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My mother is 83 and is relatively healthy, yet complains and whines about everything and anything you can think of. I know friends who have lost parents and would do anything to have one more day with them. And then I listen to my mother flip out over not having enough chocolate in the house or not having enough money to buy something on QVC even though she buys stuff on those channels constantly and it's always stuff she doesn't need and never uses.


I was watching TV with her and they were showing the devastation in the Bahamas from Hurricane Dorian and she starts talking about not having chocolate again and how "at her age" she shouldn't have to worry about money or buying what she wants. The complaining turns into hours and hours of lost time each day and week as she will interrupt anything and everything to talk about herself and what is bothering her this minute. Trying to be a good, understanding son is useless. I can bend over backwards 24/7 for her trying to make her happy and she will find something else to complain about or make me feel guilty about or point out something I forgot to get her when I was at a store or grocery shopping. If she has to wait more than a day for something, I'll hear about how she's been "asking me forever" to get her something.


If I keep her company watching TV, she'll turn off something without any consideration as to whether or not I was interested in seeing it. If I record something and watch it and she's "not in the mood to see this" - off it goes. If I say I'll watch it on another tv in the house, I'll be asked what's wrong with me and why don't I want to spend any time with her. It's always what she wants to watch, what she wants to talk about, what she wants to vent about - and I'm supposed to understand because "I'm 83 - I should get to watch and eat and do what I want at this age! I sacrificed enough for you and your brother!" She moved to the suburbs with my dad, who passed away 25 years ago, she never learned to drive and hates where she lives but never wants to move elsewhere. She blames my brother and I for living where we do. She blames us for everything - if she's not feeling well, it's because my brother or I aggravated her two weeks ago and it's "still having an effect on me." If she doesn't like what she's eating it turns into "if you had bought me xyz last week, I would be enjoying something right now instead of THIS."


She has no friends anymore - she alienated all of them years ago. Her grandkids live in Florida and want nothing to do with her (it's all their fault, according to her), what few remaining family members she has left haven't talked to her in years.


Yet I am living with this person because I promised my ailing father in 1994 that I would take care of her. I never knew it would turn into the nightmare it is. This is going to sound crazy, but I sometimes think that maybe I died years ago and this is hell. That's what being around her is like. Hell on Earth. If anyone remembers The Sopranos, she is like Livia Soprano times ten - a mean-spirited, unappreciative nightmare who thinks she's smarter and better than everyone else - and entitled to be treated like a queen despite treating others like dirt. I saw how she treated my brother's ex-wife and vowed to never put another woman through that, and as a result have lost out on relationships, short and long term, because I don't want anyone else to have to suffer. I feel like I'm waiting for her to die before my life can really start and meanwhile I'm 50 and my life revolves around work and taking care of her. I am miserable and depressed and I hate feeling like this and I'm tired of taking care of someone so miserable and angry and hurtful.


I see postings on here and I feel bad for anyone in such a situation. But please know you are not alone. If anyone has any suggestions on how to cope, a book or article(s) to read or anything that can help on a day to day basis, I would be so grateful. Thank you.

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"I am living with this person because I promised my ailing father in 1994 that I would take care of her. I never knew it would turn into the nightmare it is."

I don't suppose this nightmare is what your ailing father had in mind, either, do you?

