How to convince Mum that Dad's behaviour is down to illness - tips pls!

Discussion in 'Recently diagnosed and early stages of dementia' started by BeaBea, Jan 11, 2018.

  1. BeaBea

    BeaBea New member

    Jan 11, 2018
    Dad was diagnosed with Alz a few months back. Most people probably would not realise, however he can be very "bad-tempered" and difficult with Mum. Although we all understand the diagnosis, Mum often attributes his hurtful verbal aggression to "unreasonable behaviour," rather than symptoms of the disease and she then becomes very upset.
    Any tips for trying to make her realise it's the illness, and not "the real him" and ways to defuse the arguments? Thanks.
  2. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
  3. Amy in the US

    Amy in the US Registered User

    Feb 28, 2015
    I think that understanding about dementia and what the illness does and causes can be a very steep learning curve. At least, it was for me. Especially st the beginning it was sometimes hard to tell what was the disease, and what was my mother (some of her negative personality traits were magnified by her Alzheimer's).

    So some education might be a place to start. There are books, there is very good information on the UK Alzheimer's Society's website, and you can have a look online for the videos by Teepa Snow.

    I would also suggest any classes or workshops in her area, and any support groups or carers cafes or similar. Meeting other people dealing with the same issue can really help.
  4. BeaBea

    BeaBea New member

    Jan 11, 2018
    Thank you Beate - very helpful!
  5. karaokePete

    karaokePete Registered User

    Jul 23, 2017
    N Ireland
    Welcome to the forum.
    As suggested by @Amy in the US there may be Memory Cafes or carer training in your mum’s area. It was using both these and this web-site that I was able to educate myself when my wife was diagnosed. However, despite all the ‘education’ available it is also necessary to develop a thick skin and learn how to bite your lip as the going can get tough.
    This forum is a very informative and friendly place so it should be useful to you and your mum as problems arise or as a place to let off a bit of steam as all the other members understand the situation
  6. Tin

    Tin Registered User

    May 18, 2014
    Its difficult to actually see this illness. When my mum was first diagnosed with vascular dementia, she could still do things for herself, get up dressed organise her own breakfast and tidy up a little, but when her behaviour became a little odd and sundowning kicked in with a bad temper and this was most days, I used to think and sometimes say to her " you can do all this other stuff, get a grip with everything else" I used to think she was just "playing to the gallery". I even questioned the repetitive behaviour. For me acceptance and realisation came slowly even after diagnosis. 4 years down the line and sometimes to my shame I still think that mum could "get a grip".

    Visits to a memory café certainly helped me. Having a few friends further along this journey also helped a lot. Previous to mum getting Dementia I had some experience, but all that seemed to go out of the window when it happened to my own mum. Acceptance is not easy and so sites like this one are so important. Little bits of information there in black and white so very useful and an area to let off steam every now and then can't be that bad. Would your mother consider joining?
  7. Lawson58

    Lawson58 Registered User

    I have a sneaky feeling that your mum might be finding it difficult to accept the diagnosis. For her, unreasonable behaviour is a more acceptable alternative to dementia and that is her way of dealing with it. It obviously is going to become more difficult as time goes by and you don't say how old your parents are.

    Perhaps it could help if someone outside the family, a nurse or a knowledgeable person could visit with your mum and explain it gently to her. Sometimes people will accept things from non family better and it may take a little while but it certainly doesn't help anybody as things are now.
  8. Amy in the US

    Amy in the US Registered User

    Feb 28, 2015
    I've sat in my local support group and watched people struggle with accepting that their family member has this disease. I've seen it over and over. I've seen it here on TP as well. It's an awful disease and we don't wish it on anyone, least of all someone for whom we care.

    Last year my FIL was diagnosed with terminal cancer, an aggressive type, which had metastasized. He was going to live, at best, six months past diagnosis.

    My poor MIL simply could not wrap her head around this. As he got sicker and sicker, she somehow didn't see his frailty and illness. She was so unable to accept this, that she wouldn't even use the word "cancer." He just wasn't feeling well. She refused to go to any of the doctor's appointments or to schedule them. She refused to go to his chemotherapy sessions. She refused to discuss it with any of her adult children.

    It was terribly sad, but it was such a shock that she just couldn't process it, and then the fluster of activity around diagnosis and treatment made it even harder. It took her almost four months to come to terms with his diagnosis.

    So I think some people just need more time, no blame or shame, it's just how we are. But I can see that this is frustrating, especially if things could be better or different, with more acceptance and understanding. (I know I felt that way about my MIL.)

