Can someone tell me how not let her push my buttons?

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I'm having a very difficult time with not letting her upset me. I'm my mothers caregiver and she doesn't realize she is having memory problems and now believes she can live on her on. I quit my job and move in with her so she could come home from assisted living, which is what she told me she had to have someone 24/7 last may. I offered to do move home so she could. Now she thinks I had to move for her help, she is thinking I'm using her, she had said everything possible to get me to leave, telling lies to family, friends and neighbors, doctors and nurses. Thank god the immediate family and nurses and drs know the truth and are giving me support for the job I'm doing. But she has nothing to say to say to me but complaining, I try to ignore it but it is getting harder and harder to ignore.

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Donna, I think, at least for me, you have hit on an important point in describing the differences between your in laws and your parents. My parents, especially my mother, were like your parents. My Mom was so busy, as I was growing up, and getting married, with her cleaning, shopping and gaining her status by saving money by 'getting it on sale' that she could not even have a relationship with her husband. Because I was the girl and the one to 'stay in town', I became the middle man between them....always working to get my Mom what she wanted so there wouldn't be a fight. My brother moved away as soon as he got out of college. And he really hardly ever came back. My Dad was much more of a 'giver', but more of his time....never his money. He was never big on charity or being free with his money. But, for example, when their best friends, who were their age, had the husband suffer multiple stroke, and the wife home caring for him alone, it was my Dad who remembered that she liked to get her hair done, and called and set up a weekly visit to her husband, so she could have the afternoon to get her hair done and do things for herself. My mother never offered a thing. My Dad went and sat or helped with multiple of his male friends who were suffering with cancer or dementia etc....to help their wives. With Mom....SHE was always the one who was needy and needed someone to do things to make her happy. Even now, she perceives that she is doing all the caretaking and has all the stress for my Dad, who is placed in a facility and I coordinate everything. She can hardly visit him for an hour a day, and she doesn't really 'talk' with him while there....just sits and holds his hand, after she moves him from wherever he is, to sit where SHE wants to sit....and then she watches what all the staff are doing wrong so she can tell me. If it's bad, in her mind, or if Dad wants to converse too much, she calls me on the cell phone, so that I will talk to him, or to tell me how really awful things are, and 'suggest' that I should call the office (from 5 hours and 200 miles away!) and let someone know what she sees and does not like. OH...but I am NOT to say that SHE said anything!! She is forever telling me what I ought to do or say or make happen to make her happy...but I am to make up stories and NEVER say that SHE has any problems with anything....I refuse to do it. And if I think I must, I simply say, " Hey, Mom's right over there visiting and she's upset because so and so is fixing food and doesn't have any gloves on...." for example. I won't pretend that I somehow saw it myself or heard it from someone aside from her.... Often I never do call....but just say, "Oh yeah....I reported it" And she constantly tries to get me to do things that she should do herself and enjoy doing....like getting gifts for her great grandkids. She plays games....you know....I have the POA checkbook, so as long as I have to get something myself, I should buy from her...and then wrap, address it and ship it too along with my gifts....and she'll tell me to 'don't spend more than $10!" for a birthday gift for a teenager. We have natural grandkids and adopted grandkids. She has never accepted the adopted ones. They do not get anything equal from her, because, she will say, They aren't mine.... And then out of the three natural ones, she has a favorite, who she totally will over buy for...but always things that are on sale, would never be what this gal would want and/or the wrong size. She is so complicated this way....and her rules and ways are just plain weird and kinky. She lies. She tells me all the time what her friend or neighbor says about this or that and if I check with them, that discussion never happened to where they agreed with her . She always cites other authorities as agreeing with her when we have a disagreement....even if it's medical and I am an RN. She will tell me that I am wrong because so and so told her they agreed with her! I had to learn from the Boundaries books to simply not argue with her or tell her anything I didn't have to, but that means no conversations to speak of. Anyhow....my mother thinks she is so charitable because she will put a dollar into an envelope to 'help the vets' for example, but only as she is entering one of their contests trying to get rich. She enters them all and has for years. Then she wants me, when I go down and have to collect serious things like bills...to go through them all and tell her if she did it right or if it's a scam. I tell her they are all scams and throw them out....don't ask me to help. NOW she takes them all to her bank manager, who apparently is very willing to check them all over and help her with them?? I don't check with people about her anymore. I know that most of it is a story. She's lonely and I lined up volunteers through the council on aging to offer to get her to church or events that are social. She will never go unless I were to agree to come with her. She won't go anywhere alone or with strangers. She should have family with her, and EVERYONE she knows, according to her....agree that she should have family there helping her. When our daughter in phoenix (married, husband and homeschooling her 16 yr old AND a chronic pain pt too....) moved back and offered to spend more time with her 'Nana'....Mom immediately started complaining about the lack of attention. I asked to explain how much time she thought would be proper for Michelle to spend with her. It added up to HALF TIME....two weeks out of a month!! She tried to tell me that Michelle told her it would be that much and now was not doing it. All Michelle said was that she would be able to spend MORE time, as compared to a once a year visit when they lived in Canada for 5 years. This is to show what she is like and to what extent she is