How do I deal with my sometimes-explosive outbursts at my mother?
Anger is a common emotion when caring for a loved one, especially if she or he has Alzheimer’s. When you see someone you knew as being independent and who was likely somebody you looked up to now having difficulty with simple things, it can be very difficult. Your loved one might not be able to understand much of what is being said to her. She also likely has forgotten many treasured (and helpful) memories. Why wouldn’t you be angry? You are losing a little part of this person, day by day. You are grieving, which naturally can lead to anger. If your yelling occurs only occasionally, you’re may have to own up to the fact that you’re simply going to lose your temper every now and then and yell. If and when it happens, practice letting go of any guilt you feel. Give yourself a break: You are human. Yelling isn’t good, but it happens. This also might be a sign that you need a break from delivering so much direct care for your mother. Taking her to an adult day care center will give her something to do — and give you a break for a while. Or you can hire someone to come into the home so you can go do something on your own. Take advantage of other family members, friends, neighbors and volunteers who might offer to give you a break. You can also find relief by joining a support group or finding a suitable counselor. Knowing that you are not alone in these types of situations usually decreases the pressure you feel. You can also collect some tools to help you cope. If you find the yelling becoming more frequent, you might end up having to find other arrangements for your mother’s care. Quality time with her is more important than quantity time. If your time together is only stressful and becomes consumed by more and more yelling, it is time to make a change. This could mean a group home, nursing home or assisted living situation. Then when the two of you visit together, you might truly enjoy it more. It could be a healthy move for both of you. You shouldn’t feel guilty about having her live in a facility, if you go that route. You can still be very involved in her life, and help manage her care (in coordination with the facility). This can lead to more enjoyable time together. This might entail taking her out to a nearby park, a nice restaurant or even your home. You can have fun together. For more information, an excellent resource is “The Indispensable Alzheimer’s Resource Kit.” It can be downloaded at no cost by clicking here.