My mom is lying to my sister because she says it will make her feel good. What can we do?


I moved my mom from a Retirement Facility three months ago into our home on advice of her doctor that she was not capable of living alone. I live eight hours from her previous city where my sister also lives. She talks to my sister via phone and relays that she has been cold since she arrived, she has to work, is tired and holds my sisters picture at night until tears come to her eyes. None of this is true. We have our heat set at 74, have got warm clothes for her to wear, provided a heated matress pad, help her with daily dressing, bathing, etc. Yet she tells my sister otherwise. I confronted her and she told me that she tells her those things to make her feel good. I tried to reason with her that it is driving a wedge between me and my sister and that I am sure my sister would rather she tell the truth. Yes she misses my sister but she is not living in the conditions she describes. I am so frustrated and feel that trying to reason with her is like talking to a 4 year old. She denies she ever said anything to my sister. My mom has always lied about things in the past, even before her dementia. She seems to think that if she tells "little white lies" and they make someone feel good it is perfectly OK. When she talks to my sister, she tells her one thing and when she talks to me she tells me something different and by doing this it will make us love each other. Actually what it has done is make us hate each other. There are so many lies it is hard to tell what is true and what isn't and neither me or my sister trust each other anymore. I don't know what to do but it is making me feel like all I do is for nothing. I don't want to have my mom living in my house if she is unhappy. However, she tells me that she is so glad she is here and so glad I take such good care of her. I am truly frustrated!

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This is the world of dementia. You can't reason with a person with Dementia. You just can't so don't even try. It's like banging your head against a wall. Even if you did "get through" to her, she won't remember you did later. So save yourself time and trouble and just ignore it. If your sister doesn't realize that a person with dementia is NOT a reliable story teller, then do the research and send her links so that she will realize that what your mom says is most likely NOT the truth. In my family, she pitted us all against each other throughout the years. The difference I guess is that we grew wise to her a while before she was diagnosed and after that, no one believes much of what she says unless it's verified by someone else. So we let her pit us against each other and just uh huh, and ok, and what? that's terrible when she tells us all about what the other has done or not done. And then just ignore it. Or for giggles share it with the person she trashed. My sisters and I do NOT get along, but we've agreed that we won't believe anything mom says about each other.

In the past her lies were deliberate, to manipulate us. Now? I doubt that they are deliberate. She's just gotten in the habit of saying bad things about the person she is with to the other family members so she keeps doing it. And doesn't even remember doing it. So what's the point of getting upset? She's not going to change. So my practice is to change how I let it affect me. Which means I try my best to not let it affect me.

But I do understand what you are going through, wanting your mom to appreciate what you are doing. You may or may not get that appreciation, though. Just sayin....
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Isn't it odd? My mother used to tell my brother how much she hated the house and the rural area we'd moved to. When the subject of her preferences for funeral arrangements came up, he relayed to me that she'd said "anywhere but here!" - as though I would share in the "joke." And considering that we'd moved heaven and earth (almost literally) to find a home where we could all be happy together (how young and foolish we seem to have been...) and consulted her every step of the way - it was very hard to describe quite how hurtful my mother's remarks were. And, similarly, if I asked her direct questions then yes, she told me a different story.

Can you invite your sister to come and stay for a short while? It might be a chance to re-establish your relationship with her, and at the very least she could see for herself that you are not in fact keeping your mother prisoner is some kind of labour camp/refrigerator.

But again, isn't it *odd* that your mother should imagine that her misery makes your sister happy?

Perhaps in truth your mother doesn't really know what she wants, is just sending out random signals that seem to reflect what she thinks the person she's talking to expects (not necessarily wants) to hear.
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Also, sometimes people project what they'd want to hear. Recently, my husband was out of town and I was alone. Everyday, my mom would ask if I was alright home alone, did my kids know I was alone and were they checking on me every day, was I eating ok etc. At first, I bristled at the idea I was some helpless damsel in distress until I realized she was projecting how she'd feel in my place - she'd hate being alone, would expect everyone to call her daily etc. Just a thought.
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The only good answer I have is to talk to your sister directly and let her know that a lot of what your mother says isn't true. A lot of older people do this. It is a game of "Poor me. Ain't it awful?" It gets them the attention that they are craving, but it does a lot of damage if people don't do damage control. If my mother was telling my brothers untrue things, I would just call them to tell them to take anything said with a grain of doubt.

I have a feeling your sister knows your mother pretty well, so would believe you. Keep in touch with your sister about things and don't worry.
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Copy this thread, send it to your sister and invite her to start reading this website so that she can get a better understanding of what you are dealing with.
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My grandmother played the 'poor me' game. It caused a lot of problems in the family.
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Your sister should know your mother has a history of telling white lies and she has dementia. Maybe she should consider this before believing everything she says.
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Why would telling your sister bad things make her feel good about mom's situation?

We are in kind of a similar situation. Mother tells tales on each of us--My Sis in law was mad at me for months and months b/c mother had told her I'd tried to put her away after her last hip surgery. Nothing of the kind. I actually just helped her move to a much nicer rehab place--which was short term rehab.

Mother knows that she can manipulate each of us and that we still, after all these years, get the version of a story the way she wants to tell us. It has caused a deep rift among the 5 of us. We never got together to discuss mom's care or needs and now nobody is really speaking to anybody, so it's probably worse, I don't know.

You def. can get sis on this board. It may help her to understand mom's machinations. It may help, at least she can see that there are a lot of people dealing with aging parents/spouses.
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I strongly agree with copying a link from the address bar and sending this thread to your sister. Perhaps it's time for a private family meeting. It's time to address this and other related issues and get to the bottom of everything and start repairing damaged relationships.

What you need to do is somehow relay the truth to your sister but start with the thread as mentioned here. You're right, you don't want to keep your mom if she's really not happy. However, it sounds like no matter where you put her, she probably won't be happy there either no matter where she is.
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My Mother told many untrue things about me to my sister who believed every word. It was a tough load to carry. Reasoning won't work. They have both passed on now though. It is not easy.
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