My father was diagnosed several years ago with Alzheimer's. The worse he gets the more insane my mother gets. She has become completely manic and annoyed that everyone around her does not share her need to constantly obsess. She takes on ridiculous projects and then is upset that I don't want to spend all my time doing them with her. For instance, she decided to re-paint a room. She literally went through 30 slightly varying shades and was absolutely hurt when I told her to just please pick one and get it over with. She thoughtlessly bought dozens and dozens of tomato plants and told me to take care of them. Has anyone else experienced this? My dad can't tell up from down and my mother is so manic, controlling and angry being around them is really just horrible :(
You said the worse your dad's Alzheimer's becomes the more insane your mom gets. Do you think she's reacting to his illness by trying to control everything she can because she feels so out of control?
Are your parents in a position to get some in-home help? Something that would lighten your mom's load? It sounds like she's got more on her hands than she can handle. Caring for someone with Alzheimer's is so very difficult. Is your mom's erratic behavior her way of coping?
Planting tomato plants and painting a room probably aren't the best ways to utilize your support and assistance. What does your mom really need to make things easier on her? How about a bath aide to give your dad a shower a couple of times a week? That would be one less thing your mom would have to do. Your dad's Dr.'s office can help set up a bath aide.
How about filling up your dad's med box if he has one? Is that something you can do for her? That's another little thing that your mom wouldn't have to worry about.
Are there friends or family members that can sit with your dad while your mom gets out of the house?
It sounds like your mom is desperately trying to hold her life together, trying to roll a boulder uphill. Unfortunately, it's a losing battle. Have you asked your mom what she needs to help her care for your dad?
I still do family gatherings, in spite of family stuff, because we all still need some normal in the new normal many of us have. But I've learned it's ok (and necessary) to scale back. It took me time to be able to wrap my head around the big changes, and to be able to maintain parts of normal in a more sane manner. Your mom will get there too, but it'll take time for her to absorb what's happening in her husband and to their life. Having a parent ill is difficult and painful and sad, but having a spouse ill , well that's on a whole different level.
I would only add that it may help to sit down with a professional (geriatric specialist, Dad's medical doctor, psychotherapist) and discuss many things:
1) what you can both expect from your dad's decline moving forward,
2) ways to deal with his issues medically and professionally (he will eventually not be able to be cared for by just your mom),
3) various forms of help available,
4) evaluate your mother for borderline personality issues she may have that are surfacing/worsening because of the stress (or OCD, etc.),
5) possible medication or therapy she may need to balance her issues and copy with this stress,
6) planning for her future life when he is gone.
It sounds to me like she may not only be overwhelmed by what is going on but also by the unknowns of the future. It must feel like her life is spinning out of control. Don't forget she is aging as well and her own issues may be getting lost in the shuffle as she tries to navigate through all of this.
I hear my Dad continually comment that caring for his wife is his responsibility, "I can do it myself", etc. It seems to be echoing his vows and I sense that he feels he is letting her and everyone else down if he does not "do it all". Your mother may be having some of this guilt and burden as well. Sometimes part of caring for someone best is to recruit help and get people involved who know options and ideas that might help. Teamwork is not failure of an individual; it is success for all involved.
Try the National Council on Aging for other ideas.
Does your mother get any time away, time to herself? Just as an idea, for example, would it be possible to find respite care for your father for a week or two so that your mother can relax? She will eventually have to adjust to life without him altogether. I wonder if a little bit of life without him for now would make her less desperate and anxious about the prospect, and make it easier for her to accept the present.
Perhaps a good checkup and perhaps some antidepressants would help. Also, constant assurance that she is not alone in caring for dad. My mom got upset, also as she watched dad fade away from Parkinson's. We were with her through the whole thing, to the end. She had to make some major life changes and she did so. A lot of tears, a lot of sadness, but I am aging myself and I hate that I cannot do or control my life the way I want to. And I know it's going get worse.
Be gentle with her and as helpful as you can. Criticizing her would be disastrous..be calm and as helpful as you can. You obviously love her or you wouldn't be posting. Her reality is HER reality...try to remember that. As "insane" as you think it may be, to her it is probably a coping mechanism.
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