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My mother came to live with us a few months after my father's death. She does have some dementia, but has always had a lot of paranoia, negativity and "extreme know it allism".

The real issue right now is her negativity. No matter the topic of conversation or the event she finds something negative to the point of bazaar. Her negativity seems to be automatic, and it is there for every subject discussed, every decision made, every purchase no matter how small there is something wrong with the item or brand, every meal, every person she meets or knows is sharply criticized ,no matter how minor or major, she seems to get some sort of sick and perverse pleasure out of ruining every possible opportunity for even the tiniest ray of sunshine.

She is driving our children and grandchildren away with her venom, spoiling every visit. I could give pages of examples in just a 24 hour period. She disagrees with every sentence out of anyone's mouth. She manages to contort everything in a way to find something negative or bad that might come from even the simplest thing.

I thought maybe I was overreacting, so I paid close attention all day today. There was not one single event or topic from 8 AM -9 PM when she went to bed that she did not figuratively dowse with ice water. I know it is not all the dementia she has a look of complete evil satisfaction every time she manages to spoil a happy moment.

It is impossible to ignore. We have all tried to look for ways to give her praise for positive behavior and make her feel needed, loved, and appreciated, she doesn't seem to enjoy positive attention half as much as ruining everyone's good mood. She is sucking the life out of everyone around her. We do know that in most situations she can still associate consequences with behavior. What reward is she finding in doing this to us? How do we discourage this? Any suggestions are appreciated.

P.S. If this is caused by depression we are in a bad position as she will under know circumstances take anti-depressant or anti-anxiety meds.

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My mother is a very negative person, always has been. She had a troubled childhood that has deeply affected her to this day, 76 years later. That being said, I do understand why she feels the way she does. However, negativity is a choice. It is easy to be negative. We are surrounded by it in this dark world. But we can take the high road and work to be positive instead of negative. I think that is the real problem with negative people like my mother. There is a lot of constant work involved in being a positive person and they simply do not want to do the work! They are aging, they are tired, they are depressed-- the daily depression they live under is like a heavy burden that they are so worn out from carrying that they believe they cannot even begin to use their mental energy in a new, brighter direction. It is simply more comfortable for them to be negative because it is familiar. I have tried for many years to encourage my mother to be more positive. She has lived with me and my family for nearly 20 years now, becoming increasingly darker over time. She recently had some health issues that put her first in the hospital, then in rehab. She was gone from home for 3 months. I actually saw her attitude become more positive and appreciative while she was in rehab. The doctors there came up with a combination of pain meds that actually manage her pain better than it has ever been previously managed. I often wondered if part of my mother's attitude problem was due to her chronic pain. But once she came home, I quickly realized that her negativity was truly a choice, not pain-induced.
It is extremey difficult to live with this type of person and not be affected to some degree. To keep my sanity, I limit the time I spend around her. She is lonely and frustrated and I feel bad for her. But she has allowed all former friendships to die and refuses to cultivate any new ones. I can't fix her life-long negative attitude. I set parameters and I stick to them. I leave the house periodically to have a couple of hours to myself (so refreshing). When I am at home, I spend spare moments reading, as a mini-escape. I focus on cleaning, cooking and organizing. If I put all of my focus on her, her negativity will eat away at me like acid. So this is what I do to stay as positive as I can in currently unchangeable circumstances.
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Why is your mother living with you, DonnaCG? Is she unable to take care of herself (because of the dementia, or some other reason?) Is she unable to afford to live alone? How long has she been living with you?

Because this really does not sound like a healthy situation. You deserve to have your children and grandchildren visit. You deserve to have sunshine in your life. We all have to put up with the dark clouds life hands us once in while, but to have someone deliberately creating them all day long, day after day, is just not fair!

You seriously have to do SOMETHING to protect yourselves, and it sounds like you have made many constructive efforts.

