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My mum is 87 and my dad is 93. They are both healthy relative to their ages. My mum has high blood pressure and my dad gets weaker and tireder with age but this is to be expected. They live independently and are also snowbirds and although there is some memory loss no dementia that we are aware of. The problem is that my mother is enraged with my father 24/7. It doesn't matter what he does she is in full anger towards him all the time. It drives her blood pressure up and I can't imagine the toll it takes on dad. He is very forgiving of her and most of the time he takes it. My sister and I are in a constant state of angst as it is extremely difficult to watch and talking to her doesn't seem to have any effect whatsoever. It can be so bad that we are concerned she may cause him or her to have a heart attack at some point or that she will totally loose it and start in with physical abuse. I can't find anything on this topic in my research. Has anyone else had to deal with this issue?

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Gini,

I’m glad for you because I think you’re definitely on the right path trying to get your mom on some medication that may do the ‘magic trck’! Just beware that I think it takes a lot of trial and error to find the right medication/dosage/combination, but it is worth it, just be patient!

You don’t mention if this is something that has come with age or if it’s just an aggravated behavior that has always been there. But either way, I think for a couple that has been together so long, the potential “remedy” may actually kill them, if the remedy is to try to place them in separate locations. They, in a very self destructive way sometimes- are a unit; their bond is beyond what you and I can understand, so, your dad probably will always choose to stay in that situation than to be without your mom...but of course it doesn’t hurt to ask him! Maybe he’d say yes! Move me out!! :)
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No great suggestions here. I have begun to see a similar pattern in my parents with my mother being the aggressor. This is not new. She drove me into an early marriage and has nearly alienated my siblings. I have recently moved to be closer to them and have walked in on something similar two times now. I don’t know whether to try to talk to Dad about it or continue to keep a watchful eye. We are moving them into a local independent living apartment and there is considerable stress right now (I’m not living with them). But this is a pattern of many years.
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Well this is sneaky, but when she is particularly nasty, capture that video with your smartphone. Play it back when she has calmed down and quietly suggest "This is why you need your meds. Please."
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My parents aren't really all that old. For some reason they decided to skip being in their 70s and went straight from 69 to about 85.
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Thanks for the suggestions! Mom has carefully selected a family doctor that "doesn't ask many questions". I've gone, but the visits are brief and not very in depth. Mom feels the same way about music as TV - blech! Dad likes to listen to his music but she puts it down. BTW it was suggested that she get on an anti-depressant, which I rushed her to the doc about 5 weeks ago and we got a prescription. Two weeks later she declared it was an "over reaction" and now refuses to take it. This is the second time she has been prescribed these meds and stopped taking them. I honestly don't care that she chooses to be miserable, and this has been ongoing for a decade. But as my dad gets weaker I feel bad that it is dragging down his otherwise mediocre life.
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Ok mom was born in 1942 if she is 74. Make that 50's Rock and Roll. LOL
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Upstream, start going to MD appointments with both of them. Say nothing, just be there with eyes and ears open. Build trust with the MD. Eventually the doctor will turn to you for answers.
Try playing some of their favorite music for them, from when they were young. If they are in their 80's play some Big Band.
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I just found these comments. I am struggling with my parents. Mom is 74, dad 78. Mom has always pushed dad around and tried to dominate. She is a feminist to a fault - she believes that women can be the victims of abuse, but not men. My dad is in the early stages of dementia and becoming weaker. She is so nasty to him (verbally) that it is hard to believe. I have continually asked her to be nice but she won't. I have no other option besides to try to move my dad out to a facility of some type. I think he would rather stay home and be abused. It's so bad - she does not like television, so basically forbids the TV to be on. So they just sit in silence...all..day... Then wonder why they can't sleep at night. She berates him if he makes the smallest mess in the kitchen or while eating, but she refuses to cook (even TV dinners). I have no siblings. They have no friends. They have no hobbies or outlets. They are totally isolated in their home. I'm just frustrated, as I think there is nothing I can do. The relationship is cast in stone.
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I think the nature of the relationship between life partners is established early on. I'm not saying it can't change, but change usually takes a catalyst and someone working on change.

Out visiting nurse commented once, "I really like coming into your home. It is a pleasure to see the respect between you and Coy." I thought that was most odd. Didn't most of the couples she visited show respect for each other? I wondered if disease and especially dementia changed their relationship?

But I have come to the conclusion that people who had genuine respect for each other before an illness continue in that respect. It may become deeper and more fine-tuned, because the need is so great. But respectful, caring people do not suddenly become self-centered and cruel. One of my friends was in despair over how blatant her parents' disregard for one another became as they aged and became infirm. But she acknowledged that this was not new. It was just more obvious as they spent more time together.