unreasonable...whether it's narcissism , dementia, self centered or whatever....she is and always has been totally unreasonable in her expectations of the rest of the world to be there to make her happy. And I was well hooked....jumped at her every request, bought her the best gifts, wrapped with the best paper....way more attention than others in my family got, to try to meet her needs....and it was never enough. So a number of years ago, I weaned her. We moved out of Tucson, 200 miles away and I had my own health problems to deal with .....but the constant calls, and attempts to pull me back in just continued. Then Dad got bad, and it all really fell apart because I had to be involved. Anyhow....good ideas you have with your mom and getting her sewing again. Mine has no hobbies or interests. I knew mine could never come live with us, because she and my husband do not like each other at all....and I love him totally! So Mama gets help in the home with her soon, and eventually, a long term plan of both her and Dad being in a Memory care unit together as long as they live. She could go part time with her granddaughters, but neither of them want her full time either....and the one with 6 kids cannot cater to her....they don't much like each other either. She's sort of made her bed by her attitudes and actions. I am frustrated by trying to learn to stay away from her and out of it as much as I can, so I am not getting my buttons pushed.
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It is amazing just how many of us see our parents in these scenarios. I tend to wonder if we represent what happens with these personality disorders and narcissism. My in-laws planned for being old, and everything is "normal". There is a safety net around them where they live with lots of friends, family and everybody in between. It's because they were givers themselves and did for others all of their lives. Not so on my side of things. I learned to be a giver from my friends and their families and wanted to be like that. My parents were takes and lived for the moment. They planned for nothing, thinking that it wasn't their problem. However, the fallout from my fathers passing, is button-pushing by my mother who lives with me, stories and mistruths, ugliness abounds. I do have to say that there are good times and I have to be in control of myself to be able to provide the background for them to happen.I am lucky enough to say that my mother is ambulatory with a walker and her main issue is that she is old and lonely. She loves drama because she feels alive when it is around her. Last year, my mom began sewing again. She did industrial type sewing for years, but I taught her to quilt. I have to say it has been a God send. I am missing half the stuff in my sewing room now, and there are pins and needles wherever she sits, but she has produced a few things and she is very proud to have done so. And I think she has seen a different side of me as well, and for that, I am lucky. But there are days, that I have to say under my breath..."Remember, I am the lucky one. the lucky one. the lucky one...." It keeps me sane at times. So, Paula, not sure if I have helped at all, but I hope you know how many of us are out there doing similar things and wondering how the heck this happened. My thoughts and prayers are with you. And remember, try to exercise...somehow, some way. That helps us stay strong and gives us time to think.
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Joannes yes she does have POA her granddaughter my biggest supporter along with a very good friend who along with his mother has been caregivers for his stepfather. Then the nurses who has came in to check on her. Without them I probably would have thrown the towel in already. But as someone else described themselves I'm as stubborn as a mule. I don't want to put her in AL again. Hopefully with the help her medical group is trying to give us we will manage to get thru this. Thank you for the suggestions on the books These could be quite helpful and this is what I'm looking for. To learn how to be a good caregiver and not a stress out one. When I first came I tryed to correct her help her remember but it doesn't help her get her memory just upsets her more. I wish it was just her being wrong about things. With her its I'm doing everything wrong in her eyes, I do nothing right, she just has nothing nice to say about anything I do. Just complains to me and then will tell nurse I'm doing everything she does to me to her. Thks again for not telling me how big of a mistake I've made, and answering my question with suggesting the books.
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Good heavens, ALL of you are describing parts of my mother! I am still trying to figure her out! I've never heard of cluster B personality disorders but I'll bet mine has them all too. From the time I was old enough to understand what a lie was all about, I've been aware that my mother is full of them....and denial. Any situation that she was involved in that leaves her in a bad light in any way....HAS to be someone else's fault, no matter what the tale is. And I only WISH that she could be huggable or that I could have a serious conversation with her. Because of who she has been all my life, I already know she could never come live with me or me with her. I can hardly stay with her at her place for 4-5 days without wanting to scream and yell and throw things because she is SO consistently wrong and thinks she is right....even before dementia. Now it's just getting worse. There is a book called 'Boundaries' that may help you with your mother. When I can stop and think about using the ideas in it...they do work. By: Dr. Henry Cloud, Dr. John Townsend. I bought that one and a couple others about dealing with elderly parents and boundaries, as their child, from AMAZON. All were paperbacks and not expensive. I would also try to get other authority figures, like her doctor, or an attorney give her the consistent message that she is not able to live alone and isn't it wonderful that you have come in to help her. She needs it reinforced from people besides you to clarify the truth of the situation. Do you have POA yet? Without that, you would have no authority to move her to AL down the road, or a memory care unit. And if she's getting worse, and you have to declare her incompetent in order to have that ability to care for her safely, you will have to go for guardianship, which is more expensive and time consuming. I am recommending a long term plan, even if you do want to stay there with her and keep her home.....you are going to need it later on. This never does a thing except get worse.
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What did you expect?

