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Elderly DMs and little guilt trips .....

(29 Posts)
fluffyraggies Tue 25-Sep-12 13:13:44

Just a little vent ok?

I don't expect anything to change or improve as a result of my venting here except to make me feel better right now as i have other things on my plate besides this as well.

My mother. She's 73 and she lives alone. She uses a stick, and struggles with her eyesight. She doesn't drive, never has. I'm an only child. I live down the lane from her.

I've just had the 'i sometimes think i could just lay down and die and no one would know for days and days and the cat wouldn't get fed' speech AGAIN.

This time it was delivered while we were on our way back from me driving her to a dental appointment. I took her to town yesterday for her weekly shop. I take her every week. I rang last on Sunday evening. She's going on a coach trip tomorrow with friends, and next week we are doing her weekly shop on a different day to usual as she has a friend coming to stay for a week. The week after that an Aunt is coming from London for one of her regular weekends with her. She goes to History club, Gardening club and the WI. She's a volunteer steward once a week at a local National Trust property, as she has a keen interest in history. She has a social life revolving round the people that steward alongside her there too. She attends more coffee mornings, flower fruit and veg growing competitions, coach trips, hair appointments and evening fundraising cake eating and tea drinking events around the village than you can shake a stick at.

She has a phone with 4 handsets around the house. Last year i helped her get one of those alarm systems installed where you can call if you have a fall. She wears the pendant when home alone. If she has a crisis i'm top of the contacts list of course. And there are 6 other names - and failing that they call the police! She's computer literate (although she pretends she isn't) and sends and receives daily emails from friends and family. She shops online sometimes. She has a bloke in to do her gardening and i drive her to all her docs and hospital appts. without a quibble. I drive her and her cat to the vets for it's appts too. She has rural wheels number if it's really needed.

I've got 3 DCs, had umpteen jobs (5 at once at one time recently) and have a hectic life. I never say 'no' her if i can possibly avoid it ...

So whyyyyyyyy does she give me this 'I could lay here and die ... ' bollox !?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!!!??! And whyyyyyyy am i now feeling guilty again??? Huh?

Breeeeeeeaaaaaattttthhhhhh.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 25-Sep-12 13:21:57

Obviously it's a guilt-tripping tactic but, if it annoys you, think of a put-down for next time it gets trotted out. "I could lay here and die....etc." .... "How about I get you some Kit-e-Kat perfume so that at least the cat would have something to eat?"

Corygal Tue 25-Sep-12 13:28:04

You have my total sympathy - and you sound like an amazing daughter! Your mother should be bloody grateful, but, life being what it is, you're getting the opposite.

Now I don't know what, if any, big changes you can make to improve things. But a lot of small changes can help. IMHE, these often ease the situation:

1. Schedule phone calls at the time of day the oldster is the most cheerful.
2. 3 or 4 five minute calls through the week work better than one at weekends.
3. Don't automatically agree to things; the great English phrase "I'll call you back" is underused.
4. You're feeling guilty because the lovely old soul is guilt-tripping you, not because you've done anything bad.
5. Um, I don't want to be a harbinger of doom, but the 'no one would know if i died for weeks' can be a sign of memory loss or senility. Mind you, she's too young for that.
6. Does she drink? Old people take drink much worse and can forget what they've done socially, particularly if they were pissed, leading to heartfelt cries of loneliness.
7. Take heart - she doesn't mean it. Old people can be hilariously crafty and manipulative, just like toddlers, and just as obviously. Treat in the same way - firm but fair.

CMOTDibbler Tue 25-Sep-12 13:29:05

To that sort of thing, I'd just say 'mum, its not like you to be a drama llama about stuff !' and laugh. She gets loads more attention, help, and socialisation than many, many elderly people, so theres no need to engage with any guilt trip.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 25-Sep-12 13:32:44

Favourite exchange between 90+ granny and uncle.

Granny (in miserable mood) "I'd love to see X getting married but I'm not long for this world and I doubt I'll make it. No-one'll miss me if I'm not there...."
Uncle "Never mind Granny. If you do pop your clogs we'll stick you in the freezer and take you along to the reception anyway.... More tea, love?"

Catsmamma Tue 25-Sep-12 13:40:52

My ma does it too. I can try to get hold of her every evening for a week and because she is on the phone all evening to god knows who, but I am in the blackbook for not speaking to her more often.

I just tell her "bad news travels fast and someone would be bound to miss you calling them!" and she shuts up for a bit.

