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Dealing with the elderly

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  • Why am I a nice person?? This is my ex-husband's aunt, I divorced him in 1978 and owe her nothing really. Her and I were never close, and the rest of my ex's family doesn't bother with me or my children. She has alienated her whole family - no-one will have anything to do with her. But she is 85, just moved into my city, into a retirement home, diabetic and blind and had no-one to help her.



    So, despite still recovering from a broken leg myself, my husband and I have been driving her to appointments, to the bank, shopping. We had her over for a Christmas party just days after she first called me to say she was now living here in town. We even had a surprise party for her birthday with all my kids, their spouses and children recently. I ask for nothing in return, but she takes us out to dinner after we run errands, and that's nice.



    But she rags on everyone, everyone is out to get her, everyone is taking advantage of her, everyone is evil and mean - and I am the only one she says understands. She even says things about my husband, about my children, about their spouses that are just not true, and I cannot argue with her.



    If I try to tell her that she is wrong, that what she is saying is not true, she tells me I am being blind, and letting people take advantage of me. I know she is projecting her own problems on me, and I really try hard not to let it get to me. But it makes me crazy to listen to her say these things about the people I love. Sometimes I want to run around the house screaming!!



    She wishes I was completely healed, so I could go on shopping trips with her, spend more time with her, come and hang out at the retirement home with her, be her best buddy!



    Honestly, I am just trying to help because I can imagine how hard it must be to be old, alone and need help. But I have a life, a job, a family - and she makes me glad I broke my leg and cannot be at her beck & call!!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Catherine on 8th February 2008
  • Oh man, you are really in a difficult place with this lady!! Good luck!!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Diane on 9th February 2008
  • I just had a major confrontation with a couple of family members this week. What ended up helping the situation was to tell them how I felt, and leave it at that. No arguing back and forth no trying to convince them of my position. I am studying the art of non-defensive communication at the moment and trying my hardest to follow the principles. That's a really tough situation that you are in, and I hope that something resolves!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by mamajama on 9th February 2008
  • Hi. I AM elderly, in years anyhow. 50!

    But I agree this woman should not be able to run you around like that.

    My mother, who abandoned me when I was a baby and came back into my life at age 20, is a similar demanding woman and she is 84. Hard as it is, I put my foot down and I see her about five times a year, on MY terms.

    We only live once, sweetie.

    Gotta live on our own terms.

    Kathryn
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by on 9th February 2008
  • Being nice and being a doormat are two different things. i would think there is probably a reason that none of yoru ex-husbands family will care for her. they have probably delt with what you are going through for YEARS. People do not suddenly get like that at 80! Just because she has physical problems and has lived X number of years does not mean she gets to take advantage of you.



    Kathryn is right - you have to let her know you would like to help her and take care of her and you will only do so on your own terms (list out days, activities, and ammount of time) if she doesnt accept it, it is HER CHOICE - you are not abandoning her! you are giving her an opportunity to be helped in a way that allows you to remain sane if she doenst want it than fine. you shouldn t feel guilty because you have still given her options.



    my $.02 anyway hehehe
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Kate on 9th February 2008
  • Quoting: mamajama
    I just had a major confrontation with a couple of family members this week. What ended up helping the situation was to tell them how I felt, and leave it at that. No arguing back and forth no trying to convince them of my position. I am studying the art of non-defensive communication at the moment and trying my hardest to follow the principles. That's a really tough situation that you are in, and I hope that something resolves!




    Do you have a link for "the art of non-defensive communication"? I am really interested.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Uhura on 12th February 2008
  • Catherine, Kate and Katherine are right.



    I would try being honest with her about your feelings and including a firm statement about needing to back away if things keep going the way they are.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Uhura on 12th February 2008
  • Thanks everyone for your thoughts and help. I haven't let her use me as a doormat, she just wants to! LOL



    I always remind her that she has to give me at least a day's notice if she needs to run an errand, so I can see if we are free. I will not drop everything to run and help, even though she wishes I would. I do need to stop being so polite though, when she says things that are not true.



    That day she had phoned 3 times because she wanted me to take her out, and I told her each time that my husband would not be home before 4:30, so we could not make any plans that day. Still she called at 4:30, to see if he was home yet and asked what we were having for dinner. Then told me she didn't like it - too bad, I didn't invite you!



    Anyhow, it was just a bad day, with a day-long headache, a frustrating computer that was acting up, and then her 3 calls that ended in saying things about my family.



    Interestingly enough, she hasn't called since. Since she tells me she can "read between the lines" - maybe she finally realized how mad she was making me, even though I was trying to be polite.



    But, when she calls again, I will tell her that I will not tolerate her ragging on my family, if she wants my help. I have backed away in the past, before my wedding a few years ago, when the stress got to be too much. Actually, I am surprised she has forgiven me for that. She said it proved to her that I wasn't after her money. LOL



    Thanks again!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Catherine on 12th February 2008
  • Quoting: kathryncleve
    Hi. I AM elderly, in years anyhow. 50!




    Kathryn, don't say you are elderly!! I am older than you, 53 and I don't think of myself as old...
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Catherine on 12th February 2008
  • 53 is in no way "old"!



    Catherine, good luck with this situation. I have the feeling that things may have died down now; however, at some point you'll probably be forced to draw your line in the sand.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Uhura on 25th February 2008

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