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Welcome to CareNotes. In this special section we will feature a reader's letter and provide an opportunity for an interactive exchange that will help find some answers and possible solutions to concerns. If you wish to respond to this letter, simple follow the link provided at the end of the letter and add your comments and thoughts to our CareNotes Board.

This Week's Carenote - 07/10/12

I take care of my mother, who can be very demanding and verbally mean to me. She has admitted to my younger sister that she is indeed very selfish, but it does not change how her words and behaviors affect me. My sister has also informed me that if I get crabby with my mother in reaction, it could be construed as elderly abuse. Am I supposed to walk on pins and needles and just deal with her meanness? Or can I tell her how I feel crabby at times? Or even just say, "I'm sick and tired of being treated this way when I am trying to help you"? I honestly do so much for her.


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Name: Anne
Location: Asheville, NC
Date: 07/10/2012
Time: 03:56 PM


I am living with the same problem. My mother has lived with me for 15 years. She has been declining for 2 years and has been emotionally abusive most of those 2 years. She was never a loving or nuturing person but now she is mean. She says things to me that devastate me. I can't get away from her because she needs total care. There is nothing wrong with her mind so I feel like she is lashing out at me because she is not happy with her situation. I am going to counseling now and even though I can't confront her yet, I am working through my own feelings and that has been a wonderful help. Please seek a counselor with experience dealing with the elderly they seem to have an insight that makes a big difference in thier counseling stratgies. Good luck and remember there are alot of us out here dealing with the same problems if you need to talk.

Name: Roxanna
Location: Champaign
Date: 07/10/2012
Time: 12:42 PM


Expressing how you feel about the way you are treated IS NOT ELDER ABUSE.

Name: Leslie Ahern
Location: Care Advising /
Date: 07/10/2012
Time: 09:18 AM


Sadly many times a care recipient will take out their own feelings of sadness, loss and frustration by being angry and abusive toward their caregiver(s).This should not be tolerated as it will become increasingly toxic and harmful to both parties.You really need a counselor or support group or a care advisor to be able to help you frame ways to respond to her behavior. Even an online chat room would be helful. You should not walk on pins and needles but set firm boundaries. It is perfectly fine to say "You are disrespecting me and my efforts to help so I need to remove myself until that behavior stops.

Date: 07/10/2012
Time: 08:24 AM


Visit your Mom less often. When you are with her attend an activity together like Bingo where focus is on something else and there's more people around. If she doesn't appreciate you don't go for longer periods of time or go with your sister or with a friend. Use the time you don't go visit her to take care of YOU!!! You could also send her a card or note if you were so inclined to do so.

Name: Dawn Song
Location: OR
Date: 07/10/2012
Time: 08:11 AM


I echo "Someone Who Cares" and agree it is probably a control issue: feeling helpless about her situation and guilty about being a burden to you and perhaps some feeling of entitlement ("I deserve the best care") I dealt with this with my husband by saying "You have the right to your feelings and how you express them, and I have the right to not be around you when you are expressing them in a way that hurts me. When you say (fill in the blank) or when you use that tone of voice, I feel (fill in the blank e.g. criticized, condemned, hurt, threatened, fearful, abused, etc.) and I will leave the room for (fill in the blank 5 min, 10 min, etc.) and check back in to see if you are feeling better." And then I did it, even though we may have been in the middle of something. Sure, she will be mad, but it will give her the message. I also gave my husband some suggestions on how he could express himself in a way that did not hurt me. Don't listen to statements like "You are just too sensitive" or "You take things too personally" These are "you" statements and simply not valid (they are blame and put downs). Help her phrase it in an "I" statement. "When you ......, I feel.....I want....." This will also help you detach emotionally. Sometimes I just had to say "Try again. I'm not receiving that in a way I can hear it." Sometimes I just had to say to myself, "It's not about me" and try to see things from his perspective (being ill is the pits!!) Pat yourself on the back and hug your heart for your immense gift to your mom.

