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My mother had a depression that affected her memory and is now showing signs of early dementia. When she was released from the hospital, the doctors said she needed to live with someone. There are only two of her children who are able to help her, including me, and we both work full time, so we decided to put her in an assisted living facility. It is getting expensive and we can no longer afford a private room and it is especially stressful for me because I am the only one doing all the legwork, going to appointments, etc. since she was diagnosed. I'm exhausted, and I have my own personal issues on top of that... My mom has always been a shy and reserved person, so she is mostly alone in her room doing nothing and it breaks my heart.... It's hard to get her active, she doesn't talk to the other residents and always calls us, and sometimes I don't feel like talking, sometimes I just want to forget and when I do talk to her I always have to reassure her that she's in a good place and it's mentally exhausting. I ask her to trust us, to believe that this is all we could do for her and that she needs to be reassured. I feel bad that sometimes, I fee like not only I'm in charge of care but also I'm responsible for her happiness, I always want to make her smile but that means hours of phone conversations of her complaining and me just listening, I'm tired, Any tips on how to deal with all this?

Well hold on. Your mother's 60, has just been discharged from hospital after a major depressive event, and now she's in an ALF where the average age of the residents is what? She - with all respect, and please don't think I don't sympathise with your exhaustion and worry - is NOT in a good place. Or rather, it really doesn't sound as if she's in the right place for her needs.

Can I go back a bit and ask about her history before she needed to be hospitalised? What's "normal for her"?

The doctor said she needs to live with someone. I presume he didn't say "she needs to live either with one of you two or in a facility, permanently."?

Did she have ECT, by the way?

What psychiatric or psychological support is she getting now that she's in the ALF?

Meanwhile, about you and not burning out to a cinder, remember this: you could have your mother connected to you through an earpiece 24/7 and it STILL wouldn't make her happy and it still wouldn't be enough reassurance. You do not have to spend hours daily repeating assurances and listening to her ruminate to be certain that she knows (in the part of her that does know) she has good, loving children.

We had a client who was hospitalised for eight months and discharged home only on condition that she agreed to 4 x visits from our service daily. This lady had only one close relative, who'd been very supportive, and one day when the client had become stressed she confided that she had rung her relative 11 times the day before, and 14 times *that morning.* And now the relative had blocked her number. I said, very carefully: "that is quite a lot of phone calls. I expect she just needs a break, don't you think?" I was being careful because I didn't want the client to think I was criticising her when I was only looking for an explanation, but I needn't have worried. The client was mentally ill, and would need a lot of time to recover, but she could count and she knew what the normal range was and she wasn't incapable of seeing another person's point of view.

Be truthful with your mother. Calling her once a day, or twice a day - good morning, goodnight - or whatever suits you is *fine.* And it's also fine to explain to her that there just aren't enough hours in the day - she's not stupid, or oblivious. The rest of the time block her number and make sure the ALF staff know to contact you in case of emergency.

Speaking of them - what does the ALF say about how she's doing as a resident?
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Marseline Apr 26, 2021
She used to work and very independent ( just last year) now she can no longer do her basic daily tasks, such as cooking, paying bills and taking care of herself, and she is distracted and very confused. We've considered setting her up to her one apartment and visiting her here and there to make sure she's taking her medications. And eating etc.. But the doctor doesn't think she should be living alone at all, so someone has to be home with her to make sure she's okay and not putting herself in danger. But we work so that wasn't an option. The initial reason for her hospitalization was that she started having hallucinations, was very confused, sad and suicidal. When she was admitted, she was diagnosed with major depression with psychiatric features. Then they began to notice a greater decline and suspected the onset of dementia.

But thanks for your advice, I really appreciate it.
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We found the only thing parent had to talk about was caregiver issues as that is the only thing in their world. Can you and your Mom read the same book and discuss it? Or perhaps watch a drama/television show you can discuss?
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You are so young to be dealing with all of this.

I think you are expecting entirely too much of yourself.

You can’t possibly solve all of your mom’s issues, plus be responsible for her happiness.

She needs the proper assessment so a plan can be established for her future care.

Don’t feel like you have to take on the entire burden alone.

Reach out for help. Speak to a social worker about walking you through the steps to find a viable solution.

Please don’t assume financial responsibility for her. You have your own future to think of.

