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  1. #1
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    I need advice about my mum please

    I know this sounds horrible but my mum is a lifelong manipulator and attention seeker. She has a history of hypochondia and an eating disorder. After my dad divorced her 30 years ago she turned her focus to me and took regular overdoses if she didn't get her way until I had to watch her have her stomach pumped. There is always an end game, she does these things to get what she wants and can never ever ask for it.

    She eventually met someone else and subjected them to the manipulation and attention seeking until he died three years ago. Then the focus returned to me, culminating on demands to move home as she felt all the people in her sheltered complex hated her and she didn't fit in. She applied for an independent living flat nearer to me and got it. As I began to prepare for this I had more contact with her and discovered that was taking vallium given to her from a friend as well as cocodamol and her 'normal' medication including heart tablets, blood pressure and cholestoral, anti depressant and gabapentin. She is 79.

    When she moved she started to say that she was confused, moving on to not being able to get out of bed. I was worried I eventually called the paramedics and she was admitted to hospital and was diagnosed with low blood sodium, which they said could be causing confusion, kept 4 days on a saline drip, then sent home. I asked for a care package and she was assessed but answered all the psysical and memory questions perfectly. She is physically well and has had no falls. They know about the over medication as I told them (although she asked me not to). We have also been down the memory clinic route as she is convinced she has Alzheimers disease. It was found through brain scans that she has mild vascular disease (the Dr was at pains to say it wasn't vascular dementia). She passed the memory assessment and was discharged to her GP.

    This is all recent. Now she keeps saying she is forgetting things. She keeps telling me, my brother and my stepsister that she is confused and can't remember what day it is. She says she hates her flat and wishes she was back where she lived before. She is looking after herself, washing, eating, watching TV. We have had her medication assessed and asked the friend to stop giving her vallium, got a medication carousell and warden control, but she is not happy and complains that she never sees anyone, but won't socialise or even go out, even though she is able to. She doesn't want friends round, only me and my brother. She is complaining all the time that she has no food/library books/cigarettes/hairdresser/crisps/chocolate but she will not do anything for herself - and if we don't do it she is accusing us of neglecting her.

    She chose to finish work and look after my elderly grandparents who had strokes and cancer and she has mentioned this several times until I had to tell her that I just cannot quit my job as I have a mortgage and dependents and neither can my brother and, anyway, she can look after herself. She now keeps saying 'things aren't the same as when I looked after my mum and dad.'

    So on to me. I honestly cannot tell if she is really having memory issues and confusion or if this is another manipulative act to get what she wants - mainly me and my brother - round there doing everything for her. If we don't go round when she thinks we should she is horrible to us and accuses us of neglecting her and says things like 'your families come first and I come nowhere' in a sarcastic way. Social services say she doesn't need carers and she is completely capable of doing things herself. At her recent hospital visit they did not diagnose dementia. I love my mum, but her past behaviour makes me think she is making this up. Also, she says she can't remember things, but she keeps saying it, for example 'I can't remember that I had my dinner' and 'I don't know what day it is. I was going to put the TV on to see if songs of praise was on so I know it is Sunday' on Sunday. So she can remember that she can't remember. Other elderly people I know with memory issues forget things or their behaviour changes, but they are mainly unaware of it or confused about it.

    We have got to the point now where non of us feel like going round there because she just walks around smoking and saying how she can't remember things while we do everything for her. I asked her last night if she would go to the doctors with me and she said she wouldn't. She told me again that she has no idea why she is in the flat, how she moved and insinuated that I had made her do it and she doesn't like it. I would usually discuss with her but I am so tired that I just agreed and got off the phone. Half an hour later she rang back saying she was confused and was I coming over tonight. I said no, and it soon escalated to the usual 'I don't want to go on like this' and 'I want to end it all' that I have heard all my life.

    I feel like a horrible person writing this because she might be ill, but I have no way of telling. Her tests all came back OK except for the vascular disease and I have done all I can with my brother to make her very comfortable in her new home. We visit at least three times a week, more lately and do all her cleaning and shopping. Although she has been manipulative and treated me badly at times I still want to do what I can for her, she looks so tiny and helpless all the time as she doesn't eat much and I feel sorry she is not happy.

    I don't know what I am asking here really except would someone who has the memory issues she says she has be so aware of them that they script it and tell everyone all the time? Would she be so aware of her confusion in a way that she can describe it fully to anyone who will listen? She is always saying 'I'm keeping clean' and looking solemnly at us as if its some kind of qualification of her mental state - surely someone who is depressed or has memory issues stop washing not on purpose and because they are ill? Is there anything else I could look for?

    I guess I need to tell someone (apart form you kind people) about this but I don't know which way to turn, the hospital and the doctors are overloaded.

    Apologies for the long post and thank you for reading. Just writing it has helped a little.

  2. #2
    Volunteer Moderator Grannie G's Avatar
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    Hello Karris

    It sounds as if your mum is causing you concern and always has, so perhaps current behaviour is nothing new.

