No matter what I do, my mom will almost always find something wrong with it

My mother has Alzheimer's and she has become so nasty and mean to everyone and she always asks for unrealistic, silly or meaningless items. I get so frustrated and angry, but then I feel guilty because I know it probably isn’t her fault. How can I cope with feeling like this?

Melissa Burton
Melissa Burton
Counseling for Life Transitions

Let me first say that I am sorry you are going through this. Yes, this is a symptom of an ugly disease, but that does not make experiencing it any easier. If your mother was a sweet and understanding lady, I am sure this change in personality feels awful! On the other hand, if your relationship with her has always been difficult this can definitely open up old wounds and anger. 

I have walked alongside many families as they care for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease. It is unfortunately common to see mothers become cruel and mean toward their daughters. In your case, it sounds like she is not directing her anger at just you. While this may feel less personal, I am sure it makes finding supportive care for her very difficult. I have several quick tips that might help you cope with this situation. 

1. Stay tuned in to your level of anger and frustration. If you can limit the amount of time you or anyone else is with your mother you can limit the caregiver burnout. It is completely NORMAL to feel what you are feeling!! However, these are the feelings that can lead to acting out and abuse when not acknowledged. It doesn't sound like this is the case for you, but healthy boundaries and exercising respite will help with your feelings of guilt as well. So, rotate care as much as possible.

2. If you find yourself arguing with your mom, STOP. Don't worry, we have all been there before. No need to feel guilty, but this only serves to agitate someone. None of us enjoys being wrong and getting into an argument. For those of us who are able to logically engage with others, sometimes this type of interaction is necessary. Alzheimer's disease has robbed your mother of her logic, therefore arguing with her will only make matters worse. Try redirecting her instead. For tips on how to do this check out Teepa Snow (teepasnow.com)

3. Take care of yourself and seek support. Support groups and counseling are a great way to tend to your needs during this long journey. Caregiving can be overwhelming, lonely and heartbreaking. You don't have to go through this alone. Check out Alz.org for support groups in your area. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Robin  Ahlgren
Robin Ahlgren
Caregiving can pose many challenges
From your initial description, I would say that your mother is "Maloriented". In this stage of Alzheimer's individuals tend to be blaming and difficult to deal with. They may often hide or throw things away and then blame family members for this. In addition, if they are incontinent, they may blame a leaky roof or something else when they are wet. You are correct that this is not her fault, but often for family members this does not make it any easier for you to cope. 
I strongly suggest that you learn communication strategies that will help you to communicate with your mother in a way that lets her work through the difficulties associated with the disease. I always suggest Validation techniques to family members.
In addition, you need to give yourself some kind attention and take time out from your circumstances as needed. You need to be able to center yourself and come to acceptance that this is your mother's illness that is the problem, not her and certainly not you.
The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Couples and Family Therapist, LCSW

Yes, certainly your mom's difficulty in having meaningful conversations with people results from the Alzheimer's disease process which weakens her brain function.

Feeling a sense of guilt in relation to a parent, is pretty common for everyone.

This is because as little kids and babies, we had a strong reliance on a parent and believing every word they sad and wishing to follow each action they ask or demand, was for the benefit of our own survival.

One way of coping with your feeling of guilt is to examine it.

Ask what it is you're feeling guilty about?

Chances are that your sense of guilt is less due to what you're currently saying or doing to help your mom.

Very likely, your guilt feeling is awakening the sense of obligation that you and all of us feel toward a parent simply because parents seem to have unquestionable power when we are very young.

After all, you're thoughtful enough to write a question, so chances are great that you're already actively involved in caring for your mom.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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