How do I know when my MIL is making her pre dementia rude comments or making rude comments due to the dementia? - AgingCare.com

How do I know when my MIL is making her pre dementia rude comments or making rude comments due to the dementia?

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My MIL has always had a mean,critical personality all her life. Now that she has dementia its not always easy to tell when her nasty remarks are the illness talking or her normal self. I believe I'm entitled to be hurt or mad when it's not her illness doing this. I don't want her using dementia for an excuse to hurt people. Many of her family members and friends have even stopped visiting because of this.Now more than ever I'm the one who gets treated badly by her because everyone else keeps their distance from her for the most part. Am I suppose to excuse all her bad behavior all the time, even when she's not having dementia thoughts all the time?

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As usual, Jeanniegibbs has compassionate and wise advice.
You need to do what you can to avoid being abused by your mother-in-law, dementia or not. However, it may help if you can work on forgiving the past (not for her, but for you) and concentrating on her disease. She may have had dementia or mental illness symptoms for years before being diagnosed. Sometimes it's easier to bear if we know a disease is behind the behavior.
Ignoring the bad behavior is often best - dementia or not - because if there is no reaction it's hard for anyone to continue being nasty. There's no reward if no one acts back. "Buying into" someone else's bad behavior by being nasty back generally escalates the problem. I know it's hard just to walk away when she says abusive things to you, but it may be your best best. Just say, "I won't be talked to like that" and leave the room. Because of the history of verbal abuse here, you may want to talk to a counselor to help you cope.
Take care of yourself,
Carol
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Rude is rude is rude -- whether it's pre- or post-dementia. I can see where it would feel like thinking that "this is just because of the dementia" might possibly take things less personally, I think the actual experience of hearing the words will be the same UNTIL you find a way to see it's about her, and not you. I was going to write, "easier said than done," BUT the reality is that you can turn the switch to see the truth that the REASON for being rude doesn't justify or excuse it. And then turn the switch to see the truth that she has been like this as long as you've known her, and will be until she stops speaking. Her rudeness is due to the way she sees and reacts to the word; it's like a little (or big--depending!) divot in her personality. You could be the cat and she would still be rude.

When you give up wanting her to be different, needing her to be kinder -- and this is a switch, too, you can turn -- you won't need to justify anything. SOme days will be harder than others. But all days, the comments will spring from her divot-marked personality, not because you deserve them. They aren't okay AND! And...you can choose to let them slide off you. Both things can co-exist.
Choose to see it as HER problem, not yours. Don't seek to justify it or change it. Step away from the habit of testing to see whether any of her rudeness was justified; take it as an article of faith that it wasn't. And that it was out of line. And that you don't need to do a thing to prove to her it's out of line.
Some wise person said, "What we resist, persists." When you can come to terms that this is how she is, will be, and will not change, it will be less important to you what she says. I'm holding the intention for you that this day comes swiftly, easily and gracefully. ;-)
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Hmm ... what would you do differently if you could know for certain that this outburst was dementia-related but yesterday's episode was her real personality?

You are entitled to be hurt or mad if that is what you feel. You don't need anyone's permission or a certain reason. Mostly we can't help our feelings. We can control our actions. Maybe it would be more productive to try to figure out what actions make the situation better or worse, regardless of what is causing MIL's behavior. Does it help you to feel better and/or her to improve her behavior if you ignore her? If you sympathize with her? Kid her? Get nasty and mean right back at her? Stop talking to her for the rest of the day? Pretend you think she is kidding and joke about it?

I really feel sorry for you, having to deal with someone who is nasty to you. I hope you can determine (maybe by trial-and-error) how to minimize how much this hurts you. Best wishes to you!
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It is difficult to be on the receiving end of this kind of behavior; with or without dementia. I found with my MIL and my mother that even with the effects of dementia, the personality is still in tact. I don't think the dementia is an excuse for bad behavior, but as jeannegibbs said, how we react to it is under our control.

Like you, I am the only one who gets treated badly by my mother as she has turned away the rest of her family and friends. I learned through this site that when I am visiting with her and she gets abusive, I tell her not to talk to me that way and I simply leave. That way I'm not excusing the bad behavior, I am not accepting it.

