do you ever lose your temper?

fairegoldAugust 15, 2005

I did today. Mother was going on and on about money, and I tell her that she is fine, she has plenty of money, more than she had when she gave me her checkbook, in fact. I took over her checkbook because she obsessed about money to a degree that drove me crazy.

Anyway, we were discussing her returning to her apartment, and my concern that her apartment is so far away from the dining room and the chapel, and she might have to move to a closer apartment. She thinks that she has no money because I had told her that, when she first moved into the nursing home, that her costs were covered and it would be very expensive for her to get the same care in her own apartment. That has twisted in her mind to mean that she has no money. I have tried in vain to explain it all, to no avail.

I have repeatedly written out the income she has, and what her savings are and what interest rates she gets on her savings. At some point, I refuse to do that 15 times a day, or even leave the paper with her, because she will take a pen and tick away at the paper until it's covered with ink.

At some point today I got really frustrated. I told her that she obviously does not trust me, and that hurts my feelings. Everything I tell her, she questions, as in "who told you that?" I just told her that my feelings were really hurt that she does not trust me, and I'll see her tomorrow, and I left.

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Did you really lose your temper????? You are under alot of stress and dealing with money issues can drive you crazy. Just a personnel point of you have someone close to you both that maybe could step in and explain things to your Mom. I know that in alot of matters I could say things and my dear sweet Dad really didn't get it but someone else could say the same thing and he would first I would get my feeling hurt...then I figured anything or anyone that could hlep in any way.....was a blessing. Maybe your husband could try to explain. Just a suggestion....take care and hope that things will calm down for is a hard journey. God Bless, Nora

    Bookmark   August 15, 2005 at 11:21PM
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Thank you, Nora. I lost my temper about as much as I ever do---- since she wasn't wearing her hearing aids, I shouted, but that part is normal! But I told her that her attitude hurts my feelings. And I left. And I fumed to myself all afternoon.

Good news is that she called later this afternoon asking me to bring a bottle of Robitussin but I tried to explain that everything needs to be approved by the doctor again. She didn't have her hearing aids in, so I got thru that we'll talk about it tomorrow. Sigh.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2005 at 11:25PM
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Would a hug help?

Oh, yes. And I felt bad, but it happens, don't let it eat at you. She lost her temper plenty of times with you, too, I'm sure. Mothers and daughters are like that, and so are fathers and daughters.

Your mother is probably not really understanding what she is asking and what your are saying at this point, just smile and tell her not to worry, everything will be all right. No explanation is probably necessary, and none will satisfy her.

My sister and I learned this lesson the hard way. We learned never to discuss the details of their finances with my parents. My sister and I made the decisions and took care of things.

My parents lived during the depression - and they, like your mother, I'm sure, were quite affected by it. As my mother sank into her dementia, it all came back. We'd go out to eat and she'd spend the entire meal yelling at my dad that they didn't have enough money for this meal, and please take her home right now! It drove us nuts. We stopped taking her out with us. But not before she and I had a scene in a mall in SC, she was screaming at me that we couldn't afford any new clothes, and I'm trying to explain to her that we have plenty of money, and please be quiet. She was beside herself with anxiety, and I was humilitated.

When my dad started to decline, my sister had already taken over the finances, and we doubt that he knew just how much money he really had (a lot). My sister or I would be visiting, and he'd start to worry about the expenses, and we'd pat his hand and tell him he had plenty of money, and not to worry, everything was being taken care of. That seemed to satisfy him. He might ask again in a few minutes, and we'd give him the same reassurance. It seemed to work. Don't take it personally either, these questions aren't really directed at you, they are more likely free floating anxiety and things that pop into her head - sort of rhetorical thoughts and comments.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2005 at 11:43PM
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From everything you've said about your mother, I don't think she can comprehend your hurt feelings, or anything like that. She will no doubt ask about her finances tomorrow, and the day after. It has nothing to do with you, it's just her mind not processing things completely. I agree with the others, just say "everything is fine" or "you have plenty of money, Mother" and try to change the subject. I think it's an exercise in frustration to try to get her to understand your hurt feelings -- it is simply not possible for her to do that, with her medical condition.

Asking someone else to tell her the same thing might work -- you never know. But my guess is that she will simply raise the question(s) again at some point.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 2:46AM
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Instead of trying to explain the truth, perhaps you should try something like, "Your big check came this morning and I paid for your room. I put the rest in the bank for tomorrow." Say it the same thing everytime you see her. If she asks "how much", make up a reasonable, round number figure like $10,000. Her problem is that she can deal only in simple things and simple amounts. Explanations are useless. Give her only she can understand.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 8:11AM
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Whew! Does this bring back memories! Mom was the same..from the depression, saved everything (empty jars in her room? yes! ;-) I'm still finding $20s stashed in her room, tucked into scarves, eyeglass cases, etc. They never stop feeling like it's ever 'enough', even tho' she has quite a lot.

