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i have known her for 35 years and had a wonderful relationship with her i love her dearly we have never had a cross word until now. my husband upset her but she is taking it out on me and accusing me of being a liar and trouble maker. she is being very spiteful and nasty. I cannot seem to reason with her she shouts me down and calls me names. She seems the complete opposite with other family members crying and saying how ill she is and generating their sympathy. As she is so sweet and frail with them they are finding it hard to believe it when i tell them how aggressive she is with me. She is 76 years old and does suffer with arthritis and is constantly in pain. I have always been there for her but I am finding it increasingly difficult to be with her. What can I do?

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She may not be talking to you at all. It is common for Alzheimer recipients to disappear from the present and actually begin to live somewhere in there past. Try to get her to tell you who she is talking to. Ask her if she even knows your name. You are about to get a big WOW.
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I to have a problem with my mother I have been going to stay with her at times since my husband died to try to give my sister a break she lives near Mom I do not at first the visits were good but the last few times she picked on me so much one was because so much toilet tissue was being used she is not poor and takes a duiirect and is in the bathroom constantly in the morning it went on from there she had me in tears I do not answer her back because she is really old and has health problems when I am at home and call her often she is nice to me but when I am out there with her it is another story and she is so sweet to others it really hurts so much I dread going to visit what I do is stay my distance as much as possible it is not dementia because she is so sharp she knows who she can pull this shit with at one of her doc appointments she yelled at me so loud everyone in the room backed up so when I am with her I know it will be hard it is not fair and she makes me feel like I am 4 yrs. old all over again so snook I can relate to you I would not have her tested let the others who get along with her do that if they want I would not even talk to them about it just limit your time around her she may very well feel she can let it all out with you but still it is not right I am only a year away from my husband dieing and he was so mean to me and nice to everyone else so this si very hard on me and I know I do not deserve this treatment but it is too late to change her now so I try to have a thick skin.
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Snook, sometimes an elderly person's mind just starts to change in certain respects due to the aging process. Sometimes it is diagnosed as dementia or other cognitive condition, other times it's just the brain sort of wearing down with age. I know how this hurts. I can remember an aunt who always was loving toward me, and then suddenly in her late 70's she accused me of not really loving her. She began acting strangely, being paranoid and irrational. Since I was young and didn't understand, it really hurt when she said that. Now I am much older and have a father who has had mental deterioration due to dementia and I have learned, over the course of several years, to not take personally negative things he might say to me. I've also learned to leave the room when he becomes agitated or combative so that I can compose myself.

You say it is increasingly difficult for you to be with your MIL. If I were you, I would probably start to limit the time I needed to spend with her( if this is possible). It doesn't sound like this is going to get better, and it may become worse. A doctor's evaluation is always a good idea, because he/she can spot cognitive conditions which might respond well to medication of some kind.

It's hard to see these changes happen in our loved ones, I know. I'm sorry you're seeing and experiencing this. It feels like a "loss" and it is and it needs to be grieved, I believe. Then you can begin to adapt to the loved one's "new" personality and relate to her in a loving, productive way. Because they still need us and need our love.
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Sylvester: thank you for your kind words. My insight comes from many years of experience, but also from making my fair share of mistakes. And I am sure that my siblings are not as appreciative as others such as yourself are here.

There is one thing I learned about all this, it isn't what we say or what THEY say, it's how we make them FEEL that can turn a situation around. Even if they are being unreasonable, if we make them feel that what they say matters, it can often make things better.

I do hope that Snookens posts an update and let's us all know how things are going.
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A lot of people have suggested a lot of possibilities about why this could be happening. Speculating is useful to the extent that it opens up avenues to explore, but each of the possibilities leads to a different response so you have to actually go FIND OUT which one is true.
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MiaMadre, you should write a book. How insightful you are and what an understanding, sweet and loving person you are. It has been so hard to watch Mom decline, from being such a sweet, giving, loving person, into this hateful tyrant using language I didn't think she even knew existed. What really spoke to me from your encouraging words was, "This same situation happened to my sister in law, and all I heard from her was how MEAN my mother was to her (in her declining days) and I had to remind her of how much Mom actually did to help all of us over the years, and that so much of her anger was repressed for decades! "
It really made me stop and think and review her past, and sure enough, she DID repress so much anger from things she has been through, the death of her first two daughters as infants, the loss of her Mom at an early age, etc. There are so many things in this unfair life that can cause repressed hurt and anger and eventually, it will boil over and the outcome is usually not a pretty one.
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I am also going to agree with everyone who responded before me. Since you have a good relationship with your MIL, she probably knows that she can say anything and get away with it.

