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We placed my MIL into a very nice facility yesterday. We had been discussing this with her for some time now. Different reactions on different days, from being a little sad, to knowing it was needed, but never angry. When she got up, we told her that today was the day. Immediately she got furious. " We weren't taking her anywhere, I'd rather die first, You both are DEAD to me, never come see me again, "I'll find a way to just die". She ate, went back to lay down still claiming she wasn't going. When she gets back up, she starts screaming again over and over. She looks at us with hatred, spitting on the floors, tried to spit on me, but wasn't standing close enough to get me. After several attempts to get her dressed as she said "Where I'm going it won't matter if I'm naked" and started taking off all her clothes in front of her son, my husband which I know she would be ashamed of if she were within her right mind. We finally get her dressed, in the car, she is still cussing, spitting in disgust at us. We go down the driveway, she looks back at our home and says "Bye house. I hope someone comes and breaks every window in your house". Just crazy talking. After arriving at the facility which is extremely nice, and small, only 20 patients, she jumps out of the car because she's home and for us to "leave and never come back," to "I can't believe my own family is throwing
me away", to "I hope you have 200 children and NONE of them want you". So while I didn't expect it to go easy today, my questions are first, is this type of behavior in dementia/alzheimers normal or typical? Why yesterday did she remember the sequence of events happening ALL day long when normally she can't even remember where she is from minute to minute or sometimes thinks she's in a home already because our house is large and always wants to know where the other residents are. She came to us from a facility she shared with my FIL after he passed away. And to be honest, in driving away to come back home after dropping her off, I felt a huge burden had been lifted from my shoulders. I am relieved and I am quite ashamed to say that for the first time in an extremely long 6 months, (only 6 months!!!) that I am happy. And I feel ashamed admitting that. I certainly don't want my husband to know this. I had the honor and privilege of taking care of my mother when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor at only 60 years old. She was diagnosed, treated with radiation and passed away within the space of 3 months. From the minute she found out, she was always caring, appreciative of the things my sister and I did for her, always thanking us, telling us how she loved us and never complained. While she didn't have dementia, the tumor did sometimes make her not realize some things and get confused about who someone was, or where she was at times. I am not romanticizing that as I know people can sometimes think their passed loved one were perfect. She wasn't perfect, but she also never complained or whined about her situation, the complete opposite of my MIL since she has come to live with us. So last question, is this, are my feelings about my MIL and being happy now that she's not in our home normal and typical or am I comparing the two experiences and find that I would never have been able to care for her or have as much compassion as I should have because of my experience caring for my own mom. While I do feel guilty about it, its not enough to make me unhappy. Am I just a horrible person? I'm sorry this is so long....

Oh my friend, you are in no way a horrible person!

Caring for your mom and caring for your MIL are two entirely different situations. Not only are they completely different people, their health issues were also extraordinarily different. First, I gather you were quite a bit younger when you cared for mom. I also gather that your mom's diagnosis was much different in terms of "time left" so to speak. I think a lot of your guilt is coming from "I was ok taking care of my mom, but I don't want to take care of my MIL, who is my husband's mom".

Just because you were willing to be one person's caregiver doesn't mean that you should automatically be willing to take on the caregiving responsibilities of everyone you know, because then where does it stop? If you follow that logic, then if you raised your kids, you should be willing to raise all the other kids that anyone in your family might have. You have the right to choose to whom you give care - if anyone. And, as many others here who have put their loved ones into facilities, MIL's caregiving will need to continue - just not under your roof with your responsibilities being 24/7. She will still need things done for her that will fall onto your and your husband's shoulders. You've done a wonderful job taking care of her in your home, and you will continue to take care of her, just in a different setting and capacity. And that's ok!

You say you don't want your husband to know how relieved you are that his mom has been placed into a care facility...but I would bet he's just as relieved as you are. Maybe for different reasons, but I'll bet it's a load off his shoulders as well. And that's ok, too!

Forgive yourself for any negative feelings you may have/had towards MIL and give yourself permission to enjoy your life. It's really, really ok. You made arrangements for MIL to be safe and cared for, and by doing so have fulfilled your responsibilities to her.

(((Hugs)))
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IhaveQuestions Aug 26, 2020
Thank you so much for your kind words. I love her and always have, just in bringing her into our home I never imagined how mean she would be to me. it definitely has changed some of my feelings for her. I still love her, but was having a very hard time liking her.
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Please don't be ashamed of your feelings, my friend. It's okay to be relieved to have a dementia patient out of your home and in a care facility where they'll be safe and cared for by professionals. You'd have no qualms whatsoever about admitting your MIL into the hospital if she were physically ill, yet you're beating yourself up about admitting her into a care home for being mentally ill. It doesn't make sense when it's put that way, does it?

