My brother believes mom with dementia can somehow be "trained" to care more about herself than the dogs. Please help.


I am sitting here crying as I write this. My mom is 79 with mild to moderate dementia. My brother who lives with her is the primary caregiver. My other brother stays Tuesday and Wednesday nights and either my sister or I are over everyday to help.
I suffer from bipolar disorder and during June and July was so depressed (over my sons death three years ago) that when I did come over I wasn't much help. Have changed medications and am feeling much better. I am now over to help most every day except Saturday - when my sister can't do Saturdays I try to.
I know I can only imagine how hard it is to be there all the time and try to let my brother know that.
He has bipolar (unmedicated) also... I have tried to help him with resources to educate himself about dementia ( this site and others) he apparently (according to my sister) thinks that I am all of a sudden being a know it all.
By telling him that moms behaviors are normal.
Today he BLEW up at me. Saying he is now just going to be a warm body who will call 911 when she falls. He truly believes that he can "train" mom to take care of herself before she takes care of her dogs--by withholding her dogs from her until she takes her meds and eats. I guess this is okay but it is his belief that she can be trained and that a lot of her behavior is an "act" that concerns me.
Her dogs are the focus of her life, not her own safety.
Can someone with dementia be "trained" like you would with a child?
It is of no use to try to talk to my brother when he blows up -so I just listen and try to have empathy.
I left with my Mom today as I was afraid to leave her there with him. My sister will pick her up after work and take her back.
My brothers work is on and off and when he isn't working I think it is harder for him to deal with moms behaviors.
How can I communicate that I can only try to understand his frustration as I am not there 24/7 and at the same time get him to educate himself about dementia.
I feel like I am being punished for being more involved now and my input is discounted since I was so depressed I wasn't around much or when I was I wasn't much help.
I want to suggest a family meeting but am afraid it will decompensate into a screaming match. He does his screaming at me in front of mom and it confuses her. She isn't sure what she has done wrong.
Do you think it is fair that ONLY the primary caregiver has any say in what happens with the dogs and with this belief that mom can be trained?
I have decided that until things calm down I will go get mom and take her to my house during the day - she doesn't need to be subjected to any more yelling.
Any advice is appreciated.
My brother is determined that mom not go to a nursing or assisted living home as he wants to "keep the house in the family" but I don't think we can continue especially with this belief that mom can be trained.
Help please! Jenn.

