Is it a normal function of aging at 96 to become bitter and unhappy?

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My mother in law has outlived her husband by 9 years now. She is 96 and very frail. She is in assisted living now. She has had the full support of her daughter and son in law for the 9 years and more. She is a very sweet christian woman. But now..she has issues about money..and although the solution was very good and she is comfortable, she is angry..angry at everyone and everything. Cannot accept kindess extended by family or others. Just ANGRY. I wondered if this was some kind of normal progression when folks get to be so old and frail, so near the end.

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Deborah, I read that your mother has Alzheimer's. Is this your MIL? I have learned that any type of behavior is possible with dementia. Many people go through a phase when they are angry. I hope that it will not last long.

Even if there were no dementia, anger can happen when a person feels nervous. The area that regulates our reaction to stress can choose either anger or fear (fight or flight). Sometimes when people are actually frightened or stressed, it will come out as anger. A good example of this is road rage. Do you think your MIL may be frightened what is going on in her life. She probably is. Maybe a mild sedative would help her some. I don't like to recommend drugs, but I know sometimes they can help.

I hope your MIL returns to her sweet Christian self soon.
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My vote is also to investigate depression. No matter how spiritual you are, it is a real biochemical illness with messed up depleted neurotransmitters and you can't just pull yourself up by the bootstraps...often it comes out as negativity and hostility instead of weepiness...
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lol. christina. this shouldnt offend believer or nonbeliever, its just harmless humor. a german scientist was asked recently if he believed that the mother mary ascended unto heaven with jesus upon his resurrection. the scientist said he could neither prove or disprove this phenomenon but as a scientist he could assure you that she passed out at 30,000 feet. guess he didnt want to speculate outside of his field of expertise.
@ deborah,
i firmly believe that an ill elder becomes miserable and difficult. not one organ is functioning at its former capacity and the body and brain are no doubt full of toxins. good working organs cannot even keep up with the toxins that are routinely produced in the body. its why we need sleep to catch the detoxification process up. of course im not a doctor. its a good thing, im not even a good patient..
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Anger is also a major symptom of DEPRESSION and depression is under diagnosed and under treated in the elderly. This could be part of her problem.
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If she is a Christian, as you say, perhaps a visit from chaplain or her pastor would be in order. I personally tend to relate in spiritual terms regarding the end of life, and I do not mean to offend anyone with this reference. I'm looking forward to the E ticket ride out of Drudgery Earthland to ZeroGravity Spaceland. It's odd to me that a 96 year old Christian has not made peace on earth and is awaiting the great adventure of meeting God. How can that be? Maybe her anger is that she is still here and not taken yet? The ironic cosmic joke :(((
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Gosh, I sure hope not. I plan to be 96 some day!
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I think it is a very common thing when the losses mount. And at 96, she has had plenty of losses. Our doctor said that is what is wrong with my MIL who is ten years younger. He said she has 'anger and rage' issues - due to her losses - lost her husband, lost her farm, lost her health, loss contact with her other kids (they just stay away so no one will ask them to help I guess), lost her mobility. The final straw was the loss of her ability to drive - because that made her totally dependent on us to go anywhere or do anything. Funny thing is she is only angry with ME - she is sweet as pie to everyone else. But the doctor said that was because I represent everything she has lost - I still 'have it all' in her eyes. She even told me that 'I have it made.' So, she really does resent me a lot. :0(
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You mentioned 'bitter' and 'unhappy' in your title but you wrote about your MIL being angry.

I haven't experienced the anger you spoke of but my dad, who lived with me for 5 years and has been in a nursing home for 6 months now, became very unhappy. And my dad was always, always an optimist so his unhappiness was totally out of character for him. However, he'd never been in a nursing home before either and I think that's enough to make someone very unhappy.

I wonder how long your MIL has been in assisted living. If it's a fairly recent move that could be the cause of her anger and bitterness. That she was a sweet, Christian woman all her life and is now bitter and angry suggests that something has happened to make her feel that way.
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