Dealing with Anger and Disbelief in person with dementia

Posted by pbmom @pbmom, Jun 2 9:03pm

I am new to the dementia caregiver discussion. My sister has more than mild memory loss, and refuses to believe it. She gets angry if you use the word dementia about her, and thinks she's too young for it (She just turned 65, but appears to believe she is 55 or so. ) The worst is that sometimes she thinks she's cooperating to take pills (after asking what they are for and which Dr. prescribed), but seems to put one in her mouth and "forget" to quickly swallow it with water, spitting it out as yucky. Then she is angry at frustrated caregivers. Any ideas?

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What if you put a pill in applesauce or something she really likes. Maybe pudding or yogurt. Or ask her doctor for advice.

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Good morning, @pbmom I'm Scott and I was my wife's caregiver for over 14 years. I was also a caregiver for my MIL, who had dementia and who would get very agitated at the use of the word dementia. I totally understand how frightening this must be to someone with the disease, so in our case, we simply stopped using the word. Likewise, my wife hated to be reminded of her disease, so I did the same with her. I also quickly learned if what my wife was disagreeing with me about was not a truly critical issue, I'd just let any erroneous thinking alone. For me, it was a decision to pick my battles since otherwise, I could have been arguing about something almost every day.

With my wife, I took to explaining that each pill was meant to "help her feel better" or address some specific, smaller symptom that was bothering her at the time. Also, since all her doctors shared information, I began to say all her meds were prescribed by her one, favorite doctor, which helped her be more comfortable taking the pills.

I'd also have her take them with her favorite liquid, rather than water. Kind of made taking the pills a kind of treat in that way. For a time we also used @janet7 suggestion of putting it in apple sauce and/or pudding. I also recall her doctor agreed we could crush a certain pill and mix it into food. Eventually, we switched to liquid forms of all of her meds, but that was far down the road.

Caregiving is certainly a roller coaster of emotions and demands, so frustration is a natural component for all of us caregivers, I believe!

If I may ask, how long have you been caregiving for your sister?

Strength, Courage, & Peace

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Most of the time I feel like I'm a pogo stick with Bill. His anger can be overwhelming at times, especially when he attacks my daughter Robin (his step) who is trying to help him. We recently moved in with her which Bill is now unhappy with. He doesn't think we need the help yet he keeps falling or nearly falling, problem getting dressed, etc. Now he wants to drive again! Plus online he wants to buy everything offered.

So I've had to take financial steps – no PayPal anymore! Also plan on selling the car as I shouldn't drive either. In the meantime I've given keys to Robin.

Yesterday turned into a good day, which I treasure as no idea what today will bring when he wakes up.

This group is really a life saver as you can not only ask questions but they let you vent. Trying to keep it inside can tear you apart. And a lot of times you find an answer that really helps with things. Years ago we went through it with Bill's sister (she wanted to kill him and kept reporting her beloved daughter to the police). At least I haven't had that – he just wants to leave me every other day if I won't move out with him!

God Bless.

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@billchitwood

Most of the time I feel like I'm a pogo stick with Bill. His anger can be overwhelming at times, especially when he attacks my daughter Robin (his step) who is trying to help him. We recently moved in with her which Bill is now unhappy with. He doesn't think we need the help yet he keeps falling or nearly falling, problem getting dressed, etc. Now he wants to drive again! Plus online he wants to buy everything offered.

So I've had to take financial steps – no PayPal anymore! Also plan on selling the car as I shouldn't drive either. In the meantime I've given keys to Robin.

Yesterday turned into a good day, which I treasure as no idea what today will bring when he wakes up.

This group is really a life saver as you can not only ask questions but they let you vent. Trying to keep it inside can tear you apart. And a lot of times you find an answer that really helps with things. Years ago we went through it with Bill's sister (she wanted to kill him and kept reporting her beloved daughter to the police). At least I haven't had that – he just wants to leave me every other day if I won't move out with him!

God Bless.

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Thank you for sharing so much. We are not quite at that stage, yet, but i have had a few instances of explosive anger, surprising at what spurred it. One at the airport, one at Costco and one in a restaurant. When others hear it they may call security, so i have learned to only go with him when absolutely needed and to go to places i can easily get home in a hurry. I give excuses as to why i don't go. He has stopped at home because i have learned when it might be coming on and don't comment or start conversations. Oh and even if he asks to pick up something when he's going out, i tell him nothing needed. He is on a medication now that after a few weeks seemed to make those outbursts much less.

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@mell

Thank you for sharing so much. We are not quite at that stage, yet, but i have had a few instances of explosive anger, surprising at what spurred it. One at the airport, one at Costco and one in a restaurant. When others hear it they may call security, so i have learned to only go with him when absolutely needed and to go to places i can easily get home in a hurry. I give excuses as to why i don't go. He has stopped at home because i have learned when it might be coming on and don't comment or start conversations. Oh and even if he asks to pick up something when he's going out, i tell him nothing needed. He is on a medication now that after a few weeks seemed to make those outbursts much less.

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Hope his medications help. It is so hard, especially not knowing what can trigger it (once Bill exploded at me over a new jar of peanut butter as he thought it tasted funny and I didn't). I end up taking walks a lot.

