1. Our next Q&A session is on the topic of Christmas and dementia.This time we want our Q&A to involve our resident experts, you! Share tips and advice on navigating Christmas here in this thread.

    Pop by and post your questions or if you prefer you can email your question to us at talkingpoint@alzheimers.org.uk and we'll be happy to ask them on your behalf.
  1. poster

    poster Registered User

    Dec 28, 2011
    #1 poster, Oct 4, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2015
    Does anyone experience emotional blackmail and if so how do you deal with it? My mum has vascular dementia in a mild form. She has been experiencing some behaviour issues recently. She lives miles away from me and I have agreed with her to visit her three times a year which is all I can do because I live so far away and it is very expensive. I have to pay train fare and accommodation. Today she said she wants me to see her more often but if I do I will be broke. She then said she is 92 and does not know how much longer she will live and how would I feel if she passed away knowing that I did not go to see her very often and then it would be too late. We agreed that I should go three times a year for three days because a four day visit is almost £300 and I simply cannot afford a lot of visits. It was her choice to move so far away. If she was near me I would visit her three times a week. I have not had a holiday for years because I spend all my spare money going to visit my mother which I do not mind but it is absolutely impossible for me to go more often because I would get into debt. She feels neglected but I do not see what else I can do under the circumstances.
  2. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    Hi poster, I dont think it is actually emotional blackmail although it must feel like it. Empathy and the ability to see things from anothers viewpoint is one of the first things to go with dementia. Your mum is unable to see things from your side and can only see what she wants - she is not doing it on purpose. She probably also forgets your arrangement.
    Just stick to what you can do.
  3. lizzybean

    lizzybean Registered User

    Feb 3, 2014
    Poster, I get emotional blackmail from my MIL and I see her nearly every day!! As Canary said just do what you can & don't feel guilty about what you can't do.
  4. fizzie

    fizzie Registered User

    Jul 20, 2011
    Aww what a shame for you both that there is so much distance between you. Canary is so right, you can only do what you can do. Can you get someone to skype with her so that you could actually talk to her on screen once a week - maybe she has a helpful neighbour or a local organisation that would help her to do that - it is free if you both download skype and it might make you feel more connected. Just a thought because we do that with my brother in law and it almost feels like a visit
  5. poster

    poster Registered User

    Dec 28, 2011
    #5 poster, Oct 5, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2015
    I do use Skype but my mum is in a care home and they have a computer but they are not allowed to download Skype. It is an RNIB run home and I do not know why but when I asked they said they are not allowed to download Skype for the time being. There is nobody my mum knows who she can ask because she is isolated and doesn't mix with anyone. I have tried to get her to mix but it never works out because my mum just isn't interested. She wants friends but cannot seem to find anyone suitable. She pushes people away and isolates herself and then complains to me about it. There is nothing I can do. I have tried and nothing I have suggested works out.
  6. reedysue

    reedysue Registered User

    Nov 4, 2014
    My mum gets the hump if I take the dog for a walk without asking her, you won't please her by going more often as it will never be often enough.

    Please try not to let the guilt monster get you xx.
  7. Moonflower

    Moonflower Registered User

    Mar 28, 2012
    When my parents lived 500 miles away I spent all my money going backwards and forwards to sort things out for them and support them. I still feel bad that my kids missed out on family holidays because I couldn't afford them, any spare money went on visiting mum and dad. But it was never ever enough - I could get back home after a visit and immediately get a phone call asking when I would visit again. If I said I had only just been, they would just say that it felt like ages ago. My brother lived half an hour away but they didn't like to bother him!
    Looking back, nothing I did would ever have been enough.
    Do what you can do willingly and without distressing yourself, and don't feel guilty. The only alternative would be to move your mum closer to you - perhaps you could offer her that as an alternative? Research local homes and see if there is anywhere appropriate?
  8. sistermillicent

    sistermillicent Registered User

    Jan 30, 2009
    poster, I used to visit my parents once or twice a week, it was a long journey and I had to take unpaid leave to do it. I was fortunate that I had a car and didn't have the expense of accommodation. BUT mum still said I never went and she hadn't seen me for ages. The only reason I kept it up was for Dad who badly needed the help. If your mum is in a care home which is good I would suggest you leave things as they are and do not let your life get ruled by dementia. How many visits would be enough? I doubt your mum would stop asking for more even if you went every single day.

