What can you do when your parents can't do anything?

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I can't have a conversation with Mom because she doesn't understand anything I say, even when I say it loudly and slowly. She just doesn't comprehend.

She can kind of play solitaire but she can't lay it out and the arthritis in my hands makes it impossible for me to shuffle and lay it out - and we can't do the computer kind because that would be way to much for her to deal with!

It seems the only thing she can do besides folding towels is helping me with jigsaw puzzles. I put them together and she plays with the pieces, sorting them in some type of order. She used to put them together by color but that isn't the case any longer. Now she just thinks she is sorting them and I let her.

I can't take her for a ride because she doesn't like it if we don't have a specific place to go and if we do go, she wants to come right back home.

So we seem to be limited to her folding towels. Right now she's sitting her getting antsy because it's not time to eat yet and the movie I have on doesn't hold her attention very long.

Answers 1 to 10 of 11
Hi Jolly, We have the same problem with my Mother. She is 93, she cannot see because of macular degeneration, she has no coordination in her hands anymore--been several years, even before we knew she had dementia. After lunch today--which I fed her, because she cannot hold a sandwich, or pick up a carrot, or a chip, or take a spoonful of soup or yogurt--we walked around the house until she was huffing and puffing. It's very cold for her outside today, or I would have taken her out to walk around and "look" at the flowers. She was happy but tired out, so I sat her on the sofa in living room, put on her headphones with Perry Como, and she is singing along, with her eyes closed. The weekend caregiver was on a break, and when she got back, she wanted to do exercises with Mother, but I told her to do it later when Mother is getting fidgety. Please don't fix it if it isn't broken at the moment!!!
It is a long CD, and I can hear her singing still--we are both vocalists. We burst into song at lunch today. I said, "I wish it was warmer, we would go outside." She said, "Tomorrow", which was a cue to sing the song from "Annie". LOL.
Sometimes we recite old nursery rhymes: I start one out, and she tries to finish it. We always get a good laugh from that, either from remembering the right verse, or making up a whacky new one. Hard for me to believe that she can be so with it one hour, then in a few she is another person.
Sometimes she gets upset because she realizes she cannot do much anymore, but we talk about being thankful for what we have and what we can do, that she is living with her family, she has good food, safe and warm, etc.--glass half full instead of half empty. Sometimes she does NOT believe me. It's a real stretch at times, as we all know.
Wow- if my Mother could fold the towels, that would be an activity we could do. We go to the mall and wheel her in her wheel chair, but with all the sickness out there, I seem to feel lousy when we get home. We go to the library to get new books every other week, stop at See's candy for a free sample, we go to a department store to buy a lipstick or an item of clothing--I try to get her a little something every month, because SHE liked to shop when she was independent.
My brain is fried now, trying to think of other things. We have a "squeezy ball" which we exercise with to strengthen her hands, do hand and arm exercises while she is sitting, Lie on bed and do stretches of lower back and legs and stomach muscles, play music and try to dance a little--to whatever degree we are able. I have seen people in wheel chairs "dance", so it is an adaptable activity.
My Grandmother--her Mother--played Solitaire until the day she died, almost, and listened to talk radio and argued with the commentator, and knitted until she couldn't see anymore, but Mother cannot stand to be ALONE for 2 minutes, and never did any activities alone.
We keep trying: walking, singing, praying for God to please have mercy on us all:) Later, Christina
My daddy could sing and play piano but Mom was and is tone deaf. As far as she is concerned, music and most of what is on TV is "noise". The only time she does hum is when she wants to drive me crazy because I'm watching something on TV and she doesn't like it - or she does the "la la la la..." thing as loud as she can when she doesn't like what I'm telling her we have to do.

I wish we could have a conversation but it's been a couple years since we could do that at all. If she does get out a sentence, it is usually gibberish or there is nothing you can get from it. She complained all winter about the snow on top of our camper but we didn't know it because of the words she said. When she gets upset because we're not doing what she wants - like get the snow off the roof - then she says that some "man called" and told her it had to be done.

When she asks me a question and I try to respond, she can't understand what I'm saying so over time, I've given up talking. We spend most of our day in silence because I would drive myself crazy trying to get her to understand. If it's time to do something, like eating or bathing, I just lead her to it and go from there. I don't even tell her any more.

I'm baking cookies right now and I've had to chase her from touching the hot pans and then she was playing with the cookie jar and now she is counting down the timer to me like she wants me to get us and take care of the cookies but there's still 5 minutes to go. Arrrggghhhh!

