Hello, new here. Living with elderly mother life is tough

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Hello everyone

Joined this forum after lurking for sometime.

I cannot get any perspective on my situation. Really need to talk to some people.

My father died in Dec 2014. He and my Mum led a very closed off existence, no friends, no socialising, no-one ever went to the house. I think now, that my Dad had Aspergers, (he fits all the behavioural definitions really closely). He had a wasting disease and it was an awful time. My Mum has never been one for interracting with people, because Dad was such a closed down person.

Their house was old, and needed so much to be done, and she lived a 100 miles from me. All our lives, we'd always got on. I was her 'escape' from my Dad, she would come and stay with me and we'd have a lovely time. I assumed that living together, as she was getting on and infirm, at 80, was a good option. We sold the family home, I sold my own house and we bought a different house together. All of this was agreed between us as a great solution. I am 50, an only child. Never married.

It has been an utter disaster, terrible rows every month or so, Mum has not come to terms with her grief after over 2 years. Says she has sacrificed her life to be with me. I should also add, she can't walk very well and also seems to have no immune system so is ill a hell of lot (we get about 5 good days every month when she isn't ill). She is hateful to me, moody, tells me she has to give her life up to be with me (!!!!!) I cannot have anyone around to the house without a mood (either beforehand or afterward). Once people are there, she is fine, behaves perfectly normally, in fact everyone adores her. So, if I try to tell anyone what it's like, I'm the bad wicked daughter. I am told often how selfish I am, (despite doing the vast majority of the housework, cleaning, decorating, arranging payments, generally running our lives).

We are well off and I do go away for a night or sometimes 2, about once every 6 weeks. I usually get the cold shoulder treatment when I come home too. She doesn't want to mix with the rest of human race, I get given a hard time for it. She is such a misery. She does have a lot to put up with, but whenever I am happy and productive, she completely destroys the mood by being aggressive, hateful, difficult.

I am so sad, the mother I knew is lost - appearing to be replaced by an alien horrible person. She isn't the person I knew even 5 years ago. I've also recently had violence and physical threats, aiming a hairdryer at me, threatening to hit me. She won't consider anti-depressants and won't deal with anything or anyone, she wants to live like a hermit and is hateful to me for having any kind of a life of my own.

Sorry this is so long. I'm at my wits end, drink a lot (way too much) and cry a lot. I also now get into uncontrollable rages myself, although never get violent. I am actually afraid of my own mother. Life is awful.

Apologies again for starting off with a big long, woe is me post. xx
Oh my goodness, this isn't a sustainable situation at all! The big question is - how do you extricate yourself from it?

OK, let's take a look at the set up. I suspect you know, that when your mum used to come and stay with you while your dad was alive and you had 'lovely times' together she was well aware that YOU were doing her a favour, in that, you provided her 'escape route' to give her a break from her difficult husband (or if not actually difficult, at least pretty 'dull'.....???).

Also, you got on, maybe, because you only spent short periods of time with her, and those were 'holiday times' so to speak - you made a big effort for her, took her out and about, made sure she had a lovely time.

Now, however, being with you is 'everyday', and maybe you aren't paying her the attention she had when she was with you for short breaks, etc???

Just a thought!

I'm afraid that another thought that is coming to mind is this. If she really does seem to have undergone a profound personality change, ie, one that is not accounted for just by the difference in spending a fortnight at a time with you, rather than 'everyday', then there might be two other explanations.

One is that she's become mentally ill. Not sure what precisely, but I would say that if you go to your GP and describe her behaviour (make notes, and write them down as bullet points for 'quick scan intake' by the GP) (ie, more or less what you've said here, but 'quicker' - and more too, if you've held back here!), the GP might recognise a particular pattern that might indicate a lapse into a form of mental illness. That she is refusing anti-depressants might also be a clue? Often, people with mental illness vehemently refuse treatment - the problem isn't them, they think, it's 'others' (or, in your case, YOU.....)

Another reason for her profound change could, I'm afraid, be that dementia is setting in. It takes people in different ways, but mood swings and 'unreasonableness' are not that unusual. Again, the doctor might indicate if they see a dementia-pattern? Does she show any signs of cognitive deficit, eg, poor memory, confusion, inability to find her way/lose directional sense, etc etc? That might be a clue too.

I think, really, it may be a question of 'diagnosis by exclusion', because if there are no medical reasons for her profound change of attitude towards you then it really only leaves 'herself' - as in, she has ceased to be a very nice person at all.

Yes, she might well be grieving for her husband, but many women are widows (I am), but the last person they take their grief out on is their children! Why should she lash out at you when you are the only person left in her life (or at least, the closest).

