Two days ago, MIL decided that her clothes didn't fit right. These are clothes she's worn frequently in the past, never with a single complaint. But now she decided that the sleeves are too long, the pants are too baggy, etc. I tried to reason with her, told her she looked nice, it was her favorite color, and on and on. I tried to distract her with "time to roll your hair, won't that be nice?" She pitched a fit, told me I was trying to make her look like a clown so everyone would laugh at her, that I needed to take a pair of scissors and fix the clothes. When I told her I couldn't make them fit any different, she shouted that I was a liar and started all over again. Then she went to bed for the entire day and would 't talk to me. I thought we got past that and had a decent day yesterday, but today when she came out of the bathroom without washing her hands, I told her she needed to go back and wash them and she flipped out. She told me that I harp on that all the time. (I do!) I told her that she MUST wash her hands after using the toilet, it isn't optional. She almost always forgets, and I'm right there to send her back. She's furious with me, told me I'm a miserable person, that my children and husband hate me, and much more that hurts to even think about.
How do you deal with this? I'm usually a happy person, but I guess she's a prophet, because now I feel miserable!
Oh Emily, Im so sorry that she has made you feel bad. You aren't. SHe's sick and you are the nearest thing for her to last out at.. and the baggy clothes issue??.. My mom does the same thing..Everything she puts on she comments on as being too big...I have stopped trying to convince her that they are fine so now I just tell her that we will have to look for better fitting clothes next time we go shopping.
Would it work better if instead of having to constantly remind her to wash her hands you could just hand her one of those sterilizing wet wipes as she came out?
And for all the awful things she said to you..now you know that isn't the truth. Your husband and children hate you? No they don't. Don't let her drag you into her world. Heck, we'll get there in due time on our own!!
First thing I learned is that you are not going to change their mind. You can reason with them until you are blue in the face and it will not change what they see in their mind. I would tell Mom that I can't fix them while she is wearing them and let her change clothes. Then hide them for a day or two and put them back in the closet. If she repeated it... then make them disappear. My Mom has worn white pants and a pastel sweater for over a year. She has lots of clothes but every day picks out a similar outfit.
You may be hygenically correct... but Mom no longer recognizes the necessity to wash her hands. She might think she has done it or sees no need to do it. She can't remember that you have told her repeatedly to do it every time. She might not even remember at the moment how to do it. She is responding to the feeling she gets when she comes out of the bathroom and there is a negative response. She will buck up and stand her ground because she is feeling attacked. I agree with Meg. Give her some liquid hand sanitizer and tell her it is lotion. You get the same result without the fight.
What I have found is that staying as calm and reassuring as possible works the best. I have this plastic smile I keep taped to my face whenever I am dealing with Mom... no matter how annoying she can be. I keep my voice calm and reassure her that I understand her frustration and then give alternatives. If she rejects them I go on to something different. I do use distraction as much as possible.
Their world is about them and many times they do not understand what you are saying to them. They do know the feelings they receive from nonverbal cues such as voice inflection, stance, facial expressions, and other cues. They will defend or attack when they feel threatened or retreat if they can't figure out what's wrong. When mom is overwhelmed she just shuts her eyes and tunes you out!! My ace in the hole is ice cream. It always seems to calm the situation.
Sometimes they just need to vent their frustration. If you are standing in a room and don't know how you got there or what you are supposed to be doing it must be so very frustrating. If they are constantly told that they are doing something wrong or that you can't fix what is annoying them, that too must be frustrating to them. Their world is a scary place. So when mom tells me she is going to disinherit me, that I don't love her, that I never do anything for her, or any of the other 1000 mean things she has said, I just remember how terrifying life must be for her now. I learned working in long term care that a loved one will usually strike out at the person they know will not leave them. The person that loves them the most and the one they love the most usually catching all the venom. It is safe for them to spew on that person because they are not going to walk away and leave them alone. It is the ultimate example of hurting the ones we love the most.... because we can without fear of them leaving. I remember this when Mom spews her venom on me. It's is not me she is angry with.... it is the disease that has turned her world into chaos. I am just available and she knows I will not leave her. That's ultimate trust. Then I can let the negative bounce off of me and wait for the return of my more pleasant Mom
Meg and Deb are right. I went thro' what your experiencing, and i sympathise with you. Now my mom is in a near veggie state i actually hark back to these episodes fondly. Maybe ask your Mil to choose 2 or 3 favourite outfits. We did that after much frustration. Over a period of 18months she wore them to death. By the time they were fit for the garbage she wasn't aware of much. So sad. Sending you a bale of towels.
love sandra xoxoxo
ps this site is my salvation.
