My dad passed away in February, leaving my 98 year old mother. My mother has a walker and lots of arthritis pain. She was insistent on living "independently" in their bungalow condo until I had to go back to work in June. I was helping her daily. Finally mom moved to a retirement residence in July. Since my dad passed away, I have been taking care of everything for my mom. When she moved to the retirement residence, my sister finally came from out of country and helped me clean out the house and sell it. That was a solid 3 week, 10 hour day job. I work full time plus, so can visit my mom twice a month usually. My mom calls me daily, if not twice daily. I can no longer deal with her constant negativity about pretty much everything. It brings me down and derails me for the whole weekend. Much as I am doing everything in my power to help myself heal from the loss of my dad, these phone calls put me back to square one. I can't bring myself to visit after that, as I'm tired of going to visit her on my own, and I can't stand another face to face session of negativity. I have no idea what to do and no support from the few family members that I have, so it's all on me. I'm so burned out that I have difficulty getting back into my own life again. Any suggestions?

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I think it is up to you to decide what you give. It might be that you really have needed some time away from her.
Now that she is in a care situation, it is really up to you-
You have to expect negativity and .....just endure it.
If you want to see her a couple of hours a week and two phone calls ? Every other week or once a moth ...quarterly or 2 times a year. You must step back and then decide how much time you want to spend with your mom.

You know it helps me sometimes to remember that this is very temporary and so soon I will not be able to see my mom or talk with her in this life ever again.

I tell my mom things like is the cup half full? or half empty? I change the subject and get her to remember something she did right ...I find something to compliment her on...even if it is just that she has combed her hair ... or the color of her blouse is making her eyes look green instead of brown. I pray for my mom and with her too if she is worried and I stop and give her hugs....tell her I love her. I tell her how much God loves her and read the Psalms to her from the Bible....and Psalm 23.... It is scary for them as they get closer to death. They get arthritis and suffer constant aches and pains...they are feeling lost and afraid....especially in a new environment....with new people. So just try and comfort her and know you have done your best.

I think to just show your mom you love her when you do come to see her ...and tell her everything is going to be alright .... that is about all you can do.

Knowing that her needs are met physically, that she has proper meals and health care and a safe clean place to live with round the clock care providers should give you some peace .... It is never enough when caring for the elderly they are all consuming...but they are people just like us who have gotten very old ... and helpless...and scared.
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I’ve posted this before but once I told my mom I would like her to say something nice before she started fussing whenever I came to see her. It was a three hour trip one way. I had a lot to do once I got there and then I drove back home. I didn’t like all the complaining I sometimes got.
So after making that request I could tell she understood what I meant. So the next week when I arrived she said “Good to see you....I guess”.
I just laughed, gave her a hug and got busy.
I didn’t like talking to her on the phone. So I would get a pen and paper and make a few notes before calling her. I had a list of about 20 topics that I would choose from. I asked questions about different eras of her life. Sometimes I was kind of clinical in my approach. Paying attention to her speech. Her memory etc. That helped me not be impatient. I also asked her how to do things. How did you make your coconut pie? Was it Grannies recipe? Did you use ripe pears or green ones in your mincemeat? I asked her a question once and she said “You wait too long to ask me” and then she answers it in the next breath. She just needed a moment to think about it. Maybe half a moment.
She also was on a walker. She had CHF so the last few years of her life weren't fun.

You have to take care of yourself. Rest.
Maybe either call her or visit. Don’t try to do both.
Perhaps hire someone to visit and take a few weeks off. Have them go with you a couple of times as a training, a getting to know you sort of visit. My friends aunt had a girl Friday that did all the running for her. Brought her treats, participated in activities at the facility. Consider it. It might be good for both of you. You cant help her if you are depleted yourself. You need something to build you up. Go to movies. Join an exercise class. Read a novel. Listen to wonderful music. Do something that takes your total attention. That lifts you up.
Once my brother was complaining about my mother. I said well you know quite a few live to be 100 these days. Not many live to 110. So you’ll only be 70 then. I finally got a smile from him. I hope you feel better soon. I’m really sorry about the loss of your dad. Hugs
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Thank you Margaret. I appreciate your suggestions. I have let the calls go to voicemail many time, but felt bad. Thank you for confirming that it's ok to do that and not feel bad about it, as if I'm abandoning her. I do call her a couple of times a week, but then she calls for 30 minutes minimum and 60-90 minutes usually. I know she misses my dad terribly (they were married for 73 years!) and the "witching hour" is usually weekend mornings and any evenings. I will need to have a visit with her tomorrow, so will certainly think of something to start with other than "how are you".
Thank you again!!
Helpful Answer (1)

Here are a couple of suggestions that just might help a little.

First is to phone her, rather than waiting for her to phone you. She phones you when she is miserable or angry. If you phone her with an upbeat first few comments, it might push the call in a better direction. Second is to stop taking her calls whenever she rings. Use an answering system, and wipe the calls without listening to them. If you phone her regularly (and the facility will phone you if there is a serious problem), you will hear all the news fairly soon anyway, and you can start the conversation on your own terms. Along the same lines, when you visit, don't start by saying 'How are you going?'. Start with a funny story or some gossip.

Best wishes in an impossible situation.
Helpful Answer (4)
anonymous828521 Nov 2018
True, those are great suggestions, I may try them, cuz I have been made sick by my mother's miserable demeanor. (Actually, no, I'm kinda done). It's too much work constantly trying to make the unhappy person 'be happy'). Martyr days are over for me, I'd like to be happy myself☺.
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