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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 - 08/14/12

What do you do when the person you are caring for treats you badly?  Is this something that happens often?  Are there resources to help deal with this?


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Name: Dawn Song
Location: Oregon
Date: 08/31/2012
Time: 07:17 AM


All of these suggestions are so helpful, thank you! I think it's important to try to distinguish when it's appropriate to give feedback with an "I-message" and when it's appropriate to react with compassion or distraction (understanding, not taking it personally, singing, etc.) Compassion begins with compassion for ourselves!

Name: Mary Lou Ingalls
Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL
Date: 08/29/2012
Time: 05:08 AM


It is so true that many times caregivers have to take verbal abuse from their loved ones. I care for a diabetic-dialysis patient (friend) and I have found diabetics can be a bit short tempered at times but I know that is the illness talking and not the loving friend. Bless you foir all you do-see you in October.

Name: Catherine Sweezy
Location: Hartford, CT
Date: 08/28/2012
Time: 07:24 AM


As hard as it is, you have to remember not to take it personally. It is a symptom of dementia and often the person you are caring for is not fully aware of what they are doing or the consequences of their actions. Violent or threatening actions call for quick action though and you shouldn't hesitate to call 911 if you feel you are in danger or in a compromised situation. You have to use tough love sometimes for your own safety.

Name: Donna
Location: Wheeling WV
Date: 08/26/2012
Time: 06:52 PM


Extremely helpful for a first timer. Thank you. I know now it's just not me thinking why my mother is being so mean to me especially being an only child.

Name: Cecelia
Location: New York
Date: 08/26/2012
Time: 08:33 AM


Many times when a client mistreats the caregiver it is simply because that caregiver may be the closest, perhaps the only one to whom they can relate momentarily, or even on an ongoing basis. Often the intention is not to be mean, but simply a way of expressing the deep seated confusion, frustration and a host of other feelings that need to be expressed, but cannot be released appropriately. You may observe a distinct difference in personality in one suffering from dementia and other disorders. One should not expect the behavior to be the same as usual if the brain function is impaired, since this has a serious impact on behavior. It might be helpful to remember the person's personality prior to the illness. If you do not know the individual, family members or friends can give some historical insight, and then you can deal with them based on their pleasanter personality. Impaired function may cause 'bad' behaviors that should not be viewed as personal attacks. Consequently, the caregiver's attitude should be one that calms rather than retaliates. This might require a thoughtful approach rather than a 'knee jerk' reaction to the behavior. Nevertheless, 'badly'is a relative term with varying degrees of intensity. It may be addressed with a simple smile, soft words and a loving attitude, or may require medication to treat the problems. A careful evaluation by a medical professional is important, but equally as important is the caregiver's understanding that the client is experiencing any number of conflicting issues, and cannot always control the resulting behavior. In cases where the client's cognitive function is in tact but exhibits "bad" behaviors, it may be that they feel like their life is dominated by someone else. Always suggest and seek approval before initiating a task. If there is confrontation you can calmly express your disapproval and counteract that with kind words and thoughtful actions that would help to quench the desire to be mean. I use singing, and sometimes get them to sing along. It sure does change the mood.

Name: Jen
Location: Temecula, CA
Date: 08/26/2012
Time: 07:29 AM


My counselor suggested that I let my dad know that my feelings get hurt when he speaks to me that way. He doesn't even realize he's doing it! (Being ill, they are naturally completely self-absorbed - he has advanced Parkinson's.) When I have do this (in our own, stilted way), he is nice for a few weeks! (I've heard of a woman who even got thru' to her husband w/dementia by having a heart to heart.) Can't hurt; might help.

Name: Lorraine Blum
Location: Delray Beach Florida
Date: 08/26/2012
Time: 06:54 AM


I am in the mental health field and have researched my son's disorder. Though i know how to treat and possibly even cure him I can not reach him enough to communicate it. He is Schizo-Affective, possibley Schizophrenic with paranoid features. He can, rarely, be violent and is abusive toward me his only caregiver. His fater left him when he was just 14 years old and the anger toward me the one left is over welming especially since I had to hospatalize him and on occasion send him to jail. Had I only known what Iearned what I nowknow when he was open and cooperating some twelve years back I could have ended this nightmare.

Name: Julie
Location: USA
Date: 08/26/2012
Time: 06:29 AM


I don't feel that illness gives someone the right to treat the caregiver badly. In my situation, taking care of my spouse, I call him on his bad behavior. Sometimes he hasn't recognized that he's behaved badly and I will get an apology. Other times, I will simply leave the room telling him firmly that I will not return until he stops the behavior. This usually works. We deserve and should insist on respect for ourselves.

Name: Gary Field
Location: Southern California
Date: 08/26/2012
Time: 05:41 AM


I usually exit the room and begin performing another chore like folding clothes, loading the laundry, picking up items in the garage. When it gets really bad, I take a short ride in the car and have a "discussion" with the one "upstairs."

Date: 08/26/2012
Time: 05:25 AM


I do not believe that illness gives another person the right to mistreat the person or people caring for him or her. In my situation, caring for my spouse, I call him on it, (behaving badly) and often he has not recognized it, and I will receive an apology and it will change, (at least temporarily).

Name: Lois Troutman
Location: Mechanicsburg PA
Date: 08/26/2012
Time: 05:17 AM


In his last days, my late husband treated me like he had never done before. He would call me things like jackass. I know that was not him. Sure it hurt a little bit. But I knew he did not know what he was saying.

Name: Caring for you
Location: USA
Date: 08/15/2012
Time: 08:09 PM


Say a prayer: Father forgive them for they know not what they do. Think about how unruly we are to God. Think about how unruly we were with our parents growing up. Take a few minutes and go to your prayer closet or your quiet space. This person may or may not know or may not be able to control this part of their behavior depending on the medical condition. I am praying for you.

Name: donna jamison
Location: alaska
Date: 08/15/2012
Time: 01:44 AM


Keep telling yourself that it is the disease speaking and not your loved one.

Name: Lisa
Location: Newport News
Date: 08/14/2012
Time: 11:59 AM


Sadly, it is very common for your loved one to treat you badly. I've even seen things get violent which makes a hard situation almost unbearable. Talk to the doctor about medication options, seek out a local support group for suggestions, talk to CNAs on techniques that they use. One day all the effort you're putting into this will end and I hope that you will be able to look back and know that you did all you could.

Name: Sandy Eastman
Location: Montrose, Colorado
Date: 08/14/2012
Time: 11:58 AM


Dear C, The situation you asked about can be very painful to deal with. Keep reminding yourself, "it's the disease." Your loved one probably wouldn't be treating you badly IF he/she was able to help themself. Put yourself in their frustrating this diesease must be to deal with. This is the "new reality" now and as hard as it is to accept, once you do accept it, the easier it becomes to deal with. Find a support group and attend regularly. There really ARE others out there dealing with the same problems and you can be a help to one another. Be strong and remember, "Take care of the caregiver!" You must allow time for yourself. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Sandy



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