Mom cries at night and says she wants to die. I know she's depressed, but so am I.

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Its hard for me to be there for her when I'm also depressed and would rather do nothing all day but let the world go by. Sometimes, I only have enough energy to do housework and keep mom clean, fed, and in clean clothing. She needs almost 100% physical assistance (she can feed herself). Mom is 85, and I'm 55. I'm her sole caregiver and have been doing this for almost ten years. I'm an only "child," and we only have one relative that visits us about two or three times a month, usually at my request. I don't get respite. I'm paid to work with mom through an agency for 40 hours a week. My boss always says she'll find respite for me, but she never comes through. There are no friends or relatives that offer to help. I am able to get out for an hour or two at a time on days when mom is healthy enough to be left alone. Usually I do groceries or go to a few stores --- or once in a great while, I'll go to a movie. We pool her social security and my wages together to get by. I can't afford to get counseling, and mom doesn't want it for herself. She is in the moderate stages of dementia, to the point that her short term memory is almost non-existent, and she's starting to mix up her long term memories, now. What she doesn't remember, she fills in with pieces of other memories. Its hard for us to converse. She has muscular dystrophy and can't walk. She either sits/sleeps in an electric lift recliner, or in her hospital bed. I can't get her interested in anything. She says her life has no purpose. I can't give her life purpose. She lives with me in my home. I have no husband or children. She used to like to get in her wheelchair and work with me around the house, doing small, easy tasks like folding clothes, arranging shelves, helping me with recipes -- and we used to play dominoes. She's forgotten how to play, so we play by her rules. I'm not helping her at all these days, because I'm selfish and don't like to play games, and I often don't interact with her much because of my depression and having to keep the house kept up, dress her, bathe her, and all of that -- and I get tired. My health isn't the best; I also have inherited the muscular dystrophy and my muscles are getting slowly weaker. I'm not writing this because I want sympathy -- I just feel really bad that I don't have the energy or inclination to keep her entertained. We don't like the same things. She also can't watch much t.v. anymore, because she can't keep up with the captions -- so there's about 90% of the channels gone. I try to explain to her what's going on in a movie or show, but she eventually gets frustrated and wants to shut the t.v. off. Television was one of favorite pass-times. Now most of her days are spent sleeping, or just sitting there, not wanting to do anything, either. Yesterday, she offered to separate coins for me, so we could put them in rolls (she can do that). She started and then decided to throw them back in the coin bank. I was about to sit with her and work together. I feel responsible for her wanting to die. I lose my patience with her on occasion, and that doesn't help. There are no adult day care centers in our area, and she wouldn't go, anyway. She doesn't really like people and she's mean to them on the phone. Her dementia has made her this way. She has nothing good to say about anyone, and I've had to do a lot of apologizing on her behalf. Now winter is here and she can't go out. I guess I'm just venting and should have put this in the discussion section. Forgive me for rambling. I don't want to die; I'm just generally depressed. No worries about me. Please be kind with your responses. Sarcasm and snappy answers won't help. I know that we are the only ones who ultimately must get ourselves out of this, but I'm just venting. Putting her in a nursing home is not an option, unless she gets so bad that she asks for it. I promised her that I'd never put her in one. Thanks.

8 Comments

I think is it isn't usual for an elder to want to die once they feel their independence has gone. No longer can Mom hop in the car and drive herself to the stores.... most of her friends probably either moved away or have passed on. Clothes don't fit right, hearing starts to fade, eyesight is going by the wayside. It's not easy getting older, as there are so many road blocks and speed bumps along the way. One feels life has no purpose because one can no longer be a benefit to society.

Too bad Mom can't move into a continuing care facility where she would be around people of her own generation.... they would have a lot to talk about :)

My Dad eventually moved into Memory Care and he really liked it there, in fact there were more fellows in that wing of the building then in the independent living section. Thus, Dad had the same guys to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner with. Plus he enjoyed the attention he was getting from the Staff. And he liked his physical therapy as that helped to break up his day.

I see you promised your Mom never to put her into a nursing home... was that promised made back when Mom was active, mobility and much more independent? We tend to do that we can't see ahead on what dementia can do to a person. You Mom now needs a higher level of care.

