My mother suffered a stroke that left her paralyzed in 2020. Two years later, she is still paralyzed and unable to function independently, she requires support from myself and my sibling. My mother has always suffered from Bipolar Disorder and Depression and constantly takes it out on myself and my brother. As a child, my mother would hit me and criticize me every second she could. I'm spending so much of my life taking care of her currently and she still manages to treat me poorly and say hurtful things to me. It's exhausting to take care of someone who is always being rude and hurtful. She lacks empathy for her family and is constantly complaining that we are poor caregivers when we are doing so much for her. It's exhausting and becoming more difficult to mange.

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I'm double your age and I'm exhausted and one buckle away from a straight jacket after looking after my mother with Alzheimer's for 10 years 24/7.
The latter years I gave up my life to make sure she was cared for and was safe. My husband went to work, came home and let me lay down for an hour...that's been the past 3 years.
I was the one who got the abuse, nasty comments, eye rolls, saying she couldn't wait to get the F out of here. The sole carer. I had no respite as she wouldn't allow it.
Now she is in a nursing home being nasty to everyone in there. I called her on the phone, I got her nasty attitude and she tried to hang up on me but couldn't manage it, luckily I heard her tell the manager she didn't want the phone call, I was giving her abuse and calling her a f****r.
Oobviously not true but I'm glad I heard it as it lessons the guilt for me to walk away.
She was jealous when I got married a few years ago, she divorced when she was my age. I believe her nastiness is a mix of dementia and harboured resentment towards me over the years.
I'm now trying to heal and go forward with the life I deserve with my husband.
My advice to you is get away from this situation, you deserve peace in your own life. Just because they are our parents doesn't mean their life is more valuable or precious than ours.
One last thing, if ever a phrase makes me want to scream it's "caring for your loved one is a rewarding experience " NO it bloody well isn't - it's exhausting!
Helpful Answer (18)
BurntCaregiver Aug 2022

This is after the fact because you ended up having to put your mother in a NH, but I'm going to say it for everyone else.
You say your mother would not allow any respite care services and refused to have anyone but you doing for her.
It wasn't her choice. So many people become enslaved in an abusive situation like you had because they make the mistake of allowing the elder to be in charge and make decisions. Family caregivers allow the abusive behavior and threat of tantrums to keep THEM in line and obedient to their elderly family member's demands.
That's not how it works. This is how caregiving works. It's done on the caregiver's terms, not the care recipient's.
The elder who refuses care because they only want a certain person to do it all should only get these choices.

-Do without care (depending on how much care they need)
-Placement in a managed care facility.

These are the only choices that should ever be given. I can't tell you how many elders I have had to tell that nothing gets a person a one-way ticket to a nursing home faster than being stubborn.

You don't allow a needy elder with dementia be in charge of anything more than what they want for lunch and sometimes not even that.

Also, I can say from personal experience as an in-home caregiver for almost 25 years and a family elder caregiver for several years that I have never had a "rewarding" moment. Not on the job and not on the job at home.
Give it right back to her. You and your brother need to learn the following phrases:

'Shut the h*ll up nobody cares what you think.'

'Your abusive behavior will not be tolerated'. (Walk away and follow with a period of ignoring).

'We (you and your brother) do not have to help you or take care of you. If you drive us away with your abusive and berating behavior, you will have to go to a nursing home'.

I've been in homecare for a long time and am the sole caregiver to my mother who sunds very much like yours.
DO NOT tolerate her abuse for one second. When she acts up, you completely ignore her. Do not speak to her, do not help her, do not get something for her. Nothing.
One of my mother's favorite abusive passive/aggressive past-times was constantly complaining about every meal. This was a way to be snide and verbally abusive to me indirectly. One day she started up so I collected her plate without a word and threw it in the garbage. I had to do this a few times before she caught on that this would be the regular response from me. Ever been sent to bed with no supper as a punishment when you were a kid? Same thing.
She will either learn to keep her abusive behaviors to herself or she will have to be placed. Don't play her games and do not put up with her crap.
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Jhalldenton Aug 2022
Totally agree. In this case learn a few foul names and give them back to her. The abuse will stop.
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How do you care for someone who has been abusive to you?

You no longer take care of your mother but instead make sure she is cared for by professionals.

You are too young to have such a life. You have to shake off any notion that she will change and miraculously be a made-for-TV sweet, gracious and appreciative mom. Your responsibility is only to make sure she is sheltered, fed, kept clean and safe by someone else. 

The big thing now is to cut the rotten umbilical cord to that sewage system and realize you’re wiser, more powerful and much more the-better-person than she ever was. Show your future kids what a great mom is like.

Imagine, while reading this you were overcome by a wave of never felt before clarity, freedom and hope. 

