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Re: Taking care of my extremely difficult elderly mom

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Message 1 of 11

snop1010 wrote:

Danny,

My name is Jean and my mother is in the nursing home but I go to see her often.  She is very self centered and seems I can never do enough for her.  I don't come to see her often enough (3 to 4 times a week).  She only wants to talk about herself and changes the subject back to herself if I try to tell her something going on in my life.  When growing up, she spent all her time with my stepfather so I just grew up "by myself" so to speak.  I try to take her things to cheer her up, cookies, a donut, game books, new clothes, items she may find helpful to her in the nursing home.  I pray to God everyday to give me strength and patience and love to visit her and help her.  I am in my 70's and not in the best health myself.  She is 93.

 


Hi Jean!  It's very good of you to visit her so often. Perhaps you could drop your visits down to once or twice a week. Especially if the visits are really wearing on you. I think you are doing a great good deed; i also think there's no need to hurt yourself in the process. You are a generous soul. Time to be generous with yourself, too?

Jane

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Re: Taking care of my extremely difficult elderly mom

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Message 2 of 11

Danny,

My name is Jean and my mother is in the nursing home but I go to see her often.  She is very self centered and seems I can never do enough for her.  I don't come to see her often enough (3 to 4 times a week).  She only wants to talk about herself and changes the subject back to herself if I try to tell her something going on in my life.  When growing up, she spent all her time with my stepfather so I just grew up "by myself" so to speak.  I try to take her things to cheer her up, cookies, a donut, game books, new clothes, items she may find helpful to her in the nursing home.  I pray to God everyday to give me strength and patience and love to visit her and help her.  I am in my 70's and not in the best health myself.  She is 93.

 

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Re: Taking care of my extremely difficult elderly mom

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Message 3 of 11

Hi there, Danny. What a marvelous collection of responses you received! So much wisdom here!  I have just a little bit to add.

 

My mother was also a narcissistic, AND a Christian Scientist with both mental and physical illnesses. She refused anything but prayer, but had a lot of problems, and needless to say, she died at age 55 of preventable causes. I had a therapist/coach who helped me to try to help her, and then helped me to back away when she refused. i did my duty, then i let her choose her own path. Each of us have the right to make bad choices.

 

Unless we are demented and can't make fully informed choices. And then the state steps in. Adult Protective Services has many a client who has burned all bridges and needs someone who is PAID to see to their best interest. You can always call APD, especially if she does dramatically decline. Frankly she sounds pretty darn social and active, even if she is usually (or always) Mrs CrankyPants. 

 

I'm glad you're taking a break. You certainly deserve the time to nurture your ten year marriage, and your relationship with your son and his family. Do whatever it is you've been neglecting. I hate to be a nag, but when was your last medical physical? Have you had a colonoscopy?  Might as well see to your own health. And a counselor/therapist might be helpful too. After decades of her abuse, what new chapter in your life would you like to write? What's on your bucket list? Time for you and your wife to build in some joy and adventure.

 

Just a thought.

 

I'm sorry your mother has been such a negative person. Perhaps her parents were highly critical. Perhaps she was abused or neglected. No excuse, just a reason. She IS a survivor as you point out. I hope there is some gift or two that you can claim from her. She gave you life. Are there any other characteristics that you got from her that are good? Some thinking along these lines might help you appreciate her, and soften the pain of her abuse. While you're taking a break. Maybe a permanent break.

 

So glad you wrote. Doing the right thing for horrible parents is more common than any of us think.

 

May 2018 hold more joy for you,

 

Jane

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Re: Taking care of my extremely difficult elderly mom

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Message 4 of 11

@kanterd358, all I can say is you are right; there could have been more of a sharing of the load. One sister passed young; the other two were on two different coasts of the US, so that made it hard.

 

I also had the misfortune of being born the eldest in a gi-normous family that puts it in your blood from birth that the eldest does everything. Unfortunate...and perhaps all I can authentically, "consciously companionately" say. Smiley Surprised

 

I have done some family constellation studies and workshops. It's very interesting what we "learn" from our larger family patterns of relating. Anyway, I'm glad you caught the spirit of what I wrote, and I wish you more and more ease around this topic/relationship with each passing day!

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Re: Taking care of my extremely difficult elderly mom

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Message 5 of 11

I greatly appreciate what you wrote to me.  I really feel for you, since you have gone through an awful lot, and can finallly be able to deal with it.  

I am backing away, from my mom, for now, completely.  You could say, I am charging up my batteries, in order that I have all the strength I need to deal with my mom, when I finally decide to do so.  

There was one question, that came to my mind, while reading all about what you dealt, and how, and that was.  Where were your 4 sisters, during all of this?  I would think that they could have, and should have, assisted you, with your mom.  I hope I am not treading on dangerous, delicate ground.  If you would rather not say, that is fine with me.

