I have noticed lately that several have said that Mom, Dad, grandma, was "like that before". I was wondering.... has your loved one completely changed or is what you are seeing in their dementia behavior an amplification of their basic personality without self control, learned social behavior, or concern for others. This has alwasy fascinated me. Do you see resentment that has been repressed because of previous life situations?:
I see in Mom's behavior much that is a result of her life and her normal temperment. It just seems to be amplified by her limitations caused by the disease. I see resentment because she was not able to do the things she wanted to do both professionally and personally. I see the same stubborn determination but it is absolutely misdirected now. I actually see my grandmother's personality, that Mom hated, showing itself in Mom. I wonder how much of her acting out is what she has repressed for most of her life showing through now that she has limited control.
Family background that may or may not answer your question:
Mother -- one of eleven kids, first five mother was part of and by Biological father, next five through step-father with one step-brother brought into the mix.
Father -- mildly acholic. never missed a day of work in all the years of working because of drinking.
Mother never liked to be 'alone' during my younger years father mostly worked nights so he was always home during the day. Mother hid things (basically money and jewelry) Didn't have to hide money because of Dad's drinking because he never drank the household funds, turning over his entire paycheck minus an agreed upon allowance, each and every week that I can remember. She just hid the stuff for her own reasons. I always felt it was the childhood of having so many siblings. Mother always complained about not having anything new, always getting hand-me-downs but yet she was the 2nd of three girls so really my aunt should've been the one complaining beause she was the last girl.
When Mother use to relate horror stories of her childhood, both sisters would look at one another and ask each other "was she living in the same house as us? . . . and then they'd say to her, don't you remember Momma doing . . ."
My mother always saw glasses half empty, my aunts saw things 1/2 full.
Mother always abused me when she was angry at another, ie. Dad because of his drinking, or not coming straight home from work, or not doing things around the house before he left for work. And Sister who didn't always 'jump' the minute mother called and after a few minutes Mother would demand I do whatever it was Sister was to have done, and I'd get the pre-emptive smack for her aggravation. Only it wasn't always a love tap, if you catch the meaning.
Mother always accused all of us, (father, Sister, or I) of moving, hiding, stealing, giving or loaning whatever it was she was trying to find that she hid. She'd never admit that she hid it and just couldn't remember where she put it but it was all our lives. and everythng was always within something that was within something that was boxed, etc.
Mother also NEVER liked to be alone at all, so if she woke early, then everyone had to wake up as well. She never was the type to go downstairs early to just sit and read and have a quiet cup of coffee. Mother would not sit in a room to watch TV by herself either. If Father was watching TV, she'd go in and then sit and complain about the 'old' black/white shows that he loved. When he'd yell for her to shut up or leave the room and watch what you want in the other room, she wouldn't go. If he got up and walked out of the room, she was mad that she left her alone.
Mother is not angry at what she's like. I don't think she even knows what she's like. She doesn't seem to be aware of the fact that she always cooked, and cleaned, the day away and now doesn't do anything. She just seems frustrated that she can't make her needs known verbally. She can't participate in a conversation with people so she hates it when sister and I are talking.
My mother remained herself even as she lost more and more memory and at times became quite worried and upset by it (in the middle stages only, later she did not know she was not normal). Mom had a terrible childhood -born to an unwed mother, poor, hungry, abused by her stepfather, married at 26 and had 3 children all in a row, still poor but not hungry any more - self educated, worked as a waitress and then a school crossing guard until age 62, then took early retirement and went to college. Her motto was 'make the best of things. Things will get better.'
She had what I call a sunny disposition. Singing, laughing, telling jokes and funny stories, laughing at herself and the world.
Always satisfied, always surprised and grateful for any little gift, perhaps a feeling of not really being wanted or a desirable person, madly loved by my father, lonely after his death but made the best of that also.
In her Dementia she was a cooperative patient, loved by all the nurses and aides, happy with the meals and care, loved her room and the outdoor garden at the NH, was happy for any visit even though she forgot it at once, never complained.
Her basic personality held on right to the end. Stll my role model except I don't think I can live up to it.
I think that my mother more or less just faded away as her memory left. You know how the early color pictures have faded with time? That's how my mom sort of went. Well, except when she decided to pull all those folks out of their beds when they hadn't paid their rent for staying in the home....
It's not to say that her personality didn't shine through. The nurses would tell me that Mom would see them and have comments for each of them. One was always coming in right before she was due to start her shift and Mom would remark, Nice of you to show up for work today. Mom never believed in showing up right before work. She was ALWAYS, ALWAYS in at work long before she needed to be. Mom's wit and dry sense of humor was lengend at the NH and many of the staff had things to tell me of "Honeyisms" that Mom had bestowed on them at one time or another during her stay with them. Her sense of humor never left her it seems, right up to the end.
Mom always saw her glass as half full if not full and enjoyed life. I was an only child and my boys were the lite of her life. Even when her memory was almost gone and she didn't know who I was, she knew that somehow I was the link to "the boys". She remembered that somehow I was connected to those wonderful beings that meant so much to her.
