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Wives recoil from violent fathers-in-law

32 Comments

A 50-year-old man whom we'll call Adachi returns home one evening and is shocked to see ugly black-and-blue welts on his wife's arm. He's informed that his 82-year-old father had whacked her with a shoe.

A year ago, the father had suffered a mild stroke, and one side of his body remained partially paralyzed. He was also having difficulty speaking, and was in the process of receiving speech therapy when he stumbled and fell in the doorway of his home, breaking his leg. Now he's been spending more and more time lying in bed.

When Mrs Adachi had to be away from home for any length of time, she had been leaving her father-in-law at a day care center for seniors. The old man voiced no opposition to this arrangement, and for his first 10 visits, everything had gone well.

Suddenly, however, he'd erupted in anger, shouting, "That SOB!" It was found out later that the object of his anger was another elderly man at the day care facility. Apparently, Adachi senior, frustrated with his disability, failed to get along with the other residents and staff at the facilities. At this particular center, factions had developed between short-time wards and the long-term residents, creating a stressful situation that boiled over after the old man returned home.

"This is just my personal estimate, but I suppose between 30% and 40% of seniors at home become violent," Yoshimitsu Uehara, director of the Caregiver Support Association, an NPO based in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, tells Nikkan Gendai (Dec 2). "The more these people appear to be composed and polite on the surface, the worse they behave at home."

In particular, says Uehara, seniors in their 70s and 80s are still physically robust compared to people of the same age group 30 or 40 years ago.

"When they lash out at their defenseless daughter-in-law or grandchild, it's shocking to see how much damage they can do."

In November, an 86-year-old man at a rest home used a knife to attack two fellow residents at a rest home in Kagawa Prefecture, killing a 79-year old man and injuring a woman.

"He was always gentlemanly and before the assault, there was never any trouble," a caretaker remarked following the incident.

As of 2009, the number of people age 65 and above who had been prosecuted for criminal offenses came to 48,119, or 14% of the total for all age groups, a four-fold increase from 20 years ago. However, this data does not fully reflect cases of domestic violence, which often go unreported.

To compound the problem, some stressed-out wives will retaliate, immobilizing a violent or uncooperative senior by strapping him or her to the bed. Such cases of mistreatment and abuse are being increasingly reported in the media.

"The key to discouraging violent behavior by seniors is to foster closer communications with those around them," advises the aforementioned Uehara. "The caretaker regularly needs to ask, 'Has anything changed?' If they are taken to a day care service on an irregular basis, they need to be asked, 'How have you been feeling recently?' A daughter-in-law needs to solicit responses on a daily basis. It is in households that neglect to follow up on seemingly small things like this where breakdowns are most likely to occur."

Needless to say, husbands need to get involved as well. Entrust everything to your wife, or to the staff at an outside facility, and in one way or another it will come back to haunt you, the article concludes.

© Japan Today

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

32 Comments
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I have barely seen my father in law since the day I got married. He never has any contact with us or with his grandchildren including his only two grandsons. My husband buries deep-seated hurt from his fathers absolute lack of interest in him as a child or an adult.

I double dare him to turn up at my door demanding care anytime in the future.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

To compound the problem, some stressed-out wives will retaliate, immobilizing a violent or uncooperative senior by strapping him or her to the bed. Such cases of mistreatment and abuse are being increasingly reported in the media.

Abuse? Restraining someone who's trying to hurt you is self-defence, not abuse or mistreatment.

This is a complex issue. Elderly people are fundamentally going through their second childhood, however when your 7 year-old hits you in a fit of pique it's no big deal and a sharp word or revoking a privelege normally ensures there's no repetition, but when an otherwise fit 80 year-old man does it then it's an entirely different story, and threatening to cut off their supply of pornos and booze isn't going to work very well.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Difficult issue. Grandma in the States is completely senile now with little sense of restraint or propriety in what she says or does. I couldn't take care of her. It takes an angel.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I agree with reckless. This is just something that we are going to have to take the time to learn. The elderly need our help as our babies did. Just like it takes a community to raise a child, I think we are going to have to volunteer our time to take proper care of the elderly. It definitely will not be easy.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The elderly need our help as our babies did. Just like it takes a community to raise a child, I think we are going to have to volunteer our time to take proper care of the elderly. It definitely will not be easy.

