What do you do when your Mom puts on a helpless act, when not helpless? - AgingCare.com

What do you do when your Mom puts on a helpless act, when not helpless?

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Tonight she took two blood pressure pills, by mistake, and then she kept saying that my son and dont know what she has been in the past. I have heard that so many times and then she also said if she cant have her way, she feels like giving, and I got made and said go ahead and give, up. I didnt mean it though.
My head is hurting, I believe my brain is overloaded, I have taken my medication.
I have told her that I am going to call an aarpdoctor for a housecall. So she knowes I will. My pastor told me its an act she is putting on. Heknowes her for a long time.
I need a break.

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Thank you GrammyM. My mom has not been diagnosed with Dementia, but has had a long history of bi polar disorder. she has recently been put on a new medication that appeared to be working. I have spent several days with her over the last several weeks, doctor appts. running errands, lunches and rummage sales. She has been upbeat and able to care for herself and attends her weekly music events. This behavior only occurs when my sister and I are together with her, and she has told other family and friends that her daughters don't want to do anything for her. During these times she will say I don't know why I'm so tired ( she was taking sleeping pills ) and I can't help it. She obviously knows that we are upset with her behavior on our last 4 day camping trip that she is now saying to my sister that she has run out of her new medicine and has not been taking it because she can't afford it. I feel she is just trying to manipulate us on why she acted this way, because not once did she tell me that she ran out of this medication and I spend a lot of time with her. The only conversation we have had about this medication was that it was working, so why would she not want to take it ? I'm just so confused on her reasons for wanting to stay sick.
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Mother Hubbard: Please know this is not so uncommon with dementia, or what is termed 'dementia.' Many of your comments I can relate to in my own situation. Husband is horrible when the two of us are together. He will take every ironed shirt and dress pants out of his closet and throw the clothes in a jumbled up mess on the bed. His excuse is; "he cannot find clothes to wear" even though I carefully put the clothes on a side table for him to put on. When daughters visit, hubby is just the opposite---quietly putting on the clothes laid out without a fuss. Talking on the phone is much the same. He is polite, but does ask the same questions repeatedly..."how are you, where are you now living, how is the weather in your area..." and then the same questions are asked again. When the two of us go out to dinner (occasionally) his table manners are shocking and embarrassing. Not only will he pick food up (scrambled eggs and pasta) with his fingers and shove in his mouth, he also throws food out of his mouth onto his plate or the table. However, if we go out with friends, he is the opposite. He talks normally, eats with a fork, uses a napkin and is civil. It's like a Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality. Sometimes I feel, in his own way, he is punishing me...for whatever, I have no idea. It's gotten to the point when I explain his actions to others, they find it difficult to believe since they do not see that side of him. But, I can line up waitresses that have been shocked at his ill-mannered ways! So...we rarely go out any longer unless others join us. Asking my husband why he is so unpredictable and pointing out his 'diversity' is met with complete denial and defensiveness. He then goes and pouts saying I am wrong. Sigh. My suggestion is to ignore your mother's behavior. If not, you will go crazy trying to figure out her behavioral patterns. It will not solve anything. Unfortunately, as times goes on and your mother's mental illness increases, the illness will become apparent to her friends and outsiders. So, please... just love her as she is.
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My mother behaves as if she's helpless whenever she is with my sister and I. Cant stay awake, slurs her words, can hardly walk, forgetful and complains constantly. She then receives a phone call from her girlfriend and low and behold she no longer is slurring her words, she is happy, laughing, and planning her next music outing. Even tells her she is having a great time with her daughters. Yes my mother still drives, attends music events were she sings and plays guitar, and has a social life that is until she is with us. If we make a comment about her complaints and unwillingness to do anything for herself she becomes defensive and angry. This is a new situation for us and unsure how to respond to this behavior, She does have a treated mental illness. I am so upset with her acting this way that I'm having a hard time being around her but can't leave this all on my sister.....HELP
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Good answers and insight; I think interpreting the signs of elder helplessness can often be an art. From my experience, there can be some manipulative behavior, but I'm not sure it comes from a need to control or rather a need to get attention as the person ages and becomes more the child than the parent. Children have their owns ways of getting attention; if elders reverse age in terms of attention, perhaps that's something that becomes a part of their personality.

But I also know that there are people who need to control and manipulate whether they're teens or Millenials or Boomers.

I think it's really hard to tell, at least for me, whether the manipulation is deliberate or reactive. There are times when I get annoyed thinking that I'm being asked to do something my father could, then awhile later I think how I would be in his situation and I can understand the need for help, or just plain attention.

Until I get to be that age, I really won't know what's it like to decline.

After all, their world is more or less collapsing on them, they can't do what they did before, they know that they'e moving into the end stages of life....who wouldn't be frightened and want comfort? I think I would be.

