Bob DeMarco Alzheimer's Reading Room

Friday, April 29, 2011

Alzheimer’s and Anger at Family Members


For many of us, anger was the only way to break an unhealthy connection between our family and ourselves. It was the only way to keep us from being held captive—emotionally, mentally and sometime spiritually....
By Barbara Pursley
+Alzheimer's Reading Room

Many of us have anger at members of our family for not pulling their weight as a caregiver. Some of us might even go to the extremes of having rage. For whatever reason, some families have been divided.

My mom was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1993 and passed away in 2003. Since that time, I have been an author, writer, speaker and advocate for Alzheimer’s. I came across a journal entry I wrote about Alzheimer’s support groups and family members. I would like to share what I learned and see how you might identify with this information and any solutions you have discovered in your family.


Written, Thursday, March 24, 1994

“At the Alzheimer’s Support Group tonight, we discussed the problems between siblings and family members who are making decisions for the care of their loved ones:

My sister escapes helping care for our father until money decisions arise and then she wants to be in control.

I care for my mother at home and it’s beginning to affect my health. My doctor is afraid that my cardiovascular problems could lead to a heart attack. I’d like to put mother in a nursing home, but my brother who lives 1,000 miles away disagrees. He cares for her by phone and tells me ‘we’ could never move her from home. He rarely comes to visit.

I have five siblings and two of us care for our father. The others tell us what we’re doing wrong.

I have four siblings and one brother-in-law who is a trouble maker. Every time our attorney has legal documents to sign on our mother’s behalf, my brother-in-law will find reason for my sister to disagree.

I have no siblings and I care for my father. It’s hard making decisions alone.

I’m married and have four siblings who live out of town. For the past ten years, I have cared for my mother at home and my siblings occasionally visit. Two years ago, my husband divorced me.

I’m a male caregiver to my mother. My sister doesn’t participate because she lives far away. My health is very poor and I would like to put her in a nursing home close to me, but my guilt won’t let me do it.

I come from a large Italian family of ten siblings. I never thought anything could divide us until our father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.”

For many of us, anger was the only way to break an unhealthy connection between our family and ourselves. It was the only way to keep us from being held captive—emotionally, mentally and sometime spiritually. It was necessary, but at some point we have to strive to be done with our anger so that it doesn’t zap our energy from being a healthy caregiver. We must take care of ourselves first!

What lessons have you learned from your family members? If you are angry or resentful towards your siblings, how are you dealing with your anger? Your experience may be just what a reader needs to hear for today.



Barbara Pursley was born in Galveston, Texas and is the author of EMBRACING THE MOMENT. Barabara attended Santa Monica College, studied photography, and worked as a commercial photographer before returning to Texas to care for her mother. Barbara also taught journal writing to women in Texas rehabilitation facilities. She put her God inspired journal entries and photographs into book form in 2009.

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