I wrote a question yesterday but haven't heard back yet. Last night was so bad, backlash from sending my mother to respite care for 4 days...4 DAYS. Picked her up Monday and she has done nothing but complain about having to go there, accusing me of plotting to send her to a nursing home etc. Very confrontational and full of conspiracies. I finally snapped, put her to bed last night and left the room. Got her up this morning. Gave her breakfast, got myself ready and left for work. Didn't speak a word to hear. I just can take her anymore. For more details, before anyone judges me, I can provide them if needed.

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It is clear you are struggling with a normal (albeit uncomfortable) response of your sound mind. The paradox is tough. A person with a sound mind trying to express love and help for a loved one. A loved one with an unsound mind due to old age (etc). There is a lot of cognitive dissonance in this dynamic due to logic V irrationality. And then walks in GUILT. Anger.

We miss our loved one functioning under previous auspices of a more logical mind and common appreciations of normal social interplay.Sadness at the anticipatory grief of watching our former guardians slipping away mentally is akin to watching life and death argue while we attend the show and our own strength frustrated by the cruelty of the negotiation for sensibility.

...and the role reversal we could not have conceived of until we experienced it as caretakers.

It slaps us in the face with our own mortality. In fact, I have found myself trying on my mom's "shoes" to try to understand what it must be like for her - wondering if this will happen to me. Nothing like watching it happen to a loved one much less ourselves. Sometimes I feel guilty for being so tall, strong, in shape in the presence of what my mom once was, but no longer is. Somewhat smaller version in real life, but always larger in the part that will always be her child.

I often feel anger and the sting of audacity taking care both elderly parents. Thankless for my seemingly endless beck and call of two tiny people who once answered mine. As though there is nothing else on my plate that day. No disappointments, no hardships, no commitments of my own life nor needs, wants desires. My own time is running out and I am now revising my direction and goals - to get it in before I trip the final line myself. Instead, I find a vacuum of two very unhappy, negative people that seem to have a bottomless well for unmet needs that I am expected to unceasingly meet. And the kid in me believes that if I anticipate all their needs and beyond, they will be thankful and approve of me finally. But that never comes. And ever time I pull back up into the driveway, my stomach drops and the sky seems to go cardboard grey as I walk back to the home I agreed to live in with them. The air seems heavy. I feel dread and tense shoulders as I reach for the door. Holding my breath, knowing I will not be greeted with a warm "Hi how was your day?" but a drop everything request to do more. Did I have to empty my full bladder or eat something for my low blood sugar? Don't expect understanding here. I know I will be challenged to answer paranoid questions regarding where some random item might be. As I face a relentless, insistent duo - I must have a defense. And it must never work. Ever. The only thing missing in this scenario is an unshaded 150 watt light bulb swinging above my head during the interrogation.

No sense in getting angry is there? The kid is always wrong even in her 50s! Despite their shrinking bodies, they are well versed in being a tag team that will not bend to rationality. Because they are the parents. Because they are always right. Even at my age, I must stay in the dysfunctional lane of subservience. And this extends to nearby siblings who refuse to help and often leave after one day visiting under the guise of assisting me. Their anger at my expression for needing help escalates if I emote anything but pure freakin bliss at living with two adult children who were never there for me emotionally as a child.

So as crappy as I have made this sound, I do it out of knowing who I am. It requires grace, intestinal fortitude and the right to do what others refuse to. Why? Because despite all this - my parents created my life. I have learned to love life through watching them seem to hate it. Because I do not want to repeat their mistakes with my children and because it means I have time to make my own life one of character.

I lived years very depressed and anxious. I have found that their life of negativity has always been there. As a caretaker I realized how deeply programmed I had been in being raised to see nothing but chaos. In caring for them, I saw this negativity take over their time left and it had been punishing me beyond my childhood.

The gift? The ability to set and model positive behavior and character. To practice compassion and wisdom I acquired over the years. Once in a while, I catch glimpses of the people I had long before old age took them from me. My ever capable mother's work ethic and drive still shows through at times when she is cleaning dishes. My dad will laugh on occasion in between rages and mood swings. It is worth it to have something many people will not have in giving back. Giving back to those who hurt me means I have put who they are and were into perspective. It taught me to live more fully every day.

When I feel horribly upset by the typical accumulated tresspasses, I remind myself it is not forever. This helps temper the frustration.
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Yes, i've done it. It's one of "my boundaries". I do it not as punishment; but to keep from truly saying something really hurtful that mom "might remember" but always makes me feel even more guilty later.

I'm not full time caregiver; however, my mom knows just how to push my buttons and is as ornery as all get out. She says many provoking hurtful/hateful things and when it just goes on an on; I will try to divert her by saying "lets go out for a walk, or drive, or snack, etc. -- if she just stays mean; I just reply "mom, I think its time for me to leave, you are hurting me and I don't have to sit here and take it"...then I say "I love you, but I'm leaving for awhile". She gets teary and doesn't ever say I'm sorry... but I just leave and let her think about it for awhile. I get a break as well and let things cool down. Then we start over again.

