Yelling at a person with dementia

mistyydawnn

Registered User
Oct 22, 2015
2
Hello,

My name is Misty. I recently moved back in with my parents to help my mother care for my father who has dementia. My dad is 78 years old, but I am only 23 years old. My mother is 53 years old. Dealing with this so early in my life is a real struggle for me.

Why I am posting- my mother is my father's main caregiver. I work and try to maintain somewhat of a social life. I now live downstairs in our home, whereas my parents stay upstairs. My mother is a wonderful and caring woman who loves my father more than anything (they have been together over 30 years), but she refuses to communicate with him in an effective way most of the time. She SCREAMS at him, almost at the top of her lungs; when I say something, she gets extremely upset and says, "That is the only way he understands!!" I can't get it through her head that she can't scream at him like that and it upsets me to no end. I can be downstairs or outside and I can still hear her screaming. He is usually always calm during these times and simply just says "okay" over and over.

Another topic- my mother loves questions. She has always done this: asks two or more questions at once without giving anyone a chance to respond. She is always asking my dad questions."What is wrong with you????" (which always angers me; he has dementia! That is what is wrong with him!) "Why are you agitated?" "Why are you acting like that?" "What are you talking about?" "What is wrong with you today?" "What has happened to make you so weak?" "Why can't you walk right today?" "Why can't you stand up?" "Why are you having so many problems today?" "Why are you so tired?" "Why can't you sit up straight?" "Why can't you act right?" It goes on and on and on. He can never answer these questions, and she knows that. She usually asks them out of anger (speaking before thinking). If my poor father knew the answers to these questions, he'd likely not have the issue in the first place. (Also, my mother asks me a lot of these questions- I believe it's a habit.) No one wants someone screaming "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!?!!!!!" in their face several times a day; hell, that would make anyone irritated and less likely to comply with what you want.

Questions on another topic- my mother asks my father A LOT of questions, obviously. "Do you need water?" (as he's choking on his food while drinking a diet cola) I say, if you think he needs water, just get him some. "Do you want a jacket for our walk?" My dad doesn't know what to say; if you think he will need a jacket, go ahead and grab one. It's a lot of things like that. I may be wrong, but no one likes to be bombarded with questions, especially ones that they don't know the answer to or can't think of the answer to. I feel like it'd be a lot easier to just go ahead and get whatever is in question.

When I bring these things up to my mother, she gets angry and defensive. She tells me that she's his full time caregiver and that I don't understand. She tells me that if she doesn't yell, then he doesn't understand. She then usually starts yelling at me, telling me to shut up, and then telling me to go back downstairs and leave them alone. I understand that she's tired and has her hands full, but I just can't accept how she communicates with my father. Physically, she takes excellent care of him; he's always clean, diaper changed, appropriate clothing on, hydrated, fed, comfortable, etc. The only issue is the communication, and I can't seem to do anything about it. What baffles me is that, whenever I am assisting him, I have never yelled..not once. I realize I'm not with him as much as she is, but I don't understand why she would have to constantly yell and no one else does when dealing with him. I may have to repeat myself, rephrase what I was saying, or just give up altogether, but I would certainly try not to ever yell.

My father has had dementia for less than a year- so this is all new to us. If anyone has answers to my questions, advice, etc. PLEASE let me know! My mother and I are both struggling.

Thank you.
 

GillU

Registered User
Oct 18, 2015
11
That link is so useful, thanks for posting it. I'm saying so many wrong things! Will try to keep these in mind when I see my Mum tomorrow :eek:
 

marionq

Registered User
Apr 24, 2013
6,008
Scotland
She needs a break so she can see herself more clearly. Would she go with him to some of the Alz Soc groups for singing, bowling etc? How about a Befriender to sit with him for a couple of hours or best of all a day centre to take him away for five hours or so?

There are also Carers courses which I believe are helpful at giving insight about how to behave in this situation.
 

Mrsbusy

Registered User
Aug 15, 2015
356
Frustration with the whole situation is what's causing your Mum to shout all the time. She is frustrated at how she is caring for him, she frustrated at the thought of what's ahead of her especially as she is that much younger, and probably feels frustrated as she's doing the best she knows how to but feels inadequate.

My son suffers with anxiety on a huge scale, whilst visiting his phsycologist my son told him that I make it worse for him by raising my voice when I'm trying to motivate or hurry him up. He doesn't do hurry ever! I am awful as I like to be on time always, and the nearer it gets to the time of going the more I find myself shouting. So the phsycologist said your Mum shouts as she is frustrated, and feels like she is losing control and then in her head panics about being late. He is so right , that he said is what most women do! So I now have changed my approach and it's so much easier.

How about you and your mum swap roles a day. Without telling her record her shouting for as much of the day as you can. Then another you take care of Dad, she stays downstairs and enjoy the break and tape your day. Then replay both tapes to her and say can she hear the differences? Maybe use some of your techniques. Maybe she needs a talk to the GP to get her some medication so she feels more able to cope.

The questions problem I think is really aimed at herself. She's thinking out loud so instead of thinking in her head why can't you move quicker? And then thinking to herself oh I must remember to make allowances as he's not well, she throws another question at him. Is your Dad hard of hearing by any chance? Maybe get him checked if he is.

I do feel that your mum feels very stressed and doesn't want to worry you too much and shield you from her true thoughts and is worried about saying she's afraid. Tell her it's okay we all are in life whatever we have to deal with but she has your support and you can ask us lot on here anything.

Good luck and keep us posted please.
 

hatto22

Registered User
Aug 24, 2018
11
I shout at my mum. And I really dislike it when I do it. Each day I work on trying not to shout or 'lose it' but the days that I do manage to have a 'shout free' day are pretty few and far between. I just get sick of looking after my mum truth be known. I'm into my ninth year and I get sick of it. I'm not going to beat around the bush. What's the point in doing that? I find weekends especially hard. And days that are sunny and I could be out having a walk. Tomorrow I have respite and I will go for a long walk because the walking works off all of the pent up frustration/anger/resentment - whatever word I want to put to the feelings that are full on negative. To the point sometimes that I feel like my head is going to explode. And there are very few people that really understand. Because hey I'm just the carer. What's my problem?? I'm young, I'm healthy, I'm not the ill one. But I am the one serving my mum. Giving every ounce of me to my mum. I'm now on a strong spiritual path where I pray twice a day. I accept that this is a karmic lesson that is being rolled out for me and I need to learn from it. I read blogs of women who look after their mums through dementia and they love them and care for them - nurture them - love them - laugh with them - lament the fact that they're losing that beautiful mother they once had. Well I don't feel that. I feel mechanical much of the time. I'm doing a job and I do it to the best of my ability. I fight away my darkest thoughts and I detach myself from the situation and always by evening I'm on my knees praying that tomorrow I may be a better person tomorrow than I have been today. I can count on one hand the days where I haven't shouted at my mum. However I don't shout at her constantly (I hasten to add) and I do work on modifying my behaviour and I have been on an awareness course for Dementia to understand how to react and speak to her. The trouble is the shouting and resentment can become a permanent feature if allowed to. We all have our dark side!! The first year of looking after my mum 24/7 I had no respite. I really don't know how I did it. It sounds like your mum could do with more breaks. And maybe you could encourage her to go on a mindfulness course or a dementia awareness course. What sort of shifts is she doing with your father? I do a 48 hour one every weekend and it's mind blowing. Yet I'm still doing it and continue to. But I will look back in the future and know without a shadow of a doubt that what I have been doing is stretching me beyond a human's normal patient capacity. I don't know your mum's situation is but it sounds like she may need more regular breaks, for her and also for you and your father's sake.