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My mother has always had anxiety over everything but while my Dad was alive her issues were minimized. I moved her here to live next door to me after he passed and over the past 7 years she has become worse and worse. I try to stay positive for my family (husband and disabled adult son, of whom I am the legal caregiver). Plus I have a full time job outside the home. My mom actually resents the idea that I have a job and will say things like “aren’t you supposed to be retired by now.” She bad mouths my husband to my face all the time. I honestly think that she sees my job and my family as deterrents to my giving her all of my attention. She is “sick” every single day. But really isn’t sick. Her mind is so completely negative that she actually believes that she is sick. Now she is starting the “if I have to live this way I don’t want to live anymore” speech. Her 90th birthday is next month and every year she gets really negative before her birthday but I don’t want to be pulled down into her pit with her. She’s my mother and I love her so it is so hard not to feel bad for her. Any suggestions out there how I can keep a happy outlook even while she is tearing me down all the time?

She can forbid you all she likes but you are allowed to tell the doctor, via fax or mail, what s/he needs to know.

I'd give that a try.

Elders who want to remain independent need to cooperate with the folks who are helping/propping them up.

They don't get to call all the shots and make their children their slaves.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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This is hard but sometimes the best thing to do is two fold...when she says she wishes her life would end do not say things to counter it. Simply say "I understand ". When you do that it acknowledges her feelings and it doesn’t begin any back and forth. When she treats you badly, you need to know how to handle her. Might I recommend and excellent book by a psychologist who deals with adult children of parents who is like your mom. It will give you ways to cope with her, tips of how to respond and how to even understand her behavior. He even does therapy sessions over the phone if you want. He’s based in Dallas. Book title is Loving Hard-to-Love Parents: A Handbook for Adult Children of Difficult Older Parents By Paul Chafetz. It’s a thin book so an easy read. I might also suggest a therapist in town to help you. It’s not easy but you just need tools and good boundaries.
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Countrymouse Apr 25, 2019
I'm always in favour of a nice thin book! :)
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You aren't the one who needs to learn how to cope; your mother does. Either she learns how to cope with life's challenges or she doesn't. Either way, it's her choice.

You cannot live her life for her. You cannot ensure her happiness. All you can do is set healthy boundaries for yourself so as to protect your wellbeing and the wellbeing of your husband, children and grandchildren.

Caregiving is hard enough without the negative attitude and pity parties. You have a life outside your mother. Your mother has chosen to let life pass her by. That is her choice. You have choices too.

When she starts in with the boo-hoo woe-is-me shtick, learn to say something like "Mom, your negativity is wearing me out. I will come back to discuss [insert task] when you're feeling better" then kiss her on the cheek and leave.

And for goodness sake do not stand there and listen to your mother bad mouth your husband! She does it because you let her.
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DesertRose7 Apr 26, 2019
Thank you for your wise words. I think deep down inside I knew this but it’s so reassuring to hear this from others. Your comments have been very helpful.
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I am persuaded everyone should have the right to choose when and how to die with dignity. It may be hard for loved ones to accept such choices but try to walk in her mocasins and examine how you would feel.
On the other hand you need to set boundaries and stand your ground. Self-absorbed manipulation is unfortunately a human trait that can suck the life out of care givers.
Be clear, unpolagetically, with her that she is not your singular concern. This can be done lovingly and supportively but both you and your mother will benefit by being honest with her. Let her know that you love her, will support her choices, but will no longer tolerate abuse of others you love and care for.
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Is your mother's depression and anxiety being treated medically? Has she been evaluated by a geriatric psychiatrist?

In the years between ages 87 (when she became impossibly needy, anxious and depressed and when she died at 94, post stroke and post broken hip, the several geriatric psychiatrists were the docs who gave us the best advice, the best meds and the best overall picture of what my mom's needs were.

