Dear Mary
Mom’s hurtful comments.

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Dear Mary,

My mother suffers from AD. She is midway stage 6. She get’s very angry and basically does 90 % of what you wrote. I am the youngest of 4. 3 brothers and me, the only daughter. I am the ONLY one who cares for her. I do it all. Inside and out yet she has outbursts (when I mention going to adult day care) causes a huge scene. Yells, screams, says I’m hitting her or trying to kill her. Tells my brothers (When they stop by) how she wants to go with them.   It is so upsetting for me when she does that. How can I desensitize myself to her harsh accusations? This is all making me physically ill.   Thank you!

Mary Bart
Mary Bart

Hello Jeanette:

Did you know that you are a “Caregiver Hero”?  What you are doing for your Mom is amazing. Her life would not be the same without your dedication and on-going efforts. I hope you are proud of yourself. I will be glad to answer your question about how to desensitize yourself to your mother’s outbursts, but I would also like to share a few extra comments and ideas too.

Blocking out your Mother’s harsh, mean words and physical outbursts is of course not easy to do. You have to always remember that it is not your Mom, but it is her AD that is making her this way. No one volunteers to get sick or old, but it happens. I can remember when my Mom would yell and scream, act up and get very violent. Those were very scary and unpredictable times. Knowing I could blame her disease (she had dementia) made me re-act to her outbursts in a more gentle way. I also never took what she did or said personally. There were many times when I thought that she was just so consumed by her disease, it was like she was possessed.

When things got really tough, I would go to “My Happy Place” in my mind. It was the one place she could not enter, control, or upset me. Developing “My Happy Place” was a skill that I learned over many years. I could block out the world while thinking of nice things for myself. I thought about where I might like to travel, meet new people and what I could do “just for myself”. Thinking about new places, projects and people in my life was the perfect escape for me. It cost nothing and I did not have to explain “My Happy Place” to anyone. Try to develop your own “Happy Place” in your mind. Escape on a mental journey that takes you far away from your daily life. When your Mom gets out of control, help her of course, but also do it with a spirit of protecting yourself, your spirit and your soul.

I would also like to share a few thoughts about what you have said about your brothers. Call a family meeting to talk about Mom, your role, your issues and that your brothers need to pitch in more. If they were my brothers, I would openly tell them how unfair, useless and selfish they are. I would tell them to get off their butts and help. What would your brothers do if you did not live in the same town as your Mom? Who would take care of her? Are you being taken for granted?

Why not do an experiment to let one of them take care of your Mother for a couple of hours or even a day? This would give you a needed break and your brothers would quickly have a greater appreciation for your efforts and would start to learn a few things about caregiving.

Assume they will find excuses to not help care for her, but just keep at them. You may hear excuses such as: “you are the best to take care of Mom, I wouldn’t know what it do when Mom does XXX, I am too busy or the kids are sick.” There will be no end of excuses. There is a book that you might want to purchase. It is called: They’re your parents, too!” by Francine Russo. It speaks to family situations where one adult child does most of the work to care for parents, while the other adult children do very little.

I hope you try my idea of finding a “Happy Place” in your mind and that your brothers find ways to help out. Please share my comments with them, they need to hear this from somebody.

By the way, if you send an email to: mary@caregivingmaters.ca, and include your address, we will be pleased to mail you one of our “Caregiver Heroes” buttons.

Mary

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Caregiving Matters

Mary is a daughter. She also Chairs our charity. Mary has also held Director roles on three other boards, most recently with The Palcare Network of York Region.

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