Dealing with explosive anger


Registered User
Jul 3, 2006
Hi there

I'm new to all this and we just need a bit of advice regarding my 85 year old mother in law who still lives on her own with the support of carers (who she insists she doesn't need).

My hubby is an only child and my MIL, who has little if any contact with the rest of her family and has no friends, is becoming EXTREMELY clingy towards my hubby and increasingly me.

We do our best to keep her informed of our activities but it's not always possible and she's now forgetting to write down our movements so we can tell her we'll be out for half an hour and get back to 7 (increasingly hysterical) messages demanding to know why we are not at home. This is normally followed by a half hour conversation trying to calm her down and promising not to go out again.

She panics when we go out, she panics if we don't answer the phone within a couple of rings (she recently called 999 because we were in the garden and couldn't get to it quick enough), she'll ring us 15 times in an evening just to make sure we're in, she'll ring us at 2.30 in the morning.

She is starting to move from a reasonably manageable anxious/panic response to one of unmanageable hysterical, explosive anger towards us both for not being immediately available to her 24/7(although she has yet to become aggressive when we are actually in her company).

We're at a complete loss as to how to deal with this, we're both in our 40s and have less freedom of movement than 5 year old and although we're generally able to intellectualize the extremes of her behavour, recently in our frustration we are starting to respond angrily back. We know this is completely pointless and unhelpful but are struggling.

We'd be grateful for any advice or suggestions that you might have. Thanks for getting this far!



Registered User
Jan 4, 2006
Hiya Scruffy,
Welcome to TP. Sounds as though MIL level of confusion could be increasing, and I'm afraid you and your husband are her security blanket. Maybe care arrangements need to be looked at again.
Haven't experienced this, but I am sure others will have done, so they may have some ideas.
Best wishes,


Registered User
Aug 11, 2005
South-East London, UK
Hi Scruffy,

Just wanted to welcome you to TP. I can't give you any advice, I'm afraid, on this particular problem. My husband is quite clingy, both at home and when we are out, but not to the extent that your MIL appears to be. However, I am sure there are others who will be able to offer some appropriate advice and sure, too, that you will find a lot of support here in your situation.



Registered User
Jul 2, 2006
Newport, Gwent
Hi Scruffy
Like you we are new to this site. But Oh how I can relate to your problems. My mother was diagnosed coming up 2 years ago now, and has, as your MIL, got worse. She phones 15 - 20 times a day, we call it mums Groundhog day, we repeat the same conversations over and over, and sometimes I must admit to losing it. She goes absolutely crazy if we do not answer the phone, and leaves really nasty messages. We organised Carers to call in twice a day, and meals on wheels, they lasted 2 days and were given their marching orders, that was over a year ago, we are about to try again. Mum's BIG thing is, if she loses something, somebody MUST have stolen it, usually my poor sister in law, who I must say has been the most patient of all of us. the latest being SIL has stolen her dentures!! She also fails to recognise her 'stuff' that she has had for years, spin dryer, hoover, iron etc. etc. these she says my SIL has swopped, they are all piled up behind the front door, we dont know whether to ignore this and the 'stealing' accusations, if we try to rationalise any of this, she gets really evil, and verbally aggressive, on one occasion threw an iron at my SIL. Sorry not to be able to offer any advise, we are as confused as you, but its nice to share the problem. Good luck. Cate

Canadian Joanne

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 8, 2005
Toronto, Canada
Scruffy - I have mentioned this in previous posts - there are medications which can help with suspicion / paranoia / hallucinations / panic. I would recommend you check all the meds & discuss them with a pharmacist or doctor. Perhaps an antipsychotic would help - it certainly did with my mother. I would be very careful with antianxiety drugs as most seem to be quite addicative and contra-indicated for AD patients, as they can cause confusion and memory loss. Like we don't have that already!!

You do have to be careful that your MIL does not get over-medicated but there is certainly a place for meds. My mother has been on various antipsychotics for 5 years now - we've had to change a couple of times. Now she's fine again but if we just even reduce the dosage a little, the evil violent witch is back in a blink of an eye. It's a constant monitoring job.

Cate - I've heard of the "stolen" dentures before. I confess - it just cracks me up to think of stealing dentures, but I do realize that it's the disease. Like Scruffy's MIL, perhaps yours could benefit from the proper drugs. And say hello and hang in there to your SIL for me - I envy naturally patient people as I seem to spend a lot of my life biting my tongue.



Registered User
May 14, 2006
"Clingy Behaviour"

When Mum was still in her own home, I used to really dread the family occaisons when my chidren came home from University or work, to stay with us for a few days. I stopped telling Mum when they were coming home, because she was always said she was ill, and either demanded to be taken to the doctors, or wouldn't come out in the car to spend the day with us. ( Her house was less than two miles from ours.)
In the end, I had to tell her that, as I didn't see the kids that often, I wouldn't drive over to her house, she could either come over for a meal with us and spend time in our house, or she could stay at home on her own. She usually came for lunch, then insisted on going home at 3pm. She would then tell her neighbours that she spent the Bank Holiday all by herself.
I think sometimes it is necessary to be firm, as normally I called in on Mum most days and I didn't want to miss out on seeing my children while they were at home. You can't devote all your time to just one family member. She would mysteriously recover when the kids had to go back again.


Registered User
May 24, 2006
Install an answerphone they cant bear talking to them and stop phoning altogether

makes life much easier you can phone them when you want or monitor for messages


Registered User
Mar 7, 2004
Hi Scruffy, certainly the anti- psycotic drugs could help. Speak to your doctor/consultant/CPN, never try self medication.

It took us a couple of attemps to work out the best for Lionel, and I did not quite appreciate how much calmer he is until the last two days. Ran out of tablets (my fault) and boy oh boy did he rant off this morning. Anxious, wasn't in it. Calmer tonight, back on medication.

It must be worth a try.


Registered User
Feb 24, 2006
My mother used to fill up my answer phone with messages from Shona and Podsnap.

When I was with her I tried to ration her calls to other people's answer phones.

Helena said:
Install an answerphone they cant bear talking to them and stop phoning altogether

makes life much easier you can phone them when you want or monitor for messages


Registered User
Jul 3, 2006

I just wanted to post a quick line of thanks for all the reply posts and welcome, they've really, really helped.

We will follow up on the meds suggestion, the last time we tried the locum GP wasn't interested because she could name the PM and knew who the queen was he was happy to ignore the rest of the symptoms (in fairness to the GP my MIL does a good job of appearing "normal but scatty" for 5 or so minutes when she knows the heat is on). We'll have another crack at it as through this process we're learning that you really do have to be quite determined not to be brushed off.

As an amusing aside, last night she rang and left a message on our answerphone actually abusing it, telling it to get off the line as it was stopping her ringing her son. It probably shouldn't have done but it made me laugh.




Registered User
Feb 17, 2006
I we're learning that you really do have to be quite determined not to be brushed off.
That is so right tell him you want her to be referred to a consultant for the elderly good luck