My mother who is 80 and in very poor health point blank refuses carers or any outside help. The added problem of this is I live in another country 7000 miles away and my brother lives far away as well. I really try to do what I can, organise the shopping, travel back every 8 weeks, sort out house maintenance.

Since my father died 2 years ago she has just gone really downhill. She doesn't eat much and drinks quite heavily. She has a good support of friends locally. The real issues here are that she basically wants me or my brother there. There is a lot of emotional blackmail, she can be very sharp tongued and has said a lot of nasty things in the past. If I don't call everyday she will be very harsh.

I know this sounds like I am being awful but although I love my mother, I don't really like her at times. I totally understand that losing my father was very hard, for all of us but she has become so bitter. She has always been a very depressive person, I sometime feel like because she isn't happy neither should her children be. It puts a strain on my relationship too. I am at a loss now. She frequently tells me she will not go in a care home and will kill herself first, she doesn't seem to understand that to listen to this on a near daily basis is draining and upsetting. I sadly dread having to call her.

Does anybody have any advice for me? Thanks in advance

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Where are you and where is your mother? (I mean, roughly - not asking for GPS readings!)

Please don't think I don't sympathise with you, what you're going through is miserable; but I do feel that your mother is a classic case of a person who is not so much giving others a hard time as having a hard time herself. And although she is more fortunate than she probably realises to have good friends and a good support network, these people are not her kids. The loss of your father - whether as lifelong companion or emotional life support system - must have shaken her to the core. She is trying to fill that void. You feel you are being sucked into her negativity - because you are!

The question becomes how to help her without hurting yourself. The technique is often called "detaching with love" and it requires the establishment of mental and practical boundaries. Do you currently have any boundaries, to speak of, would you say?
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Stop calling everyday and when you do call and she starts in, gotta go mom. I can't deal with all your venom, if you want to have a nice conversation we can talk, but I'm not wasting my time being chewed on. Love ya, bye.

She treats you this way because you allow it. I don't mean to sound harsh, but if you tolerate it and keep calling everyday, she has no incentive to not be a huge drag on you. It is okay to tell her that her behavior is unacceptable.
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Develop boundaries. Calling every day is above and beyond. Don't do it. Don't give her the opportunity to manipulate you every day.

She will eventually, maybe, realize she needs help. Maybe she doesn't. Is she competent? She has the right to make her own bad decisions.
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