I'm a newbie and feeling very confused

Tell us a bit about yourself here.
After caring for my mom for many years she recently went into a home as the dementia had become so bad i could no longer care for her. At first the relief of knowing that she would be safe and well cared for was wonderful. So why then do i feel so guilty and think i have let her down. Recently when I go to see her she has been so nasty to me. She gets very aggressive verbally and has several times tried to get up and hit me or throw something at me. I have five older brothers who she adores, they can do no wrong in her eyes. She blames me for everything. I love her but I get so upset with her when she calls me dreadful names and says things like she wishes she had had me adopted. She also tells the staff some dreadful lies about me. I really don't know what to do? Should I challenge her when she does start screaming and shouting at me. Should I say anything about the lies she tells people. At the moment I just let her rant and rave at me then I come home and have a good cry?
At times she can be like mum again you would not think anything was wrong..
I am looking forward to getting to know you all and getting a better understanding of this horrible cruel illness.
Talk to the Matron. Leave as soon as she starts ranting at you because you don't deserve it and she doesn't need the upset either.
Dear Deb

What was your mum like to you before she got dementia? I ask because you talk about her sons whI'mom she 'adores and they can do no wrong in her eyes'. Was it always like that? ie, her adoring her sons....but blaming you for everything?

I would surmise that there are two 'explanations' for your mum's horrible, horrible aggression towards you now.

Either it is the dementia pure and simple, and she is truly 'not the person she once was'....has almost (forgive the analogy) been 'possessed' by an 'alien personality' (ie, the horrible distortion of the brain and mind and personality that dementia can cause.)

Or, it's simply her 'uninhibited true self' coming out....

Obviously, I would hope it's the former, as that is less distressing to accept. Which is why I ask what she was like to you when she was of sound mind. If she wasn't anything at all like she is now, and although she adored her sons, she also adored her daughter.

In that case, then her aggression towards you is 'only because' of her dementia, nothing else. It could be simply that she cannot 'accept' that she has got 'so bad' that she 'must' be in a care home, and is 'desperate' to come home again, and that is why you get all the flack. Somewhere in what is left of her mind she 'knows' that YOU put her in the home, and therefore YOU are the 'baddie'.

The 'drive to get out' of a home can be very strong with those with dementia. My own MIL, right up until when she had to go into a secure unit this last summer, was constantly trying to leave! It was just impossible for her to understand that she COULD not leave, that she HAD to have someone looking after her (and that I couldn't and wouldn't do it - it was taking up my entire life!)(which I'm sure I don't have to explain to you, sadly....). It was desperately sad - and desperately annoying. It got her expelled from two lovely care homes which simply weren't adapted to keeping 'unwilling' residents inside! So now she is in a secure unit (the irony is, that now her dementia is so advanced I doubt she could actually physically get out the door any more....). All she was doing, sadly, when she was 'escaping' was 'trying to get home'.......

In practical terms though, whatever is behind your mother's dreadful aggression towards you, sadly it's clear that she 'fires up' when she sees you - so I think the only 'solution' is to not let her see you, at least until you no longer 'trigger' that aggression.

Deb, the mother you once knew is nearly gone - that is the most hideous aspect of dementia, that we lose them while they are still alive. I hope that she will, as my MIL has done, get 'past' this stage, and perhaps the next or final stage of the disease will find her much more peaceful. This has definitely happened to my MIL, and I think it is a sign that she is 'slowing down' and 'letting go'.

The whole business is heartbreaking - and exhausting. The one blessing, in a way, is that they themselves have no idea what they are like. It would be dreadful if they did - my MIL would be horrified if she could 'see' herself now, and I can only be glad that she does nor realise how bad she is.

As for the guilt, it never really goes. But what 'we' here on the forum try and do is to say 'We don't need to feel guilty - we can feel sad instead'....because we do.

