Is it normal for a spouse to reject the dementia spouse? -

Is it normal for a spouse to reject the dementia spouse?


My parents have been married since the mid 1960s. Current ages are mid-to-late 70s. I am an only child. My dad is mid-stage dementia of some type. We moved him to an assisted living facility 10 months ago. He knows who we are, is ambulatory, able to carry on a conversation (with limitations), etc. He lives for our visits. Mom despises going to visit. She has told me that he is not "the same" and she no longer loves him and no longer cares what happens to him. When she does visit she is verbally abusive to him. She does NOT have dementia. Anyone else experience this? It makes me so sad for my father. She seems to truly despise him. She is also mouthy to staff including dropping the F-bomb.

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Having a spouse with dementia is EXTREMELY devastating. Your mom's reaction is not "normal" but I'm sure she is not the only one who can't cope. I know one recovering alcoholic who took up drinking again in response to a spouse's dementia.

Did your mother tend to be on the narcissistic side before this -- everything measured by how it affects her?

I am so sad for you. In a way, you have lost both parents ... neither one is the person who raised you. I hope you are continuing to visit your dad.
Helpful Answer (9)

Upstream, your parents are still so young in today's standards. Sounds like your Mom is angry because this isn't the retirement she had planned. Thus, she is blaming your Dad. She probably is thinking she will be alone for the next 15-20 years, and that scares her.

Curious, was Mom overbearing prior to your Dad getting dementia? Was this the norm in the household? Could be one reason your Dad looks forward to your visits, Mom is just being Mom behind closed doors.

I don't know if this would help or not. Ask Mom what if the tables were turned and it was her living in Assisted Living. How would she like it if your Dad came in and was verbally abusive to her, etc.? Maybe then Mom might finally open up with her feelings why she is so heartless to your Dad.
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Denial, Anger, Foul language....sounds like Dementia to me, are you sure she doesn't have the beginnings of it?

Has she always been so self-centered?

Have you told her that she isn't the Mom you've always known and you refuse to visit her?

Has she considered joining a support group for spouses?
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Mom is very angry and blames him for getting ill. She has always been fairly verbally aggressive toward him. Even as a child I thought he tolerated a lot of mouthiness from her. But it seems inexcusable in the current situation. Mom was pretty spoiled and was mostly able to pursue her own hobbies and interests while dad worked. She seems mostly upset that the burden is now on her to pay bills and maintain the house. Yes she is solely focused on how this affects her, and her only.

I work in real estate and have offered to find her a more suitable place to live and I have assured her that I will handle the sale of her home and surplus belongings but she refuses to move. She and I have attended an Alz. support group but she says its worthless. I have pretty much taken over managing my dad's well being at the ALF. I do visit him 2-3 times per week.  In the current situation, she is my bigger problem :(

BTW my mom decided at age 70 that she was "too old" to do anything and would prefer to be dead. At age 69 she and I used to run 5 miles together on Sundays. Now she can barely walk. Yes I believe she has a screw loose somewhere but not dementia. I am starting to think she is mentally ill and maybe my dad had been able to keep it under wraps. Somewhere along the way things went off the rails after I moved out in the late 1980s. Honestly I feel that he absorbed a lot of negativity over the years which hastened his decline into dementia.

Thank you all for your wonderful responses!!!!  As an only child I have really no one to bounce this off of.  My hubby is weary of the situation, which I can understand.
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Yes, I have a feeling you have hit the nail on the head - your dad hid your mom's self-absorbed behaviors over the years. It may or may not have led to his dementia, but it's sad nonetheless. I'd be more inclined to focus on dad's wellbeing and leave mom to her own devices if she refuses to get any help. Oftentimes with seniors, we have to wait for the emergency where they will finally admit they need help.

