Mom wants sympathy all the time. How to ignore when nothing is wrong?

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Stresses me to the limits. My mental status stinks, I hate getting up in the mornings I never know what to expect out of my mother, I can asked her "how did you sleep?" she says Oh after 12:00 and trips to the bathroom, well I think I slept maybe an hour." or she wants me to be her age and have the same problems that she has. I just am screaming for some advise, she is demanding, knows it all, and the super guilt master, I love her, but I really don't think I can take much more...oh DRAMA...Queen!..I know this sounds ugly, but it really isn't ment that way.
any advice?

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Why not give her sympathy. Agree with her. It sucks being old, with nothing but death to look forward to. This way the burden is on old age, not you. Not your job to fix it, even if if you could. You dread mornings because you feel helpess and hopeless at not being able to fix the complaints. Free yourself of the burden, you can't cure old age. Relax and enjoy your Mom. This advice is courtesy of my shrink. i highly recommend seeing one.
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Your mother is a pro at emotional blackmail which comes by FOG, i.e. Fear of making the person angry, feeling Obligated to keep doing what one is doing and Guilt for not ever doing enough or doing things perfect and God forbid ever thinking about having a life apart from them and their drama.

Your mother also sounds like she has a personality disorder like narcissistic who are very self-centered or borderline who are so emotionally unstable that they have no impulse control.

In the upper right hand corner of this page is a box that says Search Site. Type in narcissistic parent or borderline parent and you will find much from people who are in situations just like you.

What you have written does not sound ugly. It sounds painful and sad. I think seeing a therapist and possibly some meds would help your mental state. Please come back and let us know how you are doing. Love, prayers and hugs.
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Hi- I agree with all the responses so far and want to add my support. You do not sound 'ugly' but you DO sound burned out. There are strategies to help yourself and one of the first is to ask for help, to get a break. If your mother is able to get herself up to the bathroom, she certainly could be left with someone for a couple of hours so you can get OUT and do something for yourself. It isn't a luxury, it's a necessity. Ask a retired neighbor to sit with her while you take a break, or ask someone from your church or family (if you have family nearby).
And I totally agree that finding a counselor, or clergy, or someone at the local senior center to talk to can help. You don't have to be a senior yourself to get help "with" a senior. You will find support, maybe even a group. Check local assisted living places for support groups, ask at the library, or look online.
The NEXT thing is to change your attitude (this is where therapy helps) to stop letting her push your buttons. (Personally I would not recommend that you get on medications without seeing what simple therapy can do for you first.) There are a number of ways to do this and you need to have more than one method of dealing with this behavior. One way is to let the person talk (their primary need) and don't try to argue with them or persuade them that they're being (unreasonable, ungrateful, negative, etc) and let them get it out of their system while you nod and say things like 'uh-huh' and 'you're right' and 'of course' etc. Don't say it with sarcasm, tell yourself it's like steam coming out of a boiling pot- you need to let it out but you don't need to get burned. Another strategy- and you will use this when you feel you're being 'attacked' is to interrupt the person and tell them "I'm sorry but I'm not going to listen to this" and walk out of the room. If they persist, go outside, upstairs, into your car, wherever you can truly get away and remind yourself that you are doing a wonderful job caring for someone who seems not to have the ability to recognize your help and show any appreciation. When you return (after you feel less upset and ready to walk back in) be prepared to do it again to prove your point. One more thing- remind yourself occasionally that they must be feeling helpless and fearful, then remind them of how they still have strengths (able to walk, toilet and feed herself, perhaps) and that they are not alone, since you are there. Distraction is helpful for them, and they might benefit from a clergy visit or social worker (some who specialize in elders come to the house). Also, if she can walk, maybe she can go to a senior day care program. Some elders balk at first but then many start to look forward to it and make friends with the staff and others. Worth checking out.
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Do you remember the Saturday Night Live skit, "Debbie Downer"? That's what I call my mother. She is negative all the time, complains constantly, & fails to see how well off she is compared to other 86 year old people.

I got to the point where I couldn't listen to it anymore. She won't stop complaining & I realized that I'm not going to change her----but I could change my reactions to it. Essentially, I ignore her. Nothing makes her happy, she's always in pain, she can't do the things she used to do, blah blah blah. She has ALWAYS been a negative Nelly, anyway. Her whole life, she was never positive or "up". She always saw the negative & bad in any situation, and if things were going well she came up with "well, what if" things to bring it all down.

