My mother in law, age 78, diagnosed with moderate dementia, has never been a very happy or particularly pleasant person. She lives in her home with my father in law, who is in his mid 80s. They have never had a very 'happy' marriage, but never had more than an occasional verbal spat in earlier years.
For about a year now, MIL has fairly frequent episodes that go like this: FIL says something that she takes offense to, and she works herself into such a state that she is crying, shaking, and will start pulling her hair and hitting her head against the wall. FIL then calls one of the kids for help, and they come to calm her down. She will make statements like 'he hurts me' (referring to her husband), or 'I just want to die' or 'I want to leave'. Eventually she calms down but has to be worked with, distracted by being taken out to lunch, etc. She has had some episodes in the car with FIL where she has hit at him while he is driving, which is horrifying to us.
One interesting note: MIL used to hit her forehead against the wall during the episodes, but after being asked by people why she had bruises there, she switched to hitting the back of her head now. So she does have some 'control' apparently.
She has been diagnosed with mild/moderate dementia, and was taken recently to her doctor, who was alarmed at her behavior and has scheduled a psychiatric appt that is happening this week.
There are also some other behaviors that she has developed or that have worsened over the years. She no longer bathes in the shower or tub, but will use only a washcloth at the sink to clean herself. She has always been overly concerned with maintaining neatness and order, but now has become obsessive about it, constantly picking up specks of dust from the floor and emptying trash as soon as any item is placed in the trash can. She and my FIL have NO hobbies or interests, and all they do is go to church on Sundays, watch TV, go to the local McDonald's to eat, and sit on the porch watching neighbors. She can no longer drive but FIL does.
Many of her behaviors are sort of 'cut off your nose to spite your face'--we think she stopped bathing because FIL needed to help her in and out of tub, and he probably commented about it at some point, and her response was 'fine, I just won't bathe in the tub anymore'. FIL is a nice person, but is somewhat annoying in that he never shuts up and comments on EVERYTHING. He never wants to be alone. MIL on other hand has always been more introverted. FIL can really get on anyone's nerves and we think he unintentionally pushes her buttons. However, she can't really be trusted to be alone for very long, because she will end up doing something she isn't supposed to do, like getting on stepstools, etc. so it isn't really possible to take him away for more than just a short time.
She has had diarrhea for years and claims she cannot eat normal, nutritious foods and subsists on mainly sugary things. Refuses to take the medicine that controls diarrhea and eats/drinks very little overall. She is very tiny and has lost much weight over the years due to poor diet.
Her doctor says that the above described behavior is NOT normal for just moderate dementia, and I know we will get more answers after some psychiatric evaluation, but here's what I am wondering about: MIL had a very unhappy childhood based on her past statements, and married my FIL merely to escape an unhappy home life. She went from being an unhappy teenager to a mother of 4 by age 26. Never really had a time in her life to just do what she wanted. We suspect that what we are seeing now in her violent outbursts is unresolved psychological issues coming to the surface; issues stemming from an unhappy life. Could unresolved issues be bubbling to the surface now at her age?
Has anyone else dealt with a parent with similar behavior? Did you get any answers? I would appreciate input.