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my mother who is 88 yrs old cries all the time and gets mad at me a lot. she is really hard to deal with. i try to help her everyway i can but she seems like she's always mad at me. for instance she called me today crying that her cat was sick. all i told her i didn't know what was wrong i was not a vet she got mad and hung up on me. help as i am a only child and this situation is getting really unbearable.

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There's a lady who just passed her 100th birthday at a nursing home near me. She cries every night as soon as she finishes dinner. It's like she has a toggle switch that someone turns on right after they carry her plate away. She starts crying and trying to push her wheelchair away from the table. You can set your watch by it. Dinner's over. And there she goes. I don't know whether it's depression or a "crying disorder" - yes I've heard of such a thing.
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It's not your fault that your mom got angry and hung up on you. You gave her an honest answer: you're not a vet and you don't know what's wrong with the cat. It's very, very, VERY hard to say the exact right thing all the time to someone who's old and emotionally fragile. It's like walking on eggshells, and even if you try to be sympathetic, sometimes it gets taken the wrong way.

Trust me. I told my MIL on the phone (thank God, she lives far away) that I hoped she got her taxes done because they were overdue, and she'd gotten a nasty letter from the IRS the year before that completely freaked her out. MIL interpreted that as me saying I was going to have her arrested for not doing her taxes, and proceeded to scream at me. Then she hung up on me, and called my husband, who was playing golf and knew nothing of what was going on, and proceeded to scream at him. Fun times. Fun, fun times!

An elderly parent crying all the time is hard for an adult child to bear, but it beats being screamed at and called names. I'm considering having a t-shirt printed that says "Evil B*tch," as that's what my MIL has decided my new name is.

As for the cat, can you call your mother up and ask how Fluffy's doing? Is she better? Cats get sick a lot. They throw up all the time, and bounce right back. But if she's still ailing, maybe you can offer to take her to the vet.
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SSRIs are usually first choice for anxiety AND depression, rather than benzodiazepines like Ativan and Valium (lorazepam and diazepam) - and yes, depression an danxiety go hand in hand, and yes, they can be lifelong if untreated...but treatment can help.
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Yes, I wish they would delete some at a point. There are enough new posters asking the old questions, and I think we have fresher answers now, especially with medical info. A lot of the op's are long gone.
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Someone added a comment to the thread but no cat story!
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OMG!! Thanks, ba8alou. I wonder how these get resurrected.
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Maggie, that was a very old post. Don't know you noticed the date! 2010!
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Mom: "I don't know what to do. Kitty's sick. She's been off her food for two days now. What do you think is wrong?

You: "I don't know, mom. I'm not a vet.

Really? You can't figure out why she would be hurt?

You know you wouldn't have said that to a friend. A much more appropriate response, one you WOULD say to a friend, would have been, "Aww, poor Scruffy. Is he throwing up? Does he still romp around the house? Give it a few more days. Kitties sometimes go off their feed . . . maybe she'll start eating again." And to your mom, same thing followed by, "If he's not better in a few days, how about we take him to the vet?"

Honestly ask yourself why you didn't give her the gift of showing you care. I think you reacted that way because you've "had it up to here." You feel over-burdened and helpless to fix it. Especially the part about her crying all the time. It's not easy seeing our moms so sad. It's gut-wrenching.

How about going with her to her next doctor's appointment and sharing her emotional responses with him? He may suggest a mild anti-depressant. I really think, if she begins to feel better about herself, so will you.

*Hugs*

Patience. The mantra of a care giver. ;)
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The "illness" is called depression and you mom has probably had it her whole life untreated. Crying is a symptom. Take her to a geriatric psychiatrist and let them evaluate her emotional state. It's very hard for someone who has never been depressed to understand this disease, so don't beat yourself up. But get her help now.
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I disagree with all, my mother 91 has cried at the drop of the hat all her life, my father told me before he died he could not take care of her. It has been relentless and the anger towards me as an only child also. I am so tired of the self pitty and selfishness she has put on my husband and I. Pills wont help this has been ongoing since childhood. I just take care of her needs and but i feel she would not be sick or depressed if she would just stop the unnecessary crying, she never has a reason. I have to just live with illness. Another thing she never states or knows what she wants even when you offer suggestions.
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I am confused for your profile say's your mom is 91 n yet above states, 88? Is depression all she has or does she have Alzheimer or dementia? Your profile don't state if she lives alone? U mention she has depression so is she seeing a physician n taking something for it? Maybe she needs to see her physician n let him evaluate her about changing her dose? More information about your mom would give others a more understanding so that they can offer suggestions.
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She needs to be on Adivan or lorazapam to calm her anxiety. I was and am against these drugs, but in the case of my mother who had dementia for 10 years (she is deceased now), there was no other way to deal with her "moods".
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I have the same problem ...88 year old mom who cries and sleeps and has awful anxiety attacks too...it really is unbearable...and as it goes on and on I no longer know what to do...she is in a nursing home and wants to go home but her doctors says 24/7 care..I have tried everything to help....we take care of her needs, her bills, her house, her car plus our own...she makes us (me and my husband) feel guilty if we can't visit everyday. we live in another town...I am so tired...I have no siblings they all moved far away. so...my life is ruined basically...so any suggestions would be helpful...thanks
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is really hard to also give advise because I don't want to hurt your feelings saying that she is mentally ill(alzeheimer, or maybe) Have your doctor evaluate her to tell you exactly what's wrong with her in her mind? the older they get, the harder is dealing with them as well. they get mad at you, they blame you for everything bad happening to them because we are taking care of them, so they are not going to blame themselves. because I think this part of their brains are gone already. they are sick. they have lost their ability to think clearly. their brain cells are dying. so what do you want? to put her in a nursing home or keep dealing with her? support group can help.
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This sounds very difficult. I wonder if just responding to the feelings might be what she needs. " Oh, I can see you're really concerned about your cat. You love him so much. Your are worried about him, aren't you?" That sore of thing - responding to the underlying feelings, and not so much about the content. People of all ages often just want to feel heard and understood.
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I thought your response to her complaint about the cat was rather blunt.
On the other hand, engaging in a pointless conversation about a topic
you know nothing about (ie the cat's health) is not something I'd have the patience for, either. Rather than go head-to-head when such complaints or worries come from her, gently take charge with specific actions to address her concerns. For a variety of reasons, it may difficult for aging folks to see situations clearly, determine solutions, and then carry them out. She is blessed to have you around to encourage, reassure and guide her through the bramble that is the aging process.
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MOON:

