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Miserable mum

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Sunnypad
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Miserable mum

#340707

Postby Sunnypad » September 16th, 2020, 6:13 pm

Hello
Not sure if anyone is around on this board but just wanted to get this off my chest.

I am finding it so hard to deal with my elderly unhappy mum. That’s not a criticism of her. I am just wondering how people manage their folks, quite happily it seems, going on into 90s and far worse states of health.

I do love her and we get on well and have fun, when she’s in a good mood. That is increasingly rare. after dad died, in a manner of speaking, she is no longer the same person, which I understand.

Sometimes we have difficulty communicating because she moans so much about things and gets so distressed, then I offer to do them and she says it’s fine and tells me off for interfering.

She has health problems, which she goes on about constantly. This causes a lot of confusion because she’ll go on in such a distressed way, I think we need a doctor visit. I think the result of this was several unnecessary investigations last year.

We now seem to be going down the same road because she had a blackout and a fall and I had to call 111. Well I thought I had to - does there come a point where you just say “oh dear”, put them to bed and wait to see how they are the next day? Is that what I should have done? It seems to have set off a whole new chain of investigations that she doesn’t want.

Finally, I think some of her recent troubles - severe IBS - are stress related because we’re coming up to the second anniversary of Dad’s death and then also what would have been his birthday.

I do feel sorry for her, but it’s also really starting to weigh on me. I spend every weekend helping her, she’s on the phone an hour a day, and it’s relentless misery.

I have a couple of friends who said their parents were more like themselves about five years after widowhood, but at the moment I can’t see that happening, or it will simply be overtaken by poor health.

Gah. Thank you for listening.

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Re: Miserable mum

#340713

Postby AsleepInYorkshire » September 16th, 2020, 6:38 pm

My Mum is 79.

My Dad passed away when he was 51 in 1990. Mum was 49.

She wasn't herself for at least three or four years after that. 30 years later she always goes to his grave on his birthday and Christmas day to leave flowers and clean up his headstone.

AiY

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Re: Miserable mum

#340715

Postby dealtn » September 16th, 2020, 6:47 pm

Sunnypad wrote:Hello
Not sure if anyone is around on this board but just wanted to get this off my chest.



So sorry.

I don't have much of by way of wisdom to impart, only to say you aren't alone here, we are listening. If that is a crumb of comfort.

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Re: Miserable mum

#340716

Postby Sunnypad » September 16th, 2020, 7:18 pm

Thank you both

It does help to know someone’s listening.

I think one complication is I can never get her to answer a question clearly. It’s starting to feel like a tactic because then she can claim there was a misunderstanding of some kind, which feels like a way to blame me.

In the middle of the moaning, it’s very hard to figure out what she wants. She is irritated by straight questions. She’s very much “why use three words when you could use thirty.”

There’s an elephant in the room....she knows she is a burden, I know it, but no one can ever say it.

My late father said several times “sorry to be a burden” and I appreciated that. I suppose that was different because he had been diagnosed with cancer, so the end was in sight for both of us. With mum I think, suppose it’s all Misery Junction for years from here?

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Re: Miserable mum

#340727

Postby Sunnypad » September 16th, 2020, 7:36 pm

PS obviously I used to tell dad “don’t be silly, it’s not a burden”.!!

Ugh, family crap.

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Re: Miserable mum

#341069

Postby sg31 » September 17th, 2020, 8:09 pm

Hi Sunnypad, sorry to hear your tale of woe. I can assure you you are not alone, there are thousands in the same predicament you are. My sister and I went through similar torment for over 10 years. It wasn't as bad as your situation as there were 2 of us to share the load although we had first my mum and then a 3 month break before dad started. I'm a man which made dealing with mums needs a bit more testing (understatement) but that's just another thing to gloss over.

If you are trying to care for your mum full time on your own you have my sympathy and my deep respect, that is truly brave of anyone and above and beyond the call of duty. My sister and I did it twice and both were close to nervous breakdowns at the end.

If you ever need a shoulder to cry on, feel free. I'm sure I'm not the only one who will try to help.

