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?

Mirella Caro-Cortes
Mirella Caro-Cortes
Helping Families & Marriages Repair, Recover & Thrive
It is challenging to see one's parents age and to cope with the new demands.  Your mom means a lot to you, and that is why you get easily frustrated.  I'm guessing that it is not that she is making you do work or that her expectations are non-important to you because if that were the case, you would not feel any guilt.  Accepting the new stage will help you cope with the changes.  Take a deep breath every time you feel frustrated and think of the good times you shared with your mom before her getting Alzheimer's.  Remember that your mom as she was is no longer and that she has reverted to a more delicate phase.  Also, schedule time for yourself and do things that help you relax.  Caretaking of an elderly parent can take a toll on you, and it is essential to incorporate self-care.  Finally, look for an Alzheimer's support group in your area that will help you connect with other people going through the same thing.  You are a good daughter, and your mom is lucky to have you in her life.
Sincerely,
Mirella~
Image and Likeness Counseling
Pamela Suraci
Pamela Suraci
Build on your strengths, grow in your challenge areas and improve your life!

There is some great advice here that can really help, but you need some direct support.  Please find a caregiver support organization, a grief group and an individual therapist to help you during this trying time.  Your mom may not know what she is saying, or mean the awful things she says, but that doesn't make it hurt less.  Please take care of yourself and gt some help!

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.
Susan Haberkorn
Susan Haberkorn
Online Christian Counseling for Women

Make sure that you continue to treat your Mom with respect. However, you also need to make sure that you have time away from her so that the stress of caring for her doesn't overwhelm you. Balance is the key!

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.
Stella Osemwegie
Stella Osemwegie
Say yes to moving forward in spite of . . .

You have the answer already. It is not your mom's fault. Always remember that in spite of the disease, that human being you call mom is still there. To cope with the feelings of frustration, anger, and guilt, practice accepting what is at this time. Bring peace to these feelings and commit to move on to provide your mom love. If you can, use mindfulness meditation to stay focus and calm your brain.

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.
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. Alzheimer’s disease is one that robs that person of dignity and interaction with their loved ones. This is a question that I have heard over and over from many family members so, please, understand you are not alone with this one. Your mother’s agitation is part of the disease process for many people who have Alzheimer’s. I don’t know what your mother was like prior to the diagnosis or before she became symptomatic but imagine what it’s like to be told “you already had breakfast” or “that’s not how you fold the laundry”. In her mind, she is doing the right thing and now is being told she isn’t. Something that can be of an invaluable help for you (and other family members) is to seek out a support group. Most people feel they “don’t have time” or “no one could possibly understand”. There are many people out there with those same struggles who find comfort in talking to others who “get it”. The Alzheimer’s Association as well as Alzheimer’s Foundation are wonderful organizations who can put you in touch with such groups.

It is very difficult to move from being the child to be the care giver as in your situation. Your mother's behavior as you describe it is a part of this disease. As the disease progresses and she is less aware of the present including her surroundings and who she is speaking to. Your response of anger and frustration are understandable. It is also a part of the grief process as you see you mother slipping away mentally. In the moment that you feel the anger step away, take some deep breathes and give yourself time to calm down. Then return to whatever you were doing with her. Caregivers of Alzheimer's patients need a lot of support themselves. There are support groups  as well as respite services available in many areas that will help you understand the process that each of you is going through. You can get more information about Alzheimer's disease and local resources by going to www.alz.org

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.
Amanda Babineau-LaRose
Amanda Babineau-LaRose
Counseling related to depression, anxiety, aging, grief and loss, medical illness, and adjustment to changes across the lifespan.
When you feel the frustration and anger building inside you have that be a trigger for you to remember a feeling that you want to experience instead of anger, frustration and guilt, for example understanding. Then say that word to yourself as you take deep breaths. But know that this is normal for caregivers/family members to have these reactions because it is also an emotional roller coaster for you. Even though it is normal it is still good to try to respond differentyl and I commend you for doing that. You also may want to look for a Caregiver Support group which will help you hear from others who also respond this way.
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.
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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