My boyfriend cares for his aging mother (84), who has dementia. He also has young adult daughters (college age) who spend some time at his home. His mom has lived with him for about 10 years, since the death of her husband. Her dementia was only diagnosed about 5-6 years ago and may still be in early stages. It’s hard to believe that what I am about to describe is still considered early stage, but from what I’ve read, it seems she is still early/possibly entering mid.
She can care for herself as far as bathing, etc. but relies on her son for taking care of nearly everything...bills, grocery shopping, driving, socialization, getting her meds out for her daily, taking care of the whole house, and often eating. Sometimes she eats, sometimes she forgets but chalks it up to not being hungry. Then she will eat with us as soon as we begin to have a meal. She does not like when he’s gone, wants to know where he’s going, who he is on the phone with, etc. When he is gone, she calls him often, simply to ask how to turn the tv on (the remotes can be confusing), or ask if the dogs have been fed (we have an automatic feeder). She will not look in the dish to see if the dogs have eaten before asking. She doesn’t check the calendar for reminders; she usually does not know what day it is, etc. She ruminates despite being on an anti anxiety med. She is also on meds to slow the progression of the disease.
She is in good physical health. She will garden, occasionally cook, and occasionally take a walk.
He and I have been dating for some time but I feel like we are in limbo. I do not want the relationship to end but feel like I have been dating him and his mom the whole time. He understands the need to get away, but rarely does so. He (and I) lose patience with her as she is very involved in almost all conversations including when we just want to sit alone and talk. She follows us around the house. Her short term memory is completely compromised, so she asks the same questions over and over again while we’re talking, even when the conversation doesn’t involve her.
We know there are day programs available but haven’t yet filled out the Medicaid application to access services. He is a very devoted son and may be in some denial as well. I understand (and he agrees) that he is slowly grieving. He is not one to seek support.
He struggles with boundaries as well...he deals with it all, includes her in most everything and becomes agitated with me when I try to suggest boundaries. He explodes when he can no longer take the repetition of the questions, her habits (rewashing clean laundry, putting away dirty dishes, etc.) but then feels guilty, etc. He has some, but not enough, family support. He cannot fathom moving her to a facility (which is probably too soon anyway) until she is completely unaware of her surroundings. She is a lovely woman, but has taken a toll on him and us. I feel guilty asking this, but how much longer can this go on at this stage?