That's where a retirement home that specializes in dementia comes in. A person with Alzheimer's will often become violent against their spouse. It's not something that they can control.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan needs to come to grips with the elderly problems. All those people out of work who can't find jobs? Get them trained as caregivers to loop after these folks - and charge the families for the service who want it! Or, cut the children bonus and put it towards this. Violence and murder of and by the elderly is going to get much, much worse if the problem is addressed.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

what a silly thing to say-that elderly people are like children, or even that children are raised by the community. doesnt it show how much of a break down the family has been dealt when people start thinking like this. and situations that this article highlights may show us that it is time to take it in our own hands to put the family back as the centre of peoples lives.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

tmarie: Many people do train to become caregivers but attaining the qualifications isn't easy, as it shouldn't be. You want people properly qualified to do that kind of work. Qualifications are only half of it though. Elderly care is similar to child care in that you should never ever force people into that kind of career. It takes a very special person to do either job, not just someone who's out of work and looking for a job.

As for the availability of elderly care, it exists and to a better degree than it does in the country I'm from. My friend's mother-in-law just passed away after a lengthy illness. She was living with her daughter and son-in-law at the time and had caregivers come in nearly every day for various tasks. There were about 6 or 7 who did a rotation and by all accounts, the care they gave was wonderful. I can't say with 100% certainty that my friend and his wife didn't have to pay anything but if I remember correctly the vast majority of it was covered by her, the mother-in-law's insurance. I've had other friends who's elderly parents have been tested to see what level of care they need. There is a scale and depending where the person falls on it they will get different levels of care. It can vary from someone coming in once or twice a week to do various tasks, someone coming to pick up the elderly person to take them to a senior center for the day or as in the case of my friend, nearly daily care. Japan may not have it 100% right yet but they do seem to be making a fair effort to tackle the issue, and believe me, I wouldn't defend Japan as a knee-jerk reaction but give credit where credit is due. People will fall through the cracks. That seems somewhat inevitable when the population which needs help is so large but from what I can tell they are trying.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

folks,

there is a lot of pent up frustration in many aspects of life for many in Japan, sometimes things come to a head & explode, especially if they are being held to old age, we are going to hear a lot more about seniors going postal I am afraid.

A lot of this is because of how people live, as I have said here a few times, do you all wanna grow old & die in Japan.........I am not sure I do, looks like a sad way to go

1 ( +2 / -1 )

illsayit: Why is it silly to say that "elderly people are like children, or even that children are raised by the community."? When people develop dementia or Alzheimer's it can be like dealing with a child. They become somewhat helpless and need everything done for them, even their hygiene and toilet care needs. That's very much like dealing with a child or infant. I'm not sure what your issue is with the "...children being raised by the community..." statement? Is it the statement in general or the fact that this is no longer true? I was certainly raised, in part, by the community. I came from a small town where neighbors felt perfectly comfortable telling us off for stepping out of line and I wouldn't have dared to question their right to do that because they would've just called my parents and told them what I was up to and my parents would have thanked them for it, which was never good news for me! It's true that the family should try and help out their elderly relatives but that comes with a few caveats. They might not be physically capable of meeting that person's needs and thus do the elderly and themselves physical harm. It is extremely stressful to take care of an elderly person and can be very isolating. The majority of the work usually falls on women, so even if the parent is not theirs they end up being a 24/7 caregiver. I know more than a few women who've had to do that for years and very often then ended up taking care of husbands who'd fallen ill. The women were often angry and bitter and who could blame them? Any career aspirations they had, dreams of going back to work after raising their children (and yes they did want to do that) were put on permanent hold taking care of parents, in-laws who were often rude, mean and ungrateful and then husbands. I don't think the elderly should just be dumped in nursing homes but neither do I think there's anything wrong with getting some help if you can.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

