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I guess I don't have a specific question, but it's always difficult seeing my mom and that "look" in her eyes now that just isn't her. I don't know how to describe it.
That look is what ultimately brought me to the reality of mom's condition last year. Until then, I could brush off the memory lapses or odd behaviors on medications, stress, anything. When I saw that look, kind of a wild blankness, last year I knew. I thought her normal look might come back from time to time, but it hasn't.
Does this happen as a natural course of AD? Part of the long goodbye? The connections between sight and emotions now broken? She'll know my name and say she loves me, but do you think the best we can do for ourselves is accept what is and go along with what comes next on this bumpy road?

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Thanks everyone for your great comments you've generously shared. It is comforting to know I'm not alone in my thoughts or feelings of heartbreak and loss. "Vacant eyes" sums it up. Perhaps the heart still feels, even if it doesn't show in the eyes. As stated in this thread, I've always thought the eyes are indeed the windows to the soul and it is so difficult to see those once sparkling eyes go dark.
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My mom has that look most of the time these days. I disagree though that she is not there. I have had times that my mom indicated she is thinking. ex "I would follow your instructions if I could", "I miss everything, everything is such a mess" and the most recent; suddenly her eyes cleared and she gave me a big smile( as if to say, it's you!, as she is non verbal now). I kissed her on the cheek several times and said "I love you, mom" Her brows furrowed and her eyes filled with tears. I too, cried in this bittersweet moment. As she became more distant I found saying all the different names she was called through her life, until one of them clicked, would snap her out. The one that seem to work best is saying her given name in a tone of being scolded then I had my lines of love ready to say, in that brief moment of connection. Now, after putting my left hand in her hand, I rub her arm, head, cheek, and most visits we have some connection time although it takes longer to get it and it is briefer. It is reassuring, that many find their loved one in a state of contentedness. it allows me to believe for the most part my mom is content, though I see her face go through a number of expressions of emotion, even while having 'vacant eyes'.
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My Mother would stare towards the end, just stare. It took longer and longer to snap her put of it. I hated that look, I know what you are saying, a sad vacant look. I would just take her hand and sit next to her. or put my arms around her. Somehow I know she knew I was there. I'm really sorry about your mom.
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I would often see my late mother and other elders sitting there with their mouths agape. I believe that it's part of the aging process.
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I went through this with my husband and found it to be the most difficult aspect of Alzheimers. We communicate so much through our eyes that often times words are not even necessary. To lose that special connection with someone we love is heartbreaking. As others have stated, they're gone long before death claims them. You are a special blessing now to your mother by caring for her and loving her even though she cannot react as she used to. Bless you and your mother on this sacred journey...
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I remember that look so well. It was late in my mom's journey though. 12 years but the last 2 were the worst. It killed me to see her gorgeous smile and twinkle in her eyes gone. You couldn't tell she knew me but I KNEW it when she heard my voice (ok, maybe it was me wanting it to be so) she would move in a certain way. Unfortunately it is a part of the later part of the disease. Thankfully they don't know it. Horrible disease that takes them away long before they pass. God Bless them.
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My mom had Parkinson's disease, so this was just part of her illness. I learned to not dwell on the blank stare or the loss of her smile. She was still beautiful to me, and the dear mom I always loved. I know that when I see her again in heaven, she'll have the brightest eyes and biggest smile ever. She is completely whole and she's with our Savior—nothing is any better than that!
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It IS a part of Alzheimer’s and just something else to break our hearts. When my mother was in the throes of one of her many hallucinations once, I tried to explain to her that it was 2016 and she was NOT living with her parents in her house in 1930. I will never forget the confused look in her eyes. That was the last time I tried to explain reality to her. I was so sad I could have leaked out under her door into the hall in a puddle of shame. I understand. I sympathize and I wish I could make it better.
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No, Caltink, she is not able to speak it anymore. Try not to be bitter...she cannot help it. Just keep loving her and you will feel better about yourself once she is gone. It is hard, we know.
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I have noticed a kind of blank look in her eyes for some time now. She does not say she loves me, nor does she say, please, thank you, or sorry anymore...I am relegated to a servant...
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Yes. It will get worse as my husband's doctor stated and it is something we have to accept. It's hard and the shell of the mind and body is what we see now but you have the memories for what was once the happier times.
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You never know how much time the Lord will give you with your loved one. Make the most of it for their sake, live each day so that you will have no regrets...
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In the period right before and during hospice, daddy would have "that look" in his eyes. I didn't find it disturbing, I wished I could see what he was seeing. He was always looking in the same place, and once I did ask him what he saw. He would only say "mara" or something that sounded like that. Years later I was sharing this with my (then-Latin major daughter and she said "Sounds like Latin for "angel", mom) Hm. Well, that makes sense.

Passing away is so very personal. A dear little friend passed from a 7 year battle with melanoma 2 years ago, Her hubby talked at her funeral and said that her last hours on earth were "oh, it's so beautiful! can't you all see it? It's so beautiful!!" He believed she was speaking of Heaven and I wouldn't take that from him, ever.
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My dad has that look at times. I call it his zombie look. I could wave my hand in front of his face and I don’t think it would matter. That blank look on his face is very hard to accept at times. It’s not constant yet though.
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To be totally honest, "that look" can also come from medications. I've seen that look in my mother and lately in my DH. To me it means a medication adjustment. I can adjust my DH's but my mother was stubborn to the bitter end. Instead of allowing me to take her to the doctor to have her medications adjusted, she called me that she had cancelled the appointment and I told her I wasn't surprised.