Wishing you an easier mind over this very distressing situation, Jenny
Hello Deb
My husband has vascular dementia and suffered strokes. Now in a nursing home. I too had a stage of hubby being awful. Accusations etc. This was before the diagnosis and it was heartbreaking and scary. On the rare occasion I get an accusation now, I tell him I'm going for a walk, and when I get back I want a smile. The last time he asked me if I felt better!! I just went with it. If it continues now, (as I say rare) I leave. It's very very hard and I have to kick the guilt monster away. It may be worth you trying these tactics. No point in shouting and being defensive back. It just hurts you more. It is alas , part of dementia. Give your mum time to settle. Most of all give yourself a break from it. I go every other day now, ( advice from our forum friends). It helps me to cope. I will add that I love my husband dearly but I have to cope with the every day things in life, and am having to learn to balance it all.
You should too and hopefully your mum will settle and adjust. The other residents in hubby's home seem to have done so, and the newer ones are unsettled aggressive etc.
I don't know if this is any comfort to you. It is heartbreaking. The dementia is not your fault any more than your mum's. She is being cared for. Are you!?
Hi Deb
OK you feel guilty. What for exactly? Did you arrange for Mum to have this dreadful disease? Could you, honestly, have provided better, more experienced and 24 hour care on your own for someone so needy?
No? Of course not. So do what many of us have found helpful. Turn 'guilty' into 'sad'. It's really sad that mum has this horrid dementia, (just as it is sad that any person is struck down by any terminal disease), it's sad that the stage she is at makes her lash out at you whenever you visit, it's sad that she couldn't have lived at home, in full control of her mind and her life until the end of her life, BUT the fact that it didn't work out that way is not for you to feel guilty about. Be proud instead, of all that you have done for her. Be very sad for the stranger who now exists inside your Mum's head. Be sad for yourself because you are struggling with a horrid situation but don't feel guilty. This is not of your making.
I agree with the suggestion that if Mum is 'kicking off' you should walk away, if only for a while during the time of your visit. Talk to the staff, how is she when you are not there? Do your brothers visit too? What do they say about her behaviour and have you been together so that they have either witnessed how she reacts to you or maybe she treats you nicely when they are there?
I can imagine how hurt you feel and how devastated by the nastiness, but unless mum was not very appreciative of you before then it IS just the illness talking. Imagine that you are a volunteer who has offered to visit an old lady in a Home. If that old lady raged at you, you would probably not enjoy the visits very much but you would put it down to 'that's how she is'.
Your duty now is to oversee Mum's physical care. You can't do anything about her mind unfortunately. Is she warm, comfortable, not hungry or thirsty, pain free and cared for? If you are satisfied about that then take a step back if you can, from the feeling that YOU have to fulfil all her demands. You don't. You can't. It's not your fault. You have done everything possible and have nothing to feel guilty about. It's just plain SAD.
The fact that you looked after your mum until she needed more care, says a lot about you. Looking after a parent with Dementia is no easy task. I think Dementia is their illness and guilt is ours! The ups and downs of this illness exposes us to all sorts of emotions, some I never knew I had! My mum is always telling me how much she loves my brother and gets quite emotional when she speaks about him. When he phones her she always ends it with 'love you loads' yet I barely get a goodbye when I leave her. I used to resent this until I spoke with him about it, he doesn't understand it either! We can be in the same room, say the same thing yet I get a different reaction :roll: My husband thinks it's because she sees me more than my brother but It does hurt. I have to remind myself that we always had a very close relationship and I know she loves me.
My mum looked after her own mum for many years but after she passed she was left feeling 'empty handed' and would reprimand herself on numerous occasions on what she should have done or said. Guilt is ingrained unfortunately :( If you know your mum is in safe hands and receiving good care then maybe step back a bit? Maybe take a bit of time out.....sometimes we forget about our own needs. That is something we're all guilty of!!

