Author Topic: We're in the Doghouse with Mom...  (Read 4871 times)

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Thipu1

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We're in the Doghouse with Mom...
« on: November 24, 2012, 11:58:56 AM »
...because we weren't there for Thanksgiving.  We will bite the bullet and visit in a few weeks but Thanksgiving was impossible.

Late Saturday, we returned home from three weeks abroad.  Sunday morning, we received the 'summons' for the holiday.  We were to take the bus (a five and a half hour ride) on Monday and stay the week at her apartment.  When we got the message, we hadn't even started unpacking and explained the situation in a phone call.  Mom was a bit disappointed but seemed all right.

Thursday, we made our Thanksgiving phone call and the situation was a bit different.  After the opening greetings, Mom handed our call off to 'Eric'. 

Eric was someone we had never heard of before, but Mom had her reasons.  Eric's parents live in the same facility as Mom and he was to be the model of the 'good son' who visited his parents on Thanksgiving.  It made no difference that Eric lived a half hour away and could drive.  We were to feel very ashamed that we didn't do what he did. 

Eric seemed as confused at talking to us as we were talking to him.  Mom was given back the phone.

She asked Mr. Thipu about our trip and he started to give her the run-down.  He soon got cut off. 

'I don't want to hear the details.  I just want to hear about all the BEAUTIFUL islands you visited'.

'The islands we visited were the UK, the Azores and Bermuda.  Guess what Mom?  It rained in every one of them.  These things happen in November'.

 We didn't say that but we thought it.  The conversation was almost immediately ended.

The whole thing left us with an unpleasant feeling but it wasn't shame at not visiting Mom.  We will visit her in December but, what she wanted for Thanksgiving was just something we couldn't do. 

In the last year or so, Mom has been very off-putting to family members who do visit her.  It's getting to be a problem and we're afraid that she will be receiving fewer and fewer visitors. we don't want to see this happen but we shouldn't have to be the 'saving remnant' of the family, so to speak. 

Is there anything we can do? 






charlatan

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Re: We're in the Doghouse with Mom...
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2012, 12:09:10 PM »
I don't know your mom's history so please pardon the question, but is she in a senior's facility or one for people with dementia or something like that?

I ask because personality changes are common with age-related mental deterioration. In that case there may not be anything you can do except make sure your mother knows when you will be there and not beat yourself up for those times when you cannot be there.

Thipu1

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Re: We're in the Doghouse with Mom...
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2012, 12:28:15 PM »
No. Mom has her own apartment in an independent living community. He place is one that people in NYC would kill to have. 

  When the weather is good she plays nine holes of golf once a week with other ladies of her age.  When family members come to visit, she cooks for them.  She shows no signs of dementia but she was always a bit demanding and, since she entered her Nineties it's become more pronounced. 

Luci

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Re: We're in the Doghouse with Mom...
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2012, 01:49:35 PM »
I don't know your mom's history so please pardon the question, but is she in a senior's facility or one for people with dementia or something like that?

I ask because personality changes are common with age-related mental deterioration. In that case there may not be anything you can do except make sure your mother knows when you will be there and not beat yourself up for those times when you cannot be there.
No. Mom has her own apartment in an independent living community. He place is one that people in NYC would kill to have. 

  When the weather is good she plays nine holes of golf once a week with other ladies of her age.  When family members come to visit, she cooks for them.  She shows no signs of dementia but she was always a bit demanding and, since she entered her Nineties it's become more pronounced. 

Nicely put, Charlatan.

Thipu, just because Mom is on her own doesn't mean she is completely fine. She is able to handle her own affairs and life, but may be loosing some filters. I did see someone I loved kind of going that way. We finally just accepted her little abuses, shrugged, and went on. Honestly, your mom's activities (golf) are probably slowing down the inevitable as well as being a sign she is doing well so please be grateful for that. Probably no intervention is needed now; just understanding, a thicker skin, and tolerance. A way thicker skin, and a closed mouth.

I find myself being a lot more blunt about some things (eHellions may have noticed), and am getting pretty darn tired of backtracking and saying, "So sorry. Badly stated. What I meant was ................". I know soon I will be loosing that filter. Scary stuff.