I believe you that she is impossible to ignore. What if you laughed at her? Made fun of her negative comments? "oooo ... the sky is falling, the sky is falling, the candy bag is smaller than it used to be ... oooo" "Yes, mother, the sky is falling, but I'm sure enjoying it until its over." Try to be funny and kidding about it -- don't sound angry because that may be what she wants -- but let her know you notice her negativity and are not taking it seriously.

If she didn't have a daughter willing to take her in, where would she be right now? What are the feasible alternatives for her? Assisted Living? A dementia care facility? I think you need to explore what the options are. It would be a lot easier and healthier to take her negativity in small doses while visiting her.

If it came down to "let up on the negativity or move out" do you think she could/would make an effort to at least keep most of her negative thoughts to herself? Does she want to live with you, or is she trying to get kicked out?
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Donna, I believe the negative stuff is to get attention. My mother is the queen of negative, has been all of her life. She can't stand someone getting more attention than her and loves to ruin any happy moment. She thinks everything is about her so she doesn't care if you happiness is spoiled.

And I do feel sorry for you having to live with this. I can't visit my mother due to the negativity. No matter what I say, she is just waiting to shoot me down. Loves it.

At this moment mom is mad because I have not been to visit her in a long time. I have asked her to come spend the winters with me in Florida. No, she gives every excuse known to man. However, she wants me to get on a plane (400.00 for a ticket) and rent a car (she won't let me use her car) and stay two, maybe three days.

About 6 months ago I called her up and told her that since my husband was busy working overtime on a project at work, I would fly up and stay a few weeks, maybe a month. I told my husband, "now let's see how long it takes for it to get back to me that she doesn't want me". It took two days, two days. She changed the story to I was coming for two months and what would she do with me???

What she wants is the negative story that no one loves HER, wants to visit HER, and she wants to call attention to herself. This past weekend she told me how lonely she is and how everyone has forgotten about her (not true). I said well mom, you have a few options. Live with me part of the year, go to assisted living and have a few friends, or go to church and make friends. She said, "I don't care anything about making friends with a bunch of old women".

Yikes, see what I mean. I feel for you, you need to get away from your mom. These types will suck you dry and they don't care.
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THE ONLY FORM OF ABUSE STILL...
...TOLERATED BY SOCIETY
...ACCEPTED BY SOCIETY
...CONDONED BY SOCIETY
THE ONLY FORM OF ABUSE IN WHICH THE VICTIM IS...
...OPENLY DISCOURAGED FROM STANDING UP FOR HERSELF, TALKING ABOUT IT, OR REVEALING THE ABUSE TO OTHERS
...EXPECTED TO CONTINUE SUFFERING INDEFINITELY
...CRITICIZED FOR TRYING TO PROTECT HERSELF
...JUDGED FOR ESCAPING FROM HER ABUSER
THE ONLY FORM OF ABUSE IN WHICH IT IS CONSIDERED OKAY FOR A COMPETENT ADULT TO....
...BE CONTROLLED BY SOMEONE ELSE
...HAVE NO INDEPENDENCE OR RIGHT TO RUN HER OWN LIFE OR MAKE HER OWN DECISIONS
...BE HELD HOSTAGE TO THE WHIMS OR DESIRES OF ANOTHER
...HAVE NO FREEDOM OF CHOICE
CHILD ABUSE THAT DID NOT END WHEN ADULTHOOD BEGAN. THE CONTINUING VICTIMIZATION OF GROWN CHILDREN BY THEIR ABUSIVE OR CONTROLLING PARENTS, SIBLINGS, OR FAMILY MEMBERS .
SILENCE CONDONES ABUSE! THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE !
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My brother said something today that really nailed how things are with negative people. He was talking about my mother and said that she was never content with anybody or anything that was done. He said that she had been that way at least 30 years. I wanted to say if it had taken him that long to notice. I have been seeing it for 60 years in her.

