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My mother is slowly losing her short-term memory. I am more than willing to care for her but what is so frustrating and maddening is that she blames me for all the problems in her life and all the things that she forgets without reason or basis. I feel like I am about to snap and lose it because it is unbelievably frustrating.

For example, I will watch her put her purse back into her handbag. After a while, she will try to find it and being unable to find it, turn around and say "Did you take my purse?" I will then take her bag, fish out the purse, and show that it was in her bag all along. She'll just respond with, "oh."

Other times, I'll leave a note for her on her table. And she'll say that I never left a note for her. I look around for the note and it's nowhere to be found except it's in the trash can. I fish it out and show it to her and she'll say, "I didn't throw it away. I don't know who did that." I want to bash my head into the wall.

Another time, she was on the phone with a Medicare or something and she needed her social security number. Her social security card was in her bag and she asked me to find that for her. I find it and hand it to her. Later on that afternoon, she will notice that someone has touched her bag and ask me: "Why did you touch my bag? What were you trying to find in there?" And I want to bash my head into the wall again.

The frustrating part is trying to care for her and then being accused and blamed at the same time.

What do I do and how can I cope?

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Our mothers must be long lost twins!
My mother has ALWAYS blamed everyone else for any problem ( the 'else' usually being me) and she has never said she is sorry for anything. I have started saying, 'well like I said earlier today' and ' this is the same card you gave to me because you didn't want to keep it, remember?'
To make matters worse, she was the baby of a large family and used to everyone else 'looking after things' for her.
Sometimes I think that a video camera might work, but she would say that I had edited it to make it look like she was 'wrong.'
If it is anything legal that she is signing, or an important decision, make sure that you do have a reliable witness - but other than that, I have no other ideas because I have tried everything.
You just have to keep repeating things like you were dealing with a two year old who asks 'why' about everything!
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I agree with everything that everyone else has said. Been there. Done that.
Here are a few practical suggestions:

1. We cannot change, instruct, explain, things for someone with dementia. i once went to a lecture that said that the last remaining characteristic after the five senses and memory have deteriorated, is the emotions. If you can make a reassure someone so that they are no longer scared, panicked, you will have done a good day's work. If you can make someone happy - perhaps by playing familiar music - perhaps by looking at family pictures, you will have earned your halo.

2. Put a "guest book" near the entrance to your elder's residence. Urge everyone who visits, not only to write the date and their names in the book, but also what they did and anything they may have noticed about the elder. Was he limping? Did she complain that her teeth hurt? Were his glasses missing. Sometimes it takes a few observations to figure out that there is something that needs medical care. It's also helpful if people note when certain food needs replenishment.

The guest book is also useful when the elder complains that "no one comes to visit." You can pull out the book and point to the names of each person who has come.

3. Tape up signs. Things like, "You keep your cane in the downstairs closet these days." Or "I will come to help you pay the bills on Monday of every week." can be very reassuring.

Signs written by the elder himself are especially comforting. My mother would fret about the possibility that she would lose her house and have to move. I was able to convince her that she was nothing to worry about. She wrote herself a note saying, "This is my house. I can live her as long as I am capable. No one can take the house away from me." We stuck the note on a kitchen cabinet, and she was constantly relieved to read it.
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I really feel for you as I've been going through exactly the same thing. "You never told me 'X'", "You never gave me the date", "You never sent me the information," etc., etc. In my case I started out being very frustrated because this came on top of the fact that, in her 85 years, my mother has admitted that she was wrong, oh, maybe 5 times...

I finally took a deep breath, reminded myself that -- although she absolutely refuses to consider it -- she is in the early stages of dementia. I've just learned to let it go, as the song says. In order to calm her, I take responsibility: "I'm sorry, I must have forgotten to tell you" or whatever, and roll with the punches. My admitting that I'm wrong (even though I'm not) defuses things. The only downside is that she remains dead certain that she does not have a memory problem and that I'm neglectful.
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Try to remind yourself, it is far more difficult for them than it is for you. They are trapped and frightened. They need to feel safe and loved. If you cannot provide that, then please find someone who can for your loved ones sake.
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Take a deep breath. Do it again. I've worked with seniors for over12 years. It's always "Who took it? Who stole it? What did you do with it?" Never....."I lost it, or I can't find it or I must have misplaced it." When the accusations start, take a deep breath and say "That's unfortunate but I will help look for it." She can't help it. She isn't doing anything on purpose to make you bash your head against the wall. You are now the parent and she is the child. Bless you.
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Thank you all for your responses, anecdotes, and advice. It helps to know that there are others out there going through the same thing.
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JoAnn29, its not easy when its close to home. I remember when my Grandma had dementia or alzheimers and one day she was accusing grandpa of bringing a horse into the house and the mess that it was leaving. Oh she used to scream at it being there and mom used to try and reason with Grandma.

I used to say, "Well do you think if we built it its own space it may be better?" or "Let me take it outside and feed it." It was just a way to calm her down so my mother and father could handle what they needed to. It's almost a great way to practice sarcasm with a level of concern because you really want to live in their reality. You upset them when you try to change their perception. So If they believe a family member is a thief and you know that family member is not, just pacify them. Say well, you have taken care of the situation or went to the police station, etc. Then just reassure the family member you know better, but its how she stays calm.