Name: Carla
Location: Longboat Key, Florida
Date: 07/10/2012
Time: 08:01 AM


You are not alone! As our parents age, they can become mean to the one that they love, and especially to the ones in the closest ear shot. I also receive this abuse and cruelty from my mother that I care for. It is frustrating and terribly ungrateful. I give her every moment, yet she throws it back in my face that I have ruined her life by caring for her. But I have to remember that she is reacting out of pain or fears or confusion. I just have to get away from her when I feel like I can't take it anymore. I don't know the answer, but I do know that this will not last forever. You are doing a good thing, and one day karma will come back and reward you. Good luck, I'll be thinking of you. Carla

Name: Helen
Location: Vero Beach, Florida
Date: 07/10/2012
Time: 08:00 AM


YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I let go on my husband about every Two weeks which is about how long I can take his verbal abuse. It must penetrate some what because he stops abusing me for about two or three days and then it starts all over again. I know that he can't help himself but I personally don't believe that illness is an excuse to accept his abuse. It's Healthy for me to act on it. When it gets too much then I will have no alternative but to place him in a home. It's been almost five years now and I am worn Even tho I am not pleased by my reaction, it seems to work for me and for him.

Name: Jackie Kelley RN
Location: Bella Vista Community Church
Date: 07/10/2012
Time: 07:56 AM


Sandy, Letting your mother know how you feel is appropriate and important for both of you. However, HOW you talk to your mother can make all the difference. Have mom sit down with you and look her in the eye. Then state how you are feeling about the way you are treated in a quiet and caring manner. For Example: "Mom, do you realize how it hurts me when you talk to me like that? I love you and I am trying to help you, but when you talk to me like that I get very defensive and crabby. Then I don't like either one of us. What can we do to change this behavior?" Right now you two are on a merry-go-round where she is mean and then you get crabby and then she gets mean and you get crabbier. Inserting responsibility to both of you may help and letting the love flow between you may also be the bridge. God Bless you and hope this helps. Jackie

Name: tj
Location: wv
Date: 07/10/2012
Time: 06:46 AM


Tell mom how her behavior makes you feel, involve your sister more in mom's care so she understands wht you are going through. Seek a family caregiver support group, call your local area agency on aging or senior center for more information. Hope this helps, being a caregiver isn't easy but you must care for yourself first or you will be no good for anyone else.

Name: Caregiver
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Date: 07/10/2012
Time: 06:41 AM


Hello Sandy, I would recommend taking a few minutes when you are alone and calm to plan for the next time you find yourself in a heated and potentially hurtful situation. When ___ happens my best self will do or say ______. It is so nice to have a few options already planned out so that you can rely on them in difficult situations. Good luck.

Name: Someone Who Cares
Location: Georgia
Date: 07/10/2012
Time: 06:07 AM


Hi Sandy, It is not uncommon to see interpersonal issues arise when adult children care for a parent. Many of these issues stem from childhood. First off to answer your question, no you don't have to walk on pins and needles, but a good clear communication of your feelings without any emotion attached to them would be good. It would validate your feelings and let you mother understand from where you are coming. The statement might look like, "I feel X (fill in feeling) when you are selfish (or whatever you perceive her to be). Sometimes a good old fashion unemotional conversation is helpful. Perhaps since your sister seems to be able to communicate with your mother maybe she can help. Otherwise, it might be helpful to seek some assistance from a clergy member or counselor who can facilitate a conversation between you two to clear the air. Perhaps your mother's way of dealing with having to be "cared" for is to be selfish so she feels in control. You may wish to ask yourself where else in your life do you feel the same way? Perhaps there is a life lesson generously provided by the Universe for you to heal this wound in your self-esteem. It is obvious you love your mother and I'm sure she loves you, I know you can work this out. Have faith in yourself. Hope this helps, Someone Who Cares



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