Alzheimer's and abusive parents, you can change your relationship.

Started by

My mother has always been abusive not just during my childhood but as an adult as well. She has what I consider a personality disorder (to know about PD's google it). Then in late 2009 mom was diagnosed by her PCP as having dementia. I was not unfamiliar with this disease as my father also passed away in 2003 with dementia. Everything regarding our relationship continued the same with me keeping a distance because of her abusive personality. In 2012 things changed as mom progressed. While she continued to be abusive to me and my sister, she was declining. She started a kitchen fire by heating up Vicks Vapor Rub in a pan on the stove. She cancelled her phone service twice because she didn't want to the monthly payment they offered. Since I live locally in the same city as mom, I was primarily the one who fixed these issues for her only to be abused and accused of starting the problem in the first place. Then she started accusing me and sis of stealing her financial and medical files, telling the bank we were trying to steal her money and put her away. She told former co-workers the same thing.Sis and I continued to keep a distance because we could not make decision for our mom until she was diagnosed as mentally incapacitated, that is how the DPOA was written. In September of 2012 we reported mom as an unsafe driver to DMV. They sent mom a letter with a form for her PCP to fill out and return to them. Based on what the dr. sent them, they revoked her drivers license. This caused mom to spiral downwards rapidly and she was diagnosed as mentally incapacitated March of 2013. The reason I am sharing this information is because I want to say that a last year, I really felt and believed I hated my mom. There were many times I wanted to write a letter to her elder law attorney to tell him I did not want my name on her DPOA. The abuse and stress was not worth it....Then I changed my approach. I decided that yes mom has personality disorder that includes paranoia, distrust and all the abuse. but I started treating my mother as though everything she was do in regards to abuse, distrust, etc was Alzheimer's related not a personality disorder. Now please understand, my mom still had a personality disorder (mental illness), but the Alzheimer's was taking over and I needed to recognized that. It changed our relationship and soon I realized I LOVE my mom!! Since the summer of 2012, I have been very hands on in my mom's care, I gained her trust, which was a huge undertaking. I now protect my mom, advocate for her in a very different way than I did before. I am married and have to work, so mom is now living in a memory care unit that is excellent. They go above and beyond the call of duty to accommodate her and us. I am still very hands on with mom's care...while I can't say I am her daughter again, I can say I am extremely happy with her care, she is safe, gaining weight, making friends and I spend time with her 2-3 times a week by having lunch, talking, taking walks together..our time is more quality time, she calls me on the phone...I guess my whole point is that even though you have an abusive can change the relationship and love them...I love my mom...I hope this helps others in similar situations!!


What a wonderful story. I've read many posts here about abusive parents having ALZ or dementia and how the adult children have to still care for the abusive parent even after a lifetime of abuse and how difficult that is.

I'm so glad you wrote this, sharyn. I think it's inspirational. Thank you.
I agree . This is very inspirational. You gave and took the Olive branch is how I look at it. Way Cool.
Living all your life wit an abusive parent is an extremely hard way to live sometimes to the point of not being involved with them when they become ill. It is very trying to erase all the bad that took place over the years and step up when things turn in such a dramatic way. You are obviously a very strong and caring person given what you went through in the past. Sometimes you have to forgive yourself before you can move on to foregive someone else even if it is a parent. You will have a new respect of your mother in the end and will be able to cope better when the time comes. Peace be with you and keep your better foot forward. Good Luck to you.
Spiritual growth is healing the wounds, then moving forward. I think we are placed in situations to help us fix where we are wounded. Sounds good in theory but hurts like hell or I guess I gotta say here heck.
Thanks for sharing sharynmarie.
Thank you for sharing this , Sharynmarie! My Mom does not have a PD but she did make some hurtful mistakes . I guess every Mother does. It is hard to hear that mom has dementia when you kept thinking one day you would get a big "I am sorry for ...." You kinda have to forgive them without it. And it can be hard when you are caring for the person who hurt you but you did it -are doing it!!!-and that is great!!! I think , sometimes, I have to think of my Mom as just a hurting human being and not the woman who ignored my needs as a child at times ( like when she is ringing her bell at 3AM and I am crabby and sleepy). It helps that I worked at a nursing home years ago and can pretend she is just a resident and it is my job to take care of her. Sometimes I just need to leave my emotions out of it. But it is hard.

Thanks again for sharing!!
Hi everyone, thank you for your comments! I know there are many other people on this site who have a parent with PD who are much worse than my mother and because of that they have to keep distance and in some cases end the relationship entirely. The first step with my mom was getting her on an antidepressant which couldn't be done until she was mentally incapacitated (she wouldn't take it if she knew what is was for), it has made a world of difference in her personality. It is very hard to detach emotionally but when a parent is abusive, it becomes necessary for our own mental health.
Thank you for this. I'm in a similar situation, but my mother I'd in my home. I'll try to do what you've done. I applaud you.
gsw9w498~I know my approach may not work for everyone. My sis tends to tell our mother the can't live at home alone because you started a kitchen fire, you melted the bottom off a pot by leaving it on stove to long and the bottom fell on the floor melting the linoleum. Instead I tell her, the dr. is filling out the paperwork for your release. She accepts it because that is what she wants to hear. I tell her this each and every time I visit. With dementia, you have to get into their world...they can't get into your world. Good luck and hugs to you!!
Hello anonymous99039!

I'm so happy for you that you were able to overcome the dysfunctionality; how I wish I could reach that point with my parents! I HATE my father because he HATES me (always has), and I have very little tolerance for my mother's lifetime manipulative/controlling attitudes! I know that hating is not the way to go, but how do we find love within our hearts after so much abuse? There are also PDs in both my parents, but their meanness is too unbearable; I guess it's all about not letting the inner child be HURT! Not an easy attitude to undertake. Thanks for your story. Hope

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support