His idea of not being content rang true. It made me think that some people have a deep-seated lack of contentment -- nothing is ever right for them. If others are in the same boat as me, I spend way too much of my time trying to make her content with different things. But she is never content, though she will tell you she has always had a happy life. Sometimes she will say something is fine with her, then two days later she will say she wants to change it because it is not fine at all. She feels the same way about people. They are never good enough and don't do anything right. The idea about discontent makes everything make sense.
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Donna, we have a client that had her daughter not able to leave her own home. The daughter was running to help her mom that she moved into her own home, the mother had her thinking she could not walk, she could not come down the stairs, that she needed her at ever beck and call, and the daughter was running taking her whatever she needed doing everything for her until one day the daughter had went out shopping for the first time in months and came back early and found mother downstairs in the frig. The daughter did not say a thing she snapped a pic called her sister and brother (she had them all fooled). They contacted a facility ALF and that is where mother is at today! You have to look at you and your family you do have a life and if you don't want to place her then get a sitter and take time out for family and fun. If not you will become your mother's daughter if you know what I mean:( Be Blessed and I will be praying for you!
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Donna, some people do that. They are called Negative Nancy's. They are able to find a gray lining in every white cloud and the only thing that is at the end of the rainbow is a bucket of coal. They bring everyone around them down. You said your mother's dementia isn't too bad, so I have a feeling she has a history of being negative. It is probably just a bad habit made worse by age and dementia. It is like a knee-jerk reaction in her brain. Personally I think negativity is a self-defense maneuver to distance people. I wouldn't be surprised if negative people are more sensitive than others.

I don't know what to do with Negative Nancy. Sometimes it works to say something like, "You must have chewed nails for breakfast this morning" or "That was mean." If a meal is criticized, everyone else should say how much they liked it. You may not be able to pull Negative Nancy up, but others will lessen the impact of the negativity.

I really do dislike the mean remarks that are made about other people. I always defend the people if they didn't deserve what was said. Hearing someone talk mean about people can lessen the value of the people to those who are hearing. I do think it needs to be corrected by something simple like, "I really like them." It neutralizes the poison.
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Donna, you did receive some great advice in above posts. I'm sorry you are going through this; I can empathize with what you are going through. It is unfortunate that your mother will not take medication if she were diagnosed with depression or a personality disorder. My mother never would until she was living in a NH and diagnosed with various mental disorders.

I can relate to the negativity and it is so stressful to deal with on a daily basis. My mother never lived with me; so my heart goes out to you and your family. After a proper diagnosis; the medication helped my mother tremendously - even with the negativity. She was in and out of the hospital frequently and the doctors often would take her off certain meds. - and when she returned to the NH - it was back to square one. They should never take patients off meds. when they don't know the patient. Anyway - she was back on her meds at the NH and it proved how much she required this medication to get her back to a more "normal" state.

I found you cannot possibly make a negative person happy - no matter where they are living. But, proper medication can help. It can give the person a better quality of life and the family as well. Hugs to you and hope her doctor will cooperate and listen to you. You are a wonderful daughter - take care.
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Thanks so much to all for these answers, they have all been helpful, and I am considering many of the suggestions. I hope to start with consultation (me alone) with her primary care/gerontologist.

I agree that a lot of this is for the attention. I can't understand why anyone would prefer negative attention over positive, but she looks far more satisfied when she has ruined a happy moment, than when we are praising her for a positive action.

In my entire adult life I have shown nothing but respect for my parents. To me It just does not feel right to argue with a parent once you are an adult. It breaks my heart to be forced into this role. The guilt is horrible when I have to be firm, or show impatience, though I know that for her own good we can't go along with some of her capers.

I am learning that making a firm statement such as "I don't agree" and walking away, or even saying nothing just leaving the room works far better than allowing her the satisfaction of watching me have a melt down.

Thanks again to all who have offered suggestions and allowed me to vent.
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Donna, you said your mom threatens to revoke your DPOA if pushed. My mom did just that to my son and me. We made the mistake of trying to save her from spending every dime she had and the next thing I got was a letter from her lawyer. She didn't have the common decency to let my son know he was no longer her primary DPOA or executor of her will I was just the alternate but she was taking a stand by paying a lawyer to "get back" at me. This woman was the queen of negativity. Our story ended very sadly. I learned some people can't be saved even from themselves.
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