The Caring Generation® – Episode 29 March 4, 2020 On this caregiving radio program Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert share tips for responding to emotional triggers in situations with caregivers who say My Mom is Crazy. Guest Dr. Erlene Rosowsky talks about Personality Disorders. She is Professor in the Clinical Psychology at William James College where she is Director of the Geropsychology Program and the Alliance for Aging. Listen to her delightful story about “my crazy mom.”

To listen to the show, click on the round yellow play button below. To download the show so that you can listen anywhere and share it with family, friends, and groups, click on the button (fourth black button from the left) below that looks like a down arrow. Follow and like the Caring Generation on your favorite podcast sites.

My Mom is Crazy Radio Show Transcript


00:04 Announcer: Caregiving can sometimes feel like an impossible struggle. Caregivers may be torn between taking care of loved ones and trying to maintain balance in life. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. The Caring Generation with host Pamela D. Wilson is here to focus on the conversation of caring. You’re not alone. In fact, you’re in exactly the right place to share stories and learn tips and resources to help you and your loved ones. So now, please welcome the host of The Caring Generation, Pamela D. Wilson.


00:47 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host, you’re listening to The Caring Generation radio program coming to you live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. The Caring Generation focuses on conversations about health, well-being, caring for ourselves, loved ones, and everything in between all tied together with a little humor and laughter that are essential to being a caregiver. Our topic for this evening is caregivers who say, “my mom is crazy or people are crazy.” How many of you remember that song by Billy Currington, People are Crazy. It was about a father who passed away, had children that he didn’t get along with, and he left a fortune to a stranger. During the show, I’ll share 10 tips for managing emotional triggers that set off our emotions, our moods and that can distract our attention from work and life. And just a reminder, take this and all of The Caring Generation radio shows with you on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Pandora, iHeart Radio, Spotify, Spreaker, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Castbox, and more. Share The Caring Generation with your elderly parents and family members, download a podcast app to their cell phones and show them how to listen. It’s the perfect way to help begin conversations about caregiving by letting me do the talking for you.

02:12 Pamela D. Wilson: Our guest this evening is Dr. Erlene Rosowsky from William James College. She is an expert in late life personality disorders which maybe the reason that caregivers say, “my mom is crazy or people are crazy.” Dr. Rosowsky is professor in the Clinical Psychology program Concentration at William James College where she is Director of the Geropsychology program and the Alliance for Aging. Let’s start the caregiving conversation with the idea of emotional triggers. An emotional trigger can be a crazy mother, people who we think are crazy, words, opinions, sounds, situation, anything that causes an emotional reaction for us. An emotional trigger can be your crazy mother saying, “You never call me” or a colleague at work or a spouse who takes deep, loud breaths, sighs or moans unintentionally or intentionally to get your attention. You hear your mother say, “You never call” or you hear that deep breath sigh or moan, and you want to hide or crawl under your desk. That reaction of wanting to hide is an emotional trigger.

Tips to Lower Stress and Anxiety

03:25 Pamela D. Wilson: Do you know what your emotional triggers are? What are they? Until we recognize these emotional triggers, we are powerless to change the way that we react. Our goal is to be powerful and confident, no matter our role in life, whether we’re a caregiver, the person receiving care or a working professional. Once you identify your emotional triggers, write them down. For example, “my mom is crazy because when she does X, then I feel like doing Y. People are crazy because when this happens, I feel A, B, or C. Mothers who are crazy, people who are crazy emotionally trigger a need that we have. These needs might be safety, being accepted by others, getting attention, wanting to be with people who are like us, feeling in control, wanting fair treatment, being positive, having a focus on solutions instead of complaints or simply wanting a peaceful life. Think about the emotional triggers you identified and what need is being set off by the words, opinions, sounds, or situations where you think, “my mom is crazy or people are crazy.”

04:37 Pamela D. Wilson: When you recognize the emotional trigger, think of how you respond and why you respond. Because you can decide which of these 10 tips that I’m about to share for responding to “my mom is crazy or people are crazy” that you can use. The first tip for responding to “my mom is crazy or people are crazy” is to realize that’s it’s usually not about you. The words, opinions, sounds and actions of other people, they are about them and what they are upset about. Their background, their problems, their inability or frustration to solve a problem, emotional baggage, past relationships, we all have these triggers. If you can train your mind not to take the situation personally, you will be able to reduce or eliminate the effect that that emotional trigger has on you. Realizing that it’s not about you works in all situations of life. Whether it’s caring for “my mom who’s crazy,” working with people who are crazy, your family, co-workers, everybody.

