Mom had a terrible life. Wants to tell the horrible stories over and over. Wants reassurance that she was a great mother. Wants explanations over and over of how she ended up in NH. Everyone involved tried their best, she accuses them of stealing her money, home, car, in reality, Medicaid contract made most of that happen. In every instance, she veers from mournful losses, to victimization, to nefarious plots, must talk, talk, talk, can be on phone for hours, wanting to know why no one loves her, why family isn't visiting, why family won't talk on phone. She is hateful to every roommate, competitive with even younger staff regarding looks, demanding, accuses male nurses of sexual innuendos and flirting, wants the life of a princess, with every comfort, complains about everything, refuses to eat, refuses to drink water, pours food and liquids down toilet, lies, wants other food, regardless of what she ordered now she doesn't want it, is very proud of her size and weight, brags, accuses all of jealousy because she is younger and hotter and can walk without walker, insatiable need for attention, threatens everyone with a lawyer anytime she doesn't get her way. That covers about a 1/4 of her issues.
She refused to arrange for long term care, so she is where she is, and this is how it is going to be. It is a nice NH, she has had many diagnoses: executive function strokes (decision making, inhibition, impulse/compulsive issues), 40+ yrs of treatment for mood disorder (Bipolar Mixed), personality disorder (Borderline), schitzophrenia (visual and auditory hallucinations and paranoia); now mild dementia, memory loss, obviously she is narcissistic and always has been.
Nothing I do appears to help. In many ways, it seems that the more I try to help, the worse I make things. She appears to have lost an internal structure and must rely on describing things to validate the event occurred. I have actually experimented on the phone, letting her direct the conversation to see if uninterrupted or redirected, if she is able to resolve anything at all. The answer is no.
The clock has curly numbers, so she cannot read it. She doesnt appear to know that 12 is traditionally at the top. Since the numbers are curly, she is unable to believe that a 1 and a 2 is a 12, she has no proof that those are the numbers. They don't want her to have a digital clock yet. She has no idea if it is day or night, she refuses to look out the window, doesn't care if it is dark or light, she wants to be told, because she "doesn't want to think". She refuses to eat or drink water, has a morbid fear of being overweight, (she weighed 250 lbs before gastric bypass 15 yrs ago but has no memory of ever being fat, she is horrifed at the thought and claims photos of her then, have been tampered with) and simpers and pretends to be appalled at her mere 114 lbs. Maybe 114 is a lie. Because almost anything, regardless of how small or simple it is, must be spun into the tallest tale imaginable, everything is huge, giant, the worst, the best ever, the most horrifying, incredible, dramatic, outrageous thing that has ever happened, even if it is simply that her laundry was delivered.
She is incredibly articulate, verbose, rarely confused, devious, manipulative, and yet lonely, and at times a heartbroken and vulnerable child. There is no therapeutic help for her, other than drugs and activities and physical therapy. She requires invitations to activities, she won't initialize anything on her own, including hygiene. She is jealous of anyone receiving any care that she doesn't receive, including wanting people to stand by as she poops. Since the staff assists her roommate in the bathroom, she must have that too.
She is paying the consequences of all her poor decisions and refusals to be responsible, and I see little to nothing I can do to help. At some point, I must just let the state have control of her and give up, before she eats me alive, like a parasite that devours it's host. I am sad.

