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We planned on visiting Mom for her 90th. We were excited that we might go out to eat and have a good time. Everything was planned. When I call her to let her know what is going on she freaks, as she does with any holiday or major occasion. She goes on and on a rant about this and that, meaningless topics from 50 years ago just meant to be abusive. Which she very often is. She "can't do this", whatever "this" is, but she will "drive to a friends house" that day if we come down to visit. Mind you, this is a 5 1/2 hour drive, at best. She has the energy to do that, but she doesn't want to see her son. My 57 year old brother, who is coming off of 14 years of alcohol abuse lives with her and can be verbally abusive to her himself. Her complaint is that my brother makes her too tired to be able to see my wife and I. I want to see what is going on in the home. How to handle this? I am giving it a couple of days to see what happens and then am going to cancel our reservations while we can. On the one hand I am not going to put up with her abuse, on the other hand she is my Mother and I want to make sure she is OK.

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My 92-year old mother has dementia. My three sisters are deceased and I'm the only surviving child. For many years I'd try to talk to my mother about planning for the family. I was the only child who never gave her problems. After my sisters' deaths, my mother raised her grandchildren -- all boys. They all turned out to be bums because my mother preferred an coddled the boys. They practically emptied her bank account, the house deteriorated, etc. When I tried to intervene my mother told me to mind my own business, it was HER house. (She and my father divorced many years ago.) Now I'm her caregiver and had to straighten out so much mess that I had no say in creating. My mother also doesn't want to have visitors or celebrate special occasions. Ironically, to neighbors she appears to be a sweet friendly old lady. I used to cry secretly because she wasn't the mother who raised me. Things changed when a friend advised me YOU HAVE TO TREAT YOUR MOTHER LIKE A PATIENT. I'd been walking on eggshells trying to find a balance between treating her like the same mother by being the obedient child even though I was a mature adult. I've begun to tell my mother that although I love her and am here to take care of her, but I WILL NOT TAKE ABUSE FROM HER OR ANYONE ELSE. I've seen a change. It was hard to get to that point. I'd been confusing her dementia with her real controlling personality and respecting her age. STEP UP AND STAND UP FOR YOURSELF or you will be left holding the bag. You have to be in control and make decisions for her. Your brother will live as he always have -- free of all responsibility. Pray about it. Believe me your mother, you and your family will be better off. And forget what others may think. ONLY YOU KNOW THE REAL DEAL!
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Is it possible that she has dementia? I am concerned about the alcoholic brother living with her who is verbally abusive to her. Do go and visit even if just to go to the Department of Human Services to report elder abuse and to get her away from him. He might be the one who doesn't want you there. He may well be physically abusing her too and has frightened and threatened her into keeping you away so you won't see things. Speak to her doctor as well. She might need to be out of there for her own safety and that brother needs to go and support himself. I would suggest that you go to court and get a conservatorship so that you would be able to protect her. The judge could order her into a hospital to be checked.
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Hi appleaday. I am so glad my wife found this forum. You all have hit a lot of the things that have been going on for years. I used to think it was me until about 20 years ago. Now I just feel badly that this is my family. Your "read their minds" comment cracked me up because that is always the situation. In the past three or four years when my brother was drinking heavily I drove to NY and visited their equivalent of Adult Protective Services. My concern was my brother's verbal and sometimes physical abuse. The first time I managed to get a case worker to the home my Mother went ballistic. Yes, I told her beforehand what was going on. She starts screaming that "the neighbors will talk", "how could you do this to me?", "I'm not going to let the woman in the house.". etc. All went well for two visits when she completely blew off the social worker by telling her that "everything is OK, and I don't know why my son contacted you." The social worker reported to me that Mom did seem in charge of her faculties (yes, she is), and the house was very neat and clean, unlike what she usually experiences. They dropped the case. Two years later I had to do the same thing when brother's drinking hit a peak. Same result. From my ALAnon days I learned that Mom and my brother are co-dependent. I am in the middle and in the way. They both would yes me to death and then both turn against me when push came to shove and they actually had to make a decision on something. Over the years I have picked up on the fact that my Mother does want to be needed. I understand this.To me, It seems she still looks at us as children and does not accept the fact that we have grown into adults, She just won't cut the cord. My non acceptance of this always seems to put us at odds. I don't push the issue, I just vote with my feet. That's when she starts getting nasty and abusive. I alternately hear how horrible my brother is to her, she wants him to move out and he won't, and then how wonderful he is because he put gas in her car. The only way she is going to allow any help is if my brother moves out. I don't see that happening.
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HI Jerry, Your doing a wonderful job of caring and trying. Please don't blame yourself in any way; your mom (as others have correctly said) has a personality disorder. It sounds like it has been this way for a long time. Personality disorders seem to amplify with the onset of dementia or simply dependency. The paranoia and blaming escalates if one is unable to read their minds. The child in the family who has always provided the ability for the parent to feel needed gets elevated and the one who is the most generous and caring gets vilified.
