How not to take things personally?

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Feistywoman, Nov 11, 2018.

  1. Sarasa

    Sarasa Registered User

    Apr 13, 2018
    @Feistywoman, go to your yoga. It sounds like you need it and you won't make your mother any happier by not going. My mother is the same she can switch between sounding fairly happy to the depth of misery over an hour or two. I'm afraid you mum probably doesn't see that she's treating you badly, so try to ignore it. Harder said than done I know, my mum makes me feel guilty all the time, but I know there is nothing I can do to make her feel better.
  2. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    You are trying to reason with her and it wont work - reason and logic are lost early on. She has also lost empathy (another early loss), so she is totally unable to see anything from anyone elses side. Eventually their world becomes so narrow and self-preservation kicks in so that all they can see is their own wants, desires and comforts. It is not their fault - their poor damaged brains are unable to do anything else.

    She probably forgot what you said too - but what they do remember is the emotional feeling, so she remembered the feeling that you made her feel bad.

    All of this does not mean that you have to pander to her desire. You are already using love lies about your yoga; try using love lies more often when she is unable to understand the reality. If she flies at you dont try and explain, interrupt her and say you need the loo, or go and make a cup of tea for you both. You may find that when you get back she has forgotten her complaint. If not, make some excuse and leave.
  3. Fullticket

    Fullticket Registered User

    Apr 19, 2016
    Chard, Somerset
    Obviously I can only talk about my experience so some may disagree but someone commented a couple of months ago about emotional divorce and they were, in my opinion, totally right. You get the guilt but you don't crucify yourself about it and learn to deal with it rationally because there really is no good reason to feel guilty. A PWD can bully, manipulate and be nasty and sometimes physically aggressive. We can explain it away by saying that that the PWD does not have to pretend with their carer and/or proximity causes them to act out their anger at losing control. But, putting it bluntly, if this person was someone you met on the street and was not suffering from dementia, would you let them be your friend?
    Whether we choose to become carers or have caring thrust upon us, there is a very different person to deal with than the loved OH or parent that we have known. Of course we don't wish them any harm and, personally speaking, I gave up trying to explain things or ask opinions on important matters years before my mum died because she would not want to get up, get washed, go out, eat a dinner, etc etc. So I just did it, became the parent and was assertive and proactive in getting people in to do the things I could not - in mum's case get her out of bed and get her washed and dressed.
    I developed the hide of a rhino because the only person getting upset was me - mum might have derived a moment's satisfaction at upsetting me but forgot about it minutes later. So I didn't let myself brood on it.
    It takes some application and it worked for me. xx
  4. Amy in the US

    Amy in the US Registered User

    Feb 28, 2015
    @Feistywoman, a wise soul here once said that "guilt should be reserved for when you have willfully, and willingly, done something wrong with intent to harm," or something similar. So, reserve guilt for really bad things (murder? cheating the Inland Revenue?) and don't let it in the house otherwise!

    That was a bit tongue in cheek, but I do think that as carers, we are overwhelmed all the time, by physical caring demands, chasing paperwork, dealing with finances, sorting solutions to ever-changing issues, trying to live our own lives, and a lot of emotions, all the time. I know for a while that every emotion I experienced (a combination of anger, sadness, grief, bewilderment, and a lot more), felt to me like guilt. I kept thinking that I was doing something wrong, that if I could just get it right, things would be better. That was not how it worked out for me, because it turns out I wasn't doing anything wrong, it was the dementia making everything impossible.

    We have a special pointy stick here on TP that we use for poking the Guilt Monster with. Perhaps someone would be kind enough to hand it to you? Again, this is all figurative and may seem a bit silly, but you really don't have room for guilt and it will not be helpful. It is so easy to say, and so hard to do, but please do try to let go. And go to your yoga class!

    Dementia will take all the time and energy and emotion you can throw at it, and be greedy for more. It's an insatiable disease that sucks us all in, like a black hole in a bad science fiction film. Don't allow yourself to be consumed.

    As a practical matter, it's hard to wrap your head around, but "normal" conversation and chats and logic and reasoning don't work well with dementia, and many of us find that we have to not do that any longer with our person who has dementia. It is counter intuitive to do this with an adult who appears normal and functioning and who has been an adult all our lives, so to speak. I often think the best training for dealing with dementia would be dementia education along with a combination of acting and improvisational comedy classes. It's very hard to adjust our expectations and our actions accordingly, to deal with dementia. It's even harder with certain types of dementia, or earlier in the disease, when memory and reason aren't so impaired and the person can have a sort of fluctuating level of ability.

