I hate when my mother asks me to do things for her. Part of what I hate is the way she asks - she thinks that by prefacing an instruction with "Please" she can turn it into a polite request. It just sounds to me like a politely-phrased order, like she's addressing a member of her staff.

I've been helping her for 5 years and it still ticks me off as much as it did on day 1. From the beginning, my intention was to do for her whatever I was moved to do by caring and concern for her. In other words, it would come from me, from the love and compassion I felt for her.

I soon found out she had a different idea. She doesn't want me to take care of her. She wants to take care of herself with me as her instrument. I hate that.
I have confronted her about this many times, but the truth is she just doesn't get it. She can't grasp the idea that I resent her trying to assert control over me, because in her mind, she is in control and she has every right to be. In her mind, I am there to serve her needs.

It's true that if given my choice I would not do half of what I now do for her. But I'd feel better about doing it, and I'd like her a whole lot more.

Can anyone relate?

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I think I can relate: I experienced this as a kind of rash of irritation with my mother's (perfectly reasonable, I admit) expectations. It was about her 'little ways'. And they *were* little: she liked her breakfast tray set out in a certain order, she liked a particular brand of soup (which I now can't smell without a sense of nausea), there were little routines and turns of phrase; and added all together they gave me a nervous tic. There was quite a lot of selective incompetence going on, too: if I handed her the tv remote, for example, because she was perfectly capable of using it (or so I thought: see below), five minutes later there would be pathetic little cries for help because she'd managed to change all of the settings back to analogue instead of digital - time after time…

But here it is. I think the frustration, annoyance and even sense of being exploited that we experience is part of the fundamental adjustment we have to make as our parent gradually becomes more and more dependent on us. We've spent our lives for good or ill in one type of relationship with this person, and that relationship is changing in a way that is piecemeal, fluctuating and radical all at the same time. Is it any surprise that this process is hard going? And is it our fault if it's rough on us, as well as hard on the person becoming more dependent?

I'm trying to remember how I got past the phase of wanting to throw her sodding breakfast tray across the room. Laying it out perfectly was one - what's the word? - distraction? Sublimation? Where's a psychologist when you need one..? Anyway: doing it perfectly focused me on the task itself rather than on my mother chirruping away like a little baby nestling wanting its worms. Another big thing for me was visualising my mother not as my mother, but as a person who needed help with her activities of daily living. Ironically, I suppose, objectifying her made it easier to detach and treat her with the courtesy and kindness I'd extend to any elder person in need of support who wasn't annoying the bejasus out of me.

But here's another thing. We, as family caregivers, are supposed to do these things for love. And we do: why else would we be there? But then at the same time, because of those huge changes, we're not getting love back: we're getting treated like pretty menial servants. I think that might be the hard part to accept - that the person we love is becoming unable, literally unable, to feed back in whatever way we were used to her doing. Her needs have changed, her abilities are diminishing, it's up to us to supply the deficit. My mother kind of could use her tv remote; but between vascular dementia and her need to feel looked after, in an increasingly infantile way, she also really couldn't.

Now here's the thing. I think, myself, that if you can't supply that deficit, if it's too much, then that's ok. There is no universal law that says an ordinary mortal has to be capable of suppressing her own emotional needs for long enough to get through this part of life - let alone do so with a smile on your face and a song in your heart.

So that means… if you feel that flash of annoyance and resentment when your mother asks you to do something, that's all right. Allow yourself to feel pissed off about it. This is annoying: you are duly annoyed. What matters is whether or not your mother's needs are being taken care of; although by needs, I really mean wants, because there's more to the task than keeping her safe, clean and warm. The job of caring for an elder means, as you put it exactly, being her hands and, later on, her brain. Yes, her utensil. This is not fun or fulfilling - or not unless you're a very special person it isn't - but it is your new relationship with this grown adult that you used to expect more of.

That's the requirement. Whether you can meet it, how graciously you can, what kind of mental state you'll be in after the months and years of dealing with it day in day out… Well, that's the test we're undergoing. But here's the key thing: you don't always, every single day, have to pass it.
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alzheimerscg: People in our situation need to vent. Sometimes you get a suggestion on how to help, sometimes you just feel better getting it off yer chest and knowing that someone else has the same problem and therefore understands. I have an email friend who understands my venting and sends me her own rants. Other people do journals. It's helpful to know we can find empathy here. Not only is this a release outlet, it shows you that some people's situations are worse than yours and makes you count your blessings. I am thankful it's more than just a Q & A board.
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I can relate. I miss just being their daughter.. now I am somewhat like a servant.. hired help. Both my parents are often appreciative of my help.. but most of the time they are oblivious to it.. things just get done magically...and until now... always by me alone.

My mom cannot see a need for a caregiver 4 hours a day.. well... I spend at least 4 hours every day on their care.. some days much more.

