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How do I deal with mom's attitude toward dad with Alzheimer's?

Mom has always been extremely narcissistic, dramatic and insists on always being the center of attention. Dad's dementia has progressed quickly and he has many outbursts and delusions, I understand that this is part of the disease and as a former hospice nurse I am know how to redirect and calm him much of the time. My mom however walks around complaining about how horrible her life is now that he has dementia and that he has ruined their retirement and she says it in front of dad. Whenever he is having a bad day she will either pick a fight with one of us or do something else to divert attention to herself or to cause drama.
Status: Open    Feb 21, 2016 - 02:06 AM

Relationships, Dementia

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3 answers


Mar 05, 2016 - 04:39 AM

Although I am not a doctor, my experience with my mom leads me to believe that drugs are the answer for both your mom and dad. I was skeptical about medications, and my mom strongly resisted any medication at first, but the right drugs were great in cheering her up and getting her to comply with the various therapies to keep her mentally and phyically healthy. The meds were tapered off, once she became accustomed to her new routine/lifestyle.

With your parents, be sure to get a very experienced doctor with gerentological psychologoical and pharma expertise so that the right medications are prescribed to calm your dad, without exacerbating his dementia or impairing his ability to physically function. Your mom is probably still the woman your dad fell in love with, complaints and all, so he wouldn't want to change her personality too much; the appropriate medication should be prescribed to lightly lift her mood. Some counseling sessions with a trained professional may then be beneficial in conjunction with the medications in changing the negative interactions between your mom and dad. The goal should be towards developing a more positive "new normal" for coping with difficulties in their life together.

Since you are trained in hospice, you know that parents don't want to be a burden to their children - nor do they willingly take advice from these children. Even realizing this, you may be unable to step back and let someone else in your field take over. Be willing to step away and let other pros handle the situation from a less-emotional view. It may do you and your parents a lot of good.

Mar 05, 2016 - 06:55 AM

I'm guessing that, as your dad needs more and more attention, mom is getting less and less. Perhaps you can plan regular outings away from the house so she gets some one on one attention. She'll probably spend part of the time complaining, just listen and sympathize. Over time she may spend more of your outings enjoying the attention and less complaining. I think of this as being similar to 2 children in the house, one with special needs. You must give more attention to the one, which means you must find ways to ensure the other knows they are loved just as much.

Mar 05, 2016 - 09:51 AM

I would be very interested to hear suggestions on this. This describes my Mom to the tee. My mom does the same thing. On the rare occasion he is having a good day, it seems she will do or say things she knows upsets him . Then when he rages she tells everyone who will listen to look how bad she has it. She will even act like she can't remember things just for attention. We have begged her not to do this but it continues on a daily basis.
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