Tense relationships

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Hi I am new here, not sure how to et the right support for my mum!?
Since the very sudden death of my dad my mums relationship with her mum has been very tense. My nan assumed she would live with mum and has stifled her, she relies on mum for things and phones her constantly. Mum feels anxious and guilty when she's not with her. My nan has friends and is physically well but can be challenging. They argue all the time now and mum admits that she can't cope mentally. How do I get her support ? Thanks
Hi Rebecca, welcome to the forum.

I was widowed suddenly when I was 54, I'm now 65. It's a hugely difficult time, and mum needs to be allowed to find a new life for herself. If she is over 50, there is an organisation called "Way Up" which I found very helpful. They have a forum, meetings, and even holidays.
My mum was sad for me of course when my OH died, but I think she too thought it meant I could then do more for her, I even had hints of a "live in daughter"! Much as I loved my mum, I would have moved out again before I'd even unpacked, we are so,so different.
The phone issue is easy to solve. Put the answerphone on permanently. Of course nan won't like it, will moan, but it means mum listens to the messages when it suits her, not nan.
The only power nan has over mum, is the power mum lets her have.
This is what it all boils down to. It took counselling at the age of 60 to make me realise I still behaved like a "good little girl" where mum was concerned. I did my very best to do whatever mum wanted, and the more I did, the more she wanted. I never said "No" to mum. Counselling helped me change. Most of all it helped me to manage the list of jobs, choosing the one I wanted to do and doing it at my own pace. If mum gave me another, I'd say "you asked me to do this one, let me finish it and then we can talk about it". Because really the job didn't matter, it was my time she wanted.
Does mum use a computer or tablet. I'm sure she would find it really helpful to read of all the other people here in similar situations. Elderly people get very stuck in their ways and very self focussed, it's part of growing old. They find change very difficult. But mum IS young enough to change how she feels about nan, and how she reacts to all the phone calls etc.
Can I ask how old nan and mum and you are? Has mum been on holiday since dad died? I can recommend a really wonderful holiday in Crete where mum will be absolutely safe, and have a fantastic time, with other single travellers. I married at 19 so had never had a single adult life, this hotel was where I learned to live and be happy again.
How lucky your Mum is to have you. As BB says would your Mum have a look at the forum? Or perhaps you could print off some of the relevant ones? There are plenty of threads on here about people dealing with elderly parents increasing demands on their time. I've been there myself. My Mum isn't difficult as such, just expects that my sister and I will do everything. Which got to be unmanageable with both her and my Dad unwell. With help from the forum I've found a much happier balance in my life. I hope your Mum can too. We are also my Mum and Dad's only entertainment and social life. The revelation for me is that I can't make my Mum and Dad happy and that I am not responsible for their happiness. Once the penny had dropped with that one I stopped feeling guilty.
It's really important that mum separates nan's NEEDS from WANTS.
For example, shopping.
Does nan need food? Yes. Can nan get her own? No.
Does that mean mum has to do her shopping every day? No!!!
Nan can have her shopping done weekly, via an online supplier. Tesco were great when I couldn't walk.
If she needs help with personal care, that can be arranged by social services, doesn't have to be done by mum.
It would also mean that nan would be eligible for Attendance Allowance, an extra payment from DWP so nan could pay for her care.
The other thing that my mum did that really annoyed me, was to refuse to make her garden easy to look after, but expected me to do all sorts of jobs in the garden, although I had a son with learning difficulties, a business to run and was waiting for 2 knee replacements!!!
I'd done away with all the borders in my own half acre garden, so why shouldn't she do the same with hers. It was wrong to expect me to do work in her garden when I couldn't do it in my own.
In the end she reluctantly agreed to have weed suppressant fabric right over the veg. patch, and had a gardener to do the rest - mum knew he was pretty useless, but kept using him. Her choice, her money, not mine.
I would only prune the roses, because I'd always loved them, always picked them for mum, right back to when my birthdays were single numbers, and knew how to prune them. That was what I chose to do.
I hope this helps.
Why not sit down with your mum, and talk her through what is most difficult to do for her mum, and what is least difficult, and put that in some kind of ranking order?

As others are saying, a lot of the time folk like your nan 'disguise' what they really want. If they, say, 'really' want 'companionship' - ie, time spent with them - but don't say so, they may 'disguise' that as 'tasks' - eg, they say 'I need you to come and clean the house'....but what they REALLY mean is 'I want to see you and you to be with me',

Worse, again as others are saying, they can even 'invent' things that are quite unnecessary (or certainly not necessary to do every day), simply as an 'excuse' to get you to go over there.....

The shopping issue is an ideal case in point. We've had forum members saying their carees (the person they look after) are saying 'I need you to go shopping EVERY DAY for me'....and only want the person to buy small amounts....simply and solely so they can then 'run out' and that means the carer having to go shopping 'yet again'!!!

Also, remember that for the very elderly, their lives, sorry to say this but it's true, can be very 'boring'.

