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Failing to support 85 year old mum

(20 Posts)
CBT61 Sat 13-Feb-21 17:27:03

I’m new here. Hoping by writing this down I’ll feel better... I have an 85 year old mum living 3 hours away alone since my dad died 3 years ago. I love her to bits but she is driving me into a depression. Everything is a problem or difficult. There is no bright side to anything. And she won’t pretend there is. She is fairly capable and uses an iPhone and iPad with few problems but she seems to create problems. Today she received a scam text and I haven’t been able to talk her through deleting it, even after an hour of FaceTime. In her mind this is a huge problem as she will need to make sure she doesn’t accidentally touch it if she scrolls back through her messages. I suggested she rang my son in law ( whose phone it used to be) but she immediately got in a paddy and said she couldn’t keep bothering everyone (I’m the ONLY person she bothers!) and she shouldn’t have the phone or the iPad.... it stressés her and she can’t cope! I do understand but honestly I can’t stop all scams and we FaceTime every day and that alone has been a boon. She also has Kindle on her phone and likes emailing Friends. So there are lots of advantages...Christmas day she was ‘with us’ all day nearly! I feel so unhappy that she is unhappy and a little resentful.... I often feel low but I try to hide it from her and be upbeat because I don’t want to lower her mood... but she doesn’t seem to consider doing that for me. I always try to put myself in her shoes, living alone just now must be awful. But this constant negativity and finding fault with everything is getting me down. ( I don’t need solutions... I won’t do anything to make her feel worse so I’m not going to tell her how she makes me feel.) Thanks for listening!

Grandmabatty Sat 13-Feb-21 17:33:25

I sympathise. My mum is also very negative and has been since dad died ten years ago. It doesn't help that my brother lives with her and he sucks joy out of everything. I have reconciled myself to being her cheerer upper when I visit. Fortunately I can't visit because of covid and I haven't missed the constant negativity. I have no advice for you, just sympathies.

Jomarie Sat 13-Feb-21 17:54:28

Oh I do sympathise with you both - many moons ago when my mother was newly widowed she chose me, from amongst her four daughters, to be the one she dumped on. The others got away virtually scot free ! Anyway moan over - I eventually worked out a way to cope with the constant phone calls of complaint, misery, it's not fair, no-one understands etc. by pretending that she wasn't my mother but a client that it was my job to be supportive and pleasant to - I pretended that I was being paid for this (obviously I wasn't) and managed to get through the phone calls and visits to her quite well really. I know it's a bit bizarre but it worked for me most of the time - at least it stopped me going over the edge (I think - won't go down that route grin) I'm not proud of the deceit but it did the trick and helped me from being depressed and too resentful of my sisters. Seems a long time ago now and I'm so grateful she left us before Covid started if that's not too dreadful a thing to say confused

WW010 Sat 13-Feb-21 18:03:23

Many sympathies. No solution as requested. You’re not alone and offloading into this group is an ideal way to help you cope. Do it again if needed and if you need solutions then do ask. Take care xxx

Visgir1 Sat 13-Feb-21 18:14:59

Sympathy to you
Like others I had similar problem.
Is there anyone near by who is/could be in her "bubble" neighbour or someone who you can ask in this sort of circumstances?
She might take advise from them? but boy it's a minefield.
Best of luck

Jaxjacky Sat 13-Feb-21 18:28:58

What a difficult situation for you. The only thing I will say, your heading is not a fact...💐

CBT61 Sat 13-Feb-21 21:03:26

Thanks everyone. It does help to know I’m not alone in dealing with this! I have a sister but she is disabled and doesn’t take any part in supporting my mum. An early night after a warm bath always helps! Thanks for reading!

geekesse Sat 13-Feb-21 22:37:40

Tough, isn’t it? My late Dad was similar. You’re doing a wonderful job supporting your Mum, even if she doesn’t appreciate it. The world in general is a better place because of your kindness. Enjoy your bath and sleep well.

welbeck Sun 14-Feb-21 04:39:42

Jomarie,
i think that's a good approach.
when i first went for a proper job interview i was naturally nervous, so i decided to pretend i was a person going for a job interview.
that made all the difference, and i heard later that i interviewed the best, hence go the job, despite having no experience and being v young.

Sparkling Sun 14-Feb-21 05:32:42

It always seems to fall on one. Do you think if your mother is feeling so vulnerable perhaps she might benefit from living in sheltered housing with more support. I don't know anyone living in such a place, but do know some very capable people when they get older stress more than ever about the small stuff, it all becomes big stuff.

Smileless2012 Sun 14-Feb-21 09:32:51

You're doing really well CBT in particularly difficult and stressful circumstances.

I do hope that simply off loading here has helped in some way and perhaps when the restrictions are eased, so will the stress you're underflowers.

