My mother can see images if they are close and her hearing is almost gone. She can’t walk well and is confined to her LTC room. Thanks Covid. She relies on me for her sole entertainment. Even when she is allowed outside her room I’m not sure that will be enough for her. Most of the other residents have dementia or are non-verbal.
I've tried Alexa, magnifying glasses, sermons on the iPad but she can’t really work out how to use the devices and it’s a strain to hold the magnifier. I got an amplified phone but she still can’t hear and her hearing aids never seem to work. I’ve ordered a large print bible but what else is there?

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Hi Lost1atsea

It is so difficult to help a sight impaired and hearing impaired person to enjoy life , I know from experience . I also know narcissist are the worst but I don't know your mum so I will simply address her physical issues :

Losing some of your senses must be a terrible and lonely affair , so like I do with Gilly , maybe if you make her environment rich in other ways she will feel better .

She can smell. How about a nice scent diffuser that changes scent ever so often . They're plug in and no danger to her . Some go into wall outlets directly and some are tabletop models .
My Gilly loves scented candles but he doesn't move much so they're no danger to him . A diffuser might work for your mom. What scent(s) would please her ?
Perfume or after bath creams might be nice .

She can touch, the fidget blanket is an excellent idea from a previous reply . Some have beads and zippers , Velcro badges etc .
Nice textured pillows and silky nightgown or pj sets . Just soft and comfortable clothing. Soft blankets and pillows . Velvet or faux fur .
Soff fluffy towels .
A nice fluffy rug under her feet.
Cosmetics or scented skin face cream to give her a beauty routine to adhere to .

She can taste . Treats and different flavours of cookies or cakes . Not sure if she can't have them but I know that food becomes very important to those who cannot see or hear . What are her meals like ? Can you have a " pizza day " or "fried chicken day "? Something to look foward to but again , not sure of her health concerns .

This one might seem crazy and please don't roast me but ...there are realistic robotic cat and puppy toys that purr, bark and move a bit like the real thing . She can't manage a pet but perhaps a facsimile will do .
There's a new one called Tombot, it's a puppy and sells for around $400 USD and you need to reserve your pup but it's worth a look at least ? You plug it in to charge at night and it has all day batteries they claim . Nuts sounding I know .
The cats , I've seen one called Ageless innovations Tabby cat on Roboshop selling for $ 109.89 USD. They're cute . (?)
They're really for anyone with memory issues but also loneliness so I suppose your mom qualifies as she needs something there to make her feel occupied.

That's all I can think of that doesn't require you to be there physically .
I know my list is kind of silly and I'm sorry if anything I've suggested is ridiculous but you have to try or at least consider anything at this point , right ?
Last on the list but first thing you should do , look after yourself .
I wish you good luck and self care.

Helpful Answer (21)
jacobsonbob Jan 2021
I would your suggestions are excellent. Regarding the "animated animals" I've read that these are quite popular, even with people who are ambulatory and have their senses o sight and hearing.
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I can relate so well, so I’ll just share here what I’ve tried, how she’s responded, and my conclusions about it for you to take what works for you (if anything) and leave the rest.

My mother is 93, poor vision & hearing, and has Parkinson’s which causes her hands to tremor. She has hearing aids and I have them rechecked every 6 months since she continues to complain. But one thing I’ve realized is it’s not just hearing but processing that has caused trouble. She does hear, but it’s situational—when she’s tired or upset, she can’t process anything and interprets that as not hearing. Yet sometimes she can carry on a complete phone conversation if it’s someone very important to her. I know, though, that some of the processing may be impacted by the Parkinson’s. I do make a point to always speak loudly, slowly, and clearly—sometimes it works. I’ve gotten her very easy-to-use music players, headphones, wireless speaker I can crank up, and she has her favorite music on tapes & CDs—will not even let me play it for her.

She tells me she can’t see to read, but again, if someone sends her a text or link on her cell phone, she will read/watch. She has large-print books & Bible and Guidepost—just won’t make any effort.

I got her a big-screen TV, so she keeps news on all day (such a negative influence). She has all her favorite movies and movie collections on CD, but won’t let me play them for her—says she can’t stay awake. I assure her we can just restart from where she nodded off, but nope, won’t do it. She did, however, enjoy some Hallmark & Lifetime movies over the holidays, and even remembered how to record them.

She says she can’t smell or taste anything, so all the scented soaps & lotions have been a waste, yet she insists on bottled water because tap water “tastes bad,” and she complains about how terrible her meds taste. She asks me to buy certain foods that she’s hungry for but often complains how terrible it is not to taste anything.

I brought her into my home 11 months ago because we could no longer afford Assisted Living (although she continuously complained about that, too). She has always been a narcissist, done nothing for herself and always depended on her children to take care of her. Her needs have always come first and I can’t count the times she’s thrown her kids under the bus to get what she wanted. So I don’t expect her to be anything other than that now. I’ve found other ways to get my needs for love & acceptance met. Now I do for her what I am able to do because that speaks to who I am. I am kind to her, compassionate (what a lousy thing it must be to be as miserable as she is) and I know all of her responses to me are about who she is. I have always believed that as long as we are alive, we can grow and change, but it has to be a choice. She has not made that choice. It is sad to me, but I am not responsible for her emotional life. I am responsible for mine. I do what I can do—guilt has no place in my life. If we offer a parent a safe, healthy, loving environment and they are still bored or miserable, that’s their choice. It’s a cautionary tale that we won’t repeat when our children step up to help us.
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LexiPexi Jan 2021
Excellent response.
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This is going to sound sad, but here goes... For years I've done well in finding things for my husband to do both physically and mentally. He has stage 5 Parkinson's, dementia and is blind. However, for the last six months or so (I don't believe it is covid related), he sleeps a lot more than in the past. It takes a longer time for showers, eating, being exercised and massaged and just getting through the day. He's exhausted after brushing his teeth / having his teeth brushed and flossed, etc. I've finally decided, maybe he is just too tired to do 'things' and is ready to just relax and sleep. I believe there comes a time when 'quiet' is good.
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The Library of Congress provides audiobooks and players for the blind. Contact the Braille Institute for other ideas, too.

