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This is a sincere question and I hope someone can advise me. My MIL has Alzheimers and I know "it's the disease." BUT I can tell that she knows she is giving me the silent treatment and she smirks when I ask her what I've done to upset her. I know that she knows what she is doing because she will snap right out of it if a guest shows up. She also refuses to respond when I ask her why she is not speaking to me. I can write this off to moodiness but my MIL has a long history of giving people the silent treatment and she is still quite the expert. Yes, I take it personally. I've devoted my whole home and life to caring for her.
Sorry, just having a bad day..........at least the dog likes me.

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I would consider myself blessed, because most of my female relatives have their yap flapping 24/7 and it's like getting punched in the head repeatedly.
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Maria, not knowing your MIL, I'm guessing that she is doing this specifically BECAUSE it bothers you. She's losing control in so many areas, and pulling your chain is just giving her some reassurance that she still has some control over something. But, Alzheimer's or no, it's still mean and nasty and hurtful. So you don't have to play her game. Like some here have suggested, leave her by herself more, have her eat her meals alone, and wear headphones to let HER know that she is not getting to you, and you have other things on your mind that are keeping you happy. And by all means, don't ask her what you have done to upset her! She is enjoying making you feel bad. So stop feeling bad. I know, not easy, but if you can't stop actually feeling bad, at least stop letting HER know that you're feeling bad. She's lucky you are there doing things for her, and it's not your job to make her 'happy'. By ignoring her, you put that ball back in her court where it belongs. Oh, and as Pam said, enjoy the silence! ;-}
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Hi Marialake - I sympathise with you, and hope that my experience might help. My mum has dementia and lives with me but has her own lounge - a throw back to the time when she did not have dementia and wanted her own privacy. She has always been a kind, gentle person.

However, once she began to suffer with dementia, her personality changed, and I frequently received the silent treatment which I know is a manifestation of her disapproval of my behaviour. This was obvious in three ways. 1) my mum would totally blank me when I walked into her lounge and refuse to interact with me in any way (if I was giving her a drink she would look right through me), 2) if I was followed in by a visitor she would switch from this behaviour into a very animated style where she would smile at the newcomer, and wave her arms around in a welcoming fashion, and 3) if I left her with a career and said I was going to the bank or the shop, she would say 'you went there yesterday' in a disapproving fashion, implying that I should not be going again.

I found all this very difficult to cope with but I had/have a dementia/reminiscence worker who supports me two afternoons each week for two hours and she observed my mum being awkward with me but engaging perfectly well with her. She said that this was common behaviour, especially with mothers and daughters where the daughter had become the carer, and that this silent treatment was borne out of frustration in the realisation that the mother had come to rely on the daughter whereas the daughter enjoyed the freedom not to have to rely on the mother. Essentially, this represented a loss of control on the part of the mother whose natural reaction was to try to get that back by emotional blackmail. My dementia worker dealt with this by telling my mum each and every time she made derogatory comments or negative gestures to me behind my back that this was not acceptable behaviour from her and that she was very lucky to have me as a daughter. And she also told me to tackle it in the same way because she said that in that stage of dementia, my mum was perfectly aware of what she was doing when she was giving me the silent treatment.

