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Older mother resisting help

Just thought I'd share our story and its frustrations. Mum is in her 70s and to outsiders she is a 'lovely, caring, lively' woman. But when she is with us, she is morose, unable to care properly for herself, defeated, negative circular thinking and extremely depressed. Whats hard for us is her self absorption in this state, and I have to admit I get so angry with her for not being there for me when I need her as a mother of 2 young kids myself.  I'm almost there as in I have almost accepted the fact she will never be 'mother' for me again, but its hard. Anyway my main issue is that she, as a counsellor during her working life, insists that she knows it all, that there's no other medication she can try that will help her, that the doc she has been seeing for 20 years is 'great' although in 20 years she has never found any relief from her pain. I'm so wanting her to make a fresh start, see a psych who specialises in ageing, depression and (yes) alcoholism. But she just doesnt make any attempt even though I've done so much research for her and found specialists etc etc. I guess it suits her to keep putting up barriers to allowing myself, my brother and my partner to help her get help. Meanwhile, I watch this once vibrant person just shrivel and withdraw before my eyes. If anyone of you are in Sydney and know where we could turn, that would be great. Otherwise I guess I just needed to share. Thanks for listening.


Re: Older mother resisting help

Hi and welcome,

I can hear your concern and frustration with regard to your mother.  I also have an aged mum (86) who presents to the outside world like a woman who is nice, humorous and caring when the reality is that she is mostly very nasty, controlling, manipulative and is a huge bag of depression.  My mum has been like this since I can remember - triggered by the death of my father when he was only 42 and subsequent suicide of my brother, for which she refused to receive any external support.  She has carried this unresolved grief and depression with her since that time and will not even contemplate discussing this with anyone.  She lives with me and is OK support from a practical perspective, but has no capacity to support me or her grandchildren in any other way and often compounds things with her acrid tongue and dismissive attitude.

For many years I have attempted to get her to seek help but have only been met with enormous resistance so I have learnt to accept this choice and have chosen to focus on things I can change ..... and that is me.

If a person is unwilling to acknowledge that they have issues and thereby is unwilling to get support the next best thing you can do is focus on keeping yourself strong.  It is painful to see this in a mother.  You are doing (and have done) a lot to help her but ultimately she needs to cross that bridge if and when she's ready to so.  Ultimately you are not responsible for her choices and behaviour, she is.

If you happen to see the same GP that she does it may be worth expressing your concerns to him but other than this I can't think of too much that can help someone who clearly does not have insight into themselves and is resistant to getting help.  If she is anything like my mother she will knock back every suggestion you make and leave you feeling frustrated and angry.  

In the meantime get support for yourself.  Talk to friends, consider therapy for yourself to help you build up your strength, take time-out and ensure you get plenty of self-care and keep doing what you have been to help your mother.  Your strength and balance in this situation is what is going to carry you through and make you a wonderful role model for your own children. 

All the best

Janna ❤️

Re: Older mother resisting help

Wow Janna I just nodded all the way through reading your reply. Thank you. Everything you wrote rings true for me except I don't have the added complexity of living with her or even near her. In fact I moved 500 miles away as it was the only thing I could do to regain my own stability. However a mother is always with us right? I'm reassured to hear from another that it's ok to focus on myself and my kids coz it's hard not to feel like I should be doing more more more. And although mums not really nasty she is so manipulative in keeping the story all about her. I was a victim of child sexual assault in an institution and a few months back testified at the royal commission and during my testimony she had a "turn" and needed to be rushed off to a psych ward. Of course everyone needed to support her but I guiltily felt so angry and hurt because there she was making it all about her again. I believe I'm doing well now and thank you for your supportive words, but dealing with mum will probably always be an ongoing thing in my life and it's so good to make contact here and let it out. Thanks again 😊

Re: Older mother resisting help

My mum is going to be 86 in March
I have had her in respite only twice;
First was a 16 months ago for 2 weeks; a month ago for 1 week only..,,
You need a break; you are entitled to a break; you need to have her checked by s health care nurse so they can determine what level of care she needs....
My mum is in high care....the retirement village has only one room for high care.....
So I have to book up months ahead to book her in... ( your situation may be better)
I suggest you talk about this with your mum and her Doctor he will be able to give you more advise..,.
You must look after number 1 (( you) or you won't be able to look after numbers 2 and 3 ( your mum and your children)
Also contact your local community health centre...Dr should be able to help.....
Best wishes Allan
Ps I tell my mum if she goes in for respite for me then she can come home..,,
If she doesn't she may have to go into a retirement home she cooperates.,.,

Re: Older mother resisting help

It is helpful for me to watch these conversations even if it is after the fact.  My mother died of lung cancer last Dec. Yet she was very resistant to counselling or "help". I find it interesting that your mother is a counsellor and yet resists it .. I guess as we age we get set in our ways.


@yinkarra I can relate to you about the Royal Commission .. I gave evidence at the recent Vic enquiry ... and also institutionalised in Hunter Valley as a child in 60s ... I was transferred from that enquiry to the RC ... unfortunately its a long list.

We are only coming to terms with the long term consequences of childhood sexual abuse and how it effects our ability to set boundaries in relationships ... I can understand the value of distance ... maybe that will help you with the boundary issue ... my mother was an its always all about her type of person in that she loved to perform and play the piano ... my whole life seemed about helping her get her ego needs met and treating her with respect and encouraging applause etc. In the end I moved 1 hour's drive away.  When I had young children ... she used me financially to leverage for herself and my brother ... in what I now realise were very aggressive and demanding positions ... eg to get new car ... to sponsor immigrant etc ...

Yet maybe if it is only for little holiday visits it is worth putting up with some difference of opinion about counselling in order to keep some continuity through the generations. What level of care does she need when she is with you or is it just slowness?

I like @AlienBP2 conditional ...temp high care - respite - or home deal .. sometimes we have to do stuff like that.  I also like "mumsie" ... I have been calling myself all sorts of silly things to try and give my son some sense of levity in family relationships.. I might drop a few "mumsies" too.

@Janna My mother had an early widowhood and son suicide too ... death was never dealt with  properly ... and only ever on her terms.  If we said a word about it we were being disloyal or blaming her .. 

I worked so hard on non-blaming language and communication from even back in the 80s with all the family I LOVED her...

It seems, as a soceity, that we have done something unhelpful to motherhood ... that puts unrealistic pressures on mothers slightly more so than fathers that has tended to create a lot of disgruntled, sad or manipulative oldies.

People seem to feel they are backed into corners by their families ... pressures from both the young and the old?

I was snapped at when I mentioned taking a toddler to playgroup ... "we didnt have all those services" ... so we do need to look at different expectations by the generations at different times to keep conversations open?

a mum is not always a mum etc ... just joining in ... sorry for rambling ..


Re: Older mother resisting help

As for " Mumsie" I " stole" that title from a Michael Palin " Ripping Yarns episode called " Murde on ???? More" it's co written with Terry Jonrs and is a real " hoot" if you get to see it...,it's availble on DVD Allan
( it's really " mental "because everyone has some sort iof "hang up "or "obsession" ....except
" mumsie" ....she's the only normal one!

Re: Older mother resisting help

" Murder on Morstone Mannor"

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