Due to severe depression, she's crying out for help; not only for the cat. Apparently she doesn't know what to do and you don't know what to do either. As I said somewhere else in this forum, your mind can't absorb what your a__ can no longer endure, so you're gruffly dismissing her and then feel guilty about it because deep inside you know that wasn't the right way to handle it. But no matter who they are, needy people equal entrapment; and it's understandable that your defensive walls go up.

The only things I can suggest right now is (1) flipping the script on her by asking what SHE thinks needs to be done to address the situation and find a practical solution (a little self-sufficiency); and (2) help her develop a network or support system that doesn't revolve around you.

It all starts and ends with you, and things won't change until she realizes you can't be expected to come to the rescue and save the day all the time. After all, you're not Superwoman.

Hang in there my friend. It'll get better.

-- ED
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Moon my mom is 87, and I am also an only child. When she was going thru those "spewlls" I asked the doctor if there was something she could give her for her mind, she put her on the Exelon Patch. Please ask your doctor about it. Lots of love, as I know exactly where you are coming from.

Jan
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I agree very much with the above. Very often validation of a person's feelings about something is more important than the thing or fixing the issue itself. Otherwise the person either feels cut off, invalidated or like we are going to take responsibility for fixing how they feel. People need their feelings validated and also given the opportunity to own and work through their own feelings themselves.
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Even if you don't know what is wrong with the cat, it would probably make your mother feel better if you simply acknowledge how she is feeling. You can say something like "You must be worried if you think your cat is not well. I am sorry you feel that way. Let's give it a day and see how the cat does - maybe it is the heat"
There are some very good comments - taking it step by step, one thing at a time is good advice. It sounds to me as though your mother is scared - maybe you can help her feel better and then it will be easier for you, too.
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Moonbeam - I can relate to a few of the things you're going through. I'm an only child too (unmarried), my father has the Alzheimer's and my mom's health is up and down. When it was down the end of last year I took time off while she was in the hospital and took care of my dad and was her hospital advocate. My dad's mind isn't horrible but his short term memory isn't great and he has a temper. And he sleeps a lot (depression perhaps). So I had to learn that his questions that we just went over would probably have to be gone over again. And again. Or if he didn't hear me (he's pretty deaf) I'd have to repeat again. And again. It was frustrating and I fell into the horrible trap of being snippy. I had to tell myself every single time it's not his fault, his body is failing him so don't yell or get snippy. It is hard. It's the hardest thing I have to deal with when it comes to his problems. If he asked questions that needed research, or some kind of future action I got to the point where I would say, Of course I'll look into it for us and as soon as I have info we can decide what to do. I think it made him feel like he still had the ability to make decisions and was valuable. I think your mom was just hoping you'd make an appointment and assure her that you care about her cat too and you'd help her when she needs it.

They do become children as they get older and need more affirmation and comforting. I try real hard to tell myself that it could be me and they would be as kind as possible if tables were turned. It's hard.

Please, please, please get some kind of help for you with your mom. Those three months lead to a mini-breakdown for me and I'm just now starting to feel strong again. I did the typical only child thing: I can do it, I'm okay, I don't need any help right now. I did have some help at the beginning but when she came home it was tough caring for her and my dad. To his credit, my dad was somehow able to pull it together when she came home and he was really helpful. But it's still overwhelming. Then things around the house started to fail (roof caved in from water damage) and I was spent. I had to go back home (Chicago) and help from here. That's even worse since you don't really know what's going on and they often lie - not in a mean way but in an I-don't-want-to-worry-you way.

