How do you handle elder's anger toward you as caregiver?

Follow
Share

My MIL is so nice to visitors but when it's just her and me........she often shuts me out. By that, I mean that she refuses to make eye contact, refuses to speak, refuses to eat or drink. When BIL stops by (2 hr/wk max), she is sweet as she can be. Eats anything he brings her, smiles, talks etc.
I can't help but assume this is my fault and am trying everything. I am kind and gentle with her, moved her bed into the living room so she is in the middle of the action and center of attention. But............................she shuts me out and it hurts. Just wondering if anyone else has this problem?

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
7

Answers

Show:
This is one of the most common problems for caregivers and the person they are caring for. Whoever is the primary caregiver always gets the brunt of the anger of the person they are caring for. I'm going to recommend you get this book:

"Elder Rage or Take my Father, Please..."
http://www.elderrage.com
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Jessie, what a great response - very true, very insightful, very important to remember. When we're confined in a small space with one person we are BOUND to get sick of the sight of one another - and it cuts both ways. Maria, I know you look after your MIL all the time, but you do have regular contact with other people, I assume, through work and so on? Whereas she doesn't have even that small freedom. It sounds as though she's just trying to get some space, possibly without even being aware that she's doing it.

I feel the same, sometimes. I'm trying to enlist more visitors - we get three hours with a caregiver from social services once a week, which is not much but it's something - and get my mother out of the house more. If I'm sick of the sight of her what must it be like for her about me? Torment, I should think.

Meanwhile, stay nice (I know you are) but maybe try to be less in her face? We all need privacy, and some of us (deep sigh) love solitude… not much chance of that!
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

Something I've noticed in myself is that I do the same thing. I am as pleasant as can be to people I don't see often, but tend to be quiet and irritable when it's just my mother and me. Could it be the boredom of familiarity? Or maybe it's just too hard to be super sweet all the time? If others are like me, it's not only their parent who is showtiming, we are, too. It's just that most of us don't get really mean with our parents like they sometimes do with us. (At least I hope not.)
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

It can be so discouraging when all you want to do is help to feel as though you are being shut down. Unfortunately, at this stage of your MIL's life the things she has direct control over is diminishing. Her behavior toward you may give her a sense of power and authority in her world. You sound very tender hearted, and while it may not seem so to you, you are not responsible for her behavior. We tried positive reinforcement and it helped some, but with diminishing capacity our success was limited. My husband and I rely on one another when we need to vent. Is there someone that can fill that role for you? You are giving a gift that is not always easy to accept, know in your heart you have made a loving choice. You have support here - take good care!
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

We always lash out at those we love because they are there and we know they will continue to love us....my mom is definitively as you describe and the hurt is just awful. The disease is awful and by coming to this site I've learned soooo much and that I'm not alone and this is universal behavior.

I no longer take the mean outbursts personally and I try to take a deep breath, divert mom to something else, hear her out without commenting back, and or remove myself from the situation via taking a walk, going to another room, hanging up the phone or taking a solo drive to calm myself.

I know she means it at the moment, or lashes out because of her own fears, loss of control or reality of her life.

It's hard, I'm not perfect and I've lashed back...but I'm the one who feels bad and deep down I don't want to hurt her at this point in her life.

I don't live with her so I get a break and can set boundaries.

I hope this helps.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

Isn't it amazing how a person with dementia can be so different with other people? I have said for a long time my mother in law could sell snow to an eskimo! This became apparent in earlier days of her decline. She had her doctor completely fooled, and most people as well. The gift of gab.... if she didnot know an answer she'd make it up! It must make you feel sad to see the change in behaviour you describe. She is actually being herself.... but it takes much energy for her to "portray" herself for the other visitors. The visitor will leave and think... why she is pretty good! Sometimes quality time with her is better than quantity time........
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Don't blame or beat yourself for your MIL's actions. My dad does the exact same thing to me. Consequently, no one understands the daily rigors of care giving. It is more mentally taxing than physically in my world. Since she is living with you and you are the primary caregiver (I assume?,) then she probably feels she can take her issues out on you, she feels safe with you. Its hard, but when she acts like this, try not to react to her negativity, misery loves company! Take a walk or remove yourself from the room, clear your head! It took me a long time to develop coping skills and I often grit my teeth to get through the day. Marialake, we are all there for you, keep posting! Sending you a big ol' hug, don't let her get the better of you.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Related
Questions