My mom is 81 and has always been on top of things. She still is on certain things, but not so much on others. But, what bothers me the most is her personality. Mom has always demanded respect and got mad if she thought I wasn't being respectful. We have had our clashes over the years. (I am an only child, by the way.) But, lately, she gets so mad at me - says I'm not the daughter I used to be, that I've changed, etc., etc. However, my dad, who lives with her, and I have noticed her anger getting worse, or sometimes, it's just sadness. She does have clinical depression, has for years, and is on meds, but this is different. For example, Mom decided not to participate in Thanksgiving activities this year with family. She has several medical issues, but she didn't come because she got too upset last night over something my dad said - another problem. All day, she has complained to mr and been weepy on the phone. Every year, we go to my mother-in-law's. She has been many times. We have always stayed until after dark. Right after we were finished eating tonight, Mom calls my mother-in-law, but I answered. She said she was wondering where my dad was - thought he'd had an accident since it was dark. I told her we had just finished. I could tell she was not happy. So, later, I called her, when I got home, and she said she didn't want to talk, that no one had called to check on her - Dad was gone about four hours - normal, not any longer than any year. She said we had a bad relationship, etc., all because I didn't call (didn't know I should because some days, she doesn't care when I call, and I just talked to her when Dad left to come. She could get out if she wanted to but chooses not to go places and then gets upset and mad. usually at Dad, but sometimes at both of us. A little info. on me - I have 7-yr.-old triplets and work full tiime. Sometimes, I feel like I can't stand another minute of being overwhelmed - I, myself, fight depression, and things are not very good right now, for me, either. I try to do everything she asks me to, but it's never enough, lately. I know she is depressed, and the doctor has changed her meds over and over, but it never helps.

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As people grow older and lose things - health, mobility, independence (ability to drive), etc., etc., etc. - IF they are not able to accept these changes gracefully (and most cannot) then their anger grows inside.

They have so much time on their hands and so little to do with it. Some spend all day watching TV or reading or knitting. But they FEEL worthless, not needed. Families are so busy nowadays - both people work, then all the things women USED to do when they were home all day they must do after work or on weekends. Then the kids are involved in things and must be escorted or at the very least 'cheered on.' One must spend SOME TIME with their mate - being a couple. So, we find ourselves pulled this way and that way and then we have this BIG GUILT TRIP because we also feel we should BE THERE FOR MOM AND/OR DAD. You are of the 'sandwich generation.' Fun, isn't it?

I agree with JeanneGibbs that it may be time for a specialist. I know that is what my MIL needs but she refuses. She too refused to come in and have dinner with us yesterday. We had our son and DIL over for their anniversary and she refused to come over and be with us then, as well. We didn't force her - maybe we should have.

I also agree with JesseBelle - they feel slighted and then they just let it fester and they feed their own misery. My mom called it 'cutting off your nose to spite your face.' I know my MIL sits over there and has her Pity Parties all alone. She tells us she doesn't feel good and might have the FLU and then wonders why NO ONE wants to come over there and sit with her and her GERMS!! People must go to work - no one wants to catch the flu on purpose! She probably doesn't have the flu but she says she does or might. But somehow that shouldn't stop anyone from visiting! It is whacky thinking for sure. It is called lose/lose.

Been walking this tightrope for years. Fell off a few months ago and decided NOT to walk it the same way. I put myself on the list. Jackiebb - you have a FULL plate. If you are having issues - make sure you are doing things to help yourself. Your family needs you and you deserve to have some kind of life yet too.

And it is true - we, personally, cannot be responsible for another persons' mental health or their happiness. We can be kind and caring - but if someone is ill - EVEN THAT will not make any difference. We have to accept that we each are responsible for how we think and feel.

If your mom is spending her time with 'negative self talk' - she will be negative, hateful, unhappy and give everyone a hard time. Talk therapy may be just the ticket to success. Hope the situation improves.
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Hi Jackie:

I think Jeanne gave you some excellent advise. Get your mom to a geriatric psychiatrist . You mom needs help from an expert who is better prepared to address her depression and other possible issues.

You have your hands full and I hope you will make efforts to address your own depression issues. Having triplets means a very busy life. If things are not going well for you, please do all you can to make sure you are getting the care you need.

Blessings to you. Cattails
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Something else I thought about after I typed the answer is something that many people do, both old and young. Older people tend to do it more, perhaps because they have more time on their hands. They can sense or imagine that someone did them wrong or not treat them appropriately, then stew on it until they get very angry. For example, they may ask that someone pick them up some crackers at the store. They want them right then, but the "askee" can't go to the store until tomorrow. Well, surely if the askee cared, they would do it right away. They must not care. Nobody cares. It can go on until the "asker" is mad at everyone, particularly the askee. It is the undesirable result of rumination after a perceived slight.
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This is a difficult question, because the first signs depend on what type of dementia. For Alz the first signs would be changes in cognitive abilities, such as short-term memory and reasoning. The changes occur gradually in most people.

Have there been any changes in your mother's life that make her afraid that she is losing control? Or has there been any change in medication? If her behavior has shifted noticeably, it would be a good thing to discuss with her doctor. It sounds like there is something physical or psychological going on if these are sudden behavior changes for her. Perhaps she is losing her sense of time? Or maybe she is just upset because she is getting older and feels out of control? So many things could be happening, it is best to get a professional opinion. I hope it is nothing physical.
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As you may know, often depression is treated best with a two-part approach -- both drugs and counselling. Has your mother ever had talk therapy? Would she consider it? From personal experience, I also think that people with depression deserve/need to be treated by a specialist. For your mother that would be a geriatric psychiatrist. Perhaps the treatment she has had has been effective -- perhaps she would be much, much worse without it. But clearly the depression is not under control and/or she is suffering from something additional. Might it be time to switch doctors and try an additional approach?

Dealing with someone who is depressed is very tricky! You want to respect her independence and her right to make decisions, but at the same time we don't always act in our own best interests when we are depressed. Striking the right balance between respecting Mother's decision not to attend the feast and encouraging her to come because it would be good for her is like walking a tight rope! Do your best, and don't beat up on yourself when you don't get the results you hope for.

Perhaps with better/different treatment this would improve, but right now you are right ... nothing you can do will be enough for your mother. Remind yourself that as much as you love your mother you are not responsible for her mental health or her happiness. Doing everything that she asks you to is not a solution. As you have discovered, it does not move her out of depression. Getting her different medical help at least has a chance of providing a solution. I'd spend my limited energies on things that at least have a chance of success. I suggest cutting back on doing everything she asks. That way lies overwhelming stress.

It doesn't sound to me like your mom is starting dementia (but keep in mind I am not an expert). But a geriatric psychiatrist is not just going to accept the diagnosis of depression and will do a more comprehensive evaluation.

What are you doing to fight your own depression? Are you getting medical help? Do what you can for your mother, but taking care of yourself has to come first. You owe it to your children, you owe it to your husband, but most of all you deserve it yourself. You are a unique individual worthy of care and attention. Don't neglect you!
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