My mil has been diagnosed with dementia for about 8-9 years now. But sometimes the way she acts I think she is playing us. She is so rude to my children to a point of telling them she hates them and swears at them but is so nice to her own children and her other grandkids. Why is she this way?? It’s so hard. Sometimes i want to swear at her too but I don’t and know I shouldn’t. It’s hard on my children. Any thoughts?

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Do not subject your children to your mother. Allow them to do things away from her. Every few months ask her if she would like to see your children. If she would tell her only if she is kind and loving.
Dementia is complex and different for everyone. Your mother is suffering. Proof is her abusing your children. Don't attempt to rationalize her anger at your children. The 'blame' is her dementia. She will more than likely die from dementia. Be kind to her. Later, you will be proud of yourself. Explain to your children that your mothers ugly words comes from her disease. That you will protect them from your mother. Even apologize to them for your mother. Love, Al mother died of dementia after ten years.
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Reply to Alatlas
TakeFoxAway May 18, 2024
I did not know you could die of Dementia. I did know that you could die of Alzheimer’s
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To MIL's

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Reply to Sendhelp

I don’t care if it’s cultural.
I don’t care if it’s traditional.
I don’t care if everyone for generations before you did it.
Culture, tradition and expectation can sometimes be nothing more than excuses to allow abuse to continue.

Be the one who stands up to it.

I walked this minefield and now my family is so much more relaxed, so much happier. Children must feel safe at home. And they are supposed to be able to trust their parents to provide that safe environment.

You are teaching your children that they cannot trust you to keep them safe. Safe from emotional abuse. Not all abuse is physical. Read this to your husband. And get her out. She has already harmed your kids.
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Reply to Anabanana

We all act differently with other people. Always.
Think about it.
You act differently to your wife than to your boss.
You act differently to your friend than to your wife or your boss.
You act differently to you child than to your wife and your boss and your friend.
You act differently to a stranger than to a wife or a child or a boss or a friend.
You act differently to a worker than to a stranger or a wife or a child or a boss or a friend.

So that's to say in brief that our relationship to any "other" is very complicated and varies greatly, and that's true usually in dementia as well.

None of this is important because the important thing here is that MIL is being abusive to your children and she should not be allowed to see them. I once thought that it would "do the kids good" to know how to handle the question of dementia, abusive folks and so on, and things could be explained to them. Now I think, no, they have a right to protection. You CAN and SHOULD explain that MIL is ill and that this illness affects her brain and she isn't much in control of what she says. But still they need to be protected from abuse by removing them. Your kids are ages 6-18 you tell us. Especially the younger ones can be injured by this vitriol.

If MIL lives with you, that needs to end. You are responsible to your children, not your MIL.
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Reply to AlvaDeer

In short, yes they can. I don't think it is worth worrying about why other than her illness can cause it. My mother who had dementia was like that. but she was like that before too. What was your mil like before she got dementia? It can change people's behaviour and bring out the worst in them.

More importantly I think you have a very difficult situation and a very sick mil who will only get sicker and more difficult to deal with. You are not alone in caring for a difficult ill mil which is causing you the caregiver and other family members great stress.

There comes a time to consider placement in a suitable facility where your mil can receive 24/7 professional care and your and your family can recover from the stress of having her.

Generally speaking, caregivers need to plan times for themselves and have breaks regularly. Can you arrange respite care where mil is looked after by someone else out of your home so you and your kids can relax. or in your home so you can get away for a bit? Even a regular afternoon out can make a big difference for you. Mil will only get worse. You need to care for yourself and your kids too.
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Reply to golden23

Okay, taking a leap here. Since mil's name is Fatma, I am thinking you are possibly Muslim and that is the cultural reason you feel she needs to live with your family.

I just did a quick search and found that there are many nursing homes geared toward Muslims here in the US, so they do exist. But I don't know if you are in the states. Please do a little research and see if there is anything near you. If you can find a nursing home that serves those of the Muslim faith, then that is evidence that cuturally there are other options besides living in your home for mil and something that you need to ask your husband to consider.
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Reply to graygrammie
NeedHelpWithMom May 15, 2024
Wonderful advice!

I believe that you do care deeply about your children. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t have asked for help on a caregiver forum.

Your responses to the posts are not argumentative or defensive. You have simply stated that you are in a difficult position.

Whether someone has a cultural situation or not in their life, all parents at some point in time, has made errors in judgment.

There are no perfect parents. Also, people who claim to have perfect spouses and children are embellishing the facts, because there are no perfect people.

I could give a crap about perfection. It is unfortunate that we make unwise choices in our lives, but it isn’t the end of the world.

Of course, we should do all that we can to avoid making serious mistakes that harm others and ourselves. When we fail at something, there is usually a reset button that we can hit to start over again.

You are one step ahead, because you have stated that you communicate with your children, which tells me that you aren’t a person who sweeps things under the rug.

People who sweep issues under a rug are generally confused. stuck, perhaps even close minded or frightened.

Some people aren’t interested in discussing anything with anyone. They fail to realize that ignoring the problem isn’t going to make it go away.

I think graygrammie gave you an excellent suggestion for a place to start. I truly hope that you will follow her advice.

You love your children and are concerned about them. Even if damage has been done by this situation, it doesn’t mean that all is lost.

Children and adults have healed from a variety of traumatic experiences.

Chances are that you are stronger than you think. Most of us are quite surprised when we look back on our lives and see what we have overcome.

Try to look at the entire picture. Then, one step at the time, make a plan to work through this difficult problem.

