When Your Caree Is Just Mean, What Do You Do?

Over the past two days, two visitors have asked for our help. Here’s what they said:

1. “What if your recipient does not have Alzheimers?? What if Grama is just spoiled and mean and spiteful to you and other family members. How do we handle this? She is 92. Sharp as a tack..Has all her marbles. She has been spoiled all her life. Was spoiled by our grandfather. Never worked a day in her life. Had a maid.. never shopped, did laundry.. nothing! Now she’s living with us instead of a nursing home. She was sleeping through her meals and insulin injections. That’s all.. other than that..she was taking care of herself for 3 years after our grandfather died. Now she’s in our home..and is treating me like her slave. She is abusive and complains about stupid stuff. I didn’t announce her meal at the table.. I didn’t turn her bed covers down.. I didn’t make her bed.. I didn’t put her pills in a cup that she doesn’t use anyway. She says’s I’m supposed to do these things for her! She doesn’t need a caregiver she needs a servant! I’m getting stressed.. I’m uncomfortable in my own house. My husband ..her grandson, is trying to help with this. He can do no wrong in her eyes.. by I do. I am the in law. But I am with her all day , everyday.. I do most everything for her. My husband helps a lot when he is home. When he is not home she can be quite mean. I am very verbal about not taking this from her. Yet she continues.. she is so spiteful and mean with her mouth. I don’t know what to do. If she goes to a nursing home and treats them this way she will be neglected and possibly abused. any suggestions..?? Need help”

2. “My mother is 85 and has been living with me for 18 year. I need help taking care of her, so so mean and mad all the time.”

We have articles with suggestions on how to manage situations with uncooperative carees here. (Please Note: We adopted the term “caree” in January 2010 so articles previous to that date use the term “care recipient.”) We also have a webinar on embracing your limits here.

I’d like to correct one assumption about a difficult caree receiving poor care in a nursing home: Good nursing homes provide good care. In a good nursing home, the nursing home staff effectively cares for residents with both difficult diseases and difficult personalities.

So, what suggestions can you offer to help your fellow family caregivers? What do you think about their situations? Please share in our comments section, below.


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About Denise Brown

I began working with family caregivers in 1990 and launched CareGiving.com in 1996 to help and support them. Through my blog, I share words of comfort and offer coping strategies and tips. I also write opinion pieces about recent research, community programs and media coverage of caregiving issues. I've written several caregiving books, including "The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey," "Take Comfort, Reflections of Hope for Caregivers" and "After Caregiving Ends, A Guide to Beginning Again." You can purchase my books and schedule a coaching call with me in our store.

2 thoughts on “When Your Caree Is Just Mean, What Do You Do?

  1. Bette

    My heart goes out to each of you–I’m so sorry.

    My mother has lived with us for 8 years. She was never one to show a lot of appreciation. Within her illnesses not a lot has changed.

    I am learning that in order for me to be able to push through those times, I have to have something each day to look forward to. Even if only for 30 min., it helps me so much. I would encourage you to become a part of a support group and have someone you can vent to as well. And, find something that you can look forward to in your day – a phone call, a time away from your house, or maybe exercise that you enjoy. Tonight, I had planned to go swimming, but my mother was not feeling well…my husband convinced me to go (she was not in any danger) and you know what…she hadn’t changed when I returned home, but I had!

    I felt so much more ready to continue in getting her ready for bed and beginning all that caregiving entails.

    I am also working to draw some boundaries with her; at 86 I don’t think her changes are going to be drastic, but it’s important that she knows I have limits and needs also.

    My best to both of you. Your carees are very fortunate to be able to be a part of your homes.

  2. Karen

    Bette has many good suggestions.

    I can understand that people can become difficult and abusive due to dementia. I hate to sound heartless, but I really think that there is a limit to what a caregiver can be expected to put up with.

    However, my grandmother, who never had dementia, made life hell for all of us for years.

    I would definitely investigate other living arrangements.


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