How do I ignore my mother's jabs at me and my husband?


We moved my mother in about 3 1/2 years ago. We live in Mississippi. She lived in Virginia until my Dad passed. She didn't want to be alone in her house so she sold it. My brother lives in North Carolina. She said all she wanted was a bedroom of her own with a twin bed, dresser and TV. Yeah, right! She has little by little tried to take control of our house. My husband is disabled and in quite a bit of pain. But he takes her to her Dr. appointments and is there if she needs him. He doesn't have much conversation with her, but he is the primary one that agreed she needed to come live with us. He will get her whatever she wants if he can and is very responsive to her needs. I work all week. Every night she expects me to sit with her in the den for three hours and watch TV with her and converse. My husband watches TV in the livingroom during that time. Most of the conversation involves her complaining about someone or something. She complains about my husband laying around and keeping it too cool in the house (she has jackets and blankets and it is always 74 degrees in the house). She wants someone to go get her something to eat every time they go out. There is plenty to eat in the house. I was told this when I lived at her house. I have two grandchildren who I love dearly. One lives an hour and a half away. His parents are divorced and we see him twice a month. We go down there and stay the weekend once a month and I get a sitter for her (her and the sitter get along great). She has never been good with children and complains every time I plan anything with them. She also has macular degeneration in her eyes and can't see very well. She can't read, play cards or even see the TV well. She complains she is bored and that I do too much on the weekend and leave her alone. I always invite her to go wherever we are going (which is not much). Sometimes we go out to eat, but she doesn't want to go so we bring her something back. When I go to see my grandchild 20 minutes away, she never wants to go; not even to his one year old birthday party. She is on oxygen and uses that as an excuse, but she has a small tank that she can take with her like she does to Dr. appointments. Lately we have been having words. She tells me she is tired of being left alone and that I am a "me" person, which is so far from the truth! I go to Sunday School and church on Sunday morning. I am not giving that up. We were raised in church and a Christian school. However, I don't feel I can do anything during the week I want to do (church, movie, dinner) because I will have to listen to her. My brother only comes once a year and might call every three weeks if I am lucky. He is tired of hearing me vent. He knows all too well how bad she is. I am at my wit's end as to what to do. I know I just need to ignore her, but it is so hard to do. What else can I do besides start thinking about a place to put her other than MY house?

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Check out your local appropriate facilities because you didn’t mention if she has dementia or a physical problem to deal with.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to HolidayEnd

This arrangement isn't working for anybody.

Change it.
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Reply to jeannegibbs

I too have a similar problem. I live and care for my 97 yr old Grandma in her home. I work full time and enjoy having ‘me time’ with my boyfriend outside the home. Before I moved in I explained to Grandma that I was going to continue to live my life and do things I enjoy.

I was scared to confront her about having space and privacy but it’s been worth it. Your mom may not like it. But your life is just as important as hers!!!

I know my grandma is lonely and I do spend a lot of time with her, mostly reading separately but we’re side by side in the same room. We also eat at least one meal together every day. And I take her on outings on my days off.

I can’t be her companion or make her find happiness in life, that’s up to her. She will complain that she’s lonely but her husband of 50 years recently passed away and she’s still grieving.

But your mom sounds very unhappy and it’s making you and your husband miserable.
Good luck with you decision.
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Reply to Watergirl1

Tell your Mom that having her there is taking a toll on husbands health even though he Doesn't complain. That you need to be able to spend as much time as you can with him. That her living there is not working because she demands too much of the time you have. It's time for an AL. There she would eat with other people and be involved with activities and outings.
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Reply to JoAnn29

Your original question was how to ignore your mom's upsetting behavior.

You shouldn't ignore it. I agree with Dori's "put your foot down" approach.

But also consider that your mom may have mental health issues that warrant diagnosis and treatment. Get her to a geriatric psychiatrist. Meds may help.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn

I don't know what it is about all these "not social," supposedly loner-type parents who suddenly expect their children to entertain them and keep them company all the time! My best friend is in the same boat with her mom, and I went through it with my mom. Neither of our moms has lifted one finger to make friends or pick up interests of their own.

If you are determined to keep your mom at home, you either have to accept that this is your life now, or put your foot down. You have to decide which is going to be the hardest thing. My BFF thinks it's easier on her to go along with it all, rather than deal with her mom's passive-aggressiveness, because she feels it ends up creating more work for her in the end. I decided to put my foot down, and it was hell for awhile, but now it's ok.

Setting boundaries is hard. People get mad at you for it. They yell, they sulk, they cry, they act out...they try everything to manipulate your guilt. Eventually, you learn to ignore their temper tantrums and the guilt, and do your thing anyway. The thing is to stick to your guns once you decide you are putting a boundary in place. If a person successfully breaches your boundary even once, then they will probably never give up trying to breach it again.

Also I second the recommendation of audio books, as well as other forms of audio entertainment. The public libraries have spectacular book collections on CD, and you can request others in from other libraries. They also have even more for download online. Recently my brother got mom a little CD stereo player that has Bluetooth, so any kind of digital audio can be streamed to her room from the computer or my smartphone. There are many free collections of classic books online in audio format as well (check out Google Play), and if you're willing to pay a little, you can find just about anything on Amazon or There are also lots of radio plays and TONS of free podcasts available. Public radio has loads of awesome talk shows and documentaries - I believe in the US, you can access NPR on a regular radio, like we access CBC here in Canada. And online you can access Public Radio International, the BBC, the CBC, and much more. And there's always music. If you're not sure how to set this up, maybe ask your kids to help you out.

I changed the internet package to unlimited bandwidth.  It costs an extra $15 a month, but between the unlimited access to Netflix and "on demand" TV, and the massive amounts of audio programming available online, it's paid for itself over and over and over in terms of my sanity! 
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Reply to Dorianne

So your mom is negatively affecting your husband's quality of life, possibly jeopardizing your marriage, and creating difficulties with spending time with your grandchildren. Add on top of that she is smothering you and making you feel like a child in her house again.

What on earth is the upside of keeping her at your house? It doesn't seem to be working out for anyone, including her.
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Reply to SnoopyLove

Sendhelps answer is a good one. You should give that a go.
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Reply to smeshque

Have the sitter come there when you and husband are home so you can enjoy your evenings together. At least some of them.
Then transfer her to IL or AL with the sitter still keeping her company.
Think about when her eyesight is worse. Does she need to be in a space she can “ memorize” ?
Perhaps having a planned progression of care will give you some relief of the tediousness. A goal. A timeframe?
If you have sitter more often you may be able to handle it longer if that is a goal
What about your husband? Is he enjoying his life? Does it help him in any way for him to be responsible for her?
His life sounds tough. Pain. MIL all day. Alone in the evenings.
What’s the prognosis for his condition?
Can the sitter take her to the appointments?
Anyway I guess I’m saying shake it up a bit.
Good for you that you are seeing your GC and making them a consistent part of your life. Come back and let us know how it’s goibg.
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Reply to 97yroldmom

Hire the sitter for companion care, 2-3 days a week,at her expense....
You said:
" I get a sitter for her (her and the sitter get along great)."
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Reply to Sendhelp