Monday, July 02, 2007

What the Hell Do You Say to That?

My Mom has Alzheimer's. My sister Alabama has her up at the lake for the summer, so I went up this past weekend to visit. Mom's most popular phrases:

1. I can't find my purse.
2. I can't find my wallet.
3. I lost my glasses.
4. Why are you mad at me?

Now, 1 through 3 I can handle. We all know that if you just tell her you will help her look when you have a chance, and then just kind of blow it off, she will go retrieve her purse/wallet/glasses from wherever she hid them, because the game is no fun if only one person is playing.

But what do I say to number 4? If I say, "Oh, Mom, of course I'm not mad at you", she says, "Oh yes you are. I can tell". If I say, "Oh, Mom, why would you think that?", she says, "Just by the way you're acting". If I say, "What way? What specifically am I doing that makes you think I'm mad at you", she says, "Oh, it's nothing specific. I can just tell." If I say, "Tell, how?", she says, "I just can."

And then she will sulk, and pout, and ask me over and over, "Why are you mad at me?". Of course, by that point, I pretty much AM mad at her. So what the hell do you say to that? I know that it is senseless to try to reason with an Alzheimer's patient, but I really need some kind of reply that will get her off that whole line of thought. I really need to know, because it is driving me crazy, and preventing me from enjoying my time with her, and I'm supposed to go up there very shortly to stay for a week, and at this point I'm starting to re-think the whole thing.

Any help would be appreciated. Please!


Anonymous said...

Paranoia (mild to rage-inducing) is part of the disease, so I guess the first thing that everyone says is "don't take it personally." That's bs. You're talking to your mom. It's impossible not to take it personally, even if you rationally know that the dementia is progressing, because you're human.

I don't know quite how I'd handle that particular one, other than maybe if she's aware of her own condition (some are, some are only sporadically aware, and others don't seem to know why they are dotty-headed) saying that "I'm not mad at you, but I am a little sad about..." and then whatever is actually making you sad about your mom's health.

It sounds like she's really hard to redirect to another activity or idea (which is always my go-to gambit with dementia/Alzheimer's family members), but maybe confirming to her that she still can detect something wrong with you -- which, as a mom, imagine how it must be to think that you aren't able to accurately do that with your kid any more -- would be comforting to her and lead her away from feeling persecuted. She might be happy to be the consoler and the caregiver for a change.

Tough one, though.

-- bridgett

Rockycat said...

Thanks for the help, Bridgett! I appreciate your advice, and I will definitely try, "I'm not mad at you, but I am a little sad about ...". Great idea.

Anonymous said...

God, she's good that Bridgett. I wouldn't know of anything more helpful than that to do. It sounds like sense to me.

Sorry, not of any use...