Why does a person with Alzheimer's get upset with people in their home?

3 answers | Last updated: Sep 13, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My fiance's mother has alzheimer's. She no longer remembers me, and when I come over she hates me. She thinks I'm always someone new. But she does remember where I live. I wait for her to go sleep so that I can take a shower. The minute I walk into the bathroom she gets upset that I'm in there and insists that she needs to use it right away. I have done a lot or research and I am reading a book on Alzheimer's so I do have a pretty good understanding on this disease. However it makes it very difficult to spend time with my fiance. Even if I'm there for a few hours she has always something negative to say. I starting to think that maybe she's afraid that I will take her son away from her or that it's some form of jealousy, since she does live with him and he takes care of her.

Expert Answers

Monica is an occupational therapist and designer of adapted dementia products through her company MindStart. Activities for Persons With Memory Loss. In addition, she works with the Minnesota-North Dakota Alzheimer's Association and the University of Minnesota on dementia issues. MindStart provides age-appropriate and stage-appropriate dementia activities, such as games, puzzles, and books. The items are simplified to meet the needs of various stages of dementia while remaining dignified and familiar in appearance

Having your fiancee's mother get upset when you are in the home, due to her Alzheimer's, must be a difficult situation. Kudos to you for trying to find a way to make it work. To her, you are likely a new person each time- a new, strange person that she does not know and may not like having behind closed doors, where she can't see what you are doing. Of course, keeping the bathroom door open is not a solution! Here are some things you might try:

  1. Initially, focus your time at the house forming a relationship with your fiancee's mother. The goal is to become friends so that even if she does not remember your name next time, she does remember that you are a person that makes her feel good.
  2. Form your own routines and activities - just the two of you. For example, if she likes tea, start your visit to the house with making some tea together and sitting down to enjoy it together. Or do a simple puzzle or adult coloring activity together.
  3. During this relationship forming stage, try to avoid going behind closed doors when she is present and watching.
  4. As she gets more comfortable with you there, gradually bring in your fiancee, again sticking to routines. Now you can plan your needed time for the shower into the routine. For example, once the tea is made and she is set-up to drink it, you step away for a "trip to the ladies room".

With time and patience, I am sure things will work out and you all will be able to enjoy each other's company. Good luck!

Community Answers

Jaye answered...

She probably just does not understand why you are there... I am not sure why she would respond like she does. I would doubt that she is able to reason they you are taking her son away. She probably dosen't understand your relationship... try to be kind and respectful to her, this will help.

Newdayeveryday answered...

She may see you as a threat, or just resent you, if she is confused about who you are. If she does not remember you, she may not really be aware of the relationship with her son and may think of him as a husband or suitor. I took care of my MIL for nearly two years in her home, and even though I was the one with her every day, and the only person whose name she seemed to remember in the last year or so, when my husband / her son was there (her house was in a neighboring community and my husband and I still maintained our house in the other community and he was working there) came on his days off, she seemed to talk with him and treat him as though he was a spouse or boyfriend rather than her son, even frequently calling him by her husband,s name. So, it may not be you specifically that she doesn't like; it may just be that you are someone who stands between her and whomever she thinks her son is. This is not unusual for people with Alzheimer's.