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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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My husband gets nasty with me, especially in the evenings, sundowning. He sleeps most of the day unless we have an appointment, then likes to stay up until the early hours of the morning. He is exceedingly paranoid about anything that has to do with money, insurance, and whether or not we'll be "fired" (meaning evicted from our senior HUD apartment). Often he will be demanding to see financial documents (which I have to explain to him, only for him to forget everything he reads shortly afterward). He will accuse me of "taking" or "stealing" "his" money (by state law the money belongs to both spouses). I'm the one who manages all the family business matters and he is not able to do so now. After the bills are paid for the month (all on the same day) there is a "safety cushion" left in all the accounts. Despite my best efforts, even showing him the daily balance e-mails from the banks, he still thinks there's "nothing" there and we must owe somebody something, I'm hiding something from him, etc., etc., etc. He will start this accusation and interrogation as if I were a criminal. Then, since he doesn't believe me, he'll start cursing at me in his native language and in English. This happens at least two or three times a week. I avoid mentioning anything that has to do with money or insurance whenever possible. Just letting you know that you're not alone.
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My mother was a narcissistic mother and when her dementia hit it was full force. She said the most horrible things and wished us dead. She went into the hospital and they even had to restrain her but once she went on Seroquel and we placed her in a memory care AL she is a sweet old lady now. I hope things work out for you.
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I went through this with my mom. After a while she went to a different stage of her dementia and became much nicer just more confused. As far as getting them to take their prescription medicine to calm them down, make sure it’s crushable and put it in their deserts or other camouflage types of food.
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My Mom is going through the same outbursts and rages right now. It seems to come and go every few months, and then she will settle down, but lately she hasn't settled down. In person I can usually distract her and redirect her attention, but over the phone she is awful to me. Yesterday she called me an A$$hole, and I calmly told her that I was not an A$$hole. Earlier in the day she called wanting to go to the library, and when I told her it was closed she erupted into a screaming rage and I hung up. The memory care facility has permission to give her Ativan if she's really acting up, but they gave it to her one morning before her gym session and she was quite unsteady and almost fell down. We see the neurologist in a couple weeks and I am hopeful that the doc can tweak her medicine so that we can once again have a relatively calm and content phase. I hate seeing her so unhappy, but I know there's not much more I can do. She loves going on outings to the library and gym and movies, but she's starting to completely forget that she's gone to any of her beloved activities, so the only time she seems content is during the outings, and she can't be on outings 24/7. It is not a realistic solution.
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If the Aricept is in pill form, possibly you can crush it and mix it into something she is going to eat. You have to be sneaky sometimes!
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Oh my! I'm overwhelmed and grateful for the support and compassion in everyone's answers - thank you! I had heard that those with dementia can get mean sometimes, but when it happens to you, it can feel so personal and isolated. It's such a help to know we're not alone in this. Like others have echoed here, my mom will not take the Aricept medication she had been prescribed. One of the quirks she's developed in the last year or two is reading all the fine print and warning labels on everything from pills to harmless household items, and then getting very scared and upset by it. I hope and pray that this phase she's going through, with the outbursts and meanness, will let up at some point, as one person pointed out (thank you!). In the meantime I will do what I can to support my dad (and also my mom, although she's refusing to talk to me right now after having a blow-up at me) and will keep reminding myself that these ugly episodes are hallmarks of the disease and not reflective of the mother I remember prior to all of this. Thank you.
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Hopeless...that must've been tough. I'm sorry. It's so extremely difficult to have the ones we love (and who have loved us) say mean things. I find it hard to not get into an arguing match, but I am learning to walk away until my mom calms down.