Rethink what constitutes "taking care of her." It does not have to mean sacrificing yourself, especially not when no matter how much you sacrifice it isn't going to achieve the impossible and turn her into a contented, thankful, happy person.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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One word I learned here... Greystone. Look it up. You can run ragged and give up everything but it’s NEVER EVER GOING TO BE ENOUGH. Not today not next year. She doesn’t care how you feel but you need to. You are dying inside so she can maintain a miserable existence. Does that sound sane to you? What are you accomplishing by letting her chew your bones? If she’s miserable and hates her life then she can survive like that elsewhere. Guilt, yes you’ll feel it. Relief, yes you get that too. Stop dying for her, that’s not the promise you made. Making sure she is cared for is the promise you made. So get her out of your home, and cared for by someone else or somewhere else where they are trained to deal with this behavior, you didn’t go to school for this. She’s not going to be happy no matter what, So spare yourself. At least 1 person will be able to smile out of 2 when one person never wants to or cares to smile anyways! Bless you for all your patience and please get the ball rolling... she can be in misery literally anywhere but you can’t be happy with her eating away your soul. You’ll end up resentful and hating yourself for the sacrifice and it’ll never have mattered to her in the beginning or end!
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Reply to PowerOf3
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cherokeegrrl54 Sep 5, 2019
Excellent advice Powerof3! Blessed Be )0(
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You made a promise to your father to take care of her 25 years ago. No where does it say you have to care for her in your home or hers, nor does it say you have to be her servant and wait on her hands and foot.

You will never 'make her happy', she has no interest in being happy, or more to the point, she is only happy when she is miserable and making your miserable.

Get off the merry go round and get your own life. She can move into independent living and complain to her hearts content and you do not have to listen to it.
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Reply to Tothill
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I honestly cannot identify with a promise made many years ago about something you could not have foreseen. Perhaps you WOULD HAVE taken care of THAT woman, the one who was there years ago.
THIS woman, however, will likely be the death of you, if you continue on. Your mother could easily have another 15 years of life. Those years will no be easier. They will be more difficult.
Currently you are suffering from "Fix It". You believe because there isn't chocolate in the house you must fix that. If you want to watch something and she doesn't you must fix that. If she thinks you spend too little time with her you must fix that. Sorry. There is no fix for old age. It is a long slow slide into oblivion, and many seniors, whether demented or not, are angry and depressed about it, feel out of control of their lives. Will control yours if you let them.
If you cannot set clear boundaries both for yourself and for her, then it is time to think about placement for her. I don't really want to hear nonsense about promises, about guilt, about how to change her. None of that makes a difference in real life.
Of course, there is this. CHOCOLATE. I WOULD expect an unending supply of Milk Duds and Hershey Bars. Make no mistake!
Good luck, and keep us updated as you evaluate what might work for you. Sometimes it is boundaries, and limitations. In the case of dementia, all stops are off--that's unlikely to work.
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Reply to AlvaDeer
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You are her slave. Please remove yourself from this situation. YOU COUNT. She's had her time in the sun. This is YOUR time.
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Reply to CTTN55
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Taking care of here does not mean becoming her servant and whipping boy. You can't take care of her if you are emotionally destroyed by her. Move on. Get her evaluated mentally for moving to assisted living. If she refuses to go, tell here she can find her own place to live. YOU are not a slave to abuse.

Also, as for your promise to dad, I'm going to guess that she's a different person in many ways than she was when she was with him. What would your dad do in this situation? Do you think he would sit there and take the abuse being heaped on him?

You can choose to have both your own life and keep your promise to look after her. It does not have to be an either/or. It just does not have to look like the way you are living it. Figure out a way where you can have both. But you will have to be brave and make some hard choices that she does not like. Just don't fight w her. Fighting w her gives her fuel. Just say this is how it is, and walk away. Let her yell at the walls.
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Reply to MiTo1960
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Tiger55 Sep 5, 2019
👏 bravo, MiTo1960.
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I also am a Sopranos fan. Livia was a hateful, detestable character. In the wise words of Carmella at Livia's wake: "This is such a crock of s***. I'm sitting here thinking I should protect my children from the truth about their grandmother and, on the other, what kind of example am I setting, evading and smiling and passing out cheese puffs, over a woman we all know was terribly dysfunctional, who spread no cheer at all".

You choose to revolve your life around work and taking care of your mother. The promise you made to your father about your mother did not include "until death us do part". If you want to change, it's within your control and it's your choice. At 50, you are well into adulthood. Your mother could live to 100. Do you want to live the way you do for another 17 years?

