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Is it wrong to not visit my mother in her Alzheimer's facility?

I was one of five children growing up, the middle one. Early on I paired off with my rough and tumble older brother and was constantly in trouble and trying the patience of our mother. To get out of trouble I resorted to telling lies and half truths. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. We were punished according to the mores of the time, spanking, whippings with a skinny little belt. Once when I was 6, in her attempt to get me to admit to something I had not done, she strapped me to a chair and threatened to cut off all my hair. Only my older sister's intervention on my behalf kept her from doing so. Then the teen years began and with it all that annoys parents in general. When I was 14, I was relating the premise of common law marriage to her while she sat at her sewing machine mending some article of clothing, half listening to what I was saying. My boyfriend ( future husband ) and I had spent a great amount fo time together on a church bus heading to perform a play for another congregation. Off and on we had "slept" together as in being asleep on the bus at the same time. Imagine my surprise and dismay at being chased around the room by my scissor-wielding mother hollering at me that I'd better not have "Slept" with anyone! So, twice in my life she had physically threatened me with scissors. I grew up as we all do. And from time to time I thought I had forgiven her. After all, she had 5 kids. Thats a pretty heavy load. I was always causing her trouble. She lashed out. She's only human. So be it. But as my parents aged and became first feeble and then sick, my sisters and I ( sometimes the brothers too, to be fair) came to their aid in whatever way we could to help them. Daddy died a couple of years ago. I think that time was my mother's psychological breaking point that plunged her into dementia. And with it all the horrors that come from losing one's mind one day at a time. Last spring she broke her hip and had to go to the hospital for surgery to repair it. My sisters and I took turns staying with her to make sure she didn't try to get out of bed and hurt herself worse. She appeared to have developed a pyschosis while there...believing and portraying all sorts of mis-deeds by others, especially me and my sisters. At one point she actually hit me, socked me in the chin while I was trying to keep her from pulling out her IV line. She told my sister and me that we were both going to burn in hell for how we'd treated her. Intellectually, I know she's sick. Her mind is not right. And when I'm there I seem to set off whatever it is about her that makes her want to "push my buttons." But I just don't want to be around her any more. And it seems selfish and it seems disrespectful and unloving. Like I've deserted the person that gave me life. But I just can't do it any more. And the only 2 people whose opinions I care about on the subject are my younger sister and my husband. I don't want them to think less of me because I don't want to see her any more. My husband says no, he is ok with whatever I want to do. I haven't asked my sister. Surely someone else has been in my shoes. so, is it wrong to not visit my mother in her present state??

Status: Open    Aug 06, 2015 - 11:45 AM

Dementia, Relationships

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6 answers


Aug 07, 2015 - 08:58 PM

I don't want to pose myself as someone who has an idea of right or wrong on whether you visit her, but I do believe knowing she is being well cared for, I would consider it necessary that you distance yourself from her.
I say this because I, too, had a mother as you describe. I was told I was going straight to hell because I loved to dance. My mother didn't realize it, but she was addicted to tranquilizers in a day that they didn't know how addicting they were. Her impossible behavior wounded four of the 7 children she raised. I was one of the four. She attacked one time too often and somehow, I had an opportunity to have a peaceful, tear filled talk with her before the dementia was intense. I shared with her how hurt I felt about how she talked to me and compared me to my "better sister" What was most interesting was, she was totally unaware of my feeling unloved. We both cried and a forgiveness and beautiful healing came between us. Even though the dementia progressed, she was sweet to me the rest of her life and she knew all of us until the end.
I would never fault you with staying away. You have been hurt enough. I would suggest, however that you might perhaps with someone who loves you, face her and tell her how she has hurt you. Even if there is not a reconciliation, you will be free of the control she has had on you most of your life. My mother and my husband both were verbally abusive to me. Chains fell off of me when I confronted each of them. From that day on, I was never afraid of them. Since that day, no one has ever treated me with disrespect. I will nip it in the bud. It's sounds unthinkable to confront someone who is in a weakened state. However, I think you need to be free and if she never talks to you again, you are free of your tormentor. Carol Arbuckle RN, BSN

Source: Carol Arbuckle RN,BSN--a soul set free

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By dawn.reminsky on Jul 27, 2016 - 12:19 PM | Like (0)  |  Report

I am sorry for you and the abuse your mom put you through. I have a similar story, but it is my sister that holds onto the memories. My sister is the one that stays away. I think if your mother is abusive to you when you visit, it is okay for you to stay away. Yes, we both know she is sick, but you also have to look after yourself. However, there are other ways to support your mom and more importantly, the ones that will be left to deal with your mom. My sister has removed herself from discussing, helping and caring for my mom. I am left without anyone to talk to or to help. I would strongly suggest you keep in touch with your siblings and allow them to vent to you. Adding your own two cents is fine. You can also send things to your mom if you desire. This way, while you aren't physically there, you are there for her. I think that at a point, it is too late to confront your mom. My sister confronted my mom and all that happened was my mom was so confused and it took me several weeks of having to work things out. It hurt my mother and she couldn't understand the tongue lashing my sister laid onto her. However, if you want to lay things to rest, you can always write a letter to your mom, but not send it. Overall, yes, you don't have to visit and get abused. There is nothing wrong with that. You must protect yourself. BUT, for the sake of the caretakers, please be there for them.

