My Mother has been suffering from a combination of mental issues for several years but has gotten extremely worse in the past 2 years. I have been taking care of her finances, her Dr. appointments, her medicine , and just being her only companion since my father passed away 7 years ago. We had grown so close that I found myself finishing her sentences when her speech got stuck!

I have no children but have been married for 46 years to a very understanding husband that encourages me to spend as much time as I want with Mom. I have 3 brothers that all have their own families (children and grandchildren) that help fixing things around the house but really no quality time with her.

A few weeks ago I was shocked that my Mother did not remember who I was. Not just my name but my whole life. I can show her pictures of her and I and she doesn't recognize me or that I am even her daughter. I CANNOT stop crying over this! I feel I have lost the most important person I love in my life. I had promised her she would never go to a nursing home while I was alive but I keep finding myself feeling depressed , jealous, and just plan worthless! I moved in with her about a month ago 24/7 with no relief from anyone which I never really asked for but I find myself continuing to try and get her to remember me. My brothers have decided that she needs to go to a nursing home. How do I get rid of the guilt, jealousy that I'm the only one she doesn't remember after spending all these years doing NOTHING else besides being with her! HOW CAN SHE JUST FORGET ME COMPLETELY!? I know it's the disease doing this but I feel like I'm taking it too personally but I'm so hurt all I do is cry!! Help !!!! My best friend Mom and total support system is gone!

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Dear Stella,

All caregivers with a parent that suffers from a mental illness which slowly but surely -and sometimes not so slowly- takes away the person they used to know and their role(s) in their life, go through a rough grieving process a long time before they actually lose their parent physically. Some may say that in a sad way this is advantageous because when the true moment of grieving comes the caregiver may be able to deal with the situation better, as the grieving process really started a long time ago. I don’t necessarily see any possible advantages when dealing with such hard situations.

For you, the loss of your mom as she used to be came all of the sudden, and if you add to it the huge emotional challenges that caregiving brings which in a way break us a little more every day, you are simply struggling accepting the unfair reality and finding the strength to face it, and it is very natural. All of us can empathize with you and fully understand what you’re going through.

Now, what to do with the guilt and jealousy? Apply objectivity and logic. You know, intellectually, that your mom is not ‘forgetting’ you on purpose, like you said, the illness took over. There is nothing more to consider or to try to guess “why you”? Because there is no choosing involved, the illness simply erased some information..and maybe some will come back. You are rightfully overwhelmed with emotions and also very tired, and that makes you more emotional and less able to see things realistically. Once you calm down a little you’ll see how things put in perspective make much more sense, no matter how difficult reality is, at the end of the day it is reality, and needs to be accepted.

I guess you could put it this way, if she was ill with something else, not mental, which didn’t allow her for example to talk to you and share things and give you support as the best friend she used to be; or to walk, as the companion you are used to have, would your resent her because she left you alone in a way, despite being there? Of course not. You’d suffer seeing her so limited; you’d suffer for her and for you. The same goes for mental illnesses, it is just ten times harder to deal with it because we still see the person we love, just acting in a way we don’t recognize and we cannot accept.

Now guilt, why guilt? Because you may place her in a nursing home after your promised her you would never do? Well, I think what you were really promising is that you would always ensure she was receiving the best care possible. That doesn’t mean that you would always be the best person to take care of her, and I know that sounds harsh, but it is a reality we caregivers struggle with a lot, I know I’d be having a terrible time accepting that reality, but it is the reality nevertheless. You, as much as you’re struggling seeing her change and act like a different person because of the illness are too close, too attached to be able to care for her right now; in a nursing home at least they have professionals, trained people that will just do their job without having the burden of emotional implications.

Lastly, if your healthy mom could see you how you’re feeling right now, if she saw how much you’re suffering and struggling seeing her like this, what do you think she would, from her heart, want you to do? I think she would advise you, as your best friend, to realize it is time to look for help and try to heal yourself a little. That is what your best friend, your mom, would say. So please don’t feel guilty for following the advice she would give you in her right mind frame.

If you’re a believer, pray, pray for peace and acceptance. My faith has been my #1 support through all this, without it and all I’ve learned here on agingcare im not sure I’d be able to handle all the challenges that come my way. So have faith, because faith will lead you to hope and hope to healing.

A hug to you!

Dear Stella,
It sounds as if you need to take care of you. You’re with your Mom 24/7 and are run down emotionally. You are doing a wonderful job! Please cut yourself some slack. Mom won’t get better and I’m sorry you have to cope with this. The good part, you still can hold her and tell her you love her. Take some time with hubby and tuck any faux guilt on a shelf.
Many good wishes Tracy

My Mom had four children. Me, sister, brother 1, brother 2. Brother 1 was her golden child. Her first boy after two girls. When she started losing her memory, she never talked about my sister or brother 1. But in a paranoid moment she thought me and #2 were making her think she was crazy. #2 rarely, like 1x a year, came to visit her. She also forgot my Dad. I really think as the desease progresses they go back in time. You may not be a part of the life she is now in. Someone said something to my Mom about her daughter Mom gave her a weird look and told her I have no daughter. I think she was back in time she hadn't married yet.

I know its upsetting but this is why this desease is so horrible. They lose who they r.

Oh, how I get what you're saying. Just try not to take it personally. Dementia robs the person of actual reality. And we just have to go with that. It's not about us. It's about the dementia. And if you are crying? Time to make a change, maybe. We can't all be everything to everybody, even tho we love them so much. Try to build your own support system? There are people out there that can help.

And I really do get that. My Mom is still here. But not really here. If that makes sense. It's so difficult to deal with. Feel like I've lost her too. Which we have-lost her. We just try to keep it about the moment. Because the next moment? She won't even remember. Build yourself a support system. Everyone needs that.

Yes, you are personalizing this as if it were your fault, but it isn't, it's the disease. Does your mother know who your brothers are? Does she know who she is? When my dad forgot who I am, he also forgot who he was.

It sounds like you need to reach out to others, like a support group, people who would be possible friends and maybe even a pastor if you are connected to a church. If all that is not available, then see a therapist. Ask for some help instead of making yourself a martyr.

Your mom survived in life without her mom for i'm sure she outlived her. You will be able to live also. Sounds to me like if she went to a nursing home, then you could make some friends.

Your mom's health may be beyond what you can handle 24/7 even though you promised her that. I bet she had you promised her that while she was in rather good health. Now she's not.

I am so sorry stella. I have no answers for you. I know that is heartbreaking, to say the least. It is a terrible disease that hurts everyone involved. I will pray for you. Maybe someone will answer with some good advice, hang in there. Again my heart goes out to you. (HUG)

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