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No matter what we are talking about, she can find something to zero in on that is gloomy, or something bad that might happen, or someone else she has heard about that something sad happened to. Etc. It doesn't matter what we are talking about - she simply seems unable to stay on a cheerful topic for very long. I don't think she even realizes that she does this, but it really wears me down to the point that I have to brace myself for our visits. I don't think you can talk your way to being happy, but this certainly isn't helping her outlook at all. Can you help me understand why she might do this? How can I help her?

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we've done that, not as a rule, but have done it ... it seems harsh but is better than staying and risk having ugly words come out of my mouth ... even if you don't leave physically, you can still leave the conversation and move on to something else
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don't listen anymore. just walk away. and yes, i am completely serious.
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My mother-in-law can be mean and hurtful (probably out of her own fear) and even when you resist calmly and don't let her abuse you she can explode (seemingly out of insecurity) launching personal insults, crying, and asking "why do you hate me", even though she is the one initiating and being aggressive ... the only thing the other party is guilty is not cooperating ... sometimes even mere silence invokes greater insults ... anyone experience anything similar?
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Saying hi there the complaining starts and ends when I can no longer redirect the conversation other than saying "well it's time for me to say goodbye...muah, I love you"
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Hi Garturs, I feel my emotions become irritated and short fused after visiting or talking with my Parents. I try to be away from myDear Husband and not interact with others until I gather myself... Usually a short shopping trip will do the trick. I pray, listen to good music and take them a treat when I visit but soonafter
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both my mother and my wife's mother lived with us and both were disabled, one in a wheelchair and one uses a walker. My mom passed away about 3 years ago, and about 6 months ago, my mother-in-law's health issues required her to be moved to a nursing home (she had lived with us for 8 years). Yes, the physical demands of having both here were one of the hardest things we ever did (looking back I think we had a desire to do the right thing but if I had to do it over I would have moved both to a facility designed to care for their level of needs much earlier ... I am convinced when we finally did it,it was the best thing for them and us). Even now, that both of them are out of our house and one has passed away, I think one of the most difficult aspects is still with, and that is my mother-in-law's critical and negative attitude. We are going to see my wife's mother in about an hour. My wife was just short with me in the kitchen ... I was tempted to "go there" but then just decided to let it go ... glad I did. I have noticed a pattern emerging, my wife's irritability and mood changes noticeably before we go visit her mother. I don't enjoy her irritability, even I see only that, but seeing the bigger picture helps me cut her some slack. I like the post about seeing things anthro...something (the root cause) ... step back and see the bigger picture, be a student of the situation. To all those who said they avoid or limit the time they spend with the negative ones, I say "of course". If someone is hitting you in the shins with a bat you would avoid that too. Even when we are physically there, we don't connect because we don't follow her, or try not to follow her down those negative paths. She can be nice for a few sentences but we no it is coming so we never let our guard down. Yes, see the humor in it, if you can. That is why shows like "Everyone loves Raymond" are so popular, because we can all relate to the friggin dysfunctional family we all have on some level. Even still, sometimes you cannot see the humor and it is simply a difficult situation, try to learn from it and keep moving. Blessings to all.
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My mom was always upbeat. She had little materialistic things but was always content with what she had and always tried to give things to other people. As she got older and especially five years ago when we had to put her in the nursing home, she changed. It broke out hearts to have to do that, but I am the only one that lives locally and I kept her for a while, but it got physically impossible for me, plus I work a full time job. She was not negative about everything, but most things. I think most of it came from her being sad and she felt bad. She had COPD and had to stay on oxygen to breathe. I always tried to cheer her up by taking her things I knew she liked and making her favorite foods. She passed away in January and believe me, I would give anything to talk to her again, even with the negativity. I know it is hard, but cherish the time you have with them and be sure to still do the things you enjoy, that makes you happy.
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My mother-in-law is usually pretty upbeat, just so grateful that I pick her up and take her with me on my errands. But there are times that she gets in this loop of ragging about one of her sons that she doesn't see often enough. Then she starts in on the other son that isn't doing something right, and it becomes all about her, and how she's just so stinkin' MAD!! After changing the subject a few dozen times to no avail, I just start agreeing with her. I say ' you're right, they hate you, no one loves you, I don't know how in the world you survive & maybe you'd like some cheese with that WHINE!'. Now in my case, she laughs and tells me I have no sympathy, but it snaps her out of the loop at least. It may not be what some shrink would suggest to do, but it's enough of a jolt to stop the insanity (for the time being) ha
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Sounds just like my Mum. Before she moved in with us I dreaded calling her, which I did several times a day. It was always negative. She can't see the positive in anything. I know she can't help it because her mother was even worse. Now that she is living with us it's doing a number on me. I'm glad to go to work everyday for some happiness! I know I'll never change her and I'm running out of patience. I do try to change the subject but it doesn't help. The glass is not just half empty.....it's completely empty! Then I feel guilty getting out of patience with her. It's a no win situation :(
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I not only saw my depressed & negative elders in it, I saw myself dragging myself down with my resistance to permit joy or humor. For me, it's a pattern of negative thinking that is familiar and I cling to although it hurts me; and it's less important to figure out why I do this than to use whatever strategy I have to change those negative thoughtst: distraction, comedy, beauty in all of its forms, being around happy people, imagining a happy event or thing, giving myself credit for caring and trying, appreciating that I woke up today and am still "standing", etc. etc. You fill in the list for yourself. Blessings and thanks to everyone who answered this Q. You made my day! Walk in Beauty.
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I offer this example of a mother shifting from negativity into gratiitude.
Maybe your parent can benefit from the "Gratitude Game" discussed in this humorous and inspiring video.
Confessions of a Jewish Mother:
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I wish I had a dog! LOL... it wouldn't help Mom as she is not an animal person but it might do me alot of good to pick up a stray for a few hrs to calm me when I visit. My Mom talks about people behind their backs too, In my face she says the kindest things about me but can I just imagine what she says to my Dad about me when I leave. Oh well!