well as you point out ambrosia, Japans facilities are quite good, Id even say excellent. Id say you could keep your career and capitalize on the facilities. I dont mind growing old here at all. I dont understand what you dont understand. You explain to me looking after a child or an elderly takes time and effort. But if you cant realize the difference well I can be sure I wouldnt want you being my aid. And I think we have a different definition of raise. Of course children come by influence of other people in a community, but how that is raised is up to the parents; is my definition. If I dont like my neighbourhood I move my kids, or instruct then to which park or side of the road is preferred because those community members I would trust with their disciplining-which is what you were discussing. And elderly people are so not like children-do you really need me to name the differences. Your suggestion that feeding them is the same, I think is silly. What percent of elderly NEED feeding? Versus being TAUGHT to feed, for example. If you want me to keep naming the differences, give me a yell. Because I think there are so many and they are so obvious, I dont see the need for me listing it out. In fact if I was an elderly person and you claimed that, Id be humiliated by your stance. Not all old people are sick, and like in the case provided the guy had a stroke, that's not dementia. You lump everything together so much so that I would be wary of the way you use the word community. I think Japans facilities are great, and that it is up to us to realize our family. In fact I would go so far as to say that Japanese are quite good at that, and it's us foreigners who arent used to realizing our family. And ambrosia as far as your little example about being disciplined by your neighbours, please dont take me wrong but did you ever think that your neighbours may not always like to be the one to discipline you. They may occassionally have wished that your parents would give your ears a ringing sometimes. When you bring in personal situations, I dont think that sunstantiates the article or what you say in any way-for you it may have been/be fine, but every situation is separate.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Mind I will admit that as foreigners if this, Japan, is where our family has extended to, it can be difficult to feel that you are family.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"but I suppose between 30% and 40% of seniors at home become violent,” Yoshimitsu Uehara, director of the Caregiver Support Association, an NPO based in Ikebukuro, Tokyo,"

huh?whats that supposed to indicate?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

illsayit,

what fascilities, there arent many old folks homes, there are these stupid day care centres that waste $$$$ like crazy, there isnt much choice & value for money for what there is is extremely low, thats why most old folks end up stuck in old decrepid housing often living in crappy conditions & its going to get much much worse

1 ( +1 / -0 )

illsayit: The analogy isn't meant to be an across the board comparison and surely you understand that as clearly as I do that children and the elderly have different care needs. The point of comparison is in the degree of helplessness and need, particularly for elderly who've sufferered severe strokes, dementia or Alzheimer's. As for a community raising a child, the point is not whether you'd move if you didn't like your neighbors or if they'd rather you behave so they don't have to discipline you. Thepoint is the awareness, acknowledgement and concern for your neighbors. Surely those factors are also important when we talk about the disintegration of the family and society. Neither lives in a vacuume, they are connected. You seem to be purposely avoiding the subtleties of both points and taking things overly literally.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

For the family it isn't like caring for a child at all. With a child there is hope for the future...with an AD loved one each additional 'child-like' feature is a milestone not of development but of decline towards death. The sadness of one adult feeding another is nothing like baby's first meals, and the sheer difference in volume of output as far as diapers and toileting go aren't even close.....and with a baby you know they'll grow out of the diapers eventually!

Mentally as well, the differences are stark. If I had 5 yen for every time someone has said 'Oh she's becoming just like a child again!' in response to MILs AD-fueled antics I'd be rich! It's actually the complete loss of all socialization, empathy, and inhibitions with the degradation of her memory. So, while she does have temper tantrums like a 2-year-old, it's with all the adult perspectives and knowledge and sarcasm an 86-year-old can muster and the strength of an adult.

Any of you cooing about them needing help just like babies did hasn't taken care of someone with dementia. It's a while other kind of hell...

The key to discouraging violent behavior by seniors is to foster closer communications with those around them.

Good God....if that's all it took!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Himajin: No one's cooing and I think people clearly understand the differences that you've pointed out. Again, I believe the analogy was simply made regarding the helplessness of both groups and the fact that caring for both can be exhausting.. I dare say given a choice, most people would take the helplessness of a child over that of an adult. Having dealt with both I understand your points but also understand the point of the analogy. Most people with half a brain would understand the lack of hope and physical difficulty in caring for an elderly person. Perhaps the people who've commented to you simply don't know what to say and don't want to focus on the negative. They may not say whey you want to hear but that doesn't make them stupid, as you've implied, either.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm not implying that anyone is stupid, simply misinformed. It gets wearing after a few years of it! Nowhere did i say anyone is stupid.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I didn't say you said it. I said you implied it. Regardless, I understand your feelings and am sorry that you've had such a tough go of it. I've been there and it is wearying. I hope you're availing yourself of the resources that are available.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A daughter-in-law needs to solicit responses on a daily basis. It is in households that neglect to follow up on seemingly small things like this where breakdowns are most likely to occur.

