Thank you for anyone taking time to read me. It feels so strange writing about something so personal yet so impactful in my life right now. My mother has always been a bit difficult/hard but we had a very close relationship. (just her and I, no dad - no sibling). She is now over 80 and is more confrontational, harsh and "poor me" than ever. Always getting into conflicts with neighbours/strangers/store clerks/hospital staff etc and saying nasty things about people. She is losing her vision slowly (MacDeg) and this breaks my heart.

We are going through a very difficult time mother-daughter relationship wise for the last years, and very recently with her lodging circumstances. I am helping her day and night with her challenges (no sleep, missing work, logistics research and help, spending money I don't have) and what I find incredibly difficult is how harsh and impatient she is with me and how everything is the poor me attitude about everything that happens, focusing on miniscule things when the main factors are so positive and comfortable. She is even starting to give me lectures on how she did everything for me and I should be grateful etc. and everyone is bad except her and mentions her life not being worth living, which is horrifying for me to hear but loops back to patterns of frustrations for both of us. I have to accept that it might be early dementia but I feel like it is more herself coming out 10 fold. I don't know how to navigate this and find myself not liking who and how she is and losing my empathy for her which is causing guilt and doubt in myself.

Thank you for listening and not judging and I hope that I can find support somehow. I am in the process of growing my family with a soon to be conceived baby and hope to decrease the stress and anxiety while continuing to help her as much as I can.

Find Care & Housing

Many of us have been in your shoes. Don’t feel badly about expressing how you truly feel. We understand.

Doesn’t it feel like this isn’t the mom that we once knew? They aren’t the same. Not at all.

Some of us have had lovely relationships with our parents. Others have had complicated situations.

My mom was once a healthy, vibrant, active and independent woman. I am sure that your mom was too. Then before our eyes they become almost helpless and dependent on us for everything. You’re exactly right saying that it is truly sad.

My caregiver days are over but I cared for my mom for 20 years, 15 of those in my home.

My grandmother remained fairly healthy until her death. Wouldn’t it be a beautiful world if we were all so fortunate? It’s devastating watching our parents deteriorate.

It’s emotionally and physically draining to care for others. Some of us find it very hard to watch our parents become overwhelmed, depressed and riddled with anxiety. We may hate to see their energy fade away.

In your case, watching your mom lose her eyesight is disturbing. My godmother had macular degeneration. It broke my heart.

I would never judge you. You are entitled to your feelings. They are completely normal.

You are living your individual circumstances and while some things are similar, each person has their own challenges.

I don’t have any magic solutions, no one does. All I can offer is to tell you that I have empathy for what you are going through.

Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions on your mind. This is a wonderful group of people and someone will always be around to address your concerns.

Take the advice that is useful to you and put aside the rest. If you need to take time to process any information, do so. There are no instant fixes in the business of caregiving!

Take care. 💗 Best wishes to you and your mom.
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
Cally5 Oct 21, 2020
Hi! I just read your reply.
May I ask how you were able to care for your mom for 20 years. You are a saint. I’m gonna be new to this role for my mom. I’m afraid. I feel lost.
I applaud you. You are very special.
I just posted my question and concerns a few minutes ago and while doing so , I came across your beautiful post!
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Welcome to the forum. I would guess that most, if not all, of the members have shared your feelings at one time or another. Caring for a parent nearing the end of their life can be a very long process. Unfortunately their conditions only get worse. There are good days, but the trend is a downward spiral. That is really painful for the adult child who is caring for someone who is not, really, the parent they have always known. We do understand your feelings. Some of us are also old enough to understand your mother's frustrations as well.