My mother is in a facility, so I can just leave. When my MIL lived with us and she would make all the critical comments she always had, I would leave the room. Of course, I would be upset by what each of them had to say, but by not reacting and leaving; it became a sort of self-preservation for me. However, if my MIL said unkind things to one of my children while she was living in our home, I would tell her to stop. And let it go at that.

Something a psychologist told me years ago was to keep a distance when this happens and that the person initiating the bad behavior is in a lot of pain themselves. It did help me to look at it from a different perspective. I was still hurt but realized they are not happy people dealing with their own demons; and the dementia only makes it worse. Take care and know I understand how frustrating it can be.
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It has helped me to deal with rude in-laws by realizing that it's their personality and their problem. I see some similarities with your situation. You say she is rude to everyone...not just you. So it's nothing personally against you. It's not that she doesn't like you, or something you said, or something you did. She's rude towards everyone and everything. She's angry, disappointed, frustrated at life...and takes it out on anyone and anything, including you because you're there. If you weren't there...would she be nice? I think you would say...no...her personality would be the same. She would still be nasty.

So, try to insulate yourself from it as much as possible. When she makes her first rude swipe at you...I would acknowledge it with..."that wasn't necessary" or "was that necessary?" If it happens again with that visit, tell her before leaving the room, "I don't have to listen to this." Take a 10-15 break and return. If it happens a third time...you're outta there! Leave the facility. You've given her warnings, which she didn't heed. You don't have to be her punching bag. Three strikes, she's out. But, tell yourself inside...and believe it...it is not you...it is not your fault that she is so hateful.

Hang in there!
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I agree with Carol. The best reaction is no reaction. I can for my 91 year old Dad who can be pretty crule to me. I usually tell him I am leaving the room for 10 minutes. I go in my bedroom and breath and relax. When I am able to come out and talk to him I do. It does not good to try to explain to them why you are upset about what they say because it doesn't keep. Every Sunday my Dad's friend comes to the house. Every Sunday he ask her who she is, where she lives, how the car and job. It is just a standing joke with all of us at this point. Do let yourself be hurt by what is being said. Just walk away and pretend you don't hear it. You can't make everyone happy. But you really need to take care of yourself.
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God, I HATE this diseases and what it does to people. The caregivers have to endure SO much, and learn how not to let this drive you insane. My M-I-L has always had a way about her, demanding and can be mean. It can be like being on a roller coaster, dealing with their ever changing moods, Changing up the meds always to try and keep them on an even keel and calm. It is exhausting. Modern medicine keeps their bodies going but we can do nothing for their minds that turning to mush ...... and slowly watch them deteriorate away.
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I have heart ache and hurt because MIL, she is early stage of AZ. She accused me things which I didn't say or do. Your notes helped me and get idea what I need to do next time when she accuse me that I didn't do or say. she say hurt thing to me when nobody is around, but tell others how good I am to taking care of her. That is why I am confused. She is very sweet person but since she came to under my roof, I am having a hard time with her.
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Like Jeanne stated, "Mostly we can't help our feelings. We can control our actions." I have similar situation with my mnl & she has had negative attitude as well. I'm pretty new at the AZ caretaking so my way of doing things may be wrong or at least until I can learn the right way. I have a hard time when she gets in the negative attitudes & sometimes there is nothing I can do nor say to get her into the positive mind set. I just let her know that the negative attitude-smart mouth will get her nothing but the same in return. I let her know that I am not going to allow her to talk and be disrespectful to me. Some times I will remind her of the verse in the Bible. "Do unto to others.." sometimes that will get her attention but not all the time. Sometimes, I try to walk away and when I return, I tend to block her negative attitude out by finding something to do because, I know it can really bring me down if I allow it. Eventually, she will come back into the living room and settle down, sometimes.
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Waddle, I like your advice very much of the, "rude in laws." Especially the phrase, "that wasn't necessary" or "was that necessary?" My mnl is in mild-moderate AZ and so she should be able to understand some of negative behavior is not going to be tolerated.

Zoey, you did not mention if your mnl is in mild, moderate or late stage of AZ? I can understand if she is in the late stage for she really has no clue what she is saying nor doing sometimes according what I have been reading. If she is in the mild or mod then I would try to nip it in the by using Waddles phrases where it will make her think about what she is saying. Good luck.
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