My Father Has a Mother She is My

My Father Has a Mother She is My

Aging Parent with Adult Child

Q: My loving, Jewish mother is 92 and has turned into a rude, abusive foul-mouthed woman who I no longer recognize.

She’s in relatively skilful health and amazingly lives in the same business firm I grew up in. She has an aide during the day. She won’t leave the house,treats the aide poorly and last weekend cursed out my very patient spouse. Nosotros’ve been getting 5 calls a mean solar day such as ” I”thousand having a heart attack; no ane will tell me whether recycling comes today”!

I know she has early signs of dementia. Her cardiologist tells me non to accept it to heart and this is not the same women who raised me.  She won’t go to the JCC adult programs, complains near being lonely at night, yet hangs up on me when I tell her nosotros tin get an aide at dark or sell the domicile and let her live in a facility with women her age, etc. She threatens to telephone call the Police if someone comes to her home at night. I have a POA but don’t want to rob her of her independence at 92. I try to tell her to speak nicely to the aides, myself, my spouse, only she says ” I don’t remember or I must take reacted to something someone did or said.”

I feel guilty as I’thou not spending every bit much time with her as I would like, but it’south a matter of survival. Jewish guilt is thrown well-nigh with impunity and I tin can’t tell whether she’s being manipulative and obsessing over bullshit ( “oh my God the exterior light may burn out tonight” ) or she actually can’t control herself. Her aide  is a lovely human being but my mom orders her effectually like a slave.  Who is this woman? I’1000 torn, anguishing over what to do and am doing nothing only try to correct her inappropriate behavior and language. I wanted to accept her to a geriatric psychiatrist merely she refused to go. Medication to calm her downwardly is dangerous per the MD as she could fall, etc.

What should I do? I’yard at my wits end.

Dr. K’south answer:

Wow, difficult situation merely unfortunately not uncommon.

You lot say your mother has early signs of dementia, and information technology is truthful that “personality changes” can be due to an underlying dementia, such every bit fronto-temporal dementia or Alzheimer’s, especially if a family notices other changes in memory or thinking abilities.

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But it doesn’t sound like your mother’s been clinically evaluated for dementia, and you don’t say whether this has been brought up with her chief intendance md.

How to Get Memory & Thinking (or Personality Changes) Evaluated

To get help with this situation, I would recommend y’all find a way to get a to the lowest degree a preliminary medical assessment done for dementia.

If you are wondering what is the departure between dementia and Alzheimer’southward disease, or desire to know more most how they are diagnosed, I explicate that in this video:

In principle, this can be done at a primary care provider’south (PCP’south) office, and information technology might exist easier to arrange that visit than it is to get her to see a geriatric psychiatrist.

In practice, chief care doctors – and cardiologists, for that matter – routinely moving ridge off dementia assessments in people your mother’s age, saying things like “it’south non necessary” “there’ll be null to practise” “don’t make her upset” and “don’t take it personally, information technology’s the disease and non your fault.” (This last statement is by and large true, but that doesn’t hateful we should skip the assessment!) As well, many primary care doctors may not be quite sure simply what to practise, in order to consummate a preliminary assessment.

Fortunately, yous tin improve your chances of getting a helpful assessment by familiarizing yourself with how dementia is diagnosed, and so coming prepared with good information regarding your mother’s abilities and challenges. For instance, you lot tin brand note of how your mother is doing regarding these eight behaviors that may stand for with Alzheimer’due south.

This article I wrote tin can too assist: Cognitive Impairment in Aging: 10 Common Causes & x Things the Physician Should Cheque.

You lot can also review this article about dementia diagnosis which I wrote for family unit caregivers. Do comport in listen that HIPAA does not forbid you from contacting her doctor ahead of time and relaying your concerns and your observations. I generally call back it’s good to do this in writing, as information technology tin can be put in her chart.

