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She has health problems - walking and a lot of pain - and she is very depressed. She is supposed to come to Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow with lots of people but has no desire to fix herself up. She goes out shopping like this - she says everyone knows she is sick and won't care but that I'm ashamed of her and have upset her. She takes everything very personally. Now, she says she isn't coming to Thanksgiving dinner because I am ashamed of her. What do I do?

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My dad does too! IGNORE her, just ignore her. All of us have switched roles with them, and don't even really realize it. They are now the immature children behaving childishly, and we are the parents! You can't reason with children can you? You have to be firm, and calmly ignore their little tantrums. If you dwell on their words it only makes you feel worse, not them. They aren't even aware of how hurtful their behavior is because they are dealing with very scary and new emotions. Just take care of yourself, and continue your mission. It will get better, I promise. LOVE
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You need to let this go sweetie. I saw your post before, and can tell it's really bothering you. My dad says things to me too that hurt and baffle me, and he has no dementia. I finally think I figured this out, and maybe it will help you. My dad is suffering from old guilt that is not associated with me, but he has chosen to express it on me! He is transferring his own inner feelings of inadequacy onto me. When they are sick, and know they are on the cusp of death they start to dwell on things they feel were mistakes or wrong. You just happen to be the one there to catch it. The real problem is that you are letting this get to you, and thinking if maybe she's right in some way. What I would suggest is when she starts with the "You're ashamed of me" crap, just sweetly and calmly say "No I'm not Mom." If she repeats it again, ignore it. Do not engage in a conversation you know will go nowhere. Do NOT let this eat away at you. It has nothing at all to do with you. It is about what she is feeling about herself. If you do want to try one more time, and I mean only ONE more time, you could ask her "Mom, please tell me exactly what I have done to make you feel this way. Do this sweetly and CALMLY. Do not defend yourself or get into a tit for tat argument. If you do she will have you again. Do not accept a vague answer from her like "You just are ashamed, and I know it." Make her give you a specific example of what you did. I guarantee she will not be able to. You cannot settle for anything less than example: "You told me I looked ugly and smelled on thursday.". If she does say something like that get her to be even more specific like "what day, and where were we?", "What were you wearing that day?" Catch her at her own game, but DON'T let this keep hurting you or you will get sick. Believe me because it DID make me sick. I've been dealing with this crap for 4 long years now, and have had to get really creative with things. It helps to have a very good therapist too!!! I hope if nothing else this helps to make you feel empowered a bit. Don't forget that you are doing a wonderful beautiful thing, and only very special people get chosen for that kind of mission! LOVE and LIGHT!
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She is just too sick to deal with the whole ordeal. Give her a break. She is telling the truth.
Acknowledge what she tells you and bring Christmas/Thanksgiving dinner to her.
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JeanneGibbs--Again, your comments above were very encouraging, especially in the last two paragraphs--I saw myself in regards to how I have approached my own mother. Thank you for taking the time to reply to the above question. May we all be encouraged to continue to honor and bless our aged parents.

Off the subject re: Christmas gift ideas: Someone gave this input from last year and I think it bears repeating. Appeal to their senses: A book perhaps in large print edition (Abe's books.com is a wonderful site); a homemade blanket; a small potpourri gift that you can spray with lavendar/or cinnamon apple; a small daily flip calendar (I.e. Stormie O'Martian's is a good deal @ Abe's Books; dark chocolates (goes w/o saying); etc. Soft & frilly socks; a nice CD. Our family focused on the senses last year and it was a blessing for mom.
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I agree with Christina that skipping the criticism or anything that could be construed as criticism would be a good approach to try in the future. I have first-hand experience of what clinical depression feels like and does to one's perspective. If someone told me (while I was depressed) I look feeble and I should make an effort at makeup, etc. I would be devasted. I would hear the "feeble" and latch onto it. It would feed my mood. I'd be thinking "well, dang, I AM feeble right now. I have a right to look like it. If that's what everyone is thinking -- that I should use the small amount of energy I have to fix myself up -- then I might as well stay home." I'd probably cry. Other people might rant. Not many people with depression would be inspired by that approach. Why is it necessary to bring up the negative at all? If a friend said to me "I'm going to get my nails done tomorrow, why don't you come with me and I'll treat you to a manicure or a hair styling," I may or may not be able to work up enthusiasm to go (when I'm depressed) but at least I wouldn't feel picked on, and I'd know my friend was trying to offer something to make me feel good.

Your mother has pain, impairment, diagnosed depression, and she recently lost a pet. She does not need to be reminded that she looks feeble. It is not a compliment to be told she could look better. If you want to compliment her, compliment her. That means say good things about her. Leave out the negatives. She has more negatives than she can handle right in her own mind.

You know that she is going to latch on to any negative -- you tell us that -- so why do you keep giving her negatives to latch on to? What you deal with is very predictable, especially taking the depression into account. It is not productive to keep behaving in the same way toward your mother and expecting different results.