    When I think about my own very mild short term memory loss which I believe is normal and age related [ I`m 75] my rule of thumb is a] I am aware of it and b] I can get myself out of trouble. This makes me realise I do not have dementia.

    I would never presume to diagnose your mother but I would encourage her to seek medical advice every time she makes a comment about her assumed disabilities. So when she accuses you, I`d tell her you can`t help her unless she gets medical advice . I`d even offer to accompany her so you can both hear what the doctor has to say.

    Sylvia

    Former Carer

    I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet

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  3. #3
    Registered User Jessbow's Avatar
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    I feel for you, it must be soul destroying.

    Clearly there is something wrong but I agree, I don't think dementia.

    A big part of dementia is the fact that you don't realise there is anything wrong, and that waltzing off to the shop in your birthday suit is perfectly acceptable, and of course shoe polish lives in the fridge.

    I don't know what the answers are though

  4. #4
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    Karris, read the first sentence of your post. You have neatly summed up the problem.

    Your mother has always been this difficult person, manipulating people and circumstances to suit herself. The fact that she is 79 makes no odds, just, as she sees it, gives her another excuse. And she's trying to put guilt on you.

    I'm not suggesting you abandon her, but you MUST be firm with her. It sounds as though she has always put herself and her needs before yours, and won't be satisfied until she has you and your brother at her total beck and call.

    All easier said than done, I know. Good luck. x

  5. #5
    Registered User cragmaid's Avatar
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    Harsh words coming...... The medics say Mum is relatively fit and well, She may have the beginnings of Vascular Dementia due to the damage showing up on the scans , she may have "normal aging memory loss".
    She is looking after herself, washing, eating, watching TV. We have had her medication assessed and asked the friend to stop giving her vallium, got a medication carousell and warden control, but she is not happy and complains that she never sees anyone, but won't socialise or even go out, even though she is able to. She doesn't want friends round, only me and my brother. She is complaining all the time that she has no food/library books/cigarettes/hairdresser/crisps/chocolate but she will not do anything for herself - and if we don't do it she is accusing us of neglecting her.
    She is not being starved, beaten or neglected. She has enough " nous" to manage to blag drugs from her friend. She is being selfish in her demands....What was practical and doable in her day for her to leave work and care for her sick elderly parents, is not possible in your case. She is, by the sounds of it, perfectly able to do her little bit of cleaning herself. Unless you ( and your brother) stand up to her, she will continue to manipulate you until such time as you are worn down. This will become habitual for her and if she does develop Dementia, she will not remember the care you have laavished upon her, she will expect more( only this time it will be the disease that causes the demand not just her personality).

    From what you tell us, she is manipulative..... so please stop letting her call the shots. Cut down on your visits. Leave the answerphone on..don't let her blackmail you. Start making the rules now.... or, like so many of us,, you end up with your own health neglected, without a social life, to never enjoy a holiday or even a weekend away, an uninterrupted meal becomes a forgotten dream and a brain that sees her needs over and above anyone else's.... especially your own.

    Learn and practice it now...... the word NO!
    Maureen.

    “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." said Christopher Robin to Pooh. ( AA Milne)

  6. #6
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    Hi Karris,

    Agree with what has been said above. People with eating disorders like control and manipulation. It is your choice how much you get controlled and manipulated.

    Mother was a prime manipulator and loved control. Her dementia has dulled the edges.

    When we were moving her from her husband's home it took 3 years of negotiating over every scrap of paper going back 40 years. She agreed to the binning of a 60 year old (!!!) negligee. She then changed her mind 24 hours later and 12 hours after I had binned it. She wanted to wear it for her new boyfriend .

    I have chosen to step back from being controlled. Sibling fully involved and adding their own bits to the merry-go-round. This included getting demented mother with a 5 second memory onto a senior dating online site to find new men after her latest died. Words fail me.

    When your mum says she can't remember organise a befriender from Age UK to come in. A friend of mine with a 'difficult' MIL has used it and it has been a rip-roaring success. There is a charge which your mum will need to pay.
    http://www.ageuk.org.uk/?gclid=Cj0KE...Q&gclsrc=aw.ds

    Alzheimer's Society
    Call the office local to your mum. They will know of all the groups your mum could attend. Scroll down the page below to get to where you put in the post code.
    https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/

    Is your mum in an Assisted or Extra Assisted Living residence? If so, there should be on-site clubs and groups she can attend. If she is with it enough to manipulate - she is with it enough to attend these groups.

    Should your mum refuse these that then is her choice. It is not up to you to fill the void.

    You may like to consider cutting back on what you do do. A total of 6 visits a week - between you and your brother - sounds a lot of support.

    It is unlikely to be an easy ride should you go down the route of cutting back. However, for your sanity long term, it may be the best route. Especially should your brother sing from the same page.

    Best of luck. It is a toughie.

