New to caring and very unhappy.

Tell us a bit about yourself here.
Just started caring for my 90 year old mother. I retired 3 years ago and was looking forward to R&R to some extent. I was living 300 miles away but relocated so as to be able to help her. Mother is taking up most of my time and thoughts. I was prepared for, and can handle, the workload, the day to day stuff like cleaning, cooking, washing, entertaining etc. What I have difficulty with is the negative/nasty attitude combined with downright awkwardness of my Mum. I have to sometimes just walk away and shut the door between us so as to prevent another argument - the after effects can stay with me all day, sometimes longer. Is this common?
Yes, it's very common. It shouldn't be - because those we give up so much for should be all appreciation and gratitude to us. But so often they aren't.

In my (personal) book, the ONLY 'excuse' for being unappreciative, rude, critical, awkward, etc is if they have dementia when, to be fair, it isn't really 'their fault' (I guess MH would count as well....up to a point.)

But otherwise no, they have no right to be like that with their carers.

That said, if they are unwell, incapacitated, fearful of old age and death, then I think some understand and 'slack' is appropriate, but again, only up to a point. After all, their extreme old age and incapacity is not the fault of the person looking after them!

Again, speaking personally, I think a great deal depends on what the relationship was like before they needed care. Did you have a good relationship with your mother, or were there always tensions and stresses?

Although, sadly, it's not uncommon for the 'very old' (one counts as 'very old' over 85) to become 'nastier' in old age, even if they were lovely beforehand, the opposite doesn't tend to happen. 'Nasty people' just stay nasty in old age (Not ALWAYS true, thankfully!)

You say you 'close the door' - does that mean you live with your mother, or is it when you are with her, but you have your own place?

Do you think your mother is developing dementia? It can take a while to 'show'. My MIL was 89 before I finally realised that her 'increased frailty' was actually dementia.
Hi Robert
Oh yes - very common indeed.
I would strongly advise you to get some support if you have not already done so- ask Social Services for a Needs assessment for mum and a separate Carers Assessment for yourself. Depending on whether mum would be self funding or not , she might be entitled to some care or domestic help to ease your load. If not you could discuss her needs and perhaps consider employing a care agency for a few hours a week.
Mum probably won't like it or think she needs it but it is you that must decide not mum by the time she is in her 90s (and being so demanding of you)
Thanks for the replies which have helped enormously - I thought that I must have been at fault somewhere. Social Services will be getting a call from me. Mum has 'granny flat' which is connected to my house which is actually on a farm in a rural location. She has a beautiful view to name but one benefit when compared to her previous residence which was a flat with no view other than other flats and no help to speak of from her neighbours.
It would appear she regrets moving but won't say so or discuss how I can improve things.
Is she lonely? I know it can sound odd to those who love solitude and the deep countryside, but 'townies' LIKE being in the middle of things. My MIL really enjoyed looking out of her flat window at the passing streetlife. It was like a TV to her! She enjoyed going to the shops and seeing other people all the time.

Staring at empty fields was not high on her list of enjoyable activities!

Just a thought!
Hello, and welcome to the forum.
First of all, I'd like to commend you for moving so you can look after mum, however, you may have fallen into a classic trap of both of you expecting you to do everything for her, and both getting frustrated. I'm sure that with some adjustment, life could be a lot happier for both of you. Top priority must be getting someone else involved, starting with a Needs Assessment from Social Services, and a Carers Assessment for you. As a newcomer to the area, your assessment will give you an opportunity to find out what is in your new area. Do make sure you are there when mum is assessed, so she doesn't say things like "I don't need that, my son..." or "I can still do all my cleaning, touch my toes and run a marathon" all of wwhich she might have done years ago, but can't any longer. Pride often gets in the way of the truth.
I live in my own "Granny Flat" (converted garage) because for a few years after a car accident, I could only get upstairs with crutches or crawling. I designed the conversion, and decided that rather than have a view over my large garden, I wanted to be able to see the road, and watch the world go by. So I suspect mum may well be a bit bored with only you to talk to, and I suspect that until now, for years you hadn't lived together?
Add in the fact that you are male, and she is female, there is possibly not too much normal conversation between you. My eldest son and I sort of live together, but we don't really talk much between us about my interests. I'm fairly knowledgeable on Land Rovers and steam engines though!
Is mum claiming Attendance Allowance? Does she have over £23,000 in savings? How much does she contribute every week for her accommodation and the care your give?!
I'd suggest a "cunning plan". You employ a "domestic" through a care agency officially to do the kitchen/bathroom/vacuuming in your house, and mum's. Then she will have someone else to talk to, and give her a hand if necessary. There are usually a variety of activities in the area for elderly people, which they enjoy once they get there, even if they still see themselves as being much younger than the "old people" there!
How often does mum go "shopping". Retail therapy is a good way of having a day out for her, which someone else could provide.
Hello Robert, I am new to this forum too. Your words struck such a chord. You matter. I don't care about your mother, it's you who matters. You have lots of life ahead of you and yet it is being drained away by the anguish of processing mother's vile behaviour. There appears to be plenty of excellent advice on these boards and much of it very practical and hands-on. Here is a little song from a reluctant carer in the same boat. Mothers push our "hot" buttons and cause devastation to our peace of mind. I read somewhere that we should say softly to ourselves "no buttons for you, mother". It sounds stupid but I've found that it can work. I say it when my mother is particularly demanding and manipulative. "No buttons today". Then give yourself a treat.
FTL, that is a really good idea, thanks for sharing.
Hello Robert. I am new too. There are two reasons your post resonated with me.

1. This is YOUR time too, and you shouldn't sacrifice it to an all encompassing caring role. I believe we only get one life and this is yours. I know with feelings of guilt etc. this is easy for me to say... but I am in a situation with my parents where I am still only in my 40s and I am guessing that you are a little older and have worked hard to be able to enjoy your retirement. And you should!

2. The time spent "thinking about them" when you are apart. This is probably the hardest thing and I find this difficult to switch off from. No easy answers for you here I am afraid as I struggle with this too.

We need distractions! That's the best advice I can give and it's what I am trying to do.

Best of luck. xx
Freetoleave wrote:Hello Robert, I am new to this forum too. Your words struck such a chord. You matter. I don't care about your mother, it's you who matters. You have lots of life ahead of you and yet it is being drained away by the anguish of processing mother's vile behaviour. There appears to be plenty of excellent advice on these boards and much of it very practical and hands-on. Here is a little song from a reluctant carer in the same boat. Mothers push our "hot" buttons and cause devastation to our peace of mind. I read somewhere that we should say softly to ourselves "no buttons for you, mother". It sounds stupid but I've found that it can work. I say it when my mother is particularly demanding and manipulative. "No buttons today". Then give yourself a treat.
I love this.

But I am not sure I am at the point I can do it yet!