Let me start by saying upfront, I am very frustrated! My elderly mother is 98 and lives in assisted living. She has age related dementia and no signs of Alzheimer. She is fairly mobile and active. She has hearing aides but refuses to wear them. She is and always has been difficult, rude, and demanding. Before the coronavirus quarantine, I hired someone to come in the mornings and “help” her get ready for the day. She will not ask the staff for help because she prefers her “own” staff! She has never expressed her emotions and is a loner and basically cold and unfriendly. She was/is very distant and detached to me as well. Due to the quarantine, we can’t visit her. My brother and I try and call her just to say hello and stay in touch. She either doesn’t answer after 20 rings or if she does answer can’t understand what we say. We have told her this is our only means of communication. We are both very frustrated. She doesn’t seem to care one way or the other and makes no attempt to call us. Actually, she has never said I miss y’all, how are you, etc. Her caretaker actually used her phone to do a video for us and and all she said was, “ I’m ok, I’m out here, I have 3 meals a day, and told us goodbye. Caregiver asked if there was anything else she wanted to say and after thinking a minute she said, “GOOD LUCK YO YOU!” Are you kidding me??? Those could very well have been her very last words to us!!! If she doesn’t care, why do I care so much and feel guilty not calling To say hello and check in with her? Any suggestions for how to “let it go” would be appreciated! I KNOW She is NOT going to change so I am beating a dead horse! I KNOW I’m the one w/the problem, I just think I can’t accept it! When ever I tell her how frustrating it is for me, ask why she never asks how we are, says she misses seeing us, God forbid Loves us, she says I just don’t ever think about it! Have any of you experienced this before, I know it can’t be the first case! How did you cope? Please don’t beat me up, I do a good job of that myself. However, I can take constructive criticism. Maybe I should just call 1/wk and if answers ok, if not, let it go. AL facility will call me if she becomes ill or dies. Need to stop writing. Many thanks in advance.

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If your Mom has Dementia, even in the early stages, she has lost the ability to have empathy. They can't reason, process or comprehend. And if she was like this before, Dementia is unlikely to change that. They get self centered and I think the elderly get the way anyway. Especially when a spouse has been lost.

This may seem harsh, but enjoy the freedom. She is being cared for. Seems as happy as she will ever be. There are members on this forum that wish they had a little reprieve from constant demands and phone calls all day.
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Mine is somewhat similar, right down to the dialogues, but has shown by her life, NEVER VERBALLY, that she does in fact have a heart of gold.

Your mother’s refusal to wear hearing aids is the ABSOLUTE WORST thing she can do, but you know, and I know, that nothing will change that.

Mine has just survived three weeks of active Covid infection, at 92. Based on the fact that I’m a grown up, understand a fair bit about psychology, and through years in my crazy family have developed a thicky thick skin, I overlook.

I spent three weeks tormented by the thought of losing her, and having very little hope. Finally, yesterday I got the go ahead to schedule a FaceTime visit, with a nurse helping her.

Her comments? “GET OUT, I’m too old and tired. You have a nice shirt on. I see my niece. Get me a cough drop.”

Granted, the connection wasn’t super. The conversation was the sweetest music on earth, coming to my ears.

She CARES. You care in a different way. She’s 98, she has dementia, her word stock has grown very small, she communicates differently than you do and differently than you’d choose her to.

Dear Lord, she is EXACTLY like mine, amazingly so. IT’S NOT YOU. Don’t you DARE beat yourself up.

Don’t cut down on the number of short attempts at communicating, but reduce your attempts to try to write the script, offer your calls as a gift (with no strings) to someone very difficult, and LISTEN when she says she loves you, no matter what form that takes. Mine always said “Drive Carefully” when we physically left her, didn’t say it yesterday, but I still have hopes.

Please forgive my stream of consciousness- it just amazes me that you and I BOTH are dealing with the same person in two different bodies!

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You can’t change other people. You can only change yourself and the way you react to things. Ask yourself, or ideally a therapist, why the approval of this woman who is obviously incapable of expressing her feelings is so important to you.

Your mother has told you she is “ok” and cared for. Accept that. If it’s financially feasible for her to continue to have her “own staff”, then keep them on. If not, meet with the facility and tell them the private caregivers fund is exhausted. Mom won’t be happy but it will now fall to the staff at the facility to help with her ADL’s.

You really do need to make it ok with yourself to step back and let your mother exist the way she wants to. If she mentions she’d like some contact, be there and be kind. Your best bet is to seek out a therapist. This will be a process that will continue even after she passes. Good luck to you.
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Nanajan1234 Apr 2020
Thanks for replying. Every word you say makes sense. Her caregiver only left because of COVID-19 and is coming back next week. I have a wonderful therapist and as soon as she is seeing people again I will definitely go. You asked a question I had not really thought...why is her approval so important? Actually why is she so important? I guess I am wishing for the kind of mom I never had. Thanks for taking the time to answer. Quarantine makes a crazy world even crazier! Stay well and be safe!
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