    You know all the logical and sensible reasons for why you are doing things as you are so stick with them.
  9. poster

    poster Registered User

    Dec 28, 2011
    First of all I live in London. My mum moved out of London almost 20 years ago because she and my dad no longer liked living in London. They moved to the country and liked it better.

    Second of all, my mum is in an excellent care home run by the RNIB. It caters for all her needs and she moved there from her previous care home which was not as good (and not run by the RNIB).

    Third of all, my mum has a lot of health issues. She has lung disease which means she has to use a wheelchair and 20 hours of oxygen per day. She would never agree to move back to London. I would have to find her a care home and go and view it and I could not do that without her because she would have to agree to live there. It is impossible to view accommodation for someone else without that person who is going to live there viewing it as well because they are the ones that will be living there not me and what I think might be ok, they may not. For instance when you buy a new house or flat, you go and look at the property and on the basis of what you see you decide whether to put in an offer. You do not have someone else go and look at it and say yes it is ok for xxx to move into without xxx having a look as well. In my mums state of overall health, and distance she could never make the trip to view a care home. The journey and the stress would almost certainly finish her off. Even if she were to agree to move to London, if I found a care home and said look mum I have found a lovely home for you and she agreed to move into it, further down the line she may regret it and find something wrong with it and blame me and she would never forgive me for moving her out of the home she likes just for the sake of being nearer to me.

    So we are pretty much stuck in this situation where she decided to move 500 miles away from me and demands that I make frequent visits to see her. She did at one point say that the other residents frequently have family come to the home to see them and I pointed out that their families either live in the area or very near and have cars so all they do is jump in the car and away they go to visit their relative in the care home. If I could drive and had a car then I could get in my car, drive four hours and stay as long as I wanted because I am not relying on public transport. I could leave home at 9am, get to my mum at 1 or 2 depending on traffic and stay until 10pm and then drive four hours home and get back at 2am. I know driving that distance there and back in one day is stressful but it would be an option if I could do it but I don't have that option so we have to make the best of what is available and that is what my mum is not accepting.. It was her choice to move and now she has to live with the consequences of that. We have no family in the area where she lives so she feels isolated. I cannot move to her area due to my full time job and I live in a council flat. Many years ago you could get a council transfer if you had a poorly elderly relative in another area but I am not sure what would happen now. Even pregnant women cannot get a flat like they could years ago and I got my flat at a time where single women could just apply and get one and they did not even need to have kids.

    I phone my mother every other day without fail. It was her birthday the other day and I paid for some CDs that she wanted. I wanted to get her a cashmere sweater but she said no because the home do the washing and she could not guarantee they would take enough care with washing it and she said it would be a waste of my money. Someone else from the home got her some flowers and she complained that I did not do that but she frequently tells me she does not like fresh flowers because they die so I did not get any.
  10. Pickles53

    Pickles53 Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    Radcliffe on Trent
    You have set out very clearly why it wouldn't be possible for either of you to move and there are some very good reasons. You can't stop her asking you to go more often, so the only alternative seems to be to change how you react to her complaints. Hit the guilt monster on the head every time it pops up. As others have said, it isn't possible to make her happy and that's not your fault.
  11. Onlyme

    Onlyme Registered User

    Apr 5, 2010
    MIL used to ring my mobile as she hadn't seen me for ages. I would be in the kitchen making her a cup of tea.

    Do what you can, you can't do more.
  12. Sianey

    Sianey Registered User

    Mar 23, 2015
    #12 Sianey, Oct 5, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: May 31, 2018
    Poster what a situation for you, at least by posting you can have a chat to people for some good advice.

    Kassy me too with the toilet thing as well, I think we feel so guilty that's why we try to visit so much much to my husbands annoyance who says my Mam does not appreciate it either before dementia or after dementia. I can visit and she just ends up falling asleep and I end up thinking what am I here for so much, I think we have our own life to live and are entitled to live it as well just as our parents were.

