I am a caregiver for my mother-in-law. When she gets ready for a bath or for bed she swears like a sailor. We tell her that’s not nice then she starts hitting and spitting. Please help.
I’m sorry that you are having this challenging situation. I talk to many women who are caring for their mothers-in-law. I hope you are getting lots of appreciation from his family!
Let me offer a general comment to start. Sometimes persons with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia who have never used “salty language” suddenly start swearing. Families are dumbfounded by this. What is likely happening is that the damage to her brain is lessening her inhibitions. We all know these words (whether we ever use them or not) and so now that she is feeling strong emotions the “bad” words come spilling out. It probably doesn’t help to ask her to stop, instead let’s look at some potential causes.
Many of us who work in Alzheimer’s care have a saying that “behavior communicates a message.” Because she doesn’t spit or hit constantly, you can reasonably assume that this behavior is her way of “asking” you to stop what you are doing.
Here are a few ideas.
Evaluate her for pain. Is she wincing when you touch her, or moaning or making other noises that suggest pain? She may be reacting so strongly because it hurts her to move her limbs. Check with your physician and consider too that sometimes an over the counter pain reliever like extra strength Tylenol can help.
Rework your approach to set the stage for success. Talk to her about her favorite subject or offer her a favorite snack or beverage; this may calm her. Play her favorite music. She may begin singing and relax. Watch your own body language. Are you coming in stressed and anxious? Try to offer a big hug and smile to change the mood. Apologize in advance for doing what you are doing and offer some reassuring words like “I know this is tough be we will get through it together.”
Look at the time of day for personal care. Perhaps she would be more open to the bath in the evening instead of the morning. If she is resisting going to bed at night, see if letting her turn in later might help. I’ve even had families let mom and dad sleep in a comfortable recliner. You may need to improvise.
My final suggestion is to try getting someone else in to help. We don’t always understand why it is the case but sometimes someone like your mother-in-law will be cooperate with a paid helper (or other family member) when they fight you off.
Good luck and I hope these thoughts are helpful.