How can I keep my mother with Alzheimer's and my 3 year old from fighting?

7 answers | Last updated: Nov 16, 2016
Gray duck asked...

My mother is 80 yrs old and within the last six months has been diagnosed with alzheimer's and is taking 10mg aracete. She has also moved back into what was her old home that I have owned and lived in for the last ten years. I also have a 3yr old son that lives in the same residence, when these two are left alone for any amount of time they start at each other like they are both three year olds. Is this common and what do I do short of sending both to seperate corners for time out?


Expert Answers

A social worker and geriatric consultant who specializes in dementia care, Joyce Simard is based in Land O' Lakes, Florida, and in Prague. She is a well-known speaker and has written two books, one focusing on end-of-life care and the other, entitled The Magic Tape Recorder, explaining aging, memory loss, and how children can be helpers to their elders.

Perhaps you could set up projects that would be of interest to both of them, like coloring in coloring books. So  both grandma and her grandson could focus on something together. Grandma may remember coloring when she was younger or having colored with her children. Another thought is to have them watch a movie, video or television together.


Community Answers

Emilyprl answered...

Coloring is a good idea, i have made other things available to my mother in law and 2 & 5 yr olds. I have a game called playful patterns and it has become a godsend. It is one of those games where you have many shapes and you have to fit them in a mosaic picture somehow. my 2yr old just builds with the pieces but MIL spent almost 1hr playing with it. Also I keep pictured dominoes, they are very easy for the children and her to play with. Hope this helps.


Frena answered...

it is quite common for a person with dementia to squabble with a 3-year-old. i assume it's a kind of sibling rivalry for the one with dementia. as far as i observe, it's most often found in people who probably received less affection or more pain from parents themselves and have unfulfilled attention wounds.

it's great to use the things that entertain toddlers for an adult who responds to them. it's also good to ensure that Mom gets enough rest and asleep, since people with dementia are often exhausted, though they don't know and can't express this, other than in tired-toddler ways. so nap-time is good for both.

this will gradually pass as your Mom's illness proceeds and your toddler grows up. perhaps you have a friend who might take your Mom for a drive or shopping if she responds to that (for many it's too stressful) and give her some special attention. also consider a day activity program if there's anything in your area.

these are great for active and yet under-occupied elders and. remember, they're never enthusiastic about going but it doesn't mean it wouldn't work for her. possibly you could also involve her in helping you with tasks (just don't be attached to the results).

she may well be overwhelmed by the energy and presence of a toddler and be trying to get control. i'd worry about their safety since a person with dementia isn't going to make good and sensible choices if something happens.

is it possible she could hang out with you rather than be corralled with your toddler, some of the time anyway? great for you to take Mom in and i'm sure you'll begin to find the ways to make it work. it gets better as that happens.


Booda answered...

the problem is ,is that three year olds can learn and remember where Alzheimers people are forgetting and can't seem to learn at all.


Ad daughter answered...

The actual problem is not the fighting. It is the toddler and AD parent being left alone together. This sounds like a recipe for disaster.


Ready for flight answered...

Neither the three year old nor the Alzheimer patient can be relied on for their judgment, please try not to leave them alone together. One of them should be in day care. The toddler will probably be able to interact with other children his age and it may be less expensive and easier to find a day care for children. Adult day care may be far away and costly. Good luck.


Frena answered...

of course people with alzheimer's are forgetting in the rational, time-line, brain value, rigid way we judge them. yes, it's true. however, people with alhzeimer's can learn a whole lot of different things -- relationship, joy, new activities shared with others. they're not dead. dead is when your heart's not beating. they're live and can grow and expand in heart and spirit -- you know, the things we don't have a monetary useful value for. let's not talk about people with alzheimer's as if they had no meaningful being. becausae that's how bad care goes on and on in our society.