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Jenny I feel for you but I agree that your brother is not the right person to look after your mum. My brother suffers from depression and cant show emotions he runs away he is all I have family wise close by but have discussed with other siblings and they agree that hes just not the caring kind although he loves mum he just wouldnt cope so it all falls on me which is very unfair but what can I do? I think although this is difficult for you, you still have siblings that can help and thats great surely between all of you sharing your mum can still get best of care? I wish you luck.
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So very sorry to hear what you're going through with your mom, as my mom passed away this July from complications with other health issues, that included dementia as well. Perhaps it's a good thing that your brother is getting a place of his own at this time (if it's true, if not there are agencies that can help him out), because it does sound like to me he was getting burn out as well, and your mom has enough that she's facing right now when it comes to her 'memory' (my mom also repeated things over and over again, and could not remember what she ate or did at certain periods in time. In the beginning stages she put two 'plastic bowls' on top of our stove and lit them to 'heat up her food', it scared me a lot but those where tip offs to what was coming, but thank the Lord she's now at rest and peace) and other issues too.
I earnestly hope that your brother will take this time to inventory his life, and get back on his meds especially if they were helping him in any way, shape or form. Might I ask if you've thought about either in or out of home 'hospice care' for your mom as she moves forward with her memory issues? I had to remove my mom from the rehab nursing facility she was going to because the 'care' had gotten much 'worse' over time, so I brought her home so that she could 'leave' from here instead. Please try not to feel guilty about you're not being there for her in the 'past', we ALL have our issues and you were able to get the help that you needed for yours and that's what's important and you've more than made up for it now.
Continue to do what you can, when you can, while the Lord gives you the strength to do so and let that be of comfort to you. Even in her mindset, your mom loves and cares about you more than you might realize (and I got to see and hear that for myself with my mom too). Blessings to you and yours JennyMae, you're in our prayers.
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I don't know if your siblings would agree to this (mine certainly did not) but I think family counseling sessions for the three of you might really help. Moreover, some Alzheimer's Disease Research Centers have social workers who do family counseling. The benefit of that is that these social workers know a lot about dementia. Good luck!
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Hi Jenny. Here's my opinion for what its worth. I wouldn't move your poor Mom right now. With all the confusion and chaos, it will just make her that much worse. Her home and her dogs are her safety net. Your brother is understandably going through (and has been her main 24/7 caretaker) a rough time of it. Being sleep-deprived makes a person agitated even if everything else is going ok. Being sleep-deprived w/ a person who has dementia puts the nutso scale at 10 +. I speak from experience. My Mom has awakened me at the wee hours of the morning, thinking it's time to get up....even though it's dark out, and all is quiet, she somehow can't figure this out. She is always apologetic, and goes right back to bed, but my sleep is basically over, as it's always the time for those unwanted thoughts to seep in and keep me wide awake and worried until it's just about time to start all over again. This is what your bro has been going through, no doubt. And having a mental illness doesn't help w/ his patience level. The thing about the dogs is a big thing. My Mom has a cat that she obsesses over. The cat has been quite a problem over the years of her dementia and living w/ us. She used to try to manipulate the cat....move it around to be with her when she wanted it to, etc. Cats are independent and often she would get scratched or bitten. But she would perish if the cat was taken away from her. The cat is her whole life. It gives her a reason to live, because in her state of mind the cat NEEDS her, and she CARES for the cat. Your Mom's dogs are that to her. Everything. And dogs are more companionable than cats. So it's important, in my opinion, to make sure that she can have her dogs back in her home. As long as you and your sister are checking that they're getting fed, and being able to get out when they need to, I think the dogs are very beneficial to your Mom's well being. Moving these dementia people around from place to place is not good. I know that too, from experience. The "sameness" of everything is important to them. It gives them a sense of being safe in familiar surroundings. So, Jenny, my advice to you is to see if you, and your sister, and maybe another caregiver, can all help out to ease the tension and possibly your brother may change his mind and stay, as long as he can start getting a decent night's sleep (which may help his temper and lack of patience) and if he gets enough breaks from the constant wear and tear of being THE caretaker. I have that constant wear and tear. No help from any of my siblings who live elsewhere. But I don't have an un-treated bipolar disorder. I used to think that my Mom was faking it too. I wish I could talk to your bro. I would swear my Mom was faking it. How could she NOT know that it was nighttime? Why would she think it was time to get up? I would tell her she was being selfish...wanting to wake everyone up just because she was awake. Duh!! It finally sunk in. They are not faking it. It's hard to "get it" but it really helps when one looks at the picture in a new and different way. The person you knew all your life and you respected all those years has changed into a person who is like a helpless confused little child. So sad, but I think your bro will change as time goes on, and he realizes what is really happening to your Mom's mind. I hope if he moves out, he may come back as he gets a little respite from what's going on! Best of luck to you Jenny.
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You might want to consider an Independent Living situation rather than Assisted Living for her. My mother is living in an Independent Living apartment and pets are allowed. They have an enclosed courtyard where the dogs can run free. There is help with medication. I put her pills in a pill organizer each week and they are locked up. A staff person gets them out and watches her taking them. If your mother is not quite ready for Assisted Living, this is a step below that that retains much more independence for the individual. They provide meals, laundry, room cleaning, local transportation, etc.
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Jenny, it seems like it is your turn to be the one who has it all together! I guess that's both a blessing and a burden, hope you have more of the blessings side. Seriously, take Jeanne's advice to heart too - you "weren't there" not because you wouldn't but because you couldn't. I also have some good friends and know many caregiver parents of my patients with bipolar and other mental illnesses, and it is all true - treated, life can be good, untreated life can be a mess! Probably that's true of ANY disease to some degree though! Hang in, you are seeing things as they are and taking care in the most loving way possible, and its no cake walk.... You have my admiration, and thoughts and prayers, and if there is any support we can give you in this forum, it will be a blessing to us.
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Just my opinion, of course...
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Sounds like your poor mom is living in the middle of a time bomb. Your brother is moving, you say? Somehow, I doubt it. All I know is my red flags are flying.. I wouldn't leave your mom with your brother another minute. He sounds like a control freak playing head games and trying to manipulate your mom. Not good signs. And screaming, too? If I met and started dating your brother, and he exhibited the any of the signs you're describing, I'd run for the hills.

Talking to this guy obviously isn't cutting it. He's not listening. Get your mom away from him, asap. Even if it means a third party, or a facility.

There are some lines you just don't ever cross when you're dealing with the weak and the helpless. Your brother has crossed the line. I would consider what he's doing boarding on abusive. And if you're waiting for him to appreciate or thank you for all the help you're trying to give, you'll be waiting a while. Make other arrangements, at night, too, and use her assets to do it. Like yesterday.
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Jenny, I was going to suggest that you bring your mom and her dogs to stay with you for a few days, to give your brother a break. But it sounds like other things may be happening.

Is there a way you could get someone in there early for her breakfast and meds, so that your brother wouldn't have to deal with that? That seems to be the big sticking point, from what you said. Maybe if a third party could take over those duties, your brother could relax a bit and not be so stressed. It's also too bad if he's not taking medication for his bipolar disorder. I'm sure that makes it more difficult for him to cope and for you to deal with him. I hope you can figure it all out, you've definitely got a challenge on your hands.
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Well the day just keeps getting better and better. I tried to talk to my brother and say I am sorry that I didn't acknowledge his frustration and burnout before trying to educate him or get him interested in educating himself.He asked me not to talk to him any longer. I mean honestly if you had a child with autism or other brain disorder wouldn't you want to know all you could and what strategies might help?
Anyway he told Mom - not this siblings - that he will be moving. Although he has no where to go and has been receiving free room and board, gas, cell phone, computer use etc...
We are now in the process of deciding how long mom can spend alone and how much in home care we will need assistance with. I guess this is one way to spend down her assets.
I appreciate this forum so much... it can feel like you are all alone out here. Thanks for listening.. Jenn.
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