    I go three times a week travelling only twenty mile round trip but still annoyed Mam and social worker chose there and not right near me but like Kassy I've come to realise they forget soon as we go that we've been visiting.

    I think I've realised my Mam isn't at the window waiting for me and is more than happy with being at the home almost.

    Sianey X
  13. cragmaid

    cragmaid Registered User

    Oct 18, 2010
    North East England
    Send her flowers when it's not her birthday...tell her it's because it's a Monday and you thought of her.

    Send her chocolates or biscuits or toiletries....just because you can!

    Tell her you'll visit when your major project at work is finished, or when there's a sale on train fares, or whatever tale you feel like telling. She cannot see you telling white lies, so you tell her when you can visit and just say nothing when she pushes you for a date.
    She is not alone, she is quite safe and cared for. It doesn't matter who, in the home, gets more visitors. Don't argue, tell her you would like to see her more, but you visit as often as you can.

    .....and tell the guilt monster on your shoulder to push off!:D:D
  14. Amy in the US

    Amy in the US Registered User

    Feb 28, 2015
    Hi, poster. Your situation sounds very difficult and stressful. Dementia is the pits.

    Everyone here is right: the situation is what it is, and you can only do so much.

    One cruel fact I have learnt about dementia is that it will absorb all of the time and energy (and money) you can throw at it, and still ask for more.

    It is very difficult to set limits and stick to them, but unless you do, the dementia (the entire situation) will just keep draining you.

    This is all much easier said than done, of course, and I don't mean to downplay the struggle, just to reassure you that your actions are reasonable, and remind you that you deserve a life of your own.
  15. poster

    poster Registered User

    Dec 28, 2011
    #15 poster, Oct 5, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2015
    Thanks all

    The problem is that my mum does not like chocolates or biscuits. Last Christmas someone she knows who lives in a house opposite the home gave her a box of chocolates and my mum gave them away because she does not eat chocolates. She said flowers are a waste of money because they die after a few days and I agree with her. I would rather have something I could keep. I was prepared to spend £40 on a cashmere sweater for her birthday because I knew she did not have anything like that and I knew it would keep her warm in winter. She did have a few cashmere sweaters years ago that my dad bought her but when she moved to the care home the staff did not wash them properly so they all shrank and so my mum had to throw them away. I offered to complain because they should have compensated her for the loss of the very expensive sweaters. My dad got them from a sweater shop and there was a sale on and he got them for £50 each, but the full price of the sweaters was over £100. You can get cheaper cashmere from Marks and Spencers which is what I was going to do but my dad wanted her to have the best so he went to a specialist sweater shop hence the price.

    At the time my mum said to me I appreciate the offer but don't waste your money because the home do the washing and do not know how to wash cashmere sweaters and besides, the home is well heated so I do not need cashmere and I hardly go out so I just wear cheap acrylic sweaters. (a lady comes to the home once a month with sweaters to sell and my mum h.as bought a few of them).

    When my mum complained that she never got any flowers from me for her birthday and it upset her and she said it made her cry I thought to myself....... now you know how I felt three years ago when I came to see you for Christmas and you did not give me a Christmas card. I wasn't expecting a present but I was at least expecting a card and I was sitting with my mum in her room and she told me she had obtained a packet of Christmas cards and had written cards out to people because that is what you do at Christmas. I was absolutely shocked. I thought if that is your attitude and you think it is the correct thing to do, where is mine? You give cards to strangers but I am your daughter and you cannot give one to me. I knew my mum could not get out but I was visiting her and she could have taken a spare card and written it out and handed it to me. She would not even have to worry about going to the post office. I sat and looked at the pack of Christmas cards laying on her table and thought why does she not simply reach out, take a card, write in it happy Christmas from mum and just hand it to me? It seemed the easiest thing to do... I was so upset I started crying and my mum looked at me and said why are you crying and I told her and she said she did not feel obliged to give me a Christmas card and that if I felt she should, then I was expecting too much from her. I then said but there are a packet of cards over there on the table and you could reach over, take a card and write in it and just hand it to me. You do not have to worry about a stamp or going to the post box or anything. She still said no..... I will never forget that as long as I live.