I think that's the hardest thing. We expect them to be rationale and reason with them and we cannot. It just further escalates things. Take a breath, learn some humor with your responses and just try to put your loved one at ease. Just make sure you either have a witness with you or someone you trust that you can tell. Even telling a doctor the things you have to go through is a good way to document things for your protection as well IF anything ever escalates to legal matters with family members.
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Mitzi, very well said. Now just to try and do it for me. Been 6 months and still making mistakes. TG I have a daughter who works in rehab/nursing.
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*Following*
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sooz55 is right. It is so difficult to watch our loved ones fail. My dad was such a sweetheart and it was so ingrained in him, even with dementia he was still chivalrous. The only difference with dementia was that for the first time in a lifetime I saw him get angry and rage. You could almost see the wiring disconnect go off in his mind. He didn't know or understand it. It was like turning a light switch on and off and he would not remember how he had just lashed out. My dad was Mr. Rogers in personality and a rock. But learning to understand was so times difficult to do. But you have to remember their reality is different than ours and you cannot change it. Sometimes just "playing along" is in their best interest and not yours.

I'll never forget when we went to see a friend in the hospital. He was recovering and his roommate was trying to get out of there. My friends were trying to stand inside the curtain divider so not to be the target of his rage and unfortunately I was not able to "fit". So this guy kept begging for a ride, etc and cursing. So I said that a cab was on his way and started agreeing with him about not doing their job right, cursing out those same people with him. He was talking about how he had to get home and how hard it was. So I just played along. My husband and friends were shocked, but the man eventually settled down knowing that someone believed and agreed with him. You could tell he was scared, he didn't know. Then he eventually forgot about getting out of there and he was good with nurses who came in afterwards.

We have to step out of our reality and into theirs. It's not personal.
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You are the only one that remembers what you did. Your mom doesn't - at least for any amount of time that might circumvent the next round of accusations. She doesn't remember hon, she doesn't want to admit that but from one episode to the next, you are holding on to all the times you were right, all the times she's accused you of something and you have the proof you didn't, but you have your memory. Mom's is fading and it's pretty scarry. Blaming and accusing and thinking people are stealing from them is very, very typical for people with dimensia or the onslaught of Alzheimer's. Let it go. She won't remember what you do at all if and it probably will be getting worse. She will however keep asking her same questions and they might not be nice. That's OK tho 'cause your mom is also trying to understand why her brain doesn't work like it used to and of course, she did nothing to deserve this or forget these little things ever in her past so of course, she thinks someone is at fault, then she'll start thinking someone is out to get her. Just be patient, don't hold on to being right ;cayuse thatll make you more crazy. Try to make your self available, helpful and kind. I guarantee you'll feel better abot things and your mom won't remember much from one day to the next. She will remember kindness however.
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Noblerare, your mother blames who ever is handy because that is less scary than admitting to herself that she cannot rely on her memory. YOU know you didn't mess with her purse, and that is going to have to satisfy you. There is something wrong with her brain. Really physically wrong, in a way that would show up if she died tomorrow and had an autopsy. The damage of dementia is very real. You aren't going to be able to reason with her -- her reasoning ability is unreliable.

But banging your head on the wall only hurts you and doesn't solve the problem. Please be nice to you -- somebody sure should be!

I hope it helps a little to know this is really not about you and almost all caregivers of persons with dementia experience some of this. It is not personal. It is about the terrible damage in her brain.

In the ten years I accompanied my husband on his dementia journey, the hardest part for me was the paranoia stage. I had turned my whole life upside down to help him and he was accusing me of things!! I wish I'd known back then what I know now, and I think I could have accepted it better. Fortunately this stage only lasted a few months with him. My heart goes out to you!
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noblerare, it sounds like your mother has dementia setting in. Many of us here who have parents with dementia go through the blame game. If they don't remember something, then it didn't happen. It is easier to blame someone than it is to stop to consider that the brain is not working so well. Reasoning ability usually suffers along with the short-term memory. In my mother's case, loss of reasoning ability is more advanced than her memory loss.

Dementia is very frightening to a person. If they don't remember something that they should, then they must be losing their mind. This is a very painful thought. Sometimes it helps to say something like "Well, you know your memory is not as good as it used to be." That cushions it a bit for them and makes it seem not so overwhelming.

Her doctor may be able to help her with the symptoms if it is early dementia. I hope so. Older people do tend to forget things, but it is the seriousness of the forgetfulness that lets us know something is amiss. It's easy to forget if you've done something that you do every day, such as give the dog some water. It's easy to forget where you put the keys. However, if you find the keys in the dog's water bowl, it lets you know something is wrong. The caregiver is usually the first to know.
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Noblerare,
Been through that stuff today! Mom gets on a kick of "I'm going to call your cousin and see if she will take me in". Five minutes later, repeat above. I have offered to dial the number for her on her cell phone, but deep down, I know she doesn't need that rejection. I tell her it's my job. Over and over.
I've been sick and she would say every day "don't come here if you're sick"
I was in the room with her for over 2 hours, can barely talk out loud and she asked me over and over "what's wrong with your voice". When I said "I'm sick, Mom" she said "oh", but we went through it several more times.
If I don't go over every other day or so, she gets more and more depressed, and scared of what's happening to her. Who wouldn't be?
You have to just let it go or you will be crazy too. I try to start each day not thinking of yesterday or the crazy call last night, things in their minds can be on a whole other plain in 12-24 hours, or less. It's hard for me not to bring it up and say "but you told me this". And often I do and it is ALWAYS a mistake!
As they say often on here, "you can't win". You feel like you are damned no matter what you do!
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Its the nature of the beast. If you haven't had her evaluated maybe u should. Write down eberything she does and says.
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Welcome to the fascinating and frustrating world of the aging brain. I came across this article on AgingCare that I hope will be helpful regarding what is going on with your mother.

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/How-to-handle-alzheimers-disease-lying-144204.htm
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