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And to manipulate you by making you pity them?

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Aha, Bellini, you say she was always manipulative. Well, then! I guess she seems to be herself! Tell you for sure it is unlikely she will change for the better if change she does with an onset of dementia.
You say you love her very much, so you are apparently able to move past the manipulation and still find much to love. Means you are a better person than ME to be certain, as I won't even try to move past those things to love people. I dislike being manipulated. The fact that someone who did it to me would be a sister or a parent would neither be here nor there, as I don't believe in the blood-thicker-than-water thing, and don't excuse those related to me by blood.

You said something fascinating and it is very interesting. That you heard that "pity in its embrace strangles respect". I love that. An amazing statement and when you think about it really, so often it is true. When we think of "pity" we often think of looking down on someone, of not holding someone to high standards because we believe them incapable of the same standards others are help to. It means we often can "excuse" them. And we don't respect people who do not hold to standards very often. It gives me a whole new take on pity. I was thinking of it more as one would think of empathy, I guess,and that is wrong. Thanks for the great discussion! I find that fascinating. Good luck with Sis. Sounds you will need it.
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In the early/mild stages, which is what my FIL has, I believe the answer to your question to be absolutely yes. My FIL is miserable, wants company in his misery, is dramatic, and complains which, in my book, is manipulation of our feelings. He's not stupid but acts helpless with us while acting completely differently with his peers. Why if not to make us miserable, make us pity him, and manipulate us into feeling toward him the way he wants?
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Quite honestly, those with dementia are not capable of purposeful manipulation. You may see some in early stages,but that is generally when they are confabulating, are trying to deny changes they are aware of, but in denial of. Later they are who they are, and that may be someone just about the same as they always were, or someone utterly transformed. Particularly with small vascular strokes you can sometimes see profound changes for better or for worse.
If you do not pity those who are sunk into the despair of dementia, I am uncertain what might rise to a level deserving of your sympathies. It sure can get hard to feel sympathy when you are up against 24/7 care, however. That's just plain as tough as it gets.
Much has been written about Dementia, and we are but on the cusp of the beginnings of understanding it. There was a time not long ago,when I first entered nursing, that we didn't even much differentiate what we called senility. We didn't understand the differences between early onset Alzheimer's and later onset, let alone such differentiations as Lewy's Bodies, etc. Do research. Do watch some of the marvelous documentaries. Do read esp. Oliver Sacks essays on the brain. There is so much information out there. Your frustration may just an edge of "curiosity", which is so much nicer than frustration.
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anonymous944475 Aug 31, 2019
Thank you for your response AlvaDeer. Since my sister hasn't been diagnosed with dementia yet and She is still very functional, I feel like the manipulation could be possible. Especially given the fact that she has manipulated me all our lives. And I have let her. And, I am pretty easy to manipulate. LOL. I don't worry about what it might take to rise to a level of deserving my sympathies. Because, I know myself and anyone that knows me will say I am a very "sympathetic" and "empathetic" person. But, I feel pity is a much much different thing. And that trying to make someone " pity" you is a very evil thing to do. I remember hearing once " Pity in its embrace strangles respect. " So, I guess if she indeed has dementia, this form of manipulation will not be possible for her whenever her mind degrades further. I love my sister so very much. It is just so difficult to completely excuse her behavior whenever I saw the way she treated our Mother. And knowing she has never made any sacrifices for anyone her whole life. It's so sad, because now I am the only one she has. Thank you for listening.
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Bellini. There is no evidence that your sister has dementia. She MAY have, but for one thing there are several types of dementia; and for another there are also all kinds of reasons in her background to suggest that she has a range of behavioural and mental health difficulties that could be just as likely to be causing the problems you observe.

Your sister needs from you reassurance that you love and care about her. Offer her that, within boundaries that do not permit her to intrude on your life more than you can cope with. Everything else - the addictions, the relationship issues, the "flirting" with medical investigations, the possibility that her partner is undermining her welfare - you CANNOT assist because she will not LET you.

The only thing she permits you to do is give her attention. I strongly suspect that you are unintentionally reinforcing her attention-seeking behaviours, which wouldn't be a problem for anyone except you UNLESS it means that your sister is missing out on professional interventions that could permanently help her and improve her quality of life.

For the sake of both of you, you need to break this pattern. Your sister does need help, but she won't let you give her real help. Get professionals involved.
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This is just my own opinion, thinking back to my experiences with relatives with dementia. My mother was always a negative, paranoid and fairly antisocial woman. She always saw the worst in people. She wanted people to admire her for how she thought of herself; as a long-suffering martyr. Truth be told, she had it no worse than any other housewife in the 1950’s.

She remained negative and paranoid when she suffered from dementia with delusions and hallucinations added to the mix. She complained loud and long about the facility she was in. It was a nice one and they cared well for her. I have to say she didn’t try to pass that negativity onto me. But, I was expected to pity her. I did not pity her. I told her everyone in her facility liked her. I told her she had lots of nice people taking care of her, that she was safe and that I came to visit as often as I could. These weren’t lies and she knew it. I didn’t let myself be manipulated if that was in fact what she was trying to do, which I doubt. People with dementia don’t have the mental ability to be “canny” enough to do that. They really can’t plot and plan. They react in the moment, like children.

You give no details of what you are dealing with. But, if you are caring for someone who you feel is working you over, try taking a deep breath, counting to ten and not reacting the way you think this person wants you to react. When this person is having a self-pity episode, distance yourself if you can and don’t buy into it. If you do, if you become angry, try to reason or argue with them, you’re just giving them what they want. Be the better person and just walk away for a moment or two.
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