I'm at my wits end...new here.

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Where to begin...My name's David and I'm 46 y.o. with an 85 y.o. Mom who's going blind and her short-term memory is shot. I'm pretty much the primary care person in our family even though there's 4 more siblings... 3 sisters and an older brother; I'm the youngest. 2 of the sisters are MOS (married and out of state) and the closest sis is also married and helps when she can (when I say "when she can", it's literally cause she can't do anything unless her a-hole husband says she can). My older brother lives with Mom and I but he's having a lot of mental and emotional issues which makes his moods go up, down and all around and I can't deal with him sometimes. So like I said I'm the primary caregiver for my Mom who's physically able to do things but is very depressed so she doesn't do anything but sleep all day(says she doesn't really sleep but just lays there...her excuse is "Why should I get up; there's nothing to do" WHen she chooses to get up she goes straight to her recliner and the TV which is her only form of entertainment...She had vision problems in the past for which she went through the Lasik eye surgery for cataracts or glaucoma back in 2008 or 2009 but as of this past year it's come back again...she says everything is blurry or cloudy so she can't see very well...can't see the numbers on the remote, can't read magazines or the TV Guide. She also has memory loss so sometimes she asks the same questions over and over...Always asks what day it is and if it's day or night!!! Other than those issues she's just gotten LAZY...she doesn't bathe or do her towel bath like she used to; I dread the evenings cause then it's the "channel changing game"... I will put something on for her to watch and after a few minutes she starts her whining cause the program is "boring", they talk too much, she doesn't understand what's going on, etc. So I change the channel...10 or 20 times a night... then it's "I want to watch the Spanish channels" so I put them on and she just can't sit and watch whatever's on...she can't see the remote buttons too well but she changes them anyways and pretty soon she's sitting there whining again with the TV on a blank channel...you get the idea...EVERY NIGHT!!! I get frustrated and can't take it...then the mental abuse kicks in...starts her attitude and takes it out on me...not to mention I have to keep the house clean, cook for her, care for her 4 cats (feeding, changing litter, etc.) and with no help whatsoever. Since she gets up late sometimes 6,7 or 8'oclock she'll be up till 2 or 3am with her channel game. I always rise at 6:30 or 7am so I try to be in bed by 9 or 10 but she'll keep yelling at me to change the channel again & again and I'll be up till she gets tired of the TV and goes to bed. There's more to this story but I'm sure you get it...like my user name, I'm "at my wit's end"... David

19 Comments

Save your sanity and move out. The abuse will only get worse. At 46 you are entitled to your own man cave. If they cannot manage without you, let a social worker check their welfare and decide what to do with them.
When I read "Why should I get up; there's nothing to do" right away I thought your Mom would really enjoy living with others of her own generation... she could make new friends... enjoy what the retirement facility has to offer... and there is staff who will be doing the cooking and cleaning.

The TV channel changing is sheer boredom on her part, she needs to be around more mental stimulation. Boredom could also be the reason for not bathing, it's like why bother. I do realize that some of is from memory issues, too. I have heard on this forum where other parents have improved going into assistant living.

That way you and your brother can continue on with your life, you can care for your Mom's cats [they would less stressed], and maybe your brother will feel better, too, because the household would be much calmer. It's something to think about.
Is she being medicated for her depression ?

"Why should I get up; there's nothing to do" indicates boredom and that is often associated with depression. Neither is surprising with diminishing vision and early stage dementia.

The first step is a visit to the doctor. Put your concerns in writing (as you have done for us) and get it to the doctor before the visit. There is no cure for dementia, but there are treatments for depression. First see what can be done medically.

The next step (in my opinion) is to provide some stimulation to combat the boredom. I suggest looking into an adult day health program (adult day care). Often they provide transportation and a hot lunch, and sometimes also have services such as giving a shower, cutting toenails, etc. My husband went two or three times a week and it was very good for him and for me as his full-time caregiver. It is a reason to get up, get dressed, try to look nice, and take an interest in something. Usually you can sign up for 1 to 5 days a week. I can't say enough good things about our experience with it.

I would hope that going to an adult program a few times a week would produce some improvements. If there is no adult program near you or if you try it and it doesn't work for Mom, then the next step probably is to consider placing her in a care center where her needs could be met. This is really too much to expect you to handle on your own.

