I am realizing that my mother is changing. Although she is very sharp for her 88 years, and living independently her world revolves around watching TV, following political news, scrutinizing her environment for any number of unsatisfactory, critical things, and generally showing sides that are both loving and mean spirited.

She refuses to wear her hearing aids, claims she can hear fine, and frequently hears versions of conversation that are very inaccurate and help to create conflict between what was said and what she thinks she heard. Because I spend a lot of time with her and helping our family to support her to live independently in her own home, I am realizing her critical nature is really increasing and often I walk around on egg shells. I hear her when she says I don't show enough empathy for whatever the reason - I do get it wrong sometimes but she's tired of working through our differences. It's been this way off and on my whole life and this is the nature of our relationship (and with some of my siblings), so I still don't understand why she wants me around. She keeps reminding me when I haven't lived up to expectations (throughout my life).

Mom is very senior in age, has some controlled health issues and is managing chronic pain. Those are difficult scenarios for anyone to manage, especially so at her age. I honestly think she would be better off with other family members who live nearby and I wouldn't be a source of stress or sadness for her. I could just visit with her when the family is present or help when they are not available. I don't necessarily like that idea because we're all a family and I think we are supposed to support one another and I do love her. Emotionally, it's hard to feel good in general when you know someone is waiting for the next time to remind you of your shortcomings. Maybe this is just another low point, and it will all get better again with time.

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This isn’t a low point. Unfortunately, it is a reality of many caregivers lives!

I think if you read your posts again and allow yourself to absorb it and be honest you will see that you are not content in this situation.

What do you think is preventing you in making a change for yourself? It certainly sounds like you are frustrated and would like your caregiver responsibilities to end.

Start considering other alternatives. I was once in your shoes. I am much happier since I allowed myself not to be a caregiver to my mom.

Of course you want your mom to be cared for. Every human being needs care. That doesn’t mean that the responsibility should land in your lap.

What about assisted living or a nursing home? Do you have any hands on help now?

Have you contacted Council on Aging in your area? They will determine your mother’s needs and if she is approved for the program you can receive help with light housekeeping, meals, bathing, sitting, etc.

I understand how you feel. I love my mom too. She was extremely critical as well. It hurts.

Wishing you all the best.
Helpful Answer (11)
cherokeegrrl54 Oct 2020
Yep it hurts when you mostly grew up wth constant criticism for one thing after the took therapy and some years for me to overcome tha issues, mostly NO self confidence was my main problem. I wanted to b like my peers but my family was old fashioned, went to a holy-roller church, which was fine for them.....i always knew that there was more out there in our universe than what was being said in church.....and i finally found my true path in life and im much happier....blessings to all.
NHWM****its so good to see you back posting now.. I missed you...Liz
I had a critical mother all my life, but thankfully I never had to be her caregiver as her and I ended up living many states apart. I wouldn't of been able to do it even if I had lived closer. My mental health is too important.

It sounds like she has issues with several other family members as well, so it might be time to be looking for a nice facility where mom can be around other folks her age and where she can find other people to abuse. Only you can decide when enough is enough. You must remember that NO WHERE is it written that children must take care of their parents. But if you and your family decide you still want to care for her in some way, remember that that care can look like placing her in a facility where she will receive 24/7 care from others and you can go visit if and when you want to, and you have the option of leaving if she gets to be too much with her complaining. Best wishes.
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cherokeegrrl54 Oct 2020
Tell it! Sister!!!
Do your three siblings also live near by? I read in your profile that you are expected to be the caregiver because you are not married and the others are "busy"?

I also should not have been my mother's caregiver, but in my case I was the only local child (3 brothers out of state, and she liked them much better). She wasn't going to move to be near any of them (and none of my brothers wanted to do what I did).