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Re: Miserable mum

#341107

Postby Sunnypad » September 18th, 2020, 1:27 am

Thanks sg31

Sorry you went through this too. It’s hard beyond words really.

I should say I’m not caring for mum full time. I spend Friday night to Monday morning there and usually a weeknight, though working from home has made that harder as I’m not near.

After my rant, I felt better. Speaking to her tonight, I felt so sorry for her but there isn’t a lot more I can do. Off there again tomorrow and it does feel like it eats up all my emotional resources while not being terribly helpful in the sense that nothing seems to make her feel better, though of course I can do practical stuff.

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Re: Miserable mum

#341214

Postby sg31 » September 18th, 2020, 2:39 pm

There's really not much more you can do in the circumstances. Trying to provide full time care on your own is impossibly hard. You don't get a day off ever, you are lucky if you get a nights sleep without being disturbed. I would seriously caution you against going down that road. If you ever even think about it send me a P.M. and I will tell you what it is really like. I was 4 years recovering after dad died. I never grieved, I was emotionally exhausted, so was my sister, she had always been a daddies girl. At the time of his death she couldn't bear to be in the same room as him. His death was not particularly traumatic but it was very extended.

I don't think you can do much to cahange her situation or make her feel better, it is what it is, she is old and probably frightened but you can't actually change that other than provide reassurance. Do the practical stuff which is what you seem to be doing. House cleaning, shopping, that sort of thing.

I'd also advise discussing the situation with your mothers doctor. Make sure she is on the right medication and that all her ailments are covered. If there is any serious life threatening health problem make sure you know what to expect and make sure you get whatever help is available but be aware that if social services think they have a wiiling volunteer they will dump everything in your lap.

Best of luck and feel free to vent at any time.

Jeff.

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Re: Miserable mum

#341216

Postby JohnB » September 18th, 2020, 2:57 pm

I've lived with my Mum, now 91 since Dad died 8 years ago. It was difficult initially as she'd overdone it trying to help him, and made her chronic back problems much worse, but finding the appropriate pain relief made it much easier, and the grief abated over a couple of years. I made the mistake of trying to change things too much at first, to try and make her life easier, but she found the change disruptive. Once I slowed the pace of change, things were much easier, and while she has a long list of medical problems, and gets up-tight about them, she doesn't go on about them endlessly. I think she's just easier to live with than yours. Her elder sister seems much more demanding, so glad I've not got responsibility for her.

I always adopt the approach of letting her do the things she can, and I do the rest. But she accepts the division of responsibility, which yours doesn't. Have you got LPAs in place, or would she react badly to that?

Talking about the stresses of caring is important.

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Re: Miserable mum

#341236

Postby GrahamPlatt » September 18th, 2020, 4:28 pm

Could be that your mum’s not simply unhappy, but depressed. Difference being, it may be treatable.

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Re: Miserable mum

#341320

Postby sg31 » September 19th, 2020, 10:07 am

JohnB wrote:I've lived with my Mum, now 91 since Dad died 8 years ago. It was difficult initially as she'd overdone it trying to help him, and made her chronic back problems much worse, but finding the appropriate pain relief made it much easier, and the grief abated over a couple of years. I made the mistake of trying to change things too much at first, to try and make her life easier, but she found the change disruptive. Once I slowed the pace of change, things were much easier, and while she has a long list of medical problems, and gets up-tight about them, she doesn't go on about them endlessly. I think she's just easier to live with than yours. Her elder sister seems much more demanding, so glad I've not got responsibility for her.

I always adopt the approach of letting her do the things she can, and I do the rest. But she accepts the division of responsibility, which yours doesn't. Have you got LPAs in place, or would she react badly to that?

Talking about the stresses of caring is important.


Hi John, interesting post. It's great that you are coping so well with your situation. It does great credit to both your mum and you that you are dealing with the care issue without problems.

My responses are strongly influenced by the difficulties we had coping with both my parents late life care. Both my sister and I are used to coping with things and making the best of situations but the difficulty we had was compounded in both cases by dementia on top of all the other health problems.

Maybe you can give an alternative view of how problems might be dealt with and Sunnypad will be better supported by getting both sides of the issue covered.

