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I don't want to visit anymore...but I will of course

(17 Posts)
WWYD2016 Mon 16-May-16 13:04:45

Hi. I'm feeling low this morning, I haven't visited my mother for nearly 3 weeks, I feel so bad about it but worse for not wanting to actually go.
Mom suffers osteoarthritis and her mobility is so poor she had to move into a residential care home. She lived with my brother for 3 years after resentfully (understandably) giving up the family home.
My mother was a hard-working and fiercely proud (still is) woman, she was an awesome mom.
She is so angry at losing her independence, I fear she is depressed as does her GP but she will not consider treatment.
She made my brother’s life really hard for him, she was ungrateful and horrid, he aged over-night had a crisis himself and the stress nearly ended his marriage.
A care home had to be the next step.
Her pride and high standards makes living in a care home hard, think Hyacinth Bucket.
I have two brothers that live in the same town as her, one bro hasn't visited her for 15 months, excuses border comical. Bro who used to care for her has been banished due to a separate falling out, he's not fighting his banishment mind.
I have nephews whom visit her because she was a wonderful grandmother, they're so good and take her gripes and unreasonable behaviour in good humour.
Then there is me, I live 30 miles away, married, 3 primary school age children and a FT job.
When I visit I never know what I'm going to get, sometimes she's nice, sometimes she bitches like crazy, sometimes she cries and cries, sometimes she's nasty, sometimes she makes me perform pointless errands for hours. She screams at residents who dare to sit in 'her chair'.
She's always nice to my children and generous but her meltdowns confuse them and leave them 'feeling sorry' for her.
When she's not being nice or cries I find it emotionally and mentally draining.
I bought her an elderly friendly mobile phone as she misses being able to to speak to me and her grandchildren when she wants to.
I called her this weekend and she answered the phone with a strong bright voice, the moment she heard my voice she crumbled and cried, out came a tirade of complaints and anger.
I have often witnessed her countenance and voice change upon seeing me from chatty and vibrant to tearful and in pain. I have told her I know she does this and it is not fair but she continues.
I could've visited her this weekend...I didn't and the telephone conversation hasn't helped her prospect of seeing me this weekend either.
Any encouraging words and strategies would be greatly appreciated.

ChopsticksandChilliCrab Tue 17-May-16 03:31:14

What a horrible situation. The strong and capable mother you had has turned into one who behaves terribly towards you. Emotionally blackmailing you while she can turn on the charm and good humour for others.

Is there anyone she would listen to who could point out what she is doing and how it is destroying her relationship with you?

If not then you have to protect yourself more, you can't continue to give and be treated like a punchball. Pop in once a week or fortnight or whatever suits you and don't stay long. If things need doing ask for a list and discuss with the staff what really needs doing and which things you will do. Be busy and brisk, don't take any notice of nastiness. Always have an urgent appointment you are on the way to.

Kwirrell Tue 17-May-16 06:37:13

I can't offer any advice, only sympathy. When I was at my mum's house she would use the weak and pathetic voice. However if the phone rang while I was there a different woman would suddenly take over, reverting to poor me as soon as the phone call ended.

Many people judge us for not visiting "as often as we should" but none judge us as harshly as we do ourselves. The truth is that your first loyalty is to your children, and we just have to steel ourselves to limit the visits which cause us such emotional havoc.

Sorry you are having to go through this.

WWYD2016 Tue 17-May-16 09:04:45

Thank you for taking the time to respond, I appreciate it.
When her behavior is challenged, its all about her;
You don't know my suffering
You don't feel my pain
You don't know what it is like in here
You don't know how I feel
etc., etc.
Once, about two years ago I couldn't take anymore of her bitching against family and staff, I told her I don't associate with people that talk like this and I cannot sit her and listen to it I will come back when you have changed your attitude.
I stayed away approximately 5 weeks.
When I finally visited her she was like a kitten that had been stomped on, she thought I was never coming back, she thought I'd told her I was never coming back and the interim had had a huge meltdown and thrown away all of her (our) photos, old photos, wedding pictures, her children, her siblings, her grandchildren, the lot (she doesn't know I have copies of them) and it was all my fault shock.
I reminded her she is a grown woman and if it were her hands that grasped the photo's and flung them out then it could only possibly be her fault further more I never used the words, 'I'm not coming back' then she argued that I had.
Believe it or not, the bitching did pretty much stop grin.
I have Friday off so I am intending to visit during the school hours but it already feels like a countdown to doom sad.

