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I am doing all I can for my mother. I visit her every other day. I talk to her countless times during the day, just so she can talk to someone or complain to. I cook and take her food, meds, clothes, etc. How do you deal with all of the complaining? I am an only and no kids. Wonderful husband that I don't want to have to deal with this since he had something similar with his mother. My mother constantly says she needs someone. I tell her I would hire someone but that won't work. I tell her to move to a very nice AL but that won't work for her. Just complains and miserable. She use to be so active until a year ago. She just gave up. She hates being 88. She is always saying she wants to be someone else. She has stopped living, basically. She wants to, but her brain just won't let her. Her memory is great. She does her own checkbook. It makes her very upset but does it. I sit with her. She won't turn it over to me. She reminds me of stuff I need to do. I think depression or severe anxiety. She won't take meds that her doctor has prescribed. Anyone else out there dealing with similar? Thanks for listening.

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Why are you feeling guilty, it is not your fault that she is unhappy...in any case happiness is an inside job...if she wants to wallow in misery that is her choice. Your choice is whether you listen to it or not.

It sounds like you are a helicopter care taker, doing everything for her, doting on her every need. I would ask myself why, don't you have a life to concentrate on?

I would suggest that you back off, talking to her countless times everyday is overkill and helps to keep her stuck, you are her go to complainers site this does not help either her or you. Set some boundaries and stick to them, if she starts complaining leave, if all she does on the phone is complain, tell her that you do not want to listen to it and hang up. The ball is in your court.
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Thank you
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She is unhappy with the aging process and you cannot "fixit". It isn't you job to "fixit". Also, if she is constantly complaining you should cut the visits short. She is making a path in her brain that follows this course over and over. It has become habit. An assisted living would likely help her and she would have activities and others to visit with, play games with. But she has chosed to sit and not like what is happening. I am with her, myself; it is basically loss after loss after loss after loss, and I am a coward. I have little stomach for seeing each thing I can do taken slowly away while my body fails me piece by piece, then my mind. So it isn't pretty. And you can't fix it. And for me, it is an honest reaction for some. Some of us choose to move while we can, sew, read, garden, do what we are able to, recognizing that our ability to do these things will fade. I personally believe that we live too long. We become a burden much the way your Mom is quite honestly now your burden. It is really sad. Try telling her that you understand the losses she is having, and understand she is not happy about it. Ask her what the worst things are for her. At least then she can speak honestly. Tell her you are sorry. Tell her to let you know if you can do anything for her. And then move on with your own finite life. Not everything can be fixed. So sorry for all the pain.
For you both.
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Wow! Such a poignant way to sum up the aging process. You are so right . Like John Cougar Mellancamp sang , we keep on living after the thrill of living has gone . Happy Thanksgiving
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My mother was very similar. I am also an only child and I still struggle with guilt because I could never make her happy and never be the daughter that she wanted. At some point I had to accept that I could not make her better. As other people have pointed out, you can't really make another person happy.
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Being the only is hard . Thank you for your words .
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You're mom sounds a lot like mine. I'm not an only child, but my siblings, the ones who live nearby, just basically stopped coming around. Then the false accusations began behind my back that I was trying to take over and control mom, although they were the ones who drifted away, back into their own lives and habits. I sometimes feel it would be better if I were the only child. At least I wouldn't have to deal with their false accusations against me.
My mom is like yours in other ways too. She refuse to take her medicine. Even chewed me out at the ER once when I took her because she was complaining of really bad headaches and asked me to take her to ER. One the way she admitted she'd stopped taking her heart medication, so I told the intake nurse when he came in to take her vitals because I feared if test showed her heart wasn't pumping right they may think they needed to increase her medication dosage. Wow! When the nurse left the room she lit into me good and stayed on me every time I went over for the next 3+ days to the point I became physically ill, and just decided to miss a few days checking in on her to get myself back in order. I'm no longer close to my siblings so I can't discuss any signs I see in her with them. I'm not able to talk with her doctors either. She rarely allows me to go back with her, but even when I do I remain in the background. She's basically in her right mind. Still lives alone and takes care of most all her basic needs such as cooking. I'm basically her chauffeur, taking her to doctor's appointments, grocery shopping etc. She's 89. A 3 time cancer survivor.
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Wow! I do t mind helping my mother at all. I cook for her , grocery shop, set up appts, etc . The biggest thing that is hard for me to handle is how how I hear how miserable she is. Tonight she told me she wanted to die. I told her that I don’t want her to die. I want her to live . Longevity is in her family , so she couldn’t live , who knows, another 10 years like this . I couldn’t handle that . I just pray a lot , do some crying every couple of days ,have a melt down about once a week or so. I put in a food face to my husband and my co workers . Only my mom and God really knows what’s going on .
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My father is 92 and tends to complain quite a bit as well. When he does, I try to imagine what it must be like for him. His wife (my mom) of 70 years died a little over a year ago. His cat died shortly thereafter. He's outlived his son (my brother) who died when he was 11. A son-in-law who died just when he was about to turn 53. His family - including 8 siblings - and his friends are all gone.

