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My mother's behaviour changes when we are not there

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by CarerCarol, Dec 7, 2015.

  1. CarerCarol

    CarerCarol Registered User

    Dec 7, 2015
    My mother, who is 88 years old, moved in with us earlier this year after a fall and it became apparent that she could not go back and live alone. She was subsequently diagnosed with Alzheimers ( early stage). When we go away, we arrange for a live-in carer to come and live with her , in our house. We have done this 4 or 5 times this year. My step-daughter , who lives near-by, comes in to visit when we are away and brings fish and chips etc. She has a 5 year old son. On this last occasion, my mother has become nasty towards them - asking why she is using our car( which I have agreed she can do), saying the child can't play with the toys, never saying please or thank-you plus a long list of other things, according to my step daughter. It is as if my Mother wants to take the opportunity to "be in charge"and boss them around.

    If I ask my mother about it, she either denies it or argues with me about it. My step daughter says this is unacceptable behaviour and that I need to do something about it. My stepdaughter is a bit of a drama queen so I am left wondering what to do and who to believe. Has anyone got any experience of this sort of thing or any advise they can give me please.
  2. jugglingmum

    jugglingmum Registered User

    Jan 5, 2014
    Before I realised my mum had dementia she could get very bossy in a nasty way suddenly to my children, in front of me, when I corrected her, she stopped but didn't really understand. For 3 months after she couldn't go home she alternated between my house and my brother's. At my brother's she wouldn't play with his older child, then about 7, and would play with the 5 year old and if the 7 year old walked into the room she would pack the game up. 2 or 3 year's before this she could be quite nasty with me for 3 years before the crisis when we realised it was dementia, but not with OH. This is behaviour that can occurs in early stages.

    I think your step daughter is telling the truth, it may come across as melodramatic, as she is probably quite taken aback at the way she was spoken to.

    Sadly it is the disease, and your mum doesn't fully realise how she is behaving, can't remember either and can't change how she behaves I suspect - my way of thinking about it is some of the wiring in the brain has short circuited.

    So not sure there is much you can do. You could try suggesting to step daughter she speaks to your mum firmly but nicely to say that her behaviour is not acceptable and she will leave and it might click her out of it, or perhaps step daughter may feel more comfortable just not going round if you aren't there.
  3. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    I'm afraid that people with dementia for the most part cannot control how they behave and it's the people around them who will have to adjust. Here's a very popular article about compassionate communication:
    I would print it out for your stepdaughter. Ask her how she would feel if she thought she wasn't in control of her life anymore - wouldn't that make her act out too?
  4. CarerCarol

    CarerCarol Registered User

    Dec 7, 2015
    Thanks for your comments. They are helpful to me. Regarding your last comment, i was thinking the same myself - that I ask my stepdaughter not to come to the house when we are away. That is the only way I can guarantee that it doesn't happen again.

  5. Amy in the US

    Amy in the US Registered User

    Feb 28, 2015
    Hello, CarerCarol, and welcome to TP. I hope you will find as much advice, information, and support here, as I have.

    My mother, in her 70s, has moderate-ish Alzheimer's disease. Looking back to what was earlier stage, I definitely recognize some of the behaviour changes you talk about. It could occur quite suddenly and she definitely behaved differently when I was/wasn't there, or in front of certain people. This is by way of saying, you are not alone, others have experienced this as well as you.

    I can also definitely tell you that the lack of manners and consideration of other people is very common with dementia, from what I hear on TP and in my support groups. This seems almost universal, in fact, and I suspect it's part of the disease process. Others here may be able to comment on this as well. So you might reassure yourself and your step-daughter that your mother is not singling you out, to be rude to.

    What to do about it is a tough one. Sometimes with dementia it's hard to "solve" a problem and is honestly easier to just re-arrange the situation to avoid it. So one possibility is to suggest to your step-daughter that she not bring her son with her when she visits your mother alone. It's also possible that if your step-daughter had more information about the disease and its effects, she might not take the manifestations so personally (although I get this is hard, in the moment, when you're not expecting it, and someone is being nasty to your small child right in front of you).

    I can understand your step-daughter being upset, of course, but it's not reasonable for her to demand that YOU do something about your mother's behaviour. At the end of the day, the dementia is to blame, and you cannot do a blessed thing about that. Given the dementia, there is really no point having "discussions" with your mother about this situation or her behaviour (other than perhaps interrupting it as it happens, and redirecting her).

    I'm not sure this is terribly helpful. Maybe others will have some advice. Best wishes to you and your family.
  6. CarerCarol

    CarerCarol Registered User

    Dec 7, 2015
    Thanks. I am feeling so much better already. As you say, it is not just me who has faced this. I can take action if I am there when the behaviour happens and I have done this but I can't do anything if I am not there. I fully understand that my stepdaughter does not like her child being told off but equally, I don't like her having an argument with my mother in public. This happened when they went to the local leisure club for a pizza. it ended with them having an argument at the table and my stepdaughter telling my mother off. I know I am going to have a problem having a discussion with my step daughter as she is convinced that my mother knows exactly what she is doing and she will say that I am "siding with my mother". So I may print off some of your comments to show to her. She might believe it if others are saying it, not me. Thanks again.

  7. fizzie

    fizzie Registered User

    Jul 20, 2011
    my ma did the same with my children from time to time and we all found the compassionate communication info that Beate has given the link for very handy.

    I would agree with you that it might be best not to have your step daughter round. Your Mum might find all the changes in routine difficult too - with just the live in carer her routine is the same and it is quite peaceful but with a small child and without the reassurance of you being there as her understanding 'rock' she may be feeling quite fearful hence the control issues.
    Thinking of you
  8. chick1962

    chick1962 Registered User

    Apr 3, 2014
    near Folkestone
    My husband is prone to not liking ppl on the spot and can be very rude to them . He dislikes my son all over sudden and it's such a difficult situation . Husband got mixed dementia . I am very proud of my son as he just walks away if husband is rude to him but is caring and kind to hubs when needed and wanted . Son understands it's not really personal but the illness xxxx

    Sent from my iPhone using Talking Point
  9. CarerCarol

    CarerCarol Registered User

    Dec 7, 2015
    You are quite right to be proud of your son. I am not so sure my stepdaughter will ever reach his standard but I will try to help her to understand. Thanks.

  10. CarerCarol

    CarerCarol Registered User

    Dec 7, 2015
    Thanks. All of your comments are really helpful to me. I am going to talk to my husband and share some of the useful comments that everyone has given me. Then I am hoping that together we can get his daughter on board. At the moment, I think my husband just thinks I have a " downer " on his daughter so I need to help him to understand. He really has no idea how difficult it is. I got upset this morning when she couldn't remember what her engagement ring was. Those are the things that I am personally struggling with at the moment.

  11. CarerCarol

    CarerCarol Registered User

    Dec 7, 2015
    Thanks. I have printed this off and will share it. It is great to have something tangible to try and also that it is not just coming from me but from others.


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