By the way, I would love to hear bout your vacation. And I will forgive you for missing Thanksgiving with us. I know you were tired and that is a huge trip just for a dinner! The companionship we can make up soon!

JoieGirl7

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Re: We're in the Doghouse with Mom...
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2012, 03:04:00 PM »
Wait a minute!  Your mom is in her 90s?
 
Cut her some slack and just be understanding.

Don't get defensive about her tactics--be bigger than that.  Express your disappointment that the situation has caused you to be apart and leave it at that.
 
The situation may get more difficult as time goes on.  It's just part of life.  It's a sad part of life, but it is what it is.

cicero

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Re: We're in the Doghouse with Mom...
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2012, 03:14:49 PM »
Wait a minute!  Your mom is in her 90s?
 
Cut her some slack and just be understanding.

Don't get defensive about her tactics--be bigger than that.  Express your disappointment that the situation has caused you to be apart and leave it at that.
 
The situation may get more difficult as time goes on.  It's just part of life.  It's a sad part of life, but it is what it is.
I agree.

and as for what can you do - just try to visit her when you can.

My father is in his 80s and can be extremely difficult to spend time with. he is not evil, or toxic, but he has his issues that get worse and worse. I take deep breaths and do my best. I commiserate with my friends who are going thru the same things with their parents.

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Deetee

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Re: We're in the Doghouse with Mom...
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2012, 03:21:02 PM »
If she is in her 90's (and has not been a guilt tripping person of unpleasantness her whole life) just cut her some slack.

Just think that her filters are going and she misses you and likes to see you. And, if she was expecting to see you, finding out a week before that she won't see you at would be pretty disapointing.

This doesn't mean you need to visit when it doesn't work for you or anything like that, but you will likely need some extra thick skin.


Peregrine

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Re: We're in the Doghouse with Mom...
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2012, 03:28:36 PM »
My Mom calls this "Losing the thin veneer of civility."  She first noticed it with my Grandmother who had Parkinson's and (almost but not quite) some alzheimers type dementia issues.  She survived WWII, and had a hard time dealing with Asian caretakers at her care facility.  During her good times she was perfectly fine, but during certain episodes she became convinced that they were trying to kill her.

I have noticed the same issues start to rear their head with my other grandparents.  They just seem to lose that brain to mouth filter as they are ageing....Both are now in their 90's and while in reasonable health for their age, the don't get out as much anymore, and spend a lot of time watching 24 hour news channels which seems to have made them more paranoid and outspoken.

I don't think there is much you can do about it, other than ignoring it and moving on.

lkdrymom

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Re: We're in the Doghouse with Mom...
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2012, 04:02:05 PM »
I don't see where age has anything to do with it. I see it as more of 'bragging rights'. My grandmother used to love saying "see what my son did for me...see what grand daughter did for me".  Her friend's son showed up but you couldn't...in her mind it made her look bad to her friends. You could do a million things for her but she will still be mad at the one time others saw you weren't there.

The Wild One, Forever

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Re: We're in the Doghouse with Mom...
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2012, 04:06:29 PM »
Wait a minute!  Your mom is in her 90s?
 
Cut her some slack and just be understanding.

Don't get defensive about her tactics--be bigger than that.  Express your disappointment that the situation has caused you to be apart and leave it at that.
 
The situation may get more difficult as time goes on.  It's just part of life.  It's a sad part of life, but it is what it is.

This is a great assessment, and it's sad but true.  My own parents are nowhere close to their nineties, in excellent health, but I have noticed only over the past couple of years that their personalities are changing ever so slightly.  And it's one of the most difficult things to come to terms with.  It's unfortunate that she tried to lay such a guilt trip on you.  Is there any chance that all will be forgiven and forgotten by the time you get to visit her next month? 

All that said, I am impressed that your mother golfs and cooks!  I want to be able to do all that in my nineties, that's amazing. 
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SPuck

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Re: We're in the Doghouse with Mom...
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2012, 04:53:28 PM »
Let her be angry.

