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My 85 year old mother has some dementia and she leaves nasty messages on your answer machine she does not get her way. I am a caregiver to my husband who has Parkinson's disease, severe to moderate dementia, suffered several strokes, diabetes and other health issues. I have to assist him in bathing, going to the bathroom and other daily tasks. He has fallen several times and broken bones, so he is a fall risk. My mother who lives in an independent senior apartment who me and my siblings pay for an inhome care aid to come 7 days week to help her. My mother is so jealous of me taking care of my husband and when I have inlaws coming to visit. She says I was stupid to take care of my husband and not doing anything else in my life. I was fortunate to retire from the Federal Government after 39+ years. I enjoy being at home because before I retired I did not have a break (always worked more than 40 hours a week).


I was married before to a physical and verbally abusive man whom I divorce after 12 years of marriage. I did not realize what a relief it was to be out of that situation. Now, I am content with just taking care of my second husband with the help of my son. When my mother is verbal abusive to me it brings back memories of the fights I had with my first abusive husband. My question is what is the difference tolerating a verbally abusive mother and a verbally abusive husband? I left my first husband and never looked back. Should I do the same with my abusive mother?

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I would very calmly explain that her behavior is forcing you into a decision that you would rather avoid. So she either stops with the verbal abuse or you will disconnect from her completely, including any financial assistance. So she will loose her aid, how many days you pay for.

If she doesn't stop, give her 1 warning, mom we discussed this, if you abuse me one more time, I am done. This is your 1st and last warning. Then change your number, block her calls and stop your financial assistance. She is being rewarded for unacceptable behavior and she needs to be able to feel the consequences of her actions.

Stay strong and follow through!
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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Verbal abuse is verbal abuse regardless of who it comes from. You divorced your first husband for being verbally abusive but you can't exactly divorce your mom. But you can make a decision that you're not going to stand for her treatment of you. You can do this by either telling her that you will leave her life if she continues to speak to you in such a way or you can just cut contact with her. But if you do this, verbal abuse or no verbal abuse, inform her why you are cutting contact with her. And then do it.
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Reply to Eyerishlass
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Statewise, are the nastiness and cutting remarks a new aspect of your mother's behaviour? I just noticed from another thread that your mother has heart disease: is her mental state being regularly assessed?

Depression, extreme negativity and loss of inhibition were marked features of my mother's vascular dementia, is the reason I ask. This is a parallel issue to the question of how tolerant you should make yourself be of verbal abuse; but if it's actually a symptom of disease I don't think you'll want to solve it by walking away.

There are of course key differences between your relationship with your husband and that with your mother; the main one being that you are totally in control of the off switch when it comes to your mother. I congratulate you on your escape, though; which also gives me confidence that you know where to draw lines.
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againx100 Jan 8, 2019
I wonder the same things. Could her nasty behavior be related to a medical and/or mental issue? If so, I don't think you can, in good conscience, shut her out, even though it's got to be difficult to listen to! I guess there's always turning down the volume or deleting the message when it starts to get nasty.
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Intent. That's the difference.

In my experience, my ex was verbally abusive me to make me feel small, less than him as a means of controlling the marriage and me.

Speaking as the daughter of a very difficult woman, Mom was very abusive when I was a child and as I got older we have had our issues. At this point due to her state of mind I believe it's beyond her control. I've come to think of her as a child ( at this point perhaps the mentality of a 4 year old at times) and when children say hurtful things we give them a pass. Granted it cuts to the quick (and my sympathies go out to you) but most of us can't even fathom walking away the way we might with an abusive spouse.

For me, when Mom becomes aggressive I manage it the way I would with a toddler. She gets a time out although she doesn't know it. The time out is me stepping away from the situation, regrouping, then getting back to business. For years my mom only got nasty when there was no one around to bear witness so there were years when I made a point of limiting my time alone with her. Now I find that reminding her that her behavior is unkind is a way for me to cope. Granted it sounds condescending, and frankly it is but it seems to get the job done. Good luck to you, you've got a lot on your plate!
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Harpcat Jan 8, 2019
I see nothing condescending in reminding her that her behavior is unkind. It’s honest and to the point. And if it gets her attention then it’s effective. I deal with the same thing with my dad. As adults we have a perfect right to stand up for ourselves...dementia or no dementia. Hugs!
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Thanks for all your helpful answers. Yes, she does have heart disease. Mom, also been taking medications for anxiety disorder for numerous years. She been seeing a psychiatrist. I did leave a message for her neurologist to call me so I can talk to him about her abusive behavior. Hopefully, he can help me because he is treating her for the dementia.

Thanks again for the support.
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Reply to statewise
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againx100 Jan 8, 2019
Glad you're following up with one of her docs. Hopefully he/she can help!
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I would block the phone for awhile. You need a break. You also dont need to tell your mother what is going on in your household. Dont need to tell her details about husbands care, no details about who is visiting, no details about anything. She will be jealous of anything you tell her, and come up with ways to use it against you. Stick to neutral topics. She asks person info dont answer, change subject. That doesnt work, you gotta run. See ya later.
Tell family you need a break. No one has to hear obsenities and or screaming on their phone. Doesnt matter who is doing it. You dont need ptsd on top of everything else. That is abuse and you dont accept abuse from anyone. FULL STOP.
I had to go no contact with my mom & sibling. They learned. Still have to do it from time to time. They try to go back to negative abuse patterns when I was young.

