When I'm with my mom, she is literally "dying". Won't get out of bed, no interest in activities, etc. When the caregiver is here, she is up and at 'em! Interested in everything, up in the family room, walks to the bathroom, etc.. Does anyone else experience this?? It's almost like she's playing a game with me.

My mother tries all the time to get me to play her games and I don't. She's been actively 'dying' for over 40 years now since I was a little kid.
Her games compounded with her snide, bullying and scapegoating ruined my childhood. In fact, I cannot hard as I may try, recall a single happy memory from my childhood that involved my mother.
She ruined my teenage years. I didn't have a mother. I had a narcissistic, selfish, snide child that I had to be the parent to. She was a thorn in the side of my young adulthood. I spent that pretty much putting out the fires of her bad life choices. I did this not out of any great love for her but out of F.O.G. (Fear-Obligation-Guilt) and a lifetime of conditioning.
I learned through therapy and by interaction with care clients and their family members (I did in-home caregiving mostly to elderly for 25 years) all about the "games" and the manipulation and what gaslighting is.
Then my eyes were truly opened.
I'm going to tell you exactly how to shut down your mother's BS and how to avoid becoming a player in her games.

When she starts up with the dying and the performance, tell her that you're sorry she isn't feeling well. Then walk away and completely ignore her for as long as is safe to do so.
Do a bit of Grey Rocking too. Then when it's time for a meal, go to her room and tell her breakfast/lunch/dinner is on the table. Do not bring it to her. If she's "up and at 'em" like you say when the caregiver is there, then she's able-bodied and can come to the table. If she doesn't come to the table, let her go hungry.
Can she be left alone or does she have dementia? When it's time to go out or do some activity, make the offer. If she says no, leave her there and go yourself.
Don't play her games. Many times elders want to be babied or expect their families to become slaves to them. Scr*w that.
If you care and I think you do, you'll NEVER tolerate learned helplessness for one moment. You will NEVER help anyone become a learned invalid either.
Forcing an elderly person to do for themselves whenever possible, making them wait for something (within reason), accepting 'no' for an answer, and making them mind their manners helps them to maintain independence.
Helping someone to be independent on any level is one of the greatest gifts one person can give another. Usually it's a gift that is not appreciated. Often the person giving this gift becomes villified and even hated.
Attention can be a reward for good behavior. Lack of it as a consequence for bad behavior. Make your mother do for herself if she's able.
Do not play her games. Do not become a player in her dramas and performances. In fact, you may even want to call her out in front of her caregiver. When she's up and at 'em, tell the caregiver that they performed a miracle because five minutes before they arrived, your mother was on her death-bed. Call her out.
My mother is fit as a fiddle for her doctors. I tell them exactly what she's like at home. A bit of embarrassment can work wonders too. Good luck.
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to BurntCaregiver
charlotte1 Aug 8, 2022
ah, is advice is just what i need to survive my husband's behavior. i'm 12 years younger than his 88, so he tries to dump everything on me. i struggle to make it obvious that won't work, but he keeps playing the invalid card. i try to force him to participate in daily life, reminding him that we can't live here if he can't (won't.) but having to do this frequently is definitely stressful for me. unfortunately he's functional enough that he doesn't qualify for a covered-by-medicare caregiver & we don't have the funds to pay. i call it the "coverage doughnut hole." i work at staying sane & healthy enough not to have a stroke or heart attack, as i've seen some of our friend have done, but wish i didn't have to deal with his manipulations along with having to do more around the house and property than i have time to do.
I don't think it's 'almost like she's playing a game' with you, she IS playing a game with you! These women have different personalities for different people. I watched my mother show a different mask for every person in her life; I got to see The Ugly Mask, dad got to see The Ugliest Mask, some others got to see The Happy Mask, The Helpless Mask, The Competent Mask, The Funny Mask, and about 200 others depending on the day of the week and the person she was trying to con at the moment.

Since your mother is 101 (according to your profile), perhaps she is having good days & bad days? Or that she wants you to think she's having more bad days than good days and that she requires your undivided attention and service to her needs 24/7 when she's having a 'bad day' which is always when you're there with her. Manipulation 101.

