Disturbed by friend's treatment of her mother.


A longtime friend of mine moved her mother across country to live with her due to her advancing age (87)and the fact that she lived alone. That was three years ago. I visit her house frequently and am appalled at how she talks to her mom. My friend has two rather large dogs, which her mom is not very fond of. My friend treats the dogs with the utmost care and compassion, sometimes being up all night because the dogs are crying or are having digestive upsets, and when her mother complains about them, she threatens her, saying: don't you dare touch them. She devotes the largest part of her day to those dogs, taking them to the park, to doggie daycare, to the groomers or to the vet. The mom is getting quite forgetful and tends to repeat herself, which prompts my friend to raise her voice and angrily tell her that she needs to stop talking because she repeats herself all day. It is extremely painful to watch their interactions, and when I try to say things to calm her down and make her see how she really shouldn't expect so much from her mom, she gets very angry and basically says that she is tired of putting up with it and shouldn't have to.
I believe that when someone reaches the ripe old age of 87 and becomes repetitive, family members should do their best to give that person the best remaining years they can muster. Her mom's bedroom is upstairs, and she spends at least 16 hours a day in her room. Whenever she is downstairs, my friend antagonizes her to the point where she gets so frustrated that she returns to her room and stays there until the next day, when it all starts over again. My friend has a son and a daughter, ages 22 and 17 respectively, and they pay no attention to their grandmother because my friend's behavior has taught them that she is an old fool and deserves no attention. They shake their heads and snicker at her when she says things that don't make sense.
I am absolutely heartbroken about this situation. Her mom is well fed and clean, it is not physical neglect, but rather psychological intimidation and control. Is there any thing I can do? As I mentioned before, I have tried to say things, but she gets very angry. I have taken her mom out to lunch, but she always praises her daughter as if all the abuse does not affect her and never says anything about what goes on at home. It makes me think of battered wives who will not admit that there is anything wrong.

This discussion has been closed for comment. Start a New Discussion.
Find Care & Housing


I think it is a great idea to bring your friend some articles and read to her. Suggest this site to her. You don't have to tell her you post on this site, but suggest it saying someone you know who has a parent with dementia comes here for support. You did not say if your friend is single, divorced, or married. I assumed it is just her and her mother. She is probably isolated, depressed, and lonely and she may not even realize it. Does she have other friends who would be willing to take her out to lunch or a mani/pedi while you stay with her mother? Does she even realize her mother may have dementia? She is very fortunate to have you as a friend who cares about her and her mother. Most friends would walk away from the situation and just write her off as being mean to her mother, never coming to visit or trying to help her. You might suggest to her Adult Day Care 2-3 times a week or whatever she can afford so she can have a break during the day.

It may disturb you to see this , I understand that. But what you are witnessing is care giver burn out. She loves her mother. It takes alot of love to care for the elderly. But it is an all consuming obligation. And there are things happening everyday to your friend and her family that you don't see. It is in no way like raising your children . And doctors visits , filling pill minders making sure they are feed showered dressed diapered and properly taking there meds. repeating what the meds are why they must eat. where they put there purse ,wallet , bank book . over and over and over. they lost the money you gave them . they forgot the money . they want to drive because they never got a ticket in there life. But they cant walk to the table without holding on to something or they will fall. It is exausting. and at the same time its ok cuz you do love them. It's just so very complicated because they are not the person you once knew. And yet you would never let them fade away in a nursing home. I have looked in the eye's at grocery stores of some impatient son or daughter while there elderly parent stood in front of an item for thirty minutes trying to remember if thats the item they wanted. I always smile and tell them I have been there. We know it looks bad to the onlookers but there is only so many hours to the day and its a full one.

Broken Record: What to Say When Dementia Causes Them to Repeat
This is an article on this site

Minnie, this is a sad story. It sounds like your friend doesn't want her mother there. It also sounds like she needs to learn kindness.Old people, even those without dementia, repeat themselves. There are certain stories my mother has told me so many times that I could probably recite them word for word now. That is normal for old people, particularly when they are not doing many new things.

I'm glad you're there to take her out to eat sometimes. Your friend's mother needs her, but she also needs people who are fun to be with. If living with her daughter and grandkids becomes too hard, maybe she would like AL or a retirement community.

One thing to consider is that often things on the inside of the family are not the same as they appear on the outside. For example, people besides myself think of my mother as sweet and demure. Behind closed doors, though, she often becomes a she-devil. People outside the family would have a hard time believing the hurtful things she says and does. It may be that your friend is tolerating more than you know about. Still, acting out at her mother is not a good solution.

Minnie5851... I am glad you came here with your concerns. It seems your friend is a loving caring person, caring for and living with a person with a mental illness is not easy for anyone. I have extreme patience in this area, that is who "I" am, now, due to experience and my personality in general. The problem is.... "it is mental" and the ones who suffer the most from a mental illness are those around the ailing one(there is a reason, needs diagnosis). I say this because the person with the illness does not see their behavior as abnormal. If a person knew they were repeating, they, wouldn't have to repeat. The person who needs to understand is her daughter. She needs to" look or hear or see" her Mom in a different way... not the same way her Mom was without her mental issues. She is now a person who needs someone to think for her and assist her and ignore the aggravating details that go with it, yet still care for her some how. With all that said..... "this is not easy" to remove yourself from being a daughter to caring for your Mother who is in a sense not your Mother any more. Her Mom is still in there, her likes dislikes, feelings, emotions... these are strong but distorted at times. Your friend needs a good friend like you to offer some assistance without forcing opinions or judgement. Emotions with this.... on the ill person and the caregiver are short fused, they are both stressed from the ordeal, so tread these waters carefully!!! I suggest to research on this site all types of articles about dementia stages, and threads(questions/answers/discussions) that caregivers and experts post about this or similar subjects. There is a lot of input on this site. Maybe you should hug your friend tell her she's got a lot on her plate. You can print out some of these things or read them to her she may not have time to read she may be dealing with something she does not know how else to handle and may think she's alone , knowing there are a bunch of others with same situation is a relief. Most people wait until it is too late to do anything and someone gets hurt or suffers damage unintentional. There are legal and behavioral health issues in need of attention as well. This is the first step... Awareness!!! I look at being a friend this way... If someone is going to hates me, because I try to stop them from harm, I am a good friend, If they do harm themselves, and I don't at least try to stop it, I fail as a friend. Good Luck!!! Keep us posted!!!!

This discussion has been closed for comment. Start a New Discussion.