How do you cope with elder rage?

elder rage man

This week, we published Caregiving journey changed my life, Jacqueline Marcell’s poignant tale of the lessons she learned while providing care for her elderly parents. Her difficult, painful but ultimately rewarding experience as a caregiver caused her to write a book called Elder Rage. Marcell discusses first hand the difficulties in getting an accurate diagnosis of senior dementia or Alzheimer’s, the conflict that can arise when the roles change in the parent-child relationship and how to manage your own stress when providing care for loved ones.

Have you had to be a caregiver for an elderly relative who was diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s? What was your experience like? Do you have advice for others in this situation?

40 comments Add your comment

Angela boot

July 20th, 2010
5:32 am

I have a father who is very abusive to my husband and I and, all the family who live overseas are treated as gold bullion . My mother is in a nursing home and, even though she has been divorced from my father for 37 odd years, she is allowing him to have contact and influence on her.When they where married he abused her and caused her terrilble emotional harm.My father likes to rule with his money but he can,t buy love – what a pity.

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January 29th, 2010
2:32 am

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December 1st, 2009
6:49 pm


I have been taking care of elderly parents 8 years now, and it doesn’t get any better…My Dad passed in 2005 and now Mom is at that combative, abusive stage. The only way to get a verbally abusive elder is with humor or to tell them you would like to talk to them about what is bothering them. Maybe the next time your Mother is accused of having affairs SHE needs to speak up and say, “thank you for the compliment, but I really don’t have the energy to have any affairs.”
If you have chosen to set your life to the side and take care of family matters at hand, I applaud you. But combative abuse cannot be tolerated. It will not get any better, trust me. What you should do is put up hidden cameras to record his behavior because this evidence will come in handy when and if you are ever drilled by the local police department for elder abuse. His loud and or obnoxious comments will be recorded and if he ever physically abuses someone, that will be recorded also. It will also prove that you did not retalliate, if he so claims.


November 8th, 2009
1:04 pm

My 75 year old dad, who is pretty much physically active, has become (sporadic) verbal abusive towards my mother and accuses her of having affairs with other men. They have been married 55 years. This is clearly not his normal personality nor is there any signs of truth to the stories. The verbal abuse is obviously a controlling means and has me perplexed. Any suggestions or help, I don’t know which way to turn.


October 21st, 2009
11:32 pm

My mother was placed in a nursing home about three months ago from a hospital stay percipitate by continued falling and memory loss. She is diagnosed with dementia. At first she was fairly calm, but now she has full rage all directed at me. She thinks she can care for herself and that I have placed her there because I don’t want to take care of her. First of all, I have a job and secondly, I did take care of her for six years in a little house I bought and placed in my yard so she would be near by. I am trying to let it go as my husband tells me to and realize where it is coming from, but it is very hard. I believe I will stay away for a while to see if the rage will lessen. I don’t know what else to do. She threatens violence to me when I go and even threatened to kill me. It is very draining.