She moans about not seeing us, but can never spare the time to make the train journey. She is fit, able and in rude health btw so no mobility issues. Last week she announces her friend is arriving for a week in October, and then she is off back down south with her for two weeks but the 2 and a half hour journey here...nah, not so much. Also if I am working and she is here then she may have to spend a couple of hours on her own and she'll be bored.

She is worse than any teen or toddler!

Eglantyne Tue 25-Sep-12 13:41:49

I can't be doing with all this "woe is me" crap. My Nan used to try it all the time, and I just told her I wsn't going to listen to it. My suggestion would be to use that list you've just shared with us. Edit it, add a bit about how it makes you feel when she makes you feel guilty, print it out and give it to your DM to read in her own time. My dm lives alone and I'm 100+ miles away. She doesn't have many friends, no hobbies etc as she's very shy. We speak 2 - 3 times a week, and usually each conversation is cut short by some disaster my dcs have created. So IMO your DM is doing pretty well!

fluffyraggies Tue 25-Sep-12 13:42:14

A massive thank you cogito, cory and CMO. You've made me smile and feel a bit better.

She doesn't drink. Utterly T total always.

I am guilty of not ringing her daily. The reason i'm reluctant to start this, to be blunt, is because it's hard to have a quick chat with her - to put it politely she's not a listener, she's a talker! I'm crappy at ending convo's.

Is it really necessary to ring someone every day to see if they're still alive? When they have a good social life and everyone that knows her knows where i am too? And when i do see her at least once a week.

Probably IABU. (wrong board for that i knowsmile)

<guilt><guilt><guilt>

fluffyraggies Tue 25-Sep-12 13:45:43

catsmama i have that on a Sat morning with her! She's on the phone to people ALL morning grin

egg - the idea of printing the list off! There'd be tears. But you're right.

fluffyraggies Tue 25-Sep-12 13:46:39

I have been wondering about the dementia thing. She says some odd things sometimes.

spookytoo Tue 25-Sep-12 13:48:17

Hmm, it's very thoughtless and selfish of her to say that. Is she hinting that she should live with you. The 'I could lay down and die and not be found for days' line could be used by a huge swathe of the population who lives on their own.

My mum lived to 89 so you could have many years of this with her being less healthy so having a more restricted social life and being more self pitying.

I spose in the past she felt busy and needed and the 'I could die....' quote is partly because she has lost that life now, never to return, and she is just feeling sorry for herself.

I think you should snap at her 'For God's sake mother don't I do enough for you, I am never away from your house' or similar and make her come to her senses. You do an amazing amount for her. I have noticed that my mother and mil (89) NEVER say 'oh, don't bother coming round tonight' or similar, they seem to feel their age entitles them to soooo much attention from busy family. I swear that I will never put on my DCs as muchif I reach that age.

LisaMed Tue 25-Sep-12 13:57:19

I ring my elderly uncle every day (not working, one child at school, so do not think you have to live up to that!) and I make um um noises a lot and play patience when I ring up for a 'listen'. Fishdom is great - I play it all the time when I ring him and usually go through all the levels in a week before starting again. I have heard recommended that you get speaker phone on and phone when ironing.

You are being a brilliant daughter and should get a medal. However as age tends to make us more of what we are, you are likely to get more of the same. Good luck!

btw - someone is always at our door/in our garden/bins been knocked over/cooker has beeped/washing needs taking out etc when I need to end a call. In real life I have a boring time, but no-one can see you when they are at the other end of the phone line. Or call at your limit just before you need to leave/do something immovable, like collect kids from school.

fluffyraggies Tue 25-Sep-12 14:02:41

Thank you spooky. Y'know what? The silly thing is if i suggested she come and live with us (her house is literally twice the size of ours - we're quite squashed - but lets talk hypothetically) she would be horrified! When chatting on the subject on neediness/independence she is very vocal about her friends needing to just get on with it, sick of them moaning about their health, stiff upper lip and all that (she quite judgy grin) Pot calling the kettle black or what!

fluffyraggies Tue 25-Sep-12 14:12:01

Lisa i've got a mental picture of Fishdom and phone calls now. Well done for ringing your Uncle everyday. You're right life can be boring but there's still never a good time to be stuck on the phone!

'Age makes us more of what we are is spot on'. It's hard to see your parents age isn't it? She's changed allot over the last ... 10 years i suppose. Although she was always a bit manipulative. Her social skills are failing her. She just comes over as rude sometimes now.

My DDS keep saying 'if you start behaving like Nan when you're old we'll post you overseas!' grin Told!

Callmecordelia Tue 25-Sep-12 14:26:35

Well done OP, sounds like you have your hands full and are being amazing.

