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My sister is 81, husband 86, he had a stroke 9 years ago resulting in cognitive decline (no bodily damage). She is now suffering from caregiver burnout. One daughter who lives in same town and sees them daily, believes that father should move to assisted living for people with issues and her mother to apartment nearby. The other 3 siblings (live in different town/states, see parents rarely) say that is not necessary, that the folks are fine ! They "perform" in front of their children and can do so for a day or so. (Our mother accomplished this VERY well, she "performed" for our brothers - they told us we were nuts.).
Daily living is quite different: he criticizes my sister all day long, with issues that happened 40 years ago. In addition to the constant repetitive questions and other such behaviors. She has begun to yell back at him due to burnout. Both feel very hurt by the other person.
The one child who lives in the same town has made steps for their moves to asisted living/ separate apartment. The other siblings resist - saying that if mother took anxiety meds, she would be fine and they would live happily ever after. The parents love each other very much but cannot handle the stress of his dementia any longer. Yet, when any of the 3 visit they "act" very normal since it is a 1 - 3 day duration. My sister "acts" because she is very apprehensive of their opinions of her. The one daughter in town has arranged separations for a week/10 days at a time. Currently my sister is on a month long respite. It takes only a few days for the situation to deteriorate once she goes home again.
Wondering if any one else has had this experience. Of all the info online, I have not been able to find this in the cognitive decline/dementia articles. I am hoping to find validating info for the 3 siblings, to help them understand. I volunteer at Hospice and have 2 people with sibling issues, so I don't think this is a unique situation.

What's happening is known as 'Showtiming' or 'Showboating' and is quite common before dementia becomes too advanced. The elders put on a show or a performance for those they are trying to convince they're just fine, and are able to make small talk quite nicely, even able to convince some doctor's they're okay! My mother is the queen of such 'showtiming' and she's in the advanced stages of dementia these days. She's great with the 'don't you look lovely today and how is the family doing?' types of statements, but ask her a question and that's when the show is over. The small talk & social behavior is embedded in their muscle memory and shows up when needed, so that's what's probably going on with your folks.

When my father was 90, he fell and broke his hip. He did not have dementia; my mother, however, was 87 at the time and well on the road to dementia at that time. They were living together in Independent Senior Living back then, but dad needed Assisted Living due to mobility issues after the hip incident. So I moved both of them in together into Assisted Living. It worked out okay even though mom was driving dad berserk with her demented behavior; he didn't want to be separated from her after 68 years of her tormenting him, he was used to it. He wound up passing away 10 months later and mom is still alive at almost 95 and now living in the Memory Care section of the same AL facility.

Anyway, here's an article on the very subject of showtiming:

https://coping.today/what-does-showtime-mean/

If you Google the topic, lots of things will come up.

Wishing you the best of luck with a difficult situation.
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Reply to lealonnie1
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Cheryl44 Nov 30, 2021
THANK YOU so much - Showtiming Showboating are new words for me. I will definitely follow-up. So grateful to find a word that describes the concept.... THANK YOU again.
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OMG yes! My father does this thing with my sister on the phone where he just asks her "what's up with you" and she talks and talks and then calls me later and says "he's fine, I don't know why you keep insisting something is wrong with him." :)
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Reply to DoingMyBest73
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My Mom is the same way. Although she is not suffering from any severe dementia she always covers up any problems when my brother comes to visit. I live with mom and I hear her daily complaints and witness her daily sadness. She will not address these issues to friends or family - only me - and I get the brunt of it.

I'm tired of her acting like she is just fine when she speaks to my brother or her friends. She say's I am her "confidante". I don't want to be her confidante. I want her to at least be honest about her medical situations with my brother.

Sometimes, it is so hard to live with the day to day complaints and then listen to her cheerfulness with her friends and family. I feel like I am taking on all of this myself.
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My mom could have won an academy award for her visits to her Dr. It was just unbelievable how well she could fool them. Then when she knew her ability to pull it off came...she refused to go.
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Cover99 Nov 30, 2021
lol
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In a word: definitely. As my mother declined I realized she was 'pretending' many routine activities, like sitting at the breakfast table 'reading the paper', etc. When I'd mention news items for conversation it was clear she had no idea what I was talking about, would conflate different details that revealed her mind was becoming essentially like 'Swiss cheese,' very sad but telling, helpful for understanding her true condition. Even her doctor stated she had fooled him, so good at 'covering up' her true deficiencies when in his office, 'performing' for him since going to the doctor was a kind of 'date' in her mind, where she got 'attention' from someone not her immediate family. It was bittersweet, because I knew she desperately wanted to stay in her own home, and to 'will' herself to be 'normal' when clearly she was not any longer, but her own stubborn denial and determination to remain 'independent' worked against her in the long run. She began having falls, then suffered a stroke which killed her (brain bleed) before she could be placed where falls and early death might have been prevented. When relatives would visit, mom would act 'just fine', while never letting them see her do much more than sit at the kitchen table and drink coffee with them. I believe it is a 'survival mechanism' in a sense, even though it can work against a person. Have your siblings spend more time, or even arrive when not especially expected, (or take videos if feasible!) so they get a more 'unrehearsed' experience with your mother.
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bundleofjoy Dec 1, 2021
dear santalynn,

hug!! i'm very sorry for the loss of your mother.

you wrote:
"She began having falls, then suffered a stroke which killed her (brain bleed) before she could be placed where falls and early death might have been prevented."