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August 3rd, 2009
2:17 pm

my grandfather has dementia. he’s 90 years old. about a month ago he fell while going to the bathroom during the night, and a couple other falls during the day due to dehydration. he was in the hospital for a couple weeks and then sent to a convelescence home for another couple of weeks. and he’s home and is required to use a walker.
this is where it gets difficult. my grandfather is the most stubborn man i have ever met in my entire life. that is apart of his personality and it makes it more difficulty when it ties into his dementia. we feed him all throughout the day. 5 minutes after he is fed, he asks someone “i need to eat, i haven’t eaten all day.” when told he was fed, he immediately yells out “i never ate a damn thing all day!” followed by accusing everyone of being a liar and name calling. this has been going on for a several years and getting worse. his memory is becoming and issue. he’s lived in his house for over 60 years, and he doesn’t believe it is even his house. he thinks he’s living in someone elses household and continueously asks when he can go home? where he sleeps? where i sleep? where his wife is (she passes away 5 years ago)? where his brothers are (they’ve all passed away over the years)? where his mother and father are (they passed away 30 years ago)?
now his leg is not fully healed, and he looks at his walker and thinks its a piece of furniture and is constantly thinking he has to put it somewhere, so he leaves it in his bedroom, or the kitchen, or the living room, and he’s walking around the house without his walker.
his attitude towards his family is also a difficult matter. he is constantly forgetting stuff, and automatically if he can’t recall something during the day, its not because he can’t remember it, its because someone is lying to him. not only that, but he gets angry and yells out mean things to his family, calling us all worthless and that he doesn’t need any of us is his life, when he clearly cannot survive without us for no more than a week. he is my grandfather and i love him, but it becomes a burden because i work during the week and am still in school, my other brother still living at home doesn’t spend much time at home, and my father can’t leave the house for a second, even to start working again, so money is tight as well. we’re not only worried that he might fall again, but we’re worried for his life. he does not even know how old he is. he told me he thinks he’s in his 40’s. some of his falls were because he climbed on a chair to clean the top fo the refirgerator and he lost his balance and fell off the chair. his balance is what worries us all because he tends to wobble when he walks, and he’s leaving his walker everywhere, and he’s getting angry with everyone because we tell he forgets things, but is completely unaware of any of all this


August 2nd, 2009
3:08 pm

I went to go live with my grandmother over a year ago,she was fine..then. I did notice some memory loss,but I did not think that it was Alzheimer’s or dementia. She then slowly started becoming more paranoid and anxious. She became combative and cursing at people for no reason. She was not like that before. She even hit me. My family tried to get her help so she would not have to leave her house. We had a home health agency come out and she ran them off saying she was fine and was not sick in any way. She always told us not to put her in a nursing home,but that might be her only option or an assisted living center. I just wish she was the grandmother I once knew.


August 2nd, 2009
2:56 pm

I went to live with my grandmother over a year ago to help out,and she was fine..then. I did notice some memory loss,but I did not think at that time that it was alzheimer’s or dementia. Then she started being more paranoid and anxious. I even witnessed her trying to attack people for no reason. She even hit me one day. I was only trying to stop her from hitting my dog,(the dog was doing nothing). Sometimes I just think that her true colors are coming out,other times I just think that it is the disease. I wish she was the grandmother I once knew.


June 6th, 2009
6:56 am

New Memoir Details Affects of Alzheimer’s on Family
Daughter Recounts Time Spent Caring for Parents with Alzheimer’s in Heartfelt New Book

In her new collection of memoirs, 36 Days Apart: A memoir of a daughter, her parents and the Beast named – Alzheimer’s: A story of Life, Love and Death (published by AuthorHouse), Deborah Ann Tornillo chronicles the time spent taking care of her mother and father, both of whom were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in February 2006.

“I didn’t know when I would tell this story, I just knew I would,” Tornillo writes. “Both my mother and father had Alzheimer’s; my Mom was further along in the disease process than my Dad. It was an incredible journey spending the last year and a half of their life with them, slowly watching the disease take its toll.”

36 Days Apart recounts this painful, enlightening journey, and Tornillo writes candidly about the struggles and fears she faced as her parents’ caregiver. When the diagnosis came in 2006, Tornillo bravely faced the reality that she would need to take care of them full-time. At first, this entailed monthly flights back and forth to her home state, but it quickly became apparent that the Alzheimer’s was progressing in both parents much more quickly than first anticipated.

As their disease progressed, Tornillo was faced with the difficult task of learning how to be a parent to her own parents. Through the year and a half of caring for them she extensively researched Alzheimer’s in order to provide the best care possible, all the while knowing that the disease would eventually win in the end. She found herself saying goodbye to her father first, but little did she know that her mother would pass away just 36 days later.

36 Days Apart gives an honest, unflinching look at the realities of caring for and losing loved ones to Alzheimer’s. Tornillo gives the reader an inside look into the day-to-day life she faced during her heartbreaking, difficult time. “The two most important things I learned from my parents as we traveled this road together was how to stay strong in faith and never lose compassion for others or myself,” she writes. “I was blessed to have learned from them their wisdom of life and death. I have faith that as you read my parent’s story you will gain the strength and wisdom needed to guide you.”