What must it be like to be the "last one"? The indignities of aging don't appear to lessen or even plateau. At least for him. So, I attempt to console, distract, make him laugh and/or remind him that there are those who are younger than him who are worse off. Sometimes it helps. Sometimes it doesn't. Still, he's one of the "lucky" ones. He can still live at home, albeit alone, with the help of me and my sister.

Perhaps the "gift" our aged parents give us, is to encourage us to consider what type of person when we want to be once we're their age and to take care of health as much as possible now.

The other day, my dad mentioned how he "hated snow". I laughed and said it's because he resents not being able to make snow angels anymore. And, for a moment, he laughed with me.
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Wow! I agree . I don’t want to live that long . I think old age is cruel.
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she definitely has to take medication for her depression. It can not be fixed otherwise. Does she live by herself? Being alone is not good.it is not fair to you but I am sure she suffers.
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Depression cannot be fixed per se. But it can be very successfully treated. Medication is fine if you and your physician agree and that’s what you want. Medications are very effective treatment. However, depression be effectively treated with different kinds of therapy. Talk therapy is very helpful for many people. Support groups are good for others. Some people find relief with exercise routines. Light therapy, biofeedback and other treatments can help others with depression. Treatment also depends on the type of depression you have. I
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So sorry that your mother is this miserable. You should tell her physician that she's refusing to take her medication because the doctor no doubt does not know this. Prayers sent to you.💞💞
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Same thing with my mom so I bought her the "Joy For All Companion" toy robotic cat made by Hasbro. She thinks the toy is real and the anger went away! She holds the toy cat, sings to the cat, takes the toy cat on rides in the car. Now my dad and her can live together again without turmoil. They cost about $100 but it is WELL WORTH IT. They also have the puppy dog too.
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NeedHelpWithMom, it is a little daunting to not be able to do things I used to take for granted. However, I manage to fill my life with other stuff. For example, I used to do a lot of dressmaking. I made 5 or 6 wedding dresses. Now, I just can't do that fine work anymore. So, I work on projects that don't require that great of eyesight and motorskills. I call people who are pretty much shut-ins. There is always a call for volunteers, depending on your interests.

Things change, we just have to change with it. One of my nieces fosters kittens and puppies that were taken from their mothers too early. She keeps them until they are old enough to be adopted. She has stage 4 breast cancer and they keep her mind and brain busy. If she is too sick from the chemo she will be on the rest of her life, she doesn't take any more until she feels better.
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MK,

Wow! You were an excellent seamstress! It is hard having to slow down. Will happen to each and every one of us.

So sweet about your niece fostering the kitties and puppies. What a beautiful heart!
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When my mother was alive, she too was a complainer. My Therapist told me just because someone throws a ball at you doesn't mean you have to catch it. In other words you do not have to respond. I would give my mother a time limit on complaining. I would say, "Mom, for the last 20 minutes (or however long I decided) all you have done is complain, lets talk about something nice for awhile.. The first time I did this, it took her about 15 minutes to think about something. Also, since you do not have to catch a ball thrown at you, you also do not have to respond to complaints. Just say, "I do not want to hear it".

I am 85, so I am on the other end of it. I try to keep busy and have something positive to talk about. I was asked to come back to work a couple of days this year and I can talk about that. I don't think they will ask me next summer because they have a good crew now. I volunteer with the Sheriff's Department and I can always talk about that without compromising people's privacy. I am going downhill like everyone else my age, and I know sometimes I slip and complain, but I need to read posts like this to keep reminding me to not be a "Debbie Downer".