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Re: Miserable mum

#341395

Postby Sunnypad » September 19th, 2020, 4:28 pm

JohnB - I really admire you for doing that but I’d lose my mind.

Jeff, did you live with your parents while caring? I think my mother knows that’s absolutely not an option. We’d have to get a paid carer in. She is not actually ill in the daily basis way.

She’s all up to date with medications etc. I have power of attorney. I think there’s partly an emotional pressure. One of her neighbours bluntly said to me last week “why don’t you live with your mother?” I’ve realised there’s no good answer for these people.

Graham - re depression - this has been suggested to her and she refuses to consider it. That said, she did have a phase of being better, but I think now the combination of dads birthday and the anniversary of his death coming up is not helping - nor is the threat of more lockdown.

I was there yesterday as I didn’t have work and actually came home this afternoon, I didn’t fancy a whole 3 days. I think I’ve got to put my foot down really, probably spending too much time trying to cheer someone up when they’re not inclined to do it.

I’m not sure I’d describe what I do as caring but my GP said that caring comes in many forms. I really admire the people who can do caring as I understand it, but I am not one of them!

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Re: Miserable mum

#341437

Postby torata » September 20th, 2020, 2:36 am

Hello Sunnypad

I can feel a lot of similarities with my own mum's when I read what you write, both in the way she is, and the way I feel and find myself reacting. She may be 10 years younger than your mum, but has chronic and painful health problems.

I don't have any answers, but I'm writing this as much to me as to you.

- With my own mum there is a massive amount of pride and resistance to the idea of getting old. She has to reconcile that with herself, I don't think there is anything that I can say or do that will help in this respect. Even trying to show some empathy along the lines of "yes, we're all getting older" can bring a bad reaction. As far as she's concerned, she's the only one getting older.

- My father did all the 'family admin' work, like finances, dealing house maintenance, etc. When he died almost 7 years ago, all her friends around her thought she'd eventually get over the grief and pick up the reins because she's a "fighter". But in fact it's almost the opposite and she's become more helpless than ever, expecting others, including neighbours, to do things that really are her responsibility. She resents having to be organised and take responsibility, not that she would ever admit it. My response here tends to be quite brutal ("Well you've chosen not to move to somewhere that's not falling down around your ears"), but it does work and focus her on what she needs to do next.

- I often fall into problem solving mode when talking to her. When she complains about not being able to fly to Ireland or Spain to see her siblings and have a holiday, I'll suggest that she invites herself to friends in the UK and spend a weekend there. But this will bring a bad reaction (she'll respond with "how can I drive that far in my condition"). It's not that my suggestion is bad, but I think there are 2 mistakes I'm making.
The first is that for her, maybe it's a bigger hurdle/risk to get in a car and drive for 2 hours than to get a taxi to the airport. But I'm not aware of that because I've made assumptions and not tested her feelings.
The second is that she's not actually looking for a solution, she just wants to moan and be felt sorry for / be a martyr.

Regarding the first, maybe I should adopt a 'coaching' type of approach, using just questions and summarizing what she says. If she knew I was using some kind of 'technique' on her, it would bring a bad reaction, so I'll have to train myself to get the right tone of voice so that my annoyance doesn't come through.

Regarding the second, maybe I should ask up front "Do you want me to just listen, or to treat this as a problem you want solved?". I'm not sure what reaction I'll get but it might be worth a try. Or I start from a position of just concerned listener, and only move to problem solving if it's clear that's what she wants. However, I'm going to have to train myself not to default into problem solving mode. As I live overseas, I can put a post-it note on my PC when I Skype her.

People have suggested depression to you and I suspect my mum may also be in that camp, but it's never going to be accepted if it comes from me. I'm not sure it would even be accepted if I asked one of her friends to suggest it - it's an admission of weakness, and will only confirm the fact that she's getting old.