Also, there are fidget blankets available on Amazon. They have snaps, buttons, zippers and other things to just mess with while the blanket is on her lap.

The most important thing, though, is to try to get her functioning hearing aids. The isolation caused by being unable to hear is just awful, and with the correct hearing aids, could be minimized. Take her to a real audiologist and get her evaluated and fitted for good hearing aids.
Helpful Answer (7)
jacobsonbob Jan 2021
If one's hearing has declined beyond a certain point, hearing aids aren't strong enough. I wonder if one of the "listening devices" from Amazon would be of help--they are much larger, so they can be made much more powerful. They were of help to my parents. In addition, their larger size means they won't get lost or accidentally discarded as easily as a hearing aid.
What about the radio tuned to a local talk station?
My mom enjoyed the talking books, they mostly sent her ones from the YA section of the collection and that was OK because she didn't want sex or violence.
Music. By the very end when there was nothing else possible mom enjoyed music, if you load the ipod perhaps the aides could help her get it started.
Maybe a simpler remote for the TV,

I'm coming back to add a rather discouraging thought; unfortunately sitting around waiting to die is very often what the last years are like even without a pandemic. While facility living can offer activities and companionship for some individuals in many cases the activities are too few and too banal and the friendships are transitory or completely nonexistent, especially for those with greater physical and/or cognitive deficits. It is what it is and unfortunately there are often no workable solutions.
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Lost1atsea Dec 2020
Thanks. Your reply really got me thinking...
I did take in an echo. All she had to do was say “Alexa play gospel music” or “daily sermon”. I also took in an iPad with one app-the bible. She is just not interested. Her expectation is that her kids will be there and do everything. But it’s just me.. even without the pandemic my brothers are not interested in seeing her. It’s understandable, she has always been pretty narcissistic. Incapable of true love and approval. As I am writing this I am thinking about my brothers advice to not let her suck the life out of me. “She will mess with your head”.
But...It’s my nature to go overboard in effort - but I honestly don’t expect my efforts to make her happy (?) just perhaps to alleviate any guilt. (Which begs the question-why do I have guilt?) maybe it’s more fear- LTC is a terrifying future. Not something I would wish on my worst enemy-even my mother. Which brings me full circle to providing her with as much creative outlet as I can. If she chooses not to use it then I am absolved of responsibility. But I am piling on her everything but the kitchen sink (=her kids 24/7 at her beck and call) when the kitchen sink is only thing she wants... hmm. Now I’m in a conundrum...
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A poster below wrote a realistic reply about how it is what it is, at that stage, when I read further that she’s narcissistic if that’s the case it doesn’t matter what or how many things she has to “entertain” her it will never be enough - it sounds like you fell into the role of trying to win her approval or love and as your brothers cautioned you be aware that won’t happen, as an adult obviously you can continue to expend your energy trying to please her but the nature of her disorder precludes that— any approval or satisfaction she arrives at will only be temporary. It would be healthy to find some balance in your life so you have plenty of time for you and your own life
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Dear "Lost..",
You sound JUST LIKE ME!! My mother is 101, deaf (has lost 1 hearing aid during COVID lockdown along with her partial plate), blind, pretty bad dementia. It's been so many years that I've lived my life with concerns for Mother the dominating factor. At this age, she has lost interest in the Commission for the Blind's Talking Books. That was a huge help for years, though. If you haven't tried that yet, you should look into it. I wish I could give you other suggestions, but I am tapped out. There just is nothing left. I can't even go to her rooms in her assisted living facility due to COVID restrictions, and can only visit once a week in an assigned room for COVID visits. So...Mother just sits there in an old chair that used to be "Dad's chair", which she took with her to AL. Either that, or she just sleeps. And sleeps. And sleeps. The worries have consumed me completely over the years. There just are no more alternatives. I hope you have better luck than I.
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"...She relies on me for her sole entertainment..."
"...I would like her to be able to do something to occupy her mind..."
"...Her expectation is that her kids will be there and do everything. But it’s just me..."
"...I am piling on her everything but the kitchen sink..."

You seem to be trying to live her life for her or at least live your life such that she is fulfilled. You say she's not intellectually curious and yet you want her to be.

Your brothers have established healthy boundaries because they perceive that she is an energy vampire. The amount of energy you are putting into a woman who seems content with sitting in a chair all day far exceeds the amount of relief you will feel if she engages in something for a few minutes. And then what? Start all over again trying to find something to occupy her time 7 days a week?

Technology has its limits. Even going back to basics - taste and smell - has its limits insofar as there is only so much food she can eat and fragrances she can smell at a time. I agree with those who have pointed out that you need to find balance in your life. And you are correct that you have nothing for which to feel guilty. It's a hard thing to accept the way some people are in old age.
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My 99 yr old mother sits in front of the television all day. She also eats in the same place. I serve her meals and tea at least three times per day. I pay for the cable TV service, which costs more than what her mortgage used to be - decades ago. But it keeps her fairly happy. Sometimes she just needs the company, she doesn't really listen to what's being said. She sleeps with the radio on all night. She has trouble with the remote, and pushes the wrong buttons. I have to return the settings to the right place almost every day. But if it gives her some comfort it's worth it.
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Books on tape are available from the National Library Service for the blind. [Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD)]
contact them at
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LexiPexi Jan 2021
This is the best free government service. All doctors should be telling their patients and caregivers about it.
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