My mother, who has dementia, is verbally abusive to her husband. Is this a hallmark of dementia?

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I am wondering if this is a hallmark of dementia? My mother, who is 80 with advancing dementia, has become terribly abusive, both verbally and emotionally, toward my father. He's constantly walking on eggshells around her, hoping to keep her from going on one of her 'rampages'. But she goes off on him several times a week now, almost daily, saying the most terrible things to him, going into emotional rages. Is this something related to dementia? Her outbursts are so extreme and inappropriate I'm starting to wonder if she's just plain going crazy?

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Top Answer
Yes, progression of dementia can cause this kind of behavior but sudden changes in behavior can also be caused by a urinary tract infection (UTI). You can get a UTI test from the pharmacy and test your mom. However, if she has a UTI she'll need to see a doctor because she'll need to be on antibiotics.

I suggest your mom see the doctor who diagnosed her dementia and see if he/she will prescribe anti-anxiety medication for your mom. Or perhaps in getting your mom checked out for a UTI her doctor can prescribe medication to calm her down.

I don't know if your mom is going crazy or not but dementia is a brain disease that affects different people in different ways. Your mom has brain damage from the dementia and it's progressive. It will never get better, only worse. It might be time to discuss this with your dad. He has a long, difficult road ahead of him and if this is how your mom's dementia is going to be your dad is going to need help with your mom whether it comes from family or home healthcare or placing your mom in a facility. Trying to care for her is going to drag your dad down significantly. He may have to make some difficult decisions.
Thanks for offering this, Eyerishlass. Your words here are full of valuable insight. I plan to write another letter to her doctor in the hope that they will call her in to check her for a UTI (she's very resistant and combative which adds a lot of complexity to trying to get her in for appointments). I do have a great deal of worry for my dad and the stress this is putting him through. Your words are a great help and I'll be sure to have him read this.
Babl...she sounds exactly like my mom. The rampages are vicious and heartbreaking. My mom's tend to be brought on by stress (having company over, something break down at the house, someone in the hospital, Tuesday (just kidding) and so on...

She's not yet been diagnosed, but her sibling passed away from dementia. She too had huge fits and fights with family.

So difficult to watch when all we crave are good times and good memories with her.

Praying you get answers.
Sarahk60 -- thanks for sharing what's happening for your mom. I can definitely agree with what you're seeing. When my own mother first started going on these rampages we all took it personally, wondering what we'd done to ignite it. But now we're seeing that any stress, from anywhere, can bring it on. Though the attacks are directed very personally, with unkind words and rage directed at whoever is present, we've begun to realize that it seem to be brought on by just about anything that causes her stress in anyway.
You can also check for UTI at home using test strips purchased from the pharmacy
This is so stressful for everyone, I’m sorry! I can’t help feeling that her husband deserves to be protected. Is there any visiting nurse or such coming each day? It sounds like she/they need this, at a minimum. I’d speak to her doctor about it.
What I have observed is that with the dementia, they take out their frustration on their spouses.  My Dad had to learn to overlook things that were not important to health and safety, to be able to live with my mom. My mom also said something nasty about her sister, who she always admired and loved. I was shocked. But a UTI should be checked for. Eyerishlass had good advice.
This question is memory provoking. My father had this part of dementia and it got ugly. He would cuss and out mom and she would be in tears. When relatives would come and offer to fix something in the house, he would think he was incapable and let loose. When this happened, we contacted his doctor and asked if there was any thing he could be given to assist in controlling this and although there was; he would not take the pill because "he was doing drugs" and we were out to get him.

What I found successful on a couple of occasions was to just leave the room and walk away, and in fact I drove them to visit a relative more than 3 1/2 hours away and he was in the back seat of the car pounding on the back of the seat telling me I was lost. I pulled over and turned around and told him to stop, and as a result of his actions I was turning around and drove all the way back home and the minute he knew I was serious and when we pulled in the driveway; he was silent. If there is no harm on the individual, take the other person out of the room and when he comes down from the rant, then its time to breathe.

Eyerishlass has excellent advice, and I will tell you why. My father who was doing this had complete loss of bladder and was in his 80's wearing a bladder bag and had to get up every morning at 5:30 and clean everything with bottled distilled water; and there were occasions and many possibilities for a UTI, yet wouldn't again take medicine because it was drugs. Have that checked out. Good Luck!
babl, dementia can do many things including removing 'inhibitions' that have been in place for years. are you there 24/7? if not, you really have no idea what their relationship has been, or has become - I yell at my DH for many reasons, starting with his being deaf and refusing to wear the hearing aid.

I had a great-aunt that was as prim and proper as you please - but in the NH she started "cussin' like a sailor" when she forgot how to get her daily cigarette (this was back in the 80's) - and I learned back then that they no longer have inhibitions with dementia.

I cuss & scream when I get frustrated after my DH falls. Fortunately, he understands that I need to blow off the steam in order to get my head straight to help him. He can't help me lift him now and I have to get inventive to get him off the floor.

Yes, I always feel badly after and I do apologize - thankfully he rarely remembers my outbursts. It's why the doctor wants to put me on stress medication but I'm afraid that I won't be 100% for my DH when he needs me. Yelling actually reduces my stress.

You do need to have her checked by her physician as it seems UTI's are very common if you read all the threads here at - and a UTI is extremely dangerous too.
My mom has dementia and has always been appreciative and loved me. At Christmas I visited her in the nursing home she’s been in for a little over a year. I brought her gifts she never acknowledged I drove 3 1/2 hours to be with her for their Christmas party and the only thing g she said or hollered actually was to get away from her and she never wanted to see me again. I feel bad for your dad. When it starts getting abusive it’s hard to take but I’m getting better at it. But for your dad it’s probabky even harder since he is older as well and it will take a toll on him. It’s so hard to go through I know it’s tough living with this day after day. My mom won’t take meds mist of the time. She thinks people are trying to poison her. She’s just 73 I had to get guardianship. She’s very in cooperative and abusive

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