Mum makes me feel miserable

I look after my mum who lives nearby. She is nearly 90.
Lately I have noticed a change in her. She never has a kind word to say to me anymore. When I give her her dinner she just says negative things about it, like ‘Oh, I can’t eat all that!’
Today I hadn’t even taken my coat off and she told me off for leaving the window open last night.
It’s always ‘You haven’t done …’ and ‘You didn’t do…’ She never shows appreciation for what I do.
I have two sisters who help out occasionally (if the traffic is good and the weather is fine! etc). But lately I feel they are all against me.
My mum has advanced osteoporosis/ osteoarthritis in her hip and lives in a bungalow. She refuses to have a hip replacement, so is in pain. She manages her own personal care.
Have you any advice on how to cope with her criticism and moaning?

Hi Karen,
that must be very wearing to put up with. I know when S is very moany it starts to eat up my tolerance.

You are not alone in having an ungrateful caree, others on here have said the same thing.

I think you have two options - ignore it or walk away. So, either respond, “Just eat want you can manage,” with a smile (if you can manage it) and refuse to engage in any discussion about it or "Well if it happens again, just close it."Or you could say, “Mum, I came to help you but if you are only going to criticise, then I’m going to go now and I’ll see you tomorrow,” and then follow through.

Does she claim Attendance Allowance? She can use this money to pay for a cleaner, help with her laundry etc which would relieve the pressure on you.

The best thing she could do though, would be to get her hip done. I have lived with hip pain and put off the op and eventually had to have it because of the pain and impact on my mobility - then wished I’d had it sooner.

PS Or you could suggest she has Farm foods or similar delivered and then she can just pop them in the microwave.

I’m afraid in many cases caring always seems to fall to one person. Unless from the beginning ground rules are put in place.

I am a daughter in law. My in laws have two daughters two sons (one being my husband - who I am a full time carer for). But my in laws always rely on me. As I have a back ground of Social Services and related knowledge etc.

It’s time to divide up the duties. Or discuss as siblings who does what. Let them experience what you do.

It’s your Mum’s right to have an operation or not on her hip. However, there needs to be a conversation. Yes, it’s her choice. But he she would be able to do the things. If her hip was operated on. Only you and she know her capabilities. I suspected she is frustrated and know’s she would do better. If the hip was fixed. But she can not be allowed. To expect you to run around and listen to negative comments.

Thank you Melly and Sunny for your kind and helpful replies. Just knowing someone’s listening helps!
Mum does get Attendance Allowance and she gives it to me because she knows how little Carer’s allowance is.
My guess is that my mum is depressed. My dad died just over a year ago and we both really miss him. Plus the cold weather makes her feel worse. She has other minor ailments too. Mum has an appointment next week to see her GP.
Fortunately Mum can manage on her own indoors even though she is in pain and her hip bone is very stiff. She had an x-ray last year and it showed that all the cartilage has worn away from her right hip. She takes Tramadol. Mentally she is very alert.
I think from now on I will remind her that I am a human being with feelings and I want her to sometimes show her appreciation .

Also Mum’s mobility is getting so poor that eventually she is going to be bed bound and will have to go into a nursing home. She doesn’t want that either!

The “very elderly” simply lose the ability to see what others do for them, especially when their world has shrunk to just their home. Forget about trying to change it, just a waste of time.

Tramadol is pretty powerful stuff, and I’m wondering if that is partly responsible for her mood. I was widowed 14 years ago, it’s very tough at any age. Might be worth reminding mum that she was very lucky to have so many years with dad. My husband died at 58!

How long as Mum been on Tramadol. Maybe it’s worth having a conversation with the G.P.

Dear Bowlingbun, Thank you for your reply. I am so very sorry to hear that your husband died at such a young age. How very sad.
Mum has been on Tramadol for approx 3 years. She only takes 1 tablet each day.
Dear Sunny, Thank you for your reply. I will talk to Mum’s GP next week and will mention the Tramadol.


It can be very ‘wearing’ when they behave like this. My Mum now lives with me, she has vascular dementia. She is not too bad at the moment, but things will get worse at some point.
She has always been a ‘glass half empty’ person and some days I either ignore it, or just go and sit in another room. Some days she comes to walk the dog with me. The other day it was… too cold, too muddy, too far, too ‘everything!’ other days we walk the dog in exactly the same place quite happily. My Mum also says every night’ Oh I won’t eat all that’ and I just say well eat what you want of it, she always manages it. Sometimes I know what she is going to say and I almost turn my hearing off for a minute and just ignore it.
Anyway, you are doing a great job!! I just came across this [on an American website] and it really made me think about my caring roll. I will make sure I keep it handy for when I need a boost!

  1. Make a Personal Declaration
    Think about the following self-statements and decide to make them a part of your daily life:

Taking care of myself is necessary if I am to give care to others.
I know my own limitations and strengths. I seek help when I need it
I have the right to feel what I feel and to express those feelings in a calm manner.
I maintain the right to my own life outside of care giving.
I take pride in my accomplishments and in the courage it takes to perform these tasks.
I realize that I cannot control the happiness of another person. I cannot fulfill all of his or her needs. No one person can.
I have the right of choice, to decide what I will or will not do. This includes the right not to be manipulated by anger, fear, or guilt of my loved one.
8. Learn to Relax
Here are some tips for relaxation:

Keep a journal.
Put on a favorite piece of music or listen to a CD or tape of nature sounds.
Meditate. (Tip: Focus on your breathing. As you inhale, silently say to yourself, “I breathe in” and as you exhale, silently say to yourself, “I feel peaceful.” Continue for 10 minutes.)
Think back to when you were a child. What were you interested in? Get books v on the subject from the library or bookstore and study the subject.
Start a new hobby (such as, painting, drawing, playing an instrument, listening to music, putting together puzzles, etc.).
Exercise. (A walk in nature for a half hour can dramatically shift your perspective.)
Read a good book.
Indulge in any activity you can do by yourself that calms your spirit.
Find a volunteer to spend several hours with your loved one or hire someone.
Take a vacation.
Utilize respite services.

I love the idea of a personal declaration. Thanks for sharing.

Dear Sydneyaus. Thank you very much for your post and for all the useful advice in the Personal Declaration. I will copy it and keep it somewhere safe for the future. That info is just what I needed!

Hello and welcome!

Talk with your siblings. Discuss the duties. Has mum had a needs assessment done or not?

People say remove negative people from your life and limit time spent with energy suckers. What if that person is your mum and she needs you? I can’t walk away, I feel guilty for feeling this way, I feel guilty for not being there and guilty for being there and not with my husband and children. Mum is so non compliant in most things and constantly bitching about my dad which is also difficult to ignore. I’m at my wits end!