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My mom has a lot of health issues, depression being one of them, but it's getting almost unbearable, at times. She is mad at my dad over an incident that happened a few weeks ago and won't let it drop...she fusses about him, she fusses about me to me, she complains about all her health problems (she does have a lot), she complains about everything in her life, it seems. She is 81 and still seems to be thinking clearly, but she has gotten so negative in the last 2-3 years. There are no solutions to her problems, according to her, when I try to think of some. Nothing will work - she's tried that and she knows it won't work. I am about crazy from listening to her fuss for 30 minutes or more at a time. I am an only child, so I am the one who hears everything. I am also raising my own family, have a difficult husband, and a demanding job. I do call my mom every day, but she is dragging me down, emotionally, and I don't need this right now. She is on antidepressants, but they don't really help - have been changed many times. I think she needs to see a therapist/counselor, but she says she's done it before and it didn't help. What should I do, and how should I handle this?

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Oh My God !!!!! Your life is exactly like mine.... Hang in Girl.....
Hugs,
Anksana-Moon
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Kim, my condolences to you and your family. Try not to have regrets. You did ALL that you could for your mom. You are human and sometimes, OK a lot of times, caregiving can be very taxing even if it's just talking on the phone. It's self-preservation mode. You did your best!!!!!!!! Blessings
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My Mom complained all the time too. From the moment I got to her house until several hours later went it was time for me to leave. She was so depressing to listen to that when I would leave I found myself depressed...this went on for over a year...she has Dementia. I had to smile at the post where the lady said she got so she would lay the phone down and just say Un huh...really...etc every few minutes as I would also do that when I would call Mom if I couldn't make it to her house that day. Well my Mom passed a few weeks ago and I am here to tell you I would give anything to hear her complain again...I miss my Mom:(
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Your Mom, like my husband, needs other people to talk to/interact with. I am trying to find a center nearby that he can go to a day or 2 a week so he can be with other people. You and I need help, too...counseling, a local support group...there are a lot out there...we just have to find them...a very time consuming project but it is a way to save our sanity and our health. Very, very important if we are going to be of any use to anybody!
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The problem with iPad is its easy to put your finger in the wrong place and I accidentally reported a post here. I'm not sure which one. Maybe my own. Sorry.
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My ex-husband was like that. Notice I said "ex" lol. My mother had a method of dealing with him when she would call. She wouldn't say, "Hi, How are you?" Because he would then go into the long list of complaints. She would say, "Hi, Guess what I heard about today?" and then, without missing a beat, launch into some amusing story, then when she was done, say it was great talking to him and ask for me. Worked every time. The key to dealing with depressive people is divert, amuse and divert some more. When they start to get off on their pity pot, tell them that you really have to go, and you'll talk to them later. Do not indulge them. No sympathy. "I understand you're not feeling well, I'll talk to you later when you are."
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Well, you have two choices as I see it. You can either let her problems become yours or you can tell her her problems are hers and she must learn to deal with them herself. Stop trying to fix her problems. Stop calling her everyday. You have a family, job and responsibilities you need to deal with yourself. A depressed person gets and stays that way because everyone else is feeding into the depression. Tell her she has a choice. She can either get help (therapy), try another anti-depressant (everyone's chemistry is different) (both) would be advisable and you will not talk to her until she tries to help herself. There will be complaining and a negative reaction, but stay firm, do not call, and help yourself and your family. Your mother is playing at your heart strings and you cannot allow her to take advantage of you (say that to her). Misery loves company the old saying goes, and for you to remain sane and upbeat don't allow anyone to rain on your parade!
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Yes, I am there all the time with my mom. She has a lot of health issues (cannot walk, macular degeneration, shoulder problems etc.) So, there are not too many options. She does however play bridge when she can. The thing I have the most problem with is when I try to distance myself from the whinning and self - pity she says (that's right, get up and walk away" It is all I can do. She is very needy and demanding but has always been this way it has just gottem worse. I got outside A LOT. I try to make her feel good but it does not work. She is so depressing I could just weep because she was not always this way. She wants me to be ther with her all the time. When she does start whinning I say, I can't im,agine how you feel or I say "with all that is wrong I am so proud that you keep striving to get better. I am so glad you are not giving up" Or I try to point out to her what she can do. We do all we can for them and hope it will be enough. Sometimes I jsut want to get away. Take care all and God Bless.
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Detachment is the key and it is hard. The most important lesson I have learned from my Mothers negativity is that I cannot change it. For a while I thought if I said the right thing, took her the right place, fed her the right food, put on the right TV show, ect ad nauseam. Did not really matter and just ran me around on wild goose chases and she still retained her negativity on life. Not my problem but tuning it out is an art that is for sure. I also make boundaries for my own sanity. Example - I will let my Mother vent for about 10 minutes then I remove myself. She has got her venting in and after 10 minutes I can make an excuse and remove myself. Try not to beat yourself up too much, we all are doing just the best we can and that is good enough. HUGS
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My mom lives with me and I go through the same. I decided to remove myself from her negativity by not placing myself physically in her company. I do what I
have to do for her well-being. She says very little to me and vice-versa. This is not the ideal situation but it beats the hurt feelings of trying to communicate. I am going to find a daycare center for her. She doesn't want to go but I know that I cannot continue to stay in this house 24/7 as I have been doing (except to take her to the doctor and run to the store). Sometimes, you have to detach yourself mentally and emotionally. It's hard.
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I've been where you are and I agree with the answers above but still the complaining persisted until about 6 months ago. I don't know what or who the angel of mercy was but now Mom hardly has a word to say and for me to say that is a deep breath of relief and a big mouth full. Some of the many measures I took was laying the phone down, occassionaly say "unha, right, ok" etc. redirecting didn't work in my case, hissy fiting and ranting is all my Mom wanted to do and only with me! I started walking out when she wouldn't stop with her negative rage, limiting my visits, talking with her Nurses to see how she was doing, basically I couldn't change her so I had to change how I dealt with her. I think that's what you will have to decide...how to change yourself, not the other person.
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check to see if there are any adult day care. dont know what they charge some will pick you up others dont theymingle with other people do differant things. my mother in law has dementia will be 87. she gets hateful at times . take a deep breath block her out. it takes a little practice but i can hear her but block her out to where i do what i need to. its very hard at times but you do what you can. what might work is when she does her thing just through one hell of a hissy fit.it works for me . just every now and then when she really gets out of hand. and believe it or not you will feel better because your letting off steam. hang in there
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The old phrase "Misery loves company" comes to mind here. My mother does this too, but not on a consistent basis. Mostly my mother complains about my Dad, rather than health problems. And I totally know where she is coming from, so I just listen to her complain on those days. However, your mother is seeking attention and she wants you to feel miserable and guilty.....which you do.