  7. #7
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    Upped the stakes

    Thank you all for your replies.

    Yesterday I disengaged a little and took my answerphone off and arranged my phone to screen calls.

    This has cause major problems on my Mums side as when she repeatedly called when we were having dinner she could not leave long answerphone messages.

    This morning she has called me and said she is 'not coping'. Instead of arranging yet another appointment with the GP/Social services I asked her what she meant.

    She said she wasn't eating or washing. I asked her if that was her choice and she said 'its not as easy as that' and 'wait til you get old you'll know what I mean'. I even suggested a coping strategy where she has a timetable to do things and she ticks them off but she wasn't interested in that. I told her that at the social services assessment she has presented as able bodied and could remember key details and therefore didn't qualify for a care package.

    I asked her what she needed to cope because I wanted to help her get it and she said she didn't know. I again said 'its your choice not to eat or wash as you are able to' and she said 'maybe it's because I want to die more quickly'.

    Happy Tuesday, everyone. My first instinct is to tell someone about this but who? If I tell social services or her GP and they go round she'll be walking around smoking. She mentioned moving flats again but that just isn't possible.

    I've engaged again I suppose but she's threatening me with the 'maybe I want to die more quickly' now. The subtext is 'what sort of a daughter are you to not run here straight away when I say that?'. I just don't know what to do.

  8. #8
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    Hold on in there Karris.
    You've made the move to toughen your resolve so, naturally, your mother will up the stakes with emotional blackmail. Easier said than done, but stick with it. Maybe suggest you'll discuss all this in a few days as you're rather tied up this week....?
    Hold on in there. x

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karris View Post

    I've engaged again I suppose but she's threatening me with the 'maybe I want to die more quickly' now. The subtext is 'what sort of a daughter are you to not run here straight away when I say that?'. I just don't know what to do.
    My answer to your question is 'one who is not succumbing to emotional blackmail'. I'm sorry if that sounds flippant - it's not meant to be. My mum used to say she wanted to die all the time in her last year or do. Perhaps I could understand why, as things got harder and harder. I managed much better when I realised that I couldn't make her happy, nothing could, I could only try and keep her safe.
    "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans" -John Lennon ('Beautiful Boy')

  10. #10
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    Hi Kerris and welcome.

    What an utterly horrible situation you are in! You have said that your mother has always been selfish and manipulative - she's not going to change now I'm afraid. People do not usually become little grey-haired angels if they have been harridans all their lives.

    As I see it, your only chance of getting any life of your own is to stand firm and not give in to your mother's demands. Yes, it will be hard, you have a clear example of how she reacts, but it will only get harder as time passes and you all become further entrenched in your behaviours.

    Whether or not your mother has been assessed as needing a care package, there is no reason why she cannot pay for help (she would have to pay anyway if she has more than a certain level of savings/assets). There are plenty of care agencies around to provide someone to go in and give your mum some help and attention. There is no reason why you should have to do this!

    It would probably help if you and your brother decide on a joint strategy, and keep in frequent contact with each other, so that your mother cannot play one of you off against the other.

  11. #11
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    Hi Karris,

    Well done you in your comments to your mum! I bet that felt tough.

    I had missed in your, understandably, long post that your mum was getting drugs from others. So she is manipulating others as well. That is really rather shocking.

    The thing is with manipulators they know how to press buttons. Removing the buttons in yourself is the answer. Much, much, infinitely much easier said than done.

    If she says she will die - the answer is that it is her choice or 'I am sure you will feel better tomorrow'. If you don't feel brave enough say someone is at the door and you have to go. I limited phone calls from my mum to 10 or so minutes and only once a week and I let the phone go to answerphone after 9.00 pm. Got fed-up of pi$$ed phone calls at anything up to 10.30 pm !!

    A friend of mine has been run ragged by his mum. Phone calls at 2.00 am 'Your Dad has collapsed on the floor. You must come and pick him up.' The poor man lives 2 hours away. It has aged him dreadfully. If anything like that happens just call an ambulance.

    I am now also doing that with sibling after some unfortunate events. Sibling ruined Christmas a couple of time - it also ruined my children's Christmas as a result. I have also had enough of the screaming matches with their spouse when on the phone with me, Just grim. I say postman at the door, I have arranged to go out, I have to pick up a delivery, getting hair/nails/xxx done etc. Sometimes I am naughty and say things that I know will wind sibling up. Oh, I am off with friends today. Getting ready for a dinner party. I am off for coffee with X.

    I feel so brave when I do that. But not brave enough to not talk to them at all.

    If you and your brother can support each other through this your mum will direct her attention to others. She has shown she does that. Hopefully, that will then be someone else's problem. If your mum got herself into a problem she can jolly well get herself out.

    Best of luck and a big {{{HUG}}}, a dollop of bravery and some scissors to cut those buttons off.
    Last edited by Oh Knickers; 21-03-2017 at 06:30 PM.

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