Best wishes to you and your family.
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Your mom is very young at 60 to be having memory issues, and you are awful young at 28 to have to deal with it all. Has your mom had an official diagnosis of dementia? Could it perhaps be some of the medications she's on, that's causing her issues? You might want to get a second opinion, unless you trust beyond a shadow of a doubt her Dr.

As far as the phone calls, you will probably want to let them go to voicemail for now, and only call her back if and when you want. You are not responsible for your moms happiness, but you are your own, so you're going to have to take some drastic steps to not let her drag you down with her. It's time you set some much needed boundaries with mom, so you won't continue being burned out. I wish you the best.
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Marseline Apr 25, 2021
To be honest she hasn't been diagnosed yet, we are in the process of doing that, we had an appointment at the memory clinic and the doctor couldn't really give a diagnosis, he said the same thing, maybe it could be her meds or the major depression that hasn't been properly treated. But she has become very slow, she doesn't take any initiative to do anything, she is confused most of the time, she used to text us and now she can barely use her phone, she hides things back thinking that people will steal them. I've noticed that when I'm around she's more herself, so I'm thinking that maybe that's what she needs, but I can't take the responsibility of taking care of her by myself, because I'm working and I'm just starting my adult life, I don't have anything to give... We don't know what's going on yet, but when she was admitted after months, she wasn't getting better, so the doctor at the hospital diagnosed her with major depression with cognitive impairment, possibly dementia...but the dementia specialist couldn't tell yet. But thank you for your message I really appreciate it... it’s sad because I had dreamed of having children, but I don't think I can handle it all: school, work, personal problems, I just can't.
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First off, you are not financing your mother's stay in AL, are you? Because if so, that's a big mistake. According to your profile, she's 60 years old and can live for decades, meaning, you'll have no retirement funds available for YOURSELF if you're funding HER retirement!

If she's getting a roommate now in AL, that should help, right?

Also, in AL, it's common for the social/activities director to come get the residents OUT of their rooms and into the activity room to mingle. If your mother is hiding out alone in her room, call the activities director and ask her or him to please go get mom and ask her to please join them for the fun with the others.

Stop spending so much time on the phone with her; you are NOT responsible for her happiness; she is responsible for her own happiness, as all adults are. We 'children' all wish that our mothers would smile & enjoy life, but some of our mothers love misery so much, they meet it half way. Like mine, for instance. Dementia also has a way of changing a person into a more intense version of who they were all along but were better able to hide. Take my mother (please?). She was always angry & belligerent, she was just covert about it and able to hide it pretty well; now with dementia, that mask is crumbling and the things that come out of her mouth are SO ugly and hurtful these days that I've stopped calling her; SHE can call me when and if she can put her rage aside long enough to realize that I'm her daughter and love her. Dementia & old age is not a free pass to treat loved ones in a nasty manner all the time.

If you spend hours on the phone every day with mom, that prevents her from getting out of her apartment and mingling with others and making friends. The adjustment period is going to take a while anyway, but it's up to HER to talk to others and carve out a new life for herself. You have no reason to feel 'heartbroken' if you think about it: she's in a great place, good care, etc, and has every opportunity to make friends & create a life. SHE is refusing to do so. I take it she's on medication for depression? If not, speak to her doc and get him to prescribe something. My mother takes enough Wellbutrin to make a horse happy, which takes the edge off..........but she needs a change, I believe. If your mother's doc doesn't come into the AL, now is the time to arrange for THAT, too. That's one more appointment you don't have to drive her to, if you're in charge of doing that!

Decide how often and how long you're willing to talk on the phone with mom every day or every week. Then stick to that schedule and don't be wracked with guilt about it. Let the other calls go to voicemail and after a while, mom will understand that you are not available 24/7 to chat, that you work full time, etc. THAT may be enough to get her out of her room & chatting with other people at the AL. That may be just the push she NEEDS, you know?

Try to remember that you're not a sounding board 24/7 for your mom's complaints. If you're like me, an empath, you wind up absorbing all that negativity and it takes hours or days to release it. And by the time you do, here comes another dose of it! They're like energy vampires and it sucks US dry. So that's why it's important to lay down some boundaries for yourself and then stick to them so you are not burned out in a month and in need of anti-depressants yourself! It's not your fault mom is depressed and you are doing the best you can at trying to be there for her. Now it's up to HER to do HER part!

Good luck!
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