Oopsadaisy1 Sun 14-Feb-21 10:06:24

I think that you are doing all you can, given that you are so far away and not able to travel.
However, she is 85, she is on her own, it’s amazing that she has mastered the Internet, but you must have seen posts on here about how stressful Scams are, so please have some sympathy for your Mum, I get stressed about scam emails and Phone calls and I’m not housebound, not living alone.
Plus, it’s Winter , the afternoons are only just getting longer so I can imagine being alone is an absolutely awful thing to cope with, younger members of GN are complaining to each other and your poor Mum just has you to dump on.
So try to keep upbeat, get her to join GN or show her how to watch You Tube to keep her occupied, but I really don’t see that she will change given her circumstances unless (as another Poster says) she can move into Sheltered Housing and have other people around her.

Alexa Sun 14-Feb-21 11:01:45

CBT61, I am 89 and sort of sympathise with your mother who if she , same as me, wants her feelings to be legitimated by the person she obviously respects. I am just saying what would satisfy me is as follows.

Probably she knows that you understand more about scams than she does. You need to put on your psychological attitude of becoming a gramophone record of repetition using a variety of words and phrases if possible.

For practicality you do need to set a time limit on these performances. There is no need for you to share your mother's fears; all she needs is for you to perform reassurance.

CBT61 Sun 14-Feb-21 20:48:54

Thanks Alexa. That’s really useful.
My mum refuses to be defined by her age- quite rightly- and is absolutely wonderful to be as tech savvy as she is but it is frustrating for both of us when, as my son says ‘shit happens’!
Good points here from everyone- my mum has lots of contacts with people as she makes friends with everyone from the bank clerks to the postie and bin men. She goes for a walk every day and takes dog biscuits for all the dogs ( and owners) she talks to... but hates the idea of being in any type of institution with people of her age. I think she would rather live with me if she ever couldn’t stay at home... and that’s saying something!

agnurse Mon 15-Feb-21 04:36:07

If she's constantly negative, is there a possibility she might be depressed? I've seen this behaviour in people diagnosed with depression.

Now, obviously you can't force her to go see her provider, and you can't attend an appointment with her, but you might be able to book your own appointment with her provider and mention your concerns. There are some medical conditions (such as hypothyroidism) that can cause or contribute to a low mood. I'd encourage her to go for a checkup if she hasn't been for one recently.

lunasmummy Mon 01-Mar-21 22:32:35

Oh CBT61 I feel your pain!!, I am in exactly the same position, dad died 5 years ago, me and sister have had to deal with her grief(whilst trying to deal with our own) but now 5 years later it goes on and on. Depression, illness, talk of ending it all, not much interest in anyone else, just herself (she was always selfish anyway) latest thing was ' well so and so's daughter does everything for them' well so and so's daughter lives in the same village (our mother is 10 miles away) and has screwed her mother out of her house(one of those buy out schemes) has a crappy marriage and hasnt been a narcissistic mother,my mother has always been all about her.I am currently in no contact with her or my sister, because if me and sister talk we just wind each other up with guilt, I have had it now, she needs to go into assisted living at least.After my first nervous breakdown at the age of 22, she said to me 'well you better look after me when I am old, or I will leave it all to the dogs home' she was serious, get in a home love.

lunasmummy Mon 01-Mar-21 22:36:34

sorry cbt61 but selfish mothers never change, you have to change and put up very severe boundaries, I have finally done this , only this week, she will probably change her will, but I dont care, life is short and we all need peace

Urmstongran Mon 01-Mar-21 22:45:06

We have a little apartment in Spain. One of our neighbours is 85y and has lived out there almost 20y. She is lonely. I know her son & daughter ring her occasionally, but not often. She worries about many small things. For example she had to get a new mobile. I helped her set it up - entering contacts for example.

I got to know her very well during the strict lockdown in Spain this time last year and felt very sorry for her. She shared a lot of her anxieties with me that she didn’t want to ‘bother’ her daughter with. I found it very sad and it upset me when we returned knowing she would be on her own even more.

Witzend Mon 01-Mar-21 22:52:07

She’s been gone quite a while now, but my mother was never really happy after my father died and could often be very negative and depressing.

The thing I still remember most was her habit of saying so often, ‘The sooner I go (die) the better.’

She said it once on a lovely sunny day when I was driving her to the 3 night break I was taking her on, to a city she’d wanted to visit!!
On that occasion I did ask her if she could look on the bright side just for a change!

CBT61 Sat 06-Mar-21 11:53:55

Just returned to the conversation... caught up! I think one of the hardest things is that she isn’t selfish in so many ways... she’s always trying to buy me something to make my life easier and in the past, when they still could, both my parents would help us out with their time and skills... putting up shelves, looking after the children, gardening etc. I think it must be easier to cope with if you can’t find anything to like in your parents! I have been so lucky with mine ... I think Covid has meant her life has become very much less interesting and, at 85, she is aware the time she has left is limited...so am I! I have so much sympathy for her but there have been days when her negativity has pushed me into feeling that I can’t cope anymore! It was helpful to say do out loud to everyone here- I have a friend I can also say this kind of thing to but she is struggling a bit at the moment and I didn’t want to add to her load right now.
I m feeling more upbeat at the moment ( just been able to book our vaccines!) and hopefully it won’t be long before I can see her in person and that will cheer her up.