Last, remember LINCOLN FREED THE SLAVES. If you stick around and listen to the complaining, you are a volunteer not a slave. Leave, even if you go outside and sit on the curb.
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I love your therapist’s remark that just because a ball is thrown doesn’t mean we have to catch it. That’s actually brilliant! Please keep sharing that information with others. Great visual image. Wise advice.

Don’t you think some complaints come from boredom? I do. How can they not be bored if they can no longer do what they used to due to ailing health?
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Don't ask what she needs because she may not be able to wrap her brain around it. She seems to be in an overwhelmed position simply due to her circumstances - kind of like a 3-4 year old crying out and when you ask what is wrong, they just don't know.
Hire someone for one day a week to start and be there for the first couple of visits at the same time. Tell mom, this person has come along to do a few tasks around the house while the both of you visit. During first visit, let it be more chit chat than tasks to see how they are going to relate to one another. Then add more days for tasks.

As for the checkbook, it is good to keep her brain working on things like math. One suggestion would be to put a printer at her house so you can copy her check book register and bank statements and take them home with you to check for accuracy. The next time you go, you can make any needed corrections for her own tracking and you would have an accurate copy at your house to ensure bills don't get overlooked and there is no danger of overdrafts.
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Yes, asking places a burden on them. I totally agree. Just do. Do what is necessary for everyone.
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Wow, I can't believe how similar our situations are. I'm an only child as well.
My Mom is 81 and has anxiety (diagnosed) with depression (not really diagnosed-just my opinion). The doctor is also treating her for the beginnings of dementia.

My Dad (83) fell the beginning of the year and broke his neck. He was in hospital for 3 months and is actually doing good. He has to use a walker (which he zooms around with pretty well) and a stair lift. But otherwise, he's doing good. My Mother is a mess. She's "waiting for him to get better". She is constantly worried about him falling again. She waits on him hand and foot, then does nothing but complain about all the work she has to do and all the worry she has. She can only focus on her life and her issues, there is no room for anyone or anything else, no matter what. She is oblivious to anything anyone else says about anything.

She refuses to go to a neurologist, she doesn't want us taking her to the doctor anymore (she's sure we are trying to put her in "the nuthouse"). She won't listen when I try to tell her to take her meds, or eat, or drink, or sleep.
Her memory is starting to fail, but she still does the checkbook, for now. She cooks their meals but that's pretty much it. She complains about EVERYTHING! I can't remember the last time she had anything good or pleasant or nice to say. It's exhausting to be around such negativity.

I told my Dad that since he is with her 24/7, he has to start taking care of her now. When I ask him if she took her meds, I don't know can't be the answer. He as to know. He has to be sure she's eating, drinking and sleeping. She needs help now.

I nearly gave myself a breakdown worrying about the two of them. My Dad mentally is good but she's in her own world most times. I've come to terms with that and will allow her to keep living there, provided it's safe and there aren't any issues that are life threatening or a monetary/health issue. I told my father I will step in when he feels it's necessary and we will then decide the next step (probably the POA kicking in). My Dad is ready for AL, she WILL NOT go. When things get worse, and they will, the POA will be able to be in affect and things will be able to change for the both of them, for the better I feel.

It's hard watching our parents get older. Some are lucky enough to be mentally and physically healthy, but for the ones who aren't, it's so very sad for them, and for us. I pray for strength and guidance and will take care of things as they come. It's the best I can do and that has to be good enough. You're doing the best you can as well - it's all you can do.
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Wow, I’m reading the responses and it’s like reading chapters of my own experience. I’m the youngest of my siblings and the age gap and support makes me feel like an only. I have no kids, but I have a senior pup that’s a handful (another story indeed). Anyway, my Mom (81) stopped enjoying her life in 2013 and I’ve been her support team everyday since. She was diagnosed with major depression disorder with mild schizophrenia. I believe it was a result of a few car accidents and a history of hitting her head from falls throughout her life. The neurologist did some scans and found a small mass that didn’t show any eminent threats or disease. She has a sound mind, but she just sits all day and watches TV. She has good and bad days and doesn’t like to eat or cook. I have to make sure she eats and now drinks because she went to the ER twice last year due to dehydration. I stay on her because I think she fears going to AL or having someone else step in to help her. She’s loss too much weight and her doctor looks at me (I’m overweight) and ask if I’m feeding her or making sure she’s getting enough food. I have terrible guilt about her losing weight and fear people will assume I’m not taking care of her. Meanwhile, I pray for His guidance and rest because it is terribly stressful to have to live in fear that she is slowly starving herself. I find leftovers from meals I prepared. She only eats in my presence or she says that she just ate. I’m concerned now because I will hopefully be starting a job soon as I’ve been unemployed the last 6 months and funds are running low. Thank God my husband had been super supportive. When I start work again, I’m afraid I won’t have the same time to prepare meals and sit with Mom like I used to so I’m praying that Mom will either improve or allow additional support to help her at home. We tried home care before, but she hated it. She doesn’t want to be bothered with anyone and that leaves me to do it all. Praying for all of us that are going through this with our parents. Praying that God gives us strength to continue to press forward with our daily challenges and struggles.
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My parents refrigerator failed and I drove my mother to look over and purchase a new one. Mom had never had a new fridge as they had always purchased a used one but I convinced her the new insulation standards and energy ratings made the newer fridges less costly to run. The side by side Mom picked out for same day delivery included an ice maker and cold water dispenser. My brother came in as I was drilling a hole through the baseboard and floor to bring up the plastic water supply line for the ice maker just in time to tell me how upset Dad (with mid stage vascular dementia) was the fridge was purchased without his consent and that I was drilling through his kitchen tile. I replied "Dad needs something to complain about so it might as well be this."