You say that your mum "knows she's a burden". I don't know that that is true. I very much doubt that my mum thinks that, even though her neighbours may do. She thinks she is deserving of everyone running around doing things for her. And (subconsciously) she won't actually change anything for the better, if it lessens that situation. She won't buy a lighter vacuum because then her back wouldn't hurt; she won't allow us to put in LED bulbs into the chandeliers (sounds more grand than it is!) because then she wouldn't be able to get me or my sister's boyfriend to change them when we are there.
Possibly there's a more psychologically sophisticated approach that hits the right emotional button, because the logical one ("LEDs are much cheaper; you won't have such a gloomy hall") doesn't work. But I'm not sure what that could be - I remember my cousin persuaded our grandma not to have a cardboard coffin by saying "What happens if it's raining? It'll get all soggy and you'll fall out when we're carrying you into the crem".

As I said, this is actually me putting things down to sort them in my head, but I hope it's of some help to you.

torata

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Re: Miserable mum

#341449

Postby Clariman » September 20th, 2020, 8:23 am

Hi Sunnypad

I feel for you. Mrs C and I have been through the support and eventual loss of 3 elderly parents in the last 6 years (other was many years ago) and each was very different, but hopefully some experiences may be helpful.

I might have missed some info but how old is your mum and do you have any siblings who can take the strain sometimes? Does your mum have friends and neighbours who can help out - either practically or by offering company?

Your mum will still be grieving the loss of a lifetime partner and anniversaries are always difficult- and for you too. So don't try to make her be happy if she is not. However try to give her some hope that she will come through this and enjoy life again. No one has mentioned the impact of Covid restrictions but that must have had an impact surely. It is quite a depressing thing for all of us, especially the elderly who are more at risk and possibly more lonely.

Staying with your mum every weekend is a huge commitment especially if you are doing it for the long term. You need to be careful that you don't allow yourself to be sucked in to providing more and more (unless you want to). Does your mum need care or company? Think about who else might be needed to support that. If the former then contact care agencies. If the latter, are there befriending services or does she have friends. Is she a member of a local community e.g. a church or social club.

Doing it yourself can be immensely draining, particularly when your aupport is not graciously received.

Take care
Clariman

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Re: Miserable mum

#341473

Postby Sunnypad » September 20th, 2020, 10:30 am

Hi Clariman

I have a sister but she doesn’t really count for practical purposes.

I think I mentioned lockdown- yes, it’s a disaster. She does have friends and neighbours who can visit but some are still scared of covid and I suspect we’re about to see more restrictions on socialising which will mean I’m the only person who sees her.

I used to volunteer with my local church and all those services are closed because “virus”. Mum certainly wouldn’t let a stranger in the house anyway.

She does miss seeing friends but there’s nothing we can do about it if it’s made illegal to visit people again, or if friends in the same age group are scared. She is 82.

I’m sorry, I know you’re trying to think of solutions. I agree that I can’t do as much as I have been. The burden is just too heavy and more will be expected as time goes on so I have to pull back.

I’ve had people advise me to just tune out when she goes on about depressing stuff but I find that very difficult.

Unfortunately she never had any hobbies, she doesn’t want to start one....so it might be time I start to say “right mum, if you’re on a moan, I’ll get off the phone now” etc.

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Re: Miserable mum

#341511

Postby sg31 » September 20th, 2020, 2:20 pm

Sunnypad wrote:JohnB - I really admire you for doing that but I’d lose my mind.

Jeff, did you live with your parents while caring? I think my mother knows that’s absolutely not an option. We’d have to get a paid carer in. She is not actually ill in the daily basis way.

She’s all up to date with medications etc. I have power of attorney. I think there’s partly an emotional pressure. One of her neighbours bluntly said to me last week “why don’t you live with your mother?” I’ve realised there’s no good answer for these people.

Graham - re depression - this has been suggested to her and she refuses to consider it. That said, she did have a phase of being better, but I think now the combination of dads birthday and the anniversary of his death coming up is not helping - nor is the threat of more lockdown.

I was there yesterday as I didn’t have work and actually came home this afternoon, I didn’t fancy a whole 3 days. I think I’ve got to put my foot down really, probably spending too much time trying to cheer someone up when they’re not inclined to do it.

I’m not sure I’d describe what I do as caring but my GP said that caring comes in many forms. I really admire the people who can do caring as I understand it, but I am not one of them!


