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My dad died four years ago. She thinks his death only affected her life. She wants to be independent, but then complains if we don't help her. She won't listen to advice I give her. But if someone else gives her the same advice, she will. When I am around her, I have to watch my words carefully because one wrong word will set her off. She is always saying "your dad said this" or "Right before your dad died, he said you kids would be this way, that's how it is when the man dies first." My dad could not speak in the last few months of his life. Why is she lying about this? She won't seek counseling. She has isolated other life long friends as well. I'm not sure what advice I am seeking, maybe I just needed to vent.

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Tonight my mother is in her bedroom telling my father's picture that she doesn't do things all day, and that we need to get out and do stuff. She's not talking to me, but I can hear her. Of course, I know the truth that she doesn't do things because she chooses not to do them. And I know that she is alone because she pushes people away. But she talks like things are other people's fault. There are no answers. It is like the person they feel they are inside is not the actual person that they are. Maybe the mind still feels it can climb mountains even when the physical body has trouble walking from one room to the next. Their mind tells them if something would change, then they would be younger again.

My mother has also made up a person she needed my father to be. My father was deaf and had dementia, so was in his own world for the last years of his life. To her, though, he was okay and in charge of all his faculties. When she talks of him she says the things she needed him to think or say. She invents realities that make her comfortable. Some of the realities can be mind bending, but usually do no harm so I just let them go. She has dementia, but even when she didn't have it she could bend the truth to the point of breaking. It is just who she is.

BTW, my mother and I were out all day yesterday. It probably wore her out so she didn't feel like doing anything at all today. 
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Dear kew,

I feel for you. I know its hard to hear an aging parent complain. And you are doing your best to help her but she won't listen. It sure isn't easy. Try to step back and just let her be. Don't take everything she says to heart. I know that is a lot easier said than done.

I wish I had done that for my dad. I took everything so personally. For the adult children, sometimes we don't think we need help, but we do. We need to seek out counselling or a support group to find new ways to cope with an elderly parent.

I just read a quote about how hard it is to change oneself, what makes us think we can change others?
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It is hard, frustrating and exhausting to be giving all you can - and the aging parent STILL does not appreciate it. I'm single, a homeowner, work full-time and I now have my 90 year old mother under my feet for about the 3rd time. Lately she is definitely getting worse. More crotchety, ill-mannered, and self-absorbed. She told me the other day how much she has aged since her last birthday...well thanks because you were back living with me - which is what she wanted! I swear - some days I feel like I can't win. I've backed off emotionally and have decided I cannot make her happy and should not be required to do so. I try and ignore her complaints and go about my day. I stay very busy taking care of everything - car maintenance, yard maintenance, house maintenance. I also make sure I stay in touch with my friends - happy hour or a day trip somewhere to realize there is a whole "nother" world out there. It's hard as h*ll - I won't sugar coat it for you. I really wonder how or when this is going to play out. Will I come home one day or wake up one morning and she will be gone - passed on? Will I be running back and forth to a nursing home which is the most depressing thing in the world. My other family members do not help out much and go about their lives - taking vacations, having get-togethers, and enjoying life. I sometimes feel like I'm on an island unto myself. It's a lonely existence at times. I just try and pray to whoever is up there and be thankful for all that I do have. My health, home, job, good friends, etc. I know it could be worse - a lot worse. Hang in there - nothing lasts forever.
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I have said this before and I'll say it again--most people seem to become "more" like themselves as they age--good and bad traits both. As they decline and cannot or will not care for themselves, they get angry (I am sure I would be too) and often take out frustration on those who care the most. My mother is a peach to the mailman, the deli guy at the store, the pharmacist, but will come home and say some of the meanest things about people she doesn't like. She has always been that way, but as she's aged, it has become harder to watch her coo and kiss these "strangers" and then completely ignore the family around her. She lives with my brother and SIL, she refers to my sweet SIL as her "jailer" or "she who must be obeyed" and those are the NICE things she says. Brother really doesn't allow SIL to do anything for mother as mother is so mean to her. SIL has been nothing but sweet and patient.

Truthfully? You can't DO anything. When she becomes abusive, walk away. Mother can't follow me. I put myself in time out from her (been 5 weeks lately--I check on her thru brother, but have not visited and don't plan to) and I suggest, if possible, you do the same.

Yes, someday my mother will die. And I know I will probably not be on the best terms with her when that happens. I'm already OK with that. I cannot force her to love me, or let me help her. It's frustrating, I know. A lot of us are in this same boat.

