Living with someone with Dementia is like living with an alcoholic.


It just hit me today when mom was having a psychotic episode accusing me of giving her "my" medicare mail and trying to pawn it off on her. I''m 53 and not on Medicare. Me telling her that only enraged her. She kept yelling that this was not her mail and why did she have to deal with my problems. I said Oh no, I cannot do this alone anymore When she 'came to' a bit she 'informed' me of how I need to handle her better so she doesn't get so upset. I thought wtf that's what alcoholics do to their victims -- tell them how wrong the victim is and how they should be better so the alcoholic won't behave so badly. When I I told mom today I can't do this alone anymore. She just interpreted that to meaning I couldn't handle the mail anymore. These psycho episodes are becoming more and more common. Parkinson's dementia! Just thought I'd vent my observation.

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Kedwards460, sounds like you have it together regarding your caregiving role, your strengths, and your limitations. We all have episodes we could have handled better.

Probably the best way to transition to long term care is via the respite time. She has to accept that because of your surgery, and once she is there it may be easier to make it permanent. Have you found a respite service in a care center that would be suitable for your mom?

Thanks for the input everyone. First off, I have been really trying for a while now to go along and pretend she makes sense and agree with doesn't make sense but yesterday I did backslide and say that her mail was not mine. Sometimes I remove myself from the room telling her to ring the bell if she needs anything waiting for her to calm down. That has mixed results. She sees that too as a challenge and rings the bell to call me back to keep up the torture. Mom is getting in home care a few days a week which helps me. She LOVES the people for the first month or so and then they have more faults than a dog has fleas by the second. I have learned to ignore that too and just nod and say "Oh" when she complains. Last month she claimed that one who stayed over night when I finally got a way FOR an overnight 'SCREAMED" at her. Me, believed her and filed a complaint but 20/20 hindsight I think mom might have exaggerated that one b/c I too get accused of screaming when I'm not. I'm hoping that when she goes to a facility when I have my major surgery in the new year that it won't just be a respite thing and it can become her forever home. I love her but I'm not a nurse or a dr. or a psychologist and I'm over being alone in the house with this, It's only going to get worse for her not better. She needs more skilled care with people who are trained with this. Hoping to get her friends, neurologist, maybe a family member or something on board for an intervention b/c it can't just be ME alone saying "It's time for the nursing home mom" That will SO not work The ALONE thing is so not working anyway,

There is one major difference between the two.
As Alzheimer's and other dementias progress, behaviors change — as does your role as caregiver. While changes in behavior can be challenging, you need to upgrade yourself to take care of your loved ones.

reasoning with a dementia patient is an exercise in futility. our household stress( mom and i ) dramatically improved when i learned to redirect the conversations. there is no right or wrong, theres just whatever reply thats required to calm and reassure the patient. it can even be done without lying to them. once mom said the yard was just swarming with people. i told her that as long as they werent coming inside messing with us everything was ok. her bedroom had no ceiling or roof- i told her it was a pleasant evening with no rain in the forecast so it wasnt a big deal.
redirecting / placating takes practice but its worth the effort. i think dementia makes mental retardation look like a brain fart in comparison. the argumentiveness and agitation will get worse so you simply must read all you can and get yourself into a resolute mindset.
residential care may be a good option for some people but im of the opinion that many are staffed with low skilled dullards. if dementia care was so taxing on me how the hell can a 20 yr old crackhead be up to the task?

Jeanne's advice sounds spot-on to me. One other big difference that strikes me is that alcoholics (no, I've never lived with one and wouldn't attempt to) are famously manipulative, hence the blaming of their loved ones. Your mother isn't being manipulative, she's trying to make sense of a distorted world that's probably very frightening for her. Jeanne's right - she really, really can't help it. Doesn't make it any easier for you, of course, so Jeanne's also right to advise getting all the information and hands-on help that you can. Best of luck, please update x

Kedwards460, there is no doubt about it -- living with someone who has dementia is very, very challenging. Vent away!

I have not lived with an alcoholic so I can't comment on the similarities. I do know one very large difference, though. No amount of reasoning, talking, explaining, or arguing, can get someone with dementia to change, and there is no detox or rehab program that can, either. Parkinson's Disease Dementia (PDD) is one of the Lewy Body dementias. Mom has in her brain deposits of alpha-synuclein protein, first discovered by Frederick Lewy and named after him. These Lewy Bodies interfere with the normal working of the brain. She can't help it. You can't help it. And there is currently no cure. She cannot simply decide she wants to change and then go about doing what is necessary to make that happen. Those Lewy Bodies are there to stay.

It will help if you try not to argue with your mom. She says the Medicare mail isn't hers? "Sorry, Mom. Did I give you any other wrong mail?" If she is so confused she doesn't know she is on Medicare, she probably won't be able to handle that mail in any case. Of course you are "right" -- it is her mail. But who is right or wrong isn't as important as keeping things calm.

If you can't do this alone anymore, it doesn't do any good to tell that to Mom. She can't help the condition of her brain and threats or bribes or reasoning won't allow her to change. Instead, set about making changes so that you don't have to do this alone any more. That is, if this is a thought-out decision and not just venting in a moment of exasperation (which all caregivers have!)

Would it help enough to have some in-home help with Mom? You might try that first. Placing her in a care center is another option. There each shift of caregivers is well rested and has a life outside of caring for persons with dementia. They also have help available from others if a situation calls for more than one person.

If venting helps enough, awesome! Also get some respite. Bring in more help if you need it. And consider long-term care, if not for right now, for down the road. These episodes are going to continue and also to get worse.

Best wishes to you in this extremely challenging job.

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