Lost my temper with Mom today - Help!

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I'm both looking for advice and venting. I lost my temper with mom today - she wanted to wear a mismatched sweater and dress to the doctor, and that was the straw that broke the camel's back. Because I've had some time off work I've been caring for her 24/7 and I knew I was about to lose it for days. My daughter was home for semester break but left yesterday - I didn't want to hire help while she was home but the truth is I am not cut out to be a 24/7 hands on caregiver, and I've been accustomed to time off for work - yes work is like a break from caregiving. Mom has vascular dementia and severe mobility issues, and my transportation fell through so now I'm going to have to load up the wheelchair, etc. She is easier than most here - I don't know how you all do it. I yelled at her when she insisted on her warm but mismatched sweater and threw it across the room. She was horrified and I know I scared her because she is totally dependent on me and told me to put her in a home - she's said that before when she can tell I'm overwhelmed. Then said I was so sorry and she can wear what she wants. Now she is barely speaking to me and said she would wear what I wanted. I apologized again and said I do fine with help 3 days a week. I didn't have the wonderful aide who has the patience of a saint come while my daughter was here because she worries so much about money and would be appalled if she knew how much I'm spending on help with mom, though it's still less than a nursing home. Appreciate any advice and suggestions. What I did is inexcusable - I see why other caregivers lose it. This is so physically and emotionally exhausting. Thanks.


What you did was NORMAL. You're human, and when stretched beyond our ability to cope---even a saint would swear, as they say.

I've certainly lost it with my mom more that I like to admit. It's so hard to maintain that balance of care and their neediness and the slow, agonizing pace at which they'll move----my mother's "poor pitiful me" voice puts me over the edge.

Don't beat yourself up. You apologized, it'll blow over.

Sounds like you have care in place for mom. That's good.

After your day with mom, treat yourself to something special--even if it's just a long hot bath. Mom will get over this and so will you.
Yes, you're human and you had a moment of being overwhelmed. We've ALL been there and done that. The thing I found with my mom and her poor memory is that she'd forget it pretty quickly. You said your mom has vascular dementia, so hopefully, this will vanish from her memory banks.

Forgive yourself and when you feel that moment coming on again, leave the room for a minute and go sit by yourself and do what you have to do to calm yourself down and get through the rest of the day. {{{Hugs}}}
I have yelled at my Dad more times than I wish I had, but after you explain and repeat and re answer so many times you actually can control your actions sometimes. For 15 months I have had him yelling or walking into my room(before I realized that I just needed to lock it for my sanity and privacy)
everyday screaming “is it time to get up”. It doesn’t matter if it’s 3:00am or
7:00am and it’s always the same. If I tell him to go back to bed he repeats what I said and makes me answer him and tell him I will get him up when it’s time.
Then he says “you know I take pills?” By the time he shuts up I should have just
Gotten up. This in its self sets the mood for the day. He acts like I have not been taking care of him for the past 15 months. I thought it was short term
memory but I have decided since he can hear me say something on the phone
And repeat it to me word for word what I said it must be on purpose. He doesn’t do it near as much when my husband is home. Do you think he does this on purpose? Does anyone else have this situation? I don’t know how you can do the same thing and hear the same thing day after day and not
get frustrated! He calls me to come look at his TV every time a commercial
comes on. He will only watch the football channel period!!! I swear there is a commercial every 5 minutes. Don’t beat yourself up! We are all human!
While no one wants to lose their temper with their frail and compromised elderly loved one - I’m betting everyone who has been a caregiver for any length of time - has. At least once. This journey would test the patience and stamina of the strongest of saints.

While at times, I got a little snippy with my mom I can honestly say I really only “lost it” twice. Once in the very beginning when dementia wasn’t really a factor - but her typical selfishness was - and once towards the end, about a year before mom passed and as her dementia was starting to shift into high gear.

Both times I said things I probably shouldn’t have. But honestly? Both times what I said was the absolute truth.

But that wasn’t how I had been raised - speaking to an elder like that. Let alone, one of my own parents.

The thing that made it extra complicated for me was just how good it felt to say what I did - to get it off my chest.

