How to handle a bored, difficult parent?


I've posted here many times over the years while caring for my aunts, mother, and now just my mother. She recently turned 90, and is still living independently in an apartment, by her choice. However, she is becoming more and more negative and anxious. She is supposed to take Xanax for anxiety, but won't until she gets herself into such a nervous, negative state that it affects her blood pressure. One doctor told her she is her own worst enemy. I take her out two days a week, to the doctors, and for family dinners (usually 2-3 times a week). My neighbor is willing to take her out another day for Bingo, and my son said he'll take her to church any time she wants. She rarely calls on them and then vents to me - constantly. Nothing is ever enough and she says she's bored. I have suggested moving to senior living, and she gets very angry with me. She would love to live with me and my husband, who just retired, but I still work from home and she is very demanding, manipulative, negative, and controlling. It's hard enough spending time with and doing what I do for her, and I'm her only child. Nothing I do or have ever done for her is good enough. I believe it's more than enough, though, and I also call her every day I'm not with her. I've even introduced her to a lovely neighbor who she could visit with, but she's already found fault with her. How do handle this situation? Thank you!

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If funds are available, you might explore the services of an agency. Some of the Senior Care Managing agencies will send a person to the senior's home on a regular schedule to chat, take them out to lunch, shopping, play cards, etc. They can show up every day or once a week, according to your needs. They get paid to be patient, charming and take notes about the seniors condition and the home.
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pattiac, since your Mom is 90, and she gets angry if you bring up senior living, that is because back in her era senior living was an asylum. And who would want to live there !!

Set up some visits to Independent Living where the complex also has Assisted Living/Memory Care, usually with the tour is a free lunch. Tell Mom you are checking out places for a friend and you/her thought it would be great to get your Mom's opinion. Sometimes we need to use therapeutic lies in the best interest of our parent.

Wouldn't it be something is she saw an old lost friend in one of these Independent Living facilities :) Now, a lot depends on Mom's budget.

My Dad moved to such a facility and it cost him around $5k per month for a nice size 2 bedroom apartment. He loved the place, was happy as a clam being there. Loved all the attention from the Staff, and really enjoyed the food. Then came time to move him into Assisted Living studio apartment and all he worried about was whether the same chef would be making his meals :)
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It can be so frustrating when they make such a lonely bed for themselves, then want us to lie in it. My mother has always pushed everyone away. She has always expected others to do the visiting and calling. They have to come to her. Now she is sad that she is old and alone, but still pushes everyone away. I used to feel guilty that I didn't spend all day with her. In all truth, she didn't want that and I would have gone totally crazy. I live in her house and do everything that is needed. It is misery and I wouldn't recommend to anyone to live with a difficult parent. It takes all the joy out of life for a long time. Caregiving from a distance is much better.
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pattiac, you do plenty for your mother! My mother is also 90, and lives by herself in a one-story condo. I am her taxi service, and at first she was quite unhappy that I put limits on it (to Mass, to medical appts. and one shopping trip/week). I don't call her every day. Like your mother, she is quite controlling.

I have three brothers, all out of state.

I wish the dr. would prescribe some kind of anxiety meds for my mother! The neurologist suggested them. Her PCP (internist) said she didn't like her older patients to be on them, and said what my mother needs is "social support." I just looked at her, and she said my mother needs someone to check in with her every day to see what she needs.

Well, that won't be ME. I'd just be given a list of slave demands. My mother refuses to consider assisted living. She is blind in one eye, has balance problems, "panics" and then can't move. All sorts of "rules" for all sorts of things.

Like you, I was never good enough for her. I wish she lived near one of my brothers. I am stupid, nothing I do or say is right (actually, not just me; doctors don't know what they are talking about, either!).

She doesn't like when the doctor talks to me, so from now on I will be sitting out in the waiting area when I take her to the doctor. She's fully competent in the eyes of the law (although I see lapses!), so that's going to have to be the way it will be.
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Thank you so much!
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She's bored, she's lonely, she chooses to live alone in her independent apartment - well, honestly, what can you say?

You call and/or see her every day. She has offers of help coming out of her ears, by the sound of it.

You could ask the nice neighbour to invite her direct, rather than wait for you to give the go-ahead. Similarly, you could ask your son to initiate the churchgoing. This way, it won't just be you making suggestions - she'll be interacting with other people, like any normal independent adult arranging her own social life.

Other than that... Sigh. Her choice. It's up to her.

Not living with you, though. That's not up to her. It's up to you. Don't just say no. Don't say anything at all, then she can't argue with you. But for God's sake don't do it!
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