Snapped at mum today

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by reno, Jun 22, 2011.

  1. reno

    reno Registered User

    Feb 28, 2011
    ... I know we can't be saints all the time and I try very hard to do my best and keep my patience, but once in a while ...

    I'm ashamed to say that I lost patience today with mum constantly asking, and me answering, what day it was tomorrow. I cracked about the sixth time and said - sarcastically - "that would be Thursday, due to the fact that it's Wednesday to day". Ok, it doesn't sound like the worst thing, but mum's face crumbled and I know that she felt like I had slapped her down. Obviously, for her, it was the first time that she'd asked it, but I think my exasperated answer must have made her wonder if she'd been repeating herslef. That's what made me feel like a jerk.

    If you can manage to answer each repeated question 'afresh', then it no doubt maintains a sense of normality. If, in any way, you point out to them, or hint, that they've been repeating themselves, then obv. it's upsetting for them. Normally I'd rather die than do it, but sometimes it just drives one bonkers. So feel rubbish about that. Every time it happens I have guilt trips about her dying overnight and then thinking that that's the last exchange we had .. but the reality is that we see each other the next time and, of course, she's forgotten it all.

    Any tips for dealing with the repetition? My mum has what i would call (who am I to know??) moderate Vasc Dem. Her conversational topics are now down to a total of ... quick estimate ... about 15 different subjects, all with the same repeated phrases, laughs, asides, etc. Sometimes I think I'm going doolally listening to them. But I normally maintain a jolly exterior. I feel bad sometimes, as I think I must have a glazed expression on some times and she must think that I'm just rude.

    Any advice?

    I think I've exhausted the possibilities of 'mum bingo' whereby I'd guess which of her topics were going to come up and mentally tick them off if I was right - small victories and made me smile, which can only be good for both of us.

    I sound awful ... just trying to stay sane myself
  2. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    Hello reno

    You need a break.

    Are you with your mum 24/7 or does she attend day care or have sitters? Whatever, you need some time to yourself and I hope you get it. If not, please do. The repetition is so wearing, no one understands unless they have lived with it.

    It`s not fair to your mum if you snap because she cannot help what she says. And it`s not fair for you to be expected to be a saint.
  3. cragmaid

    cragmaid Registered User

    Oct 18, 2010
    North East England
    Guess what, are human, normal and not evil at all, Well not about this, what you get up to in your other life is up to you.:D:D:D This afternoon and evening I had 11 phone calls in 7 hours, yes I was playing Mum bingo too, it was one of two subjects, OH' s birthday, or what time would the cleaner be there because Mum has a lunch day tomorrow ( lunch day being a new thing)..All I can do is answer the phone with a pasted on smile and hope like hell it doesn't show in the voice.No helpful advice but total sympathy.x.
  4. Farmergirl

    Farmergirl Registered User

    May 24, 2011
    I have this daily with my mum too. During the day I can cope with it, but in the evening, after 8 hrs of repetition I struggle.Today was a bad day....she overheard measking about carers on the phone and that lead to a heated (on her part) exchange and demands to go back to her own home. The she punishes me by sulking in her room for an hour before waiting till dinner is on the table to start again!
    I agree you need a break - us saints need to recharge - Im trying to find out if I can pay someone local to sit with her so that I can just go to work and do my job!
  5. sunny

    sunny Registered User

    Sep 1, 2006
    #5 sunny, Jun 23, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2011
    Reno, the repetition is absolutely excrutiating for carers at times - unless somebody has experienced that then especially when you are tired or a bit down yourself it can test your sanity to breaking point. Its like a record getting stuck.

    That is why carers should and need regular breaks - do you get these? and if not are you making tracks to get breaks? There is only so much one person can take.

    Mum had vascular dementia, but she wasnt quite as bad as some other people who have dementias, I noticed that people with the Alzheimer dementia are worse with this repetition.

    Have you tried playing her some soft music that she likes, I wonder if this would work.

    Also a little suitable chewy sweet for your Mum (only if her eating and swallowing are ok though) especially if she likes sweets can you give you a moment's respite. When you feel that moment coming on just get a sweet out and offer it and have one yourself, take time out, its better than counting to 10.
  6. Katrine

    Katrine Registered User

    Jan 20, 2011
    Break out the toffees!