whataboutbob Tue 17-May-16 10:20:25

No matter how strong a person she might have been., and how reduced her circumstances are now, she does not have the right to make everyone around her feel horrid. Years ago I worked in palliative care and the consultant there was very clear that the emotional blackmail the terminally ill sometimes use on those around them was not OK, and that if people persisted with it,
it was justifiable for their relatives/ friends to distance themselves at least emotionally. I thought it was harsh (and brave) of him to say so . It's interesting that your nephews are not unduly upset by her nastiness, probably because they have the least invested in the relationship and can see her behaviour for what it is. I am lucky in that my Dad (who has AD and is in a home) seems to have mellowed lately and was never one for emotional blackmail anyway (full frontal aggression was more his thing). I very much agree with the posters above who have advised setting boundaries and not taking her digs/ guilt trips wherever possible

Isoldeonetwo Tue 17-May-16 22:48:23

I think you are me OP- I could have written your post . My mother behaves the same way and used the very same expressions . Except my mother emotionally has always put me through the wringer although I was well cared for , clothed , housed and educated. In lots of ways she was very kind but a lot was misguided through anxiety and what I recognise as alcohol dependency as she became depressed in her 50s and I was just starting out in life in my teens .

I'm not sure what else to say but you are not alone xxx

WWYD2016 Mon 23-May-16 11:01:35

Visiting mom on Friday has left me feeling exasperated, angry, frustrated, bad, guilty, horrible and mean.
I rang the manager of her care home to give her the heads up there were things mom was unhappy about and could the 3 of us meet the next day.
I arrived at 9.45am.
Mom had a string of issues she was unhappy about and cried all the way through the meeting, too many to list here, the manager was very empathetic and promised change and the strategies she would implement to affect this, one suggestion was to move mom to a quieter lounge, she could trial it for a day or two and see how she feels.
Mom has many personal items in her ‘corner’ of the lounge so we moved them all to ensure she was comfortable.
At lunchtime I told mom that’d I’d leaving in an hour to negotiate the motorway to collect the kids from school in time. ‘I didn’t know you weren’t staying all day?’ I remind her its Friday and though I’m not at work its still a school day so the kids will need collecting. ‘I’ll pay for them to go in the after school club’, she offers, I tell her I can’t, DS1 Y8 has been on a 5 day residential and though he’d normally get the bus I’d be collecting him today too because he has luggage and will be tired and dirty.
Cue the start of a meltdown.
She doesn’t like this new lounge, it’s too quiet and wants to be moved back after the lunchtime session.
Half an hour later ‘I’m wet, I want you to take me to my room and change me’ you know I would mom I just can’t today, I’m still eating and it will take me more than 30 minutes to get you to your room, changed and back again, I’m really sorry.
Cue hand waving just like a toddler on the brink.
It’s time to say my goodbyes and she starts again, ‘I thought you’d be here all day, I hate it when you do this to me, I’ve told you before I don’t like it when you come and don't stay, why can’t you leave the kids’, I embrace and kiss her, she does not reciprocate just continues her tirade.
As I walk away I mutter under my breath ‘just get lost will you’ and instantly feel ashamed and drove back to my home town feeling like utter shit.
I usually call to say I have arrived safely but did not.
Due to her and other reasons I am the only child out of 3 that visits her, I don’t want to anymore but I’d be eternally racked with guilt if I didn't.

LemonBreeland Mon 23-May-16 11:15:36

My Gran was like this with my Mum. My Gran was still living in her own home and my Mum was visiting every single day. It was horrible for her. My Gran was mostly nice to others but just really awful to my Mum, despite everything she did for her.

My Gran was definitely depressed too, but wouldn't take anything for it. I'm afraid I don't have any advice, but you are definitely not the only person going through this.

ElspethFlashman Mon 23-May-16 11:21:09

You have to limit your visits to an hour. I can't believe you are there for hours! That's nuts!

As you have already seen, it's never enough .

But if you limit it to an hour or therabouts you limit the emotional damage she can do to you.

MyLifeisaboxofwormgears Mon 23-May-16 11:23:52

It's clear your mum has no life and no friends and even her family have had enough.
She knows you are the lest person who is prepared to visit her and she is emotionally blackmailing/bullying you to continue.