When you start to feel overwhelmed by the emotions of your own frustrations and distaste for what your mother is becoming, please take the time to step back, take some deep breaths and get a little time for yourself. You don't mention your mother's care arrangements. If possible, do not live with your mother, nor let her live with you. You will be happier if you can go home after your visit and get a decent night's sleep. When I am with my mother and she goes into a complaining mood I simply say something like "It seems like you are having a bad day. Why don't I go home and let you get a little rest. I'll see you again on Tuesday." I have encouraged my sisters to do the same thing. Together I think we are having a little impact, decreasing the number of times Mom takes out her frustrations on us. However, my Mom does not have dementia. It may not be the same for someone with dementia. The same principle applies, though. Try to separate yourself from your mother when she complains to you.

Remember, you do have a life of your own and you ARE entitled to live it. Your care for your mother is secondary to your care for yourself, your own home and your own family.

Also, please think about keeping the frustrations and upsets that come with caring for your mother from your other relationships. If you feel you must vent, vent here. Preserve the tenderness and love in your other relationships very carefully because you will need your loving relationships to sustain you.

Good luck, and hugs.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to LittleOrchid

Dear "mikijl,"

Welcome to the forum and I hope you will find some encouragement from other posters. I have only been on the forum for 3 1/2 months and I've never been on one before so I understand how odd it feels to share very personal feelings/circumstances. I think you will quickly find that so many of the people on this forum are going through so much themselves that you'll soon shed that strange feeling.

This is an especially difficult time as you are in the process of growing your own family in which you'll be having a baby so you'll need to find a way to decrease your stress and anxiety in the situation with your mom so as not to jeopardize your baby.

Personally, I think the first place to start is to have your mom go through a full medical examination to see if there's any hidden medical issues that she may have. Definitely have her checked for a UTI because that in and of itself causes a wide range of troublesome behaviors. Maybe you can take her to a geriatric doctor who specializes in dealing with the elderly.

You will find a lot of people on the forum dealing with similar issues regarding their loved ones negative outlook and more. A great majority of elderly people get agitated, irritable, displaying self-centeredness and frustrations just to name a few. Some of her traits sound a little narcissistic which she may have tendencies of. Some of it, is just more of the same from what you've always dealt with in spite of having a very close relationship so now those issues are showing up tenfold.

So please have her completely evaluated and then go from there. You'll need to learn that you can't do or handle every challenge/issue with her all at once so try and take small steps or you will quickly burnout and get overwhelmed.

I wish you the best as you try and navigate your role as your mom's caregiver!
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to NobodyGetsIt

I have been somewhat caring for my wife(60 Y/O) for many years, In 2017 she had a major stroke and has been in and out of different facilities about 24 of the past 36 months. She has been home this time since early August.

My wife is bipolar and narcissistic. Nobody and nothing is ever good enough. No mater how hard I have tried, she always complains. We have a 17 Y/O son who is special needs and she can never thank or compliment him. We can always say just take it like "water off a ducks back" but sometimes it cuts so deep that we just want to run away and never come back.

We have 56 hours a week help provided by the insurance company to help keep her out of the hospital or LTC. The problem is finding good help that is willing to work that my wife can get along with. Right now I am using about 40 hours a week of that help. I need more but the agency we have to go through can't replace them fast enough to keep up with my wife.

I love my wife but often I do no LIKE her.

This week she was also diagnosed with Advanced Vascular Dementia. At least now she has a reason for her anger, and other outbursts.

If I didn't have a strong faith in God there is no way I could do this! We have a great connection with our small group who take good care of my son and I if we need it. Meals, visits with my wife and second most important a listening ear with the most important: prayer.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to garylee
Marylepete Oct 24, 2020
I am sending you one giant hug. ❤️
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Welcome to the forum!

I recommend boundaries as a good start. She can only treat you poorly when you allow it, time to start teaching her that she needs you and you need her to be civil or she can find another scratching post. You are not obligated to take abuse from anyone even her.

Great big warm hug! You will get through this.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Isthisrealyreal
disgustedtoo Oct 22, 2020
Having just bought some new cat trees, your comment "...she can find another scratching post." made me think why not buy a small cat scratching post and leave it for her? Of course, with dementia, she might not get it. Anyone else out there with a difficult person to care for, if they don't have dementia and are bad behaved, buy them one! They start their nonsense, give them the scratching post and leave!
I know it was hard to put your feelings down in print, but I have found over the years that has made it so much easier for me to see what is really upsetting me.