While Living with my Mom for 5 years, I gradually learned the value of little white lies. She never compained about clothes, but with my experince in lying, this is how I would have handled it.
"You are right!" (they are ALWAYS right!) "Take off that outfit and I will take it to the tailor's to be fixed." Put the clothes in a bag and leave them in your car a few days. Then, "I got your clothes back from the tailor's, now they will fit perfecty." If she doesn't agree, take them out again. Maybe throw them out or give them to Goodwill. Chances are she forgets all about that outfit.
Don't ever argue with her.
I bought hand sanitizer for Mom. She always forgot to wash her hands. As soon as she was seated in her favorite TV chair, I squirted a little hand sanitzer on my hands, and rubbed some into hers. She loved having 'hand lotion' applied.
Telling her 'you must wash yur hands' may work - one time. But she will continue to forget that and much much more.
I wonder if the time is getting closer when it would be better for you and her if she was in a nursing home.
I dealt with the same actions with my mother. She would accuse me of stealing her clothes, of cutting her clothes; and trying to get her dressed to go anywhere was a fight. Clothes she made with her own hands were no longer acceptable...she in fact forgot that she even sewed them. If a tag was cut out of a store-bought top or pants (AT HER REQUEST because the tag was scratchy), she would accuse me of ruining her clothes. She would put her clothes on my bed, saying they were mine....I would wait until she was out of the room and put them back. I finally got to a point that I would stick those clothes aside, and started putting them in a bag in my car, waiting to get enough to donate to Goodwill.
Mom also said she didn't 'bring any clothes here'. She thought she was brought to our house. When she passed away in January, I cleaned out her dresser, and part of the closet she shared with dad. For someone who had no clothes, I donated at least 15 bags of her clothes to Goodwill!
She also was verbally abusive to me....her favorite term for me was 'You little b*tch'. I was also a liar.
She also became very unsanitary....she always had poop under her fingernails. I tried to keep them short....when she would let me cut them without hitting me.
Just find ways to avoid conflict and confrontation.....Martha's 'little white lies' work wonders. Just agree with whatever your MIL says at the moment. She won't even remember 10 minutes later.
My husband told me I need to not respond to what she actually says and just be a broken record, telling her, "you have Alzheimer's, your mind isn't working right." I can't see that being helpful to her, but that's what he wants us to both be doing. Yikes! That just makes her argue again. "How do you know that? That doctor who said that didn't know anything." etc., etc.
I will try the hand sanitizer. Thanks! Great idea! You're all right. I need to just have her change her clothes, 10 times if necessary. Thanks for helping me keep my sanity!
Martha, I hear what you're saying, but she/we don't have the money for a nursing home and she won't qualify for medicaid. She gave a large gift to a family member who isn't in the position to pay it back (and we can't step in to pay it back, either), so with the 5 year look-back, she won't qualify. That's okay. We're committed to keeping her. I have a plan in place for when she needs more physical help than I can give her, and we'll go from there. I'm so thankful for you ladies who always have towels for me!
Tell her "you have Alzheimer's and your mind isn't working right' ???
Good luck with that one. Hah!!
That is just asking for trouble. The ONE time I tried to explain to my mom that she had Alzheimer's she picked up a luggage rack and tried to throw it at me! Lucky for me she was 83 and a tad frail!! It didn't hit me but we, my son, my brother and I laugh about it now..she went ape-sh*t! ANd she used the "F" word too!
Telling her she has Alzheimer's will probably just scare her and make matters worse...we have never uttered the "A" word again to my mom ...we never will.
There is absolutely no way I would ever tell my Mom that she has ALZ. NO NO NO NO NO. It was hard enough when she was first diagnosed and she read the report.... and she had a lot more cognitive ability than she does now. She seemed to process the information in the moment.... but less than an hour later she was fine and I was crazy again
Even without saying anything to her she will let me know that there is absolutely nothing wrong with her mine..... I am the one that is crazy. She has actually ask for a mental test at the facility office to prove that she doesn't need to be in "that place". It is the place where she is and the people that are around her that is causing all of her problems. If we would just do what we should do, her life would be fine. Yes, she can go back home and be perfectly ok.