I visited my DP yesterday, they were the same, Mom complaining and focusing on herself, Dad was pretending he can't hear...it's limited to one ear but he hears good with that one ear, he's just smart about it! Me, I was playing hairdresser and manicurist, humming a song while Mom was yack, yack YACKing.

When I accomplished what I came for, checking in on them, bringing needed items, trying to be of good company, when I had enough we hugged, kiss and said ok, I'll see you guys next time, love ya!

And all is well.
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i'm dealing w/ something similar. i now ask y he must always paint everything so black. he's secretive, & never shares many very personal details about anything. he has no family, & i'm the closest 2 family he has or will ever have. he lost his wife 2 cancer, & his daughter was born w/ 1/2 heart funct. & died @ 5 y.o. he once had an old flame he chased off, & has been living in a fantacy world as long as i can remember. he thinks the old flame's coming back, even leaves a ceramic christmas tree lit in the window signalling her return, but its been many yrs & she hasn't returned. when will he ever get it? she's NOT coming back!!! of all the gals he fantacizes about, NONE of them r even there in his life. yes, they're ALL REAL ppl.
oh yes, now get this!!! would u ever eat anything from some 1 who refuses 2 wash their hands? i know i won't. the elder never changes his clothes, wads up filthy socks & puts them in a drawer 2 re-wear, & handles the nasty floor he never cleans, then handles food/drink, dishes. he's offended when confronted, but i must stand my ground; eating something handled by some 1 who won't wash their hands is as bad as eating off the floor!!! i'm from a rich family who won't even dig anything back out of the trash. we have those high-class tendancies, & coming from such a background as i did, i don't want germs in ANYTHING that's meant 4 my mouth!!!!!
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I take my dog too when I go see my mother. I call him the healing hound because he just brightens up the visit. He greets my mother like a long lost friend.

Today is my day to visit my mother. It's good to know others are going into a negative situation today. I don't say much anymore and just let her say disgusting things. She can't hear me if I answer so I have to repeat several times and sometimes the comment never gets communicated. It's not worth the effort.

