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Coping with combative personality
Posted: Friday, January 6, 2012 6:40 AM
Originally posted by: maribe

i can relate. my girlfriend and i just took in her mom who's 85. feisty old broad. refers to me as "your friend" all the time. ignores me when i talk to her. gets angry and so frustrated at times.
what i'm doing is trying very hard not to take it personal. easier said than done i know. she called me a jerkface the other day. as soon as there's a hint of combat, i detach. i simply tell myself that it is not about me. it is not her talking, it is the disease. it takes practice, a lot of practice. the good thing is that she'll forget she was nasty and the next minute she's friendly.
exercise living in the moment.
i try to be in the moment every moment i'm with her. i've heard the same story a hundred times, i tell myself it's the first time i hear it.
hope this helps you.
Posted: Friday, January 6, 2012 6:40 AM
Originally posted by: Caretaker


My 82 year suffers from early stages of vascular dementia and had just become impossible to deal with - negative,combative, oppositional, mean, emotionally abusive - you name it...Her extreme anxiety and pre-occupation with exaggerated physical ailents finally led her to a in-house psych ward at a wonderful nearby hospital for a full evaluation - the best thing that ever happened. She is now taking a 30mg of Remeron (anti-depressant), 1.5mg Klonopin (anti-anxiety), and 200mg Seroquel (anti-psychotic). We also added Namenda to her previously only getting Razadyne for memory. I cannot tell you how amazingly well she is doing - nothing short of a miracle. Not only has she become her old pleasant, sweet self but her mind seems somewhat sharper with the Namenda. People that see her now simply cannot believe the change. I highly recommend seeing a geriatric psychiatrist and getting meds -do not allow yourself and your loved one to suffer any longer...

A very happy daughter....
Internal Administrator
Posted: Friday, January 6, 2012 6:40 AM
Joined: 1/14/2015
Posts: 40463

Originally posted by: MJ57

Does anyone have any advice or examples from your own experiences...

My mom is 82 and while the doctors haven't diagnosed her with AD or another dementia, my brother and I see it pretty clearly. The forgetfulness, repeating stories, getting confused when doing tasks that she used to handle easily, her attention span has become very, very brief... These we can deal with. About 5 years ago we got her into senior housing so she wouldn't be driving anymore and so she'd have a continuum of care as she ages.

The thing we're having a hard time with is the deterioration in her personality.

She's gotten increasingly argumentative, demanding, critical, pouty... and of course with her memory problems she forgets and complains that no one ever offers to help her, it would be nice if someone would just ___ once in a while... that kind of thing. She'll request help doing things and then gets almost violently angry because the effort isn't good enough or it isn't right somehow. She berates store clerks, waiters, staff at her senior housing...

It's getting to be very taxing to my brother and sister, who are her main caregivers. I live several hundred miles away and can only give instrumental help once in a great while. I offer moral support at every chance - to her and to each of them - and do what I can with problem solving.

The thing is, how do you deal with your own emotional reactions to these things? I see my brother trying to talk Mom into behaving better and she just can't, and he's getting so frustrated with her. I'm worried that she'll alienate everyone who's trying to help her.

But this sort of personality trouble can't be all that uncommon. How do you deal with it?

Posted: Friday, January 6, 2012 6:40 AM
Originally posted by: Hope Springs

Your situation is similar to mine. My Mother is mid-stage and not the same person. She is angry and has been combative ie: scratching, hitting etc. To address her behavior and to see if she could get some relief from her anxiety I took her to a Doctor who placed her on several medications to ease her symptoms. To a degree this has provided some relief. One options would be to get an official diagnosis to rule out other conditions that may be relevant and see what options are out there to assist you and your family. I wish you the best.
Posted: Friday, January 6, 2012 6:40 AM
Originally posted by: callahanwin

Posted: Friday, January 6, 2012 6:40 AM
Originally posted by: butterflyznbeez

I too have an 82 year old father who has in the past and on occassion been combative, aggressive, etc...I too disengage myself @ times and try to remember that its not his fault. But if it calls for it, just like anyone else that is perfectly healthy, I tell it as it is. I am respectful, walk straight up to my father and tell him that "I dont appreciate the way you are treating me. I am not being mean to you and you should not treat me this way. It hurts my feelings. Please stop." Once he realized that I was hurt by it, he now considers me his mother. He comes to my room in the morning stating phrases such as these..."Mother, the bus is here.", "Mother, its time to go", "Mama, are you going to feed me?". If he hears someone be confrontational with me even in the slightest, He protects me in a verbal manner telling them " stop talking like that!". So sweet! I have noticed that when others speak to him in a babyish manner like the adult day care program he was in, he would get irritated with them and get frustrated.

ALSO....PAIN was and is a big issue with him. It seems that with these outbursts, pain or discomfort never seems far behind. Its always good to discuss the possibility of it...have him or her rule it out. Dont let them Constantly blame it on the Alzheimers. There are lots of doctors my way that seem to just want to move on to the next patient rather than dealing with someone who just wants to make sure! I accept my father is getting worse, what bothers me is that I cant possibly know when he is in pain becuz he can not convey always his pain. RULE IT OUT!!! but accept what it could be also...just a declining AD....or the combination of the two. Get assistance from Home Health Care...I have had great experiences with them. WONDERFUL!!! Use your respite care when you need it. Take an hour or two off. Let him/her have a companion.

Love ya...Julie
Posted: Friday, January 6, 2012 6:40 AM
Originally posted by: MJ57

Maribe, it does help to hear your story and how you're coping. Thanks.

I think you're right about living in the moment and not in the past or the future. Basically this is all we can do to be present with our mothers (and in your case, your girlfriend's mother) because this is the world they live in. To not be present is to leave them alone in your company, which is a shitty thing to do to anyone.

For myself it helps to remember that it wasn't always so, and there will be a day when this is all done, but this is the way things are now.

I think you're a gem for taking this journey with your girlfriend, and for honoring her through participating in the care of her mom. Plenty of partners who are married, bound together by law and custom, cannot navigate it. My best wishes to you both, and to the feisty 85 year old broad who has joined you for the time being.

Joanna, thanks for all the wonderful information and the suggestions. I'll print this out so I can have it handy later when we're ready to look into another round of tests. My heart goes out to you in your own loss as your mom deteriorates.

Patsy, Kathy, thanks for your conversation. Makes me feel a little more normal!

I shared a lot of the information from this thread with my brother, hoping it would help him to see the general drift of Mom's dementia and feel less alone. Unfortunately, it didn't help. I think he's getting burnt out. Our other sister does a lot, too, but he shoulders most of the responsibility and, at least right now, he cannot see things objectively at all. Mom is harder to deal with than she has ever been and she really cannot help it. This is not a choice for her. He's too frustrated to see that right now.

Sooo, I'm starting to think about moving back to town where they are. Hate to uproot everything and leave my home here. It would be the right thing to do never the less. Both my brother and sister have their limitations, as we all do, and I think we're going to run into those more as Mom deteriorates. And that's not going to lead anywhere good.

I have mixed feelings about stepping in. I'd cared for my husband for two years through terminal illness. It is not a journey I particularly want to take again.

Caring for a spouse is different than caring for a parent. I loved my husband more than life itself; the sacrifices were natural to make. But I've never had the kind of loving relationship with Mom that's true for so many mothers and daughters. I'm not just dying to give something back to her for all the warm memories from childhood.

So there's some thinking I have to do before I decide to take this on. Thanks everyone for your input. It helps to sort things out. Also helps just to put my thoughts down.
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