My solution was to treat it all as a job, and I ended up being compensated for the time I spent with her. I did not live with her, nor her with me, but it was emotionally difficult for me. When I knew I was being paid $20/hour, my attitude improved immensely. (She did not know this, and would have vehemently disagreed as she told me one time, "You don't pay family!") One of the two POA brothers paid me, and it was a "gift" for all that I'd done and was doing.
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caring2 Oct 2020
I am also compensated for my time and that has been a good thing but on the other hand it has made my siblings less likely to pitch in to help which I find sad. I have one sibling living out of town but others live within 45 minute drive from my my parents. One does try to help whenever she can and an other a few phone calls a year but that’s about the size of it. I find that quite hurtful actually.
I take the brunt of my parents frustrations but they have learned I’m not a pushover. My dad yelled at me a month ago and I simply walked out on them and didn’t go back until he apologized. You don’t need to be a doormat and must set boundaries.
I echo what Beatty is saying. How much help are you and other family members give her so she can be "independent".
If you all went on vacation for a week would she do well on her own?
If the answer to that is "oh, we COULDN'T do that" not "oh, we WOULDN'T do that then it is time that you think about finding a place where she can be safe and cared for. That means either a siblings house that can be adapted to be safe to be safe for her where she can be cared for without major problems. Or a facility that can care for her safely.
Now I get to answer the question you posed.
How do you know if you are the right sibling to care for a parent....
You mention in your post that she keeps reminding you that you have not lived up to her expectations. Is this something you want to hear daily, or multiple times a day? Just at that point I would step back and say I could not do this every day. Helping a sibling care for her, yes, but to hear that daily would eventually begin to break you.
And "walking on eggshells" 24/7/365 is pretty rough on the feet.
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Twice I typed an answer and twice it disappeared so here I go again. Your mother is going down and is destroying you mentally and physically. My question is if the relationship was poor all of your lives, WHY ARE YOU PUTTING UP WITH THIS? Aren't you worth more in terms of respect and kindness. You are doing so much. All the siblings should share in her care if you are keeping her home. And as to why she wants you around? You are her "punching bag" and she can "control" you by acting as she does to have you do her things for her. DON'T BE A FOOL. The very next time she acts out, I would literally explode (yes, explode because she won't understand calm, peaceful talks) and tell her that she either stops behaving negatively at once and starts cooperating fully or you will wash your hands and walk away. Tell her you will place her somewhere or she finds her own solutions but you will no longer be her punching bag. Do that as often as it takes - it may not stop her but YOU will feel relief by getting the hurt and the rage out of you - you are innocent. You did not make her this way - she is what she is and you cannot allow it. Start making plans to do that because I see no other real option. There is help available in terms of money but you have to seek it out. Never ever let someone else harm you mentally or physically, especially if you are helping them. She has to stop and get out of your life so you can have peace.
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Riley2166 Oct 2020
P.S. I learned far too late in life and the hard way, that when people do harm to you and you can't stop it, YOU MUST WALK AWAY AND LEAVE THEM BEHIND. I did, hardest thing ever in my life, but it was the best thing I ever did and wish I had the guts to do this far sooner than I did. There is a tomorrow - never stay with the negative, no matter who or what or why.
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Dear "imtrying,"

I'm sorry that the whole situation is extremely difficult for not only you but some of your other siblings. Your screenname says it all - you are trying but, it's never enough...and it never will be. The first thing to realize is your mom is NOT going to change nor does she WANT to change so I would push that idea off the table and deal with the specifics at hand. Secondly, it's very common for elderly people not to wear their hearing aids for many reasons. For my FIL, they were always uncomfortable to wear. For my friend's husband, he was always getting feedback/background noise when trying to listen to someone which is quite annoying. Currently, an Uncle is trying to find a different type of hearing aid because he simply doesn't think his are working good enough.

You said it's been this way between you and her off and on throughout your life as well as some of the your other siblings yet, you don't understand why she wants you around. That's easy - she knows you will be her emotional punching bag with little resistance. I'm wondering if the fact that she keeps reminding you when you haven't lived up to expectations if in essence she hasn't lived up to her own and instead of focusing on her own shortcomings, she's chosen to redirect those negative feelings onto you. Expectations are dangerous for any of us, in any situation and with any person. Why? Because we will all fail - the majority of issues we end up having with anybody, is because someone has not met our expectations. Being that everyone is different it may not be intentional but, the offended person will take it as if it were. We forget that others do not always think just like us. Albeit, sometimes there are some people who will intentionally choose not to meet another person's expectations and then it's up to us either to hold onto it or let it go.