I had a mother that was very much self centered, do it only my way, now, or else. However kind to anyone outside the home. After Dad passed away suddenly at age 66 she became more of a handful. I was 35, married, working part time, with two children. She threatened suicide almost non stop, in her depression. 10 phone calls a day was the normal, even to me at work. Not only dealing with my own depression with the loss of my dear father, my family life and job, I had her amplified problems. It drove me to the edge of a nervous breakdown. I immediately knew I had to do something. I needed to step back from allowing her demanding ways to over take my life, wether she knew she was doing it or not. I needed her to handle her own life and hopefully her suicide threats were not going beyond that. She would not ever go for treatment. I started letting her phone calls go on the answering machine. I told her how busy I was, children, job, etc. But I would be available to grocery shop with her or what ever she needed on, Tuesday or what ever day I was free. That worked out. I just had to give myself breathing room and let her live her life. The only sibling I have lives 600 miles away.

Many years later I did become her caregiver as Alzheimers over took her. She still was a handful but I had long before learned how to deal with her demanding personality on top of Alzheimers.

One thing I have learned through all of my 79 years of life and now caregiver for my husband of 60 years, with Alzheimers, it’s HOW WE react to things they say or do. Most of the time, do not react.

Could it be dementia your mother has, possibly. Or just her personality being amplified in old age, because she has gotten away with it so long. Let’s face it, either way, we can not change them, only how we allow it to affect us and our lives.

You are young and have hopes and dreams. Don’t loose that focus. Sorry our Mothers did not or are not acting like we wish they would, or would have, but that is/was them. I am sure you love her, as did I. My mother always knew I was there for her and would do anything for her, but she could not run my life.

I hope my sharing this with you will be of help.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Marylepete

Please do yourself a favour and take some time to read the book Boundaries by Townsend. This has been a lifesaver for me. Girl you need to set boundaries firm and stick to them.
Take a step back and evaluate just how much time you spend with your mom is healthy time. Your health and family need not suffer. As daughters we want to do everything for our mothers but realistically this is not possible. You need good supports in place.
Make sure your mom is safe and avoid explaining to her that you need to step back. She likely won’t understand. I’m in your situation somewhat and it’s difficult. Hugs!!
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to caring2
SeniorStruggles Nov 10, 2020
Yes, that's a good book. There are certainly some guidelines for setting boundaries, but after a lifetime of manipulation and abuse, it's sometimes really hard to see what they could be in an ideal world.

The people here seem to have a handle on what that looks like. For sure, take time to ponder their wisdom. (I'm new too!)
Your mom's personality is basically the same as it's always been. It may be worse now because you are with her more. What used to be words on the fly, that you could brush off and find humor in if discussing with someone else, are now words in your face 24/7 with the humor worn off. She is also more frustrated with the limits of her life becoming a tighter circle around her. With that said, it's still quite difficult to be the whipping post in her life.

From time to time, I have to have the talk with my mom. Very independent all of her life, raised 5 kids mostly on her own, worked every day outside the home, sacrificed all personal fun/activities while raising kids. However, the ability to be a little snippy was always under the surface. Several of her kids also had the snippy gene, so they could lock horns more often than I did with her because I wasn't going to get in to it with her over petty crap. After a couple of health issues, I ended up being with her 24/7.

Because of bad knees she can't get out and about like she used to. Very limited mobility. Constantly picking the scab, as I call it, off of someone else's issues. Ex: Two siblings don't talk to each other. One visits and will be asked how the other sibling is doing. Really???? Why open that wound? Or, it's time for a family get together - "How are we going to handle that?". To nip it in the bud so I don't have to rehash the whole thing, I just say "invite both and let them figure it out".