If your mom is smart enough to remember details about your life, she will soon learn what no contact means. Give her 1 warning. When she does it again there will be no satisfaction for her. No daughter to guilt trip. Phone blocked. No one to answer the phone or visit. She will learn. It might take a while but she will get it. You have to set boundries and mean it. Dont feel guilty bc you wont accept abuse. Family doesnt mean you have to accept it.
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Reply to Jasmina
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Unfortunately, whether the abuse is intentional or caused by dementia, the result is the same. You are being abused and you do not have to tolerate it. You are suffering from the stress of the abuse, and it will get worse. In my opinion, you have the right to avoid abusive people whether they are family members or not. I know it's very difficult when the abusive person is a close family member, but you seem to have no choice if you want to live a life of freedom from abuse, have joy again, breathe freely again. My experience in doing so resulted in heavy weights lifted off my mind which resulted in energy, lightness, peace of mind, security. My first husband was physically and mentally abusive and I divorced him after 6 years. Like you, I never looked back. Now, my mother has been verbally and emotionally abusive to me for several years. I don't know whether it is dementia or just her lifelong negativity. It doesn't really matter because the result is the same. I have frequent but brief verbal contact with her, usually by phone. I told her I would hang up if she became abusive, and I do follow through with that. I stopped going to her house and driving her to appointments unless someone else is present because she is the sweet little old lady in front of others. It's not easy to do, but it has eliminated a lot of stress and heartbreak for me. I wish you the best of luck. I hope you can either cut the tie with your mother-in-law, or at least seriously limit the amount of time you in contact with her. In any event, you have the right NOT to be abused by anyone. If that means walking away, so be it.
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jkrusebaron1 Jan 8, 2019
Wonderful answer with excellent suggestions. People accept and tolerate abusive situations for many reasons, most of which can be mitigated or corrected. You are a good example of overcoming this tendency.
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Wow. I’m so sorry you’re experiencing this. Not fair. Some questions:

Does she treat your siblings the same? What are their thoughts?

Could you talk to her psychiatrist?

How is this affecting your relationship with your husband & son?
.
Your mom is 85 y/o - positive change is limited; if anything she’s going to get worse. Compile any other questions and any necessary information and come up with a plan. Get as many family, friends, aging care (!), your health care team in your corner.

Some thoughts: you probably have PTSD from your childhood & 1st marriage. What’s going on now is surely triggering you. Not fair. You should be enjoying your retirement while taking care of a very ill spouse. I’m very proud of you recognizing the abuse and deciding you’re not doing it anymore. You have a lot of strength and resilience.

In coming up with a plan I would suggest the following:

I like the suggestions from our other friends in giving your mom an explanation about her being consistently unkind to you and a warning and following through. The follow through is the most important & will likely be the hardest thing you do for YOU. Begin to gradually withdraw now.. Limit visits to once a week while implementing your plan. Let the siblings know. Discuss with them the current financial arrangement. You’ll probably have to make some adjustments implementing your plan. That’s ok. As long as you’re moving forward that’s a good thing. Stay firm, positive, and loving towards yourself.

You're obviously a very kind and loving woman however there comes a time (now) where your wellbeing comes first. You deserve some peace and quiet. The constant emotional triggering is not good for you physically, emotionally, & spiritually. Use the time you would have been interacting with your Mom and you do you. Bath, movie, a concert, craft, & your husband. I took up knitting 3 years ago and it’s my passion. Research shows that knitting or any repetitive craft boosts the neuroplasticty in your brain as well as increasing the quality of the neurons you’re constantly producing. Research also shows that any craft helps with healing trauma and most mental health issues.

I knew from the first 1-3 words my parents said on the phone if I could have a conversation (alcoholics). You can probably tell from the first 1-3 words in a voicemail what kind of message it is. Delete immediately- you don’t have to listen. You can block her number. Let the facility know what you’re doing. They deserve to know. We don’t know what their level of involvement will be however they’ve got plenty of experience with this!

Good luck! I’m in your corner.
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Reply to PMA6479
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As I have been taking care of Mother 24/7 for the past 18 months, I have learned a lot about my childhood. We live our lives forward and understand it backwards. I see now how catty and passive aggressive she has always been. There was one time when I asked her why she was treating me bad, and she said, "Because I can." Rather than become reactive, I let it go, but now when she starts acting up, I remind her that MY mother always told me, "If you don't have something nice to say, then don't say anything at all." Oh, the look on her face the first time I said this!
I have had to tell Mother on more than one occasion that I'm taking a time out because I don't think we are being nice.
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PMA6479 Jan 8, 2019
Amazing!
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Why not just let what she says roll off your back? My mother can and has been, verbally abusive for all of my life. I am the only person she has now. I have to admit that what she says and does affects me for a few days, but knowing her mental health issues, I realize that she can't really help it. If your mom has dementia and/or mental health issues, you have to cut her some slack. Just put her position in perspective and move on. It's a really tough situation when seemingly spoiled parents don't see the difficulty in your life and expect things to go their way. I feel ya, I really do. Best of luck to you!
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