How can I best deal with the hostility and stubbornness?

Asked by

My mother-ion-law lives with us. She has the beginnings of Altzheimer's. She has become very moody lately, and throws a strop when she doesn't get her own way, and stops eating. She literally stays in her room all day like a sulky teenager. We love her dearly, and our caring for her is not just out of a sense of duty. I love her and care for her more than her own daughter does. She finds fault with EVERYTHING! I am at my wit's end. I am a nice person by nature, and I hate conflict, but the nicer I am to her the more it seems to irritate her. I don't know what to do. She has barely spoken to me, and has hardly eaten for about 3 days now. I am very worried.

Answers 1 to 6 of 6
I'm in a similar situation. Their stubbornness is hindering my parents (89 and 86) because they expend energy on fighting against help with dangerous mundane tasks so do have not enough energy to do fun things. My mother cries a lot about losing her independence by using a walker, getting assistance on the stairs, etc. (she fell 4 times last week). She doesn't understand that by accepting that she needs certain kinds of help she insuring her independence. It's frustrating because we want to see our parents live out their dream: living at home in good health and quality of life.
Top Answer
My heart goes out to you, my Mom is 86 and so stubborn that we couldnt keep her safe from herself while living w us, refused to use walker, take dialysis meds, threw temper tantrums when she didnt get her way and drove me pretty close to a nervous breakdown because she would sundown and i was afraid to go to sleep for fear of what she would do, turn on stove, fall etc. Sadly she did fall and broke a femur while healing from 2 broken arms from a previous fall, Maybe it's time for you to have a talk w her Dr. to see if there is something they could suggest, be sure the Dr. knows how you are handeling the situation, it's a horrible situation to be in, we ended up placing my Mom in a NH and while there is a lot of guilt w that, I don't regret it for a minute, For my family it was the only solution, She is w people her age 24 hr care, and she hasnt had a fall in the whole month she's been there. IDK if this is something you would ever consider, and i am not saying it's the right fit for you, that's why a talk w the Dr. who knows her condition may help you find the right solution for you, God Bless
Last night again, as soon as I came home from work she said not to make food for her. I noticed that she had put her meds aside. Instead of making a big thing about it I asked her for a favour, that she at least take her medication. I also kindly said that I was concerned because she hadn't eaten fro three days. She asked how can she eat if she doesn't feel hungry? I once again, kindly said that it wasn't a case of hunger, but survival, but said I wasn't going to force her and that there is plenty of fruit if she wanted, and left it at that. Perhaps the medication will bring her back to "normal". She is under the care of a shrink that specialises in the elderly, and she only last week had her check-up (and typically, that was one of her "good" days). He said to phone him with any concerns, and I will do just that. I think she also needs anti-depressants, but that's the doc's call. For now we will just have to weather the storm. :-) The frustrating thing is, that when it all blows over, she will have forgotten all about it, leaving us to recover from the emotional devastation left in the wake of it. It is something hubby and I are going to have to learn to handle - our own emotional response to the whole thing. We have to keep reminding ouselves that it is not Mom, it's the disease, that's making her like this .... but it is only the start. I hope by the time the disease has progressed, that we will have learned to handle our emotions a bit better. Thanks for the posts. Very supportive.
Chammy.....I know EXACTLY what u r taling about. I am the daughter in law (full time caregive). I have not slept in my own bed for about 2 years now. I have gone throught the exact situation you are describing. She is now at the level of severe but still can talk & walk. Recently chewing her food is an issue. She stuffs her face & will not swallow. I have gone through trenedous mood swings (being punched in the head, bitten, trying to get out of car while I am driving, etc...) I wish I would have been told about taking her to a neurologist in the beginning stages of the disease. We recently took her to one & I think we finally have her under somewhat of control with medications. She is on Seroquel 75mg in the am & 50mg at night(anti-psychotic) & Haloperidil .5 in am & .5 at 4pm ish(moods) also Citalopram (depression). I was never about the medication but we found we had no choice. I will tell you it has made things a lot easier. She still will fight me on baths & changing her sometimes but she has calmed down a lot. If you have not already TAKE HER TO A NEUROLOGIST! Her geriatric Dr. did not know enough about the meds and really did not help at all. Keep us posted! This is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life but know mil needs me. I am 35 and want kids of my own.....I know God has a plan. I am just taking one day at a time. God Bless.
I agree with Erika. Sometimes doing the best and safest thing for your loved one means that they may have to reside in a place where professionals know how to deal with their extreme medical and mental conditions. I would start investigating memory care facilities now, just for future reference...then you will be prepared if that time comes.
Please do not associate "loving" an elder with needing to keep them home under 24 hour watch. It isn't humanly possible and it will drain you. Luckily you are young, but this is a long term commitment and you have to factor in your family plans as well.

It is nice that you love your mil, but this is an enormous undertaking, particularly with Alz. in the mix. Your hub and his family need to pitch in more or they need to provide in-home caregivers as respite for you. Trust me on that one!

Look to the future, figure out your family's needs and goals, then figure out how you can best accomodate your mil...that way, all will be satisfied.
Chammy you told her "It wasnt a case for hunger but for survival" WOW Hope you dont mind but i will be using that for my Mom! very well put!

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

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