This morning Robin and I finished setting up his den with new 65 TV and Robin actually could get his TV streamer hooked up to it so it goes directly to his hearing aids and we don't have to listen to the sound – or have it blasting. I do love his streamer. We got his new lift chair put together as well. He is having problems with the remote for the chair as it has two more buttons than the other one.

Once we assured him that he wasn't being isolated and that he still had the other lift chair so whenever he wanted to be in the other room he could. Then he was pleased and settled back to watch his golf while Robin and I played mad dogs or Englishmen and walked in the noon day sun.

We are hopeful that the Mayo doctors will be able to come up with something to help on the anger, stress and anxiety issues. His appointment is set for the 20th so fingers crossed – along with eyes and toes.
You take your victories where and how you can lol!

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@mell

Thank you for sharing so much. We are not quite at that stage, yet, but i have had a few instances of explosive anger, surprising at what spurred it. One at the airport, one at Costco and one in a restaurant. When others hear it they may call security, so i have learned to only go with him when absolutely needed and to go to places i can easily get home in a hurry. I give excuses as to why i don't go. He has stopped at home because i have learned when it might be coming on and don't comment or start conversations. Oh and even if he asks to pick up something when he's going out, i tell him nothing needed. He is on a medication now that after a few weeks seemed to make those outbursts much less.

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I have a husband who has anger issues but I believe over the 30 years of our marriage, he does not get as angry as he used to. I realized early on that he was trying to control and intimidate me. There was one time early in our marriage when I was actually afraid of what he might do to me, a familiar feeling I had in my previous marriage. The only thing that broke up his anger was the screen door of the camper I took refuge in.
Thankfully he walked away. I have tried with humor to calm him down and it seems to be working. I try to let him see the funny side of life and show him not everything is a crisis. He is very high strung and set in his ways so there are some things I choose to ignore. When I drive the car, he is the worst backseat driver you ever saw. I choose to ignore his yelling but I continue to watch the road and refuse to get rattled. I jokingly tell him if he doesn’t stop picking on me, I will drop him off and he can walk home.
About your husband, I think his anger is his being unhappy with his condition and making you feel like it’s all your fault. You will try everything to make him happy and you rush to fix it! It’s like you are saying unless he’s happy, no one else should be happy. What’s that saying “unless Mama is happy, no one else is happy.” I am sorry he is sick, just like my husband, but he is acting like a child having a temper tantrum, taking out his anger on you and anyone else around. He needs to find his own happiness inside himself instead of expecting everyone else to do that for him. His anger isn’t fair to use against you or anyone else and he likes to see you all jumping to make him happy (and he might be just acting). You might have to treat him like a child, being firm but loving. Like saying, “I’m sorry you aren’t having a good day” and leave him alone to find out how he can make things better for himself. He needs to find out why he is so angry and stop taking it out on everyone else. That’s called “a Bully.”
Sorry if I’m too harsh!

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@janet7

I have a husband who has anger issues but I believe over the 30 years of our marriage, he does not get as angry as he used to. I realized early on that he was trying to control and intimidate me. There was one time early in our marriage when I was actually afraid of what he might do to me, a familiar feeling I had in my previous marriage. The only thing that broke up his anger was the screen door of the camper I took refuge in.
Thankfully he walked away. I have tried with humor to calm him down and it seems to be working. I try to let him see the funny side of life and show him not everything is a crisis. He is very high strung and set in his ways so there are some things I choose to ignore. When I drive the car, he is the worst backseat driver you ever saw. I choose to ignore his yelling but I continue to watch the road and refuse to get rattled. I jokingly tell him if he doesn’t stop picking on me, I will drop him off and he can walk home.
About your husband, I think his anger is his being unhappy with his condition and making you feel like it’s all your fault. You will try everything to make him happy and you rush to fix it! It’s like you are saying unless he’s happy, no one else should be happy. What’s that saying “unless Mama is happy, no one else is happy.” I am sorry he is sick, just like my husband, but he is acting like a child having a temper tantrum, taking out his anger on you and anyone else around. He needs to find his own happiness inside himself instead of expecting everyone else to do that for him. His anger isn’t fair to use against you or anyone else and he likes to see you all jumping to make him happy (and he might be just acting). You might have to treat him like a child, being firm but loving. Like saying, “I’m sorry you aren’t having a good day” and leave him alone to find out how he can make things better for himself. He needs to find out why he is so angry and stop taking it out on everyone else. That’s called “a Bully.”
Sorry if I’m too harsh!

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From my perspective, in living with a bully of my own, you are spot on. Bill uses silence against the family to show his displeasure (his daughter, when young, dented his car accidentally and he wouldn't speak to her for two weeks. Didn't matter that she has apologized. Now that he has dementia he is trying to use the 'I'm going to go live on my own' ruse. I just say, fine, and go about my business. Impossible to reason with him at that point.
He is now having problems getting his clothes on. Can't find things to eat. Before he could at least get cereal or his favorite Twinkies. Suddenly he will 'accept' help and all is calm again. Until the next time.
One of my other problems is I have a Cochlear Implant in one ear and hearing aid in other ear, which he figures should help my hearing him. It does help with most hearing but he is now slurring his speech, leaving words out and having very disjointed sentences. Sometimes I can figure them out. Other times it is like listening to a child learning how to talk and you can only guess.
I understand about the backseat driving. You handle it well!

