She complains about the aides, the staff, the food, other residents, the doctor, the laundry... I've tried to redirect the conversation by bringing up topics in the news, activities of family members, events in my own life. She always brings the conversation back to another negative comment about her life. I've even said, "Did anything good happen today?"
She is living in an Assisted Living Facility. She has her own room in a new addition. The facility is understaffed, like many places now. They are doing the best they can and are trying to hire more staff. I wish she could be thankful for what she does have and realize how difficult it is for me to listen to all the negativity every day.

As age advances with its myriad of issues, whatever “happy” was for your mother may well be past. So limit your exposure, call and be cheerful, listen to your limit of negativity and no more, then get off the phone, and go do something positive and pleasant. It also can’t hurt to ask mom’s doctor if a med for depression or anxiety might help her mood. A small daily dose of Zoloft was a huge help to my dad during his last years. He often called it his “attitude medicine” and it certainly did help his attitude. But in any event, know you’re never obligated to listen to an endless tirade of complaints, it’s bad for the soul
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to Daughterof1930

The best way to deal with a negative person is to AGREE with them. My sister was that way…she’d complain about something, and had a million reasons why whatever someone suggested wouldn’t work if they offered solutions. She could talk for hours!
Try: “Wow, that really sounds awful.” “I’m sorry that’s happening.” “That sounds rough!”
It didn’t solve anything - she wasn’t looking for a solution, just someone to complain to. But it DID shut her up. A phone conversation was no longer upsetting to ME, which is what happened when I tried to find solutions. Good luck!👍🏼
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Reply to Sibby58

I don't have an answer for you as I am going through the same thing with my 90 year old mother-in-law. She still lives in her own home and has 24/7 care due to two falls and now dementia. Negativity, stubbornness, depression, meanness and anxiety which she is on medication for is a constant I try to turn the negativity around also to something nice, but her life is so miserable, that she can find negativity about EVERYTHING!! Granted her life is not great and she has had to recover from a fractured hip which was healing fine until she fell again and fractured her shoulder. She has needed help for seven months now. I am taking her to a neurologist in a couple of weeks to have her formally diagnosed with dementia. I'm hoping we can get different meds for her. She has been mean and argumentative to her wonderful caregivers (God love them for their patience+) She doesn't communicate well thoughts, words and names just don't come to her. She gets very frustrated when you don't understand what she is trying to say. She refuses to leave her home and go to Assisted Living and I don't think they would take/keep her very long anyway. She thinks she can still take care of everything in her old house, but she can't so I make sure everything is taken care of and she resents that. Of course she denies any thing is wrong with her. She lived alone for 15 years after her husband of 50 years passed and has been fairly independent since then. She just can't be any more. It is very sad and frustrating! I can sympathize with your situation. The best of luck! Above all.....take care of yourself mentally. I have learned that you can only do your best. Nothing will be appreciated, so you have to get past that and realize your mom can't help it. Bless you!!
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Reply to calliegirl1
eat-pray-love Aug 4, 2022
OMGGGGG...Your Mom sounds like my Mom minus some of the details.. My Dad passed in January & my Mom is alone. Attitude is spot on the same as your Mom's. But, my Mom has mental issues. Not sure re: your Mom? My Mom has NPD & Borderline & Early Onset Dementia. The anger-periodic cussing-slamming her hand on a table (toddler tantrum) to make her point (which is never rational) is commonplace.. I am learning to take what I can & no more. Boundaries. Change the subject. Walk out of the room to empty trash. Leave after 4 hrs. I will NOT sacrifice myself to her rest of my life. Been thru enough. Will bring in Caregivers if becomes necessary. Decade of her Alcoholism, then years of Mania (not the Manic Depressive just the hyperactivity aspect). She can live alone though bored...she has put herself in this position by being unwilling to make changes (meds & therapy) ..unwilling to make friends with neighbors.. engage in hobbies with others (not equipped to). Easy for some to take offense to this bc their elderly Parents are "normal" but you MUST protect yourself from the toxic negativity. Getting older does NOT entitle you to be an A--HOLE to anyone & everyone. You do not get to rain on everyone's parade bc you are unbalanced & unhappy with your situation. I tell my Mom let's look at old photo albums of your Europe trips..write a list of gratitudes... clean out your closet.. My Dad's stuff can stay forever. My Mom is a step down from being a full on Hoarder. Everything is a scream "NOOOOO!" or a biting criticism. PS I drive up tomorrow (2 hrs each way) to water the plants that haven't been watered in 2 wks & get her carpets cleaned + Plumber coming.. Take her grocery shopping. I tried Instacart & she yelled at me on the phone for the delivery that I told her would be at her front gate. Example to me thru all this: be as kind + independent to my Kids-friends-fam-neighbors... rest of my days. LIFE is to be LIVED & enjoyed. Do not reward SHI--Y behaviors..... Be loving but check out....
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Sounds like my MIL who is incapable of being 'happy'. Truly, I have never seen her in a moment of true joy. She is miserable and complaining about stuff that happened 70 years ago. She tells the story of my DH's birth like it happened yesterday--and her hatred of her long-deceased ex hsuband is still very fresh in her mind.

If she is calling you--just screen her calls. There's no point whatsoever in listening to the same complaints all day. It will start to get to you, if it hasn't already.

If you spoke to my MIL you would think this woman never had a joyful second in her life. It's bizarre. I stopped speaking to her over 2 years ago. I simply could not handle the negativity. She is getting worse as she ages (she's 92) and poor DH--he sees her # on caller ID and gets upset immediately.

Sadly, at this stage, nothing can be done. She hates everybody but her daughter, who is an absolute saint.

