How do I handle rudeness, irritation, and anger expressed by my 89 year old mother towards my 95 year old father?

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This has always been a problem in my parents lives and this abusiveness has extended to me since childhood. I have had to stay away from her a lot because of it. But now that she has nerve deafness and he has lost much of his hearing, this abusiveness is getting much worse. She orders him around, corrects him angrily. He is a gentle person who does not fight back. This abusiveness at times is directed at me as her daughter. Even when I talk to her about the abusiveness she admits she shouldn't be doing it but that doesn't seem to change her attitude toward him. I was told by a caregiver who came in for 3 days recently to help, that he should be taken out of the house on shopping errands and drives as often as possible by my sister or myself to get away from her. How can I (we) help her? We are exhausted from giving 24/7 care recently as she was very ill and need to have outside help. We feel a caregiver is best at this point. Would appreciate any insight.

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Some people do try to act nicer when outsiders are present, but fall back into set patterns as they become accustomed to someone coming around, as would probably happen with a regular caregiver. Since your mom has been abusive for a long period of time, it seems unrealistic to expect her to change. Confrontation doesn't work, usually. Verbal abuse often leads to physical abuse, if someone becomes frustrated enough.

My mom was horrible to my dad, and still is, even though he suffers from late stage Alzheimer's Disease. I have such a tender heart of compassion for him, and feel very protective of him. She has mental challenges which make things worse. Fortunately, I am his legal guardian, and have taken steps to limit his exposure to her outrageous behavior.

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It does sound like a caregiver would be a help in your situation. Having another person in the house would help to curb your mother's rude comments, because most likely your mother will try to control herself when the caregiver is around. This may also help her to become more aware of when she is being verbally abusive to your father or to you. Let your mother know that you will not tolerate verbal abuse from her, either toward you or your father. Some people keep on being verbally abusive--- because they can get away with it. Confronting isn't always easy, but it often brings about productive results.
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