fear factor


Registered User
Aug 10, 2007
my mother in law (in her late 80's) has recently been diagnosed. My father in law died recently and she immediately asked us to move in with her. As my husband is her only living offspring we felt that it was the only thing to do and we had discussed this eventuality. As she has always been difficult we knew we were in for a rough ride! We were totally unprepared for what followed. At first we put it down to the shock of bereavement and made allowances. We both work full time, (my husband is also a shift worker) but he was on sick leave for a month which was just as well as it meant he could be with her during the difficult days following dads death.

Dad was a wonderful man and they had been together for almost 70 years, the last 30, day & night with only a couple of short hospital stays to keep them apart. Mum had his constant attention and for a quiet life put up with a lot from her. After he died she tried to control us in every aspect of life. She wanted instant obedience and was rude & aggressive if we did not comply. She followed us about, wanted our attention at all times to the extent we did not even watch TV for a month. She did not want us to bring anything of our own into the house and made comments about using anything of hers. We tried to buy provisions and she was annoyed that they took up her fridge and cupboard space, then made comments about the amount of sugar, butter, tea etc we had used, we bought our own and she was offended if we used ours and not hers.

She wanted to sell the house and move into a smaller property and asked my husband to bring in the estate agents. When he had done so she said she did not want to move. She accused us of all sorts and eventually decided that we needed to be in our own home. When she accused my husband of 'using her money' to pay for our things I put my foot down. I told her that she had made the decision and that we would be going home in two days time. I still do not know if that is what she wanted or if it was a threat to try and make us toe her line.

After we moved out we were bombarded with telephone calls starting just after 6.30am, she expects us to be here to anser her calls and seems unable to comprehend that we are both working. She is still accusing us and others of stealing and 'taking without her permission'. She gives things to people and then accuses them of stealing, anything she can't find she thinks someone has stolen it.

My husband takes most of the verbal abuse but my daughter she hates with a passion and has accused her of all sorts. She is now frightened to visit for fear of further accusations. She has accused most of the neighbours of misdeeds from stealing her water, to pumping water from their garden to hers, killing her plants, putting their rubbish in her bin etc. She hears noises in the night, goes to bed at 4.30pm and just told us that she has terrible dreams every night.

When she has had an 'episode' of accusations and verbal abuse, she tells us she wants to go to live with the other family members. They have told her she can. This always unsettles her and then we are constantly asked when they are coming to visit and told that they will look after her. This is very upsetting for my husband who feels completely rejected by his own mother.

Having read the threads I have found her behaviour repeated time and again. My problem is accepting her illness when she can be perfectly normal, her house is spotless and her personal hygiene sencond to none. Other family members live some hours away and apart from a couple of visits in the last few months only speak to her briefly on the phone. They seem to think it is all down to the shock of dads death. We are doing the very best we can for her, spending most of our spare time with her, arranging carers, taking her shopping, and everything else that she is unable to do. She complains at times that she is lonely, she sees people most days, her gardener, a friend, her carers and my husband and myself. She tells people at other times that she likes to be on her own as she can run her house as she wants.

Although the doctor has confirmed she is suffering with dementia, we feel family members may be judging the situation from the phone calls. They have not seen the other side of her and are not going through the nightmare that we are going through. We find ourselves questiong the diagnosis and our own eyes and ears.

TP has really helped as some of the threads could have been written by us. Even so there are times when we still doubt ourselves.

I could go on and on but think I had better stop!


Registered User
Aug 29, 2006
SW Scotland
Hi Harvey, welcome to TP. I hope you'll find support here, it's a wonderful site.

Yes, there are other threads running with similar themes, but that does not make your situation any easier to bear. I have so much sympathy for you.

Your mum is obviously trying to manipulate you, possibly she did it to your father, and now needs another target? I don't know.

First of all, don't let her make you feel guilty. You and your husband have done everything in your power to help her. Secondly, don't worry what other people think. Although your mum may try to appear normal to them, they will have seen the signs. Don't question the diagnosis, the symptoms are fairly typical.

What to do? Well first I'd try not to be at her beck and call. I know it's hard, with such an old lady, but the more you give in to her, the more she'll demand. Try not to be available every time she calls, and if she becomes abusive, just leave. Tell her you're sorry, but you don't deserve to be spoken to like that, and you'll come back later/tomorrow/next week.

That may do the trick, if her dementia is not too far advanced. If not, you need to see her GP to discuss medication.

