moonbeam Asked August 2010

How can I be patient with my mom when she says the same thing over and over again?


i need some tips on being patient with an elderly parent. she says the same things over and over again. i tell her how to take her medicine over and over again until i get really angry and lose all of my patience. i don't want to be like that but can't help myself. any suggestions on how to deal with the situation? i've prayed about it and tell myself i won't do it again but somehow it always work out like that.

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I have a journal that I write in. It is titled, sometimes I love her and sometimes I hate her. That is very hard to confess but it is true. Sometimes I love her so much, it hurts and there are other times that when I am cariing for, I feel so angry. She is 72 with moderate stage alzheimers. I am 49, single, work at home, and took my mother in four years ago. I moved her to Arkansas in september as my brother said he wanted to help with her and be a part of her life. He lied. I am now here and I have found myself in a position of being 100% resposnbile for every aspect of her life, emotionally, physically, financially and all of her activities of daily living, dressing, showering, shaving her legs, making her meals, tucking her in bed at night... I think on of the hardest aspects of this is that she was, from the time I was born, a very selfish, self--centered, abusive mother.. especially verbally. I do not remember ever being nutured by her.. only verbally abused. I love my mother and for some reason felt so compelled to come to her rescue but sometimes I love her and sometimes I hate her (not realy but it just feels that way). I would say 90% of the time, I am very kind, patient, and giving. The other 10%.. I blow it and feel so very bad.. Today, I gave her a shower, shaved her legs, etc.... When I was done, I found myself so stressed out. I used to take very good care of myself, live near my children and grandchildren and enjoyed life. Now, I live 17 hours away from any family, have gained almost 50 lbs, and feel very, very lonely. When I finished with my mom today, I was filing my nails, and she came to me and said.. can you blow dry my hair. I just freaked out... I hate myself for it. I told her that I will do it in a minute, can't she see I am doing something for myself.. it is not always about her... blah.blah... I feel like a horrible, horrible person when I snap at her. I will see the hurt on her face and I feel bad, but it brings back so many memories of when I experiernced that same hurt when I was a child and she would say very mean, hurtful, cruel things to me that wounded my spirit. It's like I feel that woundedness all over again when I see it on her face. I am very sad and confused right now... Sometimes I love her and sometimes I hate her (not really). I am just so burned out .... God help me...
Helpful Answer (11)

