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What Would You Do If Your 88 Year Old Mother Slapped You?


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My mother is 88 years old and in a nursing home. She is in a wheelchair and has had a few TIA mini-strokes and has difficulty

speaking due to the TIA's. Her mind and recall still is very good however. She always has been dominating, domineering, and a control freak in our

family. It was her way or no way. She has always been and remains aggressive, assertive, and manipulative. But in all of the years the personality

I have described above has only been applicable to her family. Yet with her friends, neighbors, the public, and the community, these home traits were not visible and she loved, and was loved by all.

Now that she is in the nursing home and has lost control, she has been having temper tantrums with a select few of the care givers and with my younger sister and me. She has slapped my sister numerous times there when she couldn't get her way; the first time was at our Christmas Eve party held at my sister's home. Of course the slaps are not hard as she isn't very strong.

I challenged my mother in my late teens and made my own life while my sister remained dominated and controlled. But over the years my mother has made me feel guilty at every opportunity for not respecting her and doing her will. "I am your Mother; you owe me," she repeatedly would tell me when we frequently had conflicts.

My sis and I alternate visiting my mother at the nursing home Mon-Fri and Sunday. This past Monday on my visit she was in one of the several reclines in the sun room. I asked her if she wanted me to help her into her wheelchair and take her for a ride around the hallways where she can see and wave to other residents as she loves to do. Well, when I released the chair recliner lever and let the chair upright, she began flailing at the air with her fists trying to strike me. Then she pointed to me and then towards the door, indicating that she wanted me gone. And I left.

Wednesday when I went to visit her she was in her wheel chair in the dining room. I asked her if she wanted to take a "tour" of the halls and she mumbled yes, so we did. Afterwards I began pushing her to the dining room and her lunch table location as it was lunch time. She began flailing at the air with her fists again and pointed to the recliners indicating that she wanted to be in the recliner. I told her it was time for lunch to be served and that she could go to the recline after lunch.

She continue to flail, but I was behind her pushing her chair and out of her swinging range. When I pushed her into her position at her table, I bent over to lock her chair into place, and she gave me a round house slap on the side of my head. I had previously told her that if she tired to hit me again that I would not be back to visit. And I repeated this again to her and left. I called my sister and told her that I wasn't going to visit for a while because of the slapping and she told me that I should take a few days off.

We have talked to the nursing director and told him of the slapping and temper tantrums and asked about our alternatives and resolutions. He said he would investigate if any of the caretakers had been struck by our mother, and told us that we must not harm her in any way. Of course we wouldn't ever harm her, never have and never will.

Now finally my question:

What would you do if you were slapped by your mother when she did not get what she wanted?

Is her anger originating from the inherited family depression?

Is it from her mini-strokes (TIA's)?

Is it caused from her loss of control and her manipulative personality?

Is she just mean?

Should we talk to the nursing home director and ask for an appointment with the geriatric psychiatrist

who visits the NH on rounds once per month and ask for medication for our mother?

Should we reduce out visits?

Should we just stay out of swinging distance?

This issue has my brain cortex neurotransmitters in fight or flight and telling the rest of my brain that this is really a bad thing. Thus I am experiencing

a DD ( a depression downer). I think I should be rough and tough, laugh and shrug it off and not worry about it. But I can't control the dwelling

negative and guilt trip thoughts.

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Hi Taut1,

You said that your mother is manipulative and a control freak. I think part of the reason she's trying to hit you and your sister in an attempt to regain the power she once held over you. The fact that she's generally co-operative with the most of the NH staff suggests that she knows what she's doing. Depression and strokes can definitely change a person.

In many ways, there is a role reversal as parents age- they need their adult children to do things for them that they used to do for their children. It's extremely hard for the elderly to admit this. Now, you have to be a "parent" to your mother. She has to know that there are consequences for her behavior. Both you and your sister need to tell her that hitting you won't be tolerated. Let her know that you will end the visit early if she acts badly. Then do it when she does. But, it's important that both of you stand your ground. Yes, it will be hard to do and you will feel guilty. But, neither of you have to put up with her hitting you. Hopefully, she will realize that you're serious and she will behave.

Taking care of an elderly parent is very draining on your psychological health. Be sure to take care of yourself first. You won't be any good to her or your sister if you aren't well. Ask the NH staff if there is any type of support for caregivers. Google how to deal with abusive elderly parents. There's a lot of good information out there.

Good luck.

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