It sounds like your mom is in psychic pain, which is every bit as real as physical pain. Get her the help that she needs.
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Are you sure you’re not talking about my mother? My mom, 86, has to be the most depressed & negative person I know, and she too wants to pull us into her pit with her. She has been diagnosed with pseudo dementia, which is caused from depression, however she firmly told me she is “not losing her mind like we think”, and if I tell her Dr again to give her an antidepressant, she won’t take it. She now wants to live & be by herself, yet wonders why we aren’t with her every day, and too wants all of our attention. I’ve always been careful about talking to her & telling her how I feel, so she doesn’t have one of her “meltdowns”. Well, last night when after talking to her, my blood pressure was 179/105, I decided enough was enough, and told her how I felt. I defended my position and how my marriage & health were going to take priority for a change. Of course she had a meltdown, and had a “pity party”. Also, my dad is 90 & in an ALF, and talk about negative! It’s exhausting. I too always try to stay positive, and it’s a constant struggle. It’s hard, but when your mom bad mouths your husband, just tell her that you will talk to her later when she has something nice to say. I’ve found that not giving in to their “doom & gloom” helps. For me, I thankfully can vent to my husband who has been a Godsend. Then I do something good for myself. I either take a short walk or just sit quietly by myself, if only for a few minutes. Sometimes that doesn’t solve the whole situation, but brings me a little peace. I also started seeing a therapist, which has helped immensely. You have a lot on your plate, and you need to take care of yourself. I love both of my parents, but have finally realized that I’m not responsible for their happiness, only my own. I feel as though the roles have reversed and I’m the parent now. I’ve heard of “tough love”, and that’s what I’m going to have to use from now on. The one thing I always do, even though I don’t feel like saying it sometimes, is to tell them I love them before leaving or before I hang up the phone, regardless. At their age they can be gone tomorrow. And, so can we if we don’t take care of ourselves. Oh yea, prayer always seems to help too- as long as I’m open to the answer to it. Best of luck & many blessings.
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DesertRose7 Apr 26, 2019
Bless you!! My mom and your mom could be twins. Thank you for your words of encouragement. They really help. It’s a strange thing when we suddenly realize that we are parenting our parents. There’s something fundamentally wrong with this but I think being firm and setting boundaries is the only way to cope. It’s easy for me to fall into the trap of thinking I have to make her happy but I just have to constantly remind myself that she has all the love and needed support from me and only she can make herself happy. That’s something I cannot do for her.
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At her age she should have a full evaluation. Labs and everything.

I would ask her what would she like when she gets started. She has a new home closer to family. If she says more time with you. Say sorry Mom, but I work a f/t job and have a special needs child. I would love to devote more time to you, but right now that is not possible. Would you like me to check into an Adult Center (don't say Daycare) where you could spend time with other people? A Senior center?
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I so understand what you are going through your Mother is trying to guilt you into giving her 24/7 care. So now she wants to die, which is subtly saying, since YOU won't take care of me, my life is miserable and my dear, it's all your fault. 

I can't stand this shellfish behaviour! My Mother is alway sick too! I've been dealing with her sickness since my early 20's and I am now 53. I want to have compassion and mercy and I feel guilty because I honesty don't care anymore. I do want to care but the burden has gone on for way too many years. I still do what I can, but whatever I do is never good enough. I may get an occasional Thank you, but I know it's only because she knows she went beyond the push me limit. It's a ploy to suck you back in. 

She treats me like a child. Do this, do that, you are stupid. When I confront her, she turns up the volume on the TV to tune me out. It's all about HER, but then acts so sweet to everyone else who comes along and they all just love her! What a spunky fun Mother you have, they say! She is our favourite patient! Ummmm hmmmm, try dealing with her everyday as she lays on the guilt trips and cuts you and your family down because nobody is doing enough for her. 

My Mom is so needy and self absorbed and it is a shame. We used to have a good relationship but the constant wearing me down, the expectations and demands has got me feeling like I am in prison. I want to feel the freedom of simply enjoying my life without her constant guilt trips.

I had to put my foot down and it was tough. Very tough.i want to love and enjoy my Mother. I can't stand being resentful of her trying to control my life. Yet all she thinks about is herself with no regards to me. I suggest you put your foot down as well. I can do this and that but nothing more. Here is the help I found for you and leave it at that. Otherwise she will consume your entire life.
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gdaughter Apr 25, 2019
I have an aunt whose latest line having turned 80+ is "if I'm here next year".
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DesertRose, your mother can forbid her doctor to talk to you. He has a professional duty of confidentiality, and cannot breach it to discuss her care with a lay person.

But she cannot forbid you to talk to her doctor. You don't have any kind of duty of confidentiality to her, beyond good manners and your personal moral compass, and those are overruled by your duty of care.

Hope of potential treatment is one good reason for investigating a person's health, but it's not the only one. Understanding what is going on inside her head is equally important if you're to provide effective support that doesn't aggravate her or make you wretched.
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Your question is how can you keep a happy outlook. One option is to stop listening to the negatives. Try ear plugs when your mother starts running down you, your husband or your son. You can be quite blatant about it - ‘I don’t want to listen to this’. Another option is to respond to ““if I have to live this way I don’t want to live any more”, by saying that this is quite reasonable and what does she want to do about it? I know that for myself, I can certainly imagine that her statement would be true for me under some circumstances. If it isn’t true for her, accepting it as real might bring her up short to think more positively. If it has that effect, you can be happy. If it turns out to be true for her, I would suggest that it is also positive for you. I don’t believe that it is only depression that makes someone feel that they have outlived the way they want to live, and hope for the end. If she gets what she wants, you can be happy!
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