Dificult Mum

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HI,
I am new to this forum.I have been thinking about joining a forum like this for some time.I care for my mum who is 94 and lives on her own.She is independent up to a point,she no longer goes out and hasn’t done so for a few months .My dad died 7 years ago and ever since I have been looking after her.She has always been difficult and we did not have a close relationship but since my dad died her behavior has become unbearable,I knew it would be hard but I never thought it would be this bad.I visit several times a week do all her shopping and mange her finances.Visits now consist of her moaning non stop for the entire time I am there and it is beginning to affect me to the extent that I dread visiting.My Brother does not live near us but visits for a weekend every couple of months which gives me a weekend off.I do not want to have whatever time she has left to be remembered like thiis but do not see the situation changing only getting worse.I have a close friend who listens to me when I need to unload but it’s not fair on her to have to listened to me complaining all the time.My husband says to just ignore mum when she starts moaning but that’s not so easy. It helps to know that there are others who are going through the same thing.Thanks for listening
Hi Barbara, welcome to the forum.

At 94, mum is well into the "very elderly" bracket (85+) and one of the traits of this group is to no longer realise how much everyone else is doing for them, they are totally "self focussed".
What exactly does she moan about? Forget about trying to "make her happy" because you never will. Incredibly sad, but true.
How is her physical health? Is she showing any signs of dementia? Is the house clean and tidy?
Hi Barbara . Sorry to h hear you're having a difficult time. Does your mum have Carers, District nurses, Physio's visit etc? I find that it helps my mum when other people come round. It gives her someone else to talk to. Are you able to take her out at all?
Thanks for taking the time to reply it makes a huge difference to know that there are other people going through the same thing I wish I had done this sooner My son got her a wheel chair so we could get her out of the flat but she refuses to use it.She has a cleaner and a lady comes every week to do her hair. She also has an alarm on her wrist which she can press if she needs help.My main worry is the stairs she has to climb to get to her bedroom and toilet she no longer can get in and out of the bath so has to wash sitting at the sink;I have offered to get a stairlift installed but she is refusing to have one.Everything I suggest she turns down and yet moans she cannot cope .I even offered to contact the local Befrienders who would go and visit but she doesn’t want that either.I work 4 days a week even though I can retire tomorrow if I want to this is my saving grace as it helps take my mind off the stress of dealing with mum.What happens if one day she cannot get up the stirs to the toilet or go to bed I have told her she would have to bring her bed downstairs and have a commode but she said problemsno way would she do that so you can see what I am up against; What or who would I need to contact to help,sort that out and do you have the same problems with your mum?
It sounds like persuasion is never going to work. My view is that adaptations you speak about are desperately required. Get in touch with social work/OT and see if they will help with them, then get them in. Realistically what can you're mum do?! :-???
Hi Barbara,
She maybe scared of what accepting these adaptions means ie that she is declining. I'm sure once she has them she will wish she'd had them sooner. Most people resist change initially but no one minds good changes.

I reckon your choices are:
Have "the" talk: "Now Mum, you are beginning to struggle at home and I can't stand the thought of finding you fallen at the foot of the stairs etc, so we need to start planning your move to live somewhere more suitable." Show her some leaflets etc. She'll get upset etc You then offer the option of aids and adaptions as the only other alternative.

Or you go ahead and arrange an OT to visit and assess her mobility, make sure you are there to let her in and then stay for the appointment and let the OT say what is needed and make necessary arrangements.

These things take time to arrange and organise so the sooner you start the better.

Psyching yourself up is probably the worst part!

Melly1

PS just read your first post. I'd arrange the befriender anyway. As your mum no longer goes out, nor meets anybody, she has nothing to talk about and no one else to talk to. Hence, you end up hearing all of it and it's all about her. When I talk to my mum, she does talk about her own life and hassles but also about other people she knows, which shifts the focus a bit.
Try a different tactic. Keep turning it back to mum.

"It's your choice mum. If you want to end up in a care home, carry on as you are."
"If you refuse to get things to help you, don't moan to me about it"
"If you want to end up in your own mess because you can't get to the bathroom, you are going the right way about it!"

