Help with my angry, abusive husband who's picking on our son. Any advice?


Help! My husband (68) has an Alzheimer’s diagnosis which has been progressing very slowly. He was always kind of self-absorbed and judgmental before – and it’s seems super extreme now that he has nothing to do and no motivation. He used to be motivated and a hard worker. Now, because of his loss of logic skills and depression about future, he just sits around playing solitaire and thinking about his ailments. He can still hold conversations just fine and can drive to the Dr and Home Depot, so he’s nowhere near being ready to be put away. Our son graduated from college about a year ago and has had a lot of trouble finding a job in his field – or anything even close to his field. He is depressed about this but is also having trouble getting motivated because he just thinks it will lead to nothing. His girlfriend lives here (not sure how that happened) and has two part-time jobs. They keep a low profile so they won’t bother us. Husband gets out of control angry frequently. This used to happen in the past – every so often. But now it’s like it’s his mission to yell at and confront my son about getting off his a** and doing something. And I agree that my son SHOULD do something – but husband’s way of doing this is causing such anguish. I tell husband to talk to son – don’t start off by yelling – start with a conversation. But he’s been going BERSERK regularly – threatening to kick him out and to “do something” and actually, on occasion, charging him (I mean getting up and running at him). He makes us both super upset. He’s made son cry a couple of times. Son used to put effort into supporting husband emotionally – spending time with him and backing him up in some assertions. But when husband gets a bee in his bonnet it’s like all those positive times never happened and son is “lazy, good for nothing, worthless, etc”. Son and I are both over this. I know husband has the “A” problem, and he DOES forget stuff very easily. I’m just not sure how to handle this. Son has nowhere else to go and to tell the truth, I like having him here as moral support to me. I’m worried for my son, who basically HATES his dad now. We both wish he’d go away.



CAAlzwife… It is a difficult situation that you, your son and his girlfriend are in. I did not see what your son's degree is in, but has he considered insurance adjusting? I am not sure what state you are in, but the training now days takes about two weeks per type or around 6 weeks for an all lines license. He might want to check into it. There are many aspects of insurance/insurance adjusting he could explore. I worked as an insurance adjuster (liability-auto, trucking, commercial claims, general liability etc) for 27 years. And it does pay well... even starting out pays higher than other positions such as working for Walmart etc. With a degree a person can go far in the field. If his degree was in technology there is the possiblity of transitioning into that side of the field as well. Just a suggestion.

As to the violent tendancies (verbal and physical) there is reason to be concerned. My honey (we are not married, period, but have been together for 30 years) changed drastically due to the severe edema and heart problems he was having. Briefly from Feb to May he was very verbally abusive and when he was in rehab actually threatened me. I refused to allow him to come home and requested there be a psych eval done on him. Things have gone fairly well since he came home up until yesterday and he suddenly reverted to the Feb to May period until I had a full out anxiety attack and it scared him. (difficulty breathing, shaking, crying). He has reverted again back to being sweet and caring, but he is aware that I will not tollerate any more of it. (a this is thread for another time). Please, please talk to your husband's doctor(s). They need to know of this behavior. Let them know he is playing Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde and y'all are concerned for your safety as he is showing physically agressive behavior. With the sudden changes he could become violent. Not trying to scare you, but I am dealing with something similar. It is sad that his son hates his will take a long time for that bridge to be rebuilt though he apparently loves his Dad. Also check with your pharmacist....see if the meds that he is taking could be interacting in the wrong way and causing the behavior. Anytime I or my honey are prescribed new med, I contact our pharmacist to check for interaction.

Hang in there and please keep us posted. There are a lot of wonderful people on this site who care.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Dusti22

Seroquel is one that comes to mind.

But you need to be talking to a doctor who specializes in the behaviors of dementia-- a behavioral neurologist or geriatric psychiatrist, And you need to be honest and forthright with the doctor about your husband's violent outburts.

One recommendation might be for your husband to spend some time inpatient at a psychiatric facility, to trial his meds in a safe place.

I have a friend whose son is still waiting for a job " in his field". He's 45.

Had a job for a couple of years with a friend of the family, filng. When the friend closed up shop, he went on unemployment and hasn't worked since.

You need to get you son "launched". Get HIM to a psychiatrist, asap.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn

Goodness, this situation must be so painful and worrying for you. I'm very sorry to read about it.

Fathers dealing with sons just coming into their own adulthood... I think it's not unusual for that to be a pretty fraught time in the development of the relationship (Mark Twain had insightful things to say about it, for example). The particular difficulty here is that your husband is having to negotiate it without the aid of normal social filters, and without the reasoning skills he's been used to having in life.

It's also so upsetting for your poor son. Was he close to his Dad growing up? Plenty of healthy bonding? imagine the man who's been a good father suddenly being a complete bear, just at the time when the lad most needs support and encouragement.

