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 :(

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It sounds as if your mother is desperately reaching for elements of a normal life. She overreaches, asks for your support, and you react with annoyance. Things have gone out of control for both of you. If you can step back, take a deep breath, and have a real conversation, it might help. Acknowledge the situation and the fears you both have. If you can assure her you're both in this together, perhaps you can make some plans about how to move through this. It's fine to let her know what you can and can't—or won't—do. And remember the "serenity prayer," for the ability to change those things you can, to accept those things that cannot be changed, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Helpful Answer (11)

Is this behavior normal for your mom? Has she always been like this to some extent?

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?
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Yes I agree with dragonbait, you need to sit down with you mom let her know you are there for her but help her understand its time to take it one day at a time. Your mom is really scared and rightly so, her world had been up ended and she doesnt know how to cope. Try to get her professional help so she has an outlet that is not you. She needs to talk about her feelings, fears, with someone who is not attached to the situation. This will help both of you very much.
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Some years ago, my husband had a health issue just before Thanksgiving. My MIL suggested that we forgo the big family dinner I usually made because it would be too much for me to do. While it was really kind of her to think of that, I forged on. Right down to all the little traditional details. I thought it was because the kids, then at home, needed the reassurance that all was ok. But now I know it was also because I needed to have something I could control in a situation with things not in my control.

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.
Helpful Answer (6)

What wonderful answers!
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.
Good luck!
Helpful Answer (5)

I agree with Dragonbait - she's trying so hard to keep a grip on normality that she's squeezing the life out of even what's left of it. Poor lady. Poor Dad. Poor you!

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.
Helpful Answer (4)

Although all the theories suggested above are plausible, it's also possible that your mother is showing early signs of dementia. My father suffered physically from his efforts to care for my mother, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, but it didn't affect his behavior. I suffered physically and emotionally caring for my husband who had Alzheimer's.
Helpful Answer (4)

Maybe those were things your dad would have normally done and she feels the weight and fear of losing him wondering how she will be able to keep things up when he's gone and who will take care of her. She's losing her partner, protector, sweetheart and friend. I agree with Eyerishlass that she may be trying to cope with her loss of him. I'm not a Dr, but my mother moved in with me nearly 5 yeats so when dad died and I've learned what grieving looks like. I'm sorry this is hard on you. Bless your heart. I'm in the press right now too. So glad my parents taught me to trust God or I would have snapped a long time ago. (Hugs and prayers)
Helpful Answer (3)

Poor mom...the life she knew is gone and she is probably trying to make a good show.
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 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.
Helpful Answer (3)

I thought the same thing as several above, the tomato plants and fixing up a room. Get them done, look up, "see everything's under control". Nice little freshen up room, fresh tomatoes growing, kid coming over lending a hand, nothing to worry about. :-) Which logically, may not be a bad plan if it makes her feel some peace about her situation, gives both her and Dad a little better "quality of life". Except she probably needed to consider who was going to paint, ask a neighbor kid to plant the tomatoes for an agreed upon amount. :-) My Mom does these things too, and I do kind of think it is fear of not being in control of their surroundings, or maybe even fear of "being old"? Sometimes I help, which she always makes a big point of thanking me, she does appreciate it, but, ...she did expect it, too. :-) Sometimes I don't help, or she has to wait for a better week for me to help, depending on what my own house's work load is. It annoys her, but that's life. All you, or I can do, is our best. We are human. Hang in there.
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