kinderbrech Asked June 2012

How do we handle our mom who is resentful toward our ill father?

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She is unwilling/unable to get support regarding his illness. She has been resentful toward him prior to his illness as well. She behaves as if everything he does is personal and manipulative/controlling on his part, when it is his illness! It is very frustrating that no matter how much we explain, model, coach, tell, etc., she just will not get it. He is currently hospitalized and she doesn't want him to come home, even though he is most comfortable at home. His illness is an undiagnosed brain disorder resulting in some distorted thinking/delusions that has significantly changed his behavior and his life. She has been resentful of any care that he has needed over the past four years. True, she has every right to be angry about the situation, and it has not been easy by any means. Night is rough, as he hardly sleeps and wanders and disturbs her as well. But really, he is still able to take care of himself, is directable, and is doing the best that he can to hold himself together. His delusions increased/changed this past week to be more accusatory and he began to question who we were (aliens - and that my mom was cheating on him). We understand how painful this is - in fact, my dad called me and told me that I was never his daughter - and that hurt to hear him say that as well, but I know that it is the illness, not him. However, every conversation she has with him is an angry, huffy fight. She always blames him, but she is closed off, doesn't attempt affection, and is so mad that he won't help out around the place - even though he spent the majority of his life working two jobs so she could stay home. My sister and I have encouraged her to seek and get support, and she is judgmental about support groups. She has stated more than once that she is "done" and that "we can have him." I am really angry at her for this attitude; I would feel differently if she were at least willing to try and sort through her feelings toward him. We are sad for my dad that he is so afraid of losing her and she doesn't wan't him - although she has been going to see him at the hospital. She says she loves him - but she sure doesn't show it. She is stuck in anger and we feel helpless. What would you do? Thank you.

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jeannegibbs Jun 2012
Poor dears -- both of them.

Maybe Mom has some undiagnosed brain problems too, ya know? Or maybe unbeknownst to you the marriage has been failing for some time. I sure don't know what is behind this situation but it is certainly sad for the entire family.

In many ways I'm sure that Dad would be more comfortable at home, in his familiar surroundings. Especially since he can do most ADLs I'd like to see him go home and have some in-home care services. But looking at the eniter picture might it be best to get him out of the line of fire of Mom's anger, and to minimize her agitation as well, and have him placed in a care center? Obviously you are not going to dump him there and abandon him. Somebody -- not Mother -- needs to take charge of advocating for him and making sure he is getting good care. And the entire family needs to see that he has lots of visits.

For Mother to get consistent full nights of sleep may be very helpful to her attitude. Sleep deprivation in itself can cause significant personality and behavioral problems.

I think the hardest part for me might be to not be judgmental about Mother's behavior. I'd want to just shake my head and sadly ask her what happened to the "for better or for worst, in sickness and in health" stuff. How could she behave this way with a man she presumably loves?! But I'd try to cut her some slack, not knowing what is going on in her brain as well.

My heart goes out to you. You are in a very painful situation and one you have little control over. Do your best to influence the outcome in a way that will be least harmful for each of your parents. And good luck figuring out what that is!
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