You cannot go on like that, you'll be ill, and then who'll look after her. I'm not trying to be cruel, but you really do have to look after yourself too.

Take care,


Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
Hello Harvey, Welcome.

You have tried very hard to accommodate your Mother-in-law, but it does not seem to have been appreciated.

She sounds a very dominant woman who seems to have been allowed to dominate for a long time and I feel she is leading you a dance.

However ill she is, you do not have to take abuse. I`m afraid I would walk out or tell her you`ll put the phone down unless she speaks to you properly.

And I wouldn`t spend so much time with her. I`m sorry if I am being too personal or too judgemental but I found with my own mother that she appreciated me more when I wasn`t at her beck and call at all times.

Sometimes you can do so much for some people that the more you do the more they expect from you. I know the illness makes it very difficult to work out how much they can and cannot help, but there`s no harm in trying to persuade some people they will be treated with more love and care if they were a little bit more respectful.

I know it`s easier said than done, but I do not feel anyone has the right to be so rude, whatever the illness.

My apologies if I`ve overstepped the mark, but I feel this person is running rings round you.

Take care xx


Registered User
Aug 10, 2007
thank you

thank you ladies for the support. Do you know my mother in law?!!

Yes she is a very dominant character and yes she did dominate dad to a great extent. Having said that he was not a weak character and mum knew how far to push him.

We have faced up to her and it does help in the short term. When we moved out she refused to let my husband have a key to the house. When he asked what he would do if she was taken ill she told him he would have to break in! After she had accused him of using her money he got very cross with her and I think made her ashamed of the things she had said. She then said he was right and gave him a key. She seems to go for a few weeks and then gets fired up about something and we start all over again.

Although we get her shopping and I make meals for her which I put in the freezer she says she does not eat much. We also get her ready meals which she is capable of heating in the microwave. She has lost weight but when we speak on the phone she always tells us what she has had for her meals. I don't know if she is eating or if she is just telling us she does not to try to get us over there more often.

She is a very proud & dignified lady and would be offended if we tried to get social services involved. We will be seeing her doctor again in a couple of weeks so will discuss it with him. Although she has no money worries she does not like to spend, she would not welcome suggestions that she have her carers make her meals. It is something that we will have to try and get her to come to terms with.

We took her out today and it was a good day. Only a couple of strange incidents but mostly quite normal. Days like today are a great relief! I am hoping that we might have a period of calm.

It is also a great relief to be able to talk to people who understand the difficulties we are having. :)


Registered User
Feb 17, 2006
My mother was also the dominant character in our family unit

What I am reading in your post , sounds like your writing about my mother

when my father died it open what I call is a pandora box

I was like that in the few first year of my father death, because my mother also could wash clean herself
Even so there are times when we still doubt ourselves.
Oh god did I doubt mum illness . I reckon with my mother , the shock of my father death made the dementia/ AZ worse

If anything like my mother she hold on to dear life to her independence , controlling manipulating way , on top of that she got dementia which make her think irrational.

Then other day she be like sweetness and light and I thought yes she understanding :) AS IF :rolleyes:

So when she says think like
When she has had an 'episode' of accusations and verbal abuse, she tells us she wants to go to live with the other family members
I use to say to my mother '' go on then '' .

I just felt such an emotional sorrow it was heartbreaking , when she use to say what other perceived as cruel thing to say to me , my mother has said worse thing to me heartbreaking for me because she was such a strong woman , clinging on to her independence , they was not way I could make her she the rational side of life , that it gave me sorrow

To me it was not cruel , I never perceived it like that , it was just a way of protecting herself she new she was losing control over her surrounding , her mind , no one can tell my mother what to do :rolleyes: the only thing that told my mother what she can or can not do is the progression of the AZ.

I can only say that now 5 years into AZ
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Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
Dear Harvey,

You and your husband know your MIL best, but I hope you know how lucky she is to have you.