...of course, only you know all the facts...
sometimes, however, it's better to die at home...than than have more years (maybe unhappy?) (i understand some people are happy, but many people are miserable) in a facility.
...some people in facilities are surrounded by doom/gloom/death/maybe new friends, but the friends are dying/die/depressing/screams, noises at night/hard to sleep...i wouldn't be surprised if some of us spent a full 48 hours in a room in a facility, we would run away.

some people would maybe say your mother was lucky.
hopefully, she lived as happily as possible at home, and then she died.

(there are people who really hope they die before they reach the stage of needing a nursing home.)

it's not about quantity (how many years old you get, when you're elderly)...rather quality. if you've already had a full life, then for many people, as much as possible, they'd like to finish their lives at home.

a very early death is a totally different matter.
i'm talking about elderly people who've had a full life...

sending many hugs!! :)
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Yes. It's very real, and the more often you see the person the less showtime you get. As long as your sister's competent then she should be making the call, and the out of town siblings should be listenting to the in-town person.
Your poor sister.
It's shocking that the out of town kids can't be more supportive and that they feel like they can tell their exhausted mother, at 81, to take some pills and handle it. And they need to stop second guessing the in-town sibling as well. Must be nice to not put in the time but be able to proffer expert opinions. They need to support getting him into care and let her try to have some peace, as she has to watch this debilitating disease take the soul and personality of the man she loves.
There are some articles out there, but I encourage them to look it up on the Alz.org website--plenty of threasds there! Here are a few:
You'll have to copy and paste them into your browser's search bar.
https://www.alzconnected.org/discussion.aspx?g=posts&t=2147551005
https://www.alzconnected.org/discussion.aspx?g=posts&t=2147533545
https://www.alzconnected.org/discussion.aspx?g=posts&t=2147556665
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Cheryl44 Nov 30, 2021
Many THANKS for the info: I will be following up today. Unfortunately, sometimes family relations "blossom" in times of trouble. My niece has made application for an "assessment" of both her parents - hopefully the reports will help the other siblings understand what is going on...
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I called it "company manners." No one knew my mom had dementia for the first four years she had it, and she was so convincing that a visitor to her nursing home believed her when she told him she'd remarried just four months after my dad's death and 66 years of happy marriage. The visitor was so pleased for her that he put it in the local Rotary Club newsletter and the whole town heard about it. 😣 Needless to say, all hell broke loose at that point, and I had to do some major crisis management.
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Reply to MJ1929
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I hope the local daughter that understands the severity of the situation has POA. If not, she should work with her parents and an attorney to get their paperwork in order ASAP. Then, she should get her parents into assisted living as soon as she can. It is an excellent plan and who cares what the other siblings say about it. Hopefully they really don't have a say in the decision making. They have no clue as to what is going on day to day. Your sister needs a break NOW. This is obviously way too much for her to handle on her own.
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Cheryl44 Nov 30, 2021
Thank you ! Yes, she is working on the legal paperwork ... My niece has contacted the aging agency and the worker there has been most helpful in this regard.
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Cheryl44: What is occurring is known as 'showtiming.' Elders who are declining are oftentimes able to portray a 'role' for brief durations of time. This is possible because the individual witnessing this 'play,' if you will only sees the elder occasionally, making it seem VERY believable. The elder does this so that everything in their life remains STATIC, unchanged. Although my late mother only had normal aging at 94, she was able to 'showboat,' and many of her friends declared that there was nothing wrong with her. That was an untruth and the reason why had to leave my home 7 states away and move in with her.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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Ask the "occasional visitors" to stay and take care of the parents for a week without the usual care by the daughter/sibling. The occasional visitors would soon get the clear picture. Of course, the daughter is not helping the situation when others visit since she is also tending to cover for mom and dad.

Since the caregiver is having problems with unresolved burnout, she should be the one to help make arrangements for her parents' care. Since the others are not part of their parents' usual care, it would be better from them to trust their sibling caregiver.

If needed, ask their usual caregiver to get mom and dad tested for cognitive and behavioral issues. Referrals to neurology and geriatric psychology may help to document these issues from a trusted, objective professional.
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