    When it was my 50th birthday two years ago, I marked the occasion with a party. My mum knew it was a special birthday and said she wanted to get me something. I said what would really make me happy is paying for a concert ticket for me. I had booked up to see my favourite artist perform at a concert (classical music) and it would really have made my day if my mother could have paid for the ticket for my birthday. I said the ticket was only £20. She said no she would not pay for the ticket and I said but it would really make my birthday special and it is a special birthday. I asked her was it because it was £20 and she said no it was not that. She just felt it was not a suitable present to give to someone for their 50th.

    I no longer expect anything from her but she continues to expect things from me. At least I do visit and I do phone. Some adult kids do not even do that.. My mother ditched her own mother and did not even attend her funeral... I would never do that.
  16. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    There is a lot of pent up frustration in your posts. Sorry to be blunt but you have to let go of that or you will make yourself ill. You simply have to understand that logic and reasoning have no place in dementia. You cannot argue, reason or criticise. Accept the blame for things you have or haven't done and move on. I know it sounds unfair but that's what dementia is. It robs people of reasonable behaviour. Maybe your mum always was like that which is even more reason to grow a thick skin. Have you seen this link about compassionate communication? It might help you a little: http://forum.alzheimers.org.uk/show...ionate-Communication-with-the-Memory-Impaired
  17. Slugsta

    Slugsta Registered User

    Oh Poster, your distress is so clear, I do feel for you!

    It was my birthday in August, but not a special one. Mum hasn't actually remembered my birthday for several years, she used to get it mixed up with her sister's. However, since her sister died earlier this year she seems to have forgotten that she even existed so I did wonder what would happen.

    One day Mum asked when my birthday was and I told her it would be in a few days. She took out £10 from her purse and gave it to me, nothing more was said either then or later. No card or phone call on the day. The thing that hurt was that Mum had me going all around our local shops trying to find a gift for her friend's birthday, eventually I ordered something on-line for her, costing £30, and helped her choose a card. She remembered that date. I know I shouldn't compare - but knowing that doesn't stop it from hurting! I can't help but feel that she remembered what was important to her...
  18. poster

    poster Registered User

    Dec 28, 2011
    ok but to cut a long story short, my mum thinks I do not care for her and I think she does not care for me. Dementia did not prevent her sending others xmas cards and doing the right thing. Lets just leave it at that. I have accepted that her behaviour will never change and she has to accept that I am not able to be what she wants me to be and that is the problem. She still wishes and hopes for something that is never gonna happen.
  19. Katrine

    Katrine Registered User

    Jan 20, 2011
    And so do you, dear poster, and that's the tragedy of the situation. You set yourself up for her to knock you down. You tell her the things that are important to you, which gives her the power to deny you and hurt you. :(

    Think of it this way - if you had an enemy you wouldn't open yourself up like that. You would protect yourself by keeping your feelings to yourself. You wouldn't deliberately show vulnerability in the hope that they might suddenly turn empathetic and be kind to you. In your situation it is your mother's dementia that is your enemy.

    Whether there is an element of deliberate choice in her actions is irrelevant. It isn't fair, but no power on earth is going to change things so that you are treated fairly. The only person who can change things is you. Ask yourself, do I need this? Why do I think I can please my mother? Do I deserve better?

    Believe me, speaking as the daughter of a critical and selfish mother, you can NEVER do enough for them, and they will always feel free to tell you how much you are letting them down. You cannot win with someone who is a bottomless pit of neediness. Accept that this tragedy is a result of the way she has chosen to view the world. Her expectations have always been unreasonable and are now amplified by her mental condition.

    I remember the lightbulb moment when I had been metaphorically kicked once more by my mother, and was agonising out loud that there must be SOME way to make things right. My OH sighed in exasperation, he had heard it so many times before. He said:

    "You've got to face it, your mother is not normal. You cannot expect her to behave like a normal person because she isn't able to. Stop allowing her to hurt you. She will always do what she's always done. YOU are the one that has to do things differently."
  20. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    Beautifully put what I was trying to say earlier. :)

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