You need to develop some of this attitude. You cannot solve your mother's issue alone and sometimes there is no resolution available at all. Accept it and learn the selectively listen and/or ignore a certain level/volume of complaints.

You may want to also give some thought to how much of your behavior is enabling. Are you really helping the situation by supporting Mom remaining in her home when she really needs AL? Maybe pulling a back a bit would allow Mom to realize she needs AL, or maybe not since a lot of times the AL rejection is emotional and not logical.
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Truly empathize with you! My mom will be 80 in February. She has lived in continuing care community for two years. During the transition she has been angry and it has been an emotional struggle for her and yes, me. She has stage 3 COPD and refuses to use nebulizer as prescribed. I have tried to talk to her about the importance of using it but she does not think it is needed. Now she has to be on oxygen all the time. It is difficult to see her be so angry and sad. Have discussed with doctors but honestly she is a different person when she is in their office. It is extremely hurtful to see her like this but honestly we can only do so much. You are doing your part. She has to do her part, as my mom. Stop beating yourself up and recognize you cannot force, control anyone else. Take care of yourself and just be there for your mom, as you are! You are a wonderful daughter.
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Sounds like depression, which is common for seniors. Are there programs for seniors near where she lives at churches, libraries, recreation district, YMCAs... ?Maybe getting her out of the house to a Bible study, a book club discussion, an afternoon movie... with other seniors may help her socialize more. Also, try redirecting the conversation to pleasant current topics. Does she read? Magazines, books, and newspapers can help her focus on something other than her complaints. Please discuss the depression with her doctor and ask about medications to help.
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Wow, I thought I was in a unique situation with my Mom and I'm not. She stopped living 20 yrs ago and now at 91 she is alone, miserable, and wants to die.

She's never made close friends, never made an attempt to know my kids (her grandkids) and remained superficial for as long as I can remember.

At first I tried to jump to every whim, problem, need, etc but through the eyes of my wife realized that I was being manipulated by her.

Listening to her talk is all about what's wrong, what's not right, stupid workers, Trump....well you get it and it drives me insane to continuously say, "uh-huh, I understand, there's nothing I can do."

I've distanced myself from her as much as possible. I'm not an only child, but my sibling has really, really distanced herself from the situation... so I'm it. I call once a week, visit when I need to bring supplies over, and have thankfully called in hospice care which has taken an incredible burden off of me, including reducing the ER visits to ZERO (they were almost weekly).

I think what I've really had a hard time with is not just the negativity, but the judgement that I receive from others who know nothing of the situation and why I'm not there all the time (Mom's in AL). I get comments all the time from the receptionist or others such as, "oh you didn't stay long" or "wow that was quick" to "we haven't seen you in a while." I've chosen to not let the comments bother me now, but at first I considered it a judgement on me as a son.

