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Parent cannot be reasoned with. Aging parent gets agitated against caregiver. The nurse tested her blood sugar level and it was under 200. Fifteen minutes later she wanted me to give her personal diabetic meter to test her blood in the hospital again. I told her the kit is at home. She got angry that I left it home and wondered why did I leave it home. I explained to her that she did not need her kit since the nursing staff is testing her blood sugar levels. I ended up asking the nurse to check her blood again just to calm her down. Some how I am the villain for leaving her blood meter kit at home. I understand it is the cancer, but it still hurts. Trying to reason with her only gets her more upset. But then when I get quiet, she get even more upset because she believes that I am now mad at her. How should I react and cope with this behavior? I been there everyday for her and sometimes it seems she always down on me. She wants to drop everything to be there, but when I am there she attacks.

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I'm so sorry, TinyTrouble. This is horribly hard for you. It sounds as if either the cancer has spread to your parent's brain or dementia of another type has taken over. This behavior is very common in several types of dementia. Reason rarely works under these circumstances, because people with dementia have their own reality.

Is your parent under hospice care? If a lot of pain is present, nearly anyone will become difficult. Hospice can help with that. Also, some medications can cause this behavior. My mother was give a liquid bone cancer medication (this was before hospice) and it completely changed her personality. However, it helped a lot with the pain. She was in a nursing home, so the nurse and I discussed this, I told them I was sorry about her behavior, and we all just coped by knowing that this was the disease/medication and tried to not let her behavior bother us. It wasn't long after that that hospice took over her care and they found a better way to keep her comfortable.

Sometimes, the best we can do is remind ourselves that the behavior isn't about them or us, it's simply the disease (or medication). That doesn't mean that this behavior doesn't hurt us - it just means that we can, in general, cope better if we don't take it personally.

Take care of yourself. This is really an ordeal. Please keep checking back for more from the community.
Carol
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Tinytrouble, so sorry to hear this. It must be a very difficult time for you because you are dealing with 2 strands, one of your mom's cancer and the other of her response. My mother too can be very hurtful. I spoke to her doctor and he said it was partially an age matter. She is 90 and simply does not think anymore what she is saying to me. However, you also have to think of you mom's illness. You can only do your best and I found I reduced a lot of the hurt when I no longer tried to please her, simply to do what was necessary to make her comfortable and often to ignore comments that were hurtful because if I had picked them up I would have been nasty which helps no one. At times I feel like a housekeeper/nurse but I can see the benefits as I am there, also attending to her needs, and supporting her illness. When I am not with her I make sure I fill my life with joy i.e. keep away from negative people who drain and go for a walk in the sunshine, on the beach, photograph beautiful things and speak to people who are positive. You need to care for your soul too. It is not easy but you will feel later that you have done your best. Good luck and keep smiling. All the best.
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Have a Mom who has dementia - she does this sort of thing to me alot. I have gotten in the habit of asking her to please look me in the eyes, then tell her as polite as I possibly can - "There is no reason for you talk to me in that manner, I will be back when you are in a better mood." So far so good. It has been working. Best of luck and please do not take it personally. They are in a place of fear and in your case probably pain. They love you -
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Your mother has end stage cancer. How fair and considerate do you expect her to be? I know it's hard, but this is not the time to be upset about small things. Bring her blood sugars kit to the hospital, if you like, so that the nurses can tell her to her face that she can't use it there; but far better don't get into this kind of conversation.

There are more important things to talk about, like that you love her, and whether there is anything you can do to comfort her. I'm so sorry that you're both having to go through this. Try to be strong. Big hug x
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Hi Tinytrouble - I understand also - when it's family, you want their love or appreciation for your efforts or for your love, and it hurts when they lash out.

I'm lucky that my work with belligerent brother over years and in elder care, gave me enough practice and experience, that I worked on coping strategies. The most useful I have found is, first of all, to agree with the person's concern. You can agree with your mom that you wish you had brought it from home, sorry, you didn't think of it. Don't have to justify, for it is not "reason" that can reassure her, it is "reassurance", "validation" that she has a right to good treatment and answers, and you can also next validate that others are trying hard to help, and that we all find it confusing, and try our best. By agreeing first, you defuse her furor - which I learned with my favorite elder that everyone else found so negative - but she told me one day, "can't you see how afraid I am? I can't remember anything, I can't remember where my bedroom is, and when you tell me I should get up and get ready for bed, I realize I'm lost."