I really don't think there is much a grown child can do to improve an unhealthy relationship that his or her parents have endured for decades.
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My father has been mentally abused by my mother for years. It started when I was probably a young teenager living at home with them and my older brother. I would be more confrontational with her and thus took on some of the abuse. When my brother was old enough he moved out. When I was 18, I left as well. My father stayed and all the anger she had inside her became directed at him. It got steadily worse over the years. For about two years in the early 2000s, it got better as she got on medication. Their marriage became the best I had ever seen it, but it didn't last. Eventually she dropped the meds and steadily got worse again. They live together. They live in the same house. They sleep in separate bedrooms, and he lives in the back rec room, she has the rest of the house. They don't speak, or rather she doesn't talk to him. She leaves him notes and occasionally he leaves her notes. The notes from her to him are rude, resentful, abusive, and super angry. Usually over nothing, like the fact he didn't know what was for dinner because he could't smell what was cooking. Recently they were in a bad car accident. My mother was driving and rolled their truck and trailer off a road while on a camping vacation. She was in a bad mood that morning I heard, and lost control of the vehicle. He walked away uninjured but badly shaken. She was carried away with a head injury and a broken neck. That was a month ago and he is still with her and she still hates him. They both could have died and he told my brother and I he would leave, but now he plans to stay. I recently heard from my brother that my dad admitted to him that she has hit him in the past. So we are in a similar boat here. Both our fathers need to leave, or at the very least get counseling. My dad is 70 and my mom is 68 so they are much younger than yours. But they will be there before long if nothing changes. Take care of your father though. He needs your support as does mine. Good luck.
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HI everyone and thanks for your responses. It is really helpful to know there are others out there that have been through the same types of experiences. In my research to date I have learned that a lot of elder rage comes from loss of control of their environment. This might include incontinence, loss of independence, memory loss.....................All of which my parents are experiencing. We are taking them to the Dr. next week and are going to try to sit them down with her (Dr.) and see if when we bring up a touchy subject if my mum will express her anger so the Dr. can experience it. We are hoping she will be able to prescribe some sort of "chill" pill to help with the anxiety. A first step and a very necessary one. Sand56, your answer scares me as I have had many thoughts recently about what may happen if we can't get mum under control because I am not sure at this point if my dad will leave her, nor do we want him to unless absolutely necessary. Of course both their health and wellbeing the most important when making decisions. Being a caregiver sucks and seeing your parents begin their final journey sucks even more. I think the word is appropriate in this circumstance. Good luck everyone in your journeys as well.
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Love and Karma. They are two different worlds:( I think of Dr. Zhivago, Bridges of Madison County, Anna Karenina. Passion, tragedy. Exhaustion. xoxo
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I had some friends that were like that. She blamed him because she didn't marry someone else. He was her one and only, and she regretted that she had never experienced more romances in her life. Go figure. He was so sweet. From all appearances, she made his life a living hell. But she was the one that had the heart attack and died, and he grieved. One never knows the dynamics of a marriage.
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Yes, I was sickened to read your post as my father almost died as a result of my mothers passive aggresive self centered behavior. Mother was often verbally abusive if she did not get her way, " dad- nit picked", mother extremely controlling, unreasonable. She did not take proper care of my father -malnourished. I confronted mother with her behavior that always resulted in denial and rage. (In this regard, nothing has changed- she has alienated the whole family and continues to create discord, unhappiness.)

Both are 89. My mother has always been controlling, verbally abusive, manipulative, selfish, narsistic, ... I believe she has a personality disorder. My father has always been kind, hardworking, extremely intelligent and successful. He was very good to his family and my mother had a privledged life (by most standards) and Dad treated her well.

Dad now suffers from dementia/alzhemiers, is now living( and safe) in a nursing facility where he is thriving. Long story- I tried to intervene but was unsuccessful... until a major event.. Repeated injuries- including a broken neck ( has healed).

My thoughts, it does not matter whether your mother suffers from a personality disorder, has depresson or dementia, is just plain mean and verbally abusive. Bottom line she is 87 years old, abusive, rageful, unlikely to change and your 93 year old father is at risk. It is the final chapter and season of our father's life and he deserves to be safe and live in peace. Yes, one unhappy soul can make a home a living hell. (Sounds like mom may have some medical issues to address, depression?, dementia? obviously is not coping)

The good news, you and your sister recognize the problem and obviously love your Dad. Living arrangments must change to protect your father. Sad but true.
Sorry to be so blunt but the consequences can be dire . 24/7 the time to act is now.
Heart felt response. Take Care. Sand 56
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JessieBelle, More examples of Narcissism:( It is devastating.
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I have two elder friends that sound like your father and mother. She normally treats him okay, but there are times when she talks to him worse than I would a worst enemy. She expects him to perform like a perfect young man, and when he falls short, she lets him have it. You can see him flinch as he tolerates the onslaught. It makes everyone uncomfortable and makes everyone dislike her. It is such an uncomfortable situation.

They've been married seventy-something years, though, and are strongly bonded to each other. They married in their teens back in the olden days. She is most abusive when she is feeling stressed. When I got to know them better, I would scold her. She would acquiesce and behave. It may be because I was talking from the outside of her family. I don't know if it would have worked so well if I had been family.

The history they share between them helps them to understand each other in this couple's case. What looks abusive is not so much. However, other couples could have worse problems. What does your father think about the abuse? Does scolding you mother have any effect at all? I wonder if having a friend say something to her might help. If you think your father is being injured by her words, I would see what I could do to get her to stop. Sorry I do not have a more helpful answer. It is hard to know what to do when a couple has been married a long time.
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I don't really have an suggestions. I just wanted to say that it must be very difficult to witness this. No matter how old we get our parents are still our parents. I hope you can find something that helps them both. I can't imagine that your mom enjoys being angry all the time and I'm sure your dad doesn't enjoy being on the receiving end of the anger. Bless them both.
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I bet she's always been this way. I see my daughter doing it to her fiancé and they are only 25 & 36. Yikes. I come to his defense whenever I see/hear it. That doesn't help you, however.
It's a bad habit and happens when guys are too nice and take a lot of crappola. I only get that way with my husband when he has been really bad, and deserves it, but it could be daily. Just kidding. Lol
Dad is not going to change, it's a little late in the game for Mom to read "The Total Woman," but maybe she could be given "a little something."
Additionally, I must interject my all time favorite advice as it is comforting and does get good results: Sex and Pasta. And wine:) xoxo
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Has she been to the family doctor? Or you could call him and tell him what is going on. He may be able to prescribe something.
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When did this start? Is it a new problem?
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