My mom has mid stage dementia. She is agitated about everything. Does this attitude come from dementia?

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She seems to snap at anything I say, even when I am helping her!! . e.g. today she insisted I take her to the bank. I did and she said "not this one." I asked her which one she meant and she directed me to go to a bank that she has no account at!! I was advised to just "let" them do what they want to do. So I took her there and low and behold - she has no account there. She refused to let me come in the bank with her and when she came out it wasn't "oops, I don't have an account here afterall" but "they said they can't find an account without my SSN (she doesn't remember hers) or some mail from the bank." COMPLETE DENIAL ALWAYS. okay, I get that. Difficult to cope with. But hey, the denial is probably a part of the dementia/self coping strategy. Right?

But here's my question to those who are caring for someone with dementia: Does the "attitude" (never happy, always complaining, takes everything so serious and then tells me "not to say that again") come with the dementia as par for the course or is it just a magnification of her personality? Does everyone with dementia seem like they have an axe to grind (not saying they don't). Is unhappiness, misery, whining, moaning, complaining, being nasty to people the hallmark of dementia?

Guilty self confession here: I now seem to hate being with my mother. I didn't use to hate our times together, but now I do. When I go to pick her up (3-4 times a week for about 5 hours each time) I dread the thought of spending time with her. She is never happy. Always complaining about everything. I can't crack a joke because either she doesn't get it or gets angry about the joke I made. I feel like I can only be subdued and miserable around her. Am I the only one to feel this way? I really think I am.

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What a difficult, stressful situation you are in.

Your description of your mother's behavior is not unusual for dementia patients. You are not alone. It is also not universal. There are pleasant mannered persons with dementia, too. Maybe it is somewhat related to personality before dementia, but I really don't think that is always the case. Dementia does change people.

My husband (now age 85, Lewy Body Dementia) went through a period of paranoia, was sure I was stealing from him, called the sherrif (or tried to -- not very steady with the phone buttons) more than once, was mistrustful and belligerent. None of that was a magnification of his personality. Now he has accepted that he has memory and confusion problems. He is grateful for my help. Almost every restaurant we go to serves "the best meal I've ever had." He still gets jokes, and makes them himself. So, dementia personality and behavior is all over the map. And sometimes the same person exhibits different behaviors over the course of the disease.

It sounds like you are doing a great job of interactng with her, even when she is being very difficult. During the bad times, my mantra became "This is not my husband saying these things. It is the disease." I suggest you come up with your own version. The mother you love and used to like spending time with is still in there. Look for and cherish the moments when she shines through. Try very hard not to take the rest of it personally.

You and I and all caregivers of dementia patients have suffered/are suffering a real loss. Our loved one is no longer fully present, no longer the person we knew and loved. That is a sad loss. And just as sometimes people in mourning after a death have anger, so do we. Cut yourself some slack. Dreading spending time with this person she has become does not make you a flawed daughter.
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Sorry to hear of your Mom's demetia. my Mom also suffers from this terrible sickness, but I am one of the lucky ones. She is so gratedful that I have taken her to live with me, she was so afraid on her own that she would get mean, and paranoid. But as soon as I bought her home with me, it was like a switch turn off, she tries really hard to "be good" which she always is, and I keep her on a tight schedule which really helps her since her short term memory is completely gone. Also have her going to the senior center 5 days a week to keep her socialized, have to remind her everyday where she is going and for how long etc. But you never know what might happen tomorrow, she could change again. I wish you good luck, and you are not alone, even though my mom is easier then yours I also sometimes really resent her, sometimes just want my life back, same old story 9 brothers and sisters all disapeared when Mom needed help. Oh well
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John,
Let me offer you Dysfunctional Family Bingo. Mom won't change, and can't change, and wouldn't remember how she was supposed to change if she wanted to. So change your mindset so it doesn't hurt so much.

For DF Bingo, make a list of the horrible things she says to you. When you visit her, and she repeats one of her favorites, you get a point. If it's a brand new one, add it to the list. Do you know anyone else with difficult parents? (Just every single person in the world!) Get together at a bar with pads of paper to enjoy writing up the list and laugh and groan and get a little tipsy. If you can expect her to say the cruel thing, you can maybe laugh and let it roll off your back.

Does your mother really love you, or did she when you were young? I hope the answer is yes, because you can remind yourself of how sweet she was. This new person isn't really your mother. Your real mother still loves you. This pitiful but sharp-tongued old lady needs your care and compassion, but you don't have to believe what she says.

It's possible that she wasn't ever that good to you. That's true for a lot of people here. If so, you may be hoping that caring for her will make her realize that you are a good son and deserve her love. Sorry. It doesn't work that way. If you can care for her because it's the right thing to do, and because she is pitiful, then you can decide how much you are willing to do. No amount of self-sacrifice will change the past.