05:34 Pamela D. Wilson: When we de-personalize that emotional trigger, the trigger loses the power to toss our emotions up and down, to distract us, to make us worry, become angry or frustrated. You can acknowledge the trigger, and you can be empathetic with that person who may be triggering you. Except that they just need a solution. They have a problem, they can’t figure it out, and their emotions are taking it all out on you. The second tip for responding to “my mom is crazy or people are crazy,” is to realize that some topics are off limits. These topics could be politics, religion, your husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend. There are many subjects that are highly controversial. If you are with a person like your crazy mother who has an opposite or different opinion that upsets you, rather than get into a heated argument, add that subject to the off-limits list. It’s no different from unfriending or unfollowing somebody on your Facebook page who all of a sudden starts posting about a subject that you have never discussed but that you find objectionable.

06:34 Announcer: You can’t control those people who show up and post on your Facebook page, you can get rid of them. But the problem with my mother is crazy and people are crazy is that if you are the caregiver, you can certainly unfriend or unfollow them on Facebook, but you can’t do that in real life. Friendships, family relationships are up to you. Having to continue to see and interact with mom benefits from setting boundaries like subjects that are off limits. It’s up to you to make it clear to your mom that your wife or husband isn’t a subject of discussion. When mom brings up the subject, you say, “That is off limits and if you continue the conversation or visit, then my phone call is going to end. I’m going to end this conversation.” If crazy mom continues, you can hang up the phone or you can end that visit by leaving. Coming up after the break, we will talk about personality disorders in older adults. Other reasons why caregivers say, “my mom is crazy or people are crazy.”

07:31 Pamela D. Wilson: Personality disorders can present in parents throughout life, but may not be noticed by adult children caregivers until families get back together to care for elderly parents. Dr. Erlene Rosowsky, an expert in late life personality disorders joins us to shed light on behaviors we might think are crazy in elderly parents. Dr. Rosowsky is a professor in the Clinical Psychology program Concentration at William James College, where she is the Director of the Geropsychology program and the Alliance for Aging. In the second half of the show, we will continue tips for how to respond to situations with elderly parents and people that trigger our emotions and upset us. Visit my website for helpful information for caregivers and aging adults. And if you are a working caregiver, and your corporation doesn’t offer support for working caregivers I create digital programs and education to support working caregivers. You could also check out my channel Caregiving TV on YouTube. This is Pamela D. Wilson on The Caring Generation live on the BBM Global Network Channel 100 and TuneIn Radio. Stay with me, we’ll be right back after this break.


11:10 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host, you’re listening to The Caring Generation coming to you live from the BBM global network channel 100 and TuneIn radio. We’re back with Dr. Erlene Rosowsky from the Alliance for Aging at William James College to talk about personality disorders in older adults, Dr. Rosowsky, thank you for being with me tonight.

11:32 Dr. Erlene Rosowsky: My pleasure, Pamela.

11:35 Pamela D. Wilson: So, caregivers that I talk to, they tell me that they feel stuck caring for an elderly parent who creates drama, never shows appreciation. Parents want to be waited on, some parents are paranoid, and they create problems to get attention. Are these normal behaviors or are they signs of something else?

11:52 Dr. Erlene Rosowsky: Well, if it’s something that is consistent in their life, it is very much something else. If it’s a real change in behavior, I want to say that at the outset, then that has to be looked at medically, because it could be a delirium it could be a prodrome of something that’s significant. But there are folks who are always creating drama, and who have a little trouble showing appreciation. Who like to be bossy. Who expect to be waited on. Who go through life being extra special suspicious, have trouble in relationships. Everything is drama and a lot of conflict and then guess what happens? They get older, they have birthdays and so they’re the same people that they were but there is something that’s different and that is what they’re required to respond to. What are the challenges and you know well and your listeners know very well about the challenges in just plain getting older. Those are the folks that we say very often have a personality disorder and that goes throughout life and they’re especially, especially difficult to care for. It’s not a question that they’re doing things to you, as the child or the caregiver. But they’re doing things to be themselves and the themselves part is a continuation of pretty much how they’ve always been, only turned up a little bit.

