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CARENOTES / Past Carenotes / Discussion Forum / Let's Talk


Welcome to CareNotes. In this special section we will feature a reader's letter and provide an opportunity for an interactive exchange that will help find some answers and possible solutions to concerns. If you wish to respond to this letter, simple follow the link provided at the end of the letter and add your comments and thoughts to our CareNotes Board.

This Week's Carenote - 11/19/08

My brother is having a  hard time managing his anger around our 86 year old mother who cannot really help herself. They do not live together but when he visits they get into terrible arguments where he calls her some pretty bad names and hurts her feelings. She will then cry for hours. I am thinking of asking him not to visit anymore, but that would hurt his feelings.

 Any suggestions?

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Name: Jane
Location: Michigan
Date: 11/19/2008
Time: 06:49 AM


It's hard to accept the changes that occur in an aging parent. Your brother needs to tell himself that mom is a different person now with new feelings and issues whether he likes it or not or accepts that or not. It is what it is. What helps is to talk slowly and calmly, do not give a lot of information that she needs to comprehend, absorb and remember. Definitely do not take anything personally that your mother says.

Name: Dani
Location: Alaska
Date: 11/19/2008
Time: 11:11 AM


I would ask your brother not to visit anymore and tell him the reason. It is my opinion that your mother's feelings are more important than his. If he comes to visit and ends up making her cry for hours because he has hurt HER feelings, then he needs to not visit anymore. If he gets a chance to step back and look at his behavior, he may understand that what he does is not acceptable and he might change. In the meantime, your mother does not need the stress.

Date: 11/19/2008
Time: 02:07 PM


I would definitely TELL my brother NOT to visit any more. He may be dealing with his own feelings of guilt remorse or whatever but like someone already said, at this point your mom's welfare and well being are the most important. Take a hard stance on this. I've dealt with something similar. I didn't get "ugly" but I had to let a relative know that I would not allow him to come into my home and confront our 90 year old Mom with his "bad spirit" and anger over some 50 year old issue. He got over it. We have to protect our elderly loved ones as much as we can which means taking some folk to task when needed. They need to know that someone has their back and will protect them at all cost.

Name: Roxanna
Date: 11/20/2008
Time: 01:21 PM


What you described is Elder Abuse and should be addressed. Seniors have the right to be treated with respect. Hurting his feelings is not the issue.

Location: Independence, Oregon, USA
Date: 11/22/2008
Time: 05:33 PM


It is hard to see our parents less capable than in the past and adjusting to that is sometimes difficult. When we placed our mother in assisted living, I found the slide show at this site to be helpful: Maybe it would also help your brother. Never would I prohibit a son visiting his mother; perhaps setting a time limit would work so he leaves before the anger gets unleashed?

Name: Karen S.
Location: Lewis Center, OH
Date: 11/24/2008
Time: 01:38 AM


You are absolutely right to think of telling your brother not to visit anymore! This isn't about his feelings, it's about caring for your mother. You need to be her advocate. She relies on you to take care of her. It is your job to protect her from any kind of harm or abuse. If your brother can't control his anger, then he should stay away. It must be stressful for both of them, so let your brother off the hook and tell him he is not helping your mother and that his attitude is no longer welcome. Let him get angry at you, not your mother. At some point if he still wants to see her, allow him a short, 10-15 minute supervised visit. If that goes well, gradually increase the time he is allowed to see her. You also might give your brother some ideas about how to speak to your mother, such as recalling happier times, appreciating her for something she did for him. Either way, trust your instincts. Best of luck to all of you.

Name: Jane
Location: Kansas City
Date: 11/26/2008
Time: 02:18 PM


I have found with myself it takes practice to use new ways of relating to my husband who has Alzheimer's. It is a slow process for me because we have build up a lifetime of logical thinking and logic doesn't work anymore. Saying no without lots of explanation works so much better now. Giving short directions without lots of extraneous words is really not my style so I am learning. Perhaps your brother could use a support group to help him understand the disease and learn from others who have had to change their way of interacting with a person with Alzheimer's disease. Maybe he needs to better structure his visits - bring pictures of the old days, a game to plan, do some reminiscing or ask structure questions to challenge her long term memory, or visit with another family member. It seems so cold to ask him not to visit. Maybe a better request would be to come with someone else or to do something positive with her when he does visit. Another idea is to find out what sets off his anger: a specific task or action, a type of discussion, incessant repeating the same question, etc. Maybe knowing what sets him off will give you a clue as to how he could restructure his visits so she would not miss the attention of her son and you would not miss the help that could come from his visits.


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