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How do I approach my father about the daily, constant verbal abuse he puts on my mother? They are both 83yr old. Mom doesn't speak up, she just bites her tongue because if she does, he gets more agitated. He's nasty to her and it really bothers me.

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This is a tough one!!!! A screaming, nagging mother...or an insulting, abusive father...just horrible esp as people age because their nerves are frayed!! My father was verbally abusive to my mother....and...I would talk to him they way he talked to my mother...then would ask him, HOW HE LIKED IT?? I of course was NOT afraid of my father...which I have read that some children are. Of course I understand that. Yah...but he did NOT like it when he heard his words turned toward HIM!!! And he would withdraw and go to his room!!
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Go online to the Treatment Advocacy Center and learn about the laws in your state.
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Bella, thank you for the clarification of your living situation and your parents' ages.

In your state, is there such a thing as an inoluntary psychiatric evaluation? It's a 72 hour hold and evaluation for someone who is thought to be a danger to himself and/or others.

Does your son go to school? If he reports verbal abuse from his grandfather, you might have child protective services to deal with...

I think in your shoes, I'd call Adult Protective Services and your local area agency on aging to seek their advice. If things are getting out of hand ( dad yelling and threatening), I'd jump on calling 911 and have him taken to the ER to be examined by someone competent. I'm fairly certain that would reveal some cognitive/ disordered thinking.
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I don't think my Mom is to the point of an assisted living facility. Although she has thought about it. The house is legally my Mom, Dad and Husband's. It has been my family home. I have lived in the same house my entire life and I am 40. I am an only child and my parents' advocate. We need everybody's income to pay for mortgage. My Mom is only 69. Far from assisted living. And quite frankly I take care of her just fine. Plus the change for my son would be devastating. Especially with my Mom. They have a special bond. Now if you were to ask me about putting my Dad in assisted care...that we have talked about. He is getting too much to handle. I don't know if he takes his medications correctly. I don't even know if what he says is the truth. He says his heart specialist says his weight is just fine, yet I have been there with him and I know that what my Dad says is a bunch of horse pucky. He has spent their savings. He has turned into a right nasty piece of work. As to a therapy. My Dad's theory is that unless you have been through the exact same life experience that he has you have no right to speak to him or give him advice...and that is nothing new. My Mom and I have spoken to our Doctor about Dad's bizarre behaviour, nasty temperment, etc. All he says is that Dad has to come to him about it. That there is nothing he can do. I think that is bollocks. Our doctor won't help. And my Mom is getting to her limit. She is trying to assert herself and gain independence, but she has to live with my husband and I. She can look after my son just fine. If we could get Dad out I think she would be far better.
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So, whose house are you living in? Yours? Your parents? The answer to yhat question determined how much leverage you have.

It sounds as though your dad is mentally ill, or has dementia or both. Get him to s psychiatrist and see what's going on there, snd if antidepressant or antianxiety meds will help.