13:25 Pamela D. Wilson: Well and you mentioned that these exist throughout life. So, we’re an adolescent, maybe we have a personality disorder, nobody notices, do they, is it hereditary? Or do we, can we grow into having a personality disorder?

13:38 Dr. Erlene Rosowsky: Yes, yes and yes. There are data that support that some of it is heritable and we also know that it responds to difficult attachment issues with little babies, through others, where the parenting is not helpful for them. It’s either hurtful or inadequate or avoidant and that kind of thing and they have that as the experience, the kind of the context of stage in which they’re developing. So is that heritable? Oh, maybe yes. It’s certainly learning and experiencing what they have growing up. It says in our DSM that it has to be a personality disorder, has to appear in adolescence or early adulthood, by that. But there’s some evidence that you can see retrospectively that there are little children who are going to have some trouble. That we call personality disorders going forward.

14:37 Dr. Erlene Rosowsky: And as a geropsychologist, I can say that there’s also some evidence that people in older age express for the first time, what we would call personality disorders. Let me, sorry, say something that might be helpful for your listeners because it’s been helpful for me to conceptualize it that way. And that is that we have a group, a pattern of behaviors and traits and expressed behaviors that is me. Is you. Is each of us and that’s what we call a personality style and it’s only when it’s maladaptive to getting one’s needs met, that it’s really a personality disorder. There’s the distinction. It’s not that these people who are personality disordered have any unusual kind of emotions or behaviors. It’s just really maladaptive. We behave to get our needs met. Yes. I’m sorry.

15:30 Pamela D. Wilson: And can you explain, yes can you explain a little more about that idea of maladaptive and what that means or how somebody would see that?

15:38 Dr. Erlene Rosowsky: Sure. Yes, right. We have, each of us have a pattern of behaviors and some dominant traits. Could be personality traits, that makes Mary – Mary or Sam – Sam, and we are asked to be in roles and relationships and achieve things all the time, to get our needs met. And what we do to get these needs met can be adaptive. It can help us do it or not. I’ll give you an example, of very, people who say they keep having the same relationship and over and over again.  Somebody wants a love relationship and they keep going to the same bad person or having the same bad effect and doing it over and over again. They want to get their needs met. They want to be loved and appreciated and needed, in what we all do in a good relationship and yet whatever they’re doing is making it so they’re not getting their needs met.

16:41 Dr. Erlene Rosowsky: And it sounds so simple. If you know you’re doing that. Stop doing that. And yet one of the major dynamics in our lives, Pamela, is to go through life feeling like me. Did you ever say, after you have a flu, I shouldn’t even use the word flu these days, but saying I just don’t feel like myself. Well certainly, after a grief, well I don’t feel like me or I spoke to Mary or Sam and he didn’t sound like himself. So, there’s a sense of self and you know what happens when we get older, we lose all the reminders of who we are, albeit a parent, etcetera. And I think a lot of us who have cared for our parents understand that. That some of this irritable, crazy-making behavior is they’re wanting to be recognized for the me, inside them.

17:42 Pamela D. Wilson: For who they are and for what they’ve done, yes.

17:44 Dr. Erlene Rosowsky: For who they are, yes. It really, I had something that happened to me in the supermarket today. Okay, I will give you an example of that. But let me just say that it’s not, again, what they’re doing but part of the craziness that they make us feel is part of their own, what we call psychopathology.

18:08 Pamela D. Wilson: Well and their response to stress, yes. So we will continue this conversation after the break with Dr. Erlene Rosowsky of the Alliance for Aging at William James College about personality disorders in older adults. I’m Pamela D Wilson, your host, you’re listening live on the BBM Global Network Channel 100 in TuneIn radio. Stay with me, we’ll be right back after this break.


20:48 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, I’m your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation Program for caregivers and aging adults, coming to you live from the BBM Global Network, channel 100 in TuneIn Radio. Dr. Rosowsky, you were about ready to share a story before the break. Can you share that with us?

21:06 Dr. Erlene Rosowsky: Interesting, it happened this morning, I was in the aisle of a fairly crowded supermarket and shopping the shelf in front of me was an older woman with a walker and moving slowly but very carefully looking over the items. And her daughter, who was probably middle-age plus five or 10 years, was arguing with her. Because the mother was saying that she wanted to get a particular shampoo, and the daughter was saying, that she had been to a dermatologist, and that her fragile hair of older people another shampoo would be better.