Y’all may, of course, be wondering why you should bother getting her checked for dementia, such equally Alzheimer’s disease. Y’all may as well be worried that a diagnosis volition distress or upset her. In truth, it might upset her in the short term. However, in the long run, getting her assessed for dementia is likely to bring you both a lot of benefits.

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The Many Benefits of Pursuing a Dementia Diagnosis

For your mother, an cess for cognitive changes means she’ll exist checked for other health issues that might crusade personality or thinking changes. After all, it’s possible that the problems you’re observing are
due to dementia.

It’due south likewise common for dementia to be exacerbated by additional problems – like electrolyte imbalances, medication side-furnishings, untreated hurting, or even constipation — which tin be treated, even though a disease such equally Alzheimer’southward can’t be cured. So you really desire at least a preliminary clinical dementia evaluation to be completed.

If your mother ultimately is accounted to have dementia,
you desire that to be in her medical chart
. That’s considering this diagnosis has implications for how to manage the care of any other wellness problems she has. (For case, the doctors should not simply provide verbal instructions to her for her healthcare, as they commonly do to patients. And they should practise things like simplify her medications if possible.)

A dementia diagnosis will also make information technology easier for you to get aid as a family caregiver. Difficult behaviors are often managed with medications, but it’s true that these more often than not increment fall gamble, so they should be avoided. If you are concerned about her behavior, this commodity volition explain the pros and cons of the bachelor medication options: 5 Types of Medication Used to Treat Hard Dementia Behaviors.

What is best is for family caregivers – and paid dwelling caregivers – to learn better dementia behavior direction techniques, and dementia caregiving coping strategies. I’k afraid it’southward pointless to try to reason with her and “correct” her behavior, that but doesn’t work with people who are cognitively impaired. But at that place are other approaches that tin aid, nearly of which commencement off by accepting the impaired person’s reality.

Plus, learning improve ways to handle your mother’s behaviors can have a
effect on her wellbeing, and on yours. For you lot, learning improve approaches will assistance you with the stress, anxiety, and guilt. This will arrive more viable for you to exist nowadays for your female parent when you can, and that in plough will ameliorate her wellbeing (even though she may non often audio as appreciative as you’d like). A 2013 study really found that dementia caregiver coping strategies were associated with slower dementia progression.

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Last but non least, a dementia diagnosis often helps a family focus on planning for further declines in determination-making and independence. This is obviously non like shooting fish in a barrel, but trust me, things tend to go ameliorate later if families have done some planning earlier.

In other words, there is a lot to acquire and do if you lot are, in fact, the son of an older woman who is irresolute due to dementia. A preliminary diagnosis is an of import medical first step, and will brand it easier for yous to get help coping, and get help learning skills to make the experience more manageable.

How to Get Help Coping with Dementia Symptoms

For help coping with the experience – whether information technology’south how to go your mom in to see the doctor, how to deal with the doctors, how to cope with your stress, how to manage her outbursts, how to program alee – I would recommend you lot endeavor the post-obit resources:

  • Talk to a professional trained to help people struggling with aging parents, such equally a geriatric intendance manager (now known equally an aging life care professional) or a senior care adviser.
  • Visit online support forums. There’s a quite active forum at The Alzheimer’s Association is some other good source of support groups.
  • Read a few good books, every bit it’s hard to acquire a lot by skimming web pages. For dementia, the 36 Hour Solar day is well respected, and I like Surviving Alzheimer’s a lot likewise. Or consider a class offered by your local Alzheimer’s Clan. Another option would be dementia direction videos, such as those by Teepa Snow. Option whatever method of pedagogy works best for your style of learning.
  • Recollect to have deep breaths, and to have care of yourself. Dementia or no, helping an aging parent is ordinarily a long journey. Building some daily walking and daily mindfulness practice into your day tin make a big difference.

Good luck! Do get that dementia assessment and and then get help learning to deal with her behaviors. It’south an effort but it volition pay off in the long run.

This article was first published in 2015, and was last updated by Dr. K in June 2022.

My Father Has a Mother She is My