I've been caring for my aunt's 88-year-old mother (we'll call her "A") since April. She's almost completely wheelchair bound (she's able to stand long enough to transfer to and from a bedside commode, her bed, and her recliner with some assistance) due to arthritis in her knees. Other than that and high blood pressure, she's physically healthy. Her cognitive faculties are fully intact (no dementia), but her behavior is starting to make me feel crazy, and I'm worried I'm going to snap.
She's extremely dramatic. She bursts into tears at the slightest thing: an ant on the kitchen counter, forgetting to put something on the grocery list, a slight power flicker during a thunderstorm. And she's constantly making the most annoying noises: she'll make random whimpering sounds throughout the day (at first I'd ask her if she was okay and she always said yes; now I don't respond), but the big show she puts on is when she's being transferred. She starts panting, whining, gasping, grunting, and just having the biggest fuss. It's like nails on a chalkboard to me. Initially I tried to comfort her because I figured it was bad anxiety. Now I've realized it's all an act for attention.
"A" is able to transfer herself to and from her bed and the portable commode during the night and her afternoon naps without assistance, and when she's alone, she does this without a fuss. I know this because I've been outside her door, heard complete silence, then entered her room to see her lowering herself onto the toilet. And the second I step into the room, the theatrics start. Also, she doesn't make these sounds in front of certain friends of hers, or in front of random strangers who come in to fix the A/C or pest control or whatever.
I figured that if I ignored these undesirable behaviors, she'd stop. But she's still going strong. I can't voice my concerns or frustrations with her because she'll throw a tantrum and lash out. She honestly acts like a three-year-old and it drives me nuts because she's fully aware of what she's doing. She will scream and yell at people when she doesn't get her way. Yelling is a huge trigger for me, as I have PTSD from abuse, so I tiptoe around "A" to avoid setting her off.
Then there's the incessant complaining and negativity. Nothing's ever good enough for her. Everything is AWFUL and she's just waiting to die. Despite the fact that all of her needs are being met, she thinks her life is oh-so-terrible. I bend over backwards to please her and it's just never good enough (food's too cold; I gave her the wrong color washcloth, I gave her a teaspoon instead of a tablespoon, etc).
I've tried discussing these issues with my aunt ("A"'s daughter), but not a whole lot is being done (my aunt lives hundreds of miles away and can only visit occasionally). I literally care for "A" around the clock… the only time I have off is Fridays, from 9:00am to 6:00pm, when a substitute caregiver comes in. That's it. I live in "A"'s house rent-free and get paid $200 a week in exchange. The main problem is my family's lack of money for other caregivers. I moved in with "A" not only to ease that financial burden on my family, but also because I was fleeing a toxic relationship and had nowhere else to go. I'm currently searching for a job that will allow me to get away during the day and hopefully save up enough to get my own place and move out. But I feel so guilty because my family is in such a financial bind. I hate that I feel so intensely angry at "A", because I know she's genuinely unhappy. But she's very stubborn and resists all suggestions to help (such as increasing her pain medications, seeing a therapist, etc). If this were dementia, I'd be less irritated. But honestly she's in control of her actions and knows exactly what she's doing. I am sympathetic to her situation and do care about her, but I'm honestly close to my breaking point. Any advice is much appreciated.