21:42 Dr. Erlene Rosowsky: And they were going back and forth, as I was there shopping, and I met the eyes of the daughter, and we smiled at each other, and she said to me, “This woman is driving me crazy. I have told her 100 times that that shampoo that she insists on buying, she is so blankety-blank stubborn. It’s making me crazy. Why can’t she listen and buy the right shampoo for her hair?” And she said, “100 times I’ve told her.” And I said, “You know, 101 probably isn’t going to change her mind either.” She said, “What am I supposed to do?” I said, “Tell yourself, you’re doing a good job.” She said, “What?” I said, “Tell yourself, you’re doing a good job. You’re a good daughter.”

22:27 Dr. Erlene Rosowsky: And she stopped, and she looked at me and smiled, she got it. That you’re not going to change somebody, and to enter into that kind of battle that kind of defines who they are, stubborn and purposeful. This woman was going to buy the shampoo that she wanted. And the other part of that, that the daughter got, is that her mother was probably not wanting to be the daughter of her daughter. You know role reversals don’t really happen, and I think she wanted to exert her autonomy, and her daughter was experiencing it as crazy-making, because she told her she went to the fancy dermatologist, who should know better, so that was interesting.

23:17 Pamela D. Wilson: Oh, you should have told her you were on a radio show tonight talking about the same subject.


23:21 Dr. Erlene Rosowsky: Yes, good idea. You can’t even make these things up. “Why is mom so difficult, why is dad so difficult, when they know it’s going to make people crazy, or angry,” or whatever? It’s because it feels like me. This is how they go through life; you see. And that kind of restores their feeling. So, what very often I suggest people do about it is to identify the dominant personality traits that are going to go with us, all of us, throughout our life and make sure that that trait has a job and a home. And sometimes that’s very counter to the experience that we feel when we’re with them, but it really, really, really works…

24:11 Pamela D. Wilson: Well, and explain that, it’s kind of off our subject, but how do you make that personality trait have a job or a home?

24:18 Dr. Erlene Rosowsky: Yes, that’s right, for example, I’ll take a consultant to skilled nursing facilities. So there’s somebody there who’s extremely, extremely controlling and wants to make sure that the nurses are giving the medications at the right time, and etcetera, and annoying the staff enormously. If that person needs to be in control and needs to be a manager, then give him or her a job to do that. And you’ll find that that takes the pressure, it rewards that person. It recognizes that person’s authority and, you understand, it shows that they’re valuable and it’s not taking anything away from you.

25:09 Pamela D. Wilson: Mm-hmm, away from them.

25:11 Dr. Erlene Rosowsky: So right, and while away from you for gratifying them because the last thing you want to do is give in to them, right? If it’s making you crazy and angry. But really capitulating and giving that dominant trait a job is very, very helpful. People who are extremely obsessional. I had a case of a gentleman who was a head of a major hospital [chuckle] in Boston.  We have lot of major hospitals and he was the head of a major surgical rotation. And he retired and he had had people in his office who, office managers and nurses, who gave him everything he wanted and then he went home and was retired. And his wife came to me and said, “You know, can we do something? Otherwise, I’m either going to get divorced or kill him. Because the first thing he decided to do was re-organize the kitchen. Because he thought that he could do that and create it like he used to do his surgical theater.” And so we had to figure out [chuckle] You understand? So we had to figure out how to…

26:19 Pamela D. Wilson: Oh, I totally understand.

26:21 Dr. Erlene Rosowsky: Right. How to give him a job that would take care of that without actually interfering with, she had run the kitchen for 45 years. So she probably knew how to do that. That’s what I mean. What are the dominant traits? What do they need? And it’s really, it’s a cry to make their needs met. It really is. If you can see that and give into that, that’s okay. A lot of time spouses cover that naturally and children don’t see that part of the parent until later on in life and then they say, “What the heck is going on? Was this hidden from us? Did I miss something? Is it something that just grew out of nothing?”

27:12 Dr. Erlene Rosowsky: And I call it, Pamela, the three Bs that very often spouses, their husband or wife, serve the role of buffering or bolstering or binding. And when that spouse either dies or is no longer able to serve in that function, then the other parent comes to the fore looking like they really can’t make it in an adaptive way. Because the husband, let’s say it was the husband was running interference for a wife perhaps who was highly dependent or obsessional, etcetera. Others, they were able to calm them down so they wouldn’t be inappropriate to other people and otherwise, in other cases they were able to show up. So that’s what I call the bolstering factor. So sometimes you see that when the other spouse, the other parent is no longer there.

