brandywine1949 Asked June 2011

Both my mother and my husband have dementia and have become mean and difficult towards me. Is there anything I can do to prevent them for saying the mean things they do?

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My 88 yo mother has become difficult. When I was growing up she was really sweet. For the last 20 years she has become more and more difficult. Yesterday at the senior center she berated me during the entire meal with all kinds of criticisms.
My digestion shut down. Then I got a migraine headache which I still have. I am 63 yo. Mother is very cranky. She repeats herself over and over again none stop. She lives by herself in a lovely home. Caregivers are there 40 hrs per week.
She has plenty of money. Yet she dresses very poorly. Her clothes are stained and dirty. Sister is in charge and there isn't anything I can do about a thing. Yet I am expected to take Mom places. Yesterday was the last straw. Being berated none stop while I ate. Mom has dementia.
Also my husband has dementia. So my life is difficult. He blurts out things in a mean way. Says I haven't earned the right to use his last name that I will have to use my maiden name. Etc. things like that.
Please tell me what to do about these things.

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newtonjoyce Jul 2011
HOLY CATS! 2 with dementia. BIG HUGS to YOU girl. It drives me nuts when my husband can't remember something he said to me, or blames me for putting his stuff somewhere when it was him and he is perfectly healthy! I can't imagine it. Prayers to you along with those hugs.
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CaraMia Jul 2011
Give yourself a much needed break from taking your mother out. Let your sister know that you haven't been feeling well and will not be available for the next couple of weeks or month because you don't want to get sick. If you wish, you can call your mother to say hello once a week while you are not available to take her anywhere. If you don't feel like calling, it may be comforting to you to remember that she has 40 hours of weekly care, which is time where she may not need to see you, or be with you because there are others looking out for her. If she needs to go somewhere during the week, is it possible for one of her paid caregivers to take her? That would further relieve the pressure you feel to be her chauffeur. It's harder with your husband because he is in the same house with you and you are married to him, but you may want to hire a home health aide or a companion to stay with him a couple times a week, even for 4 hours each time so that you can get out and get away for your mental health. Treat yourself to a manicure and pedicure, go see a movie, treat yourself to lunch or drive to a park and take a walk. There may be a class you can take or a new hobby you can start. You need to put yourself first on occasion if you want to avoid a total physical and/or emotional breakdown. Is there a relative you trust who can stay with your husband for a few hours, maybe? Have you considered a senior center with adult day care activities for him, even once weekly so that you can have your house to yourself for a whole day? Whatever you do, remember that there's only one you and if you don't take care of yourself you can't take care of anyone else. Stand up for your health. Good luck to you in striking the right balance in your life. Some of it is within your control.
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jeannegibbs Jun 2011
Ociesev, while I agree with your general premise that no one should allow themselves to be abused I think you are overlooking the core feature of this situation. The abusers HAVE DEMENTIA. That means they may not be capable of learning new behavior. They may not have control over what they are doing. Even if they understand the threat to abandom them if they don't shape up and they really intend to do it, they may forget the whole subject in an hour. You cannot possibly set a limit on telling a demented person something only twice. They are victims, too -- of the disease. No amount of vitamin B is going to cure their dementia. There may be some medications that can help restore some of their ability to behave more like themselves, and least for a time, and that is why I encourage talking behavior issues over with the doctors who specialize in dementia.

I really admire how TILDA lets hurtful comments roll off her back and turns them to humor when she can.

And it is not possible or ethical or humane to simply pack your bags and walk away from a vulnerable adult who depends on you. Yes, it is possible to arrange other care situations for them, as Joan suggests. But this is NOT punishment for bad behavior. It is part of the loving care wives and daughters want to provide.