So, in short, I get what you're going through believe me. And even if you're not an only child it can feel like it. I am taking the situation as a learning lesson of who I do NOT want to be when I get to be her age and what I DON'T want to do to my kids. :-)
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Thanks; I just don't want to live that long. I don't have kids, and if I outlive my husband, I will just check myself into a facility and call it a day.
I always said I wanted them to dress me up and I'll sit around with my jewels on. HA HA
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Just want to say how helpful it is to read and realize that many of us are facing similar difficulties with our parents. My mother and father have always been generous people who took good care of us, financially. Emotionally, all 5 (siblings and I) were on our own. Now, they expect me (oldest-almost like being an only child most days) to listen to every complaint, solve every problem, fire every aide who is not Mary Poppins. FIX this. I cannot. I have tried and realize now that this situation is un-fixable. My job is to make sure they are safe and taken care of. My husband says my mother likes being miserable and she is just MEAN. She is so mean to my sisters that they rarely visit. Our family dynamic has changed- in a bad way. I mourn the loss of my childhood family. Watching people you love disintegrate due to mental illness and Parkinsons (Dad) is terrible. Feeling resentment towards my sisters because they choose to distance themselves from this pain -makes me miserable. We are traveling for Thanksgiving with my adult kids and sisters are not happy. The guilt that is building for me is really shaking me up. As I write this I realize, I just want us all to be happy again. Sad situation-for many of us. But I wish us Peace.
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Upstream Nov 2019
Yes! I am an only child and my parents and I were so close while I was growing up. Our family unit has totally unravelled, everything is such a mess now. Every day I have to tell myself "I didn't cause my parents problems and I can't solve them." Same thing here - my parents put me through college and mom gave me some money when her mom died and left a substantial sum of money. But I was never, ever to bring my drama or problems to them. I learned in my teenage years not to share my problems with my mom and that has continued (I am now 52). For the last 10 years I have been expected to be their sounding board, marriage counselor, etc. as their lives have devolved. It's so bad that I took a box full of birthday cards & such from most of my life and ran them all through the shredder, along with old photos, etc. In my opinion that life and those people are gone...I can only hope for a better future when this is all over. My parents went down the path of alcoholism late in life (in their 60s) totally out of the blue, with marriage issues, depression, anxiety, prescription drug abuse, etc. and have really spent their retirement years miserable. It's been horrible to witness and when they are gone I want to forget all of it.
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Yes the misery and complaining, but unlike your Mum, my Dad it took 3 times today for him to write out a cheque. He kept making mistakes with the amount. His memory is going rapidly. The filters are gone. The constant contradictory comments and mind changing. Its hard
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Oh my gosh. My mother use to take care of all her business. I was, and she didn't want me involved. Now, she can't make a decision for nothing. If I help her make one, it's always wrong. She worries about everything.
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Gosh another only child here too! And I am the mom of an only as well. I am looking at my experience with my mom and reading about everyone else's parents here and making choices and plans now to not put my wonderful son through a similar hell. Right now today I can begin working on my attitude and trying to retrain my brain to see the positive more often than the negative. I think complaint and worry become habit and they are damn hard to break once your brain has those familiar negative grooves worn in. I saw it to a horrid degree with my MIL. My mom who was basically pretty sweet all her life is now has a daily litany of complaint. She's made it to 97 and her body is just wearing out. So she has so little control over escalating loss in her life I guess complaint is all she has left. I used to be such a "fixer" . She could hardly get a word out before I would rush to fix whatever was wrong. Her roof. Her teeth, her lack of this or that. I realized it wasn't even about her, what I was doing with all this crazy codependent behavior. I was trying to "fix" it for me so I would be loved, valued, respected, etc. and also to try to control the tide of complaining.
But the constant negativity is so hard to listen to. Lately my end of the conversation is like "yep, uh huh, jeez, that's rough ma" etc. I'm pretty checked out when it starts in. I felt guilty for awhile being so detached. But there is such a thing as compassion fatigue and I realized I was there. Used up, worn out, burnt out. I'm trying to figure out how to restore myself with daily meditation, finding at least three things a day to be grateful for and writing them down. Complimenting random strangers, letting a-holes cut ahead of me in traffic and smiling instead of a rude gesture. Little things. I'm a work in progress.
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lealonnie1 Nov 2019
"I was trying to fix it for me so I would be loved, valued, respected....." These are very profound words, my friend. And with chronic complaining, no matter HOW much we're able to actually fix, there's just more 'broken' to follow. So we never wind up feeling loved, valued or respected by a chronic complainer. Best thing I ever did for myself was to resign my post as resident fixer.
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I am an only child too of a 92 y/o mother who's spent her entire life complaining. She detested my father, her mother, her friends, women in particular....in fact, she's rarely had a decent thing to say about anyone or anything. She wants me to be her sounding board, of course, so she can present The Sweet and Wonderful Face to the rest of the world and save all the venom and hatred for my ears. I've spent the vast majority of my life trying to make HER life better and in the process, have managed to make MY life worse. Dealing with an Energy Vampire has a way of doing that to a person, doesn't it?