Wishing you all the best
Sarah, I do think daughters can get taken for granted by mothers, who 'expect' them always to be around. Whereas boys are 'expected' to head off and make their own lives, and seldom 'bother' about their old mums....so mums sought of 'curry favour' with their sons, and are excessively grateful for ANY attention they get shown.

Maybe it's like that old saying:

A son is a son until he takes a wife
But a daughter is a daughter all her life

That said, I wonder if your mum is a 'man's woman'. Such women simply don't regard females as 'important' or 'interesting' and spend all their efforts attracting the attention of males, which is all they value.....??? (sorry if that's unfair about your mum!)

(Maybe, to be fair, if such women exist, who only think sons important, maybe there are dads who only value their 'little princesses' of daughters!)

I do agree that looking after someone with dementia is fiendishly hard. It's so difficult to try and remember that their (sometimes appalling!) behaviour is not really 'them', but their illness. Sometimes it just seems like they are being awkward 'deliberately'.....!
Many thanks to everyone for taking the time to offer your advice and for making me feel less isolated.
I would say I have always had a good relationship with mom but probably a better one with my dad. This was because i was the only girl with 6 older brothers. My lovely dad died when I was 14 from a brain tumour. Totally unexpected I came home from school early and found him dead. Mom was at work and my brothers at work also. It was one of the worst periods of my life. I think mom felt dreadful that she had not been there,and I think that our relationship grew stronger from then. As the years went by i became more and more aware of mom becoming confused and forgetful. She would lose her temper with me for no reason,striking out at me and at other times she would ignore me for days at a time. I told my brothers of my concerns but they all said it was down to her age and what did I expect she was 82. I eventually persuaded her to see her go,who did that 10 question memory test which she passed with flying colours. So as far as my brothers were concerned there was nothing wrong with her. So all my worries about her having dementia were dismissed. Eventually as mom got worse they had to accept that mom was ill. She got so bad she had to go into a mental health hospital and was held under a section 2. She was eventually moved into the home she is now in on a complex needs unit. The staff are very good and look after her with all the patience i could ask for.
I have just come back from going to see her. She was fine until I said i had to go. That's usually when she gets upset and accuses me of abandoning her. This never happens when my brothers visit.
Sorry this has turned into a bit of a book but it is so good to be able to put down how I'm feeling to people who are going through similar experiences
Thank you all again
The one sure thing about everyone on this forum is that we ALL have scars! So you are in good company.

Sounds like your brothers 'persuaded' themselves that there was nothing wrong as that was an easier thing for them to believe....

That said, I'm not a big fan of those formal memory tests - my friends dad passed his with flying colours too....the REAL test is 'can they cope alone or not?' There is a term I read here 'acopic' meaning ''can't cope with daily life'. If they get to the point where they can't put themselves to bed, can't follow the plot of a TV drama, can't read a newspaper, can't cook for themselves, can't tell how much food there is in the house, can't have a shower on their own, etc etc etc, then, yup, they've got dementia. Doesn't matter if they still know who the prime minister is! The point is they can't be 'left on their own' any more. They are 'acopic'.

Sorry to hear your mum kicked off - sounds like it's habit by now. The 'unfair accusations' (eg, of your abandoning her!) are so hurtful, given how much you've actually done, which she no longer remembers or never appreciated in the first place.

Do you try and time your departures for meal times? That's what I do. It means they are 'diverted' by 'something else happening' and also gives you an 'excuse' for saying 'Oh, mum, they want you down in the dining room, so I'll have to get out now! See you next time!'

It's not an easy time of your life at all. Like your poor dad, my husband died of his brain tumours when my son was about your age when you lost your dad. Yet now his mum is still alive at 92, with deep dementia. What is fair about that, eh? Nothing, that's what. Not a good way for either of them to end.

Best wishes at a difficult time - kind regards, Jenny
My mum would tell me to go when she heard the meal trolley coming! One part of me was irritated that the meal was more important than me, the other bit of me was relieved to have an excuse to go.