kuli Aug 2010
It's true that you need to keep a sense of humor and more importantly find humor in mundane things as you care for an elderly loved one. But I also know, first hand, just how hard that is. I care for my 85, soon to be 86, year old father with multiple health conditions. There are times I just want to pull the covers over my head and pretend I'm anywhere but in this situation. However, I also know that when my dad is gone, I will cherish the moments I now find so frustrating. A friend who is also a physician helped us make some life and death decisions about my dad at a time when he was in critical condition. His words to me at the time were "Just love him". My father remarkably, and to everyone's surprise, recovered and 3 years later is still plugging along. I can't begin to tell you how many times I have said those words in my head when I lose my patience with him. At times it's my mantra. But it truly does help me to keep things in perspective and remember why I'm doing this - purely out of love. Good luck and know that you're not alone!
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kcandrick Aug 2010
patience is a virtue (none of us are born with it, especially me LOL) My mother-in-law has al;zhemier's in the early stages, plus a hoarding issue with picture frames, LARGE hard covered books, and 33 rpm records. No short term memory so she either forgets she ate or forgets to eat, and handles her medication the same way. We have dozens of bags of cat food and litter, but she insists she is out of it when we go to the store. My father-in-law passed away early this year and he bascially took care of everything for her. My husband and I are retired and decided we could not take care of her from 1400 milkes away so we sold our ranch, I closed my small successful business and moved back to Mom's town. (We had planned for years for her to move out with us, but when push came to shove, she was not moving, refused to leave her "stuff" plus for her mental state it was best to leave her in her familiar environment) When we got back it was immediately clear that buying place even down the street would not work. There was no way she could live by herself and the house had so many issues that needed fixing. We have spent the last several months doing needed house repairs and slowly boxing up the 10,000 pounds of books and records and other "bargains", that were stacked floor to half way up the walls. We now have SEVEN rental storage units for our own things, plus Mom's stash! There were three rooms, you could not even walk three feet into. The basement is a nightmare of stinky, moldy piles of stuff, in some areas piled OVER MY HEA.D. We haven't even touched that yet. I'm saving it for another rainy Since I had an antique business and hope to open another here sooner than later, just for my own sanity, I still go to the flea markets and auctions. Of course, Mom has to come with me, so you can see where that leads!!! more picture frames and books! I think I am wholly responsible for keeping Rubbermaid in business.
My husband and I, with our two dogs and OUR two cats are currently living in a 12x16 foot uninsulated Florida room (just peachy in our 90 degree heat) with a portable AC unit. I just cannot wait until winter :) Mom keeps trying to feed the cats dog cookies and visa versa. She doesn't understand why the cats don't like six inch dog bones! But the dogs do love the Friskies.
And to top this, according to Mom, she HAS NO PROBLEMS! There is absolutely nothing wrong with her, she can drive if she wants to, and despite all the credit card companies and utilities calling for mulitple late payments, has everything under CONTROL.
Anyway, the only way to deal with the issues is don't!!! Just take day by day. And keep a great sense of humor. Learn to laugh at most minor things and learn the phrase "oh Really" with meaning when she tells you the same story for the tenth time that week. Keep a large calendar she can read and write down reminders and highlights of the day as if they were appointments, like "go to Grocery store", "get hair permed", etc. (yes, two days after her hair perm, she claimed she hadn't gotten one and needed to make an appointment) Don't use the words "don't you remember...." or "you need to....", because she doesn't remember and she doesn't like a bossy daughter-in-law. Allow yourself a daily Calgon moment and pat yourself on the back every evening for doing such a marvelous job (even if there were three temper tantrums and the dog is throwing up from all the cat food) ,
Helpful Answer (8)

I don't think there is a caregiver alive that does not get angry at times. The one being cared for can be a handfull. I have just started caring for my mother and sometimes I just want to scream.

When I feel that level of frustration coming on I step out for a few minutes. Sometimes I have to walk away many times in a short period of time.
My mother was not the best Mom. She has always had an issue with anger and now it is ten fold. But what are we going to do about it? Not much, just try to keep your own mental health in check
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robert888 Aug 2010
Hi Moonbeam. I know how it is to lose it. My dad would keep closing the window, then I would open it, rewind-replay, rewind-replay. There were a ton of things, and it bugged me he couldn't change. But I lost my dad last week, and now I seem to have all the patience in the world, if he would just be in the room next door again. Just see the things you love about her, and know that the rest is just not her. Help her and the patience comes.
Helpful Answer (4)

lvleonard Aug 2010
I know this is sometimes very difficult. Just take one day at a time. When you feel like you have reached the end of your rope -- smile and count to ten. My mother and father suffer from Alzheimer's and most of the time it works for me. After counting, I try to answer their question with a big smile and a very pleasant voice. I know they will not remember the answer and ask again. But, they usually glow and chuckle like I gave them the world. If the count does not work for me, I remove myself from the room. Talk it through with myself and go back. First and foremost they are my parents. They could have aborted me as many people do today. But, instead they gave me the gift of live -- for that I am thankful. As a toddler and a young person, I must have asked them the same question over and over and over again. But ,I do not ever remember them being tired of answering my questions. So, my goal is always to show them love and respect and remember that some day, I may be wearing their shoes -- (Matthew 7:12) “All things, therefore, that YOU want men to do to YOU, YOU also must likewise do to them; this, in fact, is what the Law and the Prophets mean. . ." Keeping it as positive as you can means less wear and tear and stress on you. Just think of her as your little child. If you are not successful everyday -- none of us are -- just do not give up. You can do this. (smile) Look for the positive and enjoy the time you have with her now, because you do not know how her -- or your days -- are numbered. Wishing you the best and knowing you will be a successful, happy caregiver.
Helpful Answer (4)

jeannegibbs Sep 2015
There are 186 Catholic churches in Alabama. Since your new religion means so much to you, why don't you find and join the closest? Even if you can't participate directly very often, I would think the association would be a comfort to you. And perhaps you can find someone to car pool with occasionally.