Love xx


Registered User
Jun 26, 2006
Harvey sorry to hear you are going through such difficult times.
We went through the same things, noticed a significant weight loss, kept asking MIL if she had eaten ..lunch tea..breakfast.she was always very plausible and would assusre us she had eaten. It was only when this weight loss continued and other bells start ringing that we started checking up ... She had so many things bussing around in her heard I think she really thought she had eaten,,but was constantly side-tracked so she actually forgot meals. In fact we discovered that she was forgetting how to do simple tasks...we were served up some interesting concotions that passed for tea ..gravy browning...all sorts of things that happened to be in the cupboard. We thought she could still pour cereal into a bowl ..add milk and sugar ..couldnt do that..or remember how to make a sandwich. Even if we left food for her we would discover it unopened and had rotting food in the fridge .gallons of milk going off etc etc!
She had no insight into her condition,..sent the carer away who popped in to help with breakfast ...set her electric kettle on fire by putting it on the stove ..we then turned the gas off.
She just got crosser and crosser with us ..because my husand (her son) had to pop in a minimum of 3 times daily to check on everything ..and she would argue black was white ..tell some major porkies ..and he would finally get irritated ..and point out some of the problems ..and another row would start!
Same thing with accusations about neighbours ..naughty boys that broke in at night and changed things around.... strangers who came in and left their clothes in her house when she wasnt there (they were all hers!)...
We documented our increasing concerns down to the last detail and actually took them to the GP..who had her assesed..and we then statred to acces help and advice for us as well as her about dealing with what was ahead.
MIL is now in an EMI residential home ...and life has improved no end for all of us ..her included!
Thinking of you


Registered User
Jun 26, 2006
Power Of Attorney

AH .....and I should have mentioned ..make sure your husband has power of attorney ..... luckily MILs solicitor some time ago suggested it, and she signed it. We then registered it when we realised how bad she was getting. It has been anabsolute godsend.. My husband has been able to take over all of her affairs.sort all her bills out ..pay for carers in the early days ..and respite (she also is self funding)..and finally choose and pay for a residential EMI home for her.
So by hook or by crook make sure he can obtain this ..... MIL in her lucid days was very happy to think that the family would look after things for her if she was not well enough to do it herself, or suddenly taken ill ....you just have to phrase it correctly.


Registered User
Aug 10, 2007
I started reading posts on this site weeks ago, I came to the site in desperation not believing that mum really was suffering from dementia. It was after one of her episodes when I really did not know what to do. The self doubt and guilt, thinking about other family members opinion of the reason for for mums behaviour was and still is a weight to bear.

I still believe that she has had problems for some years. We would invite them over for a meal and they would only come for lunch and they never stayed for more than two hours if that. I think he felt more comfortable in their own home. If we only had brief visits he could cover up her behaviour. He certainly did a good job. My daughter used to ring and invite them over or offer to visit them but dad always had an excuse to refuse. As my daughter is the one who seems to come in for most of the accusations he probably tried to avoid awkward situations.

After he died and my husband re-washed some cutlery that she had washed, she caused such a row. He showed her that the food had not been washed off as she would not use detergent. I think now that her reaction was due to her illness, that she was embarrassed and lashed out. The same happened when he tried to throw away food that was way over its use by date. She said that it never did her any harm!

We have spoken to mums solicitor about EPA but solicitor seems to think it may be too late for that and is writing to her doctor. Solicitor has suggested that it may be a case for someone to be appointed as receiver. I have not really looked into that at the moment.

We are already finding it difficult to sort our her affairs as most need her permission. She received a tax form on Saturday but we are unable to fill it in without the paperwork she has at home. She told us that she has already thrown some paperwork away but we have no idea what it was! She is not really capable of speaking to people regarding banking, insurances, utilities etc on the phone as she either cannot hear or cannot understand what they are talking about. She gets mail shots from building societies etc and thinks it is a letter specifically for her and gets totally confused about the reason for the letter. She then gets frustrated with us for not sorting the letter out!

As she has always had an obsession with money it will be very difficult for her to relinquish control. It is going to be impossible for us to make her understand why she should sign EPA papers. She wants to keep control even though we know that there will come a time when we are unable to carry out her wishes.

many thanks for your replies they really are helping us


Registered User
Jun 26, 2006
sorry to hear about the EPA ..MIL exactly the same ...in fact we had to be devious and quietly remove her cheque books she just thought she had lost them ..which she had in fact done many times...junk mail the same ..everything was treated as personal mail to her .... started ordering all sorts of things from readers digest(!) and eny catalogue that arrived. Your only hope I guess is that she hasnt learned to use a chip and pin card ..I think they are phasing out cheques for many things...
Panful process when they are fiercely independent but MIL clearly couldnt begin to sort out her affairs ..I would start whatever process you need to to manager her affairs.
Best wishes

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