Again, it would be nice to be able to actually do something with her (I'm now hearing 3:04, 2:59... in the background) but she isn't able. (2:21...)
Oh, and I forgot to add, I take her for walks outside when it is warm. We've had a really bad winter and I'm hoping we'll get do go out for walks again. (2:14, 2:04...) I'll be glad when the cookies are done - last batch!
I had this problem with Mom, she couldn't do anything. The one thing I was able to get her to do was arrange artificial flowers. I had a lot of old vases, so I bought a bunch of Artificial flowers (cheap ones at Michael's or from a Thrift Store). I also bought some of the syrofoam pieces you use to put the flowers in baskets, etc. Mom would carefully arrange them, and they actually came out very nice. I would put them up around the house, and every few days take them down and have her start over again. The problem, as with all our projects, is it didn't take her long enough. But at least it filled up some of those minutes when she felt antsy. Another project that worked for a little while was gluing buttons or seashells on little wooden jewelry boxes, etc (also found at Michaels, very inexpensive). Mom always had to be doing something for a reason, so I told her we were making Christmas presents for her daughters, grandaughters, friends, etc. One more thing she was able to do for a while was make those fleece throws. You get two pieces of fleece material, as big as you want, put them together and cut the edges about 5 inches in, 1 inch wide. Then, you just tie them together with knots. (There's directions on the internet). Mom didn't always grab the correct two, so I had to sit with her and help, but it was fun and made a nice gift for someone. I cherish the last one we made together.

This was one of the worst parts of the disease. I feel your pain, just do your best.

Top Answer
Hi Jolly - I understand what you're gonig through. My mom is different in that the ONLY thing she'll do anymore is watch TV. Folding towels was a good activity for a while, but she doesn't do that any more either.

But the conversation is the same. She can't hold a conversation any more. Even having one sentence that makes sense is unusual. I try to still comment on the TV shows, but if she says something in reply, it doesn't mean anything to me. I usually just agree with her so she feels like I understood. I really miss having a conversation with her. And trying to figure out what she needs, esp when she is antsy and pacing, is getting harder.

I can't think of anything to say that helps, except that you aren't alone!
Felicia, So nice. Wish she was interested in projects like that.
Jolly, so good thing we all have each other here to bounce ideas and feelings off each other, huh?
Thank God for Aging Care:)
Mother going through such a nightmare last 2 nights, I don't know what to do. Exhausting. I am tempted to take her off these meds, and will call doctor in the morning. Sad thing is that she remembers in the morning her Mr. Hyde experience. This has got to change. Help.
Hope you all have a great day and find things to keep Mom, et al, occupied and happy.
Christina, I don't know if you have noticed a pattern but we have been having a helluva week due in part to the full moon on Friday. It definitely impacts Mom every time it is full! Hence the constant countdown on the cookies baking last night. :)
Also, Mom is not on any meds as you know and as long as I don't let her sleep too much during the day (little naps here and there are okay) she goes to bed at 9 or 9:30 and gets up with us at 6:30 am.

If we mess up her schedule in any way - we took a trip last weekend and my sister stayed with her - it will throw her off. She opened our bedroom door, where my sister was sleeping and turned on the light at 4:30 am the first morning Pat was there. :) Good thing was that Pat actually had a stern talk with her telling her she had to stay in her room as long as the doors were closed and I think the rest of the mornings went fine.

So we went from being gone which threw her off to coming back to a full moon which always throws her off. It's been crazy around here! Nasty Mom, Snippy Mom, Throwing Things Mom - yep, they were all around this week.

Last night I suggested to my over the road trucker brother that he pick her up on his way through to Texas! :)
Right now Ruth is reading from the Bible, she has been thinking she was going to church all day. She hasn't been to church in years. But she has been saying the Lords Prayer in German for hours now. It has her calm, for now, and it is pretty to listen to. Sometimes we just have to go to their world, and see what happens. She has been antsy for days now. First the moon, now the wind. But she is doing something she understands , no matter how temporary.
My mom just sits, staring out the window, staring at me, or she gets up and walks around the house but shows no interest in anything. Every once in awhile she will comment on the weather or she will read the clock to me. She walked in very purposefully awhile ago and, without the words of course, told me it was 3... but had forgotten the other numbers. I knew what she was trying to say because she looked at the digital clock on the oven.

She also brought the paper in to me and asked me what day it was. I showed her that the paper said Sunday and my husband tried to remind her that she hadn't read the paper yet but she went into a completely unintelligible comment telling us something about someone and "when they get here" as she walked away. :)

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