As I got older, I vowed to NEVER BE LIKE THAT. There is truth in the saying "misery loves company". Whenever she talks to someone & they start telling her about their woes, she cuts them off & says "Well, what about me? I have this and that, my pain is so much worse than yours, my life is so much worse than yours, etc. etc. etc." Everything she has gone through is SO MUCH WORSE than anyone else. All she talks about is how one friend was in the hospital & somebody else died & another friend is in so much pain, etc. Nothing positive. Nothing.

I kind of just listen & walk away---no response, no acknowledgment. I can't deal with it.
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Your pain in this situation is caused by resisting what is. How your mother behaves really has nothing to do with you. It's all her. Resisting gravity would have the same outcome -- you'd be fighting an unmovable force and making yourself miserable in the process.

Your freedom from stress is under your own control and can be achieved by letting it be okay with you that she does or says whatever she does. And certainly, don't ask questions you know will provoke complaints. In fact, avoid any unnecessary talking.

Currently, you're giving all the power to her. Who's in charge here? With compassion toward your mother, let it be you who decides how you experience life. Take your mind off her and focus on something positive. You can do it.

Blessings for a peaceful outcome for all concerned.
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While I hate that others have to go through the same crap we do it is somehow comforting to know that we are not alone. No one else we talk to about this stuff gets it. They look at us like we're crazy. How can we say this about this sweet little old lady. It took some time but she did show that side to an OT and a PT a few times.

We've heard all the advice and while it sounds logical it's not so easy for everyone to pull off in the heat of the moment on a daily basis. We have no family or friendly retired neighbors nearby to sit with her and can only afford someone two hours a week to shower her. That's when we clean her room. Our one luxury is not having to shower her. Leaving town together or evenings out are not in the cards. Like someone else said you still have to come back to it and that's all you can think about while you're out. That and what the change in routine will do to her. A lot of others are in the same boat with us.

Yes we are in charge but it's easier said than done to take her barbs and negative attitude all day and deal with it in a positive way. She refuses to listen to us and whatever happens we get blamed for. She told my husband she was not here to do what he says. She only moves a few steps with a walker every day but we have to direct her every movement or she'd be on the floor every time. She hates the directions but if we don't she asks why we didn't! Her answer to everything is "just wait till you get to be 96 years old". That's infuriating because neither of us will get to be 96 because of what we are dealing with now, nor do we want to.

There is nothing medically wrong with her. The only problem she has is that she's 96 and tired and has aches and pains. My husband and I both have multiple medical issues. None of that matters to her though. She tells us we don't give her enough sympathy and that her life is miserable and she wants to die blah blah blah. She could care less what we've given up to bring her here and care for her in our home. When she gets mad she just tells us to put her somewhere else. What do you say to that? She can't stand being in those places either. I usually just call her bluff and say ok as soon as we can arrange it and she stops talking about it.

There's no winning with her. No matter what you do there is a negative outcome. It's hard to do so much for someone when they are so unappreciative and mean in return. I know why she is that way but it still doesn't make it easy to live with day in and day out. I think if we all had a light at the end of the tunnel it would be easier to deal with this stuff. She could easily outlive us.

I also can't compare this to caring for my children because they were growing up and improving. It was a positive thing and my kids were and are grateful and appreciative of the things we do for them. Caring for my mother in law is the polar opposite. She gets worse and less able no matter what we do while we get blamed for it and no appreciation for the effort. I also want to mention that in my opinion changing your baby's diaper is nothing like changing the diaper of your 96 year old mother in law who is not incontinent but just finds it easier not to have to use the commode. If she were truly unable to do the things she won't do I'd have a little more sympathy. She just wakes up every day blaming us for her still being here and miserable.

If I were to give one bit of advice it would be to learn how to take short meditation breaks during the day to center yourself. I have a mindfulness app on my phone that tells me to stop and take deep breaths. I can't say it helps all the time but it can calm you down enough to deal with whatever is coming at you in that moment. Whenever you have to deal with them first take three deep breaths. I also find that the less I talk to her the better off we are. Unfortunately my husband hasn't mastered that skill yet. Sigh..... I'll stop whining now :-)
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Constant gloom and doom is very, very wearing. It takes you by surprise, actually. You think "oh well I'll just make sympathetic noises and let her have her whine" but it really can begin to give you a nervous twitch. From dawn - her first words of the day are often "colder today, isn't it" - to dusk - "sorry to be such a nuisance" - if there's something miserable to dwell on she'll find it.