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Re: Taking care of my extremely difficult elderly mom

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Message 6 of 11

Danny I am glad that you were able to get something from my post. I suggest you do some research of your own on narcissistic people there is a lot of imformation out there and how to detach from them and change your learned behavior. Take care Danny!

If you like you can drop me a message here I think.

Robert

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Re: Taking care of my extremely difficult elderly mom

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Message 7 of 11

@kanterd358, I'd like to offer/suggest a slightly different approach. Hopefully my words will offer some validation, hope and commiseration!

 

My mother and I had what could only be called a tortured relationship. I was the first born of 4 girls.

 

I think personality has a lot to do with it--how much alike or how different you are. My mother and I were oil and vinegar! I was logically concrete and she was very emotionally loosey-goosey.

 

My mother passed early at 66 from a rare bile duct cancer, about 5 years after my dad passed from non-small cell lung cancer. (Yep. Bad Genes; I've got them! Fortitude and obstinate optimism also got planted in my gene pool tho', thankfully.)

 

I know how horrible it is to know your parents need help, but won't let you help them.

 

I think it is a generational thing too....a passing of the torch, a surrender the parent has to make to let the child become the adult. The responsibility of leadership and compassion required from the adult child to accept the new power dynamic. I imagine it's very hard...for everybody involved.

 

I am not condoning your mother's unkind or even narcissistic treatment of you! But it doesn't truly matter: whatever she does, you will always remain her son. And as her son, your love for her makes it messy, charged, guilty, and perhaps failure or shame-oriented? I don't know; you will have to decide how to name what emotions you are feeling.

 

But if any of it is some of those types of emotions, and if those emotions aren't identified and can't be appropriatedly/healthily-without-harming-others channelled, they can turn into anger or illness in your own body. This was my own experience.

 

Eventually with my own mother, I had to chose to let my mother be herself, and me to be myself...no matter how different, annoying or contra-indicated. If she wanted to die alone without knowing what her options were, I was going to have to accept that, which I eventually, after considerable struggle and personal sacrifice, managed to do.

 

My mother refused help; she refused some treatment options. She cloistered herself away for 2 weeks without answering the phone, returning phone calls, answering knocks on the door, or making contact with anyone. When I finally forced my way in by driving down to check on her, it was the beginning of the end, without any hope to turn the tide. 

 

About three weeks after that, she passed alone in a convalescence/rehab facility. (Later I did some research, because the doctors are not always forthcoming, and discovered there was a usual, predictable brain chemistry complication from the disease, that might explain her 2-week cloister. That would have been a timely thing to know and prepare for!)

 

There was virtually nothing I didn't try to make her passing more comfortable. I did visit, and when I did, I knew I was visiting because she was my Mother, and I wanted to see her for myself, not because she had required it, or the morals of society required it.

 

Some days I didn't want to see her; so I didn't.

 

I limited the amount of time I spent with her, and I had key phrases or topics or exit points prepared, so I could exit when our usual, familiar trigger points popped up. I tried to be as companionately conscious as possible with her, while also remembering to take care of myself, and not require her to be any different than I had always known her to be.

 

It was so hard...it's taken YEARS to process all that and get to the place where I could actually, authentically recognize and speak aloud that I miss her. (so sad to say, but so ultimately true.)

 

I can also say and honestly feel good that while I did not do everything possible for her, what I did do was super nice and made her last year of life better in many ways, most of which did not include me having her be the Mother I thought she should be. I just experienced her as the Mother I had always known, with an occasional bright spot or two I hadn't previously slowed down enough to witness.

 

It's just a tough row to hoe. But you are not alone in that row; I was there until 2013. I am only beginning to feel a little more neutral about it in 2017!

 

And I agree that you have been an OUTSTANDING human and SON. It may be time to take a break, separate from your Mother's needs and personality...to honor yourself, not to punish or condemn your mother for her actions.

 

I had to do that too with my Mother. I actually had the system that if I had to go with my Mother to a oncology appointment (requiring 6hours of round trip car travel on my part), the next two days I had to let myself recover and rest. 

 

Finding a personal, authentic, true spot of peace around it is the only thing that worked for me.

 

Allowing myself to rest and only requiring myself to see her at doctor appts helped alot. I would even see her number on the Caller ID and BEFORE I picked up I would assess if I had enough mental/emotional strength to have and leave the conversation without yeling at her, or wrecking my whole day. If I did not have that much peace of mind, GASP! I let the call go to voicemail, and might wait a full day or more to retrieve the message.

 

Children are biologically wired to love their parents! And in some form or another, it pains us not to meet the need of the person or persons that gave us life and brought us into the world. There is no shame or failure in that. Just drawing a line in the sand where your needs become greater than their needs.

 

Sometimes that line is very hard to find, and even harder to walk. I hope you find some small form of ease in this relationship very soon!