28:17 Pamela D. Wilson: And the kids have to figure out how to respond to it. Dr. Rosowsky, thank you so much for joining us. This has been amazing information.

28:23 Pamela D. Wilson: Oh, my pleasure.

28:24 Dr. Erlene Rosowsky: Listeners, up in the second half of the show, we’ll have more on the subject of tips for responding to crazy situations that push our buttons and trigger our emotions. This is Pamela D. Wilson, your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation, live on the BBM Global Network Channel 100 in TuneIn Radio. Stay with me, we’ll be right back.


31:01 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert. I’m your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation radio program for caregivers and aging adults coming to you live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 in TuneIn Radio. The Caring Generation is a place for tips about health, well-being and caring for aging loved ones. We’re back to talk about “my Mom is Crazy and People are Crazy.” Tip number three is to take a mini-mental break by thinking of music or a theme song for stressful situations. When baited emotionally, don’t swallow that hook, take a mini mental break.

31:37 Pamela D. Wilson: Let’s take a walk back in time from 1997 to 2002, some trivia, there was a television show called Ally McBeal with Calista Flockhart, anybody remember Ally McBeal? It was a comedy about a fictional Boston Law Firm, the show was filled with mental breaks of Ally McBeal sing Dancing Babies. The staff of the law firm danced in a unisex bathroom to Barry White song, “You’re the First, My Last, My Everything.”

32:06 Pamela D. Wilson: There are times when tuning out mentally from thinking my mom is crazy or people are crazy even for 30 seconds is long enough to take the edge off emotions that are about to boil over. This idea leads to tip number four for responding to my mom is crazy and people are crazy. As Dr. Rosowsky said, avoid arguments and heated discussions, remain neutral, try not to focus on what is going wrong choose to focus on what is going right. The daughter in the grocery store who is doing a good job when her mom was fussing over shampoo. Think of the positives, avoid the negatives ask for a solution or a plan. When our emotions are triggered by my crazy mom or crazy people, we become distracted by negative thoughts and worries. Our minds will start to spin and spin and spin, it’s difficult to bring ourselves back to the present moment in a state of concentration and before we know it the entire day is gone by and we have just been nothing but upset.

33:05 Pamela D. Wilson: When we become triggered, we become mentally distressed. When crazy mom or people set us off if we can focus our attention on positive thoughts and actions we can work through those situations and be more productive and less distracted. We can be positive and neutral in the way that we respond to upsetting situations. It is a learned and a practiced habit not blowing up like a volcano will also teach our crazy mom or other people that they don’t control our emotions.  That we are back in control of our thoughts and our emotions which is how caregivers can regain balance in crazy over-scheduled lives.

33:41 Pamela D. Wilson: Tip number five for responding to my mom is crazy and people are crazy is to have intentional conversations. Don’t call to chat if your mom drives you crazy. Have a purpose for every conversation. When your mom calls, train mom to tell you what she wants even if she leaves a voice message. This makes communication more productive. How many of us dread those voicemails that say I need to talk to you about something and the person never gets to the something so we worry about what something is until we call them back. Those are triggering voice mails because of course we’re thinking that the worst is happening until we have some type of information to know whether the subject is something to worry about or not. Messages about “something” are manipulative.

34:24 Pamela D. Wilson: Treat those phone calls like a business discussion. Choose the subject. Talk about the subject and move on because that leaves less opportunity for people to trigger your emotions. And if a subject comes up during a phone conversation you could always say, “let me think about that, I’ll get back to you.” But know that if you say you will get back to them tomorrow you must. You don’t want to be that person on the other end who makes a commitment and then doesn’t follow through. Lack of follow-through is a trigger for many people because we set an expectation that we are going to do something and they could be waiting for us to call, to show up, to complete an activity and we don’t do it. So we don’t want to be the people that don’t follow up by putting something off.

