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My mother gets mad easily and constantly walks around the house. Any suggestions?

June 21, 2013

My mom gets mad so easily and she is constantly walking around the house. It is hard to get her to sit still for very long. Any suggestions?

I‘m sorry that you are having this experience with your mom. Both of your situations are not that unusual and can come with Alzheimer‘s disease as well as with the caregiving journey.

Let‘s talk first about her anger. I would want to know more about your past relationship. Have you struggled in the past with your relationship or is this relatively new? Sometimes past patterns continue. If this is new behavior, recognize that even the best caregivers can become the “bad guy”. The person doesn‘t understand that we have their best interests at heart and resents our actions.

When this happens there are some good options. One caregiver I worked with faced great anger from his dad after he took over the finances. The father remained angry and was convinced the son was taking his money. Arguments and explanations failed, but when the son began asking his father for “help with the finances,” and had his dad sign the checks, the father felt more in control and his anger diminished.

Here are a couple of additional ideas:

First be sure to educate yourself on how to respond to your mom in a successful way. My own book for families, A Dignified Life: The Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer‘s Care, (HCI, 2012) teaches how to be a “Best Friend” to the person with dementia—to learn how to respond in a positive way and break this negative cycle. Home Instead Senior Care offers excellent family workshops that are free of charge and can teach you techniques to deal with the frustrating behaviors.

Second, based upon your question, it‘s clear that it‘s time to take a break. I‘m a big fan of adult day centers. See if one is near you. It may also be time to hire an in-home caregiver who may be able to make a fresh start with your mom without a lot of past baggage. You may also want to begin thinking about a residential care setting for mom—even if you think that is still well down the road.

Regarding her constant activity, this is really not a problem for her but it can be for you! See if you can create a path for her in the house or garden. After she has done her rounds, try to redirect her with her favorite flavor of ice-cream cone, music, a simple chore or going for a drive. You may also want to double check that her walking isn‘t caused by a medical problem, for example pain or constipation.

Being a caregiver is hard work. I‘m sorry that you are struggling right now. Consider attending a support group. Other families will offer emotional support, share local resources and give you their tips and strategies.

Thoughts and stories from others

  1. August 12, 2013 at 02:45 pm
    Posted by sissy

    I live long distance from my parents and when I am there helping on the weekends every three weeks which I am going to increase every two weeks to help out I am having trouble more with my mother the caretaker than my father the one with the disease. My mother is easly angered and says that I am assiting my father too much which I feel he is very much needed. So my whole point is I feel that I can not get accross to my mother that the reasons for the things happening are not his fault and that he should not be saying he is sorry to her which is what she is wanting.
  2. August 1, 2013 at 04:29 am
    Posted by susan lambly

    My mom is 76 years old, on Mother's Day this year she had to bury another one of her children. This was her 3rd child. My Dad past away 5 years ago, 9 months later my youngest sister passed away, 2001 Mom and Dad buried their first born Son. Since the death of my sister Mom is having episodes of hearing voices outside her window, constantly banging on the door of my nephew(he lives there) will call his cell phone 5 or 6 times in a row to ask are you alright? She sits on the couch and stares out the floor, the tv is on. will go check the doors, open it and peep out.

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