The bath issue is so simple. My mum was terribly disabled, but she had an Archimedes bath seat, that went up and down at the push of a button. It just goes in an existing bath, provided by the Occupational Therapy department.

Are you making yourself too available? When did you last go on holiday? You have your own life to lead, don't put mum before everything else.

I know this makes me sound like a hard faced bitch, I loved my mum, and I know she loved me. We were both disabled for some years, both had major surgery around Christmas 2005. She just never considered how much my surgery was affecting me, she only saw the effect of her op on herself. The NHS and Social Services both tried to bully me to look after her, to do her shopping when I couldn't even carry my own. My husband got so fed up with the way I was being treated that we went to Australia, whee we used to live, for five weeks "they won't be able to reach you there"!

The only person that will stand up for you is you. While you do things for mum, she can refuse other people. Sad, but true.
I think Melly is spot on. What your mum is really moaning about is that she is 94 not 24 (or even 84!). She is old, and frail and indeed declining. Really, the most she can 'hope' for now is a few more years and a swift painless death...

I know that sounds grim, but so it is, alas. Maybe we'll all feel that way if we get to that stage. Life is 'over'....and why think anything cheery at all?

In a way, it's the next stage equivalent of us turning, say 40, and realising that 'our youth is over' and we'll 'never be young and beautiful again' (!!!!)I (and, worse, in ten years time we'll be fat and wrinkly and no bloke will ever fancy us again!)(unless they are fat and wrinkly too, and we won't be fancying THEM!!!!)

I do think you have to give up on any hope that she will STOP moaning. She won't. You can't MAKE her happy. In a way, you want HER to be happy not just for HER sake, but for YOURS. It would make YOUR life easier if SHE weren't such a moaning minie the whole time!

I'm not saying that to criticise you, far from it, because you have a definite right not to be 'moaned at', when YOU are not the cause of ANY of her problems (old age is the cause, sigh, and being widowed), and indeed, are doing your level best to minimise the difficulties of her life - ie, if you didn't exist, her life would be even harder, with no shopping, visiting (someone to moan to!) etc etc.

In that sense, I think your husband is right. Just offer platitudes along the lines of 'Poor Mum, yes, it's all dreadful for you' and leave it at that. Don't get frustrated by her moanyness.

The sad truth is that she is realising that she has 'outlived her ability to be happy, or to have anything to be happy about'.

Of course that isn't true, objectively speaking. She isn't in a wheelchair (ie, forced to be!), isn't in pain, isn't blind or deaf, is still in her own home, has a loving and attentive daughter, has a son who is thriving, possibly grandchildren too, isn't living in a hovel, etc etc etc. ie, for someone who is in her nineties she's doing pretty well! The trouble is, she IS in her nineties, and she ISN'T 24 any more....and that, as I say, is the root of her discontent.
Hi Barbara, My mum is 87 years and my dad is 90. My mum lives in a bungalow so stairs are not a problem. My mum has osteoarthritis in her hip but is able to walk around the supermarket with a trolley to do her shopping. My mum gets upset and annoyed with my dad because he is incontinent and has memory issues . I help every day and we are coping for now.
I can understand how your mum feels, it sounds like she doesn't like change. I am a bit like that myself! You could try a more softly softly approach - I can't promise it will work but it's worth a try. Start with the wheelchair. Bring the wheelchair indoors where your mum can see it (if there's not much room take something out). Allow her time just to look at it. But don't put any pressure on her to use it. You could sit on it to show her that you're comfortable on it. Put her blanket on it or something that is familiar to her. Then leave it there and talk about something else. Then you could remind her of the lovely places you could take her if she would sit in the wheelchair. The important thing is to take the pressure off and to let her feel as though she has some say about decisions. If this approach works then you can move on to the next problem. Do everything in stages, little by little.
Also, does your mum enjoy listening to music? I often put Classic fm on for my Dad who loves classical music. You can get most of the radio channels on the tv now. Classic fm is 731 or if she prefers to listen to modern music then there are lots of others to choose from. I know this won't solve the problems but at least you can use music as a distraction.