Honestly, she doesn't want your help at all and she is wasting your time with all the negativity and whining. No doubt, she needs a hobby. Does she knit, read, garden, cook, or have any hobbies? If no hobbies, then invent one for her. Buy her puzzle books or teach her how to play cards with your Dad. Buy her some tulip bulbs and help her plant them in big planters or get some tomato plants or herbs and put them in planters......she can water them and watch them grow.

And when was the last time she asked how you were doing? If never, then she is just being a narcissitic pain in the you-know-what. These types focus on themselves and could care less about you. Maybe you can turn the tables on her and tell her you have been feeling bad too. Your stomach hurts, you've had a headache all day, your elbow hurts....lol. You get the idea. She won't be able to stand your whining and complaining too. And if all else fails, then limit those phone calls to once a week. She can call you if she has an emergency or 911. Enjoy your life and don't let her bring you down. You have enough on your plate dear. Good Luck!
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My Mom does exactly the same thing. My father died about 12 years ago. She says she just needs to vent and has no one else to vent to. I've tried being cheerful and change the subject, but she gets mad at me for being "too perky". I just tune her out and just say, that's awful, that's terrible, you poor thing, etc. frequently. That somehow seems to satisfy her, I've given up trying to solve things. It's not possible.

If I don't call her often enough I get tearful whiney phone calls. Sometimes at 2 am, so I find its best to just call. A psychologist told me its fear of being abandoned and fear of dying alone. These fears are worse in the middle of the night.

Being around so much negativity really does wear you down. I'm not sure why I have to make my life miserable just because hers is.

My solution doesnt work that well. I'm anxious to see better ones. Good question.
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Would it be possible to get your mother involved in a senior center or other type of program where she can be participate in activities with others close to her own age? I agree JessieBelle that what your mother is demonstrating sounds like self absorption as well as depression. Having things to do with other people might make it possible for her to focus on things other than her unhappiness with her life at this time. At the very least, she would have someone other than you to talk to about it.
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Your problem is very common. I don't know why many older people dwell on the negative things and can't seem to talk about much else. How to handle it depends so much on the person. Sometimes it is better to redirect the conversation to something happier, or at least not so focused on the elder and their problems. Sometimes it is better to interrupt, saying something like "Think happy thoughts" and repeat it until they get the idea you don't want to hear it. Sometimes it is best to just not listen, excuse yourself from the phone and say you'll call back when she is feeling better.

I don't know if the complaining and symptom checklist is necessarily a symptom of depression. From what I've seen, it is a symptom of self absorption. Often I think how retirement can be bad for certain people because it gives them too much time to dwell on things.

If you're not in a mood to listen to her, it is okay not to call her. You do sound like you have enough on your plate already, so don't need an extra helping of stress every day.
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