Sounds to me like your mother needs to have her caregiver there a lot more frequently than YOU! If she is so much more functional with the CG there, why not HAVE here there and let you off the hook? There is always one person the elder acts out with the most. For my mother, that person was ME!
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Reply to lealonnie1

I agree with others here who say there is always one person that gets different treatment than the others. With my mother it is me. Before she moved to assisted living she was living with me and my husband and before that she stayed with my brother for a short time. My sister stayed with her for a few months before that. Although my mother could be difficult for each of us, she definitely saved her worst behavior for me. Still does. With me she was “helpless”. She couldn’t move without exaggerated grunts and groans; hardly moved out of her chair, etc. But if someone came to visit, she was her old self more; funny, lively, etc, I witnessed her change her personality from helpless and pathetic to perky and normal with a phone call from an old acquaintance of my father’s, then back to helpless and when she hung up! It is manipulative to say the least but also disrespectful to me.
Now that she is in assisted living, she is more demanding and rude to me. Treats me like a servant. My sister notices this: I get the complaining phone calls demanding something at all times. She can get the same story but in a different tone. Much more matter of fact and less exaggerated. I thought at first it was better because I can be her daughter again and not her caregiver. But sadly, no. It seems I am her “whipping girl” and she is constantly seeking attention. Maybe this is the way she treated my dad? And I have stepped into that role since he died? It seems like this dynamic exists in every family. As I have said before, each member has been assigned “role” and it is difficult to get out of it.
I wish I had a solution for you, but obviously I am in the same boat. I guess recognize that she is manipulating you and try not to let her. I know it is difficult because it’s like crying wolf. Just when you don’t believe her anymore, she really will have serious issues. It is her last grasp at control in an ever increasing loss of control. It’s sad but very hard to take.
At least we can see we are not alone in this!
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to Familyscapegoat

100 % she's playing you. Part of this is learned helplessness. Part of it is that she must remain in control of you, the situation and most importantly her "image" to the care taker. There's some great advice here. I would up the number of days the caretaker visits.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to Jhalldenton

She is playing you not a game, the more she claims her inability to do things, the more you will do.

Some people are drama queens, she may be mother is!
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to MeDolly

My father does something similar. My mom is his primary caregiver. Each morning, she wakes him up and he starts with “I’m sick. I can’t get up. I’m sick.” He isn’t sick and if he woke on his own or if I were to get him up, he doesn’t say any of that. In many ways, it has been like dealing with a child. He uses baby talk and complains constantly but only with my mother. He manages to get through social activities at church, the Senior Center, and all doctor appointments without a hint of this behavior. It is frustrating for her as she’s already stressed out with just the day-to-day issues of running the house/finances on her own while caring for him. His selective behavior just adds to the stress. I’m sorry you are dealing with it, too. I know he has dementia but it sure feels like game-playing at times. I’d chalk it up to the disease if it hadn’t been for his history of emotional manipulation with family members.
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Reply to Pmruns
lealonnie1 Aug 1, 2022
Exactly; they always seem to have ONE person who they act out with the worst!!! :(
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What are you doing when you are with her?
You say she is at home.
When you go visit where is she?
If she is in bed "dying" tell her that you will wait in the kitchen until she gets up and gets going. If she needs help getting up get her up and dressed then go sit in the kitchen, make some tea or coffee and she can join you there.
If she is capable of getting up and refuses to do so tell her you will come back when she is feeling better.
If you think this is a game then just don't play the game.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Grandma1954
Ldyradr Aug 1, 2022
I sold my house to move in with her to take care of her.. so I'm here 24/7..I do everything, meals, clean up, laundry, etc except the 2 days I have someone coming in to help...
It's a common thing for them to try and get attention. Toddler style, really. Just ignore her when she's acting like that and leave the room. Don't let her play you.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to ZippyZee

It takes two to play a game, so I suggest you alter your responses to avoid being drawn into it.

You're both exhibiting conditioned behavior, so if you change yours, she'll likely change hers as long as dementia is not involved. If it is, then that's a whole other thing.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to MJ1929
BurntCaregiver Aug 7, 2022
Even if dementia is involved it really makes little difference. Don't play the games either way. Ignore with love.
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Yes indeed. My mom is “public M” with everyone else but me. I get all the complaints, grumpiness etc. The pain complaints, staff complaints, aging complaints, life complaints …when with others she is upbeat and happy happy happy! I look like I am the issue. I keep reminding myself that old people frequently choose one person to manipulate and blame. I am it! Good luck!
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Reply to Sadinroanokeva

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