My granny used up the 15 seconds free phone call from her hospital bed to ring my Dad, saying: "I'm just ringing to tell you, you've let me down... Oh! The pips!" CLICK

CMOTDibbler Tue 25-Sep-12 14:28:03

I MN when talking to my dad on the phone -mums form of dementia has taken her speech, so I speak to her twice a week for a couple of minutes, then him for half an hour or so, and another time when she is out - because he just needs to decompress, and I'm just required to mmm about the latest way she's embarrassed him. Her form of dementia is characterised by the loss of social graces, so she can be spectacularly rude !

fluffyraggies Tue 25-Sep-12 14:34:28

CMO - i'm sorry to hear your mums struggling with dementia sad That must be so hard for your DF.

My DF passed away 5 years ago now - it's natural that mum wants as much of my company as she can get, as i am her only really close family. She was an only and so was my Dad! I wish i had siblings to share her with sometimes.

Callme - that make me genuinely LOL smile

snuffaluffagus Tue 25-Sep-12 14:44:47

Does she have a mobile? You could do a daily text rather than a phone call if she's a talker? Or would that be asking for more trouble?

LisaMed Tue 25-Sep-12 14:48:50

You do far more for your mother that I do for my uncle, and you are absolutely brilliant to do it. Perhaps you need to blow your own trumpet, or mention that you hope your kids would do as much for you. As for the 'and the cat not being fed', tell her to train the cat to raise the alarm.

Personally I don't think anything that you do will be enough. I wouldn't stress, you've already earned a medal. It's okay to vent - I do understand it - but perhaps next time you could try using humour - like 'and then your ghost will haunt the house forever, followed by a crying kitty'. Or, 'I don't know when I am supposed to ring you, you have a better social life than I do.' Or, 'You only need to miss a day and half the village will be asking where you are.' Then firmly change the subject.

If it were me I would try the, 'if you are feeling frail and don't see enough people then perhaps you need sheltered housing, or a care home. There would always be someone around, and you'd have the dentist/hospital/vet on hand...' but I am pretty evil.

And you don't need to ring someone with four handsets, a personal alarm and an active social life every day. You owe it to yourself to keep what sanity you have.

btw - I've gone through Gardenscapes a few times as well.

fluffyraggies Tue 25-Sep-12 14:53:25

That's quite a fabulous idea snuffal !

I've been thinking for a while that she could do with a new mobile - one with big simple buttons - as she's said recently that one of her friends has told her off for not answering a text. And it was because she couldn't see the screen properly. it may also have been because she stores it in the bread-bin turned off permanently

I imagine it will be quite a mission - the buying of the new phone - and the teaching how to use it. But it could solve the daily contact thing, yes.

<strokes chin>

(Should have thought of this myself really blush)

fluffyraggies Tue 25-Sep-12 15:00:11

Aw cheers lisa smile

I think i actually have said 'You only need to miss a day and half the village will be asking where you are.' one time.

I tend to force out a dry laugh as if it's a joke most times.

The care home hints are festering believe me.

amillionyears Tue 25-Sep-12 16:41:26

She may have a great social life,but is it possible that she is still lonely.How well does she connect with them all.
Is she widowed?
She may well be trying to say that if she were to die suddenly,she wouldnt be missed for a few hours which is in fact true.And that may be her real fear.

amillionyears Tue 25-Sep-12 16:44:47

But you could point out that that is true for everyone to a certain extent.

And dont let her feel guilty.You have absolutely nothing to feel guilty for.In fact she is overburdening you,not the other way round.
So if you need to put your foot down,you should tell her this.Like someone else has said,she may not be properly understanding the amount of demands she is making on you.

diddl Wed 26-Sep-12 07:26:23

Does someone see her every day?

If so, she is of course talking rubbish.

Corygal Wed 26-Sep-12 11:14:47

Well, our best family friend (RIP) got nastier and nastier in her 70s and 80s. We put it down to old age (very forgiving of us).

But... I finally realised how badly her mind had gone when she came out with the I Could Die and No one Would Know line - entirely seriously. She had had a live-in carer/housekeeper for ten years. Couldn't remember, had no idea.

I would make this point to your DM - as tactfully as possible, suggest that if she really thinks that, it's time for care home quick. If she's trying it on, it should shut her up.

Having lived through old people becoming progressively more horrid, then unacceptably badly behaved, I do urge you not to put up with what you can avoid. I really do - old age is not an excuse, and even if it's dementia it has to be managed. So stay bright, breezy and no nonsense. Think Toddler Taming.

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