Protecting good memories while experiencing bad ones.

Started by

After recent visits with my mother that did not go well, I am realizing this is not the memories I want to have. In our case, we have always had a good relationship - even through my teen years - but as her primary caregiver, now I find myself feeling frustrated and angry much of the time I am with her. In large part I feel this is due to her having become a selfish and negative person as she has aged and, oddly not what I remember about her at all! So maybe my memories are flawed but at least they are much more pleasant and this is the relationship I would like to preserve - at least in my memories! Is that unrealistic? How do I put these recent bad experiences in perspective so that my good ones don't become tainted?


I don't know whether or not you have kids of your own. If you do, they probably had a "reach down the diaper and fingerpaint" moment, the "terrible twos", or maybe some whiny teenage years. Those things, which can be maddening, are not the sum total of your relationship with your kids. You have to frame it in your mind in much the same way with your mother. This phase of her life is not your whole relationship with her.
I don't know you, but from my observation of myself and others, a lot of the anger and frustration you feel might come from the realization of your mother's mortality. If that's at least part of what's going on, find someone to talk to about it. It helps, trust me.
It is hard but you have to detach yourself a bit emotionally from the Mother you grew up with and the elderly lady you love and care for now. The more and more Mother became dependent on me for all her daily caregiving, the easier that became. The Mother that raised me would be too proud to allow her children to do the things we do for her now.

So the memories I have of her are in one place and what I deal with now is a totally different reality.
Appreciate your inputs! Ironically the notion of detaching emotionally is exactly what I find myself doing. It helps me keep my sanity but also makes me sad.
Cindy, I see from your profile that your mother has dementia. The woman you are now caring for is not the woman who raised you. It is not her fault. It is not your fault. It is the fault of something that has gone haywire in her brain.

The number one thing that helps me retain the memories of my life with my husband before he developed dementia is learning everything I could about his disease. I have not "detached" from him. I still love and cherish him and am very devoted to his excellent care. That he is no longer behaving like the man I married is not his fault. He is still in there, in spite of the disease. I'm sure you catch glimpses of your true mother now and then. Let those glimpses remind you of the woman she really is and cherish the good moments.

A book that I have found very helpful is "Loving Someone Who Has Dementia" by Pauline Boss.

Best wishes to you as you struggle with this devastating disease.
Thank you Jeanne. I appreciate your insight and suggestion for the book (which I will check out). In an effort to better understand what this dementia is creating within my mother, I am currently reading another book called "Keeper" about another families experience with this disease. It's been quite enlightening and has given me some better perspective that I hope to carry with me as we go through this. Again, many thanks!

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support