There's tons more of examples of scab picking and some can get more on the mean side. So, when I've had enough, I remind her that I'm not playing the mean game with her and point out what she says is hurtful. You need to do the same. You explain all of the things you are doing for her and just a tiny bit of consideration or appreciation would work much better for her. You'll probably get a few tears, but you have to make it clear (assuming she understands the conversation and there's not a dementia issue that would prevent comprehension), Point blank ask what might make her happier, offer some things she might be interested in doing - may or may not give you some insight. When she says something hurtful, don't argue. Just point out 'well, that was mean/hurtful/etc' and let those words seep in. You might also tell her if she's that unhappy with your help, there are places that might do a better job for her.

You said lodging circumstances are an issue and spending money you don't have. If she is living beyond her means and you're financing it, you need to resolve that quickly. What will happen when a baby comes along and you really can't afford things outside your own household/family? Have that conversation for sure.

If discussions aren't working (and she understands), then just don't engage in the conversations where she is being hurtful to you. Hard as heck to do, but she needs to see and understand that hurtful words will result in you 'coming back later when she is in a better mood - or - when she is over her mean streak. This whole caregiving thing is hard enough without adding a plateful of nastiness.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to my2cents

I am so sorry you are going through this but I understand completely and have some suggestions based on years of experience. Your mother is old and getting older and I am sure she is developing dementia and along with that cruel, horrible behaviors. Personally, I don't care what the reasons are for her to become so nasty and obnoxious - nothing, and I mean nothing, justifies it. It does not matter whether she realizes it or not - it is happening and that cannot be tolerated from anyone under any circumstances. Her behavior and worsening relationship with you are having a terrible impact on you who is innocent. You do not and must not allow this. You must first accept she is NOT the person she might once have been and this is how she is now and she will get worse. First, I suggest you tell her off in no uncertain terms what she is doing and it must stop at once. Do not allow her to inflict pain and suffering on you as you do not deserve it. If you cannot stop her, you must realize you have done all you can and it is impacting YOUR life. When this happens, there is no choice but to either get a caretaker for her to free you from her actions and damages to you or you have to place her somewhere. If you do NOT do this, I guarantee you that you will suffer and be riddled with guilt and unhappiness. Never allow anyone, dementia or not, to do this to you. Be strong and if need be, walk away. She is not who she was once - so look out for yourself.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to Lockett2166
my2cents Oct 25, 2020
You have to care what the reasons are. If you are trying to modify the behavior of someone with a broken brain, you'll get no where. You can't just 'tell off' an old lady. If the brain is working, better to dish out what you expect from them - not what they are already serving on the plate of nasty. Better to say those words hurt me, I'm doing my best on my own to help you. And then walk away for those words to marinate a little. If that doesn't produce any remorse. Then I'd repeat it and explain there are other people who house and care for elderly people and ask if she would prefer the care of someone else.

I no longer have to have a long conversation with my parent. I just say, I'm not playing the mean game and she knows what I'm talking about. Sometimes a few tears, but always apologies at bedtime. We both go to sleep with resolution for the day.
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No judging at all and welcome. This forum has helped me so much and I have felt great support. Many things to learn also. Your story could be mine very easily although my mom (84) and I were never close but its worse now. My daddy passed last June and mom has always been critical, negative and complaining. She lives in her own IL place on a senior campus. She could do much more for herself but refuses. She has a PT evening sitter, 4 evenings a week. I see her once a week and process mail, sort medication and any chores needed. My sister tries to visit once a week but her health is sketchy right now. I have 2 daughters that visit her occasionally. She is very difficult. I love her and an sorry she is alone after a 65 year marriage but I do not like her at all. I still do a lot to manage her life and make sure her needs are met. I have set up boundaries and do a lot of care from a distance.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to InFamilyService
mikijl Oct 26, 2020
Thank you for your message ! When you say boundaries, do you mean being less emotionally involved ? I think I’ll have to
start doing that. What is it that you don’t like about her personality, was it always there ? Thanks for your time
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