Personality change. Can anyone help me with this?

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I have been caring for my Mom for years now, 24/7, She is now 89 years old and has Alzheimer's; physically she is well, but for about six months or longer, her personality has changed drastically, going from gentle and caring to now short tempered, very hurtful with her words and demands. Can anyone help me with this? This, for me, is the worst part of all of this with Mom, and yes, I know it's "not her" but the disease and all that....but it still hurts, and when my sister comes to see her, she is the same as she used to be....???? Also, I should mention that I quit my job to care for her in my home, and I have four other sibs, all close by, but only one sis helps when she can and will stay with Mom when I need to see the doctor or buy groceries...and those are my only outings and my only break from my Mom (and hers from me). I simply will not place her in NH or AL, as a former legal guardian for elderly/disabled, I just cannot fathom that idea, I just need some support, please.

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As my mother progressed, we had to get her on an antidepressant for anger and anxiety, it is normal for a person with Alzheimer's /dementia to "showtime". This term means that your mother can pull off normal for short periods of time to prove there is nothing wrong with her. Then she can be over taxed afterward and you as the caregiver, get the bad stuff. This will pass as she progressed and can no longer have any control.

With my mother, we focus on keeping her as comfortable as possible with out over medicating. That is where the antidepressant cones in with anger, anxiety, and crying spells.

Hope this is helpful for you.
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I agree. Paranoia or belligerence against the caregiver is the worst part of dementia!

Keep repeating the mantra, "This is not Mom's personality. It is the dementia." "This is not Mom talking to me, it is Alzheimer's." I agree that this does not eliminate the hurt, but I think it would be even worse to forget this truth.

If it is safe to do so, leave the room when mom becomes particularly demanding or hurtful. "I can see that you are upset now, Mom. I'll come back in a little while. Maybe we can have a nice up of tea then."

It seems most grievously unfair that you are the person she picks on! I've read the theory that the caregiver is the person they feel safest with, and don't have to be on their best behavior with all the time. Being especially "good" in front of a doctor or a visitor (called "showtiming") takes a huge effort and cannot be maintained around the clock. You are seeing the behaviors she can't control.

At this stage of Mom's dementia, you NEED more respite. You need some time to yourself. You need to recharge your batteries. I'll bet in the earliest stages you could leave your mom alone for at least short periods. And now when you absolutely NEED to get away alone regularly you are virtually imprisoned by her disease. You really must address this, for both your sake and hers. If Helpful Sis can increase her visits that would be awesome. But if she cannot, do what you would have to do if you were an only child. Contact a volunteer agency. Hire some in-home help. Consider sending Mom to an adult day health program a couple days a week. (Remember, she is good with other people.)

If you want to keep Mom out of a care center, do everything you can to take care of yourself. If you have a meltdown from caregiver burnout, it does not sound like there would be a long list of other relatives waiting to take Mom in. I'm glad to see that you visit your doctor as needed. Now arrange some respite care.

This challenging behavior may not last forever. Take care of you and hang in there!
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