I help my mother-in-law (age 83) care for my father-in-law (age 84). He has been diagnosed with acute dementia from a blood sugar drop back in 7/2019. He improved from where he started but seems to be at his baseline now. My mother-in-law is constantly telling him to "sit down, be quiet, stop it, don't do that, you ARE home, etc. At first she would get very angry and argue with him. She has calmed down some but still very much trying to direct what he is "allowed" to do. All of us kids (their son and daughters) are more frustrated with her and her management of him than we are with his dementia. She is NEVER alone with him. Someone is with them 24/7. She wants us there to help her with him, but is sporadic about letting us deal with him. She does best when her son, my husband, is there but he works so can only be there in the evenings.

Mother-in-law is trying to get her husband to be the same person he was and he will not be that again. She needs some education on the matter. Would she read about dementia or watch a video? This would be as much for her own self care as for him. She's going to wear herself out while at the same time not helping him at all.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to ArtistDaughter

I’ve been watching Teepa Snow videos on YouTube (helps to understand tremendously) there will be other videos suggested regarding handling dementia patients and the patience it’s takes. Yelling is the worst, correcting them also bad, learning to “entertain” whatever they are going through and spin off into another subject is shown highly effective. I think maybe mom is making the situation worse, you ALL need to sit down, especially her but literally everyone involved and learn how this disease “looks and feels” for them. Then how to handle them. If that takes a couple hours it’s time we’ll spent. I learned so much in 1 hour. I’d hope your mom can retain the information for his sake. She could escalate the matters and he may get worse real fast and he doesn’t seem to be problematic yet. Education on the disease and how to care for them is VITAL. I’m not near as afraid now.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to PowerOf3

No matter what my father was going through, my mother refused to deal with it properly. She had zero tolerance for any issues he had, but managed to have a TON of issues herself that she expected HIM to handle FOR her. And she expected him to be loving and understanding while she exhibited NONE of those character traits toward him. She made fun of his disabilities all the time, especially his difficulty using a wheelchair independently and guess what? Now SHE is going through ALL of the things HE went through, and since he's already passed away, no longer has him around to help her. She is now seeing for herself just how tough it really IS to use a wheelchair, and to transfer from it to the toilet, and so on. We reap what we sow.

No, your MIL should not be yelling at your FIL or telling him to be quiet, to stop it, etc. etc., but chances are, she's too self-centered to stop doing so. What she SHOULD do is get educated on the subject of dementia by watching Teepa Snow videos, reading, Googling, coming to this Website, etc., but she probably won't do that either, if she's anything like my own mother. I'm sure this situation is not easy for her, but it's her new reality so the more she accepts and learns, the better off BOTH of them will be. She can speak to her PCP about some Xanax or something to calm her nerves until she can better accept what's happening in her life.

I never spent ONE day not feeling aggravated with my mother for the miserable way she treated my father, especially during the last year of his life when he needed her most. I feel your pain, and can only hope that your MIL is still teachable.........still loves your father enough to think about HIS needs instead of her own 24/7.

Best of luck and here's a big HUG for you this evening.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to lealonnie1
Beaglebabe Nov 21, 2019
I had the exact situation with my parents. But, mom still tells everyone that SHE took care of dad. Oh well, that’s really her reality and I can’t change that. I like the other responses here too. It is hard too if she is also struggling with diminishing health. It’s just hard to be patient when you are around it 24/7 even if others are there to help.
I think # 1 rule is "Do not argue"
It only makes the situation worse. Listen to concerns or compaints, make them feel safe and comfortable and redirect into a calming activity.

Not easy to do but helps if you just play into what they are experiencing in the moment and then redirect.