It may be a good thing or a bad thing but the part of the brain that recognizes that there is something internally wrong goes quickly. Those with dementia truly believe they are ok. On the good side this saves them from understand what is truly wrong with them but on the bad side it gives them no logical explination for what is happening other than to blame those around them.
Beyond that, telling her that she has ALZ is going to be news to her every time you say it. It's like the first time you heard the news.... but repeat that several times a day. We have to remember that they may not process or remember the words that we say but they absolutely remember the feelings they have. By telling her she has one of the most feared diseases of our time, repeatedly, is NOT going to get the reaction hubby wants. I dare say it will make it worse rather than better. Even if you talk her into believing it for the moment (with the fear and angst that goes along with the diagnosis).... you will just be repeating yourself within the hour. So why upset her in that way?
Remember, the first rule of Planet Alzheimer's is.... don't agrue with them. In their world, what they believe is their reality. They are incapable of coming into our realilty so we have to go into theirs.
hi blue, sorry to hear what you are going through. my mom with dementia always has 1 thing bad to say to me. its so hard, but you have to take it with a grain of salt. i like the idea about agreeing with her about her clothes. that should work. tell your husband that both of you should not say to her that she has that awful disease. maybe if you stoped harping on her so much, she wouldnt say as much hurtful things to you.
Tell her "you have Alzheimer's and your mind isn't working right' ???
Good luck with that one. Hah!!
Yeah, I know. But hubby is adamant that this is what we need to do. So fine. It's the weekend and he's home. So he can see first hand that it's just going to make matters worse. I'm not sure what I SHOULD say when she tells me I'm crazy or whatever. But telling her she has Alzheimer's isn't the answer. Maybe I'll try just laughing and saying, "oh well, we're all a bit crazy around here."
Now that sounds like an answer I would give back to Mom Emily. The day she accused me of only going out and partying I just quipped back.... Yep, last night I have a blast at an ironing party and the night before that it was a bill paying party. I chuckled when I said it to her. She told me the other day that I "Make her crazy". I just smiled and said... I make myself crazy Mom. Tonight she was worried about her bed (since she is going home tomorrow) and my comment back was..... "Arent' you glad it is there to sleep in tonight?" and she agreed that she was. If she tears up I let her cry, usually with that comment that sometimes we all feel like crying.
Your husband has a lot to learn about ALZ. Before he proceeds with his rational idea of how to rationally deal with the irrational (and we know rational doesn't work with the irrational) he needs to read about the disease. Trying to make Mom understand is like telling a man with a broken leg to walk. It just will not happen. Just as you put a cast on a broken leg you have to put in place techniques that work with her deficiencies. There is some great literature on line, at your local library, in bookstores, and right here on the forum. Mom can't not change what she is doing. She is not doing it intentionally. She doesn't even understand that she is doing anything abnormal. She has no learning ability and therefore she will never know. She has retreated into the same self centerness as a child... but she will not grow out of it. She will only become more deeply entrenched. I wish you the strength and courage it will take to deal with both Mom and hubby!!
Deb, I may need that strength more than I care to think about. My husband has Alzheimer's on both sides of his family. We joke about it, but I know deep down that his mom may not be the last one I take care of.
Both of my parents are in a locked facility as I type. I plan to wear myself out before I get to be 80 something..... or perhaps Mom is planning to do it for me. She called me this morning to chew me out againg for being arrested. Tonight she called to tell me she was packing to go home and not to bother coming to see her tomorrow because she wouldn't be there. The caregiver was chuckling when she got on the phone. Mom had ask her to call the train station and get them tickets. The caregiver had called her home number, chatted to her own answering machine, and assured Mom there were no trains tonight. I so love this new facility!!!! They truly know what they are doing. Or perhaps it will be sister 4.... who told the Rem coordinator at the facility that I had solen Mom and Dad from her.
I have figured out that there are worse things in life than dying. I just plan to live the best I can until I die and waste no time fearing what might be
You never know Emily. Nannie had ALZ and so does my Mom, but Mom's sister is fine. Nannie has a few siblings that did have ALZ but more that did not. You never know.....