My mother lives by herself in the same town as I do. She moved here 6 years ago from a larger city where my sister lives. Part of the reason she moved here is because I am more willing to be attentive and Mom feels more comfortable with my husband and children. My sister is a good person, but has always done just what she wants, and on her time schedule, not one to be put out. Also, the city I live in is smaller and my Mom can still drive here (such as to the store, library, dr., etc). Mom has some hearing loss as well as selective hearing. Also, since she lives alone, her social skills have diminished quite a bit. She has alway been a chatter box, but it seems like she doesn't listen to other people, just talks about what she wants. Is not a two way know.....I talk, then you talk, when I talk again should be relevant to what you said, and vice versa. A conversation, back and forth. My Mom seem incapable of this anymore, and I find myself getting shorter and shorter with her because she does not listen. She askes me to help her with some issue, but she doesn't listen to the information I am trying to provide her, then I get short with her, and she acts all hurt, but she won't listen. Then, after these encounters, I feel bad, and she thinks I am just being a big B***h. Unfortunately, now I find myself avoiding going over to her house, or having her over at mine. I think I really just needed to vent, but if someone has some insight for me, it would be greatly appreciated

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Hi theyoungest! I'm the youngest also and the only one with any sense of responsibility so my mom lives with my husband and me. At 91, its more like raising a teenager with developmental disabilities. Also, like yours, my mother seems to believe that she is the center of the universe. It's very important for her to let me know that her toenails seems crooked, that she's constipated, has urine leakage, etc. It comes with the territory.

Again, like your mother, mine does not listen to anyone else in any significant way. She doesn't even pretend to be listening. In fact, often she has asked me a question and as I'm trying to answer her she talks right over me about something else. It used to annoy the hell out of me, but now I don't take it personally. It's not my problem if she has zero attention span or that her world has been narrowed down to just her. Sometimes, when she starts talking over me I'll say something ridiculous just to see if anything registers. One time I said "and then the space man pulled down his pants and showed me his ray gun". Ten minutes later she asked me if I said something about pulling down my pants!

You can't take it personally. It's part of getting old for her and part of being patient for you. Someone's personality flaw is not your responsibility and at her age, you aren't going to change her.

What really annoys me? Is that my sister is the same way and she is no where near old age yet but she has no clue that talking about herself non stop is not considered conversation. Still, not my problem. I have real, adult conversational interaction with people who have more to say!!

Hang in there, youngest. Dealing with your elderly parent is not easy but i'm sure dealing with us for the first 18 years of our lives was no picnic for them, either!
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Reply to dory701

I think that one of most difficult aspects of caregiving is that whatever mutuality previously existed in the relationship seems to disappear just when you need it most, when so much is being demanded of you and you need reasons to sustain your involvement and investment. If the care recipient would be caring and interested, if they would invest themselves emotionally in the care recipient, it would be so much easier and more rewarding for the caregiver to keep investing so much time and energy in them.

I'm in the same position. My mother and I used to be good buddies (which was why I became the designated caregiver out of 7 adult children), but that is a thing of the past. Now it's all about her. Mom didn't even remember my birthday this past year. I mean, just totally forgot, and I was practically living with her at the time, and no she doesn't have dementia . As my friend and confidante, Mom knew about all the plans and goals I had for my retirement, but she thinks nothing of expecting me to sacrifice all of it to make her senior years as easy and comfortable as possible for her. And of course all the conversation is about her - her medical issues, her schedule, her home maintenance needs, whatever she wants me involved with and helping with. It's like if they allow themselves to remember that you're a separate person with your own issues and feelings, they'd feel too bad about everything they're asking you to sacrifice for them, so they just don't think of it. It bites. I wish I had some helpful advice, but I really don't. It just really bites.
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Reply to CarlaCB

My mother is just the same. At first I thought it was just the hearing problem, but once she got the hearing aid (lonnnnnng story haha), I realized that she has this fantastic knack of hearing only what she wants & talking over the rest. She sees my lips moving, but she just keeps right on talking. Problem is, it's all negative. When I told her she was negative, she heard THAT and pounced back at me with "no one ELSE thinks so". I told her they did, but I was the only one TELLING her. So there i was .. the bad one again. Not sure if your mom is a complainer, but if it's simply the problem of her not listening, make sure she is looking directly at you when you talk to her.. she may be reading lips. My mother did it for years to hide her hearing loss. It's just a suggestion, but if you get her to focus on your face while you talk, it might help. I sure do know the frustration of having someone talk AT you instead of WITH you. I call it "selective" hearing. good luck :)
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Reply to RebeccaLynn

I would suggest that you start asking your mother questions that have nothing to do with daily life (avoid conversations about weather, health, or what she ate for breakfast). Ask her questions from her past--things that you might actually want to know. What was her neighborhood like when she was little? Ask her to tell you about HER memories of her grandmother or grandfather. What's her favorite memory of a date? What was her first job like? If she's going to be a chatterbox, see if it can actually help you learn something about her life before you were born and learn more about your family history in the process. Reminiscence is a healthy thing for older adults to be doing--this could open a whole new world of things for her to think about. Maybe involve your children in the process of gathering her life stories.
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Reply to bsanders

About a year ago someone was complaining that when they visited their mother in the NH (or AL?) the conversations were one-sided and not very rewarding.

