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My mother will be 95 this week and has advanced macular degeneration and she is currently living with me. Every couple of days she will accuse me of playing tricks on her and intentionally aggravating her by hiding things or taking her things (some of which were never here). This evening she could not find the remote control; I waited to walk back to her room with her to show her it was on the pillow lined up next to her other gadgets. She insisted I snuck it in the room and put it there. She got irate; accused me of being cruel, mean, and said "You are going to pay for your actions one day!" From this it escalates into attacking me on a personal level for how I live, accuses me of not going to church, tells me I don't care about anyone but myself, and it goes on and on until I walk out of the room. No matter how I try to calmly defend myself by telling her I am not hiding her things and it would serve no purpose for me to do that, she calls me a liar. But at this point, logic is of no importance to her and she is ALWAYS right (has been her entire life) and there seems to be nothing I can say to get her to believe me. So I typically say I'm sorry if you don't believe me but I'm not going to argue with you and walk away from her. Once this starts, she remains agitated for hours, pacing out of her room to hurl some more insults at me until she can get a reaction. Then she tries to talk to my husband if he's there and tell him something is wrong with me, after he has witnessed the entire interaction so he will not engage her.


The next day is usually better because she has to come to me to eat so she is nice when she wants me to wait on her.


I have an appointment with a geriatric psychiatrist 10 days from now in order to get her medications adjusted which her primary care doctor will no longer handle. My mother has a longstanding history of depression and anxiety. I am also waiting for a small assisted living facility to open sometime this month and she will be moving there because I cannot deal with the antagonism living with her. This is my 3rd attempt to take care of her in my home and it is a repeat everytime. The antagonistic relationship with her children has existed for the past 30 years primarily due to conflict over her hoarding behaviors, refusal to get help or get rid of anything. Now with some dementia, the antagonism is magnified. Believe me, the arguments are heated and she is so agitated she has called the police on me once, wandered away another time, and threatened to call the police last week.


So I understand some of this is a common behavor with dementia patients and I am wondering if anyone has any practical suggestions for how to handle it "in the moment" to keep her from escalating into the personal level attacks?


Thanking you in advance for any input!

GGoogle Teepa Snow and watch her videos.

Don't defend yourself. Try " I'm so sorry it's missing. Can I help you look?"

"I'm so sorry you think I'm tricking you. It must be so painful for you to think you've got such a hateful daughter"..

Empathize with the FEELING. ignore the illogic. And yes, walk away. Don't engage if you cant empathize with what she is feeling.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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Garlamba Mar 8, 2019
Excellent suggestion! Thanks so much.
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She is expressing fear and anger. You don't deserve it, but she can't help it.

Do any distraction techniques work? Is it ever possible to divert her to other topics of conversation, or other activities?

I am sure you are taking the right steps in finding a good placement for her, but may I suggest you wait for the psych assessment before deciding on the ALF? (No chance you can bring that forward, is there?)

I wish I did have something to offer. This must be just awful for you. Hugs.
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Garlamba Mar 8, 2019
Thanks for your support Countrymouse, and yes, her appointment is March 17th, definitely before the AL facility is available. Distraction doesn't always work but I did use it this morning; a temporary delay until her thinking could return to focusing on something she thinks I took and hid. I think if I still had her previous primary care doctor I would not feel quite so lost, but having had to change doctors last year has been really bad timing. Her new primary care doctor is not very interested in her as a patient and does not schedule follow-ups unless I want to bring her in, besides just not knowing her.
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Thanks to all of you for your quick responses. You all have provided me with some very helpful suggestions and reassuring words of wisdom and this means so much to me, I can't put into words. I am so happy to find this website.

It is difficult to describe a personality and the multitude of recent events impacting my mother without writing pages so I did leave out recent hospitalizations (for onset of hallucinations and then a fall during Thanksgiving week), change in anxiety meds, and sadly a new primary care doctor in 2018 who really does not want to deal with her or see her in follow-up on a regular basis. There has been no formal diagnosis of dementia even after hospitalization in November. My mother has been blaming us on and off for 20+ years for her lost items because she had a flood in her condo from a broken washer hose at the time and we had to remove everything and redo the carpet and floors and all of her hoard was boxed and put into storage and then upon her insistence, eventually brought back to her. So her condo has been in disarray since then and I would venture to say really since she moved there simply because there wasn't enough space for everything she wanted to keep as well as continued to buy. Aside from hoarding behaviors, she was quite lucid. The doctors all remarked about memory and cognition. That is why it has been so hard to recognize her behavior as dementia, until this past year, and really recent months. I do plan on leaning on the psychiatrist for guidance regarding neurological work-up, and reaching out to the cardiologist by phone.
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Reply to Garlamba
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When she starts up, immediately walk away. Shut the door, and wait. Don't engage her at all. Repeat.
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Reply to mmcmahon12000
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Garlamba Mar 8, 2019
Great feedback. I will try this and limit my defensive talk, which only seems to serve to keep things going.
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All the "advice" I can give to you is.
do not let her goad you into an argument. Don't even try to defend yourself, you have nothing to defend yourself from. And you will NEVER win.
Just agree to what she said, yup you are right I moved the remote, yes you are right, I don't go to church...and walk away. Or don't even respond just walk away.
Hang in there until the small Assisted Living spot opens. And if it is full or there are problems get her on list at another. If you can not live under the same roof don't put yourself through the aggravation.
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NeedHelpWithMom Mar 12, 2019
Grandma,

Please keep telling us in hopeless situations that we won’t win the argument or debate! I have that problem at times, then I feel so foolish later by trying to reason with the unreasonable. Keep reminding us! Please!
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Does her problems escallate later in the day? Then she is sundowning. I hope she can get medications before assisted living. If she is not a good fit you may be hearing about it shortly after she moves in.
It does sound that living in your home is coming to an end
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Garlamba Mar 8, 2019
Yes, she definitely seems to sundown, however she tends to be up half of the night and wants to sleep all day lately due to her back pain. So I am not sure when in terms of "sundowning" it actually occurs for her, but during a day where she is awake it does seem to be evening.
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I think you are handling it the best way you can. And I would not call this stage mild Dementia. Continue to walk away from her but don't say anything. Just say OK and walk out. There is no reasoning with a Dementia patient. Change doesn't help either. You have taken her from what was familiar to her. To literally a strange place where nothing is where she remembers it to be. I think the med change is good. But be ready for this behaviour when you place her in an AL. Again change.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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Garlamba Mar 8, 2019
Very helpful reminder; I know being here for months I think she should be adjusted but I tend to forget it is not like being in your own place for years.
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95. The whole story is right there. Start looking for permanent placement now before the next downward spiral which will be quick You must be ready
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Reply to PandabearAUS
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Get a different doctor, and get her diagnosed. You have no use for a doctor who won't do anything.
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Reply to SFdaughter
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Sounds like she is bored and looking for things to amuse herself. Trying to get you upset seems to fit the bill.
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NeedHelpWithMom Mar 12, 2019
Yep, entertaining for them. Also could make them feel a bit powerful or important.
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