Mom has Dementia: Another question

Started by

This is my second post. Everyone answered my questions about personality changes and such and I appreciate it, but I am still confused.
She was always such a nice, good, kind and caring person all her life. Now she is nasty, indifferent, etc.
Question is this: Is it the dementia or was this the mother she always was,but held it inside?
Thank you.


I haven't read your previous questions, but yes, dementia CAN cause personality changes.

Has your mom been seen by a geriatric psychiatrist? She might be depressed, anxious or have another emotional issue that might be improved by meds.
Yes. She had dementia.
"Question is this: Is it the dementia or was this the mother she always was,but held it inside
I'm not sure what the answer is Anne22. I suspect that you are asking if the dementia has caused her to lose her inhibitions and her inhibitions were what kept her nice and police, but she was stewing inside for years hiding as a nice person. Is that right? You might discuss it with her neurologist. They know what kind of dementia your mom has and may be able to shed some light on it. I think I would chose to think of my mom as the loving and kind person that she was for most of her life and give the blame for the negative behavior to the damage the disease has caused. She likely doesn't realize her behavior is unpleasant and if she does, it may be due to her fear and confusion. Going through that has to be so scary.

Dementia is rather confusing to me. My loved one became more loving, kind and patient after a certain stage. So, I'd keep watch of that. In the initial stages, she was hostile, confrontational and demanding, but that all changed as her dementia progressed. I suppose it depends on the individual as well.
My mother has always been "eccentric" and difficult. The dementia stripped away all her filters but I also think added a new level of viciousness. Unfortunately this "stage" lasted for quite a while but was especially nasty for a couple of years - long enough to do some serious damage to our already roller coaster relationship- and yes, I know a lot of it is/was "the disease" but mom did and said so many really hateful things that the hurt sliced through my own ability to rationally see through it all and let it go. Mom is better now - got her in to see a geriatric psychitrist who got her on some "mood medications" that have made a huge difference. Mom is also on hospice care - but honestly she seems to be doing better than she has for a long time and it wouldn't surprise me if at the end of the initial six months she is removed to palliative care. So - if possible, get your mom into a geriatric psychitrist sooner rather than later and your should be able to save yourself from a lot of ugly times. I know I wish I had done it years earlier but I didn't know - I learned about it here.
I agree with Rainmom. Medications that treat anxiety/depression and pain can make an amazing difference. I suspect that mental anguish can cause much of the difficult behavior we see. My loved one changed for the better, though, I'm not sure if it was due to the stage she progressed through or the medication. I would discuss what you have observed with your mom and see what they say.
Anne22, Only you can answer that question. She was a good, kind, caring person all her life? Do you have lots of loving memories and good times spent with her?

If so, don't let the DISEASE rob you of those memories. Her brain is physically shrinking. She has NO control over that aspect. Cognitive thinking, emotions are all out the window. Nothing was pretend or 'fake' in the past, I'm sure. You are experiencing the little sorrow before our parents actually die and leave us. It's natural to question love in general when we are going through such a painful time. It hurts, big time. Our parents are not the people we relied on and respected and loved so much growing up.

It can blindside you. It did me. I was not emotionally prepared for all I have been through the past 5+ years. My mom drives me crazy on a daily basis. Her dementia is mid stage.

My mom is also a narcissist. That didn't become fully apparent until I had to take her under my wing. That was truly an eye opener. Did you have a dad that did everything for her in the past?
Anne 22, My opinion is that she was a nice person but the dementia robbed her of that niceness. The nastiness was not an underlying condition. She was nice through and through and now the disease is talking.
You wrote...She was "ALWAYS" such a nice, good, kind and caring person "ALL" her life. I don't think that she could have "faked it" over a lifetime. I'm sure she was genuine in her feelings/actions during your youth.
Dementia turns you into someone else. It physically destroys brain tissue and creates personality changes that otherwise would have never happened, literally creating a monster. This is not your mothet's fault nor is this something she's been hiding.
I'm wondering if you're asking because you have read about moms that HAVE been horrible during their childrens' childhood (just read the posts here!) and they seem to get even worse with dementia. But don't take that to mean that it is always EVERYONES' underlying personality.
Really, in the long run, what does it matter? Are you going to change your feelings for your mom depending on the answer? Just remember your good childhood and inform yourself of the different stages of dementia, so you'll have a clue for each phase and personality change. She probably won't stay mean and indifferent for the rest of her life. Don't take anything she says personally. She doesn't know what she's saying. She may even revert back to the sweet personality she had before. It's an awful disease that robs something from everyone. Good luck with your journey.
My sister's comments about my mom while she was caring for her were: she was polite, she never spoke unless spoken to, she was always clean and now she can't shut up, she interrupts, she does not want to take showers and she talks so much that this days she even talks to the tv. The disease is horrible and it robs them of do much. My sister walked away from caring for her, it is so hard but I am doing it 24/7. Not easy but you were lucky to have a kind mom while you were growing up.
Dementia is brain damage. Akin to head trauma from a car/motorcycle accident, etc. Yet different. And harder to accept, because we caregivers don't get to cite on big incident that caused the change. Instead, we see weird behavior and preferences that we initially chalk up to old age or having too much time on their hands or self-centeredness.

By the time it's confirmed as dementia, we caregivers are already worn out from the second-guessing, the tiptoeing around and the Jekyll-and-Hyde routine. Endless cycles of us well-intentioned caregivers doing/saying the wrong thing -- simply because we are not brain-damaged and we live in the real world. And we are exhausted.

From there on in, it's all downhill. Maybe some plateaus, which are "nice" (if you like false hope). Do not be afraid to disappoint others -- including mom -- by doing what is right for you. No one will advocate for your sanity; that hard job is also all yours.

You will spend the next XX years trying to separate fact from fiction. You can't trust your mother's reality anymore. And a jaw-dropping number of people who "care" will express that by telling you, in so many words, that you are the designated fixer. Don't fall for it. You can't fix this.

You can care. You can visit. You can marshall resources so your mother has the professional assistance that she needs -- in whatever setting is appropriate for her limitations. Food, clothing, shelter and safety are tantamount. Mom will probably reach a point where you alone cannot reasonably supply that. Don't be afraid to switch gears and allow yourself to "just" be a daughter again.

Tough decisions ahead. And you cannot satisfy everyone. Take care of yourself and your household first. Sounds counter-intuitive. But it's crucial. ((((big hugs)))

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