So perhaps - in a way - “loosing it” can be healthier than keeping it all bottled up. Lord knows, keeping everything all bottled up has negative consequences of its own. For me - stomach issues, mystery rashes, short tempered with my own family of innocent bystanders. Collateral damage? And again, for me - lasting PTSD symptoms long after my mother had passed.

The trick if it all seems to be - how to let it all out in a way that doesn’t hurt our elderly loved one - the source of our frustration and stress. Or anyone else for that matter. The innocent bystanders. Ourselves.

So - cut yourself some slack. But look for other more benign methods for venting your anger in the future.
It's good you recognize the issue. I'd make sure to have additional help with her care from now on. Maybe, it's just me, but, I think that if you have a tendency to lose your temper, hands on caregiving may not be something you should do. I think you acknowledge that in your post. There's nothing wrong with that and no one is perfect. IT's good you know your strengths and weaknesses. Dealing with the behavior that dementia can bring is really exasperating. Even for people who have long tempers, it takes a toll. I would try to move forward with a plan, though.
Thanks everyone for sharing. I will always feel guilty about it but on the other hand, in two years of post stroke caregiving, and help with her mobility issues before that, this is the first time I've really lost it. Have to remember the basics like let things go, walk away, go in another room, and remember too that the day will come when I will really miss her. She was good to me, and now she is helpless and completely dependent on me, and sometimes she will say she is sorry there is so much on me.

I could not be a 24 7 caregiver, but I'm okay when I have breaks to work. So my plan now is that even at times like these, when I'm off from work, I'm having my wonderful aide come 3 days a week. She's not like the ones who stay on their phones all day, she actually talks to Mom, which is what she needs, companionship. I think I've identified my limits. Caregiving is hard emotional work, and I need time off. Also, I think I should have a bedtime for Mom so I can have some me time at the end of the day.
Dana, I am curious....do you have any siblings? If so, do they help at all with your mother? Who is paying for the caregiver 3 days/week?

Once you get home from work and on the weekends, sounds like you are the 24/7 caregiver?
Just hugs, Dana. It is SO much easier to be all Zen about it when it's not your mother.

Last week my ex-husband went bat-sh*t with my MIL. I am not MIL's biggest fan. She could drive an ayatollah to drink. But all the same... She was looking for her wallet, wanting to check she had her cab fare, and would not stir a step until she had done so. The same wallet, with the same cash in it, that had been shown to her four or five times while she was putting her coat on, once the cab had arrived and was waiting for her at £60 per hour. Ex is her golden child, will never hear a word against her and considers her deserving of only the very best. I really thought he was going to strangle her or I wouldn't have intervened.

Which just goes to show: it doesn't matter how high-minded or loving or experienced you are, or how much you know about dementia in theory, there will be moments when you can Take No More.
Yes, I'm the sole caregiver except for the aide I hire, and unless I get extra help, after work I go home to the Mom shift. I have no siblings. Mom can be left alone for about two hours max, so I can go for a jog or the gym, but often that time winds up being for shopping and chores. Fortunately mom pays for her care.  It's ironic in a way that she worked when I was growing up; she wasn't suited to be a 24 7 stay at home Mommy, and I'm not suited to be a 24 7 caregiver, although that is what she would like.  I'd climb the proverbial walls. 

I had a talk with Mom about how I need a mental health day every other week, and she agreed! She said she feels bad that I have so much on me, and I told her that she could really help by giving me a day to go out occasionally. It's been suggested to pray for a servant's heart, and as caregivers, we really are servants. I feel guilty for wanting time to myself, and knowing that the day will come when I will really miss her and regret how I am such a lousy caregiver. 
You are not a lousy caregiver. You are a loving daughter; and moreover, you are the lively-minded, vital daughter your mother is glad to have raised in her own image. Not some kind of animated vacuum cleaner-cum-bottle washer-cum bed-maker.

I completely sympathise with the only escaping to fetch the groceries part, too; and the impossibility of really relaxing in a two-hour window. Has anyone suggested respite care breaks every so often?

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