My mother is goading me into arguments -- I think. Any advice?

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Lately I've begun to wonder if the arguments my mother and I get into are due to her baiting me. She will ask me to help find the shirt she wants. I find it and hand it to her. She say, "Oh, no, that's not it." In fact, she disagrees with everything I say. If I try to explain or say anything other than "you're right" the situation quickly escalates. I've learned to say nothing (OK, I'm still learning), but when I just walk away, she starts making snotty comments, talking to herself, etc. I think the only thing to do is quietly walk away, stay sweet to the person, and just ignore the behavior. Does anyone else think their LO is baiting them?

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Top Answer
It is the dementia. Don't argue. "Oh. I must have misunderstood your description. But this would go well with the slacks you picked out. Do you want to wear it anyway, or should I hang it back up?"

Saying "you're right" is probably a good strategy, or even "hmm, you could be right. I'll think about it."

If she makes snotty comments and talks to herself, keep walking and let it roll off your back. (MUCH easier said than done, but a good goal, I think.)
You know what?

I am not myself at the moment so forgive me in advance. But I have read through the responses and, as so often, they are wise and helpful and useful and based on real experience; and that is brilliant.

But. Even when you have learned to save your sanity and keep caring for your loved one in *spite* of everything she throws at you and you really have a grip on all this...

Handling dementia day in day out is stressful and boring and a PAIN. And who wouldn't rather not?

I just think it's worth acknowledging how very, very much the disease utterly sucks.
Its the Dementia. I was lucky. I dressed Mom and she never said she didn't want that outfit. My Mom and I were close but I would get those comments too. They take it out on the person that is there. I didn't like being "the one" that was the recipient of the paranoia and the looks. But its part of their journey. Remember, her brain is dying. She no longer has any control over what she says or what she does. Just smile and walk away,
I think it stems from their frustration at needing so much help.

jeannegibbs put it all out there very well.

With my Dad, I had to remember how I took "advice" when I was younger and I learned to shrug my shoulders and roll my eyes - a lot.

With my DH, he would ask me to fix something for him to eat, but then he couldn't eat it. At first it hurt - but then I realized that most of the time he wasn't criticizing me - he really just couldn't eat, not that he didn't want it. I turned to TV dinners for his pasta as he was unable to eat more than 1/4 of the cheap Banquet Lasagna but he liked it. At first I threw away whatever was left, then I started dividing it and only making 1/4 at a time, leaving the rest frozen for another day. He loved fried chicken but I had to boil it to make it soft enough for him to eat.

With your mother, it might be clothes, but it all comes down to frustration as things are no longer the way they once were.
I’m going to suggest you get this quick read written by a psychologist who deals with children of adult parents. In fact he lives in Dallas as does my sister and she saw him last week. The name of the book is Loving Hard to Love Parents by PAUL Chafetz. You will gain insight into your mom's behavior and also how to and how not respond to her. It was a life saver for me. It works! It’s on Amazon.
Debbie, I feel for you. My mom, who is 97, and it good health, has not been diagnosed with dementia but I have been going through all the things you and the other commenters mention, for the last 5 years or more. I live with my mom and it’s so incredibly difficult. I’m not well myself and barely get time to do important stuff for me. When my sister comes, my mom is as sweet as pie to her, same with my brother, and he is the golden child. My sister can barely take one stab from my mother once a week when she visits for 2-3 hours.While I take it over and over and over 24/7. So my sister gets so upset with me when my mom calls her and says I’m acting bad again and mean to her. I have put up with her bad behavior and treatment of me day after day after day and then finally I break and act like a tyrant. NO ONE UNDERSTANDS UNLESS THEY ARE GOING THROUGH IT TOO! My mom stated to loose her hearing about 2 years ago but can still hear. I constantly have to repeat myself and talk loud. I think the hardest thing is that she is always accusing me of taking her stuff and 50% of the time , when she can’t find something, she threatens to call the police. But the thing is, my mom has always been like this, but not as intense as now.
I have so much compassion for ANYONE having to take care of their loved one who is not functioning properly. It’s life changing. And thank you to everyone who shares their experiences on here, it’s comforting to know that we are not alone in the situation and their are others out there that are experiencing the same things. I’ve learned after years and years of emotional blackmail and torture, DO NOT TAKE THE BAIT! Once they get to you , it snowballs and you kill yourself trying to prove them wrong. I myself have always had an extremely close relationship with my mom, so it kills me to have to ignore her and act like  a concerned neighbor( instead of a daughter) and play these games just to be able to communicate with out horrible arguments. God bless you and know that you are not alone.😇❤️
Thank you all for your responses. It really helps to know that others have these experiences and to read your suggestions.
My universal solution to this in both large and small situations is to say, "You may be right." Then I move on to simple, practical matters.

Also, "You'll get no argument from me." That let's people know that I am not in it for the adrenalin rush.
My 80 year old mother has been doing this for years. Misery loves company. She has always been a very negative person, very critical and controlling. Her mind is clear as a bell, she does not have dementia. But she is in pain mentally and physically and is lashing out at the closest person to her, which is me. I'm thinking maybe your mom is doing the same thing just lashing out at the closest person to her because she is in just dress uncomfortable in pain confused feeling out of control,etc. Yanking your chain gives her a sense of control and purpose.
JoAnn is right. My mom was the same way. She would make hurtful remarks and then just sit there and wait for me to respond. It took me a while to realize that her years of paranoia, drama and negativity were all concentrated in the hear and now, at me. When I wasn’t there, the aides would tell me that they would help her make her bed.  Five minutes later she decided they’d forced her to use this particular bedspread.  She’d rip it off and throw it out the door. Clothes were the same way. They wound up partially closing her door so her flinging of belongings wouldn’t hurt someone coming down the hallway. 

If Mom argues about a shirt, ask her if she’d like to help you look for the one she wants. She really may not know and may be looking for a shirt she had decades ago. Tell her to find one she likes and you’ll help her put it on. Then redirect. “Gee, Mom. The living room needs dusting.  Could you help me?” 



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