Most of what she says is not important, a lie, or some sort of confusion. I just let it go. I do the laundry and clean the cat litter and take her for a ride in the car and go home. It's impossible to have a relationship with such a diminished and damaged personality.
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These posts were very helpful to read this morning as I get ready to go visit my mom in her ALF. I will bring my dog this time, it seems to help, she'll focus on him and not so much on me in her usual negative way. She is in a beautiful facility and has made friends but she tends to talk about them behind their backs, I don't understand that. She thinks that everyone is against her in some way. I do everything possible to make her happy, gifts at holidays, birthdays, took her to church last week and she said thanks for taking her but I don't feel like she really cares if I do those things or not. These visits are getting harder and harder, she is pushing me away and not noing it. It's very hard to get her to understand anything. The way she acts and talks is the way it should be and everyone else is wrong. Everytime I even think of going to see her my stomach gets in nots and I become a nervous wreck, I have to play the radio loud in the car just to calm down and try not to think of what is about to happen. Wish my luck because I'm sure going to need it.
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Today I took my Mother in her wheelchair out for her daily Vitamin D, walking her around a few blocks in the neighborhood of her care home. I sing to her, and often stop to speak to people I don't know. She finds this quite annoying, yet she cannot communicate her thoughts anymore. She does remember how to say, "Oh No" many times over, like a broken record, and "I don't like this!" vehemently!
Almost every day this occurs, and it is kind of sad (maybe to her but not to me) that she does not have the power to be as rude as she wants, and it is a new power for me to "override" her objections with cheerfulness. Yes, sad that she cannot outwardly express herself, but I always stop, lean down and tell her that these simple things in life--speaking kindly to strangers, enjoying a lovely day, are the good things of life. I kiss her on the cheek and tell her I love her, then we continue. Sometimes she snickers, as Narcissists do, other times she tells me she loves me, too. This afternoon, I realized that after a lifetime of not knowing whether she loved me or not, it does not matter, because I know how to love her and others, anyway.
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The lady I work for is like this...found out today she is calling the supervisor for her Home Health and complaining about what time they are coming to draw blood, it is her nap time.....!!!! It never occurs to the lady that the HH agency has hundreds of clients....I've just learned to fly below her radar as best I can... and don't think it's any easier just because I am not family.... ugly things said hurt, regardless of who you are... and everything out of her mouth is gloom and doom, like I tell others, she is teaching me how "not" to be..... all I can do on some days is keep my mouth shut and pray for her, and me.... to keep on keeping my mouth shut.... I feel bad for all of us that are with this negativity everyday, we'd have to be deaf dumb and blind for it to not affect us,and then we send our brains into overdrive trying to figure out ways to deal with it and not let it drag us into their pits of despair.....
After being on this sight, seems we have a whole generation of folks like this.... few of us escape the negative and cynical.... takes courage to keep on doing what we are doing..... and I think we are lieing to ourself when we say it does't bother us, of course it does... only thing I can figure out in my experiance, is that God is asking us to pray more..!!!!!!!!! hugs to you all.
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Yes, stop listening when she is telling a bad story. I would think that if you show no interest in listening to unhappy or "bad" stories, that she would lose interest in telling them. She may be beat for some attention. Try a better way to pay some attention to her, something that could be fun for the both of you. Good Luck.
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The thing my grandma likes is the dog, it does help to divert her anger against every other living being.
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This morning, my Dad was complaining about his difficult night sleeping. It didn't do the old, "at least you woke up! "Etc. etc. etc.routine I've done every day until a few days ago. Something about reading oldcodger's post about drowning tryngbtonkeepnher MIL's head above water hit me...that's what I try to do, even if I don't take the negativity personally. Rather, even if I TRY not to take it personally... Anyway. A few days of not trying to show the bright spot of whatever he's on about.

"What is wrong with you this morning?," he asks. "Why didn't you say, 'at least you woke up'?". I told him it was like pushing a rock up a hill... It keeps rolling down and it's not worth the effort. He is always unhappy, he always only sees the tough stuff and none of the good stuff.

He looks at me like I'm talking Russian. Then he says, "But I thought that's what we do. I LIKE it. It's a good part of my day." Now it is me who stares blankly.

"Go back out and let's try this again," he says. It reminds of when I'd mess up my times tables or have too many erasures on a book report in third grade. I go back out the bedroom door.

"Good morning dad!" I chirp upon entry. "How was your night."

"TERRIBLE, just could not sleep for longer than 90 minutes." He looks as peeved with life as he usually does, and I see he is taking this ritual seriously. "At least you woke up! In fact, you probably had five or six opportunities to say, 'Look at that! I WOKE UP,' so I hope you took at least one of them." We continue on the way we usually do, and I make no headway in getting him to come around to my way of thinking. Again, I am wondering what the point is. As I leave the room he says, "wasn't that SATISFYING?" and he is grinning. He LIKES THIS.

