Elderly mum living with us, minor irritations only (so far!)(7 Posts)
Hi, I am new to this forum and I was just wondering if anyone else out there has a parent living with them where the parent is fairly able-bodied but mentally losing it a bit? I feel guilty wanting to have a rant when my problems are quite trivial compared to some of the posts I have read. According to the GP there are no signs of dementia yet but Mother is very forgetful and I am weary of explaining the same things over and over again. She seems to remember what she wants to do but when it comes to taking other people's needs into consideration she's completely selfish and self-absorbed. I wake up every morning resolved to be more and patient but as the day wears on I get more and more irritated with her! She's like a child, needs have to be met straight away and no account given of my needs. Any advice on how to be more tolerant and "zen" would be much appreciated! Thanks
I don't know really. I think you do learn to let it wash over you a lot. But very very like having a 3yr old at times. Never had mine live with me but the repetition and immediacy is familiar. Distraction maybe like you would use with a 3yr old? Impose your agenda wrapped in " yes we need to go to sainsburys ...such fun" in the style of Miranda ?
Or " yes I know we don't see auntie Betty much now ( she's dead) shall we do the veg for tea?"
Lots of" yes after " as well re her needs I guess - again a threenager technique.
Also look at day centres / groups soon not later. Dad has dementia and mum got a lot of molar and sanity time from them both going to a voluntary oap social group thing. They had a routine and went on the mini bus 2-3x week. She did craft he did painting - or as time went on she did craft and he just sat in the art room - but he knew people and felt comfortable away from her. Then food, bingo and home. It kept them both going for several years .
Also think about respite for her. You will need her to have a holiday in care at some point. Find he own " care hotel" for that. you might not need it for years but put feelers out so you know what's available if say you are I'll. Dad went into respite several times and the fact we knew it existed etc made it easier.
You are a sainted person !
Thanks, Helenluvsrob. I don't feel very sainted most of the time, just "grumpiest daughter in the world". Yes, I have thought about groups and have suggested these but she says she is not ready for it (having recently moved to the area) but she used to do lots where she lived before and I don't understand why she won't join. You would think she'd miss people of her own age. I hear her on the phone telling former friends and relatives how she has no friends and doesn't go out much, but this is her choice! Respite care is taken care of when my sister can step in to help but I just wish it was more often, ie once a fortnight! I know what you mean about treating her like a child, I do a bit of this but in her more lucid moments she catches on to what I am doing! Like a teenager her idea of putting clothes away is to pile them all in the bottom of her wardrobe, and if I ask her to help around the house, she makes such a poor job I don't ask again, it's just pure laziness! Thanks for the support, much appreciated!
I have wondered about this too after having responsibility for the welfare of 2 elderly persons, my grandad and my dad. Both became less empathetic, more focused on their needs and less concerned about other people's needs. They both had/ have dementia to varying degrees . Part of the issue is the shrinking of the fronto temporal lobes which can happen with ageing anyway, and i think is accelrated in dementia. the following is copied and [pasted from Wikipedia:
"The frontal lobe plays a large role in voluntary movement. It houses the primary motor cortex which regulates activities like walking.
The function of the frontal lobe involves the ability to project future consequences resulting from current actions, the choice between good and bad actions (or better and best) (also known as conscience), the override and suppression of socially unacceptable responses, and the determination of similarities and differences between things or events.
The frontal lobe also plays an important part in retaining longer term memories which are not task-based. These are often memories associated with emotions derived from input from the brain's limbic system. The frontal lobe modifies those emotions to generally fit socially acceptable norms."
This shrinking makes people less able to cope with new situations, and to project themselves into someone else's situation/ emotions.
I believe therefore it is fair for you to sort things out to suit you as much as possible.Schedule time out for yourself, don't worry about being a little manipulative and making excuses for not doing stuff you don't want to do. Do try again and get her to go to a centre if you have the energy. Good luck.
Bob is right. Our mothers, or at least mine, get drawn into their own self-centered world, losing context and empathy.
It may be worth thinking about the relationship. It almost certainly needs to change with the change in your mother's understanding of the wider world. I found Eric Berne's Transactional Analysis, eg the Parent Adult Child model useful. For years my mother insisted on conducting our relationship as Parent Child, eg she could criticise me for anything and everything but I was never allowed to question her, even in a constructive Adult to Adult way. With age this had to change, which she hated and I found difficult. Now I am firm when something needs to be done. I don't make a meal of it, but as with a toddler if I need her to do something I tell her rather than ask her. And with a bit of manipulation thrown in where this helps avoid conflict.
In the early days I used to want to scream "what about me" when professionals used to ask my mother about her preferences, leaving me feeling as if my sole role was to make everything happen according to her, poorly thought out, wishes. You could not raise a toddler like that. You would be exhausted. Pick your battles. Firm statements on the things that need to happen, no unnecescary tasks/chores, and then make time for some good things, like outings (garden centre cafes are full of people like us!) where you can both be relaxed and act as adults. I dont think anyone ever wants to be parent to their parents, but we have to.
Thank you both so much for your input. I shall definitely check out Eric Berne. As you say no-one wants to be a parent to their parent, but this is what I am finding I am having to do increasingly, although my mother still thinks of me as the child. She says she hates being "bossed around" but then when it suits her she can play the helpless elderly person and asks me to do things I know full well she can do. I just end up feeling used and resentful. She just does what she wants to do and I am there to serve her wishes. She thinks being old gives her carte blanche to do what she wants to do and say disinhibited things and never mind the consequences. As you say, Needmoresleep, they are in their own self-centred world. When challenged about her selfish actions she just says "i wish I was dead" which I know is just to make me feel guilty - she doesn't really wish this because she has such a cushy life! How does one deal with this without being eaten up with resentment and guilt?
It is really difficult especially when you look around you at people who still have well, competent parents who are helping out with the childcare. i think the way forward is to mourn the parent you'd like to have, accept the challenges of the one you have and again, develop as many strategies as you can to make your life easier, without any guilt. You are doing a difficult job, sadly the one person who should be cooperating and thanking you isn't doing so most of the time. You should still feel good about yourself though. Maybe it's also about you parenting your own child- giving yourself the praise and the permission not to feel bad.
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