I said, "Oh, I'm so sorry, I didn't know you felt that way. It sounds frightening. I think you are so great for trying so hard. I'll sit with you a bit, and do nothing for a bit, I'm sorry." That was helpful -I was not seeing the fear behind her lashing out, and I was glad that she finally found some words to explain it.

And other times, if she directed her criticism at me personally, I gave her two efforts to try to meet her demand, and then said, "I do want to help you, and I'm always glad that we have this time together. So if you criticize me, I"ll try once to see what you need and help, but if you keep criticizing me, I'll be in the other room, and I'll come back in 10 minutes. And I'd just leave, sit just out of hearing and rest and read my book. Then return. I find that many of us have habits of "all or nothing" interpretations, as if the only choice is to stay or leave, or be quiet or shout back - but timing makes a huge difference. Telling someone you must leave, but will return, helps you stay on their side, but not take abuse. And keep adding such time outs, and try again refreshed.
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Sorry for the pain you're in. We all understand but that doesn't make it better. When I am faced with MIL abuse I handle it different every time. I do this in a way to see which way is the best but to also, not give her the opportunity to "know what buttons to push" just incase it's not the illness. I'm sure it's the illness but it doesn't hurt to be sure. For example....in the hospital when she asked for the home kit. I might have spent 5 minutes frantically looking for it saying I'm thought I brought it, and acting ridiculous hoping she would laugh at me. I don't draw on the negative....I treat her with the same love and respect I always did I am just "creative" with my responses. When I was with FIL at the hospital watching him die from cancer. I would gently massage the bruises the IV left, his feet and hands,play very quiet music and try to talk positively of the family and World news and weather. The family thing was hard because he would ask why they weren't there, so I tried to keep that to a minimum. You know your Mom and what makes her happy. Try to focus on that. Go to the hospital with a game plan...research medications and educate yourself with what to expect. Give her a manicure (use clear in case the doctors need to see the nail beds and it's less likely to make an unsightly mess). It doesn't make the pain go away but it will help you deal on an intellectual level.
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I think it depends on just how 'demented' the elder is. I personally think many of them can control themselves better than they let on. If they pay the price with you walking out when they get nasty, and they do control themselves in the future then, yes, they can.
I just do not think we should let ourselves be subject to vitriol when we are doing our best. It is sad when an elder is perhaps on their deathbed but why take it?
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I doubt if your mother really wants to be down on you. She is facing the ending of her life, she must have some anger and lots of fear. She is yelling out to affirm she is still important and still alive. I would not feed into her complaints --just let them fall on deaf ears and try to redirect her interests.
I had a mother die at mid life of cancer, but she didn't get hostile. She had some confusion from pain medications from time to time. She wanted her brother who lived states away and I said I would get him. The next day I asked if she wanted me to call him so they could chat, she said she would call him later in the week. What was demanded immediately when upset or confused was not that important once she was back to normal mentally. It just goes that way.

I think fear of dying and/or fear of the disease and pain level is probably bring out these harsh words. I just stayed with my mother, read to her, let her know she was safe as my father and I would be with her. As she knew she didn't have to face the end alone, she was more able to rest even laugh as I read humorous short stories to her.
My mother had been very seriously ill during her youth (ages 6-17) so she had faced down death before. I think she was more able than the average person to accept the fact that she faced another serious illness. While she did not win her battle with cancer, she did live twice as long as her doctors thought she would owing to her personal determination. If it had been a "fair fight" she would have survived, unfortunately some cancers are not.

Good luck, she doesn't mean to be the way she is now. I wish a peaceful road ahead for both of you. Remember, you are doing your best. That's all you can do.
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i live with my ma and dad, takecare of dad with alzheimers.. My ma is always putting me down, yelling at me....it's crazy! when she starts i just walk away.. i learned this works.......she is verbally abuse to me,, had a husband that was physically and emotionally abusive to me,, divorced him after 14 years,,,,,,she is worse... honestly,, i am very close to a caregiver brakedown, not due to dad, but due to my mother.. help........i feel for yah.......
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I've learned from hospital work that when people are irrationally nitpicky and upset over the most trivial things, the real problem is that there is a BIG thing wrong that they can't do anything about and have zero control over. That sure applies here. Its still annoying to be picked on and accused of giving bad care and being a bad hospital because a clock radio was stolen or a therapy session rescheduled, but its not as devastating when you step back a minute and think of where it is coming from.
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