Retrospective:Caring for Difficult, Nasty Mother for 10 yrs

I have been caring for my mother who is now 102 and still refuses to go into any home type environment for the last 10 years. She is stubborn and very nasty having reported me to the police and social services many times. I have been through so many safeguarding meeting I could take up advising as a job and lost count of the times the police knocked on my door to question me about her latest allegations (theft of anything from thousands of pounds to a tablecloth). Thankfully the services now know what she is like and naturally have to log any reports but no longer feel they have to investigate me each time. She has no mobility to speak of (she can only just stand and walk a few feet now) and is incontinent because of this. She refuses to have a commode at all and prefers to sit in her waste until someone will clean her up. She has been assessed many times (by social workers, mental health services, a psychiatrist) and always manages to “pull it out of the bag” when someone is there only to revert to paranoia, forgetfulness accusatory behaviour and sheer nastiness straight afterwards. The only thing any professional will say is that due to her age she probably has age related cognitive impairment. I know for a fact that this is not correct but social services, medical professionals etc. all say she has capacity to choose where she lives and that is it and to be honest I do not have the energy or interest to fight any more. She is also deaf and cannot hear on the phone which makes communication very difficult. I say communication but that is a subjective thing - she does not communicate in any way, will not speak about any problems except to blame everyone and everything but herself. In some ways you have to admire her, she survived Spanish Flu, World War II (she is Italian so was 20 when war started with Mussolini and ended with the Allies), left Italy to start a new life here, survived Covid at the age of 101 and has better vital signs than some people almost half her age. There are also many other problems.

The reason for this post is not to ask for any help but to let others know how life can be and some of the issues and feelings I experienced. Believe me she led me down some very dark paths mentally until I decided that it was not worth continuing with life. I tried absolutely everything including having no contact at all but nothing made any difference. I have been having therapy for the past 12 months now and this has helped me a great deal (although I had to kiss a great many frogs before I got to a therapist I really connected with). I limit myself to 2 personal calls a week limited to no more than an hour and I usually try to time them to coincide with a carer call so as to avoid confrontation and help with admin, finance and shopping. She does have carers 5 times a day but is so unpleasant to them that the care agency now only have 6 or so who will go to her. What I want to say is yes, initially you will feel guilty, cruel and all of those things for taking a stand and looking after yourself but you have to think of yourself, your own situation and your family. My mother won’t co-operate or compromise at all and just refuses to do anything positive so I now just say to myself that is your choice, you make that decision, She is not going to change I just have to change the way I feel about what she says and does. I feel I am doing the best that I can for her and that is my limit. It is hard but over time it does get easier although it always makes me sad to see other daughters with their elderly mothers who seem to be able to agree, compromise and have a relationship. My message is take care of yourself, if you feel you are doing enough within the confines of your life then that really is enough. I know now that my situation with my mother will never change and for my own sanity I have to keep these strict boundaries in place - if I waiver I have kept a voicemail from her on my phone saying “I hope you have a heart attack and die then you won’t be able to speak to anyone” just to remind me exactly how nasty her behaviour can be. I shall be very sad when she dies that my mother has gone but I shall not be at all sad about the fact the person who has caused me and my family so much sadness and heartbreak is no longer here. I hope that if just one person going through something similar reads this and is helped or encouraged to look after themselves instead of letting guilt and shame take over then just one good thing may have come out of my experience. Everyone out there caring, its hard and very often un-rewarding so treat yourself kindly and remember others that know you and your situation will never be as hard on you as you are yourself.

Thanks for sharing. Acceptance that mum will never change is hard.

thank you for sharing your story. I am glad you have found a counsellor you can connect with and that they have helped you to cope with the situation, set limits and you are right you shouldn’t feel guilty…

Take care,


Bowling Bun and Melly1 thank you for taking the time to read the post and for your kind comments

Thank you for sharing and encouraging people to seek councilling. I do hope you can find some enjoyment and peace in your life

Your mother sounds a lot like my grandma who I care for.

Sparklequeen The only thing I can say to you is be strong and true to yourself. I can empathise entirely. It is very demoralising and soul-destroying if you are just trying to do your best and you are forever in the wrong. I do realise that my mother is very unhappy with her life and her current situation which I can totally see. One therapist told me it was her behaviour I hated and not her but still a long way on I have great difficulty seperating the two. I am learning to stop, take a deep breath and think before I react, sometimes it works and others it doesn’t but at least I am now more aware and if things get too bad I just remove myself and don’t go back for a week - I can do that as she has 5 carers on a daily basis - I hope you have a similar escape valve. To be honest I don’t think she even notices or cares she just wants someone to abuse and blame! I wish you the very best and hope you are able to get some support when you need it

Pet 66 - Thank you. Its all about trying to let people know they are not the only ones in such a horrible situation and thinking, what you perceive to be, nasty thoughts. I had only ever known people who had what I termed “nice” mums and felt that I was the bad one for thinking the way I did. It was not until I started sharing and speaking to others that I realised that instead of being unique I was one of many experiencing the same problems!

Unfortunately, people are different. Some people can change for the better, others for the worse.

Not when they are 104!