Anyway, I digress. Mother dear has lived in Assisted Living now since 2014 when I had to place her and Dad there after he fell and broke his hip. He died 10 months later, sadly, but mother is going strong like the Energizer Bunny, now living in Memory Care with moderate dementia and about 100 other issues, both real and imagined.

In order for me to maintain MY sanity, I limit my contact with her toxicity. I call her once a day at 8:10 pm and visit once a week. When the carrying on gets too bad, we leave. "We" meaning my poor husband and I, since I refuse to visit alone as she is MUCH worse without a buffer. My husband invented a code word to use when her behavior gets bad and my voice starts to rise in volume: bananas. If he utters that word, I immediately shut up. If things calm down, we stay. If she continues the tirade, we get up and leave.

Why are you subjecting yourself to this woman so frequently??? Ask yourself that question and if you enjoy punishment. If the answer is no, then devise a plan to save YOURSELF. Because she, I'm afraid, is beyond saving and chooses to be miserable. As my husband says, some people love misery SO much they meet it half way. You cannot fix your mother's life, you do not have that power, my friend. Relieve yourself of the burden and let her wallow in the misery of her own making. It is not your job, or your lot in life, to make HER happy. Take care of YOU and your dear husband, who needs to come first.

Your mother has lived her life. You are still living yours. If you make her misery the focus of your life, that's TWO lives destroyed for no good reason.

Best of luck setting down boundaries and sticking to them.
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Thank you . All of these words do help.
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They are truly miserable. Sometimes they are sick and tired of living. Sad but true. I agree with Barb. Let her complain and show empathy if you can.

I wish I had done this more because if she complained about one thing wrong and I brought up three things that were going well, only trying my best to get her to be more positive, she just got more upset.

I suppose she had a point because she wanted acknowledgment like we all do. I did acknowledge her feelings and then I should have dropped it because she wasn’t capable of being positive. Maybe negativity is loneliness, pain, boredom, anxiety, depression or whatever...

Who knows what’s going on?

Sorry that you are not able to make her feel better. I don’t think anyone could.

I think you have to start thinking about what would make you feel better right now because we don’t have the power to change anyone else as much as we would like to help them.
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Thank you . I try to redirect when she complains about her old wrinkled skin. I tell her she be thankful that she is not in a burn unit . She complains about her house that she and my father should have bought another on years ago. I told her some people don’t have a house , especially if they lost it in a fire. I told her that I think at 88 is she realized that she has regrets.
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Oh, I forgot to add that I don't feel the slightest bit guilt about LO's constant negativity and complaining. She should feel guilty, not me. It's pretty horrible to invoke so much misery on others who are trying to care for you. I'm working on doing less, not more. My time is better suited for those who really appreciate it.
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My mother is becoming more difficult as she gets older. She complains about everything from not sitting in certain areas of a restaurant to calling stores stupid and cursing if it does not have what she wants. Constantaly sighs about everything we have tried talking to her and her answer is that’s just my nature lol really we have told her she is making everyone around fustrated and her newest thing is if you do not hear what she said or do not answer her right away she says oh just ignore me, I blew up with her about it and she says geez sorry basically telling me to get over it. Also started lying if I knew my mother was going to turn out like this I would have never let her move in with me now I feel like I’m stuck with this miserable person who makes everyone tense.
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It's really sad when people are miserable. Especially, if they will not take measures to address it, like refusing to take medication or seek therapy. I know what you're talking about. My mom is miserable too. It's always something, from health, weather, family members, etc. She just can't seem to be happy nor do I think she wants to any longer. Imo, eventually, the negativity becomes part of their identity. If they didn't whine, they wouldn't have much to say. Of course, in my case, my LO can turn it on or off, whichever she pleases. I ignore it for the most part and am distancing myself. It's not healthy for me mentally. I think even my physical health has declined since being exposed to it. Now, I sometimes count to see just how many times she will complain in a 8 hour period. Every 20 minutes, it's "I'm so sick. I don't feel good." It goes on incessantly. It's super sad, because, besides the anxiety/depression, she's pretty healthy physically.
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My father is similar. Complains a lot. I feel sorry for him. He's upset that it's difficult for him to go places like he use to. He doesn't drive anymore, and it's hard for him to walk. I try to take him different places. But there are certain places i refuse. And so he throws a tantrum. I try to ignore it, as if to say, that's not going to work.
And i try to acknowledge his feelings sometimes when he feels down about things.
From what i learned, we can't make them totally happy, we can just be there for them, and know we are doing our best
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I had to realize that I wasn't going to be able to improve my MIL's negativity and complaining. For a long time, I tried to find solutions, or if it was something I was doing, I'd stop or change.