And that's not a criticism of anyone's position and advice, just my own unwanted peak into the future for myself.
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Seems like the key here is to figure out where an elder is - that is, are they depressed, have beginning dementia, have they been narcissistic drama queens all their lives...Basically you have to protect yourself from narcissists and other abusers and not let them masquerade as the normal people they are not.
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Pam68, this is why we got MIL to assisted living. Between the manipulative high drama, med errors and ashes in the kitchen, we knew she needed supervision. She also needed the distracting element of lots of people around her, with activities that kept her from obsessing over herself. Start going on ALF tours. If she won't go, tell her "Fine, I'll go myself and I will pick the facility instead of you picking the facility you like." That worked for us, she came along.
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I hope you feel better and that you yourself are on the right meds. Maybe your own brain overload can help you have a bit of insight of what your Mom might being going through, You are not helpless but there are times when it can truly feel that way with an overload just as it can very well be for her. The past can sneak up on a person and can cause overwhelming guilt real or imagined, its there and of course there was a time that when a sin was committed and not confessed it was beat into a person that they would go to hell, can be very fearful. I would find another pastor who does not know your Mom so well, sit with her (new Pastor) and let her go into her past, name what ever the "sin" may be (it does have to have a name in order to truly confess the sin) and hopefully the new Pastor can help her find peace. Its most likely something she feels she cant give you details on or to others that "know" her so well, and if its something you have heard all the time " not knowing about her past" then possibly it is something there that needs confessed, cleansed and healing. Think about it, there are something in our lives that are secrets (real or imagined) that you just cannot let loved ones know the truth about - for fear of judgment, and she just may be feeling at this point of time in her life, a time of judgment. I am really surprised at your "pastor" though... Oh, btw just wondering what was it she was wanting her way about?... and your question, "what to do?" LOL, you did it, you reached out to a wonderful group of people at this group, Good Job and best of wishes for you and yours...
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And, I too, am not wanting to cast blame on you, as a child caregiver. I had aging parents, and even as a child, a Mom, who was a nurse, prediabetic, and for the most part, gone when I was growing up, pursuing her profession, of which she was so very good at. I have no idea, how she did what she did. She worked many hours, as a part time nurse, which, back then made it a necessity to fill in for vacations of all the full time nurses, and as a result , she was usually gone all Summer, when I was growing up, working. I could see, though, that she had no choice, and even as her health was getting compromised with diabetic symptoms, and fatigue, she never missed work, cooked great meals when she came home, and answered phone calls in the evening from her head nurse, who had an alcoholic husband, that often was verballly abusive, and listened to her boss. I mad a vow to myself at about age sixteen, that when I got older I would never get ill. I judged her, for getting diabetes, and felt she was not there for me, when indeed, I saw it all wrong. She was so gentle, kind, and generous. Absent, yes, at times, making her contribution to our family by working and putting great meals on the table. And, did I keep my vow to never be ill, no, I fought it, and ended up, denying stress, grief, and also blaming myself for every relationship problem growing up that ever arised, and became prone to putting out fires for people who were really just needing to do that themselves, and blaming my Mom for being ill, when in reality, her illness came from the same thing mine did, doing the best she could with what she had, at the time, to be the best she could be. Don't beat yourself up. You are a good child, just like me, my Mom, to her Mom, and my daughter to me. Sometimes , my daughter, would say to me, are you bored Mom, when I was off work from exhausting myself emotionally, physically, and literally, working to make a living at a job that was not even hourly or salary, with the promise of long hours makes great pay. I fulfilled my desire to finish a trade that I wanted to do out of high school , at mid life, and got adrenal exhaustion, had a marriage with a non communicator, and lost my parents. I am not wanting pity, now, or then, nor am I, now or then bored. I guess what I am saying, is we want the best for our kids, our kids want the best for us, and when we see that one or the other is not at their best, from either position, we sometimes, myself included, start to overthink, and speculate. I wish I would have never thought my Mom liked to be ill, or that I said to myself I would never be ill myself. Things happen, life happens, and we all do our best. I am now writing this, and I see me, in your letter, and understand. I am sure your pastor is trying to help. It gets complicated, I know. Step back, breathe. Laugh, read to your Mom, set a schedule, for a time to do certain things together. Take time for you. I can see how my daughter tries, and I get angry with her, and she with me, just because we love each other, and bottom line, is we are doing our best. It took me a while, but I finally said, to her. If I could have not spent the hours in a lifetime, overthinking, and examining motives, and speculating about situations in my life, and those I knew, I would have saved time, because, every time I speculated for more than a few minutes, the speculation was never accurate. I hope this helps. You are a caring person, I can tell. If you want to write to me, I will do my best to listen, on this site. Peace. Oh, and I told her. If you ever thought, in a life time, ever, that your Mom, me, wanted attention, was feeling self pity, was bored, guess what, you were wrong. I was doing the best with what I had at the time, to be the best I could be. It helped. She and I now communicate entirely differently, and it took the pressure off both of us, to figure things out, and let us just be.
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Pami68, please don't feel like this is your fault or due to you not doing enough or being burned out. Caregiving is a super tough job. You are entitled to your feelings 100%, and there must be something behind them. Caregiving is rarely the peachy-keen love fest some folks paint it as. Keeping it real over here - caregiving is messy, ugly, and extremely stressful. Nobody should be clucking their tongues over your plea for help.

Some of us have Borderline & Narcissistic moms who manipulate by acting helpless, create endless fear, obligation, & guilt. It's total emotional blackmail.
My mom is one of them. The pastor may have seen this 100 times before.

My advice is to get your mom evaluated by a geriatric psych to understand what's going on in there. Is she suffering from routine depression that seems to be terribly common in elders, or is it more than that, like a Cluster B personality disorder? I had no idea how common this seems to be until I found my support group here on AC.com.

There are a TON of helpful articles on this site about dealing with complaining, neediness, and learned helplessness. The most important thing to remember is that you are not dealing with the same mom you had 20 years ago, and you have to steel yourself to see into behaviors and what may be causing them, and then be prepared to take action. Sometimes the behavior comes from a physical cause - pain, constipation, UTI. Sometimes the behavior comes from deep within the person because that is how they are wired. Sometimes it's a learned behavior that is truly new, but due to changes in the brain's physiology. You aren't making this up and what you see is actually happening. The important thing is to take action on what you can. ::HUGS::
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I know it is hard, but ignore. When I don't I go nuts too.
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