How to Maintain a Good Mother Daughter Relationship with an Aging Mom

  1. Remember you are not your Mom’s Mom. Respect the nature of the relationship, even when roles change. People sometimes innocently refer to “mothering my mother”. We know it can feel that way, but you are still her daughter. Think about this when you communicate with your Mom. As an adult, she deserves input and dignity.
  2. Set boundaries so resentments don’t fester. While you may want to do all you can to help, that may mean not doing it all yourself. If you find yourself treating Mom like a child or getting angry easily, it is past the time to get help. When you become the “task master” you often lose valuable time together for the mother-daughter relationship. Also, consider outsourcing tasks which will help you maintain healthy boundaries. One example is hiring home health caregivers to assist Mom with personal care and toileting.
  3. Let go of the little things. Realize Mom is an adult who can make poor decisions (as long as she’s competent). The biggest challenge with this is that her decisions can affect you when you have to come in and “clean up”. A care consultation is invaluable in outlining key issues and talking through differences. The care manager can also help you set up fallback options so that your life is not totally disrupted by Mom’s poor choices.
  4. Talk to someone. Many of these tips are easier said than done. Talking to a professional can do a lot for the mother-daughter relationship and your own sanity. You may feel bad burdening your friends with your tales of woe. Caregiving can be damaging to your marriage if you don’t have an outlet for your stress. Another option is to check out a caregiver support group.
  5. Plan ahead. Even good relationships strain under the pressure of crisis. Planning can prevent many unnecessary emergencies.
  6. Make time for activities together that nurture your mother-daughter relationship. Don’t schedule a million things to do each visit. Allow time to chat with Mom, reminisce, enjoy a meal or go through old photos. Plan time for a favorite activity together, even if you have to modify it slightly. Don’t lose important quality time together.

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