Are you in touch with any support groups in your area? The thing is, I think you want a holistic approach to the family situation. I can certainly understand that you would miss your son's and his girlfriend's presence, which rather rules out advice on the lines of "go West young man"; but it sounds as if that is ultimately what he needs to do. If you can link up with other families facing comparable issues and extend your support network, he may feel freer to look further afield and you wouldn't need to be so reliant on him.

I don't mean that to sound as if I think you're keeping him at home, I'm sure you're not - I'm sure nobody would be happier than you if he landed the perfect graduate training scheme in Zanzibar. But if your son saw you making progress, he'd feel better and you'd be setting him a good example; you'd feel more confident; it could just start off a nice virtuous circle.

Getting a formal mood assessment done at the same time is a good idea, I don't disagree that there may be helpful options for your husband. But don't lay *everything* at his door.
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Reply to Countrymouse

Wow! Thank you all for your replies - I didn't expect such great response and insights. I was wondering what drugs some of you are referring to. He's been taking Donezepil for two and a half years. And Lexapro for about 20 years. But I think you're talking about something for aggression... What are the names of some of these? Thanks!
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Reply to CAAlzWife

Time for son & girlfriend to move. If you side with your son & girlfriend, nothing is going change for the better. Your husband can not change, but your son and his girlfriend can make a choice and start their own life.
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Reply to GAinPA

I’m sorry your home is in such turmoil. Your husband is dealing with a progressive disease robbing him of who he is and it’s leaving him panicked and subsequently lashing out. I hope you’ll meet with his doctor and get some meds to help with the anxiety and violent tendencies soon. I have a son who recently graduated from college and we know the importance of work, even work not in field. Working at something will help his self esteem, bank account, and resume. Plus it will fill time to be away from dad. Your son needs a push toward work for the good of all. There’s good advice above from people who’ve walked the road of Alzheimer’s, hope you'll find it helpful
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Reply to Daughterof1930

Your son needs to find some kind of work. Walk dogs, mow lawns, drive for Uber or Lyft, do something to have a schedule and earn some money. The regular schedule alone will help him with depression and feelings of self-worth. I agree that you are probably using your son as support and a buffer because of the situation with your husband. That's not fair to anyone. Your son and his girlfriend need to be living on their own somewhere else. And you need to get some help for your husband and his aggressive behaviors.

Give your son and his girlfriend a date (maybe 60 days) that they have to be out. They can live with friends or get a place on their own. When I dropped out of college for a semester, my dad gave me 30 days to get out of his house. He wasn't going to have a "bum" living in his home. I left and never looked back. Supported myself from that point on and went on to get a master's degree, all paid for by my hard work at multiple menial jobs. It's possible. Difficult today, but possible. Push your son out of the nest so he can learn to fly.
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Reply to blannie

Your son could get a realtor's license and try selling real estate. Even if he doesn't like it he's sure to make some money, get out of the house and learn about property. My mom and her friend were both realtors and didn't like it but gradually bought property. Even though they sucked as realtors they both ended up moderately wealthy from their investments, and without much effort.

The friend later started a pressure washing business and was soon making over $100,000 yearly working five- or six- hour days.

It's not as easy as it was a generation ago for young people to get good jobs--many with great educations are working a crap job or two.

The self-employed tend to earn more money than employees. Your son might also look at the college degree as a starting point—it taught him how to think, write, speak and figure things out but he doesn’t have to find work in his field and could excel at many different things.

It's demoralizing being called lazy when you're not. Your son is probably depressed for several reasons. Also, it sounds like your husband may eventually need to live elsewhere.

Good luck!
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Reply to Davina

If I were you I would find out where you and your son could join a support group to understand Alzheimers disease. Check with your local hospital for Alzheimer's support groups too. You and your son need to understand the progression of this disease in order to deal with it. Your husband needs medication and there is medication to slow the progression. Take him to the doctor soon. I totally understand about your son and not being able to find work with his degree. My son and thousands of others are in the same situation. Maybe he can try Amazon, UPS, or FED-EX. My son went through the same thing and it's no help if he's being yelled at by his Dad with a declining mental disease. Don't wait until your husband becomes more emotionally abusive and possibly physical abusive. You and your son need help now.
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Reply to Number1daughter

I agree that it would be helpful if your son were working, even at a part-time, non career path oriented job. It'll not only get him away from your abusive husband, but help raise his self esteem as well as provide some spending money.

I'm puzzled how his GF could move in and the method or reason be so nebulous. And it might be that she's part of the reason your husband is so hostile to his son. He might consider it an invasion of the family's privacy.

Has your son worked through the campus job placement service? Most universities of which I'm aware do have these services.

BTW, what is his field? Someone might have other suggestions on finding a job that's close to his field, something at which he could get experience that can be leveraged for a permanent position. He might not be able to find what he wants now, but another job in a similar or closely related field could provided needed work experience.

Did he work his way through college? If so, returning to one of those jobs might be an option.
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Reply to GardenArtist