This feeling has not only enveloped you but has also washed through you. You will have this transformative feeling if you completely and whole heartedly accept that you are whole and solid without your mom’s love and make definite plans to have her in a care facility. And every time you visit her and she says the first miserable thing say; "Well that's always nice. Maybe it'll go better next time and I can stay longer. See you next Tuesday". Next visit bring her a latte, and repeat the same response. Train her.

In a whacky way you may possibly be more solid and savvy for your pains. You have experienced an unwanted education which should include at this point learning that it is a useless effort to try to find mom anymore in this sorry broken being. It’s time to take a slow deep breath, and as you slowly breath out expel your mom from being part of you. You are 100 million billion times more than just of her flesh.

The mind and heart of a healthy mom almost worships their babies. A mother’s love is a precious bond, it is an automatic protective nature, and unfathomably deeper than the universe. All else is unfortunate and a sad sickness that happens to some of us.

You are an honorable person but a little deluded as well for wanting to help in spite of your history. 

You are intelligent and write well. You are sensitive and you are, right now, the person perhaps you were meant to be regardless of the insanity, and crazy making of your childhood.

If you can even for a minute, (with practice you will be able to let go longer and then forever), slip off that ugly coat of memories and think as it slides away that what remains from that compilation of twisted experiences is a beautifully unique creation that has something special to bring to the world’s table which is a perspective and understanding that will be able to serve others and it doesn’t have to be professionally. You have a unique depth. Even in 50 years from now some one young person may need the knowledge and heart that only such a person as you can provide. Your empathy and sympathy will mean the world.

When someone has gone through bad experiences it can either destroy them or make them a force. Your voice tells you will be the latter.

YOU have to become the mom, the logical decision maker your mom was supposed to have been, and in this case for a demented old child. How will you better mom, protect, be kind, to yourself? You have to be gentle to yourself to be in the best shape for your future family.

If she had been a savage dog that you had no luck with you’d try to find a no kill farm, or a place it could safely live out its years. You must not allow further abuse, never, from anyone.

How you care for someone who was abusive to you.
From now on you are The Directress, The Controller and you will take all the steps, some small and some big, toward arranging for your mother’s care.

You will see there is a light of peace at the end of a short tunnel of desks, phone calls, and offices that you must deal with as you speak with anyone and everyone involved to help you arrange care for your mother in a facility. You are strictly only an overseer.

You must have a life. You must focus on your future.
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JudyBlueEyes Aug 2022
A beautiful and wise response, Michelle.
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I see my MIL one more fall away from being put in a NH. She screams at my DH that he just can't wait to put her away (and frankly, he does feel that way).

She abused this poor man (who is now over 70 himself) and is the only person who can make him feel like garbage. My heart breaks when I hear what she has done and said to him--even at his age.

She really has good reason to fear a placement that she'll hate, and he will put her in the nicest place he can find...not some rat hole.

When it happens, I just plan to be there for him, because her anger might just kill him. He is a still a wily little 4 yo to her, even though he's been supremely successful and a great asset to the world. Her hatred and nastiness is so ugly.

BUT--he won't do anything that would hurt her. She'll be furious, but it is what it is. She can afford the nicest place imaginable, but she'll hate it.

Truthfully, in our situation, there's NOTHING he can do to not make her angry, when the time comes to move her.
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Debbio Aug 2022
Thank you for posting this. I hold the same position in my family as your husband does in his. I can very much empathize with him. You are focusing on and doing the right things to be supportive for him. It is difficult for anyone—even siblings, and even "the special child in the family"—to understand the dynamics and the whos, whats, wheres, whys, and hows of them. Please keep up the good work in your marriage. 🙂
Why are you doing this?

You will never get a thank you or even a deathbed “I really did love you”.

The “but it’s your mother!” does not apply when she wasn’t a mother to you at all. Birthing a child does not a mother make.
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To answer your question simply - the best thing is NOT to do it!

Have a sit down with your sibling ASAP and let them know you are DONE and work on an alternate plan. Hired help at home or a nursing home. Either way she pays and you go back to your life.
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You’ve given caretaking a try, now allow yourself the grace to stop.

You don’t need any fancy excuses, “this isn’t working out for me” is enough.

You only have one life and you deserve happiness and peace.
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Stop. Doing. It. Stop being her caregiver. For nearly 2 years I've been the caregiver for my 82 y/o demented mother. She has been a cold, critical, emotionally abusive, and terrible mother to me. I am the daughter of a jealous, unloving, mean, demanding, narcissist.

In October of 2020, I stepped in to help, doing everything. I believed it was the Christian thing to do to "honor" my parent. But, it has just left me overwhelmed, burned out and resentful.