Boundaries. Maybe take 1 call a day and keep it light. You need to not let her poison you with her anger & unhappiness.
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Reply to Midkid58
Isthisrealyreal Jul 30, 2022
Some people are only happy when they are miserable and they tend to be ecstatic if they can make others miserable.

They suck your life force if you allow it.

Well done for saying, no more!
Sounds very difficult for you. My mum has Parkinsons and lives at home with my dad, and even though my mum is at home I can relate to your plight. My mum has a very negative mindset about old age in general and how hard everything is for her etc I do my best to direct conversation like you are doing to other topics and talk about things I am doing or my kids (her grandkids) or gardening or cooking but invariably she directs the conversation right back to her sorrowful situation. I have stopped asking 'how are you?' though. When I decide her negativity is too much for me and affecting my emotional health, I politely leave, feeling a lot less guilt about my departure now too. What I take from it when I reflect is ....this serves as a really good reminder of how NOT to behave when I get to her age and may. have health issues. In all honesty, her negativity has been the same when she was younger too , its just got worse as she has aged.
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Reply to Seekingtruth123
Isthisrealyreal Jul 30, 2022
So true that extricating yourself gets easier.
At the facility SO works at, all staff are told at the new hire not to ask how are you. They instead say that it’s good to see you, mrs smith.
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Reply to PeggySue2020
anytown Jul 30, 2022
sounds like they know what they are doing
You didn't say how long she's been there, so either she's having a tough time adjusting, or she has adjusted to the view that she's never going to like it.

PeggySue commented below 'At the facility SO works at, all staff are told at the new hire not to ask how are you. They instead say that it’s good to see you, mrs smith.', which is a brilliant approach, starting out the interaction, with a positive topspin.

Maybe trying something like that. You mentioned ''I've tried to redirect the conversation by bringing up topics in the news, activities of family members, events in my own life.' - don't give up on that, but continue to expand on it by writing down any interesting topic you come across in your life to share with her.

Don't give up....
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to anytown

Sometimes people are in fact negative because they are ungrateful, and only feel happy when they can bring someone else down. Regardless, you can't change another person but you can set a boundary for yourself to follow.

For example when she starts down the path of unending misery you can say "oh dear, sounds like you're having a terrible day. I'll try to catch you another day when things are better" and hang up. She may or may not shape up a little eventually but you're not a public dump for her emotional garbage.
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Reply to Slartibartfast

My mother was the same way. My DH once asked her to name ONE thing she was grateful for, and for the life of her, she could not. There's no way to fix this level of chosen misery, except to avoid it as much as possible to preserve your own inner peace. Keep the conversations short and the visits short. Bring snacks and photos or phone videos to distract her from the litany of complaints she'll be ready to read off to you when you get there. And do not tell her to stop complaining either, because if she's like my mother she'll say, "I'm not complaining, I'm just TALKING." Which is kind of like the guy who yells BOMB on an airplane trying to tell the arresting officer he was just TALKING when he said that. Nice try.

Good luck.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to lealonnie1

Ugh! Negativity! I wonder if she even realizes how she sounds. With all that negativity, who would want her as a friend other than a person who is more negative than she? Ugh.

My Mom is very negative, however, really negative to her immediate family and kids. To everyone else, they think she is Ms "Optimism" and envied us as a family. Little did they know. I've often wondered if a complaint was the only way she could start a conversation as there are many people her age that do that. Yes, my Mom is a perfectionist.

So how did I get it to a tolerable level? I finally got up the guts and reinforced my boundaries. I no longer tolerate her endless tirade about the mistreatment that her Dad gave to his kids (he died over 20 years ago). I give her a 2 minute warning to have her wrap up her ideas and tell her that I'm going to leave if she continues after that. If it goes beyond 2 minutes, I leave. I no longer tolerate endless negative comments against my sister, her friends, my sister-in-law, her family and her friends. She only gets 2 sentences before I cut her off with a 2 sentence warning...and then I leave. Regarding the nurses and the food, I ask her for specifics and when she doesn't have any, keep on asking for specifics. If she has specifics, I follow up on them and get them addressed. If no specifics, I remind her that I need specifics and I don't want to discuss it until I have specifics. At first, I just left after giving her the warning. Then on specific items, I would counter the argument like "he's dead, I don't want to hear any more"...then I left. At first, because I was "living" in the same house as she, she would search me out (or call for me endlessly) and continue the tirade. I would just move to a different area of the house or put on headphones (something visual) and look at her with a blank stare. Now that she is in a facility, I just let someone know that I'm leaving, or wheel her away to the activities area while she is going on-and-on then turn to her and wave goodbye as she is complaining. (yes, it is possible to teach memory impaired people new tricks...)

As time went on, she does this much, much less. However, I find she has less to talk or complain about.

This may seem mean and cruel. On the other hand, for me, it was survival. She and I both learned. I should have done this earlier in my life. I still visit her nearly every day because I choose to.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to ChoppedLiver
BurntCaregiver Aug 4, 2022
Well done, Chopped. I do not tolerate the negativity, tirades, or snideness from my mother either.
She still attempts at insitgating because she wants someone to fight with so will double-down on the verbal abuse, but I just ignore her and walk away.
Part of my 'ignoring' is there will be no meal being cooked. There will be no coffee being brought out, or anything really. There is nothing.
When I have to ignore her, I call my ex-husband and tell him to pick up supper and we eat privately. Mother may or may not get a sandwich from me (depending on how far she wants to go) or she can eat what she can find.
With me, I do not play games. I will not tolerate complaining, constant negativity, or instigating.
I do not think you seem mean or cruel at all. You mother is lucky you visit her every day.
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