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Today I thought of something that is a worry for me. And I know it is probably a worry for a lot of us when it comes to parents. My mother has problems with her mood. Sometimes she wants to sleep all day and mopes around like she's sick when she's not. Sometimes she is up for a day, then down for two. Caregivers get all kind of advice about how to make our parents feel better -- Antidepressants, anxiolytics, entertainment, friends, daycare, senior centers. At the end we find that it is all the same. It was like a dog chasing its tail and our parent is still not happy.


Today I was pondering geri psych treatment and suddenly realized that I am tired of trying to manage my mother's mood. I've had almost six years of it. If she wanted to do something about her mood, she could have done it herself during her 88 years on earth. I am no longer going to worry about it.


I guess I can think of this as a new boundary. If she wants to be in a grumpy mood, then it's her grumpy mood to feel. I am going to go on with life and not worry about fixing it anymore.

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Jessie, perhaps the men hitting on the women were exercising their own kind of therapy? One way to address a problem, I guess.

But I'm so glad that you've moved past that dilemma and are feeling better, and probably more relieved as well as light headed. My head always feels lighter when I solve a problem! I guess all those worries get pretty heavy.

Glass, that must be a rewarding experience for both you and your mother. When something really works, it's such a rewarding emotion.

Is this on an outpatient basis?
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I am with JB, it is like a dog chasing its tale. I have provided a safe environment for a lifelong narcissistic person.It will NEVER in this life time be to her liking.I also see a therapist otherwise my mother would be in an AL /NH or wherever because it certainly wouldn't have been with me.I try to provide social situations for her(get her to church every week which I intiated for her),hair done in salon every week(it's gossip central for our little town,she loves that)but I live in a rural area and only have so much to offer ,I actually did find that the little town next to us actually had an arts council and was able to take her to art lessons for a while.But there are some days I just can't "fix" her life,things I can't control like the fact that people get older,and things don't always work out like you thought they would. At this point I just try to make the journey a little less bumpy and hopefully enjoy a few good things on the way.
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Glasshalfull, I've tried therapy in the past, but it didn't work so well with me. I always had the feeling that my life had become so boring and I needed to try to entertain the therapists. I ended up talking about problems that weren't really problems. I really could never figure out what to talk about. When nothing is really wrong that one can put a finger on, it is hard to talk to anyone about it.

I went to a support group for adult children of dysfunctional families for a year or two. I was married at the time, but there were still men in the group hitting on the younger women. And there were people who were older who had been working on their problems for 20-30 years. I didn't want to get stuck like that.

I do think therapy could be very useful for most people. My best moments are when something dawns on me -- simple things like not trying to manage her moods. A therapist may have been able to help me see this six years ago, which would have made my time here easier. From what I've seen, finding a good therapist and support group can be like looking for a four-leaf clover. One is probably out there for each person, but you have to really look to find him/her.
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Mom started seeing a social worker at the local memory and mobility center. Her once a week appointments (1 hour usually) seem to have really helped her. They chat and I work on a puzzle out in the lobby...and things seem better afterwards. Mom was not happy about it initially, but asked to return after first visit. Part of it is finding the right match...I think we have.

I know I am better since I started seeing a counselor myself...just have to find the right one.
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JessieBelle, that is great news!
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I've been surprised at how much my own mood has lifted since I've quit managing her mood.
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I'm going through this too. Been live-in caregiver for 20 years since Dad died; Mom is 90 now. Some days it's "I wish I were dead!" and other days she's fine. She refuses to look into anti-depressants. I have also realized recently that she is entitled to her moods, but I do not have to react to them. Easier said than done, simple but not easy, but the more I can do it, the better it is for me. She will feel the way she feels, and all my cajoling and efforts to please aren't going to make her feel better and only end up making me exhausted and frustrated. Don't know if this helps anyone, but I feel better for putting this out there!
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I've changed the profile now from dementia to age-related decline. Her symptoms are not like typical dementias that we know about. They are more like bipolar disorder and have not progressed over the years.

I want to thank everyone for their supportive words. I knew that many would understand how it can be like a dog chasing its tail if the person does not want to feel better. Maybe one day we will stumble upon the answer, but this has been a lifelong unhappiness with her, not a dementia related thing.
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I've been thinking a lot about the issues of trying to be everything we can to our parents, trying to help them with moods, with attitudes, with outlooks and often even more.

I think we may make unconscious distinctions between our parents because they are elderly and generally in need of more assistance, as opposed to say, our partners who we often anticipate will use various skills and reasoning to find solutions to their problems.

So we in a sense overextend ourselves trying to compensate for our parents dilemmas. But their situations aren't as easily solvable, their behaviors are often entrenched, they're frightened of getting old, and often there are a host of other complicating issues.

Yet we try, and continue to try, and get frustrated. And we make such exceptions for our parents. They come to accept and expect these, and behavioral patterns are established. Then one day we begin to realize that we've either lost or ceded control of some aspects to our parents, even when it's not the best to have them controlling these situations.

I'm not saying this is necessarily bad, but it can predispose us to try to solve problems and attitudes that aren't solvable.

I think sometimes we reach, as Jessie has, a point at which we recognize that we can't change some aspects, HOWEVER, we don't have to accept them and alter our own behavior to compensate.