It looks like I am getting back what I expected. The basic personality traits seem to be shining through the demential. I have seen it with my parents. Mom is bitter and angry. Though she made the best of it while she could control it she has lost that ability. Dad on the other hand is one of those happy souls. Other than wanting to make everybody happy and getting upset when he can't make Mom happy he is always in an up beat mood.
I'm sitting here crying folks because what I wouldn't give to hear my mother talk plain english and say "Nice of you to come to work today" or a simple "I love you"
Its so hard to see an old, shriveled up shell of herself sitting on the couch with her pants legs pulled up to below the knees (not sure why she does this) and waves her hands to get me to come over but can not make her needs known and it starts the 20 question guessing game.
You guys that are losing the parents but they are talking to the end even if they don't make sense to the moment.
My Mom was always a very caring and compassionate person. Her family was always the most important things in her life. She was what you would call a "Homemaker". Never worked after she got married. She never even got her license to drive. She took care of us kids, cooked and cleaned. That was her whole life. Now as I watch her in her new life/world with the Dementia. I see a woman who is trying desperatley to show the world and everyone that she still has all of her cognitive abiliites when I know different. She is really fighting that. She does not want anyone to know or think that she is not capable of doing what she thinks she should still be doing. The cooking the cleaning etc etc. My mom was a very caring and compassionate person for everyone. I don't see her having as much compassion or feeling for others like she used to. I find her to be much more self absorbed within herself. She also has developed for reasons my dad and I cannot understand as he has been her caretaker for so many years she has always had many health problem she has a deep seated hatred towards him. She directs a lot of her anger at him She basically verbally abuses him on a daily basis. If I come to his defense then all I end up is getting caught in the middle of it .
So to answer your question deb I do believe dementia certainly does amplifie ones basic personality. I believe Mom has an awful lot of anger within because of all her medical problems she has encountered over the years and directs that anger at my dad.
Which is sad because he has always been the one that has done the most for her. Taking care of her all these years. I also know that they have a tendency to lash out and be mean to the people that care for them the most.
what an interesting topic deb,
yes, i do believe that their original personalities (or traits thereof) become intensified. unfortunately it seems to be the negative traits that escalate. maybe because these are so noticable to those around. my mom was always a very loving, generous, and good natured person. these traits are still there but are becoming increasingly overshadowed by her negative traits.
She always got easily flustered, worried that her friends would get mad at her for some obscure reason, never thought she had enough money, clothes, possessions, etc. she also had an annoying tendency to truly enjoy talking about herself(lol). OHHH BOOYYY have these traits ever taken over. throw in some alzheimers hallucinations and we have a woman who has far too much to do because NOBODY helps her, she owes her friend 2000.00 for a TV she bought from her 10 yrs ago (huh?) and now she's not her friend anymore, NOBODY takes her anywhere so she must wear the same clothes all the time (well she has a closet full of clothes, and she refuses to go anywhere and apparently she's also broke.) Calls me crying that i have to give her 10,000.00 because she only has 2000.00 in the bank and she's flat broke.(i wish i was that broke). Well i guess when you owe people 2000.00 for phantom TV's then daughters can give you 10,000.00 phantom dollars. we won't even start about the constant tales about how she quit drinking and smoking. that was 25 yrs ago and i've heard every rendition of these stories 1,234,456,789 times (this week). Sigh sooo yeah to sum up ...good traits still the same (thankfully) bad traits way,way,way, worse.
you are just tooo funny. I think we should all do stand up with the funny things parent do. OHHHHH a funny, funny story. Tell everyone to read this.
When i was first married, I realized that m-i-l (who I am now best friends with) was calling husband at work and not at home. Something came up between me and siblings and husband loved me enough to tell me not to call them even though they were my age, and I foolishly thought we would all have good times together.
Well, to make the story short, I called my mother-in-law and gave her time to vent to me about all the things she didn't like about me. Then I told her its her dime but my time and I told her answer for answer retribution for each of her comments. At the end -- true to my word, we ended best of friends but it could've been worse of enemies and I prewarned her before hand that she didn't want me for an enemy.
Biggiest issue with M-i-L was the fact that we (her son and I) was living next door to my parents! and she was afraid he'd fall less in love with her as a mother and more in love with my mother as a mother. That would've been impossible since he married the 'bad seed'.
Anyway offered to have m-in-l over for the weekend and asked mother not to come over -- shorten story, mother came over because my m-i-l wanted to see her! -- there's mother in kitchen with all of us having tea and I notice
my mother wearing two watches on one arm!!!. When I asked her why she did this, her reply was (are you ready to laugh???),
"because one of them was running slow!'
she left the room and we all had a good laugh. This was 1982, so when I tell you that she showed these types of behavior all my life, I'm not kidding.