    There are some helpful "compassionate communication" documents available, if you've not seen those, and they are a good place to start. Generally speaking, don't argue, don't contradict, don't use reason or logic, keep explanations and comments simple and short, and when you find something that works, rinse and repeat as necessary. Distraction and diversion are also often necessary. It takes a lot of trial and error, and often needs adjusting.

    None of this is easy and I am so sorry you are in this situation. Very best wishes to you.
  5. myss

    myss Registered User

    Jan 14, 2018
    Hi @Feistywoman (love that name btw) do I feel bullied? I had to think about that one as no-one likes to be doing some of the nastier tasks some of us carers have to do but I know if this was the other way round, my dad (or more likely my mum tbh) would be caring for me if they had to, so no but I understand why you might feel that way.

    Do I crucify myself with guilt? I used to but I am more confident that I am doing the best and good job as being a carer alongside everything else I am balancing and, despite the deterioration, he is healthy and well fed, so no - even on the very rare occasion when anger is greeted with anger.

    How do I handle it? You have turn a cheek to it - which is easy to say but not to do. As mentioned, I reckon those rare occasions of anger meeting anger must have happened once in this month, but you know we are human; although we know this isn't the typical behaviour of our loved one, it's the dementia, it's hard to be like a robot all the time and act like it doesn't mean anything to you. In those moments, I've told myself to take a back seat and then let him carry on. By the time he's eaten,slept, use the toilet, gone for drive, seen his favourite advert/comedy/game show/etc, it's all forgotten by the both of us.

    All the best to you xx
  6. MothersCarer

    MothersCarer Registered User

    Nov 13, 2014
    Someone on here talked about dementia as if it was a third person so for me it would be mum, me and dementia. That really hit a cord for me and I find I feel a little less attacked when mum turns from her ordinary self to someone who is verbally aggressive. That, I tell myself, is dementia talking. I won't say it helps every time but it allows me to feel less embattled some of the time.
  7. Mousehill

    Mousehill Registered User

    Nov 28, 2018
    I've recently found myself asking myself if I'd get so upset if a toddler threw a tantrum, or suggested I was 'mean' or became overwhelmed and angry - because I know dementia has left my mum pretty much like a toddler in many respects. In her lucid moments, she's 'herself' again and I try to remind myself that she will return (although I know deep down that one day she might not and that the 'real' mum might resurface less and less)

    Another coping mechanism I have is to try not to engage her too much in conversation when she's having one of her episodes, but just explain calmly and clearly what I intend to do: "I'm going to peg the washing out / go to the shop / hoover your bedroom" and then get on and do it. I'll periodically ask if she'd like a drink and accept whatever reply I get!

    The last thing I do, when I'm really, seriously close to tears or ready to scream, or answer back, is to take a moment to leave the room and then cast my mind back for a few seconds and recall happier times and fun things we did together and try to imagine what that lady would say if she could look forward and see herself now.

    It's a nasty, cruel condition and you have to be so strong. I'm absolutely humbled by a lot of things I've read on here since I've joined because I thought my situation was hard - but it's been like a domestic tabby wandering into the tiger-lounge!!! You guys are awesome and inspiring :)
  8. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    SW London
    My mother wasn't often abusive to me, but sometimes she would say truly horrible and quite untrue things about my husband and daughters, which frankly I found rather more upsetting than anything personal, especially since they'd always been so good to her.

    On one such occasion (I was on one of my frequent 'sleepovers') I told her very sharply that if she didn't stop saying such horrible things NOW, I was going straight home - and I meant it, and she must have known I did, since she did stop it, at least for that evening.

    I think that sometimes we can be a bit too tolerant with abuse, telling ourselves 'they can't help it' when maybe they can when they want to - as witness 'hostess mode', or being very nice to the relatives who visit only rarely, while reserving nastiness for the one who does the lion's share.
  9. Jale

    Jale Registered User

    Jul 9, 2018
    Not a pity party at all. Shortly after my dad died mum was diagnosed with vascular dementia and things really changed. I have lost count of the number of times that mum has been downright rude and verbally - and sometimes physically - viscous to both myself and hubby. We have been accused of not caring, not doing anything, wanting to get rid of her etc etc and the only person who cares about her is her son (who lived with her) who to be honest did very little. I have had to walk away (usually hid out in the bathroom) and try to either calm down or stop crying so many times after a confrontation.

