Family member loses patience with Mother who has Alzheimer's. How do we help him deal with frustrations and anger?

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Hi guys! Just wanted to see if anyone has any suggestions. The family member I speak of is my older uncle, but he has William's Syndrome, he can do a lot for himself and he can look after himself really well. He lives with his mother who has Alzheimer. He doesn't do much for her except gives her dinner and her medicine at night (we have a helper who comes in during the day). But he really loses patience with her, starts yelling at her and is just super upset whenever he talks to her. Its surprising because he's never done this before. I know it's probably some coping mechanism. But how do we help him deal with his frustrations and anger? Especially because he has a limited ability in understanding beyond an 8th grade level. He even realizes afterwards that he shouldn't have yelled and he apologizes. But I feel at the moment of his anger, he just can't help himself.


Has your grandmother always been your uncle's mainstay? It's great that he manages so well, but if he has relied on your grandmother's support throughout his life perhaps the changes in her are making him feel insecure.

Has the family discussed a long term care plan for both of them? If not, it's high time. Fit, experienced adults with no disabilities at all find looking after and living with a person with Alzheimer's a challenge; and it is only a matter of time before your uncle and grandmother's current situation becomes untenable.
I agree with Countrymouse, it's time everyone steps back to see the forest instead of focusing on each particular tree. As her abilities fail they will both become increasingly frustrated and you can't really expect him to reason his way through it. In the long run it isn't fair to either of them, her to be yelled at or to him to have to feel the guilt and shame of losing his temper.
I suspect the family is expecting something from the man that he is not capable of. Dealing with dementia behavior is challenging on the nerves, even for an average person who has an abundance of patience. I'd consider that he and his mom will need alternate care pronto and meet with family to figure out the options. No one's fault, it's just a sad situation. I hope you can find a good plan.
I had to look up what William's Sydrome was to have a little better understanding. Depending on how severe his developemental disability is, it might not be feasible any longer for him to take care of the person with dementia, even with a daytime aide. It probably wasn't feasible from the get go but a lot of the family was probably doing the burying their heads in the sand thing. Everyone in the family needs to sit down and discuss what needs to happen from here on out. The person with dementia needs to be looked at by a doctor to see if they need AL, NH, skilled nursing or memory care. Your uncle, if he is not willing to move in with family, will need a group home.
You are talking about a person who has the mental capacity of a 12 year old.

Would you expect a 12 year old, with no other adult in the home, to understand dementia?

No, you wouldn't.

Someone needs to look at the big picture and get both of these folks into the care situations that they need.
Thank you all for your suggestions. Yes, they've always lived together, so it would be hard to have them living apart.
I also see we may have been expecting too much from my uncle. Will have to see what the best solution is.
Your grandmother must have dreaded something like this happening, Natalie. I believe that for many parents of children with lifelong disabilities, the anxiety about what will happen to the (adult) child once they're no longer able to care for them is one of the most challenging aspects of the whole thing. Did your grandmother ever talk to any members of the family about your uncle's future? It might be worth asking around.

Another exercise you could think about doing together is going through the guidelines for health and welfare power of attorney and talking to both uncle and grandmother about the issues these guidelines raise. Even if neither of them is able to to manage the legal process of actually creating a POA, it could provide a structure for discussion about what sort of environment he might take to best and who might be the best person to become his guardian. I'm not suggesting you should sit them down and interrogate them! - jut work the issues into conversations over time, perhaps. But it would be a good idea to have in mind a list of subjects that will need to be thought about.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

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