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Carer who is a bully? Any experiences?


Registered User
I took my mum to an appointment yesterday and had quite a good day with her talking wise. She was very articulate and clear. Made me think that when she gets away from Dad, she is actually still alot better than she is when he is around. When he is around, she won't even make a decision about what she wants on her toast, but when he's not around, she is fine to talk about quite complex things, come up with ideas, take action, make decisions etc.

She is totally submissive to his domineering ways.

I know he is bullying her and controlling her, but am powerless to do anything about it. She doesn't do pretty much anything at home now. She doesn't cook, clean, make coffees, she has him put her shoes on, help him with dressing her, he makes all the decisions and she is shouted down and belittled when she tries to come up with anything that doesn't suit him.

When I try and bring up these issues, she goes quiet, and makes it obvious that she doesn't want to talk about it, and certainly doesn't want to take action.

I think she realises that she doesn't have alot of options. She can stay with him and his controlling ways, or leave, and that means requiring full time care from "outsiders" alot earlier and potentially nursing home care alot earlier than if she persists living with him having him care for her. Not to mention the overwhelming decisions and changes to lifestyle and budget she would have to make. I think she feels as though she is not entitled to half of what she sees as "his" money although she would be perfectly comfortable if they had to split their cash and assets. Plenty of money to get herself into a nice retirement unit and have a reasonable lifestyle.

Not much that I can do for her, but i just need to put it down, as usual.


Registered User
Feb 10, 2010
Hiya Zeeb,

Do you think there is any merit in you taping some of these episodes where he belittles your mum and shouts her down etc? It has been known in the past that when a bully hears how he is treating someone that they might modify their behaviour. It might also be a useful thing for you to have depending on what arises in the future - a little bit of security for your mum perhaps!!!!! I don't know what the law on domestic violence is where you are, but in the UK the law has just been changed to include emotional abuse and intimidation etc so it is no longer just physical violence that is illegal.



Registered User
Yeah, i don't think it'll ever get to the point where she wants to leave him though. With a diagnosis of early onset Alzheimers and Parkinsons, she honestly doesn't have many good years left with much quality of life. So she might have a few years at best before she is requiring full time care in one form or another.

I don't think she'd ever agree to leave him to ruin those last years with the inevitable hell that one goes through after a 30+ year marriage. It would take a healthy emotionally stable person a few years to get over, and mum is by no means healthy or emotionally stable.

I just wonder what will happen if in her alzheimers, she becomes aggressive and confrontational towards him. It'll be interesting to see him get a bit of his own back that's for sure.

Somehow I don't think he will be able to persist with the care when it gets really tough. The last year has really taken it out of him, so i really don't think he'll be doing it a decade from now. I think she will end up in a nursing home quite young, and that's probably the best thing for her, because he won't have the patience to deal with all that is to come.
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Registered User
Jun 29, 2010
I wonder if also there is an element of co-dependence here? That although their relationship isn't one that from the outside looks healthy, the two of them have found a way to get along together.

For your mum too, as she loses her abilities and confidence, it can feel very secure to know there is someone who will take on the responsibilities and decisions, and who will look after her - even though there is a price to pay. She may well be very used to already having sacrificed her autonomy in their married life, and now she is also losing that in her physical and mental independence too.

I can hear your frustrations, and I have to say that yet again I see the parallels in my own experiences.

As long as it doesn't move into the area of neglect, or poor decisions against medical advice .... :(


Registered User
Apr 9, 2012
domineering husband

Hi Zeeb

I'm sorry to hear of your situation. I wonder, is this something that's happened since your mother has been ill, or have they always had this kind of relationship? If it's new, it could be that your father is struggling to understand and come to terms with what is happening. Just as the person with dementia resists the news, I think partners and carers have to go through some pain before accepting how things are.

I suppose the upside, if this is the case, is that maybe he will adjust and be nicer to her soon. It could be that she doesn't really want to be in charge, but to be looked after, especially now. Maybe he needs to understand the difference between needing support and being pushed around. As she declines, what will make her happy is to be looked after and well treated, and if a carer acheives that, it can be a reward in itself.

I may be wrong, but I hope things may improve in time.



Registered User
Oct 3, 2012

my mum has some kind dementia with memory loss and difiiculty having a conversation because she keeps losing her thread,
my sister isnt her carer but has been the one who has taken her to GP and hospital appointments because she doesnt work,
Recently my mum told me my sister has been shouting at her and my deaf and partially sighted sister, when i asked my bullying sister about this my mum said she hadnt been shouted at, she had forgotten she had said anything to me,
the bottom line is i am not allowed to take my mum to any appointments and cant accompany them both because my sister and i are fell out,
I dont want cause my mum any more stress so my hands are tied, i have know idea of my mums conditions what do i do.


Registered User
Yes there is a lot of co-dependence going on. He is a power tripper and over the last 15 years he has slowly taken control of things. The dementia diagnosis has just given him every right to now be in total control of everything without her having a say or in a position to argue.

It's a position I don't envy for either of them, but looks like a recipe for disaster.

Big Effort

Account Closed
Jul 8, 2012
Oh Zeeeb,
I do feel for you, this is what is called being caught between a rock and a hard place. Damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

I think this is a hard one to call - especially outsiders, so I hesitate to give any view at all. Nonetheless I can so understand where you are coming form and I didn't want to say nothing at all.

I would tend to agree with the co-dependence idea. He bullies her, yet he still does everything for her including putting on her shoes. She is pretty talkative outside the home, but gets mousy quiet and helpless when he is there. Both playing at this game, me thinks, so perhaps this has been going on for ever in their marriage and is so well entrenched that it feels natural to both. Not trying to make it harmless, but it may not be as ghastly for the players as it is for the viewers (you).

Anyway you mention that this year has really taken it out of him - all the caring for her. So it looks as if this arrangement cannot go on forever anyway, and your best bet might be to help them both plan ahead to find a nice place for her to go to when he can't handle it any more. You never know, a week of respite here, and he may agree sooner than later? But if he does do everything for her, then my guess is, he believes he needs her around too.

Not easy. I suppose I would play it by ear, and keep an eye on things. You could show him a few posts on this forum, and perhaps show him that it is better to get her settled while she can still choose for herself where suits her best, and let him see how very difficult dementia can be for carers.

My son told me that Alzheimers takes a huge toll on carers, that when it gets really tough, it shortens the carers lifespan. He has a friend whose Mum works in an Alz unit, and she was worried sick for me!!! Perhaps a few judicious little statements about how hard it will be coupled with he will need all his energy to look after himself (we wouldn't want him getting ill, now would we!) as dementia is a long term illness.

I wish I could give some brilliant advice, but I can't. Still, I do sympathise. BE