OMG...she'd pour over her bank-book, ask questions, and like you, Fairiegold, I'd write things out on paper, add/subtract, etc, and she'd do exactly what your Mom did...obsess over the figures, ticking things off, until I thought I'd go loopy.

Then I finally figured out what Momj said: they really don't comprehend 'figures', numbers, what they actually mean in terms of "having enough". So instead of complicating my answers, I simply smiled and told her everything is taken care of, she has no money worries, and yes, each cheque is deposited into her bank and leave it at that. For a while she insisted on looking at her bank-book again and start our old process over again, but I just changed the subject, or suggested we do that later, and it got to the point where she stopped asking and relaxed about it all. She just wasn't getting thru to me, I guess, and gave up or her dementia increased to the point where money wasn't an issue anymore.

Yes, I have lost my temper, and we have yelled at each other in the past, because this is all so new and frustrating for both of us. Now, with her in a nursing home where the mundane tasks are taken care of by others, our visits have more affection, more hugs and more love than when she was at home here and we were both frusrated by the changes.

Keep things simple and remember that she neither understands the impact of her questions nor comprehends your answers. Smile and nod. ;-D


    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 9:01AM
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my grandmother was the same way (born 1900) and after a series of strokes, it was horrible watching one of the brightest minds of her generation snuff out...

but you talking about the money stress reminded me of something...

nan remained obsessed with money long after she lost any real concept of the VALUE of money, or its relationship to reality. and the worse it got, the odder it seemed- she'd give me a nickle, and tell me to ask the baker for half a loaf of bread?!

so we would always bring her pennies (sometimes nickels and dimes, she didn't 'recognize' quarters after a while) and come running in from the school bus like little kids calling 'grandma, grandma, look what we found!' and she'd coo over them, and spend the next half hour polishing them on her robe.... which was a half hour she wasn't driving my poor dad to tears.

sometimes, the only thing that seems to help is cold, hard, cash...from the days when a movie cost a quarter, and rent was $45 a month.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2005 at 11:19AM
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I just remembered something. there was a woman that obsessed about not having enough money. I think the family gave her a billfold or maybe a bag with a few dollar bills and a bunch of pennies, nickels and dimes. Enough change so that she would spend a lot of time trying to count it. It seemed to calm her fears. She had MONEY. Lots of MONEY. Maybe soon your mother would be ready for something like that.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2005 at 12:56PM
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I used to always make sure Mom had four one dollar bills in her wallet and a little change. It would disappear over time but for her peace of mind, we would always check to see if she had enough funds for the week. Four dollars was just enough, is what I always told her. She was money obsessed for a long time. Now she no longer knows what money is. But the nice thing is, she is comfortable, knows the routine and enjoys her little world. Gives me great comfort that she is no longer stressed about where she is, what she can or cannot remember, worry about money, or any thing else.
May your Mom be able to relax and enjoy what is and accept what can't be.
I also used to make my Mom do deep breathing exercises when she got very upset. We would do them together and it would calm her down, as she would focus on the deep breathing and not the stressfull event she was trying to tell me about. It even worked when she was violent and combative.
God's blessings on you and your Mom

    Bookmark   September 4, 2005 at 12:15PM
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The money thing is really part of a broader issue. When we start taking care of our parents, they lose control, and it makes them feel helpless. Your mom knows she needs money and worries about how much everything costs, but has lost the capacity to balance the checkbook. It's not that she doesn't trust you, she just wants it to make sense to her. All the numbers in the world won't make that happen. When I get to the point that I'm about to scream, I try to divert my dad to another topic. I'm not always successful, and have gotten a nasty stress headache more than once. Is there anything you can do to give your mom the illusion of control? Would giving her some pocket money help?

    Bookmark   September 14, 2005 at 1:09PM
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Thanks, Scotland. Yes, she has pocket money, and I do think that helps. EVery time I come in the door, she has to show me the latest place where she has hidden $30, and she only carries $2 in her purse for church. And she changes her hiding place on a regular basis.

I know that she's slipping mentally (no dementia, tho), and when she stops worrying about every penny, she'll be closer to the end. So it is all sad.

I'm with you on that stress headache! Me, too!

    Bookmark   September 14, 2005 at 4:11PM
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