You say she was once "strong and capable" but by the sound of it, this can be translated as "always got her own way". Her illness has diminished her power base and I think this is why she is punishing you.
You can walk away from abusive parents - even old ill ones. I just did this - I couldn't take any more and my visiting and calling only made me feel terrible and them feel better because they'd made me feel like shit.

You need to limit the visits and be clear, when she starts off on the blackmail saying stuff like "mum, that own't work, don't guilt me into things" or "mum I also have other people I need to look after" or even "stop it mum, trying to make me feel bad won't cure what's wrong with you."

MyLifeisaboxofwormgears Mon 23-May-16 11:26:13

PS - it is always hard to realise that a parent you once looked up to is a flawed human being. I slowly realised that my parent was weak, always took the easy way out of anything and wouldn't stand up for me if it meant any form of confrontation - they always caved in to who shouted loudest. So I was last in the priority list, always.

Kwirrell Mon 23-May-16 11:46:49

The problem is, it is not just the visits is it? The constant nagging worry, the guilt, the feeling of powerlessness when you are away from them.
There is also the feeling that you are short-changing your own,more immediate family.

It took me a long time to limit my visits and try to detach from the emotional bullying.

My mother died at the end of last year, my stepfather, last month. It is only now that I realise how stressful and emotional draining the last seven years has been. I am 68 and had visions of still caring for them when I was in my 80s. Now I feel like I have been let out of prison.

Please don't feel guilty about thinking bad things, that is a safety valve. I never even liked my mother or stepfather, but like you, I was the only one who ran around after them. Nothing changed, the same things that were trotted out to me as a child were still being said. Amazing how they forget what they had for breakfast but could remember everyone of my failings.

Please take care of yourself, and rant away on here as much as you like.

WWYD2016 Mon 23-May-16 11:48:47

Thank you for 'listening' and sharing, I do appreciate it.

murphys Mon 23-May-16 12:06:08

How difficult OP. It sounds like she is emotionally abusing you, and will not accept the fact that you have other priorities over her.

I don't really have any advise, but think that visiting for one hour only will be easier. When you get there, say I am here for an hour so will be leaving at x time, so that she knows right from the get go that you aren't going to allow her to talk you around staying longer etc.

She isn't going to make any friends there is she is nasty to the other residents. Could you have a word with the staff and find out if she is like this when no-body is visiting, so on a regular day, is she interacting with the other residents etc. It may just all be a show to wear you down so that you suggest that she move in with you maybe....

Not the same, but I visited my grandmother who had dementia each week. When dd was born I took her in so my granny could see her when she was a couple of months old (dd was ill as newborn so couldn't go earlier). When we got there she wanted to hold dd and kept calling her by my mums name. When the time came for us to leave, my granny would not give dd back to me, eventually we had to call in the staff as there was such an upsetting episode... I think she really believed dd was her baby and we were taking her away from her. I was so upset about that incident for a really long time. The staff kept asking me to bring dd with me again next time as my granny kept asking for her baby. I said no, I couldn't risk it again, she was just a tiny (just recovered) baby. I did however take a baby Annabel doll with me, as I was just so guilt ridden by how upset she had been.

Not easy, OP I wish you strength and flowers

WWYD2016 Tue 24-May-16 16:38:55

It would really be impossible to limit my visits to an hour or so, it takes an hour for me to drive there and as I work and have a family I am only able to visit 2 a month so try to spend a good amount of time visiting to take her shopping or to eat out which she loves.

claraschu Tue 24-May-16 17:02:03

My mother also changed when she was old. She was utterly unreasonable and horribly depressing, unappreciative and bitter. She couldn't help it as her mind was starting to disintegrate and her body was in constant pain (which she couldn't put into words).

It is incredibly difficult, deeply sad, and it only gets worse.

Even though it didn't feel like I was helping, I had to keep caring about and for her because the only other choice was just dumping her. I couldn't do that because she was my mother whom I loved and who loved and cared for me. She was old and ill and impossible. There is no good answer, but I had to believe that it was important to keep trying, even though I knew it would never get better.

I tried to keep reminding myself that it wasn't her fault that her mind was falling apart, so that I wouldn't get angry with her all the time. I wasn't very successful though.

Poocatcherchampion Wed 24-Aug-16 21:23:43

This Iis such a helpful thread. Grumpy elderly parents are very hard to deal with. Hearing other people's stories helps.

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