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OK, here is a great confession: I find it much easier to be cheerful, interested, and genuinely nice to the other residents at the AL than my own mother. I actually like them and get a kick out of them. I could enjoy hanging out with them for a while. To say this differently, I like myself better when I am interacting with them.

Sort of the reverse of what we are saying about elders being nice to others and trashing us, which my mother does, believe me. But who am I to complain?

I am not neglecting my mom. Yesterday I took her shopping for bras--don't even ask. It is hard to take someone shopping who doesn't remember what they tried on or liked 30 seconds ago. I finally gave up and took my mom to Victoria's Secret (LOL) and let the consultant handle it. With just one firm word from me at the end of the appointment, we walked out of there with three new bras that fit my mom and she likes them. Then we went clothes shopping and got a few cute, comfortable tops for her. She forgot the whole thing within a few hours, of course. Today, Christmas, we are going out for Chinese (LOL again!) and then we will watch old movies, which she loves.

What I mean is that I am doing all the things I am supposed to be doing (not to mention handling all of her affairs, taxes, etc.). But I do FEEL more relaxed and cheerful around the other residents than around my mom.

Maybe this is not a crime against humanity but I feel really guilty about it. I wish I could tune myself in to the empathetic channel, and I can on rare occasions, but usually I just feel just dutiful, slightly annoyed, and bored.

This is raw honesty here.

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So true. So many of us feel the same way. After I visit with my Mom, I go home hating myself and feeling guilty because she is so annoying and being with her is so stressful. She can't help it, I know that intellectually, but emotionally it is so hard to deal with a parent who was once a reasonably intelligent rational person, one who told YOU what to do for years. All of a sudden that parent is a whining, complaining, stubborn, difficult (and deaf and/or helpless) not remembering what you said 2 minutes ago frustrating child. It just doesn't compute in your brain. So its easier to talk to other elders because you have no history with them and when the day is done, you walk away from them and never have to delve into their faults or deal with their difficult moments. Getting old is so sad!
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The Sandbox rules come back into play. You can be disagreeable with your parents or siblings, but if you take that attitude to the sandbox, the other kids won't put up with it. So you play nice. In old age the process reverses. Now it's your mother or father having the temper tantrums for your entertainment.
AHA! They find out the ALF sandbox won't put up with that either. So they play better with people who are not family.
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I hate to say this but I enjoy being around my ex-mother-in-law more so than my own Mom. My ex-MIL has a totally different personality, has a very quick wit, and we can talk about anything and everything. When her son and I divorced after 20 years of marriage [no children], she insisted I stay in touch, that I wasn't divorcing her. So we have been the best of friends for 40 years now :)

Of course I realize that a half hour on the phone every week is different than being in the same town and needing to help her on a regular basis. I wouldn't be surprised if her own daughter would like to trade her for someone else :P
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JesieBelle, I think you are right. I noticed that many of the seniors do NOT have the memory loss that my mom has. In fact, they amaze me. And many are very concerned about others. My mom has only criticism for others. She is good at taking the inventory of others and that is it. It's a bit embarrassing, actually. But they are patient and put up with her.
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Thanks, JessieBelle!
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BTW, I know several seniors with Alz and other types of dementia. Many people who have cognitive impairment still enjoy life and are nice to be around. Sometimes I play cards with one man who has Alz. He does pretty well and is always pleasant. Dementia doesn't have to be mean.
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I go to the senior center here when I can. There are people my mother's age there and I really enjoy being with them. I do like older people -- I have for a long time. We laugh and play games. Even the grumpier ones are fun people. All of them live independently, though a couple are in assisted living. Even the ones who are ill have not given up on life. One of my favorite people in the world is a woman who has Parkinson's that has gotten beyond the help of medications. She is one of the sweetest angels on earth to me, though I hear she can be mean to her husband sometimes. The one closest always gets the bad side. Her husband is an angel, too.

My mother is not like these seniors at all. It's not just the way we interact. It is because she stopped living a long time ago. Every day is an exercise in slogging through a bog of misery. I have a hard time enjoying being with her. I wish she could be more like the people at the senior center. That would make this all more enjoyable.

It may be that we like the seniors that we see because they are the ones who are out and about. We don't see the other seniors because they are sealed away behind closed doors. When we're family, we get to see the ones behind the doors and wish they could be more like the seniors who are still living life.
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Salisbury, you're so normal! I'll tell you a funny story though. We had an elderly lady in our congregation whom we all loved. She had a wicked sense of humor and a great sense of style. She lost her husband ( she married him late in life; he had two daughters from a previous marriage who didn't care for Bette very much)

Well, Bette fell one day and lay on the floor of her apartment for three days. Thankfully, her neighbor noticed the newspapers piling up outside the door,and alerted the police. Bette survived, went to rehab and came home, insisting that she would not go into a care facility. So three of us ( my ex, his wife and I) became the Trustees of a special needs trust for a disabled stepgrandson, allowing her to qualify for Medicaid. As she developed dementia, administering and arranging her care became a minor nightmare ( especially when one of the caregivers brought in bedbugs). At the end, we three were all thoroughly exhausted and fed up. We just wrapped up all the trust ' s business a few months ago, two years after her death. So, I think it has to do with how much work is involved and the expectation that you're available to show up that gets wearing.
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Wow, it is so good to hear that!
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Salisbury -I absolutely feel the same way. My Mom doesn't live in assisted living but in a private house in a 55+ community. There are many elderly people here, especially widows, and I get along great with them. I enjoy them and go out of my way to help them if/when I can. I wanted to go around the community helping all the old ladies decorate their houses for Christmas. But decorating my mother's house? Bah Humbug! Another favorite activity for me is bringing my calm, friendly yellow lab around to nuzzle up to the elderly neighbors and let them pet and play with her.

For me, I think it's that the other old folks appreciate me for me and don't expect anything from me. They don't feel I owe them anything. They appreciate every little bit of attention. And they treat me like an independent adult, not like an unpaid servant. And they don't make snide remarks about things that happened 40 or 50 years ago to try to "'put me in my place" like my mother sometimes does. It's a whole different (and much more enjoyable) experience, for me.
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It's only natural that you would be more comfortable around other elderly people than you are with your mom because you don't have an emotional connection to these other people. You don't have a long history with them. There's nothing to feel guilty about, it's normal.
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