When I was raising my children, I had a plaque in a hallway that said, "Lord, give me patience, RIGHT NOW!" Is that the prayer you need?

You moved back to Alabama when your mother needed you. Why? Can you sit down and make a list of the reasons you thought this would be a good idea? Do you still think most of those reasons are valid? If so, I would think that would help provide some meaning to what you are doing there.

Taking care of my husband through his dementia journey was extremely difficult, frustrating, and fatiguing. It was also always very meaningful. It was, in fact, probably the most meaningful thing I have done in my life. I knew why I was doing it, and all the reasons stayed valid.

So my first advice to you is to be very clear about why you are doing this at all. If those reasons don't provide meaning, then I don't think you are going to find it.

(I never found meaning in why my dear kind husband ever got dementia. I did find meaning in my own behavior.)

My second piece of advice is to polish up your acting skills. Ask yourself, "How would a patient person respond here?" Then act accordingly. Pretend you are auditioning for a play, and you have to demonstrate to the casting direction that you can act patient. This sounds silly, but I'm serious. You want to be patient? Act as if you are patient.

When you have just heard the same story four times and you don't think your acting skills will take you through the fifth, leave the room for a bit. "I'm sorry, Mom, but I need to get my sweater right now. Will you save this story to tell me when I come back?" (Notice that the patient actor did not say, "I have to leave this room or I will do something I will regret if I hear that story one my time!!"

I wish your mom were a brilliant conversationalist. I wish she had interesting new things to tell you about each day. I wish her stories weren't so self-centered. If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. We have to deal with the hand we are dealt, not the cards we wish we had.

Figure out why you are doing this.
Act as if you had patience.
Limit your exposure to the situations that try your patience the most.
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Altersheim Aug 2010
I am going through the exact same situation - it is extremely difficult. I love my Mom but I find my patience is wearing extremely thin. And just like you - I wish I could just have more patience... A friend who works with Alzheimer's patients (though my Mom doesn't have Alzheimer's) told me to just smile and nod because they won't remember words just feelings... She also pointed out my Mom is not herself all the time - sometimes she just wants to talk about the old days - other times she is just lonely and wants to talk just to be talking but as she never does anything new - she has to rely on her old memories.... I have tried it and I think there may be a learning curve for me because it hasn't worked thus far - or at least it doesn't work for long - I end up getting stressed anyhow.. As far as the meds go - I wrote out a list in very big print of the times and medicines to take and so far it has helped wonders... So basically, I have no solutions - just know there are others in your situation :) and you aren't alone!!!
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kuli Mar 2012
My dad passed away in October last year. I would give anything to have him asking me the same question over and over again. I miss him so much. Please take a deep breath and cherish the moments you have, as frustrating or irritating as they might be. Our care receivers certainly don't want to be this way. God bless all of the caregivers of the world~ Kuli
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Seriously, take a deep breathe, and answer her question again nicely...when she does it again, do the same thing.....she has no control of asking the same question over and over's the disease and you have to keep telling yourself that. And, what I always do is think how SHE must feel....and, that maybe someday you'll be like her and be asking your children a question over and over you want them getting irritable, or do you want their love and patience and help ??? Believe me, it took me a while to understand but one day after reading many comments from others on their experiences,and giving deep thought on the situation, a light went on in my head looking at the world thru HER eyes, and thoughts and feelings....let me tell you, it's a BIG difference and from that day on I've had more patience and understanding, and empathy. I still get frustrated but then I take a deep breathe, and answer again nicely....and again nicely..... She is a person with feelings whom is only trying to live in the horror of the disease. I look in her eyes and I see fear, and I wish I could make it all go away for her. .. is very sad so all I can do is give her the love, patience and understanding she deserves.
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