But one day it dawned on me, that she was going to complain . . . .about something. That's just her personality, maybe it always was -- I wasn't around as much when I was raising my family. And it doesn't matter - it's her personality now.

So, I don't fix things or change myself anymore. She complained about my whistling along to the radio in the car (not to me, to her daughter). When it was brought to my attention, I told SIL that I would keep doing it, not loudly or annoyingly by any means, but there was no need to stop, MIL would just have to look for something else to complain about - heck, I'm doing her a favor by providing the topic of complaining for the day ;) LOL

I think the only thing you can do, is to try to distance yourself some -- and being the only child, that will be hard! But you have got to protect your own mental health too. As you pointed out, this could go on for two decades -- and you will not make it through that much complaining. Try to remember, for her, complaining is like you and I talking about the weather -- it's just her conversation. Try, try, try not to get wound up in it. Acknowledge, deflect and move on.
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lealonnie1 Nov 2019
Yeah huh? My mother says shes not complaining, shes just TALKING. Except that kind of talk is the stuff ulcers are made of......for US, not them!!! They cause disease for others, not themselves!
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My FIL also does not take his meds for his severe depression and anxiety. For a long time both my husband and I tried to coax him into doing things. Everything was met with resistance. Eventually we both stopped offering. He loves complaining and we no longer listen. Once the complaining starts, we acknowledge how awful/terrible/sad/frustrating whatever is, and we end the visit.

That said, I don't understand why you feel guilty. What have you done wrong?

It sounds like you need to learn to accept that this is your mother now. It took my husband and me a while to accept that this is how his dad is now. Being miserable is a choice. You cannot get your mother to choose differently just like we cannot get my FIL to choose joy/gratitude/contentment. He has made his choices and he must live with the consequences i.e. fewer and shorter visits.

Step back from being your mother's sounding board. The more she complains, the more she will want to complain. It's a cycle. There's a whole philosophy surrounding complaining that says complaining makes things WORSE because it decreases the likelihood of taking positive action.
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Stop presenting solutions. Empathize with her feelings of loneliness and sadness.

"That's so sad mom, I can see how you would feel that way".

"Yes, I see how that's a problem".

In presenting solutions, you are giving her the opportunity to say "no".

Empathizing with the feeling bats the ball into HER court. She needs to come up with a workable plan that doesn't involve you giving up your life.

Some people seem to enjoy being unhappy; her happiness is NOT your responsibility.
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Upstream Nov 2019
BarbBrooklyn: That is SUCH an important point you just made: "her happiness is NOT your responsibility."
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Dealing with the same. I too am an only child, with no children of my own. My parents were very fit and active people, and moved down the street from me. Around the time they turned 70 they decided they were "too old" for just about anything, and then came the depression and substance abuse downward spiral. Fast forward to now: dad is in a memory care assisted living facility (age 81) and mom (age 77) sits at home alone with the phone unplugged from the wall, TV off, etc. She is miserable and over the past decade has narrowed her life to the point where I am it. Totally...it. She ran off all friends, has no hobbies or interests, doesn't want to go visit my dad (didn't want to take care of him, at all, which is why I had to move him). I am her 100% only outlet to the world. She cancels every opportunity for something to grab onto, like physical therapy (we've been down that road at least 5 times), mental health therapy, friends, volunteering, etc. So, basically she is 77 but her mom lived to 96. It terrifies me to think this could go on for another two decades. It totally exhausts me mentally and the whole situation has had a terrible impact on my own mental health and well-being. I could never in my life have planned for what my parents became and what it has heaped on me - I think only-children get it the worst!!
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Wow! I think I finally find someone who can truly relate . Thank you and would like to send notes to you in the future if okay .
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