Mom's anger.

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Mother is very ill with advanced heart disease and dementia. She was always very loving and sweet natured. Now she gets angry all the time. Seems like she is most angry with me than my siblings. So doubly hard. When she gets angry, she takes what I have said and twists it into a different meaning. I cannot explain what I meant and so I end up agreeing with her saying "yes, I did that and I am sorry". It is not a good way to handle things so I need advice.
Hope its okay to add a second issue and it is this. She seems to have sundowning in the morning rather than at night. Doctor has called it sundowning, but can it happen early in day? this is the time she is most agitated and upset How do I help her with that?


I meant to say that "no matter how much I try to clear things up and explain what I meant versus what she thinks I meant or did, she does not seem to believe me. She sees me as the enemy in a way. It is very upsetting as I love her very much. thank you.
Sorry, Im new here. I also meant to say that sometimes she criticizies my siblings too, but there are days when it is just about me. Every day it seems and I may be talking loud because she doesn't hear well. but if I talk low, she cant hear. Then she thinks I am angry because I have to say something maybe six time till she understands. So then I am repeating and maybe THAT sounds like I am pushy. just don't know. very confused. thanks and sorry for the 3 posts. thank yu.
ashadeofgrey, caring for someone with dementia can be extraordinarily frustrating, can't it? I am so glad your mother was sweet and loving when she was in her right mind. Cherish those memories and try to bring them to mind when she is difficult.
(I popped out to look at your profile.) If you are Mom's primary caregiver, you pretty much automatically are the target of her anger. You are handy. And she trusts you. She knows you are not going to abandon her no matter what she says. Not that she has much control over that in any case. My advice is not to get all tangled up in explanations of what you meant. She is not in a frame of mind to accept logic at that point. Try reassurance and distraction. "Oh Mother, I sure must not be talking right today! I would never deliberately say something so mean. [hug] Let's see if there is enough ice cream left to make us rootbeer floats."

If her anger has some validity, agree with that part, and distract. If she says "You are so mean to me! You keep me cooped up all the time. I'm not in jail you know!" acknowledge the feeling. "I think I know what you mean, Mom. It makes me sad and angry too that your health is bad. I know what a great active person you've been and it must be awful not to be able to easily get around. It sure isn't fair, is it?" In other words, don't agree that this is your fault, but don't get defensive either. Acknowledge her right to be angry and move on. Don't get into arguments.

And don't ever take her accusations seriously. She is not in her right mind, remember? None of this is your fault. Keep reminding yourself of what she was like when she was cognitively healthy. That was the real mom.

Sundowning describes a set of behaviors. It got its name from when those behaviors most often occur, but "most" isn't "always." For your mom it is apparently early in the day. I haven't had to deal with sundowning, but many members have and I'm sure some will have advice.

Hearing problems are especially exasperating to deal with in those with dementia. Be sure you have her attention before you start talking to her. Speak as loudly as you can without sounding angry (which is very tricky to do). I'm glad that my mom at least repeats what she thinks I said, which can be quite funny, and I have a chance to say it again.

Be aware also that sometimes what appears to be a hearing problem is really a comprehension problem. The words got to the brain ok but signals are getting mixed in figuring out what the sound means. You might try shorter sentences and less information in one sentence.

There is an enemy in the house. It is not you -- it is mom's disease. Help her realize that but even if she can't, keep it in mind yourself. Be patient. And treat as the sweet, loving person she still is at her core.
And do talk to her doctor about these behaviors and if meds to jelp with agitation and depression may have some benefit. It is very much worth seeking out a second opinion if her primary doesnt think it's necessary. It sounds as though your mother is in a great deal os psychic pain.

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