Praying we can all get through this with grace, perserverence and a whole lot of love.
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Dementia robs everyone: the person who has it, the person taking care of them, and all of those who come in contact. Once dementia takes hold, you are no longer dealing with the parent you have always known. When dementia becomes abusive, it may be best to be in a facility that can be the “bad guy”. Of course, then they will try to guilt you to take them home. But, at least it limits the time you are being abused.
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Yes, this is typical dementia. The person is not who they once were at all. My own late mother called me the most horrible of names-"Hitler" because I had to move in with her from another state and take care of her. I dismissed it, else I would have gone crazy.
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Alderroost, I'm reluctant to share personal stuff, but just want to say that it's uncanny how your situation is so similar to mine. This book helped me a lot:
"Mothers Who Can't Love: A Healing Guide for Daughters" by Susan Forward PhD
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I have to vent/whine some here, though if anyone has any advice, bring it on!
Everyone's dementia posts here have been helpful in educating me. My 96 year old mother is just beginning to show mental decline by accusing me of underlining words in her dictionary! I have ascribed previous hurtful things she said and did to meanness, and more recently to probable life-long paranoia. Because she has always talked ill of my father, of some others (and of me to others) I had learned to walk away from her as she still (barely) takes care of herself in a studio in my little house. However, with all of these posts, I am beginning to see that I have to change my own understanding (and not be hurt anymore). I will not be able to change the course of her disease, nor do I see a way to be free of her. It's heartbreaking how many of us have to be dealing with such situations...how many lives are affected. If she or I had the money, she would be in a facility - she gets along great with strangers. She has just a little too much SS to qualify for a subsidized place. I dread the future and resent it. My mother excused herself from caring for her own sweet mother, though she would have been in a good position to do so, and left it all up to her youngest sister. She truly enjoyed the independence I subsidized when she was in her seventies and early eighties. Now she lives with me (in my seventies) and I see no way out to enjoy freedom from her heavy presence in my last, good, mainly healthy years........ I have supported her emotionally and/or financially since I was 12, and though she is in almost constant pain from stenosis, she is iron willed about continuing this state of affairs.....96 going on 106. One thing I am grateful for is the emotional support of my good brothers. My mother, who is always the injured party, has burned her bridges with both wives so neither brother can ever take her.
That's my vent. I know it could be worse. And I do love my mother who is admirable in many ways.
Thanks for "listening".
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In my admitted limited experience, they do get really mean for a few years. Really mean. But at some point they settle down. Mom has settled down a lot this year. She was never a sweet person. But the "I hope no one calls the cops." tantrums have become far less frequent and are much shorter when they happen.
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babl,

My mom was always verbally harsh, especially with my dad. But once the dementia (vascular & Alz) took hold, the abuse progressively got worse and worse; for example waking Dad up or chasing him around the house to berate him for the most petty "offenses," off-the-chart paranoia, etc. Poor man. He was a wonderful husband and father. I believe to this day her cruelty pushed him into an early grave. Finally, medical issues required placement for Dad in a nursing home, and subsequent placement for Mom memory care, and a good thing, too that these separate living arrangements spared Dad from Mom's abuse. Interestingly, we have had Mom treated for multiple UTI's but treatment never resolved the abuse; once Dad passed away, she just redirected her hostility toward me. Go figure. Just part of the roller coaster ride of dementia. To answer your question, I've read many similar behavioral accounts like you described. Some doctors will prescribe antidepressants and/or sedatives and these often reduce or even eliminate the "challenging behaviors." In Mom's case an anti-anxiolytic has yet to calm her emotional outbursts, hostility, verbal abuse, etc. Truthfully, I think Mom has deep-seated mental issues exacerbated by the dementia. Now, with the filter gone, all hell broke loose. Hopefully, time will resolve the issue.
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Thank you for sharing your story and this sounds like something I'm going through with my mother as well.

My mother used to be very prim and proper when around other people. She's in her late 70's now and in a SNF and her emotional outbursts are growing worse and worse. Just yesterday, I heard she wheeled herself out into the hallway to yell at staff calling them "stupid" as well as bad mouthing my Dad on a daily basis. Usually my Dad just lets it roll off his shoulder but today he called me and was at the end of his wits. Of course, he has his limits.

On top of that she's stopped going to the restroom on her own and is urinating wherever she is. (Thanks to your thread, Im going to ask about having her checked for a UTI too)

It's a frustrating road and when I start to feel conflicted about her state, my family has to remind me that her dementia is growing. It's weird not seeing the woman inside who raised me.
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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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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 AgingCare.com - and a UTI is extremely dangerous too.
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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!
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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.
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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.
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You can also check for UTI at home using test strips purchased from the pharmacy
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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