And the part of me that is just like my dad is resisting liking it too.
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Austin, I do love Sonny, he is the one with Alz... I couldn't ask for a more perfect person to take care of... he is the exact opposite of his wife, always a smile, we laugh and kid with each other... I really do love this little man, if it weren't for him, I would have never taken the job.... I fell in love with him the first time I met him.... her, different story, but there is no perfect job as rossella reminds me, but it has taken me months to detach... I like to be involved with my guys, and it just isn't possible with her, so my energy goes to Sonny... he is such a sweetheart... and thanks for thinking of me Austin.... I always feel your support, hugs to my lady and keep on keepin' on///
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Ladee you have learned how to cope with it I think that is really the answer -detachment seems to be the word now-I was so hoping you would get a great job that you loved-all I can do is support you with words.
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So glad I read this thread this morning, my life in a nutshell, but I am learning to let it go in one ear and out the other...her world revolves around her, her aches , pains, how the HH people never consider when she needs to take a nap, ect... fortunately for me, I get to leave, but I had gotten to where I dreaded going in there.... it is hard to ignore and not get flushed down into that dark place with them.... I don't try to cheer her up, she finds comfort in her own words, like others have said.... I don't have to understand it, I just have to protect myself from it....
So thanks for all the posts here, a good reminder for me to stay focused on tasks at hand....
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I am glad you found a way to defuse the situation that works for you -you have our support and what you do will help others also.
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I have been blessed with a positive mother most of my life. Now that she is aging her darker side begins to show. I tell her I am grateful for XYZ and change the subject. Or simply say. I am sorry I cannot agree with that, so I cannot keep talking about it. Then I pray something of her old self re-surfaces. Thankfully it does most of the time.
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I can tell you my experience I accepted the fact mu husband did not want to go to adult day care but in hindsight I wished I had insisted he try it because about a year later I had to make a decision to have him placed and this time I told him it was not his choice -he became cricially ill the last day of our insurance coverage and died about 3 days later after being on life support until the last 12 hrs. of his life. Have her try adult day care for a few days even if she is very opposed to it-I so wished I had insisted he try it for a few days.
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We are looking into VA Aid and Attendance. It's a maze. BUT, if she can get some help with Assisted Living expense - it might be time :0) Yes, I told my hubby that if I could get a way a week out of each quarter of the year - I could probably hang on. OR if I could just convince her to go to Adult Day Care type activities once a week. At least she would have a LIFE of some sort. She could complain to someone else who would really understand her complaints! She won't hear of it. :0( They have a really nice place near us - pick up/delivery, activities, excursions, chair exercises. I have toured and it looks great. She has even been there for a flu shot. NOPE - absolutely won't even give it a try. Should we force her?
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If you can leave for a time at least once a month-maybe it is time for placement-it sounds like it she may still complain but it will not be in your house-why ruin your health and peace of mind-they will use her assests for medicaide and how much more unhappy will she be.
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dankoffman - appreciate your perspective - it isn't an easy one to come by.

I feel as though for the last few years I have been standing in water just over my head - holding my MIL on my shoulders - trying to keep HER head above water - while I was drowning! I spent my days being cheerful - looking at the bright side - trying to turn her conversations around to something pleasant, (she even speaks ill of the dead!) talking her out of her depressive episodes - turning on HER lights - literally and figuratively. Why do they want to be in the DARK, literally!

Then about a year ago I HIT THE WALL - I woke up in a panic and I just had to get away. I felt that if I didn't RUN and FAST, I would DIE. My dear hubby stayed with his mom over a long weekend so I could just go visit a friend in another city. I shopped, went to a movie, out to eat and NEVER MENTIONED MY MIL THE ENTIRE WEEKEND. I made my friend promise to stop me if I even began to mention something about care giving. Well, that long weekend got me through another 6 months and then I hit another wall. Went for another long weekend - that helped a little - but not as much as before.

The NEGATIVITY is just overwhelming. The air is thick with it. It is easy to say 'change' how you think. I am tired of trying to save my MIL from herself. I do OK for a while and then crash and burn for a week and then get back up and do it again. All the while, she 'doesn't understand what the problem is with me!!' She asks my husband 'What's wrong with HER anyway?'

I know I have changed. I no longer attempt to turn the conversation around - I leave the room. I no longer try to cheer her up - I leave the room. I limit my interactions with her and I know that isn't good. I am beginning to seriously believe that she may be happier in a facility. But, deep down, I know that probably isn't true.

She has beginning dementia and her short term memory is ZERO. So, if she doesn't remember saying or doing somthing - it didn't happen. This just makes it worse because there is no reasoning with her.

Thanks for letting me 'let go' of this. Bless all you care givers who must deal with bleakness like this. She doesn't have a clue. She just tells us over and over and over again that "you have no idea how hard this is or what I go through." Well, neither does she.

It isn't that I don't love her or feel sorry for her - I can't think of a thing I would rather NOT do more than get old, wracked with pain, senile. It isn't for sissies, as they say. Maybe it is impossible to look on the bright side when you have lost your health, husband, home, friends. Maybe we are asking too much of our seniors. Antidepressants didn't help her - she faithfully took her 'happy pills' as we called them for over a year and finally stopped. They didn't help and they just had negative side effects that she didn't need.

Guess now the emphasis should be on how to keep ME sane so that I can continue on. That may be easier said than done as well :0)



I long for conversations about THE FUTURE that do not include illness, pain, funerals, death, constipation, incontinence. Friends for me are few and far between. My own kids hate to be around their own grandmother - she is so depressing.

Thankfully Spring is just around the corner and I will be able to be outside more. Winter is the worst.
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I do realize that the older you get, that the more aches and pains you have, and the more history you have to look back on which may not be pleasant to remember, but it's not a reason to dwell in negativity. Being happy can be, for the most part, a choice. Even when it's a biological depression or a physical problem, there are treatments. My mother has as many reasons to be happy as I do, she only needs to try and fight for it. I do every day.
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