35:07 Pamela D. Wilson: Let’s talk about time, time commitments, drama and emotional vampires which is tip number 6 for responding to my mom is crazy and people are crazy. At work do you have people who drop into your office to chat and they never leave? You’re looking at your watch. You’re watching the time clock on the wall thinking, oh my gosh, I have a work deadline. That person never picks up on the clue that you are busy. You don’t want to be rude but it’s really time for them to leave. Phone calls with my crazy mom or people who drop in your office can be similar and they are emotional drains so what do we do? We start by setting time limits. Instead of picking up the phone when it’s not a good time, let the call go to voicemail. If you’ve trained your crazy mom to leave you detailed messages you won’t feel obligated or guilty about not immediately picking up the phone or checking that voicemail. You can change your voice mail to say something like “This is Joe leave me a detailed message about how I could help you along with your phone number–just in case you think I have it and I don’t– so that I can respond to you as soon as possible.”

36:18 Pamela D. Wilson: Help other people to help you not to trigger your emotions. When you answer the phone say, I have five minutes what can I do for you. How can I help you. Do the same when you call say, “I’m calling to talk but oh I only have five minutes.” When five minutes is up end the conversation. Don’t feel guilty because you stated the time upfront. People you talk to on the phone or meet with will start to realize that you are serious and you’re busy and you have a long-to-do list. If my crazy mom or crazy people need more time, you can always schedule a meeting with an agenda and a time clock. This avoids those calls at work that say, oh, I have a question to ask or can I come in your office and pick your brain and you’re thinking no. Those questions can be another emotional trigger. Instead of being upset, ask the person for an agenda and how much time they need then you can decide how to handle the request and whether it’s a good use of your time or not.

37:18 Pamela D. Wilson: Speaking of time. We are coming up on our next break. We’ll finish up with three more tips to respond to my crazy mom and people are crazy. Here’s a time saving tip for you; Save time by taking The Caring Generation with you wherever you go on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcast Pandora, iHeart Radio, Spotify, Spreaker, Digital SoundCloud, Castbox and more.  You can put that app on the cell phone of your parents or your family members so that they can listen to these conversations and learn along with you. Also tell the Human Resource Department at your company about The Caring Generation radio show. As we talked about last week on the show called, How to Keep a Job and Care for Elderly Parents, caregivers should be comfortable about talking about caregiving in the workplace. If you don’t ask for caregiving assistance you will never know what is possible.

38:12 Pamela D. Wilson: Check out my website, it is there is a lot of helpful information there. My caregiving library, caregiving videos, my blog where I post articles every week and every single show from The Caring Generation ends up there. You can download the podcast, you can read the transcript, share with everybody that you know so that we can make care giving something that we talk about. This is Pamela D. Wilson caregiving expert, I’m your host, you’re listening to The Caring Generation live from the BBM global network, channel 100 in TuneIn radio. Stay with me, we’ll be right back after this break.


41:04 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D Wilson caregiving expert, this is The Caring Generation coming to you live from the BBM global network channel 100 in TuneIn radio. Let’s continue with tips to respond to my crazy mom and people are crazy. Before the break, we were talking about having intentional conversations in person and by leaving thorough voicemails. Tip number seven for responding to my mom is crazy, and people are crazy, is to embrace technology, tricks and tools. We talked a little bit about technology with voice mails. If your crazy mom forgets to take medications, set up med boxes for one or two weeks in advance. If crazy mom has difficulty going out to pick up groceries order online and have the groceries delivered. Start thinking about ways to accomplish tasks that are efficient and reduce the amount of contact you have. Less contact and less time reduce the possibility of being emotionally triggered. Setting boundaries for my crazy mom also means setting boundaries for yourself to schedule and accomplish tasks. If my crazy mom needs human contact to talk to your brothers or sisters ask them to visit or call.

42:10 Pamela D. Wilson: Hire a paid companion to visit once a week, who can visit and listen to mom. You might think that’s a crazy idea, It’s not. If conversations and contact with you is emotionally difficult it could also be emotionally difficult for your mom. Emotional triggers work both ways. How nice would it be to have somebody to listen to mom or dad and do a few tasks around the house so you don’t have to. There are times when you can’t put a price on your physical or emotional health. The caregiver who would show up is there to be a support to you. Having a caregiver one day a week for three or four hours may ease the situation with my mom is crazy. I know this to be true. When I was a care manager, sons and daughters hired me and my staff to be in regular contact to visit and to supervise in-home caregivers for elderly parents.