And I'm afraid that all I can do is sympathise. I've tried irony, I've tried joviality, I've tried honey, I've tried vinegar, I've tried tearing my hair out… In the end, I don't know, what can we do except remember that if we think we've got problems how must they feel? I'm sorry, I know that's very limited consolation.
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The answers to questions amaze me. So many smart, insightful and loving people answer these questions. I have been caring for my 92 year old mother by myself. No family close by to help.y friends at work and hers in stages of frailties. I am worn out. I agree with cmagnum. At this stage of my Mothers disease she can guilt me on different ways. Never believes that until
Lately. She does not do or say those those words to outsiders who stop by the house. She is the picture of polite. Around me, her 24/7 care giver, daughter and prior to this awful disease, best friend she is all over the board with behaviors and emotion. I attributed it to felling safe with me while her mind is scaring her to death. Hard to distance from the emotional impact. I suggest counseling if you can get away. My next step. After going on 3 years I ended up in the hospital for 5 days. Gastroenteritis, sepsis. Kept Mom healthy as a racehorse was making me sick. No one can do this year after year 24/7. Find a group to share stories and info with....as I write that I realize it sounds good. But, often close to possible. This town has groups in name only. No one attends. I went to a meeting run by an agency and was the only person there. Did borrow a book to read. Get help.
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We all have felt that way to varying degrees at different times. The way I handle it is to tell myself that living with and caring for my bedridden 90 year old Dad and mobile but needy 90 year old mother, is my job. Just my job. Do it,get it done, and get out of the house for my own life. When I started rebuilding an outside life of my own, there was very little I enjoyed or wanted to do, but I have invented things to do and I really do enjoy them. When my Dad has his routine nap I take my cell phone, promise my Mom that I will answer if she needs me, and I go to the library and read my favorite magazines and newspapers. I go meet a girlfriend and take a walk. I walk through the grocery stores and remember when I shopped for my family when my children were young. Sometimes I just go into a parking lot and call a friend and just chat. I tell myself this is my life and I enjoy it. Sometimes I can afford a caregiver and the outings are longer and more carefree.

I go into my room with my favorite hot beverage shut the door and look on the internet for whatever I am interested in. When my parents get too difficult, I remind myself that I raised children who were young and soiled their diapers and threw their food on the floor, and we got through it.

I remind myself that no one lives to be 150 years old and that this too shall pass.

Go out into the sunshine, take deep breaths, and find something to do that you enjoy OUTSIDE of the caregiver role.
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What I have learned when dealing with my mom who is JUST LIKE ALL OF YOURS, is to focus on my life. My joy. My love for life. My positive attitude. My family. My goals and dreams. NOT my narcistic negative sad and lonely mom. This makes her mad. But that is OK. It's not about her. It's her journey that she has chosen and I will let her. There are consequences to being bitter, angry, lonely, self-absorbed, negative, etc. She is suffering the consequences and it is what it is. I ignor her, empathize with her, but DO NOT ENABLE her to try to put me in HER place and become like her. Only God can change her hard bitter heart. Only He can help her see her negativity and help her change. It is out of my hands. I pray for her. I am there for her. I will empathize with her. But I do not live my life for her. She is not the center of my universe that she would like to be. I do not focus my whole life around her. THAT is never God's plan for any of us caring for our elderly parents. We are to honor them, but that does not mean sacrificing our lives and health to care for them. Especially when they ARE able to help themselves more but choose not to. For whatever reason. That is their choice. I pray for wisdom and discernment. I pray for courage and I pray for strength to maintain sanity and health in the midst of her unhealthiness. I let go of guilt she trys to put on me. I don't feel quilty because I know I have done everything I can to help her. I am at peace and rest in this journey she has us on. For however long she lives. She will not leave this life peacefully. Just like her life has been all her life. Resisting and fighting and angry and bitter. She didn't become this way just because she got older and has health issues that created a life of pain and inabilities. Mom has been this way her whole life. They say however you are younger is amplified as you get older. We as caregivers have kind caring hearts. We HAVE to protect ourselves from getting totally sucked in and drowning. If they are at home we can hire outside help, access resources that are free to help get relief, and allow them time alone to do it more themselves. Or put them in a home if it is destroying us. We should never allow anyone that right to destroy us. It becomes OUR problem when we do.
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