If she tries to guilt trip you cut her off and end the conversation quickly. The only slack I would give her at this age is to let it go under the rug as long as she doesn't try to drag it back out.

nayberry

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Re: We're in the Doghouse with Mom...
« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2012, 05:00:45 PM »
it is difficult when family members get older,  i'm experiencing this with grandparents and their siblings.

the last remaining are in late 80's and 90's and have had health, mental and physical, issues become more apparent over the last couple of years.  He is 98 and was still living on his own (with a cleaner and weekly visits by us) up until early last year.  sadly he has alzheimers and now is back in the 1950's when he had his own business and sometimes you see him sat as if he is assembling or sewing something.  he does have good days when he recognises us and bad when he has no idea who he is let alone us.  We are lucky that he is in a lovely care facility and within 10 mins of us instead of over an hour away.  i know that he is going to join his late wife soon though, and sadly for my father as  (it is his uncle) it'll be farewell to the last of his mother's family of that generation. 
his personality can have days when he's not who he would consider as himself, and that's the nature of the illness sadly.

she has taken to her bed, not ill just decided to not get up.  and that breaks my heart as she is (i know i shouldn't have one but she is!) my favourite grandparent.  she spoilt us with love and home baking.  hugs and trips out, not needing to buy us things, we are the only grandchildren on that side of the family and the attention was the best thing.  i'm almost too sad to see her at the moment as i'm dealing with health issues and am not sure i could keep it under control long enough to visit.

sorry i got a bit rambly there, what i meant to say is don't feel guilty Thipu, parents and grandparents get older and we can only do so much for them and as you had only just gotten back from a long trip i do think she was a little OTT in her demand that you must be there for thanksgiving.  would it soften her if you sent her some pictures from your trip?  maybe in an album book (online printers? photobox in uk, not sure US)

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Re: We're in the Doghouse with Mom...
« Reply #12 on: November 24, 2012, 09:26:18 PM »
I would let her be angry as well, just because she really expected you to pack up again after you've spent three weeks traveling. That's the last thing you wanted to do, especally on the same day you returned. Regardless of her age, I think that's a tall order to fill.

Thipu1

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Re: We're in the Doghouse with Mom...
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2012, 11:23:15 AM »
Thanks everyone for excellent advice. 

We have had experience with aging relatives.  Both of my parents lived into their 80s as did Mr. Thipu's Dad.  We know that when people of advanced age start going downhill,  it tends to happen rapidly. 

The place where MIL lives is known as a 'Continuing Care Community'. In the independent apartments, twice weekly 'maid services' keep an eye out to make sure the residents are capable.  Residents also get any medications they may need through a carefully monitored on-site pharmacy.  If there was any major problem with MIL we would be notified.

  When they are no longer able to live alone, residents move into assisted living in the same complex and, as far as they are capable, take part in all activities. 

When they really become frail, residents move into the 'Health Center' which is a true nursing home.  The community also has a special place for those suffering from dementia..

MIL has always been an expert on the way 'things should be'.  Also, bragging rights are important where she lives.  MIL would like nothing better to lead the parade of her two children with their spouses, her three grandchildren with their spouses and her six great-grandchildren into the Dining Room for Dinner. 

That isn't going to happen but that just proves to her that we are not 'good children'.  She will get over this in a week or so.  Next time we phone, she's likely to blow us off because she has a reserved time for WII Tennis but she will be cheerful when she does it.

Hey, may everyone have the same problems with an aging relative that we have.

Thanks again for all the thoughtful and

WillyNilly

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Re: We're in the Doghouse with Mom...
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2012, 03:53:23 PM »
We know that when people of advanced age start going downhill,  it tends to happen rapidly. 


In my experience this is not the case at all.  Sure in the very very end things accelerate but actually I have witnessed 3 grandparents on a slow steady years-long decline.  It started with small things, things we didn't even notice until retrospectively looking at the big picture.  Verbal filters go, food tastes change, interests and hobbies change or get dropped/repicked up, mood changes, etc.  These things happen over the course of years not months.

In many ways the rapid decline is much easier to deal with.  Please don't ignore the signs of a slow decline though.  When someone has a rapid decline you notice "hey mom can't walk anymore" with a slow decline its less noticeable to see "hey last month mom could walk 2000 steps a day, this week she can only walk 1900 steps a day."  The decline in not seen, but its there. Its especially hard to notice when there's help - a service to do her laundry, a van to drive to the grocery store, the option of the main dining room instead of cooking, etc - because there are no obvious symptoms of the decline.