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Your mother has both a lifelong complex mental illness, likely also a narcissistic personality disorder, and now has dementia.
Ellery, quite honestly that is the beginning and the end of it.
How in the world can you fix that life? Let us say you are a Saint. Let us say you are the Fairy with the Magic Wand? Let us say you can wave that wand and she's fixed now. You still can't fix the past, can you? And soon your Mom won't even remember it.
So, Ellery, what is left? Well, there you are! YOU ARE LEFT. It now has to be about you. Growing up and feeling obligated to fix everything for your poor, severely limited Mom has now become a habit for your own life. I truly fear it is holding you back from having a life at all.
We have two chances for family in life. We have the one we are born into and I hate to tell you, luck of the draw wasn't with you on that one. But we have also the life we make for ourselves and the family we created, nuclear or friends.
Please limit Mom; create healthy boundaries. Read the book Boundaries. And most of all seek the help of a very good psychologist. Not one who will sit and endlessly listen to a life long full of tales of misery, but one who will help you shake loose of the past, limit the incursions of the present, and move FORWARD to making a new life.
I wish you the best. To be frank, this is about YOU now. Mom cannot really be fixed. You can give her some limited support and love, knowing and accepting that nothing will be changed for her. But you MUST move on with your own life now. That will be scary. Because you are used to this habit of it being about Mom. You are used to the Mom stories. And when someone says they don't want to hear it anymore; they want to hear what you will do with this your ONE life, it will make you anxious.
I wish you the best. There is a whole life out there waiting for you. Stop being the parasite's host. YOU CAN DO THIS. You are exceptionally articulate, and bright. You CAN do this.
Helpful Answer (22)
Reply to AlvaDeer
CantDance Feb 25, 2021
Nailed it!
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You didn't ask a question but your exhaustion and exasperation is loud and clear. If you are her PoA, resign. You can stop voluntarily engaging with her or drastically reduce the number of times you visit her. Don't answer all her calls, put a time limit on how long you talk to her. Boundaries. Go to counseling for co-dependency. Help yourself...she's getting enough help and doesn't really need yours. You don't need to be one of the monkeys in her circus. I wish you peace in your heart.
Helpful Answer (20)
Reply to Geaton777

She can talk all she wants. You are the one with the power because you can choose not to listen. If you're visiting and she starts whinging, get up and leave. If she starts on the phone, hang up. Remove this toxic presence from your life.
Helpful Answer (14)
Reply to ZippyZee
NeedHelpWithMom Feb 25, 2021
Tell it like it is! Love, love, love your honesty!
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Consider baby steps to backing off, until you have achieved peace with this situation.

Maybe start with the phone calls. Set a timer. After 15 minutes, say that you have “an appointment to get to”. The next day, set it to 10 minutes. Do you have peace with that amount of time? Yes? Stick with it. No? Down to 7 minutes.

After you have mastered the phone calls, move on to the visits, or whatever your next challenge is.

When are brains are used to all that awful input, we stay where we are, until WE change it. Create BABY STEPS to peace.

Best wishes, and let us know how you proceed and progress.
Helpful Answer (14)
Reply to cxmoody

Ellery, your profile says that you are looking for ways to help your mom.

To thay end, you need to make sure she has access to the psychiatric and psychological practioners at her facility. What she is doing is called "rumination" and there are antidepressants that target this symptom. Make sure that her behavioral team knows about these endless loop conversations.

Setting boundaries will help her and you. As someone wrote above, therapists get paid for a certain session and then your ability to take up their time with complaints stops. You should do the same. Set a timer, maybe 5 minutes to start (I am not as generous as Beatty!). When I was a kid, my mom always called HER mom from a payphone; when the dime dropped, that was it.

I would read the book Boundaries by Townsend and Cloud. Lots of good techniques and explanations.
Helpful Answer (14)
Reply to BarbBrooklyn
disgustedtoo Feb 28, 2021
Too bad there really aren't many pay phones left around, eh?
What a heartbreaking story. I am so sorry that this extremely ill and destructive person is your parent.

Please do whatever you need to do to protect yourself from further abuse. You are worth it!
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Reply to SnoopyLove

Meds are only going to help her if she takes them. You say she flushes things down the toilet. If she won't take the meds what can you possibly do to help the situation? The only "drug" she seems to want is attention.

You are sad and that's understandable. She lives where she needs to live. You live where you need to live. The phone does not have to be your only means of communication. Get a bunch of cards and postcards and send them once or twice a week with small talk - "The trees have flowered", "I saw an eagle", "The fish are jumping in the river", etc. Maybe if she gets mail she will feel she's getting attention.

Your mother has serious mental health problems. You cannot help her. Your mother is safe and will never be happy. She is an energy vampire. That's sad but it's not your problem. You do not owe her your own wellbeing. You have choices. You matter.
Helpful Answer (13)
Reply to NYDaughterInLaw

Ellery, I would put forth that you intentionally develop a healthy "split personality", dividing your level of assistance into one of two categories:

(a) 90% patient advocate/distance caretaker (NOT hands-on), AND YOU must adopt the mental philosophy that you are doing it FOR A COMPLETE STRANGER (i.e. "THIS IS NOT MY MOM"),

...and (b) 10% as the child of your mother...