It's normal for your MIL to be acting unhinged on her way to the new care home. There is no rhyme or reason to dementia, nor is there any day-to-day sameness involved. One day she can be lucid and you think, hey, maybe she's not that bad after all!!! Then the next day, she's spitting and cussing and you think, hey, she's unhinged and has to get out of here before I lose my mind!! That's the nature of dementia: up and down and you never know what the heck to expect!! And that, in and of itself, makes the condition even WORSE to deal with. The 'not knowing' is worse than anything.

In a care home environment, your MIL will adjust eventually. She'll make friends, get hot meals, entertainment, activities, and everything else she needs in the way of help with daily activities. You can go back to being the daughter in law and your husband can go back to being her son instead of her care givers. It puts the relationships back in their proper places and you can all breathe a bit easier.

Last but not least, it was easier for you to take care of your own mother because she didn't have dementia; an affliction which turned her into a child throwing tantrums and spitting, or playing with feces and peeing on the floor. You are comparing apples to oranges and expecting yourself to have the same 'compassion' for your MIL that you had for your mother in spite of the fact that the two women presented 100% different issues for you to deal with. Right? Most people are unable to deal with dementia sufferers at home, after it progresses to a certain point. Memory Care homes are the very, very best and safest option, as most of us eventually realize.

Don't feel guilty; guilt means you've done something wrong or bad
Don't feel shame; shame means you ARE something wrong or bad

You are neither. You are just one human being trying to be all things to all people at all times, which is quite impossible. Allow yourself to BE human, to admit you can't do it all, and then let go and let God handle what you cannot.

Good luck!
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IhaveQuestions Aug 26, 2020
Thank you so much, that helps me put things in perspective.
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My belief about why they will remember things sometimes all day is that anger gets the adrenaline pumping and will clear out those tangles for a bit. Saw this in my mom too, if she was angry new information was better understood. Strange? You betcha.

And behavior normal? With dementia nothing is normal and they are bound to say and do anything. What you experienced yesterday is normal for mom and her dementia.

It sounds like you found a nice place for her. Know that it will be very difficult for all of you for awhile. Many say two weeks, but with my mom it never ended and she was in memory care facilities for two years before she finally passed.

Mom was admitted to the hospital 3 or 4 times for geriatric psychic assessments. The first was the first week of facility living. Nothing is unexpected and nothing unusual with some.

Two facilities? Yup, mom was kicked out of the first one because of her behaviors. This happens. It would be a great idea to have a back up plan.

Good luck and i hope all remains quiet.
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psuskind1 Aug 28, 2020
Dear gladimhere
your reply cleared up a lot of questions as my LO’s behavior mirrors that which you describe. My LO was in geriatric psyc hospital twice. The second time was more effective and each day I hope the meds continue working. He nearly got kicked out of an exclusive facility and many don’t want problem clients.
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You are not a horrible person.

“Dementia” MEANS that she can no longer use reason, facts, and personal observations to manage her reactions to the events in which she is involved.

Comparisons to your own thinking and behavior, or to your mother’s thinking and behavior, cannot result in valid interpretations of your MIL’s behavior. That includes what she is saying, or screaming, or yelling.

There are times and circumstances in the behavior of people with dementia, especially early on, when they may be able to function on a level that appears to be relatively reasonably. Two images helped me understand this.

The mind of a person with dementia may seem to “short circuit”, like an electrical appliance that isn’t firmly plugged into a socket. The electricity may light a light fixture, but the light may blink, or dim, or go out altogether. I have observed this in several relatives who had dementia.

Another example was given to me by a wonderful therapist who worked with my LO when she entered Memory Care. She described LO’s thinking like a donut of reason, which surrounded a mass of confusion, memory failure, anger, inability to recall and process what she was hearing......and said that LO was becoming more and more anxious because she was trying harder and harder maintain the donut of normalcy, but the mass of disrupted thinking increases and increases, making preserving the donut harder and harder.

No one is to blame, and ABSOLUTELY NO ONE should feel guilty. Your MIL has been placed, with love and consideration for her safety, in the best setting you could arrange for her. EVERYONE would have preferred that she and her loved ones be spared this vicious disease, but tragically she wasn’t.

Nearly ALL of us would have wanted to make other decisions on behalf of our LOs, BUT THERE WERE NO HAPPY, PERFECT DECISIONS AMONG THE CHOICES THAT WE HAD. So we made less than perfect choices and did the very best we could.

