I'm interested in hearing from people who are caring for an Alzheimers patient--particularly for Alzheimers patients who had a history of mental illness before showing dementia symptoms. My mom is only 69 but has advanced Alzheimers (stage 7; on Hospice). Her symptoms started in her early 50s. Before that, she had a lifetime of severe mental illness--depression, anxiety, anger and mood disorders, probably narcissistic personality disorder, maybe borderline personality disorder. She was pathologically self-pitying, frequently severely depressed, and given to bouts of wild anger and rage. My greatest (and most prevalent) childhood memory is coming home from school to a dark house with her in her bedroom with the bedroom door closed and locked. She lived in that locked bedroom, not coping with the world, crying, feeling sorry for herself, and ignoring her children. When she did interact with us, she often made us feel like all her sadness was our fault. She would tell us we were selfish and didn't realize how hard her life was. She would tell my sister and I if we would good people we would take care of her (I was a child, for goodness sakes!). As an adult I realize she was mentally ill. But as a child, I internalized all her accusations and came to believe that I really was responsible for her sadness. Now I watch her completely bedridden and nonverbal and completely helpless. I know, know, know in my mind that this is an illness that I did not cause and cannot cure, but for some reason I have to keep fighting the feelings of my childhood that somehow I've made her this way. Do any of you who are caring for the mentally ill dementia patient ever have a hard time separating past history of mental illness from their current illness?

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