Now I look back and it fits completely. Before she had the dementia she would never have behaved like that towards me, and now that her dementia has advanced and she is much less in touch with reality, she doesn't do it anything like as much. It's at that stage where there's enough understanding of what's going on around a person that they use all their resources to try to get you to toe the line, and that line is simply to be at their beck and call so they don't feel incapable. It's all about fear. Just as a final point, I eventually came to handle my mother in two different ways depending upon my own levels of resilience at any particular time - I either said quite clearly 'look at me and concentrate on what I'm saying - it's not fair that you talk to me like that' and I would stand right in front of her, or I just took food and drink into her and smiled and left it. I think as your MIL progresses with her condition she won't have her ulterior motives of trying to control you and things may ease up! I feel for you.
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SO not a problem. Why would you ask her what you dud to offend her highness? Stop. She's not that rational. Pretend you don't care, and then don't care. If you stop chasing her begging for attention, she'll find you soon enough looking for yours.
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I experienced this "silent" treatment behavior with my mother who has moderate to severe dementia now (in nursing home). I believe it has to do with the person feeling a certain sense of "lack of control", whether real or imagined. I understand and completely empathize with the "taking it personally" feelings. Normally, I would advise you to refuse to interact of deal with her during these periods of bad behavior. Unfortunately, this may just generate more issues. We have to remember that the person with the dementia is still "there" and that they have feelings, thoughts and desires. Please keep in mind, however, that it is like you dealing with an infant. If you have the stones, and I infer from your post that she lives with you, ask your MIL to have her meals by herself until she feels she is ready to properly interact with you and the rest of your family. You can remind her that since she doesn't wish to talk anyway, she can eat alone and it shouldn't bother her. I know how bad this can feel. Anyway, my two cents.
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Ash, I come to vent. It's not that I don't know what has to be done. It's that I am not prepared to deal with the fallout of it, and given her state of emotional neediness, I don't even really know what the fallout will be. I just come here to 'get it out'. It helps to read that other people are going through something similar. Misery loves company, I guess. I don't want to be miserable, I would love if she would ACCEPT some new people into her life to give me respite. But she won't, and she is like dealing with a spoiled and very afraid kid. It's like someone that can't swim. If I push her into the water (like I want to) she may drown (i.e. she may really try to move away, or really hold it against me for the rest of her life)... I have no idea if she will swim. I am trying to do baby steps with her and get her out more. I am really trying to accept who she is. At 91 years old, this isn't going to be something that will last more than a few years anyhow. And p.s. my big girl panties are on already.
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We really do know how you are feeling. It makes you crazy, guilty, sad, angry, a treadmill of emotions. Take heart that you are not alone, we all go through it one way or another. I am sure you have well educated yourself to dementias, I have been focusing on the regressive, progressive amenesia aspect. In other words my mother with alzheimers has zero short-term memory but long reaching back memory. If mom was manipulative, controlling, vindictive or punishing at times or maybe a lot of times in her younger years, she remembers how to do this behavior. How would you treat your mother-in-law years ago when she did the same thing to you? I spent a lot of time confused by my mother's behavior, showtiming, smirking, etc, but I learned the hard old fashioned way through trial and error and educating myself to the disease. Take heart and vent vent vent, that is what will keep you sane and hopefully healthy.
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I like the combination of Tessaro's comment - she is doing it BECAUSE she knows it upsets you - and also Country Mouse's way of acknowleging it, and also saying, "Mother, is something wrong? Use words, dear. I'm not psychic." When my beloved old lady, 106, would do that to me at times - she would insult me royally, different from silence, but it was just a stream of my wrongs, she would never get off that topic, and sometimes she would say, I do it BECAUSE it upsets you so much, and she would put on a mean sneer. But understanding that real communication is healthy, I had a plan to handle it, so it actually did not upset me that much, because I had a calm way to handle it that I could feel right about: I would show up, as it was my job to get her to bed, and I also believed that she would heal with rest, not without - (other times I'd sit and chat with her, over tea) but at bedtime, I'd start reminding her of getting up routines, she'd insult me. I'd listen show that I care not to upset her but she'd go on. But I'd tell her, it's time to start getting ready for bed. Can I help? I'm sorry if I spoke too quickly (or whatever the insult), I care about you. But it's not my job to listen to repeated insults, so I will be in the other room. I'll come back in 10 minutes." If she was still talking (insulting), I'd still leave, and I'd return in 10. The combination is to let her know you care, you will show up ("anything I can do for you? I've put your dinner on a tray. Everything OK? oh, still not talking? OK, I'm going downstairs. I'll see you in an hour, I'll check on you when I come down again.") That way you have done what you feel is your duty - to keep aware of her. You don't worry about her panic, for you've let her know that you care and want to help. And you've said you have other things to do, that being insulted is not part of your wish to help her, and you'll be back to check on her again. In all cases, wait a minute, since it can take an old person time to think - but if she does the "push/pull" thing, signalling she wants help, then pulling back from communicating when you ask for clarity, just say again, I'm trying to understand you, but I don't yet. I'll see you in ..... minutes. And leave. I often brought a good book I enjoyed, and sat and read for 10 min. Or go tidy, whatever. I didn't feel guilty, for I did my best to show care, not disappear, and show I'd return. My job was done, and if she didn't respond on 3 of my returns, I'd stay away longer, even sleep in the next room. Just let her know I care if she talks, but if not, I'll be doing what else I need to do, and I always said I'm glad to work with you, for other times you've done so much, so I'm always glad I'm here. But I'll be in the other room.
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Sounds like you got some pretty good advice there and that is to remember this too shall pass. I commend you on the fact that you care enough to take care of your mil. I am saying a prayer for you today and I want you to rest in knowing your doing all you can for her. She is blessed to have you. I the interim you can find comfort in Gods word. He will carry you
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Hi! When I read your post about the silent treatment I had to reply to your statement when you said " Before she had the dementia she would never have behaved like that towards me,". Well my mom passed away almost a year now from dementia and she always gave me the silent treatment before the dementia set in. If I did anything she didn't approve of or if I didn't do what she told me to do I would get the silent treatment. She would not talk to me on the phone when I called. Once I went to her house and knocked on the door and she would not open the door. When I lived at home she would just ignore me until a certain amount of time would pass for her as she would say "to cool off" and then she would decide when to speak to me again. I became very sensitive to this and cried a lot thinking I wasn't a good person since my own mother would not speak to me. When she didn't speak to me I would get a gnawing ache inside of me because I wanted to talk things out but she was stubborn and would just ignore me. I understand this better now but it was a very mean way of controlling me. I just hated it.
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