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I can't believe it! They've been married for 56 years! She has mild vascular dementia and seems to be handling his death better than I am. Is that why? I don't think I could forgive her if she started seeing someone so soon after his death, and I also worry that she might be taken advantage of. She's almost 78. Has anyone else had this happen?

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Thanks, GardenArtist - I agree. I've heard that couples who have been in happy marriages remarry quicker than those who were not in a good relationship previously. I will keep an eye out, and I won't discourage her. She deserves to be happy.
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AmyGrace's observations on women who are subordinate and dedicated to their men is very, very insightful, and I think right on point. And I think it's more likely to happen to older women because they grew up, married and raised families in eras when women didn't have the choices they do now.

I've known of a few similar instances but never really thought of the situation as well as AG described it. In part I think it's learned behavior which over time provides a certain level of comfort and expectation.

I don't think I would discourage your mother from meeting new men, but keep a daughter's scrutinizing eye out for anyone who doesn't seem to be a good friend, or even a potential match. I write this not in the sense that a rush into a new liaison is necessarily a good choice, but rather than I think your mother craves the stability and validation she had when being part of a twosome. And for many women, that validation is so very important.
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Thanks, AmyGrace - When Mom first started losing her memory of course she would get very upset because she was afraid she had Alzheimer's. My parents lost their best friends - another couple they did everything with - to Alzheimer's. I explained to her at the time of her last episode that she did not have Alzheimer's which helped a lot. I know she may have a combination of Alzheimer's and vascular dementia because many do, but in her mind, it's not as bad. And I can assure you, IloveMom, that I will meet anyone she takes up with if in fact she does. As far as giving her a curfew - lol - you haven't met my mom. Sweet on the outside with a rod of steel/defiance on the inside.
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You need to meeet the gentleman first before she goes out with him... You have questions to ask him.... Tell her she has to be home by 7:00 pm. They gave us a curfew. You are allowed to give her a curfew. She may need adult supervision too.
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Dear wornoutdaughter: interesting that you should bring up panic attacks because Mom started having them after my stepfather died. In her case, they occurred nightly, to the point that my sister was accompanying her to the ER 2-3 times a week. She had them for several years until we moved her to assisted living. She had two there and a trip in the ambulance, all by herself. Lo and behold, they stopped - I think it had something to do with an unconscious plea for help and attention, fear and loneliness. She didn't want anyone in AL to know and subconsciously her mind adjusted and she had no more of them. If that happens with your mother, see a doctor. In Mom's case, 1/2 of a 6 mg clonzapam before bedtime stopped the occurence of the panic attacks in the middle of the night.
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I don't think your mother loved your father any less. Its probably about her trying to find her own identify because her identity was being 1/2 of a couple and now she is at a loss for who she is. My mother was the same way. It was 40 years ago and she was barely 60. Mom is a "dependent" person. Her whole world was my father, her children (then grown) and how she looks to others. She identified who is by being a man's partner. She started looking for a husband within the month of Dad's death, going to PWP meetings, etc. I don't think she loved my father any less. She did a lot of her mourning before he passed away and she simply had no identity or interests of her own (still doesn't) When she remarried, it was to an awful domineering man who charmed her and then did her thinking for her and treated her like she belonged to him. (nothing like my father at all!) But, I think it didn't matter to her because she needed stability. Although she has admitted she didn't like him, after he died she became even more negative and unhappy at loose ends with nothing to do, no interests, and that is the way she still is today. Maybe your mom needs some hobbies and something to help her become a person in her own right?
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Thank you. She is not on antidepressants because she says she doesn't need them. Maybe she doesn't. She recently had a panic attack however and thought she was having a stroke. She said it had nothing to do with losing her husband of 56+ years. I'm not sure if I'm dealing with denial or if she really is as ok as she says.
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When my husband died, for a very short period of time I would have married ANYONE. That passed soon enough...but had someone swooped me up? I may have gotten married very quickly. Know why? I wanted my life back.

Unless/until you have lost a spouse, believe me, you can't even BEGIN to understand. In my case, I was frazzled from caregiving and lived with his terminal diagnosis for a year. combine that raw emotion with, when he died, to losing MY life? It was brutal. I was 48 years old. Married 24 years.

Keep mom active with friends, church, senior groups...go with her to a couple of these kinds of activities if you can. Just for a short time. She may quickly outgrow her current mindset as she watches her social life rebloom. Protect her. Encourage her. Watch OVER her finances if you can.

But try not to judge her. She is heartbroken and lost.
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Here's a different perspective: your mother may have loved your father so much, may have become so used to his presence, and may need someone else close to her to replace the void left by his death. Thinking about a new BF may be her way of keeping him close to her, even though in her dementia she may not realize it's not really her husband.

And she may need to grieve in her own way. Finding another man to rely on may be that way. She may be hurting a lot more than she's revealed.

It's hard to know what she's thinking. I would be supportive, particularly if you're concerned that she might be exploited by someone. She may need you by her side if this begins to happen.

And I am sorry for the loss of your father; it's so difficult to grieve for one parent while caring for the surviving parent.
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I would definitely ask the MD to do some testing. The other possibility is that she is on antidepressants and taking too many, leading to an odd state of euphoria and delusion.
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