This entire article makes out that the problem is not with the person attacking but the caretakers or the daughter-in-law. This is wrong, it is NEVER the victims fault.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ok then, please tell me where I 'implied' that people are stupid. I wanted to lay it out in precise terms, say exactly what it's all about, and perhaps change someone's viewpoint (not anyone in particular). It was a steep learning curve, but I've got my second in-law with it, and know how to roll with it! :-D 'We all turn into children again' and 'she looks fine to me' are just my two personal pet peeves...I'd be rich, I tell you, rich! ;-P

For the record, women can be just as violent as men, I thought the title was biased, if the aim was to educate anyone....you could probably find just as many stories of women with dementia hitting family members.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I found this statement to be suggestive of stupidity: "Any of you cooing about them needing help just like babies did hasn't taken care of someone with dementia. It's a while other kind of hell...". You may not have meant it that way but that's how it read to me. I don't disagree at all with what you've said about how hellish it is to take care of an elderly person, particularly one with some of the health problems mentioned. And your pet peeves are your pet peeves. I'm not going to tell you to not be annoyed by them no more than you're going to be able to convince me that anyone should ride their bike on the pavement (my pet peeve). My only point is that people don't always know what to say in tough times so they resort to platitudes. "She's in a better place." "You're better off without him." "You'll get pregnant again." Those comments have all been made to me by people who've also lost loved ones, been through tough break-ups or divorces and miscarriages. They annoyed me but I just chose to assume they meant well and moved on. Educating people as to the reality of your situation is an excellent idea but people will probably be more receptive to your message if you're straight but not sarcastic. Again, I'm sorry about your situation and hope you're getting some help with your in-law. Have a good day. Really! You deserve that at the very least.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Very sad and indeed scary to think your own father would beat up your wife, just horrible!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

These old fools need a "slap upside the head" and a good ole fashioned "ass-whooping"! Osaka style.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Not 'is stupid' but as I wrote 'hasn't taken care of someone with dementia'. I said what I meant.

We've had to place her because she started lighting things on fire when she felt cold....I just couldn't watch her 24 hours a day. I go to the hospital 1-2 times a week and spend several hours with her, take her to the hairdressers, take her out to eat if she wants to go, and it's going well. I'm make sure she never wants for anything, and she's well dressed and well groomed which had always been EXTREMELY important to her, that she sees her friends, but I can't live with her anymore, it would destroy both of us.

So, lately things are getting better! I'm actually looking forward to the holidays.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And you shouldn't have to live with her or her with you. You're doing plenty and it sounds like she's well taken care of. It might be different if you lived with extended family who were all helping out to shoulder the burden but it doesn't sound like that's the case. You have your own health to consider, physical and mental. Without that you couldn't do anything at all for her and you'd end up being a burden to someone. I sure hope your husband appreciates how much you're doing for his mother. You said she was your mother-in-law, right?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yes, and he's an only child.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Please... remember this is the media... it is reporting one incident and giving only limited perspective and statistics. Everyone knows that media competes to get the most sensational subject to report. They also rely on "degrees" and "titles" of professional people to "justify" and give "credence" to an analysis or opinion.

It is also taking up an "emotional" subject that can bring up extremely wide and deep "negative feelings" that "differ" for each individual in any culture and back ground.

Therefore, it is important that in this discussion there be a "basis", be it moral or ethical or even medical for everyone to consider and contribute for consideration. It is also important that there be a" common" definition of place, time, situation, circumstance, environment, and the cultural and historical back ground of what is being discussed. There is also a need for the person contributing an "opinion" to "identify" his/her back ground and exactly where he/she is coming from.

Otherwise, this discussion is endless and only a forum for self expression and emotional release.

That in itself may have some "value", but does not contribute to helping to bring "solutions" to the basic problems illustrated by the incident.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is a sad cycle and reality. Eventually, we will be in the same situation as these elderly folks and our children will have the same emotions and issues about home care as we do now. I would dread the day when no one would want to take care of me. So, I have promised that I would at least not complain of having to take care of my parents when the time comes- in the hope of breaking a very sad cycle.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A person with Alzheimer's will often become violent against their spouse. It's not something that they can control.

You have to look at it from the Alzheimer's patient's point of view: Here is this apparent "total stranger" trying to convince you that they are your wife/husband and have been for years. Your response would likely be that this was a scam to take your posessions. Most people WOULD react angrily towards something like that. When it gets to that point, there's nothing the spouse can do. They've lost their loved one to the disease and all that's left is a stranger.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

along the lines of incognito-I also think a well-sized family would help break that cycle, as unlike ambrosia, while a family isnt living in a vacuum, sometimes there are just things, that if possible, be kept in the family, and a well-sized family I believe would break this cycle of selfish elderly

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This news is just bizarre, I can not even imagine my own father trying to lay a hand on my wife, it must be some really crazy Japanese thing that I do not understand and DO NOT WANT TO understand, as somebody posted a good old fashioned Osaka style ass whooping sounds just about right and Nicky sorry to hear that you and your father in law do not have friendly relationships.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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