Whatever the scenario, the pain of worry about your parent is the same. Its horrible to have this kind of situation. If there was ever a time for an Elder Care Manager who has nursing skills- this is it. Sending in someone with experience to monitor and evaluate the situation is very helpful. If she won't allow for that you can always call Adult Protective Services. They will keep your call anonymous and make a home visit. At least this opens a case file on her and gives you the opportunity to do something helpful and care taking from a distance.
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Hi Betty b, I know how you must have felt when you heard what you did from your late Mother. I wish mine was that subtle. This has been going on for many years and we are somewhat reconciled to it. It still does bother me, however.
Hi Geewiz- Mom hasn't done a thing to improve the house for at least 30 years. She says she is embarrassed to have people over because everything needs updating. The house is very clean and neat, however. I have offered to either paint the interior myself or have it done for at least 15 years. She yeses you to death and then does nothing. (she has always been like this.) If you push the issue, she becomes violent. I have the scar on my leg to prove that. :-) As soon as you leave she will then start to complain about how crappy the house looks, other children would paint the house for their Mother, her late husband never did anything around the house, etc. She is a control freak and won't let anyone do anything. She then will complain that nothing gets done. You can't have it both ways.
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One additional possibility, perhaps she doesn't want you to come to her home because it hasn't been cared for! My cousin and her husband always found her parents waiting outside when they were all going someplace. They NEVER thought to check inside. One day they got a call that the father had fallen and they had called for an ambulance. When my cousin got inside of the house, she was shocked. The refrigerator was basically empty as was the food cabinet. The toilet wasn't working, they were using a bucket sitting in the bathtub! etc. The 'seniors' were living in one of the most affluent areas of the country and were not without financial resources. Things had gotten away from them. The son-in-law was a talented home repair person and could (and would have) fixed it all. Part of the aging process is an inability to problem solve. Most of our loved ones don't want to live with problems, they simply can't solve them on their own. Do visit and check in on things. If there are issues, be prepared to solve them, don't expect your Mom to be able to take the steps required. Good luck.
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Hi again, Jerry. I remember when I wanted to visit my late mother on one of her birthdays. It was at a time when I was extremely busy at work, but I wanted to fly across the country and spend her birthday (and a few more days) with her. She coldly informed me that it was "not a good time" for me to visit. That may have been so, but there were other ways to say it, and her coldness hurt my feelings deeply, even though I knew that it was not really about me but instead about her own disordered personality. I imagine that it must be painful for you to be getting this response from your mother as her 90th birthday approaches. Take care.
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I hear what you are both saying. Thanks for the insights. I have resolved most of this years ago. It still does bother me that someone only wants to make others feel bad intentionally for no reason. Particularly your Mother. My issues with my brother are that he has lived in her home since the early 90's, when my father was still with us. He refuses to contribute towards any bills. He is a miser. Consequently, he has a portfolio put away that would choke a horse. (as do we.) My Mother lives on a small social security check. I send her money each month. When he was drinking I was getting the phone calls at all hours of the night that Mom "couldn't take this, " "no one should have to live like this," etc. I dropped everything and made the trip to attempt to resolve things on many occasions. Spent nights in the ER on multiple occasions after brother passed out and fell down the stairs and we called the ambulance -again! Mom didn't want to have him put out because "I'm a Mother." "You don't understand." NO, I don't. Why does someone want to live in that situation? Yes, I have been to ALL the help centers for addicted people and their families and have done any and everything that you could think of to remedy that situation. What appears to have fixed it was my brother getting his third DUI and facing real jail time. The parole officer has been REAL strict with him which is driving him nuts, but he has been sober for about a year and is back in the human race. As long as he is sober I can forgive and forget. We get along better today than ever before. My wife and I are hardly in the "making the birthday all about us category." Our plans included taking her out for a nice dinner. Nothing extravagant, she wouldn't want that. It's a long, expensive trip where if we aren't wanted, I am more than happy to stay home and get some work done. I'll bring it up again in the Fall when the temps are lower.
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Jerry, I agree with jeannegibbs, above. Do go to see your mother and check out her situation, but not on her birthday. If you and your wife want to celebrate your mother's 90th birthday, then by all means, do so. Go out to dinner and raise a toast to your mother and her long life -- but by yourselves. If you were to carry out your plan to celebrate her birthday at her home, on her birthday, when she has said that she doesn't want that, then you would be making her birthday all about you, not about her. I can't help wondering if you would be bringing some unresolved feelings about your brother into the situation as well.
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Why does your visit have to be on her birthday? If she has made it clear her entire life that she "can't do" holidays and events, why not honor that, crazy as it is? Definitely go see her. Find out how she is and visit your brother. But don't do it on her birthday, and don't make a Big Deal out of her birthday.

I am very sorry, Jerryj1, that you have an abusive, mentally ill parent. It isn't fair. It is Not Your Fault. But it is what it is, and accepting it and working around it as best you can is better than acting as if Mother were normal and hoping she will behave that way, in my opinion.

Hugs to you ... and I hope you have built your own loving family.
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