Awful day, Mom agitated & angry from moment she woke up, she acted like a toddler...

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My mom had a really crappy day today. It's like she woke up on the wrong side of the bed. I almost thought her Meds we're screwed up, she was so different today and it lasted most of the day. If you've seen my other posts, my stepdad passed away 2 weeks ago and I'm here with my Mom tying up loose ends and trying to pack her up. In between all the packing and phone calls and bank visits I have been taking her to see friends, workout, and to see her therapist. It's had its ups and downs but today she was very restless and aggravated. The one thing I did differently this morning was to make several work related phone calls. Normally I work in the mornings on my computer, but today was more phone calls. So I was basically ignoring mom, but she got mad at me for bossing her around. Go figure. Then when it was time to head out to run errands, she said, "I can drive" and I told her I didn't think it was a good idea because she had been so upset lately. Wow...she threw a fit, slammed the car door, so I got out to take a few deep breaths and then she stomped off. I eventually followed her and she cried, apologized, and then got all angry at me again. Her main beef is that everybody has been bossing her around and won't let her drive! She told me to leave the apartment so she could calm down, so I did. She eventually came and found me in the courtyard because her friend called saying it was time to meet for lunch. She sort of calmed down after that, but I had a real eye the heck am I going to drive for three days with her knowing she is going to insist on taking turns? I emailed the doctor who wrote a note on a prescription paper recommending that she not drive for a couple months due to her grief....but when we dropped by in person, doc didn't discuss it with Mom. My plan is to have her therapist show her the note and discuss it before we head out, but I'm not hopeful that this will make her agreeable. She is in complete denial about her cognitive decline and abilities most of the time, and then has brief moments of clarity in which she admits she's losing her mind. To be fair, 1 out of 13 days being this awful is still manageable in my mind, but what about moving forward....when she realizes living with me affords her no more freedom then living in the AL apartment.....ugh....I may be lining up the memory care place sooner rather then later, I mean, if she's going to hate me either way...and as far as extra Meds to help her calm down, the doc said a lot of times they work opposite, she said we could try Benadryl but to try it before we actually needed it in case it makes her worse, not better. I'm not sure I want to even try it.


JJGood, this sounds like a normal day with my mother, except she doesn't drive. Thank goodness for that! My mother's super-bad days are usually triggered by stress. When we have something going on around the house, she can be majorly angry and can say many bad things. She also gets in a horrible mood if I don't let her boss me around. She does like to stay in control of things.

One thing that you may want to have doctors check if she goes into sudden mood swings is her urine. UTIs can cause major changes in their mood and behavior.

Your mother is doing so much adjusting right now with the death of your father and moving. I know there is also a lot of stress and feelings of loss for you. You seem like a really good caregiver from what you wrote. Many of us would not have stayed so level headed. Big hugs.
Maybe consider some temporary stress medication for you. Although it's probably not a good idea to take them if you're going to be driving. But after you get where you going, perhaps. I know I went a couple of months needing to take a stress med prior to every visit with my mom. I've held back four doses that I hoard like gold, for "just in case". Just knowing they're there makes me feel better. And like JessieBelle said, give yourself a pat on the back - it sounds like you're doing a great job in a tough situation.
You know what else can cause sudden mood swings, untypical outbursts, and irrational behavior?

The death of a soulmate, life partner, long-time friend, lover, and spouse. Your poor mother lost her husband 2 weeks ago. Of course she is having "bad days." My goodness, this is perfectly normal. My husband died 3+ years ago. I remember those first months. My BFF's husband died two weeks ago. Is she having bad days? You better believe it!

The signs of mourning (black clothes, black armbands, etc) were a warning to others. They said, "I've recently lost a loved one. Please be patient if I'm a little unstable."

On top of "normal" mourning your mother is coping with "losing her mind" and sometimes knowing it and also with getting ready to move.

It really is amazing that she is still functional at all.

What you are seeing right now may or may not be what she settles into in a few month. Apply all of your patience and wait and see.

And I wouldn't necessarily start with looking for memory care if she does need more help than you can provide. Most memory care units are for people who wander (and therefore need a secure environment) or people whose behavior is very disturbing to other residents. Unless these things apply, an assisted living facility might be just fine.

And I join JessieBelle and Rainmom in congratulating you on doing a great job! I'd just advise factoring in the grief factor a little more heavily.
JJGood19, you say "She is in complete denial about her cognitive decline and abilities most of the time, and then has brief moments of clarity in which she admits she's losing her mind."

Yikes! Wouldn't that be the absolute pits? My husband had that self-awareness, too, and my sister always felt bad about that for him. She said if she ever went gaga she hoped she just arrived there with no awareness of the journey!

You can take advantage of those moments of clarity, though. Agree with her. Confirm that she is losing some of her former abilities. ("You have a great memory. But sometimes these days it isn't working.") And reassure her that she will be safe. "You'll have to make some adjustments, but I'll be here to help you when your brain isn't working up to its usual high standards, and we'll get by fine."

Reinforce these concepts as often as you can.
Thanks jeannegibbs, I actually do say something similar to what you recommended when she has her moments of clarity, both acknowledging her memory decline and reassuring her that we will muddle through it together. Several times she has said that she's stupid, and I disagree with her every time. I tell her she's going through a lot and simply confused, but not stupid.

I will also try to keep her grief in perspective. She's never been one to express sadness and grief, she's very much a "stick your head in the sand type" so it must be double hard on her now.

Jessibelle, thanks for the tip on the UTI, I will keep that in mind as well.

Rainmom, I have valium with me, use it to get on airplanes, but I definitely can't take it while driving, I do however have a massage lined up towards the end of the month. My kids got me a mother's day gift card at this massage club two years ago and I finally went in April--WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG? The membership allows me 1 massage a month, I'm thinking, hmmmm the 2nd massage is discounted, I think I'll schedule 2 a month. ha ha
oh for crying out loud....she started right away this morning, convinced the dog was out of his acid controller, and mad as h3ll because he's missed his acid controller for days (all of it NOT TRUE). She stomped her feet, cussed, etc. I then showed her the bottle, shook it, it rattled with pills still left in it....
It's like she wants to be angry, it came out of nowhere, I couldn't see any trigger.
At least yesterday she apologized to me, today she told the dog how much she loves it, and promptly ignored me --

it's going to be a long day if this keeps up
JJGood, have you kidnapped my mother? It sure sounds like it. Even before the dementia, my mother could imagine a problem out of thin air. The dementia makes it worse. Reassurance that all is okay works sometimes. When it doesn't, the only way I've found to handle it is to tune her out or to walk away.
When she tells you about a problem, take out a notebook and write it down. That will calm her down for a minute. You may have to write it down 10 times, but you will get a little peace in between.
Jinx, so recording the issue in writing makes them feel more listened to?? Taken more seriously? That's a good idea.
Thankfully that was her only awful moment today, but I went ahead and took 1/4 of a Valium--no need for both of us to be worked up, and I was shaking like a leaf after that, dreading that the whole day might be that way.
So glad that it wasn't.
Dementia means that not only are our parents and loved ones losing memory function but they are behaving in 'demented' ways. My father had no idea he was 'losing it' mentally because he was trapped in his mind and coping as best he could. He did get angry when I spoke too fast or asked questions that he couldn't answer (memory). The assisted living facility (Brookdale) neglected his medical appointments saying "he didn't want to go" and they killed him as a result. Keep your mum home and do your best to keep her happy. Think of 50 First Dates (film) and just remind her she is safe and loved.

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