She complains about the aides, the staff, the food, other residents, the doctor, the laundry... I've tried to redirect the conversation by bringing up topics in the news, activities of family members, events in my own life. She always brings the conversation back to another negative comment about her life. I've even said, "Did anything good happen today?"
She is living in an Assisted Living Facility. She has her own room in a new addition. The facility is understaffed, like many places now. They are doing the best they can and are trying to hire more staff. I wish she could be thankful for what she does have and realize how difficult it is for me to listen to all the negativity every day.
Try: “Wow, that really sounds awful.” “I’m sorry that’s happening.” “That sounds rough!”
It didn’t solve anything - she wasn’t looking for a solution, just someone to complain to. But it DID shut her up. A phone conversation was no longer upsetting to ME, which is what happened when I tried to find solutions. Good luck!👍🏼
If she is calling you--just screen her calls. There's no point whatsoever in listening to the same complaints all day. It will start to get to you, if it hasn't already.
If you spoke to my MIL you would think this woman never had a joyful second in her life. It's bizarre. I stopped speaking to her over 2 years ago. I simply could not handle the negativity. She is getting worse as she ages (she's 92) and poor DH--he sees her # on caller ID and gets upset immediately.
Sadly, at this stage, nothing can be done. She hates everybody but her daughter, who is an absolute saint.
Boundaries. Maybe take 1 call a day and keep it light. You need to not let her poison you with her anger & unhappiness.
They suck your life force if you allow it.
Well done for saying, no more!
PeggySue commented below 'At the facility SO works at, all staff are told at the new hire not to ask how are you. They instead say that it’s good to see you, mrs smith.', which is a brilliant approach, starting out the interaction, with a positive topspin.
Maybe trying something like that. You mentioned ''I've tried to redirect the conversation by bringing up topics in the news, activities of family members, events in my own life.' - don't give up on that, but continue to expand on it by writing down any interesting topic you come across in your life to share with her.
Don't give up....
For example when she starts down the path of unending misery you can say "oh dear, sounds like you're having a terrible day. I'll try to catch you another day when things are better" and hang up. She may or may not shape up a little eventually but you're not a public dump for her emotional garbage.
My Mom is very negative, however, really negative to her immediate family and kids. To everyone else, they think she is Ms "Optimism" and envied us as a family. Little did they know. I've often wondered if a complaint was the only way she could start a conversation as there are many people her age that do that. Yes, my Mom is a perfectionist.
So how did I get it to a tolerable level? I finally got up the guts and reinforced my boundaries. I no longer tolerate her endless tirade about the mistreatment that her Dad gave to his kids (he died over 20 years ago). I give her a 2 minute warning to have her wrap up her ideas and tell her that I'm going to leave if she continues after that. If it goes beyond 2 minutes, I leave. I no longer tolerate endless negative comments against my sister, her friends, my sister-in-law, her family and her friends. She only gets 2 sentences before I cut her off with a 2 sentence warning...and then I leave. Regarding the nurses and the food, I ask her for specifics and when she doesn't have any, keep on asking for specifics. If she has specifics, I follow up on them and get them addressed. If no specifics, I remind her that I need specifics and I don't want to discuss it until I have specifics. At first, I just left after giving her the warning. Then on specific items, I would counter the argument like "he's dead, I don't want to hear any more"...then I left. At first, because I was "living" in the same house as she, she would search me out (or call for me endlessly) and continue the tirade. I would just move to a different area of the house or put on headphones (something visual) and look at her with a blank stare. Now that she is in a facility, I just let someone know that I'm leaving, or wheel her away to the activities area while she is going on-and-on then turn to her and wave goodbye as she is complaining. (yes, it is possible to teach memory impaired people new tricks...)
As time went on, she does this much, much less. However, I find she has less to talk or complain about.
This may seem mean and cruel. On the other hand, for me, it was survival. She and I both learned. I should have done this earlier in my life. I still visit her nearly every day because I choose to.
She still attempts at insitgating because she wants someone to fight with so will double-down on the verbal abuse, but I just ignore her and walk away.
Part of my 'ignoring' is there will be no meal being cooked. There will be no coffee being brought out, or anything really. There is nothing.
When I have to ignore her, I call my ex-husband and tell him to pick up supper and we eat privately. Mother may or may not get a sandwich from me (depending on how far she wants to go) or she can eat what she can find.
With me, I do not play games. I will not tolerate complaining, constant negativity, or instigating.
I do not think you seem mean or cruel at all. You mother is lucky you visit her every day.