My husband has dementia and can be very cruel. Any advice?


My husband has dementia. He has always had anger issues. He hasn't spoken to his brother in a couple of years and can talk very cruel about people I care about. I am still able to work. I work 5 minutes from home. Today when I said good-bye he told me to get out. I am not devastated. I have come to accept my new role as wife/caregiver. I just don't know how to handle this. Please advise me.

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Dementia affects the filter between the brain (thoughts) and the mouth. Some call it the social filter. When my grandmother had Alzheimer's some of the things that came out of her mouth were shocking since she was a little old lady.

Your husband is unable to filter and disseminate his thoughts between his brain and his mouth. In other words, it's the disease. Additionally, if he's had anger issues in the past he's likely to continue having them perhaps to a greater degree.

Try not to argue with your husband when he disparages your loved ones. I know it's tempting to defend the people you care for but it will only agitate him. Try diverting his attention away from the topic. Change the subject, offer to fix him a snack, ask if he'd like to take a walk, etc.

You won't be able to reason with him because he's lost the ability to reason. Expressing your hurt feelings will fall on deaf ears. Do you have anyone to talk to? A close friend or family member you can share this with? Talking about it might help and will keep you connected to people socially as it's very easy to isolate when we're caregiving for someone.

Continuing to work will help as well. It gets you out of the house and out of the line of fire and switches your focus from your husband and his dementia to something else.
Helpful Answer (17)
Reply to Eyerishlass

I think it depends on who the person was before ALZ. A sweet person who is suddenly saying vicious things can be more easily moved into the "this isn't her, it's the disease" area of your brain.

If you are dealing with someone who has always been mean and angry, then it must be a lot harder to say "this is just the disease".
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Reply to Marcia7321

Everything Eyerishlass said is perfect. My Mom in the beginning of Alzheimer's, whew! The things that came out of my Mothers over 50 years as a Sunday School teachers mouth! filter and always usually slightly embarrassing. I had no idea she felt angry at fatter people. Some awful statement would come out of her mouth and I wanted to sink into the floor. Or comments about doctor hairdresser, etc. This stage lasted a few years for her. I have made a few apology tours! Sometimes and walking away is the best thing you can do for YOU! My motto has been "This too shall pass."
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Reply to BootShopGirl

There's some great advice here!

My mother is 84, has Alz and it's progressing rapidly. She has her outbursts, usually in private. But she is racist and bigoted, generally can't stand people anyway!, so I had biz cards printed (cheap through Vistaprint) that say something to the effect of "My mother has Alzheimer's. She may exhibit unusual behavior. Please forgive anything hurtful she may say or do and please don't take offense. Thank you." I've had to hand out a couple, surreptitiously out of her line of sight because otherwise she'll ask what I'm doing (which happened once...divert!!).

Two other options for people to whom to vent your frustrations: clergy, if you are so inclined, or local in-person support groups. Many larger communities have them.

Good luck to you.
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Reply to shb1964

Like you I am in a "relationship", stopped calling it a marriage about 10 years; where my husband of 36 years started showing signs of Dementia/Alzheimers. He refuses seeing a doctor for such and therefore receives no treatment, medication or counseling. This bothered ME at first and I fought like heck, but finally went to a counselor myself and was helped to realize I can not force him to acknowledge this disease or recieve treatment for it.
Why am I so sure this is his problem; FAMILY HISTORY. Father's side has mental issues, how far back I'm not sure and it really doesn't matter. Mother developed Dementia late in life, probably due to STRESS more than anything physical.
He has had anger issues from the start, but his work kept him away most of the time and when he wasn't working - DRINKING.
I am filling you in on this for one reason, as you know and BELIEVE you are not alone and helpful hints from any and all will keep you going.
I find keeping my distance, even in the same house; helps. He likes listening to the NEWS 24/7 and spends hours and hours in the bed listening and sleeping. LET HIM BE.
Don't feel guilty for working away from home, it is your salvation and means of social life.
The anger and need to fight is lessening, after several years and things are more peaceful now. It was a hard stay. but it is paying off as my mind is more at peace too.
Keep up your spirits, we're all pulling for you and here when you need a boost. LOVE
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Reply to PugAlove

I’m so sorry you are dealing with this. I’m going through it with my parents and I can’t imagine what it must be like to hear this things from the love of your life. Two other things that have helped me...when my parents, each at different times, became this way I did as much reading about their different conditions as I could. This helped me to view their behavior more clinically and depersonalize it to some extent. Secondly, one of the things I learned from my reading is that when they behaved this way, it may be something else altogether that has them upset but they cannot figure out how to express it. Again, this helps me to depersonalize it some. I don’t know if these thoughts will be helpful for you with your husband as I’m sure it must be different than with parents. I just wanted to offer them as possibilities. One last thing...I know it can be difficult, and sometimes feels like just one more “to do,” but please don’t forget self-care,even in very small doses. We are always more vulnerable when we are worn out or burned out. My heart is with you.
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Reply to MelissaPA2AZ

dovee, you are so strong! I always advocate for talking to a counselor for posts like this - friends are good, definitely! But sometimes they can only help and listen so much. Keep that job! :) Also, an observation: my mom always had anger issues and a smart mouth, but now now that she’s 86, moving quickly along a path of dimentia, and says outrageous things - I can’t help but wonder whether the process started more like in her 60s. She’s had diabetes 2 for a long time that went untreated. What she says is worse than her 60s, but not by much. I think the person who I say ‘was like this before’ is more like my memory of her the last 20 years, not necessarily before that. Hope this may contribute something. And I hope you’ll consider getting (forcing) help into the home somehow if you haven’t already. Just because you’re his wife doesn’t mean you have to be the single carer and lightning rod. Best wishes to you.
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Reply to Zdarov

I agree with everything that Eye has said. It is so important to be able to speak with someone and to keep things as "normal " as they can be.

Best of luck to you.
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Reply to Lostinthemix

This sure is tough. It’s also important to remember that in addition to no filter, the real problem is their diseased brain does not process information or formulate thoughts like their former self. The things they are saying are not likely anything they thought about saying before they were ill. I had this situation with my husband and it helped me to remember that, and then it was pretty easy to actually just ignore it. People with Dementia only “have the minute” they’re in, so they don’t remember it all, usually.
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Reply to Tboosrn

My mom has turned on me multiple times over the years even tho I’ve always been there for her. My brother has cleaned her out financially since my dad died 27 years ago...but he remains her hero. My salvation and faith in God has the only thing that has gotten me thru. I find comfort in Phil 4:7 regarding peace that surpasses understanding. Prayers for u!
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Reply to Lin1958

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