And so did you. Be at peace, and be grateful for the happiness you’ve earned.
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IhaveQuestions Aug 27, 2020
Thank you AnnReid.....
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You are NOT a horrible person, you are someone who has been placed in a horrible situation. My MIL was the sweetest, kindest, most loving woman who used to love me like the daughter that she never had. But she developed Frontal Temporal Dementia and became a woman who didn’t know me and hated me for her own reasons.

Dementia is terrible thing, it steals our loved ones and places the caregivers in an impossible situation. Your relief is justified. We caregivers are not equipped or trained to deal with dementia. And even if we were, it’s such A terrible thing to deal with the abuse that comes with the disease.

I, too, was relieved when we moved my MIL to a locked facility. When she was living with us, I had to basically hide from her 24/7 in my own house. For 2 years I was a ghost, cooking dinner for her and my husband then making a plate to eat in our family room alone. If I sat at the table with my husband and MIL she would scream horrible things at me even when I was completely silent and attack me for no reason at all. Family functions were no better. Her family didn’t understand the disease or the person she had become. They couldn’t understand her hatred of me or why I would sit somewhere out of her sight, or leave a room when she walked in.

It broke our hearts to put her in a facility, but it gave me a small sense of peace to be able to live in my home without hiding from her. I could occasionally visit her and she would act like I wasn’t even there, but didn’t scream at and attack me.

You deserve your peace of mind in your own home. There is no reason to feel guilty or that you’ve done something wrong by her. We are not equipped to detach ourselves emotionally from those that we love while caregiving. I hope that everyone’s comments help you to feel better about the situation. You deserve to feel at peace.
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IhaveQuestions Aug 28, 2020
What a horrible situation for you! I am so sorry you had to endure that for 2 years! You are obviously a very strong person. I caved after just 6 months. Thank you for sharing that with me.
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You are not a bad person. I would give anything to be free of my mother who lives with me. And I don't feel guilty for feeling like that. You have done what you know is best for her and yourselves so now enjoy your freedom and your life. I hope to do the same one day. X
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Your experience is 100% by the book, normal, and extremely (EXTREMELY!!!) common. Stay the course.
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IhaveQuestions Aug 26, 2020
Thank you. That makes me feel better....
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Seems you were under a lot of stress caring for a person with difficulty coping. She probably has anxiety and frustration over things she can not control or understand. People with fear tend to cry, complain, lash out or a little of all of this. Since she appears to have Alzheimer's dementia, she will do best in an environment with a lot of structure and routine. Many caregivers want to care for their loved ones with dementia until they pass peacefully. Unfortunately, many dementia patients get to a stage where they need 24/7 supervision and very controlled environments to prevent injury or getting lost outside. Most people are not willing - or physically able - to live that way.

So you did the right thing to help your MIL get the help she needs in a smaller residential facility. Her first week(s) may be a little difficult as she adjusts to their routine. In the long run, she will do fine and get the attentive help she needs - 24/7.

Feeling "happy" about moving her is not selfish or "wrong". You have been under a lot of stress caring for a person that needed more supervision and care than you could reasonably provide. Knowing that she is getting the care she needs and you no longer need to worry round the clock - is relief from stress. That is why you feel happy. A horrible person would not care and you do. Be OK with your new current circumstances.
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IhaveQuestions Aug 31, 2020
Thank you!
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You are feeling a sense of relief from the constant responsibility that has become burdensome - that is absolutely a normal reaction. Nobody can survive happily under constant negativity, which is what many of the elders bring with them when they live with you. They are unhappy with their health and loss of “quality of life” and they take it out on their caretakers. Just having some privacy now, IN YOUR OWN HOME, must feel like you’ve gone to a private island resort. Do not feel bad, do not feel guilty. There are many people on this forum who wish they had the ability to make the same decision to move their “loved one” into a nursing home, but just cannot get to that point. Enjoy your newfound freedom.
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AlAljames4 Aug 28, 2020
Exactly!
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You are not a terrible person for feeling relieved that your MIL is out of your home. You have to remember that your mom was suffering from cancer, not dementia. Dementia changes the person that you love into a completely unreasonable person who can change from loving to a horror. My mom whom I loved dearly in the 7 years that I cared for her hit me, bite me, & accused me of stealing from her. She would say she loved me one minute & then tell me to get out of the house. When you have a LO with dementia you have to remember how much you loved them & how much they loved you before the diagnosis of dementia (or in my mom's case Alzheimer's) changed their personality. Think of your LO's actions & words as the disease talking & not your LO. Give it some time & give thought to the difference in the changes in your mom from cancer & the loss of your LO to dementia. When you understand the difference try to see your MIL with new understanding.
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