I certainly believe that you are sincere in your wish to do what is good for your mother. I think your approach needs a little polishing, and you need to account for her depression as much as you do her other health problems.
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And, what I'm saying is that once my mom makes up her mind to be mad, she will be mad until she decides to change her mood. All of the compliments in the world won't change her feelings. I walk on eggshells around her, a lot. Her moods flip-flop, but I hate that she decided to do this on a holiday. I do everything I can for her, since I'm an only child with 6-year-old triplets. It's rough sometimes.
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Helloddavis, I mean no disrespect. If you read your posts, you first make a negative statement then you follow it up. All I am suggesting is to skip the criticism of her and go directly to the positive approach. Everyone gets too wrapped up in how difficult these old people are. She is hurting and depressed. Don't make it worse:) peace xo
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It does no good to compliment her...she hangs onto one word/ phrase and blows it into this big massive problem...she misunderstands a lot and won't listen to what I am trying to tell her...if I tell her she looks feeble when she has no makeup and her hair ins disarray, etc. but that if she goes to get her hair fixed, she looks like a new person...what does she hear...feeble...and I'm horrible for having said it. This is what I deal with.
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Like I said, you must use a positive tone to motivate her, not criticism of how she looks. Go deeper into her value and worth, not appearance. If I were her, I wouldn't want to go either. If you shift your approach, or point of view, you might get better results. She needs to feel loved and to know she is valued.
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Helloddavis, I think you have said the wisest thing yet. You know that all of the talking in the world won't change things and you have to move on. You can give help and encouragement, but if your mom wants to be a martyr when everyone wants to help there is no way of winning. Take her a meal and enjoy your Thanksgiving. You have tried to help. :)
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Thanks for your answers. I just feel at a loss at what to do, sometimes. I know that age is coloring how she feels, and she just lost one of her dogs, and that makes it much worse, but she was fine, so to speak, until I asked her to go get her hair fixed. I told her how much better she'd look (she looks feeble like she is now) and feel, but that became that I'm ashamed and the family understands - everyone except me. I give up. I have to move on, I know, but it's hard. All the talking in the world won't change her mind when she gets like this.
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H:

I'm with Jeanne. My mother, when depressed, tried to flip the script on me too. "I know I bother you," "You don't want to be seen with me," "I don't know what I did for you to treat me like ....," blah, blah, blah. Doc gave her Prozac; didn't work.

Unless she, you or a shrink identify the root of what's missing in her life there isn't a pill in the world that'll make her feel better. And she'll continue looking for ways to justify her behavior, letting herself go, and making everybody else miserable.

I once told Mom "If I were ashamed of you, you'd be tucked under a rock somewhere. But you're in my house. How do you explain that? Am I really ashamed or is there something you're not telling me? Tell me what hurts and we'll do something about it."

She denied anything was wrong, so I asked her why the drama. "I'm getting old, I look like a porker. ... I used to turn heads back then." To make a long story short, I took her to my nephew's salon. Hours later, she was a vixen (push up bra, hair, makeup, and the works). I asked her how she felt, and she said "Hot."

... What on the surface seemed an annoying guilt trip, was actually a cry out for help.
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Hellodavis, I would talk to her in person in the morning, matter of factly tone of voice, and help her pick an outfit for the day, get her in shower and get her hair washed. Do a little make up, perfume, jewelry and tell her that she is the Matron of the family, a position of high honor, and she musn't let the others down. Take her through the whole thing and sit her in her favorite chair with a nice drink. Tell the others to rave over her a bit, make her the center of attention --next to the turkey. Don't take no for an answer. If you speak in a way so there is no other option for her, she will comply. "Come on, Mom, it's time to get ready for hour guests." Don't argue with her, do not reply to any protests, just keep moving forward. I hope she enjoys it. She will thank you for encouraging her;) hugs
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Mom is being treated for depression. This isn't the first time she has gotten mad at me. She tends to hold grudges, too.
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It would be good for your mother's depression if she made some effort to fix herself up a little for a special event. I can understand why you'd suggest it. When you are depressed and in pain, the prospect of getting gussied up may seem overwhelming and I can understand her resentment of your suggestion.

I suspect that she may have also been looking for a scapegoat. Perhaps she had doubts about being able to function in a social situation with lots of people around and being mad at you gives her an out. She doesn't have to take responsibility for a careful decision (difficult when you're depressed) but can tell her self she is forced into this decision.

I'd call Mom again. Briefly explain once again that you don't care how she looks and it isn't important to "fix up" if she isn't feeling up to it. But that if she prefers to stay home you will be bringing her the complete meal. Ask whether she'd like for you to bring it at the end of the party, or the next day. Tell her you'll reserve her piece of pie before the pie is served to anyone else and ask her what kind she wants (if there are choices).

It is very hard for people to make decisions when they are depressed. Whatever she is going to do, you don't want it to muck up your relationship with you. Accept what she decides and support her in that decision. Don't turn this into a power struggle and don't get into arguments.

Is your mom being treated for depression?
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It sounds like your Mom is ashamed of herself but is too exhausted and depressed to fix herself up. Is there a granddaughter or someone else that can go over to her house and get ready for Thanksgiving with her and make it fun ? I hope she can talk to her doctor about the depression, though. It has to be hard for both of you.
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