By sjtatham on Feb 04, 2017 - 02:28 PM | Like (0)  |  Report

You aren't alone. My mother was abusive, more so to my sister who can still feel it when Mom lashes out at her. Sis said she would do anything for Mom if Mom came to say, " Who is that lovely girl helping me." Now with her dementia, my sister sees her several times a week. Because I live states away, I Skype less often with Mom through a helpful friend. Mom seems to still know the three of us but doesn't remember anything after five minutes. Less than a year before Mom was diagnosed with dementia, I did have a chance to talk frankly to her and say that our experience with her was similar to how she felt about her own verbally abusive dad. I have not suffered under her tongue as has my sister, but maybe this talk hit its mark. Soon after that she began closing up to the outside world more and more. Now she is in a dementia home. She doesn't remember when we contact her or not. Sleeps most of the day and doesn't have anything to add to any conversation. It's sad.

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Aug 09, 2015 - 10:59 AM

You should definately talk to your sister but maybe you should also talk to her doctor. If you "set her off" it may be better for her as well as you not to see her. Are you going to visit her alone or does someone go with you? Maybe if you had your sister or husband there at the same time it would lessen the aggravation. I know it's a hard decsion, one I haven't had to make yet, but it's just around the corner. Good Luck and God Bless

Aug 09, 2015 - 09:46 PM

I completely understand. I am at this point also.
My mom thinks I am the mischievous one. She proceeded to push me and punch me in the face for no reason.
My mom has become an evil person, and I am done. She has thrown more temper tantrums in the past two weeks than I can count.
She scares me, I don't want to become her punching bag.
When she is angry, you can see in her eyes, this is not her.
She might be possessed, maybe an exorcism would do the trick.
Either way, I am DONE! No more visits, accepting phone calls, taking her out for a drive.
She is no longer my mom, just a shell of the person she used to be.
So sad, but I can't deal with her anymore.

Karma is coming back to her, she hated her mom and put her in a county run nursing home that was disgusting. I have placed my mom in the best place ever. Our inheritance will be negative zero, but at least I know - someone else can deal with her!

Never going back again.

Aug 10, 2015 - 10:29 AM

I am one of 7 children currently dealing with my Mom and her disease. It is amazing how similiar the stories are of the others that are in the same position. My Mom has become a very mean and unhappy person, however I do believe she knows exactly what to say to get to each one of her children and hurt their feelings. At the beginning this was very hard for all of us to handle, but we have all now come to the realization that as sad as it is for us to have to deal with, it must be 10x worse for her having to live with. We have changed our way of dealing with her outbursts. We realize that her mind is deteriorating little by little. We have found that when we don't show aggrivation toward the things she says, but rather take them light hearted and make a funny remark back to her, she slowly retreats in her meanness. This does not work all the time, but it does help some. You have to realize that her brain is misfiring all the time, which makes her crazy and say things she would never say if she were well. She does'nt feel good and it is out of her control to stop the misfiring in her brain. My only advice is to try to kill her with kindness. Try not to take everything she says to heart. If it doesn't help her, at least it might help you. I would advise you to continue to see her, for as long as she still knows who you are and try to comfort her as much as possible. Good Luck - I would not wish this disease on anyone! It is absolutely heart breaking.

Aug 10, 2015 - 03:02 PM

As a former administrator in assisted living, working with families everyday, if I had a family who didn't (or couldn't) visit for whatever reason I did my best to up the communication, be it an occasional email or picture send via email to set their mind at ease. I feel confident in saying if your presence does in fact 'set her off' than I am certain the staff would appreciate you taking a backseat to her care needs as they are left to deal with the rath once one leaves. Your mother is VERY lucky to have you on her side and being cognizant of her needs (and the buttons your presence may push) is not an easy place to be in. I can see where you are both torn and feeling guilty. Please do not feel guilty. Discuss your concerns directly with the administration where she is living and/or your close family members, they are your support sytem for sure.

Nov 12, 2015 - 01:00 PM

My Mother was abusive toward me her entire life. She still is at 94 with Alzheimer's. I requested and received a Court Appointed legal guardian. I no longer see her. I do speak with her on the telephone for 15 minutes every day. We sing her old favorite songs instead of trying to have a rational conversation. It has worked very well. She's happy and so am I.
When the disease advances to the point that she no longer knows who I am, I will cease the phone calls. She has vast assets which are quickly being eroded by her unpleasant and unethical legal guardian. I don't need/care/want an inheritance.
i cannot say the same for her other family members. As long as my Mother is appropriately cared for in her home and reasonably happy, I force myself to bite my tongue. Sometimes when I am feeling angry or overwhelmed by the nastiness of her guardian and money hungry relatives, I remind myself that I have done my best to protect her.
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By betsyponte on Nov 15, 2016 - 06:42 PM | Like (0)  |  Report

SOOoo here I am, the daughter-in-law who made decisions, physically cared for, and filled out all the paperwork for care that her natural children would not do. I am looking from the outside at the hurt carried on by past parenting that failed:?/( their eyes).
BOO HOO kids, build a bridge and get over it. This is not about YOU.
Others SEE. Your actions. Your behavior, and hear your excuses. Be the example. Please. Visit your relatives if at all possible. Treat them how you want to be treated. My mother-in-law can no longer speak, but in her last verbal years, when her mind misfired, when she would get lost in her own familiar home, when she put holes in the wall, tore down curtains because she was "trapped" and when she also told anyone who would listen, how she hated me, loathed me, and yes physically attacked me (and also her ever-loving husband) ...we all held on.
Your relative is ill. Read the book, "The 36 hour day" The brain inside is slowly shrinking. This is a most awesomely terrible time. Do not attempt to care for your ill one by yourself. Get help, and take care for goodness sake!
Be the example. Be comforting. Let others see how to protect the dignity of the aging, and now diseased person who raised you. (or, in my case, the one who raised the LOVE of my life, my husband).
Were YOU not protected the first 3,4,5,6 years of your young life?
Forgiveness is Freedom. Let your light shine. Love conquers ALL...and is eternal :)

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