If collectively you and your siblings decide that it's better to move her into a care facility, then that would be the best option. If that's not on the table at this point and you seem to really want to help out in some way, you could help out more in an indirect way. For example, if one of the siblings who does live nearby wants to take care of her, help the sibling instead. Mom needs groceries, you do the shopping and take them to your siblings home. Do you like to cook? Prepare some meals for the sibling to take to her. Think of any type of "task" that you could do to help the sibling out and leave the hands-on type of caregiving to them. Or you could help the sibling themselves i.e. clean their house so it frees up time for them to work with your mom. You already said you'd be willing to just visit with her when family is present or help out when they aren't available which is a good compromise on your part.

Another thing you could try with your mom is the next time she were to say how you don't do x,y,z right, you could answer in a way she won't be expecting and say something like "you know mom, I didn't do that quite like 'I' would have liked to either - I'll have to work on that" and just see how she responds. It may be just another low point and it will all get better again with time - but, I wouldn't count on it!

I hope between you and your siblings, you will be able to come up with a plan that will work for all of you - no, it won't be a perfect plan but, it may be a "doable" plan.

I wish you all the best and hope you will update us on how things are going -
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cherokeegrrl54 Oct 2020
Sounds like this OP is realizing that the way she was treated as a child, now its ten times worse. This elder sounds like shes really giving the children a very hard time. I almost feel like riley1266?....i would remove myself from the barbs and negativity and not look back. Sometimes people, including family, really do cross that last boundary line , and its perfectly ok to walk guilt should be there when u know that youve done your very best and thats how it’s reciprocated.
and i know not everyone feels that way, and thats ok too. Each to her own.....
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Maybe your mom would be better in assisted living or at home with hired caregivers to replace you? There is no rule that says children must provide hands on care for their elderly parents. Do you honestly think your mother will treat your siblings better than you? Because you said she has treated some of them the same way since childhood. Outsourcing her care doesn’t mean you don’t care about her and that you don’t support her. You’re not a human punching bag and her health issues do not give her a free pass to treat you badly. Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself and for your parent is step aside & let an outside caregiver take over. Think of it like this—do you want your last years with your mother to be this way? Why not step back and salvage what’s left.
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Families, especially siblings, often don't understand that everyone doesn't have the same experience growing up in the family unit as they had. You're not the right sibling to be caregiver to your mother. It's not because you don't love her or she doesn't love you. It's because she treated you differently than your siblings. You are not a source of stress or sadness to her. More likely you are the easiest target for her to take her frustrations out on. I'm guessing that this has probably always been so. That is why she puts you down all the time and feels the need to point out all your flaws and short-comings. I know how it is because I have a similar situation to you. I am my mother's caregiver and I'm the one who she always cut down from the time I was a little kid. If you have the option of hiring caregivers instead of you doing the work yourself, for the sake of your own health and well-being I say take it.
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I’m guessing you’re a daughter, and nothing is expected of sons?! Whatever the case, one person should not & cannot do it all. Let her know she treats you with respect or she will be without your help. And that you’re not an only child!
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beckybob3 Oct 2020
That was an excellent answer. You are brillant.
That is true of sons. They either do not show up
at all or once for a salad. They mention mowing
the yard in the heat. That is it, no hands on help.
You have helped her a great deal over the years and probably put your life on hold indefinitely to take care of her. I completely understand this as my mother recently passed away and I to was on the receiving end of her constant critical nature, put downs, manipulation, talking behind my back, and it got to the point where I was literally exhausted. My mother was in assisted-living and I chose to hand over the power of attorney and health care directive to my brother two months before she passed away. This was the smartest thing I ever did for myself. You have one life and one life only. Life is not a dress rehearsal. Look out for yourself and ask yourself what you need to thrive. I wish you the best.
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