    I love the idea of sweeties giving a temporary respite from the questions! Thanks Sunny. :D Reno, I could have written your post, it exactly describes MIL's level of conversation and comprehension, apart from certain 'good days' when she can still offer very useful intuitive input when someone else has a problem. Her professional training there; she was a health visitor. She is losing her ability to express herself in words but she has superior skills in understanding feelings and motivation.

    I am not a saint, and I don't snap at her, but then I don't live with her all the time. And, she's not my mum so I do not possess some of the buttons she may attempt to press with her own children. When we have taken her on holiday the exposure to constant questions and repeated observations over many hours gets wearing and sometimes OH and I have to exchange eyebrow signals and take over from each other if we feel that we might be starting to sound fed up. Of course MIL is very sensitive to the wrong tone of voice, but it does take a lot of energy to be Pollyanna and you can't keep it up indefinitely.

    With children who pester us for answers to metaphysical questions at mealtimes :confused:, or whine about why they can't have ... whatever :mad:, there are strategies. These include "Not now dear I'm busy", "I'll have to ask X about that..", reflective questions such as "That's interesting, why do you think that happens....?" (Yeah, I'm a qualified trainer!), and if all else fails asking them to help you with a household chore usually means they will skedaddle to their room for a while. The aim is to maintain healthy communication with our children without letting them wear us down with constant questions, particularly when it is a game to them. Children have more energy than grown-ups do.

    However, with older people, and especially those with dementia, child distraction strategies are not so appropriate. They are not learning about the world, expanding their knowledge and context so that they can operate independently. They are getting more and more dependent and losing their knowledge and context. So, so sad.

    Reno, if you mum didn't have dementia you would probably have cross words and get snappy sometimes. It's the dementia that makes our conversations so surreal and demands of us that we stay positive and supportive at all times. We feel so bad if we actually don't want to talk. But it isn't natural to be forever talking. No wonder we carers often feel we are losing track of our own lives because we don't get enough time for quiet personal reflection and mulling over our own ideas and plans. How can we say to our anxious demented parent "PLEASE stop talking!" :( Well we can't, so Yes you need a break from it and for there to be someone else to take over sometimes.
  7. Canadian Joanne

    Canadian Joanne Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 8, 2005
    Toronto, Canada
    We have all done it at one point or another and more than once. My weak point wasn't so much the repetitive questions as the general combativeness, particularly about personal hygiene.

    I once screamed at my mother "I hate your Alzheimer's". Not very useful but I couldn't take whatever was going on at the moment. I can't even remember what kicked me off.

    So don't beat yourself up for being human like the rest of the world. These things happen and we regret them. The one good thing is that our loved ones forget the incidents.
  8. KingB

    KingB Registered User

    May 8, 2011
    My mum's memory is shot to pieces, but her reasoning and wisdom is all still there - and she is very aware of her dementia (which makes things very difficult for her).
    She gets very worried about repeating herself - and every so often she says "I keep asking the same questions don't I? I'm repeating myself? How awful. I'm so sorry". I find the best response is to laugh and say "that's ok - I keep repeating the answers". I think it reassures her to know that yes she is repeating herself, but no it doesnt really matter.
    HOWEVER - I can do this because mum is now safely in a lovely care home and so the repetition is not overwhelming and relentless on any one person.
    I do remember a month or so back when mum was still at home & I was going up every day doing the Pollyana thing trying to help lift her depression. I got to the stage where my life was dominated by mum and dad's situation & therefore I ran out of things to be "perky" about.
    Taking a break and getting some "me time" is not just for you - its for both of you.
  9. Canadian Joanne

    Canadian Joanne Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 8, 2005
    Toronto, Canada
    Very good points. Reno, are you able to get away at all?
  10. Farmergirl

    Farmergirl Registered User

    May 24, 2011
    I spoke to the welfare officer at the council today who was helpful and gave me the answer that i was looking for - that is - that yes, we can employ someone as a sitter to give us both a break from mum so that we can work.
    Ive got a phone number of someone. Social services charge £15 per hour for a sitter, what is the going rate for a private sitter (not doing any care really, just supervising and keeping company)?

    This is a way out for us - not a complete break, but a start.

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