Wishing you peace.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
Zeeh79 May 15, 2024
Thank you ! This has been one of the most understanding replies!

yes to everything.

my purpose to come here was to find out how to deal with a difficult situation as opposed to get rid of her. It’s not like it happens constantly. It’s like a child who has tantrums. We can’t rid of them. We need to learn to deal with them and ease them out of it. With dementia as you all know, the patient has no clue as to what they are doing.. or saying or where they are going. Having said that no one said it is easy …. and yes without constant support and discussions and awareness and education and kindness, we would have very many lonely sick people.

divorce is not even a thought. I love my husband and he me.. he’s stuck in a difficult place to care for his mom. What can one say to someone who has no clue as to what you are saying?

i came here to ask for help on how to deal with the situation and to see if dementia causes a bipolar like symptoms. ( by asking if dementia patients act differently with different people)

As much as I don’t want my children to see their mom doing this, I also want them to see that when you have an opportunity to do good then do it.. give benefit of the doubt. But we are all human.. a little love and compassion goes a long way. Which one of us will actually go out and care for someone without pay? I wouldn’t. But when life gives you lemons.. yes it’s hell squeezing the juice to make lemonade but there are valuable lessons to learn along the way.

No one said life was easy. But with compassion and support ( from those like you) it makes things bearable and yes @margaretmcken, changing things when possible. One step at a time.

thank you all and especially @graygrammie for the advise. Something worth looking into.

i also want to reassure you all not to worry about any harm coming to me or my children. I will NOT stand for it and know where to draw the line. As I said before, we always discuss these and other issues and work to make it easier on all of us.

love you all for your support!💕

working on making things better 🤞
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I truly believe they’re different based on who it is. My mom has been going quickly downhill for the last 3yrs. Shes 80 & the youngest of 9 w/5 of them having dementia. My mom is horrible to me. I’ve 3 siblings who do not get the mother that I get. Im cussed out daily, I’m called a liar, a thief, you name it. A very strange accusation is that I know every African American person in our city. I do not. I’m also the person who handles all bills, Instacart orders, laundry & house supplies. We can all be together and my mom is “hi honey, how’re you” to everyone in the room until she sees me. You can see the visual change in her expression towards me. That does not however stop her from depending on me. She’ll call me several times a day making sure I paid whatever on time. Now let me go back 30-35yrs. I’m 60 now. As a late teen, 20’s person I did not have my $#!¥ together whatsoever. My mom and I bumped heads about any and everything so that was a tough part of my life. I believe with my mom’s dementia that, that is where she’s at time wise. She’s back in the chaos I created even tho I’ve been an excellent mother, grandmother with a professional career. That’s not how she sees me, she sees the young lost woman I was at that time. So yes, I think they compartmentalize people differently based on history with that person. I could be wrong, I often am
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Reply to MSalazar227
MargaretMcKen May 18, 2024
That's very interesting take on 'time warp' reactions being involved!
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One of the toughest things as a caregiver is having the feeling of always walking on eggshells. Maybe a better description in your case, is a feeling of waiting for another storm to blow through.

The feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop is quite unnerving.

Whenever dementia is involved, things become more difficult to deal with.

The physical, hands on side of caregiving is hard enough. It becomes unmanageable when we are emotionally drained and stressed out to the point of exhaustion.

It’s all difficult. The best case scenario for when things get out of hand, is that we have the wherewithal to make the decision to place them in a facility.

This kills two birds with one stone. They are cared for and we can resume our lives as it was before a parent was living in our home.

I really hope that placement is a possibility for your mother in law, so you and your family can live in peace.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom

It's absolutely possible that a person with dementia can be wonderful to some people and a nightmare to others. If she's able to select your kids to behave this way to then roll that behavior back when her own kids or other people are around, she has self-awareness and comprehends what she's doing.

I was an in-home caregiver for 25 years. This behavior goes on all the time. I've seen elders supposedly with diagnoses moderate dementia plan staged "falls" to get attention and retaining the mental ability to keep their lies going indefinitely.

You cannot allow anyone to behave abusively to your children whether they have dementia or not.

If she lives with you, she gets placed in AL or memory care as soon as a bed opens up somewhere and that must be non-negotiable. Call every AL or memory care you can find. This is really the only way to deal with a situation like yours long term and successfully.

She lives in your house. Don't forget it. YOUR house, not hers. The next time she gets verbally abusive to you or one of your kids, get right in her face and you tell her plainly that if she ever swears at, is disrespectful, or makes any comment to you or your children you will make her sorry she did. You put any cultural demands about DIL's have to tolerate abusive in-laws away. It's 2024. No one living in the U.S. western Europe or any other first-world country with civilized laws has to live with abuse.

If your MIL has been like this and able to control it around certain people for 8 or 9 years, she's playing you. Don't let her. You compare her to a child throwing tantrums. Then you respond the same as you would to a child throwing tantrums.

The next time she's nasty to you or your kids, she spends the rest of the day and night in her room and she doesn't leave her room until you say so. Put a lock on the outside of her door if you have to. If she gets nasty and snide about meals, she goes hungry. You don't take her crap or play her games for one more day. You make it abundantly clear to her that she lives in your house not hers.

There is a big difference between a senior-brat throwing tantrums and child one doing the same.

That difference is you can get rid of the senior one by placed them in a residential care facility.
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Reply to BurntCaregiver
MiaMoor May 19, 2024
I don't think that using a lock is either safe or advisable. If a fire were to break out, the mil wouldn't be able to get out.

Also, any other family members or healthcare professionals would have something to say about such treatment.

However, I do agree with sending the mil up to her room if she becomes verbally abusive again. The children need to see that they matter and that there are consequences to bad behaviour.

Also, her bedroom could be kitted out like a nice bed-sitting room, as if the elder were in a room in a care facility. Meals etc. could be taken up to her, and all visits could take place in her room.

That way, the children could limit their visits and walk out when she becomes nasty again.
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