    All I could do was to try and remember that it was the dementia talking and mum didn't mean it but that was so difficult to do. Mum is now in a nursing home and I feel guilty for that even though there was nothing we could really do about it - I think this illness has such a massive impact on everyone involved that there are no easy answers, all we can do is to try our best
  10. emmamac

    emmamac Registered User

    Sep 15, 2009
    I had to read the start of your post a couple of times to check it wasn't something I'd posted! This is exactly the same situation as I am in with my mum who is almost 91. I work full time and have an 11 year old son but have been going every day for almost two years - after work and both days at weekends when I have her for at least half a day if not all day.
    It began to take its toll on me this year and in April I asked for a social care assessment and the GP requested one. It took forever and I seemed to spend the next 7 months chasing social care and almost giving up. But finally we have a care package agreed - I had to fight for it and it took me saying that my own mental and physical health were suffering and I wasn't prepared to do it any longer before they actually did anything, but I managed to get £250 per week as a personal budget so that I can arrange care for mum as I see fit.
    We are in the early weeks of this and it isn't all smooth, but the pressure has lifted a little. I now only go 3 nights in the week and tomorrow, for the first time, I am having the day to myself and will only go over late afternoon (unheard of!!)
    Like you, up till about 6 months ago, if I didn't go mum would be very off with me. In fact, a couple of years ago when the dementia started, she wouldn't speak to me if I went away over a weekend! I had to call her every morning otherwise that was a cause for a telling off. I felt like a child all over again. But recently, the dementia has meant she can't really remember clearly who has or hasn't been and when I have been away and my daughters have taken over the care, she has been fine. She tends to get stroppy with her lovely neighbour instead now, and I'm sure the new carers will bear the brunt of it too.

    It used to break my heart and really upset me as it was so unlike her and I did take it to heart. but looking back I think this is part of the journey and at some point it will shift for you too I'm sure. Just keep talking and venting when you need to.....I so understand where you are at xxx
  11. Feistywoman

    Feistywoman Registered User

    Aug 11, 2018
    My goodness, no wonder this was taking a toll on your health! Glad that you’re getting your much fought for help in place and really hope that you get to enjoy some time to yourself! x
  12. Feistywoman

    Feistywoman Registered User

    Aug 11, 2018
    Jale, I hope that you ease that guilt soon! Such a difficult decision to make, one which will no doubt land on my doorstep some day. Always remember that everything you have done is with love and care.
  13. Feistywoman

    Feistywoman Registered User

    Aug 11, 2018
    Thank you @myss great advice, mostly I manage not to rise to the dementia but on the odd occasion I do, I immediately loathe myself! Like us all I need to learn to be more forgiving to myself and keep doing the best that I can.
  14. Feistywoman

    Feistywoman Registered User

    Aug 11, 2018
    As always, thank each of you so very much for your unending advice and support. I wish none of us were in these situations but am enormously grateful that this forum exists.
  15. pixie2

    pixie2 Registered User

    Jul 21, 2018
    My mam today was great then suddenly in a rage told me I never hug her anymore or cuddle up on chair. This actually broke my heart again. Back to square 1.
  16. pixie2

    pixie2 Registered User

    Jul 21, 2018
    Its not just guilt but worry too isn't it. If you go away you worry. What if mam is sick in night or crying or not eating or washing etc etc. Its care home niggles too. Privacy to a degree but sometimes I wish once bedroom door shut there wouldn't be set times for tea,tablets blah blah. My mam hates routine, I get upset if they say she refused toilet etc. No- she just didn't need it then!. Sorry rambling after a good cry
  17. myss

    myss Registered User

    Jan 14, 2018
    I agree with this. Just because they have dementia, it doesn't mean you must take every insult, viciousness, hit etc. The only way I know when to 'give back' or ignore their behaviour is with experience.

    I know, for example, last Friday, my dad was showing a threatening behaviour towards me and a sibling who was there at the time. We took it in our strides but it was the deep long stares he then started to do, you know those ones that we used to get as kids when you touched/done something you shouldn't have. So I stared him out and told him not to bother. It worked too. The verbal didn't stop but calmed down enough for him to have something to eat which led to the sleep and changed his mood completely when he woke up.

    It sounds like you are already do your best.
  18. SpanishAnnie

    SpanishAnnie Registered User

    Apr 26, 2018
    It’s a funny old thing, guilt. All the strategies to avoid the insults, nastiness, lashing out etc work very well in most circumstances, for me I feel guilty that I have to use those strategies.
    I hate it that I have to say ‘ I don’t know’ when I do know the answer, explaining wouldn’t help the situation.
    I hate it that I walk away when he insults my food, as saying he enjoyed it yesterday won’t help, he doesn’t remember.
    I hate it that I lie (might be love lies) when he asks when did he last see his brother, as the truth would hurt him
    I hate it that I have to answer constant questions about the time or how old he is, as telling him he’s already asked me would confuse him more

    I hate the strageties because I want the person I knew back.
    My guilt is because I would not treat him like this

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