Janice called her daughter in a panic. Dad had just had an episode of screaming, crying, and stomping around. This was all directed at Janice and it scared her. What puzzled her was that she didn’t know why he had blown up like that because he was not able to tell her why. The more she tried to understand, the more irrational and unclear he became.

Janice explained this to her daughter. She admitted to her daughter that his verbal abuse was becoming increasingly mean and happening more often. As they talked, and tried to determine what the triggers were, reality set in. The triggers 80% of the time were not anything obvious to them. The remaining 20% of the time Janice believed to be related to her tidying up, moving something, or finding something that was put away by dad because it was “his”.

Dad had been putting things in his dresser drawers because they were his and he wanted them to be where he could find them. Janice had been finding mugs, silverware, and rolls of toilet paper, in his closet or dresser, which she would promptly return its rightful place. It wasn’t that they were gone that triggered his anger, it was he saw her removing them and putting them back in the place they belonged. Janice, not understanding, would attempt to explain this to Dad, trying to reason with him, which resulted in the outbursts.

Dad had been diagnosed with dementia about a year ago. He had been gradually not recalling where his keys were, what day it was, or how to use the phone. He started talking a lot about people, mostly family from his past. He lost interest in many activities, like following his favorite sports team on TV or in the paper. He had basically stopped watching television all together.

Janice felt much better after talking with her daughter. It felt good to get out in the open what was happening at home and know that they were going to figure it out together. Their discussion involved finding resources for Janice and accepting potential options for Dad. It was difficult for her because she was protecting Dad and, in a way, protecting herself. She did not want to let him down, or herself down. She felt such a responsibility to take care of him. They had been together for 60 happy and relatively healthy years. It was time to face the fact that his disease was progressing to the point that these outbursts were happening more often and getting harder to resolvable. Acceptable or not his behavior was not going to regress, only progress.

Janice had to face her fear of being alone, and deal with the guilt of making plans for him to live in a memory care facility that would take care of him and his disease as it progressed.

Janice connected with a “Living with Dementia” support group. The meetings were held through a ZOOM call, so she didn’t have to leave him alone. This really helped her understand what was happening with him and what she could expect. More importantly it helped her understand that she was not alone, and it was not her fault so no one would be judging her for the decisions she would soon be making.

Janice connected with a Care Manager who was able to introduce her to a few options for dad. She visited a couple of the suggested locations given to her by the Care Manager. She settled on a rural Adult Family home that had only a few residents with the same disease. The outdoor spaces were restful and peaceful. They visited a couple times and eventually dad moved in.

He really enjoyed the meal times in his new home so Janice made it a point to join him for meals a couple times a week. They would walk the grounds after their meal, holding hands as they enjoyed the fresh air in the gardens and listening to singing birds. It had become a satisfying ritual for both of them.

Janice was spending more time with her daughter and began to feel better about herself and her decision. She continued her meetings with the support group and her visits with him as his disease progressed. They were both safer and he had the specific care that he needed, as did Janice.

If you’re concerned about changes in a loved one’s behavior, or have questions about how to care for your aging loved one, please give us a call at (920) 740-8441 or email us at sue@coylecaremanagement.com to find out how we can help.