Then, let ALL her calls go to Voice Mail, and BEFORE you even talk to your mother or take action on anything, first LISTEN to the tone of her voice (in what it seems will likely be a complaint) and only then decide whether the issue belongs in category (a) or (b)...

If (a) you can handle it with her doctors or the staff where she's living, which does not require any consultation with mom. Done (90% if the time) !!!

Or if it's (b), YOU and only YOU can choose to be "the dog or the cat" - - Dogs come when they're called; Cats take a message and get back to you later. So YOU will be able to turn that 10% into 1% or less.

When dealing with a person who has a combination of mental health issues AND dementia, it becomes critical for your own sanity that you are able to separate your actions on their behalf into "something you're doing for someone unrelated to you who needs dire assistance" - - otherwise, your involvement will eat you alive.

The the fact that you're already experiencing severe burnout from a distance means that YOU must change YOU, right now, immediately.

If you can't do this, the only option would be turning your mom over to the state. I don't recommend it as a first choice unless you absolutely can't make the healthy choice to extricate yourself - - the reason for that is because state involvement pretty much takes everything out of your hands. You are so interconnected with your mom that you may personally experience way too much guilt for doing something like that.

What what I'm suggesting is an interim pathway. Think of it as a trial run.
Helpful Answer (13)
Reply to CarolLynn
disgustedtoo Feb 28, 2021
Your comment covered some of the things I would suggest. Be the advocate, manage finances and medical interventions, but keep personal contact to a bare minimum.

Many people think being POA means being hands-on, even to some extent if someone is in a facility. Nope. ANYONE can be named POA, including lawyers. Do you think they would be taking any of this garbage? No. They would manage the finances. They would arrange medical care. That's it.

IF OP can find a way to limit exposure, it would help. No matter what afflictions a person has, WE can't change them. We can only change how we react to them. Self-preservation would require backing off, considerably, from these toxic events.
It's OK to be sad.

Sad your Mother suffers these problems. Sad there doesn't appear to be solutions. She seems one of the baby birds of life. Fragile & needy, flapping for attention.

I suppose I would call, often but keeping it short. Trying for positive. What was the best thing today? Did you go outside? Are you wearing your favourite clothes & jewellery?

I am not trained but have read about the human life stages:
Erikson's eight stages of psychosocial development lists Stage no 8 : Integrity Versus Despair. She seems stuck in despair 😞.

Maybe a professional could help her shift her thinking from despair to validation (ie her life was worth something, she did as good as she could as a Mother..)? This helped another poster's MIL who was suffering regrets, was vain & struggling with aging. I have no idea if it is always possible.

But if she has an ongoing Psychologist, that would be the person she can pour out all the despair, dread & regret to. (They have time limits & are paid!). You don't need to be her therapist.
Helpful Answer (12)
Reply to Beatty

This is my MIL to a T.

Dh has tried, the last year or so to work with her (I don't know why, really, at age 90+ she's not very invested in changing).

He tries to point out the joy, the happiness, the good that has been a part of her life ALONG with the trials and sadness. And to accept BOTH.

Nobody gets through life without some, or a lot of sadness and sorrow. And also joy and incredible happiness.

Yet she maintains she has lived the MOST awful, sad, depressing, poor life of any person, ever. You cannot talk her around that.

In Fall, we see the gorgeous colors of the trees and the change in temperatures and the world around her: she sees leaves that are NOT from her trees and calls the police to come make her neighbors rake 'their' leaves.

She has 22 great grandchildren and acknowledges only 3 of them. She has never even seen the youngest 3. IF these families should go to visit her, the kids are required to stand on a rug and not move. My daughters have simply opted out of seeing her.

She has 3 brilliant, wonderful adult kids, yet she openly hates the 2 oldest boys (DH being one) and tells them on a regular basis that she hates them. (shot gun wedding in 1948---everything for her has been downhill since).

Breaks my heart how she treats my DH. I know he will not have closure until she has passed and he is able to think and talk about her to a therapist. Right now, all visits end in him spending a day in bed with the blankets pulled over his head.

BIL went black rock with her 4 years ago and hasn't spoken to her nor seen her. And won't until she's gone. How sad is this family??

And also, not that unusual!

As far as supporting her 'paradigm' we don't and never have. That just makes her madder.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to Midkid58
Salisbury Feb 28, 2021
Get your husband to a therapist now!!!!!!!!!!!!
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