I've decided to step away. I do not owe her my life. I've become detached, more hands-off, and I'm looking for placement for her. I've answered incessant, middle of the night and during my work-day phone calls. No more. I've set firm boundaries as far as my availability. Not available-your call will not be answered. PERIOD. The frequency has decreased dramatically. I've stopped being at her beck and call. I've retained an in-home aide, and I'm on a search for MC placement.

You can provide support, but at a distance. You can ensure the care is provided. You do not have to be the caregiver.

Do not become abusive to your abuser.
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Beatty Aug 2022
Honour is a worthy value to uphold. Definition: Respect.

Providing physical hands-on assistance + all the mental tasks of bills, organising etc falls under 'Caregiving'.

Being 'on call', at 'beck & call' 24/7or trying to meet expectations to meet every want, wish & whim is something else again.. (at extreme level maybe even servitude?)

Respect is not servitude.
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I simply would never, under any circumstance, provide hands on caregiving to anyone who’d been or continues to be abusive to me. Relative or not, mom or not. Because I don’t deserve that. And you don’t either. I can only hope you’ll see this clearly and stop trying, stop caring. Sadly, you’ll never get anything positive or affirming from her. I’m sorry you didn’t get the mom you needed. Please know you aren’t obligated to continue in this thankless task. Care for you, you matter
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bundleofjoy Aug 2022
i agree with your approach.

unfortunately, many people are in a tricky position:

they don’t want the State to take over, because although the parent is abusive, they want the parent to get the best care possible and that won’t be possible if the State takes guardianship.

i have friends in many countries. in some countries, if the State takes over, your LO will get awful care. hence some of my friends kindly continue helping (whether the parent is at home or facility). and they continue to get abused, because every contact = abuse.
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My MIL has been abusive to my wife her entire life. My wife raised herself as a kid, had to find ways to buy her own clothes and get herself to school while mom was passed out on the couch. We're talking age 7. She moved out and got a job and a car and drove without a license at 14. I've known her mom for 23 years now and refuse to be in the same place with her. The verbal abuse is on about 90% of the time. My kids who are now 15 and 16 love her, she has been nice to them but there have been a few instances here she's gotten abusive. My son was in the Superbowl for his football league when in the middle of the game she started to walk across the field to get to a building on the other side instead of going around. My daughter (10 or 11) yelled at her to stop and she flipped out on my daughter.

Then there's the time she invited the drug dealers outside a 7/11 to come meet me and my family waiting for her in the minivan while she needed an emergency bathroom stop. She told me I was rude to her and the drug dealers telling her to get in the damned car NOW while I've got a guy in my driver side window trying to sell me drugs with my wife and toddlers in the back seat. As I drive off, she takes a 40oz beer out of her bag and opens it. Wtf??

She also gives the majority of her SSI away to online scammers. We've tried to educate her, to take control of her finances, but she wouldn't stop. She was also spending thousands a month on her credit cards on in app game purchases with no intention of paying. She says it's the credit card companies fault for giving her the cards. Everything is someone else's fault. Everything. We set her phone up as a kids and now all IAPs have to be approved by my wife. Boy she is not happy about that.

Fast forward, she lives alone, has bad emphysema (or whatever it's called now), vapes, refuses oxygen, hasn't showered in a year. Is unable to get downstairs (elevator) on her own to get to a doctor appt for her lungs. She goes thru tons of inhalers, sometimes 1 a day. I've been handling hospice and elder protective services for my dad and my wife asked me for all the contact info.

She called her mom to try to get help set up for her from these agencies but mom immediately started attacking her. You don't care what happens to me, etc.

Wife is done. Blocked her mom's number. Her mom has one foot in the grave. The other foot can't follow quickly enough.

Bottom line is let her go. It's not you, it's her and there is nothing you can do to change her behavior. These suggestions of ignoring her or treating her back the same way or setting rules or boundaries or consequences. It doesn't work. The only thing that ever helped was proper medication. She actually became a very nice and generous person but then she'd stop taking it because "I'm better now".

Get yourself away from your mom permanently whatever you have to do. If my wife was able to find a way to move out at 14 while living in the slums, so can you.

Im also going to throw this out there. I was always proud that my wife did not let her mother's behaviors affect her own. She's been an amazing mom. My wife is now in her mid 50s and my daughter (16) and I are noticing some early behavior changes in my wife that remind us of her mom. We can't bring it up or she feels attacked and gets defensive but it's starting to push us away. It makes us fearful as to where this might go. You need to be self aware and on guard of your own behaviors for life to make sure you don't start to go down that road.
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DJ9876543 Aug 2022
Thank you for sharing.
Please don’t assume your wife will turn into her mother. Older people get tired easily and she has lived a rough life and deserves to be tired. Give back to her the way she was outstanding to give to you and the children.
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