Need Your Thoughts and Ideas on How to Manage Daily Interactions

by Janette
(Dallas, TX)

Hi, please bear with me as I pour out my story. I feel I need to give you the background so you will hopefully reply and provide me some ideas to manage. I am the youngest of 4 children. My parents (Dad is 85 & Mom is 81) live with me and my family (my husband and two daughters 17 & 14 years of age). Due to jobs my other 3 siblings are scattered across the US and my parents are “lucky” to get a yearly visit if that from each of them.

We are blessed to have a separate Guest House on our property where my folks live. Dad has had Alzheimer for 7 years and my mother has been his primary caregiver up until 2 years ago. Now she is suffering from dementia herself. Fortunately, I am a Nurse and their numerous medical issues are manageable for the most part. My mother has been so “high” function up until 2 years ago and her decline has been both very sad and frustrating for me.

Even in mother’s high function days our relationship could be strained at times, as she can be both critical and demanding. She has a tendency to get under my skin. The sad part is NOW she really can’t help it and I find myself constantly on edge with her.

Please advise on creative ways to manage the stress of having to deal with someone who knows how to push all your buttons. I love my parents dearly and am committed to keeping them in their home for as long as possible.

How do you let go of the guilt you feel when you need to give yourself the “space” away from them? How do you deal with the sit down meals where you hear the same story over and over again, trying not to let it annoy you?

Thanks for reading my story….

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We Are the Chosen One
by: Anonymous

I can appreciate and sympathize with your situation; I can relate and I am exploring the some creative ideas myself.

You mentioned the "pushing of buttons"....yep, I get it. What I am trying to understand is why - as difficult as my 86 year old mother can be - why does it affect me so much.

I have come to realize, I have some unfinished business with my mother as it relates to my childhood, but now it is too late to confront her; she would not address any issues when I was younger either - now I am left to fend for myself.

My mother has always been controlling - I do not believe she really knew how to love in the way a mother should and she treats me this way to this day. I find this abusive, narcissistic type mother is a common thread for many caregivers who have unfinished business.

So for me, I have come to realize it does help me to get an education on dementia etc., so I am reminded this is not about me. What is of most importance is that I understand me and take care of me. Why does my mother have this PTSD effect on me? I want answers to those questions for my own sake.

My mother wants to control my thoughts and emotions, so I try to always come back with a cheerful response, it throws her off completely, yes it takes practice. I have most difficult days with the button pushing on my mother's part, but as difficult as most days can be, I do make it a point to pray with my mother every night - that brings her comfort.

I have found journaling to be most helpful as well because I find the issue is with me and the unfinished business. I believe what we are all trying to do is to get our loved one over the finish line and we are here to help them in that process. I know my mother can be difficult, but at the same time, she has always been this way - at this stage in her life it is more intense, and I can never know what makes her tick.

Acceptance... accept her the way she is and choose your battles. I am 60, and discovered my 38 year old son is schizophrenic recently, I have jumped hoola hoops to get him help, I would put up with a lot in that process, but I would not allow him to abuse me, it was then I would walk away.

I would come back a few days later and all would be good - he is doing marvelous today. And this is what we need to do with our parents if need be - sometimes we need to take a break. I take breaks from my mom, but she does not know why I am taking a break. I set her up so she will be cared for and I let her know I had an emergency - sometimes its a day or maybe two days. All in all - journaling - is where I find the self discovery.

We are all going through this difficult time, don't we want to grow from this experience? to become better not bitter?. In closing, someone once told me that I have to take care of myself because one day I might need myself. Hope I have been a help, as you have been a help to me, sites like this are helpful, as I now know I am not alone.

Step Back and Then Look.
by: Leasa

I understand the guilt feelings and how they can prevent one from making the best decisions.
Believe me, I have a masters in 'guilt'. It's funny though, when we can stand back and look at our lives from a distance, that we suddenly realize that the guilt was totally inappropriate and undeserved.

We do not owe our parents what should be the best years of our lives when our own children become more independent, we've earned our peace. My mother refused to care for anyone or be involved even though she has a handicapped brother. Don't get me wrong, I do love her and turned my life completely upside down for her while she was ill. But, how long can it go on?

Guilt can also make us keep them at home even though it's really not safe but you can't see that while you are still living in the guilt. My mom almost died at home because I was being a real Florence Nightingale and trying so hard to make her happy at the expense I might add of my own family and home and business.

To me, it sounds as though your parents really are ready for assisted living accommodation and would probably be safer and happier there in the long run. Sure, there will be tears when you move them...but in the long run, visiting them will be something you so look forward to, because you aren't so tired and worried.

Just an opinion....hope it helps!

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