Yep, it is an interesting topic and I have read just what I expected. I can so relate to what you said Upatnite. Nobody ever takes Mom anywhere, she has the same clothes she has had all of her life and never gets anything new, nobody helps her and if we had to do and put up with all that she did we would be crazy too!!!
I agree that the good traits are still there but so overshadowed by the negative traits that sometimes they are hard to recognize. I think part of that is because of the center of the brain that is responsible for self control and learned behaviors is one of the first to be damaged. They want to display the good traits but don't have the cognitive ability to suppress the negative as they once did.....
A cute story of how they get stuck on a feeling. I had sent Mom a box of new clothes. Knowing she was losing them and splashing chlorox on them at the time I stopped by the local goodwill store in a rather affluent neighborhood. I picked up some great name brands, some with tags still on them, and sent them to her. Somebody in that area is Mom's size and has more money than good sense. Mom called to thank me for the new clothes and went on and on about how wonderful they were. We talked a few more minutes and guess what she said... "I never get anything new, I still have the same clothes I have always had". I had to laugh because they were not new new so perhaps she was right hehe She never knew the difference but enjoyed them all summer!
DGabriel and others---I do not know exactly what is wrong with my mil alz. , dementia but... It is sad, she seems to have lost her humanity. She seems somewhat robotic , and a cranky robot at that.
DGabriel , what you mention about your mom, saying stuff over and over (no new clothes, no money etc) even when in reality these things are not so -this is the robotic type behavior I am talking about. My mil just repeats stuff over and over, like she has tapes playing on endless loop in her head. And yes, her negative aspects have magnified.
Last edited by osteoblast; 01-13-2009 at 02:21 AM.
It is definitely exhausting. She told me the same story about how she chewed out those people in wellness today a total of 22 times in a 30 minute conversation today. No matter what I brought up her response was that same story. At one point she told it, took a breath, and told it again.
Some days are worse than others. When life is good it's not too bad. When there is some reason for upset it's horrible. Her mean robot always says... this place is a hell hole and I hate it here. If you would just let me go home I would be fine. Why are you keeping us prisoners here. In reality she was not happy at home before they left there. What she wants to escape is the confusion in her world but that confusion is not in the pace but in her head. Unless she is crying, I validate whatever needs validating without promising her anything. I tell her I understand how much that must bother her but don't promise any changes. When she tells us how she threw a fit and fixed something, when we know it was really Sister 3 that did it, we just smile and nod. Sometimes I feel like a bobble head. Smile and nod and act dumb. Agreeing like I don't know it's all from Planet ALZ and not from this world.
From what you described ost, it is probably dementia of some kind. It would be nice if you could get her to a geriatric doctor for a complete evaluation and proper diagnosis. Perhaps that is something you can convince you DH to do. As hard as the diagnosis is to hear, it is better to know what you are dealing with than not to know.
Mom is the same as the other LO's here. Her basic personality is still there. Very sweet and loving. Her negative traits are starting to overshadow [good word deb] the good. Being human, she was able to suppress the bad until now.
One of the things Mom is doing in the last few months, no year or so, is she wants whatever we have on. No matter what we are wearing. Even down to our scarves........she wants one just like we have. We tried to do this until we realized she wants whatever she sees. "Now I like that sweater, jacket,coat, shoes, purse. Why can't I go shopping and get me one"? We take her and its on to something else. I think we were a little slow in our thinking. Duhhhhh! Just trying to make her happy. We finally caught on. LOL
She only gets hateful if you try to shower her. Its hard to do. She forgets she is mad at you after awhile but its so hard when its happening. I just keep talking and talking. When her sister did this to her, Mom would come home and cry and tell me never to let her go without bathing. No matter how bad she got. So I keep that promise. Its just one of the things that I truly never ever thought would happen to Mom. Not Miss Clean Freak.
Anyway back to the subject. I do have a way of getting off track don't I? Grams personality did not change either. She was a spit-fire before ALZ and she was after she became ill. She loved her "girls" and never got mad at us. Anyone else was fair game. She was a handful for some of her caregivers. But her basic self stayed the same until she was no longer herself. I remember one time after she stopped talking I just leaned over and kissed her on the cheek and ask how she was doing. She looked right at me and said "I've lost myself". That was all. I still wonder is she knew at that moment what she was saying?
Deb-Unless something drastic happens-mil will not agree to go to a doc for this .Also she lives in a rural area of OK and her medical care sucks. Her general doc is not looking under the hood -so to speak. Dh and his brother don't seem to want to push it right now . Mil can get a huge mean streak on if she is pushed to do something. This feared backlash intimidates them . And as I said they have the reservoir of good memories and they try to hold onto those and minimize what they see that doesn't fit the memories. I feel that I see things objectively(ha ha) .
I know what you mean by needing to be a bobble head. This is all she wants from us right now. .In fact this is how my dh got through his childhood.
And there is mostly peace if we play by her rules------------
She plays robot , verbalizing her endless loop tapes
We play bobble head.