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I take my 85 year old mother out to food shop and doctor/dentist appts on Tuesdays and to Walmart and other shopping and lunch on Thursdays. I have her and my 89 year old aunt, who lives with her in an apartment, over to my house once a month for dinner with the family. As my aunt is getting more needy, my mother is wanting me to add another day, so she can get out again to shop some more! I left a well-paying job to work from home so I could help her out, but have my own obligations at home and work on weekends to keep up. My mother is never happy, always complaining and criticizing, and plays the victim all the time. They have a lovely senior citizen center and trips, a neighbor who would clean for them, and many other options, including in-home care or a beautiful senior living place with activities. My mother is bored and expects me to make up for the isolation she has imposed upon them. She says she has no options, but that is simply not true. Now my mother is saying that she and my aunt won't come for dinner on Easter because she's annoyed at me. I refuse to rescue her further, because she'll always want more, and is never appreciative. I do my best to be respectful and patient, and even spoke to her doctor privately. He said that given how manipulative and stubborn my mother and aunt are, it's bound to end badly. I told her that not coming for dinner was not going to solve anything, and that it would just make everyone feel badly. Any suggestions as to how to handle her?

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See Pattianne. It already worked. Sometimes a little reversed psychology goes a LONG way. I have very much noticed if I act like something my MIL does doesn't bother me she realizes what she's doing isn't gonna work & she comes around. That's REALLY when I know she was using her illness to get over on me. I just laugh to myself, pat myself on the back, & think "O.K., I won this one Missy"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Thank you to all who answered this post - the answers are so insightful and helpful. I feel much better, knowing that people understand and also that we can't punish ourselves for what our parents choose. I have to stick by the boundaries, and remember that it's a two way street. Happy Easter to everyone!:)
(BTW, they are still coming to dinner, once my mother had time to think about what she'd said. I even got a rare apology, but only because she was afraid of offending my husband, not me. I'll take what I can get, though!)
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When you see that it is HER choice to miss Easter, not your "fault," maybe you can laugh a little. Often my Dad will threaten something like, "I'm not coming down to dinner if you don't do XYZ." Once I stopped jumping to do XYZ, and just said -- as was suggested above -- "Okay. That's your choice. I'll bring you dinner after we eat without you," he saw that he couldn't pull those strings anymore. (There are still OTHER strings he can and does pull-- I'm working on those! LOL!)

SO prepare to set two fewer plates for Easter this year and let it be okay that her Easter gift is to learn a lesson about boundaries.

But the bigger "gift" here, in my view, isn't so much about teaching your Mom/my Dad where some boundaries are. It's in teaching OURSELVES that there are boundaries. They can't push beyond them unless we let them. You Mom has drawn a very bright, very public line in the sand. Don't go get her and pull her across it. Let her live on the that side of it or erase it.

Happy Easter, no many how many people you have at your table!
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My grandma loves her routine in the morning...she wakes up every morning, I have coffee and breakfast waiting for her. She comes out without her robe which Im sure she forgets due to the dementia (its not all on purpose) but she starts in with "Burrrrrrr, burrrrrr, im so cold" So I say, well go get your robe, its on the side of your bed. I see her glance over to her room and she says. "where is it?" I say...In your bedroom. She glances back at her bedroom and says "Where is my bedroom?" As she comfortably sits and waits for me to give up and get it for her. I just keep doing what Im doing and say "Grandma, you know where your bedroom is. If your cold, get your robe. If its too far to walk, get a blanket on the couch, your not feeble" She gets snotty and says, "yes I am...Im an old lady" I reply...."Granny, I got your number" she gets pissed and walks strait in her bedroom and slams her door. She comes out with her robe. For the 1st 3 months as a Care Giver...I was running to get her robe in the morning...until I saw the difference like Sherri was saying. They do sometimes work you harder and use their illness. At the same time, remember with Alzheimer/Dementia...they do need our help, otherwise we wouldnt be here! But remember.....they still have mobility and if they forget where to go or how to do something, RE-TEACH them...dont let them give up. It may take a few times over and over again but the brain is more powerful then we give it credit for. Just as a child...you can teach them. It may stick or it may not. One thing I learned is if they "constantly" ask the same question over and over again ...like "When is Dinner?" Instead of answering it and expecting them to retain the answer, answer with a question "I dont know Grandma, when is dinner usually?" You will be surprised how it stumps them. It will slow that repeated question down after awhile.
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I so understand all that you are going through with your mother. Angela's post was right on and so agree with everything she said. My mother did many of the things yours does - I've learned not to let her manipulate me anymore. One lifetime of it is plenty. Blessings to you and take care.
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I understand you completely. My MIL is the same way. She has dementia and she knows it. She goes so far as to use this at times. She actually FAKES her illness alot of times just to be nasty & I hate it. I know when she "fakes" . She doesn't fool me. Thats when I'm rude back. We cannot put up with their ignorance. I say let her stay home for Easter. She WANTS you to beg her. Like the other person said, she's making the choice not to come. If she doesn't & then brings it up just tell her how good everything was and the day went just fine without her. Tell her she missed a nice dinner and to let you know ahead of time the next holiday she won't be coming because you'll make other plans like going somewhere instead of sitting at home & waiting for her. Maybe if your blunt she'll realize that your life goes on without her& she won't do this to you. I swear at times they want us to kiss their ass & frankly I'm sick of playing games with a grown women. Let me know how your Easter turns out. I'll be curious to find out. Love, Sherri
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Dont allow her to manipulate you. The only way you can stop her in her tracks is to stop reacting to her when she tries to hurt your feelings. I have noticed with my grandma who I care for 24/7 with her Alzheimer/Dementia she acts like this alot. If she says she wont have dinner, smile and say "Thats your choice but I will sure miss you two" and leave it at that. If she goes through with it and misses Easter Dinner, so be it. We as care givers give up a great deal for our parents/grandparents. They need us more than they will admit. Do not let them play the poor me act though, that is like raising a child and teaching them to be spoiled. Think about it that way. She is lucky to have you the time she does and especially if she is in her right mind, you should make her aware of that. If she is not satisfied with what you do for her now, there are many nursing homes that will open up a room for her. I am being blunt....but in all honesty I know what it feels like to feel unappreciated. In my case though- she has Dementia and I cant blame her for that...in your case- dont put up with that mental abuse. I have to brush it off my shoulders because of my grandmas condition. In her right mind, she would never expect me to give up my life and obligations for hers. Hang in there! GOD BLESS!
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