So have you had her vision rechecked by an ophthalmologist? Find out for sure what's going on with her eyes. Maybe she needs a lens changed if she had cataract surgery. If she could see well, that would ease a lot of your issues. The other suggestions are good too - get her treated for depression and find her some activities with others her age. Good luck and keep us posted.
I'm sorry to hear that you are bearing the full load of care-giving. It is really not easy and you need help and time to yourself to de-stress. Since you are the youngest and your siblings have 'reasons' why they can't help you, can they all chip in to hire an aide to give you a break? Even if the aide can only come in a couple of days a week it'll give you a break and something new to stimulate your mom. This might help with her depression - someone new to talk to and interact with. That in itself would help you especially if your mom's attitude improves. My mom is getting hospice care right now and the aides that come to the house have all been really nice and a big help to my dad and I. I think they charge about $10/hour and that's not bad. And if it works to make your life easier it would definitely be worth it!
I agree that she needs to see her doctor and thin she needs a neuropsychiatric evaluation, then treatment for whatever they find - likely meds of some kind. A has been suggested, some day time activities would be good for her, and possibly placement in a suitable facility where the staff can deal with her. Dementia is a hard in everyone and the loss of short term memory is often one of the first symptoms. I think it is important that you find out what is happening. Boredom and depression are one thing, dementia of some kind is another and some dementias need different treatments from others. My mother was diagnosed with vascular dementia this past year. The first symptoms were loss f short term memory and also paranoia. She is properly medicated now and it makes a huge difference.
Thanks for all your advice and suggestions...Pam I can't move out for a couple of reasons...I have nowhere to go and no money to do anything. I'll be totally honest here I'm also struggling with depression and also a substance abuse issue that I've battled for 26 years and honestly I'm losing atm...I'm telling you I can't deal with Mom sober but when I'm feeling great it seems I can handle her better... I know I need to get myself better but when I go without my DOC I'm soooo irritable and sad and mad at the same time...can't deal with her bs at all and I won't...I'll go to my enclosed porch which is also my bedroom that's next to the kitchen and living room; no privacy whatsoever and pop in my earplugs and just cover myself with a thick blanket and tune her out!!! Which I know is the wrong thing to do or I'll just walk out of the house and go to my friend's house. Then she gets pissed and instead of doing whatever she has to do she'll sit there and pout like a petulant spoiled child!!! Anyways Pam I digressed...I can't go anywhere besides she can't be alone when she's trying to cook, which is another issue cause she can't see very well she won't ask for help she'll just crank the stove top burners to high and then she goes to sit down and watch TV...I keep telling her she needs to pay attention to her cooking but that's like talking to a brick wall...I can't count how many times she's burned whatever she's cooking or she'll leave a towel or oven mitt on top of a burner or too close to one and the house is filled with smoke and SHE DOESN"T NOTICE!!! Or maybe she does and expects me to jump up and fix the problem whatever it may be...I digressed again, haha see when I talk about her it gets my gears going and I can't stop!!! It's kinda cathartic to me strangely... She hasn't been to see a doctor in a year or two cause I got tired of setting up appointments for her and when the time comes she doesn't want to go anywhere just sstays in bed!! She only has Medicaid and they don't cover jack shit so I have to get her MassHealth coverage which I have to get downtown to pick uup an application, fill it out and return it. Don't have a car so I have to bus it or try to get someone to give me a ride down and back...

I know she needs to live in an adult care facility and she would be cared for and all her needs addressed but for her that's absolutely OUT OF THE QUESTION!!! She will not leave her home and mostly her cats; they are her sole concern, even before herself. She doesn't trust that I (or we if you count my brother, which I wouldn't) would care for them, feed them and make sure their litter is cleaned daily WHICH I DO ALREADY!!! I could go on and on but I'll stop for now... Thanks for understanding....David
Gee whiz, Medicaid would pay for a nursing home. Talk to some of them, they have to help you with the financial aid process. You stay in the home with the cats until she dies. Might be better than what you have now.
Totally know what you're up against.My solutions were:
Get on a schedule.Be firm about it.Be professional. Forget she's your mother between 7 AM/ and 8 PM.
Do not argue.
With my mother...
I tell her I have a life ( not true but I like saying it).
I put on a channel she likes and take the remote telling her flatly I will not be in again unless I am passing by the room.She will get angry. Ignore it.
However recognize that she may just using this as way to have company.Loneliness and the feeling that her body is betraying her causes depression and aggression.
7:30 PM My mother gets ready for bed under supervision.
Bathroom, hand wash, ( other) and pajama's. I stand outside the door and tell her I'm waiting.Offer help if she needs it.
We have grab bars (everywhere).I encourage her to do for herself. If she refuses I insist and will do it for her.She knows I am good to my word and does not want my help though in a pinch she has come around to accepting it.
Lights out at 8 PM (she's 94).
I monitor her but do what I need to do for myself.
She is awakened at 7AM and up whether she likes it or not.
Bathroom routine, wash, dress, breakfast.TV on to her favorite show.
Most days I find jobs she can do.
I wash her clothes, she folds it.I insist as it helps me and keeps her busy and useful.It's important to feel you can still be useful.
She is responsible for dusting her room every other day. I give her the dust cloth and polish, shut the TV and say "time to work!"
Helps keep her mobile as well.
We put a Christmas tree in her room. I left the decorations for her to do as she see's fit.
Don't take "no" or encourage her pity party.
It won't help her or you.
She's blind, not dead.The blind learn to get around.
Your life is not over and the experience of caring for your parent is the best training you can get even if you aren't paid for it.


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