One last point. When she is mean, call her on it. "Mother, that was unkind. I don't like it when you treat me like that." As with an animal, "discipline" her at once, while she still remembers what she said. But don't be surprised if she can't change. You will feel less hopeless if you speak up for yourself, without resorting to being unkind.

You are doing God's work. Please try to let her comments go.
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i believe that agitation is usually caused by loss of control. you might try creating at least the illusion that shes in control and people are operating by her directives. taking her to the wrong bank to find out about the account for herself makes me think you are letting her range thru her paces. good strategy, wish you luck.
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My mom was like that and is much better now that she is on Celexa (ssri). MUCH MUCH 100% better. I say this even though I have an abnormal distrust of big pharma. Would she consider asking or can you talk to her doctor? As to why, I think it is a combination of the worst of their personalities and the dementia.
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Someone with Dementia will have these moments of frustration, outbursts, forgetfulness and who's the one that's the closet to her...you. So therefore, you are the one to blame. The best thing to do is not to argue, because with dementia they have lost all reasoning. Just go with it. If they say you lost something, tell them. "I'm sorry its lost let me help you find it." If you try and remind her of something she forgets, don't be upset if she gets angry. Take in a deep breath and walk away. It will only make matters worst if you argue. She has no control over what's happening to her. It's the disease. As much as we think its the person we knew...it's not. The disease will make them say and do things that is not them at all. I know its hard but its best just to not take it personal. My advice to you is educate yourself about the dementia and what you can do to make life easier for you and your loved one. Google Teepa Snow, she has great information on what to do in a lot of different situations.
It's a tough job...the toughest job I have ever done. But just being there for them...is so worth it in the end. Good luck and God Bless.
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KarenP unfortunately it's all typical of dementia. Dementia is a disease in which the brain is slowly dying and causing a disconnect of some sort. The sarotonin levels are affected by this. Sarotonin is the chemicals that create such moods. Depression, anger, euphoria. Such highs and lows in moods are a big part of the Dementia. Finding a way to handle these swings are the key to success. If you are interested in learning google "Teepa Snow". She has worked with Dementia/Alzhiemers patients and has many resourceful instruction videos. I learned a great deal from her when I cared for my 91 year old mom. Mom lost her battle almost a year ago on Jan 9 th. Sorry about your frustrations. But the more you know about the disease the better equipped you will be.
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126Cher - First, it's not personal but it sure is hard to remember that when they are having your hind quarters for lunch. Have your mom seen by a geriatric specialist.

My mother was a very difficult and critical person her whole life, but after strokes (big and little), it got a lot worse. She eventually was diagnosed with dementia. I also learned she had struggled with Bi-polar, depression, and other psychiatric problems before dementia. That explained her odd and difficult behaviors!

She sat in the dark a lot, doing nothing, for weeks on end, waiting for Jesus.
I was in a bad mood one day, and answered her back "how do you know he hasn't been here and ran away?"


As her dementia progressed, the line between her mental illness and dementia became indistinguishable. It no longer matters now. She is treated for the paranoia, anger, hallucinations, and violent behaviors.

The good news is there is treatment, but you have to see a doctor who specializes in aging, to get a correct diagnosis. A geriatric psychiatrist may also need to be in the picture.
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I also am assisting my mother who has Alzheimer's/Dementia. Her normal personality is to be combative, distrustful and negative. With the dementia at the stage she is at, she is worse. I can understand your situation and my heart goes out to you. If this is not your mother's normal personality, she may benefit from antidepressants if her Dr. thinks it would help. My father passed in 2003 from this disease also so we are going through our second time around. On Monday my sister took our mother to see Dr. for a current memory test. She pitched a fit and refused and accused my sister and me of trying to "put her away and take all her money". She started a small kitchen fire a week ago by putting vicks vapor rub in a pan on the stove and she walked away from it. You might also try day care with her to give her the social outlet and it may very well improve her disposition. You are doing a great work for your mother and remember all you caregivers, get a massage, a mani/pedi and pamper yourselves when you have some time.
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Nikki999 - I would speak to the doctor about her meds. If it's not helping, they need to try a different med or different dose. My mom had been on Ativan for anxiety but it did jack squat for her. Seroquel was almost right. Risperidone/Risperdal has hit the nail on the head for over a year now. Plus Prozac.

My mom also benefits from being in a highly structured environment with very little interaction with groups, activities, and other people who aren't performing a care task for her.

I can't be her hands-on care giver because I am the last person on the planet she will believe, cooperate for, or not chew on 24/7/365. She's much better (comparatively) for other people in medical uniforms. The costume = credibility to her as she had a history of hypochondria and hopping from doctor to doctor and Rx to Rx my whole life. It was really her untreated mental illness at the root, but polite people didn't have that, discuss that, or get treated for it at that point in time.
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