How do you handle adult 'temper tantrums'?

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My 96 year old mother has mild dementia and throws a temper tantrum almost daily. She knows she is wrong because she apologizes after the fact. While she is having a tantrum, she screams, cries and says hurtful things. If ignored, she only gets louder and threatens to go outside and step into traffic.

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Child-like reactions are a part of the symptoms of this disease. I know that it must be maddening due to the frequency of the tantrums. But maybe you can establish some information that might help since mom may not be able to communicate effectively. Are these happening at the same time of day? Did something happen prior to the tantrum that set you mom off? Ask yourself some questions and maybe there is another story to why she is behaving this way. If there is a common denominator, that might the answer to your situation. Perhaps, she doesn't know how to communicate her frustration with her stituation and she simply has a trantrum to relieve some of her stresses. Put yourself in mom's shoes as dealing with the lose of memories and the ability to communicate is a terrrible for her. She surely knows that she is having problems and doesn't know how to deal with it. I guess I too would yell, scream and cry. This fact finding mission might reveal some obvious issues that mom cannot deal with. But on the other hand, there may not be common denominator. In that case, I would try some of the solutions that others have given to you and through the process of elimination determine the best course of action to deal with her tantrums. Just remember this is only the beginning stages of her dementia so you want to solve this problem before others come forward. Try to remind in the moment and be positive.
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Ugh, FIL goes off and says hateful things about once a month. We have not allowed that to continue unabated to this point. Not wanting that to become a habit that makes his living with us unbearable. He is not so far deteriorated that he does not have any control YET. On the flip side when he gets mad he usually just does not speak with us for a day or two or three. He thinks he is punishing us :)
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Did your mother throw temper tantrums before the dementia set in? Has she always insisted on getting her own way and taking it out on others if she doesn't? If these behaviors are getting worse, you might want to get help from her doctor in the form of medications to lessen the intensity.

When I first came to stay with my mother 10 years ago, after my father died, her memory and judgment already were impaired. And temper tantrums were typical because she was an 85-year-old spoiled brat. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to find she did control her behavior when I objected to verbal abuse. I told her we could disagree without being disagreeable and she has complied as much as her nature will allow.

The first time she launched a tirade when I brought home from the grocery store something she thought wasn't good enough, I told her if she didn't like my choices then I would drive her to the store, drop her off and she could do her own shopping. Amazingly, that was the last time she pulled that trick.

Then, at age 95, her acting out became extreme. She spent basically all her time demanding this or that, yelling at me, wanting to get out and walk to her mother's house (dead now these 70 years and never lived near here), on and on and on. She rarely slept and she looked like a person possessed. I had the outside door locks changed to key-only and wear the key around my neck.

Her personality remains the same now that she's on generic Seroquel and Aricept, but the intensity is gone. I resisted her being given such strong drugs until now because I wanted her to have the best possible quality of life each day. And that's the same reason for starting the meds because clearly she was suffering.

Her calming down and sleeping more also has improved my own quality of life, in fact probably saved what shreds of sanity I have left. I was close to the breaking point when the doctor rescued us.

Every case is different, but the one common element is that the behavior gets worse and worse. And then there’s the issue of how much good you’ll be able to do if your mother drives you nuts. Maybe it’s time to look at the big picture and see what’s best for the family as a whole. Blessings to you for a positive outcome for everyone.
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Then YOU go outside and wait until her tantrum is over. Hug her when she calms down and do not take it personally! Merry Christmas.
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"Once an adult and twice a child" my grandma would say and I did not know quite what she meant until now. As with any five-year old, you have to give them time out. Tell her to go to her room until she feels better. If you are about to leave, do not turn back or delay your errands. If she threatens to step into traffic: "If that is your choice, I can not stop you" in a calm, quiet voice. Reflect on these personality changes with her MD, see if he can prescribe a short term anxiolytic for the rough spots. We did this for mom and it helped a lot. It may also be time for a workup with a neurologist specializing in aging. Mom's brain CT showed a lot of shrinkage, and strokes we never knew she had.
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Being the full-time caregiver of my husband from early stages to later stagers Alzheimer's, I've found (and learned the hard way) that any type of reasoning or 'punishment' just doesn't work - at least for me it didn't. Remaining calm and leaving the room during tantrums or distracting him when he misbehaves works best. Since he couldn't/can't remember from one minute to the next, I let him finish and then act like nothing happened and move on to something else. I'm blessed, though, because he has always been a kind, gentle and loving soul so I know his outbursts aren't the 'norm' for him.The hurtful things that are said are hard to hear, but if there's anyway way you can let them go and just know they really don't mean any of them as it is the dementia taking over in those moments.
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My mother is 98 and in the latter stages of dementia. She whines, fusses, and complains when I get her up, bathed, and dressed AND when I dress her for bed. She has accused me of trying to kill her, treating her wrong, and raising her hand as if to hit me when I insist that she let me do what needs to be done. Tonight she gave me a good laugh: She was fussing and whining. I told her, "Stop being so mean and be nice. You never used to be that way." Without skipping a beat, she said, "I have always been that way". All I could do was laugh and finish getting her ready.
I try not to, but sometimes she gets to me and hurts my feelings. I love working in the yard, so that's where I go for refuge when she is having her tantrum. Sometimes she realizes that she has gone too far. Now, not so much.
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Wait a minute, it's about BOTH the caregiver and the elder. Gigi11 said it well: "I resisted her being given such strong drugs until now because I wanted her to have the best possible quality of life each day. And that's the same reason for starting the meds because clearly she was suffering."
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my dad wou.ld be very angry and bitter and say very hurtful words they are ill they really do not mean it, one moment he would call me sweetheart the next i would not even say or write, i would visit him the last 6 weeks he had to be placed in a NH my mom was his primary caregiver he refused alot of help very prideful and always was in control. i would say i love you and walk away and let him try to calm down. we all will never truly understand as their children. try to be patient and not let words sink down into your heart tell yourself everyday i am truly blessed to have this now for 1 day i wont my dad went to be with the LORD. and i can say we did it DAD.i do agree with going to a dr and getting more help, i am an elderly caregiver and i see this alot with dementia educated yourself as much as possible with all the symptoms of this horrible disease , it does help my family did and i assure you , you are not alone. there are also support groups helps to have others in your circle
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Mellow is always better than on-edge. Don't think not using medicine when it's clearly called for is the best way to go!
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