Ociesev, I'm commenting on your message because I think it inadvertently adds more stress in brandywine's situation. Of course she doesn't deserve this treatment. And her mother and her husband don't deserve dementia. Life is not fair. Your advice -- warn them twice and then pack up and leave them if they don't shape up -- may be very applicable in many situations. You message is valid and kind. It just doesn't fit here.
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golden23 Jun 2011
There are good comments and suggestions above. Maybe it is time for your mother and/or your husband to be cared for by someone else - somewhere else at least for a while. Please put your interests up there and equal to theirs. I know it is hard. As jeanne said a double dose of dementia is more than most people could take and it is from the people who presumably have been supportive to you in the past. Tough one, brandy. I can only enourage you to look after yourself as well as then even if that means making some big changes.
(((((((hugs))))))
Joan
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ociesev Jun 2011
You are way wonderful and do not deserve to be treated badly. Please write this down and put it on a suface where you see it all the time memorize it and repeat it to yourself. Anyone who treats you badly needs to be told this. Then set a limit for being treated badly say twice once you have told the person you will no longer be available to them for bad treatment.If anyone criticizes you for refusing to subject yourself to bad treatment by anyone, simply invite them to take your place.
Pack a bag and move, every city has refuges for abused people they will take you in and teach you how to stop being abused. If your abusers have problems they can get help too, refusing to change is not an option for them because you will change! Be nice pills are available!(usually vitamin B + one a day vitamins and exercise class) if they refuse training. But focus on your problem which is BEING ABUSED and you have to love yourself enough to solve your problem FIRST!
Been there done it! God will be with you every step and He will bless you for loving His children(you,your husband and mother enough to change!
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TILDA Jun 2011
It was difficult for me to discover that my mother had dementia because she behaved the way you describe all the time. When she was 90 they finally gave her some psychotropic meds to stabilize her. I went to individual therapy specially geared to deal with elder care and mental health issues. My daughters are both verbally abusive so there was no respite other than the one hour a week in therapy. It gave me strength to grow my self esteem regardless of outside barrage of insults and abuses. What I learned was to care for myself by getting enough sleep, excercise... I love to walk, and eating properly, It sounds basic...but neglecting ones self when caring for others or being abused by others is a common response. Once I put myself on my list of " important people" and once I started keeping the promises I made myself...little by little I was able to detach from what was said to me in a fit of illness...and my empathy was stronger than my self pity. It is not for the faint of heart...and finding what works for you and your family will take creative effort..but it does not have to be so heavy and sad as it feels right now. Finding your strategy will be the best gift you can give yourself and them. My strategy includes a sense of humor....and a bit of sarcasm....I finally see why it was even invented.,...

Example:
mamma said;
"Look at how fat and ugly you have become, no one will want you now!" ( I stopped dating a long time ago...no time as a single mom and caregiver)
I said, "All the more to keep you company my dear"

mamma said:
"Your kids never come to visit me, when it's your time, you will die alone and unappreciated" (which is partially true)
I said: "That's ok, you can visit me then"

It lessens the blow and keeps the atmosphere light...sometimes she even laughs with me and not at me. Those are good moments.
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Ruth1957 Jun 2011
I agree with the above comments. Let me add a suggestion. Dr. Mary Newport has an extensive study on coconut oil and this kind of degenerative disease. It that was my mother and husband, they would be consuming the theraputic dose of coconut oil daily. Hubby and I already use it daily as prevention, and for the amazing health-giving properties. The article I have on my desk is titled "What if There Was A Cure For Alzheimer's Disease And No One Knew?" a case study by Dr. Mary Newport. It came with my coconut oil order, however she and her husband have been featured in numerous interviews, etc, regarding this amazing transformation. Helpiing someone get better never tasted so good!!! I'm enjoying my daily mug of tea with coconut oil in it right now.
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jeannegibbs Jun 2011
First, take a deep breath and realize that this is not your fault and you do not deserve this treatment. That seems obvious but sometimes we need to consciously assure ourselves of that.

Another deep breath and tell yourself that it is not your mother's fault, and it is not your husband's fault. They would never have chosen dementia if they had the right of refusal. While my husband was in the nasty phase of dementia my mantra became "That is not my husband speaking. It is the dementia." It is true, and saying that and believing it was at least a little comforting.

I knew before you told us that your mother had dementia, just from your description of her behavior. Believe me, other people know it, too. If they are compassionate they will not be judgmental of your mother's behavior or of how you are handling it. If they are not compassionate people, I think you can safely disregard their opinions.

Two aspects of this situation shut your digestion off and give you a headache (I'm betting). One is "How can my own mother say such things?" We know the answer to that. She has dementia. See my mantra, above. The other is "What must other people think?" Mostly they think your mother has dementia and you are in a very tough spot. And it doesn't really matter what they think.

Sometimes it is possible to determine what triggers these outbursts. Fatigue? Over-stimulation? Not enough attention? Pain? I think it can be very hard to determine sometimes, but if you can discover some of the triggers you may be able to minimize the outbursts.

Some people in my support group have business-size cards printed up that say "My mother has dementia. Thank you for your patience." They keep them in a pocket when out in public with their loved one and hand them out as needed.

What kind of dementia do your mother and your husband have? Are you familiar with the nature of those diseases and what behavior is typical? I find it extremely useful to understand my husband's dementia (Lewy Body Dementia). It helps me realize I am not at fault and he is not at fault. The disease is our common emeny.

Are both of your loved ones being treated by experts in their diseases? Sometimes some symptoms can be managed by medications. There is no cure for dementia but there are treatments that can help improve quality of life.

A double dose of dementia is more than most of us caregivers can stand. I think you need to have a heart-to-heart with the sister in charge. Be sure you tell her (often) how much you appreciate that she has stepped up and taken on this difficult task. Explain that for you own health you need a break from taking Mom out in public, perhaps for a month. At that time you'll re-evaluate how you are doing with caregiving for your husband. Ask if she has suggestions for other ways you can help with Mother that might be less stressful for you.
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