My sister and I did day and night shifts with Mum. we would just decide which shifts we would be on depending on circumstances. With Dad we did the same for a while but then my sister moved in with Dad, after that she generally did the nights* and I did the days. Any hospital/doctor/dental visits or the like were a 2 person job due to his mobility issues and dementia. My wife hardly saw me in daylight for about 5 years.

Looking back we should really have got dad in a nursing home but we didn't really want to go down that route. With Mum we had to because she became violent with the dementia and became a danger to herself and others. Eventually with Dad his condition became so bad and we were so exhausted we decided he would have to go in a nursing home. Christmas was approaching so we agreed to hang on until the new year to give him one last Christmas at home. He died a few days prior to Christmas. It was a relief he never had to go in a home after all our efforts. We would have felt guilty if he had died shortly after going into a nursing home.

*Night shifts weren't an easy option. Some nights sleep was not an option, sometimes you were only disturbed once or twice but you always had to have and ear open for the slightest sound of an issue.

It's great that you have a power of attorney that really helps.

Ignore people who tell you what you should do, they haven't had to do it or they would understand it's not a cut and dried issue. I'd be quite blunt and tell them to mind their own business.

You are caring for your mother, there's no one definition of caring. Could she survive without your help? You are caring.

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Re: Miserable mum

#341520

Postby Clariman » September 20th, 2020, 3:41 pm

Sunnypad wrote:Hi Clariman

I’m sorry, I know you’re trying to think of solutions. I agree that I can’t do as much as I have been. The burden is just too heavy and more will be expected as time goes on so I have to pull back.


Sorry if it sounded as if I was telling you what you should do. That wasn't my intention. I completely sympathise with your situation. I was just looking at other options to take the strain.

Others have mentioned a desire to keep their loved one out of a care home. Again I understand this but there are dome fabulous care homes out there and there may come a time when it is the right thing for everyone. Probably not now for your mum.

My own father and my MIL were in a fantastic care home - 3 years for my dad, sadly only 6 weeks for my MIL. My dad was very happy there.

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Re: Miserable mum

#341706

Postby Sunnypad » September 21st, 2020, 1:27 pm

I’m not going to think about care homes just yet. I did a bunch of research for dad but it will no doubt be out of date already.

Dreading tonight’s phone chat - it would have been his birthday - and then hopefully there will be a break in mood till we get to the anniversary of his death by end of Oct.

I was up late last night, couldn’t sleep thinking “why am I suddenly so frustrated with her”. I don’t know.

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Re: Miserable mum

#341762

Postby Clariman » September 21st, 2020, 5:10 pm

I hope the call goes OK. Take care.

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Re: Miserable mum

#341775

Postby sg31 » September 21st, 2020, 5:45 pm

Sunnypad wrote:I’m not going to think about care homes just yet. I did a bunch of research for dad but it will no doubt be out of date already.

Dreading tonight’s phone chat - it would have been his birthday - and then hopefully there will be a break in mood till we get to the anniversary of his death by end of Oct.

I was up late last night, couldn’t sleep thinking “why am I suddenly so frustrated with her”. I don’t know.


Good luck with the phone call.

Frustration on your part is understandable but don't forget your mother will also be feeling frustrated and probably bitter as well. Life hasn't turned out the way she hoped and her husband has left her before she was ready. You can't expect her to be rational.

Don't beat yourself up about your feelings. Forgive yourself and understand why you feel that way. It's perfectly normal.

When we were looking after dad, he was quite frail and prone to falls so he had a walker to get about the house. One day my sister was doing something upstairs and decided to go down to check up on dad, she found him precariouslty balanced on the top platform of a 3 step set of steps, no hold hold nothing, trying to change a light bulb in the kitchen. This is a man who can barely stand up on the floor. She went absolutely ballistic, quite understandable in the circumstances, if dad had fallen he would have been bed bound for months and probably in hospital for weeks. Dad really didn't understand the problem, he was 'trying to save us having to do it'.

You've got to admire his spirit and his determination but from our point of view it was the most stupid thing imaginable. Dad was right in one way and wrong in aothers, so were we. Different sides of the same issue.

Learning to understand your feelings is really important. You will be wracked by guilt otherwise. I'm sorry if these comments come across as a bit patronising. They really aren't meant that way.


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