Mom is 84 and lives with us. Starting to lose words, unable to find the right word (usually a noun) and getting cranky. Lately she takes EVERYTHING personally, and thinks we believe she's "always wrong," even something that's just a different view. Typical conversation:
Mom: It's much cooler today, isn't it?
Granddaughter, age 21 and exceedingly polite and deferential to her grandmother: "Oh gosh, it feels warm to me but that's probably because I've been running around with the dogs."
Mom: <really snottily> "Oh. Well I'm wrong then. Again."
It's like this EVERY time she states an opinion. If we don't immediately and completely agree, she takes great offense and gets into a snit because "we're picking on her" and "you think I'm always wrong." Now she's taken to saying "I know!" indignantly when we tell her anything. Typical conversation:
Me: "Mom, you have a doctor's appointment on Friday at 4 pm."
Mom: "I know!"
Me: "Oh ok, well I"m just looking at my planner and thinking out loud; I got a reminder call so thought I'd just mention it."
Mom: "Yeah, I KNOW!"
This happens even when it's something I am CERTAIN she DOESN'T know, like the fact that we still have cat food on the shelf:
Mom: "We need cat food."
Me: "Hmm, I thought I bought it last time I was at the store. Let me check.... yes, there's a box of cans on the shelf."
Mom: <indignant> "I KNOW!"
HOW do I deal with this? Should we just always agree with her, no matter what? Is that a fair expectation?
What is this? Her anger is really impacting my family. We are so kind, helpful, and work so hard to reduce all stress for her, and we just get this resentment. If we moved, or she lived alone, she would not be able to live. She doesn't drive, uses a walker, and relies on us for almost everything from her laundry to her groceries to her mail to bathing. All of which we perform gladly and with a smile. It's getting so hard and I am so tired. My husband, daughter (home from college now, in the summer) are saints, but I feel badly. Daughter confided that she can't wait to go back to college, but it's her senior year, and I know she'll have to come back next May. We used to have such a happy home.
I guess I'm just venting. I feel like I have no one to bounce this off of and am really at loose ends. Thanks for listening.
If, after you talk to her doctor----and DO talk to her doctor---the doc says he's done some basic Q&A testing with your mom and he thinks she's not suffering from dementia symptoms, then call her out on her behavior.
She may be depressed as she is recognizing that something isn't quite right. That's understandable. My In-laws ended up both being put on Zoloft at their gerontologist suggestion under the heading of "it will help with your feelings and memory issues". Folks of their generation think you're broken if you're depressed.
However, you and your family do not deserve to walk on eggshells every time she opens her mouth. Just as you said, it is affecting everyone. Can you see you and your husband living with this behavior until she passes away? It sounds like she's otherwise in very good health. For all your kindness, you are being repaid with hatred. She may be hating herself and not you, but it has to be worked out, one way or another.
Do NOT always agree (as you asked). It will end up eating you alive.
I am sorry you're going through this. It sounds like you and your family love one another very much and your Mom, too. It sounds like she's not herself, and you'll have to step in and get her some help.
But when it came to dealing with my own mum, all the good intentions can sometimes go out of the window.
I have learnt that it's no good correcting her when mum says something I know is completely untrue, and have to bite my tongue at times.
It's hard, especially as she has always had a bit of a nasty tongue and turn of speech.
That conversation got some things out on the table. He was frustrated b/c he has lost his freedom to drive and feels trapped. I work on more outings and his he has kept his temper and those constant rude responses under control. My threat stands. If he flies into a temper one more time, he’s going to a facility.
We have to set healthy limits as caregivers. I cared for both parents and my brother simultaneously and my husband joined the list. I am not Wonder Woman.
Even with dementia, my husband has not forgotten to behave since I drew the line.
Remember, your mom is not so old or feeble that she can't be talked to like a person. Maybe your mom is tired of being "agreed" with. Maybe causing drama is entertainment. Maybe she just needs to be stood up to.
Of course, if she is suffering from dementia, I don't recommend this at all.
Just my two cents.
You are going to great lengths trying to be "nice." I hate it when people do that to me, because I feel that they are just trying to placate me without acting on MY concerns.
Especially if she has been in a position of authority in her career, she might have been suspicious of subordinates who tried that with her. So, if she's cold or wants more cat food or whatever, what does she want you to do about it? Ask her. Then respond appropriately: Pointing at thermometer, "It's 78 in here. That's what we like. You want warmer, go outside or get a sweater." "Oh, thanks, I'll put cat food on the list." Why argue about that?
I am not dismissing your concern about her cognitive abilities, and they need to be addressed by her doctor. I'm just suggesting that you try to react with less seemingly placating behavior.
You mention her good intentions to see an attorney. Get recommendations or do some research and be ready to make an appointment the next time she brings it up. Immediately. If it's after hours, make a big note on the refrigerator to call first thing in the morning, then do it. Give her an appointment card, write it on the calendar. If she starts "you're pushing me," just tell her she already has the appointment, so she may as well go see what they suggest--she doesn't have to agree with them or do anything if she doesn't want to. Then, go with her and keep your mouth shut when the attorney tells her what she needs. If you are asked for your opinion, say "It sounds like good advice to me, but it's really up to you, Mom." The attorney will tell her what happens if she doesn't have DPOA, etc., then let her decide. Don't second guess her decision because you think she's not competent to make the right one. If she's not competent to make the right decision, it's too late anyway, right?
As others have mentioned, you need a break. Why not visit your daughter's campus for Homecoming or just a fun weekend? Ask Mom what she wants to do while you're away. Staying by herself in YOUR house not being an option you are going to accept because, "I couldn't enjoy it if I was worried if you are OK." Have two or 3 options for her: in-home help, stay at a facility, whatever. She pays for it, because you can't be at her side 24/7/365; you'll be crazy.
I try to just humor her. Frequently I just take the abuse. Not sure I have a lot of suggestions to offer, but wanted you to know that you are not alone.
I'd also explore what types of care that she might be entitled to. It's not for the children of the person to pay. They pay with their own income or assets, and if they don't have enough, they may qualify for state or federal assistance with the costs. There are normally, some forms of in home assistance too.
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