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Mood swings (mine and his). Warning: vent


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Decided to post this on the caregivers board, as this is something y'all probably have experience with.

Dad has been diagnosed for less than a month, and he's going through some awful mood swings. One second he's in despair ("I'm a dying man!"), the next he's talking about taking out a monster loan and expanding the family business. He flies into a rage over little things, and I'm afraid he'll make some bad business decisions.

Now my rant: He refuses to come to this board, does no research on lung cancer, leaves it all to me. If he has a side effect from the chemo, he doesn't call his doctor or nurse, he comes to me to fix it. Well, what did the information packet say? He doesn't know, he didn't bother to read it. Every day it's a damn litany - it hurts if I press here, and I was tired this morning but not now, and I was nauseated three nights ago, and there's this spot on my arm and my throat hurts and and I'm gaining weight and tell me what to do. Then my mother comes in and it's Dad's losing weight, and he was complaining about his stomach hurting and he didn't sleep well last night and what foods should I cook for him and this booklet says apples are no good and he ate an apple today and I'm so worried about our future and what should we do? I feel like yelling, "I don't KNOW what to do. If I knew I would be DOING it now, wouldn't I?" I'm feeling pressured, and frankly, resentful. How can I care for him over the long haul if I'm losing it already?

Guess I'm venting more about me :oops:. I can understand his mood swings, have brought up mood stabilizers but he won't hear of it so I guess I'm stuck there. But how do I handle my own moods?

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Hi kdaru!

Boy, my heart just sinks reading about the hard time you are having with your parents. I read your profile, and (hoping no one will be offended with this) I'm wondering if a lot of this confusion and being overwhelmed can be blamed on their age. At age 82, most people are pretty set in their ways, have a routine nailed down and almost never deviate from it. To have all of this thrown at them all of a sudden must be terribly overwhelming to them.

Now, after making that statement above, I know that doesn't really help with your stress level and the things you are having to deal with. Unfortunately, I don't know that I have a solution for you because I just know that dealing with the elderly can be very, very frustrating and takes a lot of patience.

I think you would lean more toward the safe side if you pretty much assumed that they just aren't "getting it." That being said, either you or someone else in the family probably just needs to be assertive and step in try to take over with a lot of hand-holding. That person needs to insist on going to the doctor appointments, OR get them to sign a HIPPA authorization so they can get get information directly from the doctors and find out what he needs to do. He probably needs to be told just one or two steps at a time so that he isn't so overwhelmed.

As far as his temperment, unless you can get the doctor to talk to him about it and prescribe something, I would guess that it will probably be like this through the duration of his treatment. Unfortunately, most of the time spoken words alone just don't change the behavior of the elderly. They are independent and dig in their heels and are just going to act the way they want to act. Maybe medication would help to calm him, but since he's resistant to you about this, the doctor probably needs to talk him into taking something.

I know I am a little out of my league here, but I have spent a lot of time in nursing homes and I have a very special spot in my heart for the elderly. I'm drawn to them like a magnet to steel. I just felt very compelled to try to help you get inside your mom and dad's heads to maybe understand their fears and confusion.

It really does take a lot of patience. Take lots of deep breaths, relax your shoulders when you feel like you are going to blow, close your eyes, and simply say, "God, please help me", and then say "Thank you." That's the best you can do.

Please let us know how things go.

Love and prayers,


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Peggy has given a lot of sage advice. Sounds like your parents have zeroed in on you (since you are willing) to be the resident expert, and it is easier to ask you than the doctor. You need to "retrain" them to ask the doc first. As Peggy said, this will not change easily and will take perseverence. Tell them you are there for them as part of the team to fight this thing, but the team has to include the medical people to give him the best treatment. And, you need to find someone you can trust to vent to on a regular basis, as well as vent here any time you need. You have to take care of yourself as well and not let yourself get lost in all this. Blessings. Don

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Maybe age has something to do with it, BUT it doesn't hold true for me. One minute I'm crying and planning my funeral, the next I'm talking about buying new furniture and a car, the next I'm yelling at my husband because he got in the shower without telling me.

It's so hard to control your emotions and still cont on with your normal life. Hang in there! I know my husband is also having a terrible time dealing with my moods. One minute I'm crying the next I'm ripping his head off!

Take a deep breath and good luck!

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Many thanks for your replies, every one of them was helpful. It's funny, I never think of my folks as "elderly". Sure, they're old, but they're MY parents, and therefore in my mind the laws of aging do not apply. But of course they do. I've been going with him to Dr.'s visits, and it does seem to help.

My role as surrogate medical advisor is partially my fault - I have a medical background, and am loathe to admit ignorance. I think I need to admit that I don't know, and redirect them to talk with the experts.

Deep breaths...

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