In a way, this is relative. My son in his twenties thinks my middle-aged lifestyle is seriously boring! Well, he would, wouldn't he!

But when you are a very old lady, and all you do all day is get up (very slowly), potter about (very slowly), watch day time TV (all day), then make your own tea (very slowly) and watch evening TV and then go to bed (very slowly), well ,that IS dull. So you want someone else (family!) to come and 'entertain you'.

It's important, I think, not only to rank the 'difficult' vs 'easier' tasks, but also to sort out what are 'necesasry' and what are just 'excuses or disguises or inventions'.

The bottom line is, if your mum DOES have to spend more time with your nan than she wants to, it's better that it is spent in what I call 'companion caring' - ie, being with her socially - rather than doing 'drudge stuff' like shoppoing or cleaning.

That said, of course, if 'companionship' is NOT on the cards anyway, because of stormy relationships (though what MAKES them stormy? Is it because Nan wants her daughter to move in and look after her now she 'hasn't got anything else to do with her life'??????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), then it could be that your mum would find it EASIER to spend the time she has to spend with her mum doing things like cleaning the bathroom or whatever, rather than sitting with her mum and being moaned at an criticised!

How do YOU get on with your Nan? Would she be open to a 'reasonable request' from you, or is she 'so difficult' that that's impossible.

Finally, sad though it is, the very elderly can get very 'selfish'. They don't see it that way, and it's partly because old age has made heir lives so boring and restricted, but they only see things from their own point of view.

If your nan had to look after her own mother, she may think it 'normal' for her daughter to look after HER......

Your mum needs her own life, and time to mourn. Time to adapt to widowhood. You are right to be concerned about her, and it's good that you are - she must be very glad you are there for her. It's natural you are more protective of your mum, than your nan..
I take it your mum is still living in the home she shared with your dad, and your nan is in her own accommodation? If so, KEEP IT THAT WAY!

A key task you'll need to do with your mum is sort out your nan's finances. As in, if she owns her own home, if she has savings over £23,500, etc, then she will (probably) have to pay for any help she receives, eg, having a care-worker go in. I don't think even so that the council would pay for someone to come in and, say, clean her house.

How has your nan been coping up to when your father died? Has she got 'worse' since then? If not, then really there is no actual reason for your mum to do any more for your nan than she was doing before she lost her husband. Being widowed doesn't change anything from the point of view of what your nan needs!

It does sound as if your nan is almost saying 'Well, now you haven't got a husband to look after, you can come and look after ME instead'.

You say things are very 'tense' between your nan and mum. Is this 'just' because your nan wants your mum to move in with her and look after her, or have they always been tense all their lives? I'm suspecting the latter!
Firstly thank you all your responses have been just what I had hoped for. Sally I am hoping mum will look at the forum I keep telling her to but she hasn't yet. But just looking at your responses I can show her just how many people feel the same. She cries a lot as she snaps at nan (understandably) nan will constantly say how she s on her own but then won't go anywhere when invited. It's as though she wants to make mum guilty. She phones mum twenty times a day and if she s out well then there is trouble! She makes very mean remarks if mum tries to go out socially or when mum even painted her nails for the first time ! Bowling bun nan definitely assumed mum would be a live in daughter also and like you say the more she does the more she wants. She has become self focussed but I do understand as she is 84 mum is sympathetic too. Mum is 60 now nan is so physically well no medication walks well unaided she is like a 60 year old !!! But she will not even go the shop for herself. Like you say she needs to learn to react differently as nan s behaviour won't change. Don't misunderstand me tho I love my nan and try to diffuse the situation where possible! But I can see why my mum gets anxious !
Jenny Lucas nan was so different before dad died and they had the best relationship! It's as though everything changed at that point and mum cries because she knows if anything happened to nan she would feel bad about the arguing. I need a way to save the relationship so that when /if the worst does happen mum won't be riddled with guilt. I also feel sorry for nan because she knows mum gets cross with her and I don't want her to live like that
Also Jenny Lucas what you say about " now your husband has gone you can come live with me" that is 100% spot on so the mean remarks about mum trying to rebuild her life are because of that. You all seem to understand the situation from one small paragraph! :D
Rebecca, that's the advantage of the forum, we've "been there..done that..!

You didn't say when mum last went away on holiday? It would help her hugely to have a couple of weeks of serenity, away from everything, no phone calls from anyone, to get her head round everything that has happened in recent years, and work out what she would like to do next.
It might also give nan time for some reflection too, so she had to do things for herself not wait until someone else did it for her. She's so lucky to be relatively fit and well for her age. Use it or lose it.
I bought a book called "Starting Again" by Sarah Litvinoff after I was widowed. It was written with divorcees in mind, but there is so much relevant to widows too, especially working out what you want to do for the rest of your life.
I was really keen to do the "right" thing, but what exactly was that?! The book really helped me, it's usually available cheaply on ebay.