How do you cope when a parent is diagnosed with severe dementia?

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My 93 y.o. mom was diagnosed w/severe dementia I guess last month. Found this out at the n.h. care plan mtg. I am devastated & heartbroken! They said she had dementia but the head nurse told me today that some day when we/I walk in she'll get confused as to how we're related to her! OMG!!!!And I'm still struggling to accept my Dad being gone - this is a nightmare - I'm her only child & I just can't stand this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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One very important fact I forgot to mention is they had her on the Exelon patch since she's been there for the past 1 1/2 yrs - they reduced her dose & will eventually remove the patch but not replace it with anything since she's not benefitting from it. The psychiatric group determined it - not the n.h. Oh, I will continue to see her but I need this new information in order to be prepared for any changes in her behavior, etc. Thanks for listening.
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I'm so very sorry for this additional emotional burden for you.

You've been considering your mother to have mild dementia or even MCI, and now you are hearing that it is severe. That is a blow. I don't know how often you visit but if you have not suspected that the dementia has progressed then I wonder what the nh is basing this on. In any case, you'll need to continue to relate to Mother based on her behavior while you are there, not based on a label.

In one sense it is good to know that the professionals think her dementia is now severe. That will help keep you from being blindsided and help you to expect worse symptoms. You still don't know the exact things to expect. Maybe someday she'll fail to recognize you. Brace yourself for that. But not all dementia patients lose that part of their memory so maybe that will never happen. Maybe Mom will get belligerent. Maybe not. In other words, while it is good to be prepared for what might happen you still need to just take one day at a time and to deal with how Mother is each time you visit.

You are very fortunate to have had each of your parents into their 90s. Celebrate that good fortune, even as you mourn your father's loss and your mother's decline.

My heart goes out to you.
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