I'm thinking of the emotional outbursts, tantrums, dominance, refusal to look at situations realistically, refusal to accept help when it's needed, and similar actions.

It took me a long time to reach the point that I recognized what I can and can't change, and what I will accept and what I won't. It also took me some time to reach the point of deciding when I just need to take control and establish the conditions under which some things are going to happen.

I've been thinking of that as I read Jessie's dilemma with her mother's frequently changing desires, and FF's dilemma with her mother's refusal to accept care that's been recommended, that's needed by her parents, and by her as well so that she herself can heal from her arm injury.

And I think that often we struggle to reach a decision such as Jessie's has, and be comforted in the fact that we're doing the best for our parents as well as ourselves.

We're also in the position where we've become the parents and they've become the children and we need to make decisions that are the best for them even if they fight and resist them. It isn't an easy thing to do. But sometimes it's just a necessary survival mechanism, even if an eruption equivalent to Mt. St. Helens will occur when we take control.

At least then we can know that we're doing the best we can for them and making the decisions that they're no longer able to make themselves.
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Jessie, congratulations on reaching this decision. I'm sure it wasn't an easy trip to arrive at this destination, but as you go forward and gradually stop worrying about keeping her happy and dealing with her moods, you'll realize that you've turned a corner toward a brighter path.

Stay strong, girl, you've earned it.
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I guess I'm confused since your profile says her primary ailment is Alzheimers/dementia. Why would you doubt the diagnosis?

I don't necessarily expect my loved one to be in a good mood since she has advanced dementia. In fact, I don't see many people with dementia who are in a good mood. Most are anxious, scared, depressed and confused. So, when Cymbalta brought my loved one relief from anxiety and allowed her to be content, I was overjoyed. I think that it's a miracle that she is helped with that medication and now she doesn't cry and bite her nails to the nub.

I would continue to have your mom evaluated to see if there is a medication that can help her depression, if that is what she has. Maybe, she's as good as she can be for this stage of her disease. It's not about you though. It's an illness. I would try to not take it personally. It's caused by brain damage. It sounds like you are upset with things from years ago that have nothing to do with dementia. I'm sorry you were hurt by that, but I would try to gain a way to separate it from your attitude to your mom now, who likely has no memory of it.
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Moods, I think, are never anyone's "fault". They are a combination of temperament, goodness of fit of parenting, life circumstances and brain chemistry. If, as an adult with agency, you are miserable with your life, you seek out ways to change or manage your mental health. And you practise good mental hygiene.

I think what Jess is saying is that her mom's moods are not something she is going to take responsibility for any longer. Nothing Jess does makes her mom less grumpy.
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Wouldn't we all love to have a magic wand so we could fix whatever is wrong, be it dementia, mental illness or physical disability. There comes a point, especially when caregiving stretches into years, when you have to stop investing yourself in fixing and just focus on making it through each single day, hour, moment.
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I love it, Jesse! You're rockin' it out! Now stick to your guns!
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Since your mom has been dx with dementia her moods are not her fault. I understand your frustrations as my mom has dementia 16 years. It takes its toll. Have you considered placing mom in a facility? The goal is to keep her safe, pain free and content. If you can no longer do this which is certainly understandable it might be good to place her where the professionals can do their job.
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I'm not going to worry about working with the doctors anymore on it. Usually I am the only one who sees the moods. She is fine when anyone else asks. We've gone through several medications now and some doctors. I won't go into everything here so I can keep this short. But we always ended up where we began.

I do not know if my mother has dementia, though she has been diagnosed. She has confusion and memory loss, but it has been pretty much the same for 6 years now. And she has been grumpy up and down with me for the same amount of time. I'm stepping away from it emotionally.
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I wasn't aware that you could affect much change in mental status in a person with dementia. Medications can help with mood. I would work with the doctors to adjust that.

What level is your mom with her dementia? Maybe your expectations are too high. I think you may be placing a lot of responsibility on yourself for something you have no control over.
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Jesse, my mother was no walk in the park, but not near as much of a challenge as yours. She did not have dementia, but was in a lot of pain and refused to properly manage it. Therefore, her moods were like a roller coaster ride....up, way up, down, way down....

Do what you need to do...it certainly sounds as if you have given it much thought to it and you have to choose what works best. Hugs to you!
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Jessie, I am dealing with the same thing here... my Mom was always the ruler of the house and Dad & I did things her way growing up. Mom knew best, and 95% of the time she was right. I thought she would have mellow as she got older and she did for awhile.

Apparently my Mom hates getting old, so that mood will appear if someone tells her it is "age related". She had her first fall on Friday but was back home by Sunday. Oops, age related. A professional caregiver came later in the day, and you'd think I had torched the house, Mom wasn't a happy camper. So I had to cancel the service much to Dad's regret as he loved having a new set of ears each day to tell his stories.

Oh well, I gave Mom a chance. I was just trying to help her out and she didn't want it. The gals from the agency were so nice, I wanted to get sick so they could help me :)
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Jessie, that's a good thought. I'm going to try very hard to adopt this line of thought with regard to my mom's anxiety. She's on meds for it, she can have more if she wants and asks. It's not my job to manage it. Thank you do much!
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