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How can I help my mom help herself whilst she cares for my dad??

Lovetosing

Registered User
Sep 15, 2013
24
0
West Midlands
My father was diagnosed with vascular dementia four years ago. Up until this year mom coped very well with dad at home but his repetitive behaviour, lessening abilities and confusion have worsened. She does accept he has dementia and understands why he does what he does but she still persists in arguing with him about things he says/does wrong. She shouts at him, gets very cross & exasperated but won't accept any advice on dealing with matters differently either from myself who she thinks is undermining her authority or from her dementia adviser. I am not worried about my dad, sad though it is to see him living in this confusing, angry world. However, I am worried about my mom who has always been a very strong willed woman who has done things her way and only her way. I love them both very much and we are thankfully a close family but I fear that mom's own mental and physical health is suffering because of her attitude in dealing with dad. She will not attend any courses that have been offered to her either to learn how to deal with someone with dementia or on how look after herself as a carer. Has anyone else been through this scenario that can give me some advice on how to try and help mom without her feeling that I know better than her, which is not what I am trying to prove. I would just like to see her deal with matters in a calmer manner as her stress levels must be mega. Ultimately I can see dad in a care home because mom is her own worst enemy but cannot see it. If he did this would break her heart as she has always seen herself as a 'do-er' & a 'coper' under all circumstances. She has passed those genes on to me but presently I'm at a loss what to do! I visit them regularly, help with chores & sort out their household and financial matters, take them out every week etc.to try to lessen mom's load but of course I appreciate I am not the one living with the bizarre behaviours that mom has to cope with the majority of the time, when I'm not there. Sorry for the rant! Any advice appreciated,
 

Linbrusco

Registered User
Mar 4, 2013
1,698
0
Auckland...... New Zealand
My sympathies as my situation almost echoes your own, except it is my mother with AD and Dad.
We recently had our Key Worker from AD Society to do a home visit. Mainly to talk with Dad, ways to help cope, what to say or do etc. Personally I don't think any of it sunk in as he is back to his argumentative/belittling self if not worse.
Someone said to me that maybe he thinks treatment like this will snap her out of it?!

I'm at a total loss. I truly think at some point my Mum will need to go into care a lot sooner than need be only because of Dads inability to cope and aggressive nature towards Mum.
My parents live in their own house behind ours and I otherwise do majority of care for Mum.
 

Butter

Registered User
Jan 19, 2012
6,737
0
NeverNeverLand
You could both be my son talking - he would sympathise with much of what you are saying. It is extremely difficult to watch your parents struggle with this disease - both of them are suffering and both of them are doing their best and both of them are getting much of it wrong.

And yes - people do get driven round the bend by the illness and everybody's health suffers.

The thing is, marriage is such a complicated interdependence and a foreign land to all outsiders (and to the insiders too of course) that sometimes you can only watch as the routines and habits and tendencies of temperament and strengths and weakness flounder around looking for straws to clasp.

The best thing to do, in my experience, is to provide respite. Send one parent off on a holiday or to stay with a friend, while caring for the other parent. Or take one parent away while leaving the other in peace at home. Whenever I go away, our son takes charge and of course carries a massive burden of responsibility. I am just so grateful - and my husband would be too if he were well enough to recognise what was happening.
 

Lovetosing

Registered User
Sep 15, 2013
24
0
West Midlands
Thanks for responding. I did think of taking mom and dad away for a weekend but I'll give some further thought about asking mom if she would like to go without him instead and arrange respite care for dad which is another hurdle to jump of course to get that. It would be interesting to see whether she would want to go without him or not. As an only child respite care would be the only option for dad if mom did say yes. Then we all have to live with the guilt of doing something that he would have enjoyed! Oh, decisions, decisions.

Having spoken to our Dementia Advisor again, she has stated that unless mom wants to change the way she deals with dad, then any suggestions will be ignored, as she feels she is coping in the only way she knows how, albeit perhaps not in the best way that could improve their everyday lives. I do feel better for having spoken to her and would advise anyone who is struggling to come to terms with anything this terrible disease throws at them to get in touch with their dementia advisor. I feel calmer and stronger in readiness for my next visit. I do appreciate, truly, that it is very different living 24/7 with someone with this condition, than just spending a few hours together here and there. I'm also aware that sometimes it means changing the whole way in which a marital relationship previously worked when what you really want is for it to get back to 'normal', as do we all, but sadly that is never going to happen.

Hey ho, I'll just keep gently chipping away at perhaps one little change at a time, that might just make a difference and hope that mom will realise that I am not trying to
undermine her authority or that I feel I know best, but that I am trying to help both of the people I treasure, to be calmer, happier and less stressed.

You could both be my son talking - he would sympathise with much of what you are saying. It is extremely difficult to watch your parents struggle with this disease - both of them are suffering and both of them are doing their best and both of them are getting much of it wrong.

And yes - people do get driven round the bend by the illness and everybody's health suffers.

The thing is, marriage is such a complicated interdependence and a foreign land to all outsiders (and to the insiders too of course) that sometimes you can only watch as the routines and habits and tendencies of temperament and strengths and weakness flounder around looking for straws to clasp.

The best thing to do, in my experience, is to provide respite. Send one parent off on a holiday or to stay with a friend, while caring for the other parent. Or take one parent away while leaving the other in peace at home. Whenever I go away, our son takes charge and of course carries a massive burden of responsibility. I am just so grateful - and my husband would be too if he were well enough to recognise what was happening.