 

(I'd tell you it'll all be over soon, but my 11 years of recovery tells me time can be a little variable. So I will just wish you a more speedy exit than what I experienced!)

 

Good luck! And remember to be kind to yourself in this very troubling relationship.

 

PS: I got a lot of professional help to get me through it myself, and I cussed a lot, yelled a lot, and broke a lot of inanimate things to "healthily channel" my emotions that were difficult to name. Smiley FrustratedSmiley LOL

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Re: Taking care of my extremely difficult elderly mom

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Message 8 of 11

Dear Robert,

I did read your response, very slowly, and carefully, and thank you so much for it.

I want to thank you, very much, for identifying what I am dealing with.  I have known, for some time, there had to be some kind of mental disorder, and now I know what it is, thanks to you.

I greatly appreciate your wisdom, intelligence, and most of all, for your passing this on to me.

It has taken me a very long time to realize, that I have really tried everything, I could think of, to have a better relationship, with my mom, and nothing has ever worked, because I was not dealing with normal, and having even a decent relationship with her, just isn't possible.  

She has been using me as her punching bag, for as long as I can remember, and enough is enough. 

It is finally time to let Devine Destiny take over.  I have to let her live her own life.  I can't let her drag me down anymore.  Doing so, seems to give her some kind of perverted satisfaction, at my expense.

She is a survivor, as am I, and I feel, in desperation, she will ultimately seek outside professional help, to take care of herself, realizing that I can't, or won't help her.

Only time will tell.  

Bless you Robert, and I hope you have a more peaceful, better life, with this knowledge, about your parents, as I anticipate, I will have.

Have a Very Happy, and Better New Year.

 

 

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Re: Taking care of my extremely difficult elderly mom

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Message 9 of 11

Danny ,  reading your story hit home for me. I'm wondering if our mothers could be related ? So I'm 55 and my mother is 75, I to am the ONLY child. Now I can tell you this there is no solution, no fix, no karma, no redemption, no trophey not even a ata boy! I can give you a possible diagnosis on your mother though and if you look into this and understand what your dealing with should at minimum give you peace of mind and know this there are a lot of people out there that their parents were the Cleavers but yet do nothing at all to take care of them.

Sounds like Mom lacks empathy in all shapes and forms of which is caused by not caring which is due to the innability to love. Just a few years ago I found out that narsassistic women which are very rare do excist. Heres a definition and a few interesting traits and outcomes.

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder in which there is a long-term pattern of abnormal behavior characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration, and a lack of understanding of others' feelings.

When you grow up with a narcissistic mother, you grow up thinking you are never good enough. You can't put your finger on why you always want to be perfect, yet you do. And you try tirelessly. You are studious, happy, cuddly, and kind.

A woman can have several narcissistic traits and not fit the personality disorder. Mothers with only a few traits listed can negatively affect their children.

I felt badly for this little girl, not because her mom said no to her candy request, but because her mom was so blinded by her own feelings that she could not have empathy for her daughter.

A narcissistic parent will trample all over their family to address their own desires without giving much thought to what anyone else needs. Because of this, some adult children of narcissists will actually overcorrect and bend over backwards to make sure no one could ever possibly perceive them this way.

You ask what causes narcissism? As with other mental disorders, the cause is likely complex. Narcissistic personality disorder may be linked to: Mismatches in parent-child relationships with either excessive pampering or excessive criticism. Genetics or psychobiology — the connection between the brain and behavior and thinking.

Anyways Danny I could be completely wrong here but for me I found a lot of answers to my mothers behavior and complete disconnect from empathy. There are different degrees of this disorder and one can exhibit only a few traits and not be considered narcissistic but the effect these traits have on their children are just as devistating.

I don't know if this will help you, hell I don't know if you will even read this !! Regardless you are trying to care for someone whom doesn't deserve it and that makes you ONE HELL OF A HUMAN BEING..

Take care,

                 Robert

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Re: Taking care of my extremely difficult elderly mom

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Message 10 of 11

I gave you a kudo for writing all this down!!  I am in a very difficult situation too but it is difficult for me to talk about it.  Your mom sounds really really difficult and you must have had a hard time reaching adulthood if she has always been like this.  Hopefully someone here can give you some useful advice.  Actually your mother sounds like she is in pretty good physical shape for 94.  However, if something bad happens to her, such as a fall, the doctor will probably recommend placement in a nursing home.

 

I have come to the conclusion that sometimes you just have to grin and bear it.  I am only speaking of my own situation here, not yours.  You are doing a good thing, asking advice here.  I have recently had thoughts regarding a difficult elder, especially when they begin to lose touch with reality, which can happen a little at a time.  They try to control their situation and hold on to their power by controlling those people they have the most access to, usually their caregiver.  This is what is happening to me. 

;hoc voluērunt Gaius Julius Ceasar
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