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So, I'm close to an 80 yo aunt who's gone to her own pity party with a full dressing gown, set of jewelry and a tiara. EVERY conversation I have with her is about how awful it is she doesn't feel well, that she has to do X amount of things to keep my cousin happy (in whose house she lives; cousin is a nurse and it's no exaggeration that Aunt would likely have died without her due to some complicated and longstanding health issues.) Virtually no credit goes to the cousin for giving up much of her own life to care for aunt of course.

My own mother has bought into this and is encouraging me to feel terribly for the aunt, telling me I should encourage her to call and dump on me, etc. They have a codependent relationship, have for years, so now I'm dealing with it on two fronts. It's starting to really get me down, calling for a therapist today in fact.

I don't think I can confront my own mom without getting a whole bunch of defensiveness about how I "don't understand how it is to be old and sick" so what are my options here? Stop answering the phone? Put distance and tell them both why? Move 1000 miles away in any direction, which I'd increasingly like to do? (I'm only about half serious with this last, I would if I could.)

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Dear Hellebore7,

I really sympathize with you and hear where you are coming from. It sure isn't easy. I know its not easy to get older either and maybe this is their way of trying to hold onto people. But in reality it just drives people away. I don't know if the negativity is based on personality or side effects of medications or just general age related decline.

Because you are feeling so worn down by this, I would take a step back. Take some time for yourself. Taking care of my dad, I wished so badly now I had looked for counselling or a support group. Or even found this site sooner so I could ask other caregivers how to cope better. I wish I had better tools and skills to cope. I regret being so stubborn and at time just pulling away. I feel in my dad's case, he needed me to ask more questions and maybe go in a different direction with his care. I will never know now, so it pains me even more. I hope you can find a better balance. Thinking of you.
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