I shouted - now feel guilty as Sin

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Lisajk, Mar 27, 2015.

  1. Lisajk

    Lisajk Registered User

    Aug 31, 2014
    Morning all,

    I've had a sleepless night, kept awake by guilt because I shouted at my MIL last night. She generally is very mistrusting, and only tends to believe her version of events which are always complete fantasy and wildly inaccurate. She can't seem to distinguish dreams from reality.

    Yet with some things she's as sharp as a pin! If you go shopping for instance, and buy cream cakes, she'll remember that they're in the fridge the next day and ask for one. But she can't/won't remember that her Son in Law died last year (we took her to his Funeral as we thought it might help her to understand) and keeps asking how he is.
    It's breaking her Daughters heart.
    MIL explains that she doesn't want it to be true so refuses to believe it.

    Boiling point came last night when she asked how he was for the 20th time. I explained that he'd died. She said, yes I know, but how is he?
    Most of the time I can cope with the vastly confusing world of Dementia, I've been doing it for 3 years now, but last night I lost my temper and ended up very upset and guilty. I shouted that he was bloody dead and begged her to remember and not ask again. She replied back that she doesn't want to believe it's true, so won't.

    So, I'm sat having a coffee, contemplating getting MIL out of bed and what to say to her. You see, she will remember that I shouted last night and she will be very moody with me, but will block out the reason why.

    Is it possible to have selective dementia? (Hers is VaD caused by a Stroke.) Is it possible that she still has enough cognition to select what goes in and what doesn't? I don't know, but it certainly seems that way to me.

    Sent from my iPhone using Talking Point
  2. Liz57

    Liz57 Registered User

    Dec 22, 2013
    Please don't feel guilty and don't remind her of the incident today either. This is an illness that is so much harder on the carer and their family than it is the sufferer and there's a good chance she won't remember a thing this morning, especially if you are your usual upbeat self.

    I too used to agonise over the times I said or did the wrong thing or got cross until I realised that mum didn't remember anyway. I hate seeing mum when she's upset and anxious, for example, which happens whenever she can't get hold of me even for just a few minutes. As a result, I never left the house so I was always on the end of the phone. In the end, I pretty nearly ended up with a breakdown as I found it so stressful. Now, I take a deep breath and try to simply live in the moment and don't worry about what happened last night or even five minutes ago. I accept this is easier to say than to do!
  3. jaymor

    jaymor Volunteer Moderator

    Jul 14, 2006
    #3 jaymor, Mar 27, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2015
    Have you tried telling your MIL that he is not too bad. My husband was always asking about his sister. He went to her funeral, asked who was in the coffin and later whilst having coffee said he had had a chat with his BIL but had not managed to chat with his sister. So when he said how is sister was I said fine, she was out shopping, at the hairdressers or at work on the farm. He was always happy with the answers and would say he would ring her later. He was not anxious and I felt good because I was not dealing with the fall out of telling him the truth.

    If she takes you to task over telling her he is fine when she knows he has died will prove that she does understand.I think you have good reason to get uptight with her and please stop beating yourself up.
  4. RedLou

    RedLou Registered User

    Jul 30, 2014
    #4 RedLou, Mar 27, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2015
    Don't let dementia grind you down - which is what guilt will do. All robust family relationships can take the odd row or raised voice. Forget it - it's been, it's done, it's human and understandable and you'd have compassion for anyone else in your situation. Have some compassion for yourself.

    Jaymor - you posted while I was writing: I think Lisa has 'good reason' to stop beating herself up, regardless of whether her MIL understands or not.
  5. Katrine

    Katrine Registered User

    Jan 20, 2011
    Lisa, you were severely provoked! Forgive yourself for not being perfect.

    At the very simplest, I am hearing your MIL say that she wants to talk about a person she cares about. I think that's what "how is he?" means. Don't respond literally to the question. She probably can't understand why she is upsetting her daughter. She just wants reassurance about her son-in-law, who she cares about.

    Another thing - this used to annoy me so much with my MIL, but you can't shift deeply entrenched views - to women of a certain age there needs to be a man around to look after the women. If there is no man then they are vulnerable and unprotected. Perhaps to your MIL, who notices that her daughter is sad and on her own, the answer is to restore her husband to the family and all will be back as it should be. That's dementia logic. You can't argue against it because it's emotionally satisfying to her.
  6. Spamar

    Spamar Registered User

    Oct 5, 2013
    #6 Spamar, Mar 27, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2015
    Don't beat yourself up Lisa, we probably all do it at some point, I know I have. Take on board what others have said as well.
    And yes, they do seem to have selective memory!
  7. Grace L

    Grace L Registered User

    Jun 14, 2014
    NW UK
    Hello Lisa,
    My husband also had VaD (TiAs and big stroke) ...

    When my mum died , he didn't believe me... (as if losing mum wasn't bad enough).
    A couple of days before she died, there were lots of phone calls, (all times of the day/night)...

    Surgery was attempted, but she died....
    Told husband "Mum had died".... he said ..... " What's your point? " ...
    Then he 'forgot' .... I think within minutes.....
    (flowers and cards arrived, but husband became too upset so I had to give them away.
    Upset and angry with me for not telling him mum had died.).

