If you can't take it anymore, then change the situation.

Sounds tough, right?Thats why they call it "tough love". It can work with parents too.
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I agree to call her doctor. Check her meds. Did rehab put her on something different or...discontinue something. The stay in rehab could have triggered something. It confuses an already confused person. If Mom went under anesthesia it may have had an effect on her. It maybe time for a nursing home. Too much for one person to care for two people. Even then, she may never be happy..
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If she doesn't have something like dementia, you can be upfront with her. Let her know it's your house not hers and this is how you do things. If she doesn't like it, she can check into the nursing home. But let her know on no uncertain terms that the whining and complaining ends now.
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:(

It's not you. It's her. I know that doesn't make it any less painful. What has anybody said about how she's doing and what the prognosis is? Is she expected to get quite a bit better from here?

Her uninhibited rudeness - there's no other word for it - is a bit worrying if it's uncharacteristic. Has she had any sort of brain insult or vascular disease?
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Thank you all for your thoughtful responses. My mother has been home for a few days and I find it hard to deal with her because everything I do is wrong. I brought her breakfast upstairs on a tray I thought it was nicely arranged and had the food she asked for. But then the complaining began that I didn't get her this or there is too much coffee in the cup or there isn't a container for the medicine, instead I had the pills on a napkin. Then she told me to be quiet when I asked her a question about what else she needed. At that point the speech pathologist came and my mother told her how wonderful I am and how I got her a hospital bed, etc. But then a few minutes later in front of the caregiver and the speech pathologist she told them negative comments about me that I ask too many questions when she eats and other things that she does not like what I do. At that point I was so embarrassed and hurt because all I wanted to do was make her comfortable and then she complains to others about me in my presence.
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The only thing that I can say is that my mom is a complainer also, and is always saying that she wants to 'get away from everything' and go to a nursing home. Other relatives said that she has no real idea of what a nursing home is like, but if it comes to that, I will take her to one.
We are all doing the best we can, at the expense of our own health and finances, and it gets to the point where they is nothing more to be done and you have to realize that you have already went above and beyond in making their lives as comfortable as possible. My mother is a person who is rarely satisfied for long, no matter what. This does not make it any better to deal with and I mouthed off to her when I was a kid, and still do. I think sometimes it's like any attention is good attention. Nursing home staff has no time to deal with complaints when there are thirty other people needing care at the same time!
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demstress,

There is absolutely no reason whatsoever for you to explain yourself to your mother. For goodness sake, it's your house!

I too agree and encourage you to find a pleasant nursing home for your parents. A little distance will allow you to see that you are not inadequate. Every caregiver feels that way, that they're not doing enough, that they're doing everything wrong, I have the distance you lack right now as my dad has been gone for some years now. I felt the exact same way and my dad was a lovely, happy, and grateful father when I took him into my home to care for him. Despite his sweet and understanding temperament I always felt that I should be doing more and that my efforts to care for him were measly. It's a trap many of us fall into that we can't free ourselves from. It's like quicksand. The more we try the worse it gets.

You deserve some peace in your life, in your heart, and in your home.
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I agree with Jeanne! How is that a "threat"? Clearly your parent's care is more than any one person can handle.

There is no shame in a parent being in a nursing home. They need and deserve professional care.
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Your mother threatens to go into a home? "Mother, you are absolutely right. Now that both you and Dad need care, I just can't do the kind of job you deserve. You deserve the kind of care and service you could get in a well-staffed home. Perhaps assisted living would be suitable for both of you. Should I begin the process of looking for a place?"

Is your mother's negativity new since she's come home from rehab? If it is, you should discuss it with her doctor. She could be having some kind of health issue herself, like a uti. It is also possible that she is experiencing dementia. Do get her a post-rehab health check up.

But any way you look at it, this is not a healthy situation for you and your husband. I don't imagine being immersed in all this negativity is doing your dad any good, either. Though she was meaning to be insulting, I think your mother may have a good solution in suggesting a "home."
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You are not inadequate! You are a hero.

How long since your mother got back? What sent her to rehab, if you don't mind my asking?

The thing is, her dissatisfaction and complaints are an expression of how she is feeling, and not in fact anything to do with anything you are doing. It could be that her mood or brain chemistry have been affected by her recent ill health, it could be that she's been left weak and tired and is miserable and taking it out on you. The pity party stuff about going into a home, for example - oh poor mother! She really is down in the dumps, isn't she?

But there's a limit to how much you can absorb; so, to repeat, how long since she's been back and what are the next steps in her current care plan?
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