The other day both my Mom and Dad were pondering about what would happen if I was in a car accident and died... and the main gist was.. who would take care of them. In the old days they would not want me to die or get sick because they loved me and I was their daughter.

I miss just being their daughter! Caregiving completely changes that relationship.. it seems.
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I can relate but my orders come from my wife who is confined to a wheelchair. I have grown used to knowing she basically speaks to me only because she is in need of something. It is very rarely "asked" and some times I am made to feel guilty for not being more attentive to her needs. Example: instead of letting me know she is out of juice and ask me to get her some she tells me how bad she needs a drink and why didn't I notice her glass was empty. Look...I get she has very limited function but it wears a person down when they feel like they have dedicated their life to someone that makes them feel they will never please. Sorry to suggest but it makes it easier to give up on what you want from them and just go through the motions. Good luck and God bless
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Wow. I can definitely relate. Except I don't even get the word "please". I get "gimme that ..." "get me this..." I have said "PLEASE" to those requests/demands and he says "Do I have to say please every time?"
Thanks for sharing that the "please" doesn't necessarily help. I do feel like a servant to my own father. I have no answers, just thanks to these forums for validating my feelings and situations.
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Thank you for all these posts as it is the medicine my psyche has needed for some time. I know Mom is grateful for what I do. She is 103, and for the last 3 yrs. has had 24/7 care in her home due to a fall. She is not bed ridden and can feed herself. But for years I longed to hear her ask me things in a nice voice. It would be little things. For example, she held on to her checkbook at that time, but every month I would reconcile it with the bank and add in the automatic payments and write in the new balance, being sure it balanced against the bank's amount. When I handed the checkbook back to her she didn't like that I hadn't written in all of the amounts and ongoing balance in the totals column. Instead of saying, something like, "thanks honey, but would you mind putting the totals all down the column", and got a higher, louder voice, "HEY, you did write in the numbers!".

Or my MIL wouldn't ask directly and keep making hints. She used ostomy bags and instead of asking directly "would you check the shelves to be sure I have enough bags?", we would be out at a Dr. appt., or shopping, and she would say "I think someone is taking my ostomy bags", "Do you know how to order supplies for me?" (of course, I always ordered them), etc. several times. After a while I got the message, but learned to play along, make a mental note, and when we got back to her AL and I got her to her room I would ask her whether she had enough and we would look. Sometimes boxes had been tucked behind something in the closet. I wonder who did that?

Years ago the same MIL threw a bit of a temper tantrum at a restaurant and we had to leave, hubby took her out towards the car as I got the waitress' attention and asked for food boxes and paid the bill. I apologized for the fuss and she said, "don't worry about it. My grandmother lives with us and sometimes does the same thing. My mother always says, 'when you are old all you have left is your voice'. "

That is when I started writing in a journal, taking the emotions from my heart and gut and putting them on paper. It helped. Now I blog a bit. That helps too.
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I am so glad I have read all the answers to "Can Anyone Relate". I have been completely convinced that I was a big ole piece of crap because I have all these thoughts and I don't really love her or care. "Her" is not even my Mom but my Aunt and I'm all she has. My friends and my counselor all tell me I am not a bad person but, truthfully, until I read so many of your answers I didn't believe them. I feel so much better. I have no solution for CarlaCB but hope she can glean from these answers what I have. We are never in this alone. I guess as the old saying goes..."Misery loves company." HA!
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I can so totally relate! Only my mother doesn't ask. She orders. "Go get me a drink from the kitchen"...I add "please" as I walk to the kitchen and she rolls her eyes at me. It drives me insane as she is perfectly well capable of getting her own drink. However, this has been my whole life. I'm an only child, and I think at times she had me just to be her servant. Now, I know she loves me, and most times she is very loving and good to me, but that can turn on a dime and suddenly she is queen of the castle and I'm the lowly servant, which gets to be more and more of the time, the older she gets.That is, when she isn't going on about her BM all day!

Prior to being appointed trustee of her trust, when I finally was at the end of my rope, I could just tell her that I was not putting up with it and she would straighten up.

Now, I'm tied to her and totally under her control and I think the only reason she set up the trust in the first place! She is very manipulative, bossy, and demanding.

She tells her friends when they stop by that unlike she originally thought, I have turned out to be a very good and serving daughter. That I "came through" in the end! Oh brother!
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"Can Anyone Relate" sort of opens up to forum to people relating their own similar experiences. You seemed stressed, is there something you'd like to rant about?
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Grieving, all of us at one time or another get to a breaking point and we let off steam.

I use to lose my cool with my Dad on the phone any time he wanted me drive somewhere but I just couldn't, he would start saying he would start driving again [he's in his 90's] and that was one huge button with me. Do I regret losing my temper, of course not, I was just being human.
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