Return to the Care Givers Forum | Post a Follow-Up

What to do with a very angry abusive senior parent?

Posted by gwranchman (My Page) on
Sat, May 19, 07 at 21:00

What is one to do when you have a parent that is abusive, doesn't cooperate, and has burned all of her bridges?

My mom is in her late 70's. Not fluent in English, never has been (immigrated from other country, originally), had 4 children, suffers Depression, possibly Bi-polar? Will agree to something, then 2 days later, explodes into rages of anger, name calling, finger pointing. I call this a 'delayed reaction' to what a normal person would react to immediately, rather than days later. I am sure there is a psychological term for this. Her screaming and wailing can be so bad that we have told her that if she explodes like this in public over something she does not agree to (in a business sense, lets assume), she could be hauled away. We have told her that with all of the shootings and eruptions of anger that occur in places of employment, etc, that it would not be tolerable. She got upset over something at the bank and was ready to explode and the teller told her if she did they would call the police to take her away.

I think there is something wrong with her psychologically. Out of the 4 children, me being the oldest, the youngest is disabled and resides in a home. Because my brother now requires more care, he is being moved 1 hour away to a home that will suit his needs. My mother originally accepted this idea, but is now is very angry that we are taking her youngest from her, that he is her son, and doesn't understand that regardless of his condition, she should have legal conservatorship in place. She refuses and says no one can tell her that that is necessary. She called the Agency to complain that it was my fault that my brother is moving further away, and they replied to her that she didn't have conservatorship over him and it is in my brother's best interest to be where he is going.

I have a married daughter a mile away from my brother's new home, but my mother has burned her bridges and my daughter will not allow her in her home. I am the only sibling living in town. I visit her, but also don't allow her in my home. I offered to make sure she gets there to visit him but doesn't want me to help her. She doesn't drive, throws tantrums, her own sisters also will not help her, and want nothing to do with her.

At some point it appears we will have to consider conservatorship over her as well, because she has made no estate plans and doesn't plan on doing so.

What could be wrong with her? People like her end up all alone in nursing homes with no family to visit them because they have been so difficult all of their lives. We have done everything to be helpful, polite, you name it, and she finds fault with everything.

I have a neighbor just like her and his family is estranged from him because of how he has been all of his life. He reminds me strongly of my mother.

I need some peace of mind. Any ideas!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: What to do with a very angry abusive senior parent?

This is getting to be my mantra, but, has your mother seen her doctor lately? Urinary tract infections can really knock the elderly on their pins - erratic behavior, mood swings, hallucinations, drops in blood pressure (resulting in fainting or falls), dehydration, death. And a short course of antibiotics takes care of it.

That was the first course we took with my mother after my dad passed away in 2001 - any test we and her doctor could think of ruling out a brain tumor or anything organic - but we really knew she was taking her first steps along the journey of Alzheimer's type dementia. I was her primary caregiver until she went into a nursing home six months ago.

My folks both had wills and revocable living trusts; took great pains to have all their additional documents - living wills, DNR's, etc. in order so the only thing I had to do with mom was get my name added to her checking account and have my brother's and my names put on the safety deposit box.

A conservatorship is something to consider if and when your mother can no longer handle her own affairs. That always seems draconian to me, but a necessary step when someone is intractable and totally unaware or unwilling to admit there's a problem. It's too easy to say go see a lawyer specializing in Elder Law because you can't force your mother into making arrangements she has no interest in making. But it seems that, instinctively, you know something is going to have to be done although it's extremely difficult to know exactly what that "something" is until a critical event occurs - like being forcibly removed from a place of business, a total breakdown, having to be hospitalized for a mental evaluation, etc.

It would be ideal if you could catch your mother in an agreeable mode, try and discuss some of your concerns. Failing that, the next best step would be to get your siblings, daughter, your mother's sisters and anyone in the family who would even be remotely concerned with your mother's welfare on the same page. If one person is designated as "in charge" (usually because most people are relieved to let someone else take charge), make sure everyone agrees that whatever is done is the right thing.

The hardest thing right now is that you're pretty much stuck between thinking about getting ducks lined up for when they're needed, wanting to help and do what's appropriate for your mother with her blessing and being backed into a corner if the situation gets out of control. It's when you're backed into a corner you might get a result no one anticipated - like your mother being placed in a less than ideal, space available facility.

RE: What to do with a very angry abusive senior parent?

You might want to read: "Take my Father, Please!" it sounds like your Mother is a lot like the author's Father.


RE: What to do with a very angry abusive senior parent?

I, too, think you need to discuss this in detail with your mother's dr. If this is a change in her bahavior--there are any number of physical conditions that could be causing it (strokes, infections, Alzheimers, etc) or it could be a symptom of depression or other mental/emotional condition. In almost all those cases, though, there is treatment out there that can make life easier for her and those around her.

The other suggestion, I'd make strongly, is to sit down with a good eldercare attorney in your area, and find out what should be done now to protect her interests and estate. Maybe she'll listen to a 'professional's' advice, maybe the attorney will suggest that it's time to look into having someone named conservator or guardian. I'd STRONGLY recommend having a professional person take on that role--a lawyer, her bank--because it can be just a little too much tempation for most people to have that much control over someone else's money. Even if there is someone scrupulously honest in your family who wouldn't steal from her, it's a big responsibility that's best left to those who do this as their profession. (Believe me, you don't want to find yourself in our postion, fighting a relative who has stolen over a quarter of a mill from MIL--nor do you want to be in that relative's shoes, looking at a possible jail sentence for what they've done.)

Good luck. This is a very difficult time of life that no one's really prepared most of us 'sandwicher' for.

RE: What to do with a very angry abusive senior parent?

I read a good book about a daughter who had to deal with a father who behaved similarly. Its called:

Elder Rage, or Take My Father... Please!: How to Survive Caring for Aging Parents By Jacquelyn C. Campbell

At the end of the book, she lists many tips and resources on how to deal with some of the issues you have described. She also has a website.

The suggestion of having the doctor rule out any medical problems is a good one.

This is just a thought, but have you considered hiring a temp health care worker who is from the same country your mother is from? Maybe being around someone (not family) who speaks her language would give her something else to focus on other than her decreasing independence.

A link that might be useful:

RE: What to do with a very angry abusive senior parent?

Thanks for that book recommendation. I have a counseling client who has the most abusive 95 yr old mother, and I'm recommending this to her, and I'm buying my own copy for my reference.

Here's a link to the book on Amazon.

Here is a link that might be useful: Elder Rage

RE: What to do with a very angry abusive senior parent?

fairegold-"Thanks for that book recommendation."

My pleasure. Thanks for making the tiny url.

RE: What to do with a very angry abusive senior parent?

Hi gwranchman,

I just happened to be reading this forum. I read it religiously two or three years ago when my mom was going through the same kind of behavior. The people here were my source of information for a while. I understand your frustration. It is hard, very hard. The suggestions that you have gotten are great. Also consider reviewing your mom's medication. Sometimes certain meds can make the elderly very aggressive. If at all possible,consider requesting a thorough medical evaluation including a MRI. The results will at least let you know whether she can control her behavior.

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Care Givers Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here