Remember that Tony Soprano is in therapy. Change is hard. There's help out there if you want it.
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Reply to NYDaughterInLaw
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Oh I have been in your situation! My mom's still alive, but barely at this point and all her fire and brimstone is largely in the past. But at 83 she was much the same way. And had also alienated/driven off all other friends and family long before.

Bottom line, as you can clearly see, this is someone for whom NOTHING is ever good enough and who will never be happy no matter what you do or don't do. They are simply incapable of it. Once I realized that about my mom, it became a lot easier to make decisions for her and to have (and enforce) boundaries because I knew that she wouldn't like anything anyway - so instead of BOTH of us being miserable at least ONE of us was happy if I lived my own life & made choices for her regardless of her feelings.

Besides, it's a potent form of manipulation and once you let her know you are onto it by refusing to enable it, it tends to decrease. People who choose to be unhappy and not make decisions that would make themselves happier (ie moving somewhere else)....to see the cup as always half-empty, AND who insist on bringing everyone around them down with them ("Debbie Downer") are giant pills. She's entitled to have a pity party for herself, but she's not entitled to make others participate in it.

It's at this point we often come to an uncomfortable realization - we have to reverse roles and play the role of parent while parents take on the role of children. We have to make unpopular decisions for them and like a parent, we know we are doing the right things for their best interests regardless of much said parent may not like it. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. People like our moms don't like ANYTHING anyway so stuff any guilt you may have away permanently. As long as you know you act with good intentions to protect her safety, financial security and physical health, you can sleep well at night. Nowhere is it written you have to be her guaranteed entertainment or slave labor or less worthy of having your preferences met than she is. She may THINK she's royalty, but royals only get that kind of treatment because others give it to them. This woman is down to her last 'subject'...it's time for you to leave her 'court' and demote her to 'peasant' like everyone else!
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Reply to NHLGAL77
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cherokeegrrl54 Sep 7, 2019
Awesome and well said words!!!!
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Agree with the others. There is literally nothing you can ever do that will make her happy. I know, because my dad was the same way while he was living in my house and I was taking care of him. I would always make myself so stressed and sick trying to do things for him to keep him happy. Like buy him his favorite treats even if money was tight. Be relieved for a couple hours thinking “he’s good now”. But then start stressing that something would come up and he’d be upset again which would usually be within the day. My 4 kids are still at home (ages 9-17), and if I was busy with them he would even say frequently “you had too many kids”. That sort of talk ended when I told him to pick 2 to get rid of, and how sorry I was (sarcasm) that I didn’t remain single and childless in anticipation of the day he needed me to wait on him. He would accuse my oldest of not having learned any responsibility because there were things he wanted him to do for him that I had already laid down as not his job, and my son already had many responsibilities with school, JROTC, the household and his siblings. I got peace after he had more strokes and I moved him to assisted living.

I learned through it all that my dad is a very unhappy person, and no amount of anything in my power would help him with that. I will never get his approval. And the most loving thing I can do is make sure he’s cared for somewhere else. Our parents have lived their lives, we still have lives to live. Go live yours with peace. Much luck to you on this journey!
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Reply to Miranova
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I hear two big things. Your dad made an unreasonable request not knowing what he asked of you and you agreed to it not knowing what you were committing to do. As the great Maya Angelou says, when we know better we do better.

Your promise was made based on LITTLE INFO other than wanting to appease your father. Now you have more intel to make a new decision. Make it.

For some reason that that I don’t understand, some people think caregiving means GIVING ALL OF YOURSELF but I happen to believe GOOD CAREGIVING is taking care of yourself AND the person with yourself at the forefront so you can do the second half full of vigor and peace of mind. If you’re burned out and overwhelmed and stress in ANY JOB the job won’t be done well. Period.

Make a new choice. Assisted living? A nurse? Separate housing? It’s up to you and what’s best for you. You can do both. Look after your mom and have a life. You just have to figure out the way that’s best for you do it. It doesn’t have to be one and nothing. It can be both. Watch, if you do it, your world will suddenly get brighter, lighter and wider. Start imagining what that will look like and FEEL like and let that momentum carry you forward to actually putting it into action.
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