My Mother is becoming increasingly manipulative and cruel to my Father - both diagnosed with dementia. I'm primary caregiver, advice?

Follow
Share

My parents always had a rocky relationship. I don't know how much of this behaviour is just an existing dynamic surfacing because I'm there daily, or if it is behaviour resulting from brain deterioration. How much should I tolerate when my mother becomes abusive to my father, who seems hurt and puzzled by it all? I can deal with it when she lashes out at me (try to put it into perspective, and not take it too personally), but it breaks my heart when she does it to my Dad. She also seems to be very jealous whenever my Dad and I have a good time together, or when I focus too much on my Dad's needs versus hers. My Dad seems to be in a very "zen" place, content to be in the moment and he spends a lot of time lost in his memories. He's peaceful and happy, compared to her, and I feel she is toxic to his peace of mind, whether he makes the connection or not. I know not many people are caregiving for both parents with dementia, and it seems to me that this is very specific to that situation. Any advice?

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
6

Answers

Show:
Keep an open mind with meds. Some people have side effects that make you want to back off them, and you need docs who are sensitive to that, plus willing to,start low and maybe STAY low with dosages of anything especially for the elderly. But seriously, either depression or pain can make people a lot nastier and more hostile than they otherwise would be, just out of sheer misery they are experiencing and for whatever reason not able or willing to verbalize; treating that even briefly can be very helpful and not treating can be a mistake.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

I just wanted to thank Mincemeal, WindyRidge, Vstefans and Sunnygirl1 for their very thoughtful and compassionate responses. To answer your questions, my mother's dementia is mild, and she is still struggling with accepting her new reality. At this point, there is no one else to help, but I'm working towards that goal, for everyone's sake, and finding creative ways to separate them so that I have quality time with my father as well. I abhor drugs as a solution; I think we're too quick to medicate these days - but I will keep that in mind! You know what? It felt good just to get my question out there, and the positive energy coming back, as well as the perspective that some caregivers have it worse, helps a lot. THANKS SO MUCH.
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

While your mom is very agitated, how progressed is her dementia? If it's in the mild stage, it may be more difficult to deal with, since you have no real say so, but if she's advanced, I might discuss options with dad. She may get even more difficult and it will be hard for dad to handle at home. I doubt that doing nothing will be helpful, though, some people do change as the disease progresses. My cousin was initially irritable, demanding and hateful, but as she progressed, she became less like that and is now quite pleasant and appreciative. I don't think she remembers the way she used to be. Of course, she also went on Cymbalta. Maybe, that's helped a lot too.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Yes, this sucks, and well, its probably too late for marriage counseling. That was a fantasy I had for my parents. Mom would NOT understand ever that Dad wasn't behaving the way she wanted him to because he couldn't. She felt that she was the one being abused. She yelled at him non-stop and at one point he said he was going to shoot her and she asked me to make sure the guns were unloaded and not able to be used, so I did that. She was in charge though, and promised she'd get help if she ever really was abused, but she was the one who made the decisions at the time. Eventually Dad went to skilled nursing for good because he would fall and she could not help him up. THEN I understood that Mom could not grasp what was going on because she was losing her faculties too, plus if she "blamed" Dad she did not have to feel so guilty for not being able to take care of him.

I could not fix it.

You may only be able to monitor it and break it up if it gets abusive, and maybe model a kinder approach. I remember how I wished there was a way to wave a magic wand and make them loveys again...and how bad I felt that my hubby and I did not do more to try to get them to get help and restore or strengthen their marriage before the dementia set in.
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

Are these guys still at home? Living with you? My guess is their rocky relationship from the old days is just getting amplified by the dementia, particularly moms case. I don't have any solution other than to suggest putting Mom on some mild meds to calm her down. As you probably know you can't reason with them. If she becomes too abusive could they be separated? Let poor Dad have some peace?
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

It seems pretty typical of dementia folks to be extremely self centered and jealous of others. Bless your poor father's heart. It is wonderful for you that you can still have peaceful, special moments. My father would not tolerate any conversation that did not involve him listening or involved in around his presence. If any of us kids needed to talk, it had to be away from him or we sent someone to talk to him as a diversion.

Sounds as if he was the hen pecked husband and deserves some special attention. Is there anyone else to help? Could you take your Dad out for a walk in the park while someone visits with your Mom? Can mother still reason? Has she been diagnosed? Sounds like she may be a good candidate for anti-anxiety drugs if she is so easily agitated. Harsh, I know, but sounds like she has made your father her "target".

My only advice to you is to divert her anger elsewhere. Easier said than done, especially if there is one of you and two of them. Best to you!
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Related
Questions