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Dementia Behavior Can Seem Like Manipulation


My mother is 90 and Im positive she has dementia. She has not been diagnosed but she has been blaming me of theft and other terrible accusations for about three years now. We have never had a really great relationship though. She has always been so critical of me. I asked her a few years ago if she could say anything good about me. She thought for a few seconds and said: you dress well and you go to work every day. That was all she could possibly say about her daughter that has so many other qualities that others have always complimented me for. Anyway, the dementia is bad but no one else notices because she's just "a peach" to everyone else. She has become extremely hurtful to the point of telling me she hopes she dies so I can feel awful for the rest of my life. Im an only child and this situation has my blood pressure soaring almost daily.

My mum is refusing food she's 86yrs what can I do?

As a care Giver and personal experience they do not understand Manipulation at all .They can hardly remember certain things for 5 mins

Thank you, sunnygirl1. Yes, the loss of a child is like no other in its pain.

2 of my 3 brothers understand that I will not put up with unlimited demands by our mother (the other one wouldn't care and just about never comes to see his mother). One brother was going to make a special trip here to look at Assisted Living facilities, but that never panned out. Mom has announced she won't be willing to look at any AL places "for at least two years."

I am so glad that there is someone else here who believes that adult children are not bound to provide care in the home for elders. I have also told my brothers that our mother is not coming to live with me. (It helps that she clearly told me that she didn't want to live with me several years ago.) I stayed with her for 8 days and nights 1.5 years ago when she somehow hurt her back and she was nearly helpless. That time with her was unbearable, as she ordered me around. Yet now she says I did NOT do that -- that at the most I was with her for 2 days, and that she could have stayed by herself. Ummm...NO. She was prescribed powerful painkillers and was not to be left alone, according to the dr. My brothers knew full well what I did for her, as I informed them. I will not be doing THAT again.

I promised my dad as he was dying that we would take of her. That was 5.5 years ago (just months before my son died). I'm trying to work out with myself just exactly what that means. But I know it doesn't mean I am to sacrifice my own mental and physical health (particularly mental health).

I'm so sorry for the loss of your son. That must be incredibly painful. I can't imagine such pain.

It it good that your mom has long term care insurance coverage. Have you discussed your concerns with your siblings. It sounds like they aren't aware what you are dealing with. Would it help to give them the heads up, so they know what you will not be doing?

I'm of the opinion that adult children are not bound to provide care in the home for parents. I don't think it's selfish, but realistic and practical. That's just me. I would not want my adult children caring for me and not living their own lives. Others have a different view on this.

I think that dementia patients offer particularly harsh challenges for most family members caring in the home. That's why we need a lot of help. I took solace in that fact when placing my loved one into Memory Care.

Sunnygirl1, you write:

"...I think it's so important to have a very long fuse and be of a very special temperament who can tolerate a lot."

And that is the gist of why I am NOT looking forward to increased caregiving responsibilities for my mother, which was starting to happen (until she got mad at me and now hardly calls at all -- not complaining! but it will end when she stops driving and I have to be her taxi service).

I do not want to be her caregiver, but as the only local sibling (and the only daughter), I am expected to be the one. It is what she expects. When I mentioned the dirty "c" word (compensation), she got furious. She thinks I am trying to take advantage of her. Short-term memory lapses aside, she doesn't forget THAT!

I do not have the patience to deal with her controlling ways. I have never had a good relationship with her. I love her, but do not like her. I resent that my 3 brothers are all out of state. When the demands on my time increase, I will expect compensation, as that is the only way I can do this (we could use the money).

I have had enough to deal with in my life by losing my young adult son 5 years ago suddenly and unexpectedly. I will NOT give up my life and health (as so often seems to happen) to be the Daughter-Slave to my mother. She has excellent LTC insurance, and once she qualifies I will expect her to use it. I don't even want to hire/supervise the in-home help, if she ever agrees to even that.

I have informed my brothers that I will just walk away if things get to be too much for me and there is not adequate compensation.

When the dementia patient's behavior progresses to the point that they are a disruption in public, then I would consider if public outings should be continued. Or perhaps go to smaller places at hours when they are less busy and the less likely that Sundowning is taking place. I'd try to get out during the morning and return home by the afternoon, when behavior can take a turn for the worse.

Although, there is a lot of frustration, hurt and resentment about how a dementia patient treats their caregivers, it's not much that can be done, except, the standard, medications, redirecting, distraction, etc. The patient can't learn anything new, so you aren't likely to teach them a lesson. And even if you did, they would forget it in short time. That's why I think it's so important to have a very long fuse and be of a very special temperament who can tolerate a lot. Some people don't do well in residential environments due to aggression and resistance. There are places who do a wonderful job and they are also an option. (Memory Care.)

LadyBelle's comment is exactly what bothers me, too.

"But I still struggle with why anyone trying to help someone should have to put up with bad behavior at all. ...dementia, personality disorder or not. And what I've noticed is that the dementia sufferer always targets the person who cares for them...they rarely lash out at a stranger."

I was out with my mom and her husband tonight for dinner and my mom acted like a out of control child. She pulled a few of my hair's out of my head just for the fun of it and many weird embarrasing things the entire night that i needed to ask for the check. I have never seen this as bad as tonight and could not control it or she would get upset and argure. How fast can she go down hill from here? What can i do to stop this?


I think this is a great article. Very important information.

From what I have read over the last couple of years, it is extremely difficult for us as loved ones and caregivers to really step back and not see the dementia behavior as manipulative, mean, ill spirited, selfish, controlling, etc. No matter how hard we try, I think that some just can't let go of that.

Apparently, many families have long standing issues where there was a lot of dysfunction. Often due to the fault of the person who now has dementia. I suspect that the loved ones just can't bare letting the dementia patient off the hook, so to speak. Still, I think that medical information confirms that not recognizing the limitations of the dementia brain, is not helpful and only a fantasy for those that insist it can happen.

One of those asking about what happens then....I think that we just have to protect the dementia patient loved one and keep them from harm as best we can. They cannot be held responsible. We can't place expectations or demands on them. It's a waste of time and will likely be met with disappointments. We can't expect the dementia patient to use good judgment, make the right choices, show respect and appreciation, act nice or give us love. We must do that for them with no expectations of them in return. We can't lose sight of what is really happening and not take it personally.