Was mom a perfectionist? Sounds like if her world isn't perfect, she doesn't want to live in it. That's really sad, but I would agree that some level of mental illness is probably involved with her. I'm so sorry for you and your dad. It's got to be tough for both of you.
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Just try to remember that this is a marathon and not a sprint. My mom lived to be almost 98. My dad to 92. So you may possibly be dealing with this for years. So you have to learn to pace yourself and take care of yourself. You must keep your cup full so you can be there to help them both. And that means placing limits on what you do and how much of yourself you give to them. That may sound cold, but it was learned through experience. You still must live your life and enjoy your right to happiness and good health. Don't let your mom take that from you.
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Upstream, the only ray of sunshine I can see is that your father is living in a good facility where he is protected and cared for.

But when it comes to your mother, and her attitude to your father and to others, and how it must all make you feel, I just don't know what's saddest. She sounds so *angry*. What can you do but just stand by?
Helpful Answer (7)

Upstream your parents have the right to be happy or miserable. they have chosen the miserable way. Dad walked on eggshells all his life to keep mom happy, well at least satisied for the moment at the cost of his own happiness and self respect. By the way it did not get worse because you moved out, they just kept it under wraps while you were there.
Visit Dad on his own so you can enjoy each other. There will come a time when he does not recognise you.
Of course mom is angry and blames Dad and the only thing she can do is be nasty and abusive to punish him, the satff are just an extension of this as you are too. She was the pricess who had everything provided and now she is the kitchen maid with bills to pay she can't afford. Any money they had is being eaten up each month by Dad's care and if he is or will be on Medicare she will loose most of any savings they currently have. dad is beyond realizing the effect this has on her.
Your job is to make sure she is paying her bills and not running up credit card debt. other than that if she is healthy and capable she can take care of her own problems.
Your #1 care is to protect your marriage. You say your husband is weary of this. Don't burden him this is not his circus and he has rights in your life too.
venting here is very helpful and if people get tired of your posts they don't have to read themand no one is personally affected because it is anonymous but not unfriendly. People here do care about others and there is vast experience to count on. if this is not enough consider talking to trained professional. An older woman would be a good choice as long as you like her. If you don't mesh after the initial visit you don't have to see her again. just keep looking till you find someone you really trust.
I am guessing you are in your forties so you you have a lot of life to keep living. Make your decisions on what is best for you not to satisfy mom. i am not saying throw Mom under the bus but don't give in to bad behavior.
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Upstream, I am an only child as well (at least officially, there are possible half-siblings running around, but that's beside the point)

My stepdad did a wonderful job taking care of Mom, their finances, etc. He set up all the right paperwork so that when he passed away, as much as possible was set in place for me to become Mom's main caregiver.

She lived with us for six weeks. I was with her 24/7 for about two months total and I was a WRECK. Somedays I could barely get through the day, I was on anxiety meds, quit eating, Mom took priority and my family suffered. Thankfully it didn't take me long to realize that situation wasn't sustainable and we had the means (thanks again to my Stepdad) to place Mom in a Memory Care home.

I am so sorry your Mom is creating such an issue, but she sounds like she's used to someone taking care of her, of the unpleasant stuff, and she's kind of throwing a big hissy fit like a toddler might. I would be inclined to ignore as much of it as you can, but also see if there is a way to get POA to protect their assets etc. in case she really goes off the deep end and fritters away what's left.

You are the adult now. My Mom has even said to me before, "you are such a good Mom to me." because that's kind of how it feels to both of us sometimes. In her more lucid moments (Mom has Alzheimer's) she knows I am taking care of her, even if it's not the day to day moments in life, I am making sure she is taken care of, and she knows it.
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There are lots of posts about narcissistic mothers. Those might be a good read for you.

Dad does not need to have mom visit with you. It's probably some relief to him not to have her there actually. My mthr's best friend and her husband never got along in close quarters and their kids kept them in separate NH's for most of their declines to protect him from mom's verbal abuse. They are now in the same NH but on different floors. The husband has always been concerend about his wife and when we visited, wanted to know if we had seen her and how she was. It did not matter that she spewed venom at him, he was devoted to her.

Your mom does not want your help, so leave her be. There will be a time when she has an emergency and you can step in to help then. That will be the only way you get her medical assistance and placement. My mthr was a narcissist with many mental issues but no one else saw them. I had to keep my distance and say to friends, "untreated mental illness is so hard to handle." We rescued her and have her in a home where she is safe and medicated.
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