I'm sorry for how that sounds - there isn't a way to put the right tone of voice onto a question when you're just typing it in plain text. What I mean is, what expectations did you have of how your mother would be?

If you can take a bit of time out for a "nice cup of tea and a sit down" and have a good think about all this, try comparing what you thought was going to happen with what has actually happened, and with what is likely to come. And if you come to the conclusion that the mismatch is too great, and you cannot do the incredibly hard and steep learning curve ahead, which is only fair because you're only human, then Pam S is right. You walk away with your head held high, having done your best.

If, on the other hand, you're as stubborn as a mule (speaking for myself, here) and you're up for the challenge of your life, then you gird your loins, you grab every source of help and support going, you grit your teeth, and somehow, God knows how, you will get through it. You will begin to distinguish between your real mother and the evil disease mother, and the hurtful bull-what will gradually hurt less.

But you have to volunteer. Do not be passive and let things just happen, because you will end up hating your mother and that would be cruel and dreadful for both of you.
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Thanks to all who have responded, I finally realize I am not alone on this agonizing other/daughter merry-go-round. My mom had a minor heart attack, and a second that they called "broken heart syndrome" where extreme stress and fear cause a reversible heart "attack". Her fear was the reality of being told she could no longer live alone. Her life-long anxiety and refusal to take prescribed medication for it wound her up to the point that her minor dementia suddenly became moderate to nearly severe. We moved her into memory care assisted living and deal with the same daily baiting and spewing anger at us that you talk about. It is a painful new reality and I go back and forth between trying to be blunt with her about her victim-like behavior and self pity to feeling guilty that I could not care for her at her home or take her in or support her getting a caregiver. She has made choices to be miserable her whole life and I cannot get caught up in them. For me, putting the stress if dealing with her into its own compartment and refusing to give that stress time or permission to consume me has become the path to survival. Try that as you wrestle with taking back your life from her manipulation and giving yourself permission to live again. You can and you will.
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I am another person telling you to put her back into care.

My mother has cluster B personality disorders (Narcissism, Borderline Personality) + Bipolar + Dementia + other medical problems. She was 100% convinced she could live on her own despite the fact that all the food in her fridge was rotten and there were huge spiders & vermin living in her cabinets, and her well water was mostly sulphur.

You mom's decline is only going to continue, and she will need more & more care. It will be a big transition now to put her back into care, but it will save on even bigger more difficult transitions later. And it will save your sanity, which is priceless.

You deserve to live a life free of the manipulation, guilt, control, and second guessing.
Me gutting my ability to pay my bills and save for my own old age is a no go.
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Paula, my mother did the same thing to me. She asked me to come here to help with her and my father for about 10 years. After I came home, she told people that she had taken me in because I had nowhere to go. That was untrue and pretty demeaning. I wasn't poor, but she painted me as a poor pitiful pauper child. When I spoke to her about it, she said well, it was true. She does that. When caught in a lie, she will just change to truth to what she wants it to be.

It is funny now, but I have to admit it hurt my pride when it happened. She has a long history of throwing her children under the bus to make herself look better or to get attention. I should be used to it by now.

I have a feeling your mother may be a bit like mine was and suffer from two problems -- First, feeling more competent than she is and second, not wanting others to see her as incompetent. I'm sorry that you made such a drastic change in your life to accommodate your mother. I hope that you have enough resources to move out if it should become too bad for you. Your mom can always go back to AL, but I worry also about you, since you gave up so much.
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Get her back in assisted living, find a job or get your old one back and see a therapist to help you overcome the buttons that your mother put inside of you as a child so she could press them later on to get what she wanted from you.
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I took my mother in, and I had my eyes wide open, or so I thought. She was also manipulative and spread mistruths to the rest of the family in such a way that they don't even talk to me anymore over something I don't even know about. I felt the same way:Here I was giving up my space and time without promise of anything except that my mother was safe. In return, she perpetuated stories about my private life to others. Just a bad situation. Now, I approach her whenever I hear anything that is not right. I just address it right on. I don't let it fester inside of me whereby the stress would probably end up killing me. I say, shoot straight and talk about everything. My mother would scoot to her bedroom and close the door. Well, that does not work anymore and I just walk in and we talk. I try not to get dramatic, and I try to keep her on track and don't allow her to deviate and throw a red herring in there to divert me from my goal.

I think you also need to act en parentis at times, meaning that you are parenting your parent. It's hard being a parent to young children and discipline and laying down the law can be difficult even when its a good idea. The same goes for you mom. Your biggest decision is whether she needs to be in assisted living for her sake and yours. Once that decision is made, then determine some guidelines that you both follow to make it work and stick to them. Good luck , I know it's probably more complicated in reality than what you can fit in a paragraph. Years ago, my mother used to say that you can attract a lot more bees with honey than vinegar. Maybe a bit of sweetness goes a long way.....(I say that, but I know how hard that is too at times).
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