    A few weeks on.... if he asked me how mum was I'd say .... "Fine"....
    If I tried to explain that mum had died, he'd become angry and aggressive.
    I did not really have a choice but to lie.....
  8. Mannie

    Mannie Registered User

    Mar 13, 2014
    Bracknell area
    There is a good section in UK Good Housekeeping April 15 , about caring for parents and guilt, basically guilt is just a waste of energy. Suggest that you need some help, go to the GP and get them to engage social services for a care assessment , or a re-assessment if you and your MIL had one earlier.
  9. Perdita

    Perdita Registered User

    Jun 22, 2009
    Suffolk, Uk
    If it's any consolation I shouted tonight too- and now I feel dreadful. I told my mum that she always said if you can't say anything nice about someone don't say anything, and as she hadn't said anything nice all day maybe she should keep quiet :( next time I go in her room I'm taping my mouth up :(
  10. Tin

    Tin Registered User

    May 18, 2014
    Can join you with the guilt tonight, I have been offering mum meals and snacks all day which she has picked at, thrown away or simply said no don't like that. 9pm and she is asking for fish and chips!! Now there is no way I am getting in the car and driving 5 miles and I have told her this also reminded her of all the food she has thrown in the bin today!!!!! Feel so bad now, so will go and make a sandwich for her then definitely going to try and get her to go to bed.
  11. Maldives13

    Maldives13 Registered User

    Feb 4, 2014
    I like the idea of taping my mouth up!! Sometimes I say things and feel so bad afterwards . I'm getting better though but we all have bad days. Good luck everyone x
  12. Rachc79

    Rachc79 Registered User

    Jan 23, 2015
    I feel your pain, my Dad always asks to see his Mum and doesn't believe she's passed away, I tell him she's on holiday or at bingo.

    Don't feel guilty though, like others said, it can be so hard for carers
  13. Liz57

    Liz57 Registered User

    Dec 22, 2013
    I shouted too yesterday. Must be the weather. Mum kept saying that "that Elizabeth" had done something or other. There is no other Elizabeth in mum's life other than me and I said, "but that's me. I'm Elizabeth" but she wouldn't believe me. She knew my name was Elizabeth but kept saying she'd "seen her do it!". She wasn't being very nice to the other "me" and said some really nasty things so I snapped and shouted at her. I'm sorry too but she didn't remember a minute later.

    Nobody's perfect!
  14. RedLou

    RedLou Registered User

    Jul 30, 2014
    I really think we need to differentiate between anger - which is natural and understandable, and no one should feel guilty about - and cruelty. The very fact that everyone is monitoring and noticing their anger shows that no one is being cruel. Pat yourselves on the back people. You're all doing well. :)
  15. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    SW London
    #15 Witzend, Mar 31, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2015
    I really shouted at my mother just the once - after she had gone into the CH and was endlessly, angrily demanding to go home (out of the question) and accusing us all of only putting her there because we were after her money. It made every visit so stressful, and eventually I exploded with, 'Have you any idea how much this place costs? If we were just after your money we'd have left you at home! If we hadn't found this nice place for you, social services would have taken over and put you somewhere not nearly as nice and smelling of wee!'

    That last was a complete lie, since we had not involved SS at all. Even as I was shouting it all, though, I think I knew that she would forget it all very quickly. If there ever could be said to be any 'blessing' to dementia, I think it must sometimes be the quick forgetting. Pre dementia, even a small argument or disagreement would mean my mother would be 'off' with me for ages.

    At the time it did relieve my feelings to some extent, though I knew that ultimately it would make not a scrap of difference. Because I knew she would forget so fast, I didn't really feel bad about it for long.
  16. Boldredrosie

    Boldredrosie Registered User

    Mar 13, 2012
    I've been doing this for ten years and had a lifetime of my mother's mental illnesses before the dementia crept in so I feel no guilt when I'm snappy with her and I don't think I'm a bad person in general. My bigger concern is having lived with this acid-tongued woman who now has no control over what she says, thanks to her dementia, my son has had any compassion stripped away from him. He is careless about what he says to people, is vile when he speaks to me or my mum, and just doesn't give a damn about anything. Who knows, may be he'd have been a horrible person anyway, but I think the damage living with his grandmother since he was 3 is vast.
  17. 1954

    1954 Registered User

    Jan 3, 2013
    That's very sad x
  18. I'm sitting here thinking of an occasion a couple of years back when Dad was being bloody minded about something. It was to do with paperwork. He kept starting then ostensibly forgetting what he was meant to be doing, then stopping. The first time, I was suspicious, the second time, I was fairly sure he was putting it on, and the third time I was absolutely certain, and I shouted at him to do it or it would cost him a lot of money, so he did it pronto.

    So then I needed to sort something else (straight after) and we had a similar saga. After he'd dragged out the second one for 20-30 minutes, I lost it and started shouting. I flung paperwork on the floor together with some stationery and stormed out. I slammed doors.

    He then pleaded with me to stop, sounding very pathetic. I picked up all the paperwork plus a couple of things I'd knocked over on the way out of the room and left him seeming very quiet and subdued.

    Later, I came back to help him with his pills. I was very reluctant because I felt awkward. He didn't seem perturbed and I wondered whether he'd forgotten about it, but then the penny dropped. I asked him how often he'd done that and he said "Many times."

    It was so easy to think in terms of my being wrong and his being right, but it's not always that way round.

    Indeed, when I think of what I say to others and what I hear/read others saying, it amazes me how many of us go through life with a far from perfect relative then expect that suddenly we've got to be all sweetness and light to them once they get dementia.

    Surely most people get in arguments from time to time down the years? Domestic arguments, arguments at work etc? Even a baby will sometimes be snapped at by a mother at the end of her tether "Oh for heaven's sake, will you stop wriggling for a minute while I put your nappy on!"

    So I feel horribly guilty if I snap at Dad but I try not to let the guilt last, not least because like most (all?) of you, I don't do it very often. I try to remind myself that not only am I not perfect but that actually the rest of the world would be surprised if I was.

    But boy do I find that difficult to remember in a guilt-ridden moment.

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