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@IndianaScott

Good morning, @pbmom I'm Scott and I was my wife's caregiver for over 14 years. I was also a caregiver for my MIL, who had dementia and who would get very agitated at the use of the word dementia. I totally understand how frightening this must be to someone with the disease, so in our case, we simply stopped using the word. Likewise, my wife hated to be reminded of her disease, so I did the same with her. I also quickly learned if what my wife was disagreeing with me about was not a truly critical issue, I'd just let any erroneous thinking alone. For me, it was a decision to pick my battles since otherwise, I could have been arguing about something almost every day.

With my wife, I took to explaining that each pill was meant to "help her feel better" or address some specific, smaller symptom that was bothering her at the time. Also, since all her doctors shared information, I began to say all her meds were prescribed by her one, favorite doctor, which helped her be more comfortable taking the pills.

I'd also have her take them with her favorite liquid, rather than water. Kind of made taking the pills a kind of treat in that way. For a time we also used @janet7 suggestion of putting it in apple sauce and/or pudding. I also recall her doctor agreed we could crush a certain pill and mix it into food. Eventually, we switched to liquid forms of all of her meds, but that was far down the road.

Caregiving is certainly a roller coaster of emotions and demands, so frustration is a natural component for all of us caregivers, I believe!

If I may ask, how long have you been caregiving for your sister?

Strength, Courage, & Peace

Jump to this post

Scott
Thanks for your insight. My brother-in-law is actually the caregiver, and I live in another state. I thought her chemo fog from cancer treatments became dementia, he doesn't. We agree it has become worse in last few years. I believe he is doing a good job, and he'd like to keep her at home as long as possible. She follows him everywhere, even bathroom, In Feb. he was at the end of his rope, and doctors thought she needed to be hospitalized and evaluated and then likely going to a care home. He managed to have a psychiatrist come to the house on pretext of looking at his fishing lures and then prescribe a med for her agitation. While I was there he switched to smaller pills, does hide one in pudding, and things got a bit better. In the last few weeks he's at the end of his rope again, and I will go babysit her while he investigates places she could live.
I've suggested a social daycare for dementia, but he is worried that she wouldn't go, and/or that she would act out and not be invited back. (She is no longer welcome at their favorite deli.) She doesn't like strangers now, so in home respite for him has the same problems.

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I'm fortunate in that my husband doesn't have many behavioral issues. He likes to rest most of the time. Sometimes it's the little things that break my heart. Yesterday, I put his clothes out after we showered. He came out wearing his pajamas and I explained that pajamas are okay after dinner, not before. He took it well though, and changed his clothes. May we all stay calm, encouraged and steadfast in what we must do. Thank you all.

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I’m at that stage with my husband 4diagnosed (mixed dementias!) today he exhibited total animal insanity.. I’m at my wits end! Getting new Palliative Hospice group coming in.. hoping and praying some relief for my husband, veteran, together 41 yrs! Probably 7th stage Alzheimer’s and vascular dementias!

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@bonnieb81

I’m at that stage with my husband 4diagnosed (mixed dementias!) today he exhibited total animal insanity.. I’m at my wits end! Getting new Palliative Hospice group coming in.. hoping and praying some relief for my husband, veteran, together 41 yrs! Probably 7th stage Alzheimer’s and vascular dementias!

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@bonnieb81 And don't forget to ask the new Palliative Hospice group about support for yourself, also! It's critical to your sanity and health.
Ginger

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@IndianaScott

Good morning, @pbmom I'm Scott and I was my wife's caregiver for over 14 years. I was also a caregiver for my MIL, who had dementia and who would get very agitated at the use of the word dementia. I totally understand how frightening this must be to someone with the disease, so in our case, we simply stopped using the word. Likewise, my wife hated to be reminded of her disease, so I did the same with her. I also quickly learned if what my wife was disagreeing with me about was not a truly critical issue, I'd just let any erroneous thinking alone. For me, it was a decision to pick my battles since otherwise, I could have been arguing about something almost every day.

With my wife, I took to explaining that each pill was meant to "help her feel better" or address some specific, smaller symptom that was bothering her at the time. Also, since all her doctors shared information, I began to say all her meds were prescribed by her one, favorite doctor, which helped her be more comfortable taking the pills.

I'd also have her take them with her favorite liquid, rather than water. Kind of made taking the pills a kind of treat in that way. For a time we also used @janet7 suggestion of putting it in apple sauce and/or pudding. I also recall her doctor agreed we could crush a certain pill and mix it into food. Eventually, we switched to liquid forms of all of her meds, but that was far down the road.

Caregiving is certainly a roller coaster of emotions and demands, so frustration is a natural component for all of us caregivers, I believe!

If I may ask, how long have you been caregiving for your sister?

Strength, Courage, & Peace

Jump to this post

God Bless You, I just said a prayer for you. You're a Prince.

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