My mother and I had the best relationship all our lives, and yet towards the end of her life she would 'pick on me' all the time! At first I didn't know how to react, and it hurt me, and then I realized that she was 'trying' to act normal around everyone else, but with me she could just say what was on her mind (and she did)

As her moods got meaner, there were times when I would walk away, and sit and just 'cry it out' and inevitably she would come up behind me and ask me "WHO is making you so sad?" Ironic huh? I NEVER told her SHE was responsible.

But, it showed me that she was not intentionally trying to upset me, she was just lost, upset and confused, and needed to lash out in an effort to gain back control. Pain, confusion and aging can be a powerful combination and perhaps a visit to her doctor and a review of medication, and her general well being and mental state is in order. Identifying problems EARLY ON, provide the best means for dealing with any health issues.

Don't take it personal, as difficult as it may be, and try to remember all the years that you DID have a wonderful relationship and let that sustain you. This same situation happened to my sister in law, and all I heard from her was how MEAN my mother was to her (in her declining days) and I had to remind her of how much Mom actually did to help all of us over the years, and that so much of her anger was repressed for decades!

Everyone has a bad day, even the nicest of people. When Mom would cuss me out, I would gently remind her that GOD was listening, and at first saying a prayer out LOUD seem to stop her, but then when she was unable to understand, I just calmly asked that she "Get it all out here on earth, because those in heaven don't speak that way!"

God bless you, stay strong.
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Yep, I agree with all of the above. Having gone through Alzheimer's with Daddy, there was no doubt when Mom started having memory problems that we were headed down the Alz/dementia path but she is 94, after all. So, we didn't have to have a doctor tell us but in your case, it would be best to check it out. Since she is having a lot of pain, that's a good excuse to see the doctor.

My extended family has no idea what Mom can be like - she has always been sweet and loving and smiles when she sees people, especially when she thinks they are family. My siblings all know her differently than I do - they say they can't win if they try to stand their ground with her so they don't try and therefore she doesn't get mad at them. I think they are just afraid to confront the issues with her. I have no problem doing it when necessary, although she gets nasty with me. My sister stayed with her last weekend and I asked her to make sure Mom bathed on Friday (the normal day) but she didn't because Mom got mean. My sister left thinking Mom hated her.

First and most important, try not to take it personally. I don't know your mother-in-law's personality but that plays alot into how they treat the people around them. And also, as with me, if the others don't tackle any issues, they will never see the "mean" side.
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Does she take barbiturates for her arthritis pain? If so she may be addicted. Mood swings this severe are a common symptom of barbiturate addiction. Best to get her in for check-up in any case. As hapfra says, these problems do not cure themselves. And it is especially important when a normally pleasant and likeable person suddenly turns sour.
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Hi Snookihams2010--To my way of thinking there could be a variety of reasons why she is exhibing this aggressive behavior towards you,. I would, if at all possible have her evaluated by a neurologist or your PCP-and get their opinion..It may be as simple as a change in medication (if she is on any) or the beigiing os a dementia....This is why you need to have the matter checked out--sooner rather than later, before the situation possibly worsens.Plan B would have her evaluated by someone from an aging care agency near your home--either at your home, or at their facility.
Best to you and your family.
Hap
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It is very typical for a old person to turn on the one they are closest too.The articles here on aging care says they turn on the ones they know won't leave them. I've had two great aunts do that.two grandmothers and my mom and dad.From my experience its more normal to turn on your favorite person than not.My dad and I were closer than anyone in world,but he flipped the script a few times himself and it is true I was the only one who would deal with the moods and not walk or run out.He could depend on me no matter what and he knew it.So my answer is because she likes you the best,screwed up, huh.Old people have alot of aches and pains,getting old is not fun-everyone needs someone to vent to.Sounds like you might be the one.
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