One of the respondents pointed out that "you are not really going there for YOUR benefit."

So I think that even though you would like it to be different, you have to reframe your expectations in terms of the fact that you are going to visit FOR your mother, and that one-sided conversation is all she can do these days. Find a way to go with the flow instead of fighting it.

Maybe make it a game and give yourself points for not "getting short", as you say..

Personally, when my 105 yo grandmother begins a one-sided story that I've heard 100 times already, I sometimes have to put my hands behind my back and mentally dig shards of glass into my palm. It's that bad. But at least it works. Sometimes.
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Reply to CallMeIshmael

I also have a mother whose motto is "It's all about me". Forget listening, and even less, taking advice. To make matters worse, she still wants all my attention and care when I also have to care for my husband with dementia in another city. And she wants me to take in my mentally ill brother with us when she passes. There is no way I can handle them all.

Not only is my mother so self absorbed, (can't remember the last time she asked how I was doing) and such a chronic complainer, she is always criticizing and accusing me and everybody else. Never herself. If the weather is bad, it is my fault. She has accused me of things that are impossible for me to have done. I was also getting short and downright ugly with her.

She is so difficult to be with that people cannot believe that we are related. And I have had to call places (i.e. doctor's offices) to apologize for her behavior and ask the doctor not to scold the receptionist, nurse, tech, etc. who she is accusing of so negligence, or incompetence . Nobody wants to see her coming and doors are closed to her even by my siblings.

So, how do I handle her? (many times I wish I drank or did drugs!!) I basically ignore her. I NEVER respond to her accusations or complaints. I just usually say, "uh huh", "wow", "gosh", etc. I NEVER try to solve her problems, nor side with her against another person, or try to help her see the other person's point of view.

It has taken me a lifetime to learn that with my mother's personality disorder, there is no communicating with that type of person. There is no meaningful interaction. Only frustration. So I decided to stop being frustrated and angry. I love my mother, but I don't like her. We are related, but not friends. I keep my companionship and physical visits very limited. Mostly talk on the phone. I can handle 5 minutes of that.

If I let her get more into my life and my head, I lose. I just try to love her from a distance. That is best for me. That way, I can be sane for my husband who drives me insane in his own way.

I feel guilty as heck, but for my sanity and my husband's care, I have to keep my distance from the person who bleeds me dry if I let her. I got good advice from my pastor who reminded me and confirmed for me that my husband is my first and most important priority. I can and should help my mother whenever possible, so I send money for her to get what she wants or needs. I don't do it personally if I can find another way to get her needs met.

I wish you the best.
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Reply to Dee2015

When you talk to your mom next time and she just jumps right in and starts talking again, ask her if she heard what you just said. If she says yes, then say 'what did I say mom?'. Maybe with a little stopping and making her repeat what you said, she'll be less prone to run you over with her chatter. Also, if she's living alone then she doesn't have anyone to talk to so it gets pent up and has to come out somewhere. Can you suggest she try a senior center or volunteer somewhere where she can talk on a regular basis? I don't know how bad off she is, so you'll have to decide about that one. I do know when a person gets old, they become consumed with their own thing. Just like children that think the world should revolve around them. I see the same thing with my mother-in-law. Everything pertains to her somehow.
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Reply to NancyH

Dear Youngest,
Like so many people, I understand your feelings. My mother does the same thing with me. I have tried to use the time I devote to her phone calls so that I do some things that matter to me while I listen. So, I knit while I listen to her, do my nails, and usually avoid putting a great deal of energy into answers unless I think she truly needs my help.If the issue at hand seems to be something that is not vital, I often ask her what she thinks she should do. I have also started telling her some of my concerns , and she really seems to get involved (sometimes). I think my mom is truly lonely. My Dad was her sounding board; she misses him even if I don't think he really listened all of the time. The other night I was so frustrated with hearing her repeat herself over and over again. When I hung up, I realized that I will truly miss her when she is not here to tell me minute details to every issue. I have probably not helped at all, but I know that everyone I talk to becomes frustrated with caregiving but treasures the memories in the end. Also, learning to knit has helped me to make my son some great items. (even if he probably gives them to someone else : } ) Take care and please stay in touch with us. RLP
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Reply to ShadowChild1

wow I could have wrote this. But my mom lives with me ( for now ) . But its nothing new. she turns EVERY SINGLE conversation into about her. Even if were talking about dog poop. Its HARD not having a real mother to discuss things with. I have learnt the last year though that she's not going to change and in a way I have already mourned the loss of my mother even though she's alive and living n my house. I didn't realize until last year that I have NEVER been able to talk to my mom without her turning it into about her.
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Reply to 1golflady

Oh, god, I feel the same as you.... I live with my mom, moved in with her 1-1/2 years ago and the situation is rocky (fortunately, not all the time).
I have absolutely no advice except to say, "I hear you" and understand what you're going through.
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Reply to IvyMonica

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