I wasted 2 years arguing with Mom, until I got my brain to accept that her brain just wasn't there anymore, not in the way I was used to. Not her fault, but family can really push those buttons!
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to Weeroo

She can not stop him from making noises
She can not stop him from pacing, talking, or doing any of the other things that he is doing.
(when kids used to ask me why my Husband was sad, or making noises I would ask them if they had friends in school that had Autism..they would usually say yes and I would ask if they made noises or did other things like pace or rock, I explained it was sort of the same thing and that this was a way that my Husband would calm himself if he was stressed..their brains just don't work like yours or mine)
If you can not get your MIL to understand this is not something her husband is doing to aggravate her, it is something he can not control. There are support groups that might help her understand this.
I hesitate to suggest placing FIL in Memory Care but if he would get a more calming environment that might actually be better for him. But that would also separate MIL and FIL from each other.

I also am not one to suggest medications for everything but there are 2 people here that might benefit from anti anxiety medication. MIL may relax a bit more and not stress about her husband, FIL might also benefit as it might calm some of the noises and the pacing..just a thought..
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to Grandma1954

I think that you have the answer in your own case as to whether it works of not? It does become hard not to say things when some of this stuff happens. The more centered and calm we can be in our approach the better for our elder and the better for us. It is quite frustrating of course. But argument doesn't work with "the disease" and with the aging and impaired brain. Usually.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to AlvaDeer

Your FIL can no longer be reasoned with. Considering this happened back in July, while I completely understand the frustration toward your MIL, I think you guys need to remnver that she needs to come to terms with the fact that her husband as she knew him, is gone. People with dementia do better when you try to redirect instead of correct them. Maybe your husband could sit down with mother and watch some Teepa snow videos on YouTube? It sounds like she needs extra support right now but isn’t really receptive to it.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to worriedinCali

Your in-laws are very lucky to have so many of you willing and able to help! You are doing a lot - don't burn yourself out!

This is still a pretty new situation and your MIL doesn't seem to have enough understanding of the situation and/or tools to deal with her new reality.

For her sake, as well as his, your husband will be able to give her some education, like the videos others suggested. And you can all maybe get on the same page of how to redirect MIL in how to more calmly deal with FIL. Maybe it can also be done through modeling some better ways of dealing with his new behaviors that she is finding disconcerting.

I know one of our neighbors went through this. The wife used to get very upset when hubby with dementia would tell us stories and they were wrong! NO, that's NOT right. It happened in 1970 not 1999. NO, it was X not Y. Meh, in the big picture, who cares? It made no difference to us if the story was right or wrong. But took her some time to also realize that it didn't matter and that he couldn't help it, etc.

Maybe someone should take MIL out for lunch, a walk, shopping, to a movie, etc. to get her a break from FIL. She may not think she needs it but I can't imagine that it wouldn't be good and calming for her. Does she have friends she can visit? She could use a diversion, I think.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to againx100

Keep in mind that she's also elderly and is now trying to take on the monumental task of caregiving, plus she's somehow supposed to be an expert on dementia caregiving. She's overwhelmed and needs help.

It's tough to have diminished capabilities of your own while being expected to know how to handle the new normal of her husband. My dad was infinitely patient with my mother, but I had no idea how hard it was for him until I moved in to care for them last year. Even he didn't know how hard it was, and after he died last year I took over Mom's care. She's doing better than she has in five years because her care is in the hands of professionals.

My dad was the best person I've ever known, and he was honoring his wedding vows caring for my mother, but he also could have honored her by getting professional help. Your mom needs that, too.

An estate planning attorney told me last year that with 80% of his clients he sees the healthy spouse die first. A week later, my always-healthy dad was diagnosed with inoperable cancer and was gone in just six weeks. I'm sure the stress of caring for my mother contributed to his demise. (He wouldn't have done things any differently, though.) Don't let that happen to your mom -- get her some help.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to JWC1929
Leefam Nov 20, 2019
Thank you for your response. It is well taken.
Seems she either doesn't understand what dad's abilities are (would you ask a toddler to drive?) or doesn't have good coping skills to deal with the frustration of living with dad's problems. Either sounds like a good idea of getting mom evaluated by the family health care provider. Let him/her explain what is "normal" for dad and ideas for coping with "his" less desirable behavior. If she can't adjust, she may need an antianxiety agent and therapy to deal with her own anxiety/frustration.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Taarna

See All Answers

Ask a Question

Subscribe to
Our Newsletter