Does mom have her own money? SS, pension etc? Would she enjoy living in an Assisted Living facility without your dad?
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My Dad is very verbally and emotionally abusive to my Mom. I fear that he has been physical with her but she isn't saying. We all live together (my husband, myself and our 6 yr old autistic son upstairs/Mom and Dad downstairs). They have always had a combative relationship and he has always been a bit of a prick. But it was tolerable. After my Mom got breast cancer, he got worse. A lot worse. It has gone steadily downhill from there. My Mom has been left permanently disabled from her treatments and can't take care of the house like she used to, cook like she used too. It isn't her fault. She didn't ask for this to happen to her. Now it has become so bad that my Dad refuses to buy any food she likes. He regulates how much she can have to a ridiculous level. He yells at my son for ridiculous reasons. He yells at my Mom when she tries to assert some independence. He yells at her if she doesn't. He yells, criticizes and demeans her in front of guests, family, myself and my son. When my son reacts badly he gets very cuddly with my Mom and then my Dad gets mad when he does. I would love to kick him out on his ear. But my Mom is so scared of him. I honestly don't know what to do, but it is effecting her health. Any advice would be great.
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Wow...this infuriates me. I grew up with parents that fought. My father treated my mom like a second class citizen. I remember hiding in big laundry boxes when they were fighting...it was terrible for me. My poor, very young, mother took a lot of abuse from his mother too! Thru the years my wonderful mother fought back, verbally and physically because she couldn't take it anymore!! As I got older...I in NO way would allow my father to call my mother names when I was around...and that was often. I would yell at him...and he would stop. Maybe this doesn't work for all...but it did in my family....and I had enuff of his sexism and abuse towards my mother! Now, she's got dementia, and can't do much...he's 90 yrs old now...and cries, when he talks to her because he was such an A**! Life...hope you can find some resolution for your mom...this abuse CANNOT be good for her!
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Jessie. Get your mom to a counselor. She is so beaten down she thinks she deserves this. Can you give her someplace to go? Even a battered woman's shelter would be a better option. They might have programs to help her get on her feet, or she might qualify for disability if her depression is severe enough. Dad may be having mental health issues himself but won't have a reason to deal with it as long as Mom is handy to blame and dump on. You could even call APS because your mom is so depressed and vulnerable, but the problem is they won't as likely insist she take any steps to help herself that she is not ready for.
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I'm actually 16 years old and have spent my whole life watching my father verbally abuse my mother time and time again over petty (blown out of proportion) "issues". He treats her as an unequal human being, always talking down to her as if she were a child. (telling her she deserves no rights, is a *insert curse word here*) Once she begins to cry after he yells at her, he then calls her a baby for crying. I've heard him call her every name in the book, and always threatens divorce. He knows that my mother will have nowhere to go and no means to support herself, so its a threat he loves to use. He has treated her like this in front of family, friends, just about everyone. I've been witnessing this from as young as 5 years old. However, theres nothing I or any of my siblings (who are in their 20's) can do. Whenever we mention it he blows his top, starts screaming, cursing everybody out, and of course taking it out mostly on my mom. My dad is 58, and my mother is about 48, this issue is progressively getting worse. I love my mom and it tears me to shreds to see her like this. She is broken-mentally and emotionally. What should I do?
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I would be very concerned about your Mom if I was you... My Father always teased my Mom but he adored her and would NEVER have been unkind to her. This sounds like a situation that will not resolve, soon. They need real counseling and support, if he is not willing, I would remove her from the home.
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Here I am again, a year later and the verbal and emotional abuse that my father is giving my mother continues. It was a lot better for several months and now it is getting bad again. He tells her she should have bought cabbage to go with the ham, "Don't you know that cabbage goes with ham?" he asks. So she goes out the next day and buys cabbage and makes ham and cabbage for his dinner. He won't touch it. She tells him, "I made you ham and cabbage." He doesn't answer her. Now here it is 4 days later and he still hasnt touched the stuff. He's told her if she doesn't like it she can just leave - this is between two 80+ year olds, married 60 years next February!! Mom has to watch tv in the bedroom cause he dominates the living room tv -- all day long. If the phone rings and he doesn't have it by his chair, she has to get up (with her walker) and to answer it even if he's closer. He's constant making snide remarks to her and she's a nervous wreck most of the time. She tries to hide it whenever I call. I wish I could stop in every day, but unfortunately I live 500 miles away. Should I report this "elder abuse" ??
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I am in my late 20's and renting the basement from my parents. My father has been verbally abusive towards my mother for years. In fact, as he gets older, he's getting worse and worse. A little back story on his past, his mother has married twice and I believe that he's got issues with her - not my mother. At a young age, I can remember him calling my mother a whore and just today I heard him tell her that she's a "person from the street." As I overheard this, I went upstairs and confronted him. He said that he meant to call her "a bum" but I know from his past comments that he was lying. I really wanted to tell him that he needs to take care of the issues that he's got with his mother. Unfortunately, she's passed on and my mother is his target most of the time. When she's not around, he will try to say things to demean me but he knows that I will dissect his comments and tell him the truth - which he literally runs away from hearing. He's come face to face with me before but I'm not sure what to do if he hits me. I feel like hitting him back in order to defend my mother but I know there's a fair chance that I might get in trouble with the police. Our only answer seems to be that I should find a better career ASAP (I'm a substitute teacher's aide - full time positions are difficult to get) in order for me to move out of the house and for my mother to go live with my sister.
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VAS:

I meant physical domestic violence. I guess it's a dominance issue that's even more noticeable when your brother is present.
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ED, I've tried to nip it in the bud. I've called him down on his outrageous behavior. My sister has also. He acknowledges it, is better for a while, but then lapses back into his old ways whenever my brother is home and it's only the 3 of them.

No ..... I'm not really sure what you're talking about. I'll be visiting in November so I'm anxious for some suggestions.
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PAM:

Let me set aside my clinical counselor thinking for a moment.

Sounds to me like this is his MO, so stand up for her and give him a dose of his own medicine. Mental illness or not, he dumps on her because she never has -- and probably never will -- do anything about it. But you can. I'm not suggesting going toe to toe with him, but nip it in the bud before it escalates and he does something everyone will regret. ... You know what I'm talking about.