Speaking of 'others' - you say she is sweetness and light with others, but what about any other relatives at all, anyone who might know her from 'long ago' or catch glimpses of the 'venom' she hurls at you? She may not fool everyone, you know, with her sweetness and light routine, so it could be worth asking.

(One more 'medical' - or at least, psychological' explanation is that she is developing - or perhaps always had, but was masked, some form of Personality Disorder - do look it up on the Internet - very enlightening....and horrible, too. People who lack any sense of responsibility for their own behaviour, and are manipulative and hostile to those that love them.....Not nice.)

OK, this is a long email, so I'll break and post a second!

Hang on in there!
Hi, second part.

I think my main thought is this - that whatever is causing your mother to behave so venomously - and now actually aggressively - towards you, this can't continue. You're already deeply upset and resorting to drink is always a sign that you are at the bottom of the well.....

So, I would say, the main question is, how to extricate yourself from this/

If you bought the current house jointly, then each party has the legal right to force a sale. If the other party doesn't want to sell, then they can object, but in the end a court will force them to agree - that's just the law. Hopefully it wouldn't come to that.

But, where could your mum go? The thing is, how capable is she still? 80s a very good age, and my MIL managed to live independently in her flat 400 miles from me until she was 89 (then dementia hit, alas). But that might be pushing it!

I'm wondering therefore whether some kind of sheltered accommodation might be the answer. (It doesn't matter if your mum objects, like I say, you can force a sale, and since she is being hateful to you anyway, then what difference does it make if she lays into you for selling up and forcing her out!)(could she buy you out, by the way - that's another possibility!)

Sheltered accommodation would provide her with the 'support' she will increasingly need as she ages, and will also provide company (whether she likes it or not) in the sense of other residents.

One thought might be an Abbyfield - I'll write more later, but the one my MIL moved into when she could no longer manage independently was really nice - the good thing was you RENTED (many supported living places you have to buy - and that's a financial commitment, plus they can be hard to sell on!), and only a months' notice. It was a superior 'bed sit' really, ensuite with a bed, a sofa, etc, and patio doors to the communal garden, really nice. Meals were provided, except breakfast (you made yoru own). There was a live in warden, which was very good. (She had to leave when her dementia worsened.)

Another possibility is for you to consider, maybe, dividing your current property in half, to create two separate living spaces, with a (lockable!) door between. This would give your mum, and you, completely your own 'mini-home' (completely separate living quarters). You could each come and go as you please, and 'escape' from each other.

You'd have to lay down rules like you don't do her housework (you can organise a cleaner for her if she complains!), or 'live' with her except, maybe, if she comes across to your side for Sunday lunch, or whatever.

It's bitterly ironic that she is saying SHE gave up her life for YOU, but this is clearly the fiction that pleases her, so no point arguing about it. Tell her that you don't want her to give up any more of her life for you, and so separate living will now be instituted.

I know she'll kick off, but really, she's being impossible already, and how much worse can it get? Once you have established your separate living - whether within the current property, or her in sheltered accommodation, and you downsized, or whatever - then you need hardly see each other. That should make her happier (obviously it won't - but that isn't your problem)

It's essential you take on board that her happiness is NOT YOUR RESPONSIB ILITY! She's an elderly woman, but she is still in charge of her own happiness. You are entitled to your own life. The mother you used to have is gone, and she is unlikely to come back. It's sad, but there it is.

Your priority is to come off the booze (!) and get your happiness back, and a better future for yourself.

(If your mum needs care, book carers - again, she'll kick off, and accuse you but THIS DOES NOT MATTER. Her anger is utterly irrelevant! It truly is.)

But, you know, I do suspect that dementia is setting in - it would explain a lot, sadly. In which case, in the end she'll need residential care at some point. No alternative, given how difficult she is already.....
Dear Jenny

Thank you for your wonderful replies. I am taking my time to think about it all, and you have given some very good suggestions to me.

I'm a bit frazzled tonight, but I will take my time to think it all over.

Thank you
Hi Linda

This sounds like such a difficult situation. Yes living with one's elderly mum defo is!

I wonder could a day centre help here? Give bit time 'home alone' for you?

My mum was v reluctant to go to day centre initially; in fact had be coaxed by manager (whom she knew) in person.

I may be (probably is sadly) that you're mum is too intransigent to even consider it or may not be one nearby but may be worth looking into?

Considering how thing are at home you MUST continue your respite breaks. This summer I have taken one every month or so and my mental health been better for it.

Please don't hesitate to pm if you want to.