I was surprised 6 months later to learn her way of adjusting was to stop everything. She had a most miserable 6 months before she passed and we had no idea why until the last week when she "proudly" announced she had stopped taking everything 6 months earlier.
She went into hospital and 1 week later lapsed into a massive coma and died within 24 hours.

Sadly, this was her choice. Anyway, talk to your Mom's physician and ask about adjusting her medications. I just might bring your mother back to you.
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Mom had a gaze look on her birthday and then died about a week later. I thought it was weird. When she saw my dad, she thought he was dead. She also thought my dad was her father. I felt like my "mom" who I knew had died long before she has passed. She had dementia for a long time.

The same way for my dad although he has passed away from small cells lung cancer. He also suffered from dementia.

I am actually glad that happened because I think that was God's way of preparing us for easy grieving process before the actual deaths.
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I think that's one of the things that keeps reminding me that mom is no "normal." Sometimes I get so used to her that I sort of think everyone in their late 80s and 90s is like her. Then I meet someone who does not have dementia, and I once again am reminded that she is no longer normal.
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Truly sad to see them become someone else. Sometimes I wonder how much the drugs affect that "look". Then I remember that "look" started before medications. There are times when mom is foggy or staring and I think she's not aware, but then she will comment on some subtle thing!
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Those precious moments of familiar connection become less and less as the disease progresses. That faraway "look" will show up more frequently as those diseased spaces in their brain where the synapses are no longer firing proliferate. As you noted, this is the long goodbye. As memory and language slip away, I have found that sharing familiar music or singing favorite songs (my dad loved Big Band from his youth), delicious smells (cookies with cinnamon or lemon) or old photos, and always a gentle touch of the hand or back rub can be sources of delight and connection. I had to remind myself that I am tending to someone who is ill and my own needs are secondary. Acceptance is the key, to what is here and to come. It's a daily practice in patience and compassion for my loved one and for myself. Blessings to you.
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I have said for a long time that the Vacant look in the eyes is Gods way of protecting the person.
It has been said that the Eyes are the Window to the soul.
I think that God takes the soul early to protect them from pain, the not knowing.
This leaves the Body but little else.

I have noticed in may photos of people with dementia that there is something with the eyes, even if there is sort of a smile on the face it does not extend to the eyes, the light is gone.

Maybe this is all my imagination....
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It’s devastating to see that blank look that once meant something. Her look is so transparent, as though I was never there. I feel empty and lost without my mom. I know she’s there in body, but not in mind. It only gets worse. Such a sad life, yet comforting at the same time because I know she’s in her own world and I’m ok with that. I have no choice but to accept it! For now, I’m just happy she’s still here with me!
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3 weeks to the day before dad passed away, his wife's/our mom's dog passed away. 18+ years for a Lhasa Apso. Tibetan legend has it that a soul of a Lama passes to the Lhasa Apso for reincarnation. We had the dog cremated. I told him I was burying the ashes to reunite the dog with mom. After actually doing so. dad finally smiled like I haven't seen him do for years. It was then that I would say was the turning point for him too. He was ready to leave on his terms, short of the a goal of 100 years old. Mom had passed away 5 years and a a few weeks to the day of both dog & dad. Dad was coherent right to the end, just couldn't beat failing and worn out body organs that weren't getting enough oxygen. Low oxygen levels and his brain was starting to die, he would've been mentally gone for as long as that process was going to take. Mom had strokes and the miracle shot drug really didn't happen soon enough for her. Like others they go back and revisit happier days in their life.
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My husband has Alz and he often had that look when he was living in assisted living last summer. He looked at me but his eyes were elsewhere. They were filled with emptiness and hopelessness. Almost as if he was sleeping with his eyes open. I know that is not possible, but it is difficult to describe. Very sad. Now, he is living at home again with me and I still see it once in a while. He would snap back to this world when I called out his name.
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When my dad was in hospice care dying of cancer, he did not have ALZ, he gave me a long soulful look deep into my eyes. His eyes were piercingly crystal blue and he held the gaze for so long I knew it was a profound moment. Not a word was said between us. It was our last earthly connection and one I cherish.
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It is soooo sad to see a loved one decline and/or become sick. Embrace every special moment you have with them. So often I wish I could stop time or go back in tome.
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Ohhhh, cwillie, that made my tears flow 💜
...watching my parents slowly decline is heartbreaking.
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Kimber, seems to work best to go into it with them, doesn't it? My other client had ALZ and was always talking about having company, driving her car (70's model), going to their house at the lake. At first and for awhile I kept trying to put her straight, but it just confused her - no point.
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The looking *through* you instead of looking *at* you was definitely a hard thing to take. You realize their brains can no longer function like they did before. Gone is the person that used to be there.
You just want to shake them and bring them back but you know you can't.

Mom doesn't seem to be upset in her world, thank God. I'm glad for that. I wish I wasn't.
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My dad gets that look and he is in another world - i saddens me greatly. My step-mom - who visits daily gently told me that my dad in his world is not unhappy. We who know the difference are. It did help me to realize that dad's world is OK for him. He seems to be traveling back in time to his childhood - which was a happy time of working on the farm with his siblings, going fishing, etc.
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With my mom it is partially that her vision has slipped away, but that happened years before the totally blank expression settled in her face. A couple of weeks ago one of the aides at the NH was telling me that mom would smile when they were lifting her into bed and I thought she was full of it because for years mom's smiles have looked more like scary grimaces and are NEVER spontaneous. The next day I told mom what the aide had said and asked why she never smiled for me, and she did, a real smile that lit up her whole face! It took my breath away and made me want to cry.
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