Trying to work and take care of them long distance screwed up my job performance and I ended up going on medical leave. Anyway, I'm much better now :) and I've learned a lot of ways to help deal with the stress. If you're not seeing a therapist try finding one who will help you with stress relief options and as someone you can just vent to. I've learned a lot and if/when this happens again I'll be more prepared. I can't guarantee I won't get frustrated and snippy but I do think it will take a lot more for that to happen. And I don't think I'll break down again. I really hope not!
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Moonbeam, you haven't told us if your mom lives alone.
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Judy,

I'm an only child myself, but my circumstances are not like yours.

From your previous questions connected to your profile, I see where your mother is on some sort of anti-anxiety medicine but you don't know what it is. I suggest that you find out what it is, the dosage and contact the doctor. Plus, I'd inform her doctor about these symptoms of what might be depression along with the anxiety. I also notice that your mother is not good on her feet and you are afraid she might fall which is understandable. I'd would get a home health nurse to come out and evaluate if she really is safe at home.

I hope that you have medical and durable POA for your mother already. If not, try to get it very quickly. You might very well be at the point where some other form of care other than you doing everything needs to be done. Does your mother have a long term care insurance policy? What financial means does she have? Has your mother always been quick to get mad with you or has this just taken place recently?

.
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Moonbeam - could it be that your mom just wanted to tell someone about the cat and NOT expect you to fix it? At your mom's age - and mine Mom's too - they talk a lot but don't want anything changed. It's really hard to understand the difference between needs and wants. What my mom wanted one day was often forgotten the next. that said, sometimes she'd get ahold of some odd request and talk about it daily for 3 months. (Example: finding some tiny blue vase my grandmother had that disappeared decades ago) I'd just say, "yes, Mom.... I'll tryto find that..." then change the subject. Dealing with odd or repeated requests is part of care giving and we often have to learn to let a lot go. The above comment about realizing we can 't do all they ask is important, especially since some requests are bizarre or impossible. We have to learn to use distraction or redirect their conversation - for OUR sanity not necessarily theirs. Best of luck.
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My 90 year old mother-in-law living with us was depressed all the time also. Her mind is pretty good but she went to doctor and they prescribed some good Anti-depresents or "Anxiety" preventing drugs. You might want to take her to a doctor and go in with her and talk to the doctor yourself. In our particular case we all work, so she is left to herself all day 8-4 and since she has maculare degeneration of the eyes she cant see to read anymore so she is in pretty much 97% in solitude all day. We of course give her audio tape books to listen to, and she really likes that a lot, it takes her mind off stuff. Solitude is never good for anyone, especially an older person. Sometimes I think living in a nursing home sutuation might stimulate her mind better but her 3 daughters have not decided to go that direction yet. Good luck with see the audion tapes and/or the doctor? Either way, Get her mind busy, and give her some Audio Tapes of some Good Books, it cheap and like I said takes her mind off things around her.
Remember the old saying: "If you let the mind wonder it will." Try not to let the mind wonder, keep it busy. Sometimes when we get older the mind acts like a child. When "teachers" have a young child crying, unrulely, or anything else we "RE-DIRECT THEM". Get their mind on something else, have them do something that will "help" them forget their external problems.
Probably nothing is 100%, but you can try these small adjustments for little or no cost. Good Luck.
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It sounds as if your mom lives alone. I have cats and a dog and before I had kids, they were my children. Your mom's cat may be a big part of her world. If the cat needs to go to the vet, perhaps you could help her take it there or it could just be something simple like changing it's food. Ask her the symptoms and look it up on the internet for her. Offering a real solution may help her feel better. 88 is fairly old and if she lives alone, there may be other things that are overwhelming her and she is reaching out for help and when you don't actually help, she gets mad. Try to focus on her problems one by one and offer help where you can.. My mom is 87 and lives with us...when she was 81 she lived alone and was having trouble keeping up with her house, her meds, etc and finally she fell and was put in a nursing home to heal her fractured pelvis. Through all the doctor's evaluations and focus on her abilities, we saw that she wouldn't and shouldn't be living on her own - it was at that time we moved her in with us.
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who does your mom live with- does she have alzheimers- my mom laughs always when watcing americas funiest videos- she loves kids - so we make sure she sees her great grand daughter daily and my friends bring their kids over too - my mom has alz- 79 yrs. old- she lives withe me has for the last 4 months- so sorry - it
is hard- you just want them to be happy - good luck
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I don't attend these discussions often, as I really should, but I'm so busy I don't seem to get the chance. however, one of the times I was involved, a fellow member made a passing simple comment that has stuck with me and has really become the motto I live by day to day. If your mom has alzheimers or some other aging disease, as it seems she does, albeit if it's "only" depression, it may be that you are simply not going to be able to make her happy. Our responsibility as caregivers sometimes reaches the point where all we can do is make sure our mother or father is safe, as comfortable as possible, and secure. I'm not saying don't try to cater to her emotional needs to the extent possible, but if you're all at the point where nothing seems to make her happy, and no medication can be prescribed to help, then just do your best to meet her physical needs, and don't rake yourself over the coals because you can't also meet her emotional needs.
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