43:00 Pamela D. Wilson: There were many reasons for this. Not having a good relationship.  Children who were married, had children, they worked, they were busy, they didn’t have the time to check in on their parents or to receive five phone calls a day with emergencies one after the other. In other situations, the children, or the family may have lived across the country. They wanted to make sure that somebody was watching over mom or dad, so that they didn’t have to worry. Using technology tricks and tools is a good option for managing my crazy mom or dad which brings us to tip number eight, for responding to that. Earlier in the program we talked about needs that result in emotional triggers. Let’s think about the opposite because this tip is to focus on self-care for the caregiver.

43:42 Pamela D. Wilson: What are your needs? Let’s say that one of your needs is peace. Negative people and complainers represent drama and emotional vampires. They can suck the energy out of you, they can be exhausting. If my crazy mom triggers negativity complaints and drama say so in a nice way, “Mom, I understand that you are not happy. I don’t like X, Y or Z, either” or “maybe you don’t feel well.” State whatever you believe the cause is for that behavior to see if she will confirm what you’re saying. Then you can say something like “spending time with you is difficult for me, I’m doing my best, but there are times when I’m just having a really hard time and I’m not sure that I can meet all of your needs.”

44:27 Pamela D. Wilson: There may be other ways to do that. Guess what? These ways may be a hired caregiver, moving to a different care community, asking other family members for help, and looking at all of the available options. Well, you don’t want my crazy mom to feel abandoned. You also want to make it clear that you have a need for peace, and it’s equally as important as her need for chaos, drama, complaining and being negative. As we talked about with Dr. Rosowsky though, you may be able to use one of those behaviors to give your parent a job. If they’re controlling, maybe give them something that they can control that doesn’t drive you crazy. Apply this situation to your other needs. Your need for safety, being appreciated, respect, may be having time with your family, focusing on your career, looking for solutions.

45:18 Pamela D. Wilson: Successful caregiving relationships are two-sided with as much 50-50 participation by parents as possible. When my crazy mom or people are crazy begin to take over our emotional lives, we become drained. As an exhausted caregiver, physically or emotionally, you can’t be an effective caregiver. Coping to get through situations can be harmful unintentionally to elderly parents. If you forget details about mom or dad’s care because you are so tired, coping can also result in poor work performance. Caregivers tell me that they worry about being able to care for my crazy mom or another family member and work and take care of their families. Most of these caregivers, you know it, you are working full-time. You’re raising children. You might be going to school and trying to do it all. Caregivers will tell me that they feel like they are failing at everything. Feelings of guilt exist for wanting control over one tiny small part of their life. Personality disorders, mental health and substance abuse issues, they are becoming more common in caregiving situations.

46:25 Pamela D. Wilson: This brings us up to tip number nine for responding to my crazy mom and people are crazy. It is the idea of caregiver self-preservation. We must realize, like Dr. Rosowsky mentioned, that we can’t change long-standing habits in our elderly parents, no matter how difficult the habits and behaviors can be. No matter how much they drive us crazy. We can’t save anybody else from themselves. We can only change the way that we respond. As caregivers, we can do the best that we can do. If you’re at a point of burnout, contact your brothers and sisters for help. Maybe contact organizations in the community to see if there’s other type of assistance available, because it may not be possible for you to continue to do everything. Look back at the work that you did. Feel good that you were able to support the situation for the time that you did. If money is short, you may have to start looking at Medicaid and other public support programs. And realize that, honestly, it may be time for somebody else to take over the care of my crazy mom and for you to return to being the daughter, the son or a spouse.

47:34 Pamela D. Wilson: We’ll visit next week with Ruiz Eden Lopez from the National Center on Elder Abuse and the Keck School of Medicine at the University of California. We’re going to be talking about elder abuse in families. How do you recognize it and how do you recognize the steps to take if mom or dad are not taking care of themselves? If mom or dad are neglecting their own care. Helpful information for caregivers and aging adults is on my website at I’m Pamela D. Wilson, your host. You’re listening to The Caring Generation live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 in TuneIn Radio. Stay with me, we’ll be right back.


51:24 Pamela D. Wilson: This is Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, I’m your host. This is The Caring Generation Radio Program for Caregivers and Aging Adults live on the BBM Global Network Channel 100 in TuneIn Radio. We are back for Tip number 10 for responding to my crazy mom and people are crazy.