    I do think some kind of support group or lecture or coffee meeting for carers, might give her a sense she's not alone (and so many of us carers feel that) and maybe some perspective? But it's hard, and I'm sorry.
  9. BeaBea

    BeaBea New member

    Jan 11, 2018
    Thank you all for your kind thoughts and advice - it's all really helpful. We've got a few support sessions lined up and I think someone "external" could really make a difference to her perception.
    I'm sure it's not just the diagnosis that's tough, it's the realisation that the future she'd envisaged is no longer possible and her role is so totally different to what she expected. I can hardly imagine her frustration, sadness and a kind of "grief", but feel privileged to do what I can for such a wonderful couple.
  10. karaokePete

    karaokePete Registered User

    Jul 23, 2017
    N Ireland
    You mention a kind of grief, and that is exactly what it is. After my wife got her diagnosis we were both in shock and feeling bewildered. A CPN visited and explained the 'grief' reaction to a diagnosis and it made sense to us. All I can say is that time will heal but the amount of time differs from person to person. I recovered quickly and signed up for a carers course and started planning for the future within a few weeks. 8 months on and I think my wife is still grieving for the life she has lost, even though we are again living as before and she is now on meds that have helped her so she has gained rather than lost. My bottom line is that "You are what you is" (Frank Zappa) and I just get on with being proactive. I wish you all the best of luck. Never forget the support that you will find here on TP from others walking the same road.
  11. Boldredrosie

    Boldredrosie Registered User

    Mar 13, 2012
    To be fair to your mum, when you're living with someone whose behaviour is abusive, whether that abuse is driven by Alzheimers, psychosis or drink and drugs can often feel irrelevant when you're on the receiving end of it day after day. Certainly was with me and my mum.

    My teenage son is unable to get over some of the vile things she said to him and some really hard to forgive behaviour when my father, his granddad, was dying. He refuses to see her.

    Compassionate communication is a great idea but it takes great patience and saint-like qualities not all of us have.
  12. Bunpoots

    Bunpoots Registered User

    Apr 1, 2016
    One of the TP members never says "no" to her OH but always "Yes but..." Because it's difficult to argue with someone who's apparently agreeing with you. She then cleverly manoeuvres him into doing what she needs him to.
    So it's something like "Yes, but first we need to..."

    It's very very frustrating trying to deal with someone with dementia, and mentally exhausting trying to use compassionate communication. Your mum as well as your will need lots of support.
  13. granny8

    granny8 New member

    Dec 21, 2017
    I understand how she feels. My husband only seems to be difficult with me and can be really nice to the carers and visitors 5 minutes later. I know the dementia causes all sorts of behaviour but on a couple of occasions recently he apoligsed to me for playing up and misbehaving with me. This I feel proves my point that he sometimes knows what he is doing and saying
  14. bdhm

    bdhm Registered User

    Sep 26, 2014
    Hi, my name is bob, I think I am getting dementia, just thought I should let you know that I do sometimes get angry with my wife. The reason for this is that she is always correct. If I say to her that she had the flue last week, she will say she nevthad the flue, I then start getting angry as I think my memory is getting worse. After a while I discovere that she didn’t have the flue. It was a bad cold,All she had to say to me was.’yes bob, you are partly rite. But it was a bad cold, that’s why I felt so ill; It’s times like this make people with memory problems get fed up, or putting it mildly ( pretty angry.
    Just thought I should make this point to people who are generally politically correct.
  15. Andi M

    Andi M New member

    Sep 29, 2017
  16. Andi M

    Andi M New member

    Sep 29, 2017
    I have also had trouble convincing my Dad that some of mum's behaviours and strange conversations are down to her Alzheimer's Disease (she was just diagnosed before Christmas 2017). I found that getting someone else to explain things to him seemed to do the trick! Mum has been referred to the local Dementia Care centre and has a Dementia Nurse assigned to her - I am able to phone the nurse, explain what I want Dad to understand, and then she visits and tells him! So far so good.
  17. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    Yes bob, that is just what my OH is like and that is why I always say "yes, and......" or "yes, but...."
  18. Raggedrobin

    Raggedrobin Registered User

    Jan 20, 2014
    My father was difficult and stubborn with dementia but he had always been so, so it was like he was an exaggerated version of his former self. He was utterly charming to outsiders but he was often very unreasonable and demanding of my mother. He thought of her almost as his jailer as she was of course trying to keep him safe.

    My mother's response was often anger and frustration. I think later, when he really slipped into dementia, she finally realised that he hadn't been able to help his behaviour and regretted getting so annoyed with him. I think all you can do is keep banging on that it is the disease, that it is affecting certain parts of the brain which can make him feel angry but his ability to feel empathy may also be affected.
  19. AndreaP

    AndreaP Registered User

    Mum and I had always had a difficult relationship. With mum it was either her way or the highway. When she got dementia it was up to me to organise everything as the only daughter and so I copped the worst of it from mum. Her worst traits became more amplified and she had no insight at all in her condition. I think this was evident from the very beginning and even when she could do nothing for herself ie walk, eat etc she still thought she could manage at home alone. It's a strange disease. She would notice I was wearing a new dress but be unable to perceive how helpless she was. I noticed she could be quite pleasant to visitors and staff but horrible to me. It was difficult not to be hurt but it was not untypical of mum. I got annoyed but shrugged it off easily. Your mum is probably going through something similar. Your dad takes out his frustration on your mum and she is probably fed up. It's not easy being the primary carer and all she wants is your sympathy. Just listen and agree it's tough, that's probably all she needs.
  20. San 'Fairy' Ann

    San 'Fairy' Ann Registered User

    Jun 28, 2014
    Hi, I had to comment because I honestly know how you feel. My husband is mostly ok but he can get me very frustrated with his nitpickin answers to things! Just keep it simple for heavens sake I tell him and he accepts that's best but then goes and does the nitpicki thing again. Sometimes I wonder whose worse me or him

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