And I agree with GranJan--people will say the nastiest things to the people closest to them---and take out their anger on them. That's a dynamic that's old as the hills. Try not to take it personally. Try not to take her using your deceased dad as a "go between"-- just see the manipulation as what it is...the anger and frustration of a person trying to get control. Little kids use it, elders often revert to very immature antics to get what they want.
Good luck--you aren't alone. Venting here is just fine.
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There have been times, when my grandmother has said similar things like that to me, I've told her to when she stops being an abusive POS to me, I will visit again and then I leave. If something happens while I've stayed away, oh well, you reap what you sow eventually. Don't be afraid to let her know that you won't be around to put up with her being manipulative and she's gonna have to hire people to help her and walk out. Yes, make her pay for someone to come in twice a week to help out and you go over once a week for only 4 hours, max. Will she be happy? Absolutly not but it's not your problem, you have your own life to live and you should be living it.
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The therapy part, not everyone can afford. A support group...I think that is better. I don't think a person can help u who has not been thru it. This group has been a big help to me. From the day Mom came to live with me, I was not me. Can't explain it but didn't enjoy her being here at all. And my Mom is easy. Hated the intimate things, showering , toileting, cleaning up. Maybe because I had my gson for 18 months and went right from him to her. I know I had a hard time seeing her decline. Maybe it was having to make decisions for someone else. Maybe because it was always ME, out of four children. Daycare was a help, AL better but the nursing home is a blessing. I don't go everyday, 3 or 4x a week. That is now my responsibility. She is now in her own world. She is fed, clean and taken care of. Now, I have to start looking for a place for disabled nephew. Its always something.
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Somehow or another, it has fallen to me to look after the elderly in our family (grandparents, parents) for the last 30 years or so, while raising my own family. Here are a few things that I learned:

1 - I think this is the most important one. The older a person gets, the more afraid they become of their own fragility and mortality. They do not know how to cope with these feelings and tend to lash out on those who are with them most often. I may be wrong, but I don't believe they always mean what they say. They just don't know how else to release their negative emotions.

2 - I cannot live with them. I tried a couple of times and it wore me out both emotionally and physically. At first I felt guilty, but therapy taught me otherwise. What use would I be to them if I did not take care of myself? My circumstances allowed me to move close to them, whether they lived on their own or in a facility, so I remained very involved in their daily care. But it was much easier because I was able to "escape" to my own peaceful home. At first, they angrily blamed me for their circumstances, but eventually looked forward to my visits and were more pleasant with me (sometimes only slightly, but it was a step in the right direction).

3 - I am currently looking after one with whom I have not gotten along very well for most of my life. My own stress levels would rise in response to their's and we would end up having huge rows. Assisted living is still not an option. I used what I had learned during my own therapy. First, I acknowledged that they are afraid of their old age and what it meant. This took a few discussions before the message finally sunk in that I understand how they feel. Then I opened up about how hurt I felt at the current insults. I briefly mentioned the past emotional injuries, but didn't dwell on this too much. We still have arguments, but they are no longer as severe.

4 - I found that the elderly will often refuse to seek out their own social activities and this leads to loneliness and depression. So I planned a few: sometimes as simple as a shopping trip, sometimes an event in the city, maybe a day trip to the country for a picnic. I was simply looking for something to occupy their thoughts other than their own uncomfortable circumstances. Look for 65+ groups that plan activities especially for seniors. Some groups have drivers who offer door-to-door service. An added benefit is that you will have some time off.

5 - Exercise is essential not only to their physical well-being, but to their mental well-being as well. If your senior still can, how about an adapted yoga, or chi gong class? Or just do some movements with them.

5 - Lastly, I learned how to be stupidly funny to deflect their negativity. Make them laugh, as often as you can. Show up wearing some insane costume. Watch funny movies. If they use email, send them a joke every day. Dance a crazy little jig with the mop or broom. If you've had children, remember how you made them laugh to get over a hurt? It's the same thing. Get them to laugh as often as you can. And it's good for you too.

It's still not the easiest thing to care for the elderly, but these things have helped me. Hopefully, they help you as well.
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Texasgal, the thought that they might die tomorrow makes it harder for us. What if we fuss at them or spend a day for ourselves today and they die tomorrow? It is like prematurely guilting ourselves into a corner, knowing how bad we'd feel if our last day with them was anything but kind and giving. What I think is most wrong is that one person should carry the full weight. It can be like servitude. The weight needs to be shared.
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Sometimes parents take their frustrations out on the person they are closest to.
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Kew - I would guess your mom might have dementia so is no longer in control of what she is doing/saying because she lives in a different world that sometimes co-insides with yours

Have her checked by dr. - she might try to avoid going so tell her it is to keep up insurance coverage - use your cell phone to record some of her worst times to show dr. - even try to go to dr. by yourself first to discuss your concerns

Check out TEEPA'S GEMS - Teepa Snow also has some short videos that I found illuminating - she should be called the 'Dementia Whisperer' - good luck & let us know what the outcome is
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