But, yes...silence and leaving is the best thing. Yes, elders have dementia and many reasons for feeling mean -- but that doesn't mean we have to continue to take an emotional beating -- especially when they can control themselves and be nice around other strangers or doctors/nurses, etc. Just know that the brunt of the worst always goes to the ones closest. This behavior you will see repeated throughout this site -- so know you are not alone.
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It happens all the time with me dealing with Dad. He has done nothing but complain to me and ask when he can leave the hospital especially yesterday. I keep asking him what was I suppose to do leave him on the floor at home and wait for him to die? He wants to come back home and since his mind is so bad he can't understand that I need to know what is wrong with him and I need help from somebody to help me to know what I need to do to take care of him. He doesn't understand that I am alone doing this. He always said I just want to get rid of him and send him away. They don't get it. there is just so much care that we can do as caregivers and some things are just beyond our control. I have a very stubborn one to care for and he has whined and complained for years even when he was in his right frame of mind. Yesterday I left the hospital and told him whether he remembers or not that I will see him tomorrow but I will not stand around while he continues to be angry at me.. his daughter.
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Logan, it can be hurtful to feel unappreciated, but, if you know you did the right thing by getting respite time, then that's what matters. You did the right thing not only for yourself, but your mom. If she's acting like you say, I might consider the reasons. Is she scared? Is she suffering from mental decline? Often, when that is the case, the person has odd thoughts and beliefs that cannot be changed. Their brain makes it impossible. So, instead of taking it personally, I'd try to see the big picture.

I might try to get more respite time. If you are doing it all for her, you need it. She may never seem to value you like your siblings, but, deep inside she knows. She knows the truth in her heart. Maybe, she can't process it, but, I'd try to find peace with that.

Also, for some reason, it seems like the adult kids who treat the parent the worst, are the ones who are favored the most. It's odd. I don't get it.
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When I took care of my dad for a few days each month so my step mom could get respite - he was angry and took it out on me - hoping I would get so angry I would refuse to come back and then she couldn't leave for respite. He would ramp up the TV volume at night, "drop" his lunch on the floor, etc. I spent a lot of time walking outside and taking deep breaths. The worst time it was 3am and I went outside in the woods/snow in the middle of winter and flung myself to the ground and screamed.

You don't have to stay there and take it. Don't blow up at your mom - but get away so you can get the anger out.

Now my dad is in the nursing home - still angry. When he starts in on my step mom, she gets up and leaves. she took it for 5 years, doesn't feel guilty leaving.
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Katiekate, I'm glad you were being paid (I hope it was well-paid)!
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Logan - I don't know about you, but I can be told a million times "don't take it personally- it's the disease..." I knew that it was the disease in my head but that didn't stop me from taking it personally when my mom was really on a roll and playing dirty - no one knows how to push your buttons quite like your own mother, do they? It didn't help that my mom was no June Cleaver to start with - and mom was well aware that using my brother to get to me was always 100% effective. In the six years I looked after my mom - mom didn't live with me but I saw her a couple of times a week and I took care of every detail of the business of her life - I can say I only lost it three times - saying things I somewhat regret. Somewhat- not completely. I did eventually adopt the strategy that when I knew mom was gonna dig in and filet me - that I would stop what ever I was doing, grab my purse and say " I'm gonna take off now - I'll see you later in the week" and leave. Like a previous post said - I never - ever - got an apology. At best mom would mind her manners for a bit - but after a while as moms dementia progressed even that stopped. Cut yourself some slack - you're human doing a super human job.
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(cut off)

There before the grace of God go I comes to mind and humbles me so that I do not get arrogant in my seeming superior sound mind and able body. How dare I tout myself as superior due to their failing minds and bodies. All so I can elevate myself and how awful it has felt to experience this alone! I learned letting go of siblings as helping is a major asset to me in managing this. I have seen the power of positive thinking and the value of seeing the upside of down.

Am I without stress? NO! H*ll no. But I have developed tools for stress reduction starting with my mind and reframing this situation. Secondly, I exercise a LOT. Stretching. Meditation.

I have also identified and shaped a loosely knit plan of action for my own future as not knowing what is likely to happen in a time frame is very disorienting. This helps resolve many issues pertaining to reducing the sway of imbalance in such a situation. I cannot judge them or myself with what we have. We simply must DO and act with what we know while seeking better alternatives as we navigate this journey of life.

The good news is there is still time. Time to learn and find outlets for how to handle your feelings and care plan for your loved one. But it is easy to sink into sadness and quit on not only yourself, but them as well.

Remember - we are only dancing on this earth a short while. Take whatever steps you can when you can so that your own dance closes, it does so with grace when the time comes. God bless.
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Yes, my sister and I both walked out of Mom's apartment when she got too argumentative and complained about the same thing over and over and wouldn't stop. Looking back now, I realize it was all part of her frustration with being old, the dementia and a lifelong negative personality. With dementia she no longer had any control of her behavior.
If we asked her to stop and she persisted on and on, rather than stay and get in an argument and end up with stomach cramps and elevated BP, we would tell her, either stop or I leave. Sometimes she stopped, and sometimes she didn't.

She especially took it out on my sister. Before her dementia got really bad (and she could relate time to an upcoming visit) she would plan it so when sis opened the door she was sitting with a long mournful face and a stream of complaints (half of which changed or were denied or forgotten five minutes later) Its really upsetting even when you know intellectually they can't help it.

I only walked out a few times in the last years of her life, but then I felt guilty. I had to keep reminding myself that ten minutes after I left, she had probably forgotten I had even been there.
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I don't believe anyone really wants to be a burden to their children or other caregivers, but most of us vastly overestimate our ability to take care of ourselves as, thanks to better nutrition and health care, we live far longer than our grandparents and even parents did. What haunts us all as we deal with our aging family members with dementia, is "will this happen to me?" The answer is likely yes, so please prepare and make your wishes known to your family and friends. I spent five years caring for a husband with vascular dementia, then he mercifully had a major stroke and died. I have two long term care policies and have told my children to put me in assisted living or a nursing home if I need it, and even if I object to it, because I can afford may decrease their inheritance, but I think they will find that having me professionally cared for is worth the financial sacrifice. When I can no longer drive, I intend to move myself back to an independent living community with options for assisted living, memory care. (My late husband and I lived in such a facility, and it was very nice; after his death I moved out as I still drove and had other social contacts). If I develop dementia, I'm sure I will be h*ll on wheels, as I am not a particularly nice person even with all my marbles!
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