Even though you "work" 40 hours a week, you are actually working 168 hours per week if you live under the same roof.
I understand where you are coming from, it is hard enough caring for their physical needs, it is too much to expect you to supply all her emotional needs as well. Occasionally I will get down on myself because my mother's life is so, so empty. She can't see, can't follow a story if I get an audio book, basically either sleeps or sits/lies staring blankly into space, her mind on ???? She does enjoy listening to music so at least she has that, perhaps your mom would too?
I would be a little more aggressive with the agency that employs you, they owe you vacation time at the very least , and they can find someone to cover those shifts just like with any other employee.
Is your mom on an antidepressant? For that matter, are you? It might be worth a try.

I find that my mom can play simple "matching games" for a short amount of time, the sort of match the pocture games we played when we were little. Do you have access to nature shows, or animal shows on TV?
Under the circumstances, I think all you can do for her emotional health is to focus on short term activities, such as tv. I like Barb's suggestion of animal programs. I was thinking of the Animal Planet's series of puppies and kittens.

There's no continuity necessary for following a plot; just watch and enjoy the romps and activities of the little fur balls as they grow up. If you have a way of taping them, you could do so and play them over again, especially when she or you become depressed.

Listen to music as well; it helps combat depression. Perhaps fix her a cup of tea or her favorite drink, sit and just listen to the music.

I too would be more forceful in getting the agency to provide respite care.

As to your mother's loss of interest in life, I think it's understandable, just as it's understandable that you're overwhelmed and depressed yourself. Perhaps you could ask yourself what you would want to do with or say to your mother that would make the most of the time she has left.
Thanks so much for all of your insightful answers. She does like some tv shows and Animal Planet's "Too Cute" makes her smile. She also likes "Funniest Videos" ---- all shows that have short snippets, and she doesn't have to remember a story line. I will get in touch with my boss and try again. Her doctor is going to start her on an antidepressant this week. So many issues with the elderly, that its hard to keep up. As for the nursing home, we've both seen and reported abuses that we've observed while we visited the ones in our area, in the past. Unfortunately, these memories don't leave her mind. She's able to remember things that impact her greatly. She's cried and pleaded for me never to send her to one of those places, and because I've seen it myself, I'm not inclined to send her there. At any rate, its wonderful to get feedback from you. I feel like I'm not alone.
fregflyer

Not all seniors that move to continuing care socialize? They either isolate themselves or don't bother others.
I certainly feel for you. You have got to try to get some kind of respite because you have to take care of yourself first to be able to take care of someone else well. Is there any way that you could hire someone at least one day a week or every couple of weeks to give you a break? I have to do that with my mom. I find myself getting very irritable with her if I don't get some kind of break. I just found something that my mom likes this week and I was really surprised because she doesn't like games. I downloaded a bingo app on my tablet and she loved it! She sat for almost an hour playing it. Like your mom, she basically sits and sleeps all day with no interest in much of anything. You didn't mention if you had a way to take her anywhere but I try to take my mom out to lunch a few days a week just to get a change of scenery for her and myself. She seems to enjoy that. We also have a park here that has a pond with ducks and she loves going there to watch people feed the ducks. I am curious about your comment that you get paid to keep her. What kind of program is that if you don't mind my asking? I'm also an only child and I take care of my mom full time as well. Since I can't leave her alone, I'm not able to work either. It would be nice to get some kind of paycheck to help out with household expenses. Thankfully, I do have a husband to take care of the bills and mom's SS to pay for her personal expenses. I wish you the very best in finding a way to get respite care for yourself.
Sharry: I called all the local Home Health Care agencies -- those that employ Personal Care Attendants or CNA's, and I asked them if they pay people to take care of their own parents. Each agency said yes. I got an interview and was hired right away. They asked me how many hours of care mom was eligible for, according to her Goold assessment, and she is Level 4, which means she's nursing home level. She can get 40 hours of paid care each week. I took their trainings and a test to become a personal care attendant. Some money is better than none -- and I'm being paid only $10 an hour to care for her. I live in Maine. The wages are better in other states. I'm allowed 300 hours of respite a year, but my boss sucks and doesn't make an effort to find coverage. I've been told that this is common with the agency that employs me. If they don't come through for me, I am determined to find other ways to get out of the house.

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