51:43 Pamela D. Wilson: This is a combined tip to find humor in all situations in life. It’s easy to get wrapped up in life, work, and caregiving, and lose perspective of the bigger picture. The other idea is to accept and realize that everyone has their opinions, habits, and beliefs that may not match ours. This is an aspect that makes life interesting. Imagine how limited and routine life would be if we were all the same and thought the same way.

52:11 Pamela D. Wilson: My crazy mother and people are crazy represent the best opportunities we have to learn. The most difficult people in our lives can be our greatest teachers if we can open our minds to learning. My crazy mom, dad or people are crazy. They teach us what we want to be and what we don’t want to be. Difficult people are often those who are closest to us. They are people with whom we have close relationships like elderly parents, brothers and sisters. Our learning opportunity lies in how we react to people and unexpected situations in our lives.

52:46 Pamela D. Wilson: During these stressful and sometimes dark points in our lives it may feel like we’re drowning or failing. Life doesn’t happen to us. The events in our lives are events that we have somehow created. When we take accountability for our participation, we can begin finding possibilities for changes and improvements. The tendency to refuse to change, or to go kicking and screaming may exist. Hope and personal beliefs, that is what keeps us moving forward. Strong beliefs can help us notice the good without being unrealistic about situations.

53:19 Pamela D. Wilson: As a society, we’ve become so drawn to the idea of instant gratification. We want it now, so we must have it now. Any type of change that involves learning a new habit, like the 10 tips we discussed for surviving relationships with my crazy mom and people who are crazy, can be difficult. Change is easier when we’re with others who are going through a similar experience. You can join with caregivers in my Facebook caregiver support group called The Caregiving Trap. There are some amazing caregivers in the group. Caregivers lift up other caregivers.

53:49 Pamela D. Wilson: Keep a journal or create a time log of your accomplishments. Noticing progress can be difficult if we don’t write it down. We have to give ourselves a pat on the back every now and then. As you work to embrace these new habits ask, “am I less frustrated today with my crazy mom or people who are driving me crazy?” Is it becoming less frequent or happening less often? Are you starting to feel more in control of your emotions? Are your neutral responses supporting conversations about solutions instead of complaints? Are your needs being met? Do you feel more at peace in your life and in your relationships? You can make progress in caring for my crazy mom or dad or anybody by using the 10 tips we talked about tonight.

54:34 Pamela D. Wilson: A bonus tip is the idea of gratitude. For us to survive the bad and good days, finding at least three things to be grateful every day is essential. Having a gratitude mindset trains our brains to be positive instead of dwelling on all of those negatives. When your brain and thoughts become more positive, you can manage instead of react to stress related to crazy situations. You’ll become more confident in everything that you do personally and professionally. Habits that we learn personally transfer to all aspects of our lives: Our caregiving relationships, our personal relationships, work and career. We all have the opportunity to learn and grow if we make that a choice.

55:14 Pamela D. Wilson: Listeners, you are so amazing. Thank you for the care that you provide to elderly parents, spouses, grandparents, clients, and others. Thank you for being here to learn how to take care of yourselves, because taking care of yourselves is important. Share The Caring Generation with your family and your workplace so that we can make caregiving something that we talk about. Podcasts of all the shows are on my website at Remember to check out my channel called Caregiving TV on YouTube.

55:42 Pamela D. Wilson: Thank you for joining me on The Caring Generation Radio Program for Caregivers and Aging Adults coming to you live from the BBM Global Network Channel 100 in TuneIn Radio. I’m Pamela D. Wilson, caregiving expert, advocate, and speaker. God bless you all, sleep well tonight, have a fabulous day tomorrow and a great week until we are back here together again.


56:03 Announcer: Tune in each week for The Caring Generation with host Pamela D. Wilson. Come join the conversation and see how Pamela can provide solutions and peace of mind for everyone here on Pamela D. Wilson’s The Caring Generation.

Looking For More Help Managing Care for Yourself or Elderly Parents? You’ll Find What You Are Looking For in The Caring Generation® Library in the Section Called Difficult Discussions.

About Pamela Wilson

PAMELA D. WILSON, MS, BS/BA, NCG, CSA helps caregivers and aging adults solve caregiving problems and manage caregiving needs through online programs, live support groups, and an extensive caregiving library that includes articles, podcasts, videos, and webinars.

Pin It on Pinterest