-- ED
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I live several states away from my elderly parents and see them only about 2 or 3 times a year. When mom & dad are home alone during the week, things are usually fine. Sometimes dad is even caring and nice. However, when they bring my adult mentally challenged brother home for the weekend, it seems my dad slips into a "different personality." If brother gets silly or loud, dad will do the same. If he doesn't, then brother will prompt him to and he will. Their constant nonsensical talking, combined with the loudness, irritates my mom to say something. Then all *ell breaks loose. My dad talks to her like she is a child, says things to confuse and/or hurt her, and basically takes up for brother. Mom gets very upset, physically, mentally and emotionally and is a nervous wreck. I've tried to tell her to ignore them, go into another room, etc. Since they are not going to change, I've tried to get her to remove herself from their nonsense. I've also told her to talk to her doctor about this; however, dad's usually with her and she won't say anything. I've scolded dad before for his outragious, childish behavior and reminded him that mom is his wife and not his child and that she won't be around forever. This seems to work for a brief time only. I feel so sorry for mom. I'm not able to take her in although I doubt she'd leave unless she was forced to. Any suggestons?
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Ajl2001,
What I had to do where my son is concerned with the way his wife is treating him, was ask him IF he will stand up for himself WHEN he feels the need. He assured me he would, but the things that are bothering me don't necessarily bother my laid back son.
So knowing that he WILL protect himself when he feels it's WARRANTED, I stopped being bothered. (daily struggle)
Maybe that's all you need from your father, is the assurance that he will defend himself when he believes he needs to. If he says yes, then let it go. Every marriage has their own 'dance' so to speak, that is theirs.
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My Mom says horrid things to my Dad all the time and I never realized how bad it was until I moved back in with them. We'll be eating dinner and she'll say things like, "if you keep eating like that you're going to be a big fat pig and I'll be damned if I'm going to take care of you if you have a heart attack."

If the toilet doesn't flush right, she'll blame dad for "forcing" her to move into "a cheap crappy house full of cheap crap that never works worth a crap." She blames him for anything and everything.

I can't stand it. I asked Dad how he puts up with it; he's a very kind and sweet-tempered man. He just shrugs & says, "I let it go in one ear and out the other."

But I haven't been so forgiving to mom. I've told her her constant bickering at Dad bothers me; that only gets her started on all the things that are wrong with him. I've said, "that's enough!" when she starts one of her mean rampages. She'll lay off for a while, but it doesn't last long.

I don't know how Dad has stayed married to her for 62 years, but when she gets sick, he gets totally depressed about it so he still loves her.

Anyway, I don't have an answer to your situation or mine, but can relate.
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I would give him a choice to stop the behaivor or tell him he will have to be placed in anursing home or your Mom will go to a lawyer to get a legal seperation from him it was that way with me and I could not take it anymore and for a time we lived in the same house but he had to fix his own meals and take care of himself and I did all my own meals at an other and not talkung to each other help our Pastor talked me out of a legal seperation which I should have done anyway because he was going to have to go on medicaide and that would have left me with very little money as it was he got very ill soon after and died now I am stuck with his debts because he over spent money mostly just before he died -the least she should do is get her own credit cards in just her name and get a legal seperation because he will never change and will keep abusing her forever and she needs to get some peace in her life without him and let him carry on since he seems to think he is so wonderful he is entitled to treat her badly and in him mind he owns her abuse is wrong-let her live in peace he will never change he probably was brought up that women were the property of men like my husband was-he died a year ago and I refuse to get him a head stone until his debts are paid-by me which will take years but at least I have peace now.
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He may not even be aware that he is doing this, if it is a long established behaviour pattern. I would say something to him about you feel that is unkind or that you do not like him talking to your Mom like that. If he knows it bothers you maybe he will realize. I think you have to be prepared for the fact that some folks just interact that way. Is in one of those men that always needs to be in control??? Many older men are that way. They still have the attitude that they are in charge as it were... Long established behavior patterns can be tough if not impossible to change. take care, J
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I appreciate everyone's support. My father was verbally abusive to me and my two brothers growing up, but I never heard him react to Mom like that until now that they are living alone without anyone else to demean. He's not too obvious in front of us, but I bought them both cell phones and when they 'forget' to hang up after a call, I hear some very mean things. I am going to approach him and remind him that Mom may be gone any day, and that he needs to cherish her, not treat her so rudely. Thanks everyone!
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If this has been ongoing throughout their marriage (as with my parents), I seriously doubt anything will change the behaviour now. I agree with the comment above to remind your dad to be nicer to your mom as she might not be here tomorrow. If possible, visit more often so you can offer your mom support.
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I also think that if this is the way their marriage has been all these years, then why should it be any different now that they're old? In fact, if your dad has dementia/alz it's only going to be amplified. If on the other hand this is new, then his doctor should be the one you're talking to for some 'happy pills' maybe. I've come to admit that all marriages have their own 'dance' so to speak, this could be theirs.
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Just flat out tell him to stop it. You should remind him that your Mom isn't as young as she used to be and that she doesn't need the stress caused by his verbal lashings. He should be told that he should appreciate her today because she may not be here tomorrow.
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Its a touchy subject, and your father may deny the behavior. Has this behavior been going on throughout their marriage? Or did this behavior start recently? If its a new problem, rage, anger and abuse could be a side effect of a conditions such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia. If that dynamic between the two of them has been going on for years, the answer might be counseling. If dad won't go, encourage your mother to go alone (or with you) to learn about why she accepts this abuse and what can be done about.
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