I never expected verbal and emotional abuse while caring for my mother in my home. How do I make her stop?


It has been two years. I have cared for my mother in my home for the past two years. She has cancer, more specifically, Multiple Myeloma. She has become bitter and abusive and extremely negative. I have tried as hard as possible to "detach" as all the experts say but my own mental health and physical health are at risk when I don't receive her cooperation and instead receive verbal and emotional abuse. I would like a pat answer when she lashes out at me that will keep me from showing my hurt yet will make her stop.

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This may sound extremely unhelpful, but years ago when I was trying to stem the flow of my mother's constant criticism (I would walk in the door and immediately she would berate me for my wardrobe choices, my hair, etc.), I began saying "I love you, too!" whenever her comments were cutting. It was hard at first, because that's not how I felt! It worked, though. It stopped her in her tracks, and eventually it became something we laughed about together... worth a try?
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What I would do in your situation (since I don't take no crap from no one) is just a reminder that you have no legal obligation to her and that you really don't have to do this. You can remind her that she can just as easily go into a home or find some other arrangements. You don't have to take the abuse. She is an adult and if she doesn't like it, she can find other arrangements, and this is exactly what I would tell her if I was in your shoes. After all, you've made a life for yourself and you pay to stay in your home, and because it's your home, it's your rules. She should've considered this before agreeing to live there. Anytime you live under someone else's roof, you also live under their rules. You might remind her of this. If you don't have any rules, you really should do some serious soul-searching and set some rules and enforce them. Perhaps having a meeting with your family and gaining support would be the first step if they don't know or even realize what's going on depending on your living arrangements. If you have other family members living there with you, it's probably time to arrange a family meeting and set her down to listen to what everyone has to say (including you). If she tries to argue, you're probably going to have to override her and cut her off verbally and make her listen to what you have to say as well as what everyone else has to say. Now is the time to have a family meeting and have a very serious talk with her as a group.
If you can get everyone on the same page ahead of time, that's going to be the first step. When you're sure everyone's on the same page and supporting you, that's when you want to arrange the meeting. What what happens to write down every rule that your family has agreed on. What you need to decide before the meeting is what kind of consequences there will be if any of the rules are broken. Taking proper steps to gain respect is key to running a happy household
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If it was dementia, I would say there is no logical answer as the brain is not logical with dementia. But with cancer, I would tell her that the abuse must stop or you will be finding a nursing home for her to live in. Then of course you must follow through if it doesn't stop. You could also try sending her somewhere for respite care and tell her that is what you will do permanently if she doesn't stop. Best of luck with this horrible treatment.
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I'm sorry you're going through this. It must be very difficult to face that everyday. Unfortunately I don't think there is a one-size-fits-all answer to stop verbal abuse. If there was there would be no verbal abuse anymore.

Have you told your mom how her remarks hurt you? Have you told her that you don't deserve to be treated in that manner? You wrote that you don't want to show that you're hurt. Why? Why not show your mom that you're hurt?

We can't make someone change their behavior. All we can do is change the way we react to that behavior but dealing with it everyday day in and day out has to take a toll on you. Have you considered therapy? Short term, just to learn some tools to help you deal with your mom.

Do you have family support? A sibling? An aunt or uncle? Are you able to get away to rest and recuperate for any length of time?

Have you tried confronting your mom about her behavior? Reminding her that she's living in YOUR house?

Something else I've read here is just walking away. If the person is in the middle of a tirade just calmly walk away, refuse to participate in it.
Helpful Answer (8)

Husband had Stroke causes dementia. He can be mean as well. I learned to detach from realizing the stroke killed my husband. Meaning the man I married is gone. I live with a stranger & I am mad at the stroke. So anger at him first caused arguments. I don't love him anymore but I will take care of him. Having lost the love you can easily detach from their mean episodes. I don't love him but I still care. So walk away and detach or your own health with decline
Helpful Answer (7)

Is there any way that your mom can afford some paid help to come in and do some of the work so you can have respite? Sometimes people are not so nasty to strangers as to family.
Speak to her DOC, is she in constant pain? Depressed? Could Medication help to give her some relief?
Good Luck , you are a trooper!
Helpful Answer (6)

bf, it is something I deal with a lot. It would shock people to hear some of the belittling remarks that we hear. I don't know if saying bad things to us makes them feel better, but it certainly doesn't make US feel any better. I usually just walk away and discharge the anger in whatever way I can. Sometimes I can do something like get on the group here or pet the rabbit and it helps. Sometimes I have to curse or shoot myself with my (unloaded) finger pistol. For some reason, the silly finger pistol works to help me get rid of my anger.

My mother has been in top form the last few days with her remarks. This morning she said something and I told her that she was being ugly. I walked away to go back in my room to do my taxes. A sad thing is that her meanness has made it hard for me to stay. Life would be manageable if she could quit doing it, but it makes me dislike her so much. She has vascular dementia, which makes it worse.

I imagine that your mother's cancer makes her feel very bad and wiped out. I'm sorry she is taking it out on you. I personally know you're a blessing to her. Do you know her prognosis?
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Try pain medication! She may be in pain that is generalized or mild, and hard to recognize. She may not report pain, but may feel achy and cranky all the time. Ask the doctor to up her pain medication. If she is dying, put her on anything, even Oxycontin, to give her relief.
Helpful Answer (5)

Breathe. Listen, and sit back, try not to react. I read an article, and a friend who is a counselor told me the same thing.... It has to correct. Do NOT REACT..JUST LISTEN.

She had a book for me to check out, I have to find the title again, but the firs sentence and the last sentence were the same: JUST LISTEN...... So now when I pick up my kid from school, I just listen, and most of the time it is a silent ride home......until I am spoken to. Hang in there..
Helpful Answer (4)

Have you had her evaluated by her physician/psychiatrist recently? What does the doctor say?

This is so hard, I know! May I assume that this was not her normal pre-dementia behavior? She may no longer be able to control herself, not matter how much she loved you pre-dementia. It may also be that she has something physically wrong (i.e., UTI) that is provoking the outbursts. Each patient is so very different, as are family dynamics. I cannot offer specific advice other than to remember this is not the same person who raised you, and you cannot control her or the progression of the disease. You can only control your reaction to them. I'm still learning how to do that for myself, but remembering how important it is for me to take a break as a caregiver (without guilt!) was a first step.

My mother was recently admitted to a memory care facility, as it was no longer safe to have her at home. The improvement in her mood and health has been truly amazing! She is active, social, and although her memory is not better, she is, for the most part, enjoying her life more than being stuck at home alone with my father.
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