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Our 83 y.o. mother (a widow) has dementia and is living in her home still with the devoted care of my sister, who lives across the street. I cannot do it. I became physically ill from her emotional abuse and moved 200 miles away 5 years ago. I talk to one/both of them every day. As her forgetfulness etc. increases, she is driving away her few friends and becoming more impaired. Now she is trying to pit us against each other via phone. If we tell her something she doesn't want to hear, she says "Well, your sister is lying. She's a horrible person, a liar." This is devastating. She has nothing positive to say and is not interested in us. Oh, and she's also an active alcoholic who gets drunk a few times a week at the neighbor's house.


How do you cope with a parent who has no memory and is always negative? AND knowing it will only get worse? Doctors offer nothing in terms of medication.

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The negativity is terminal. It won't get better.

However, on a happier note, you can do something about "Mom's pitting us against each other." As a family, you can agree to support each other by not allowing your mom to drive wedges between you. Try it. It works.
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Reply to CantDance
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All of us start our journey as caregiver with cultural, social and noble best intentions + very often, fantasy-like hopes/wishes (I'm guilty!) are included when our naive adventure begins. Very quickly, any fantasies or hopes for the best are replaced with hard day-to-day realities that can take over a caregiver's life and family. Our grand-parents, parents or elder loved-ones were NEVER socially or intellectually prepared to age gracefully...."to know, understand & prepare" for the inevitable day when they'd need help. MAYBE if better prepared, some would "willingly" give up levels of control over the life they "formerly" had....then again, MAYBE NOT! It's a slippery slope with no simple answers; the solutions are as varied as the individuals involved. Listen to all the good, posted advice. Get involved in a good dementia / caregiver group asap.... a great investment of your time! You NEED help, support, open hearts and sound advise from "warriors" that are in similar battles as you or have gone through these battles. While in battle, important you remember "correct sequence of priorities": YOU, your spouse, children, friends, church - You are important in doing God's work; it's a very hard job to be a caregiver. You CANNOT help anyone around you, if you are a mess and burnt out. Don't do this alone; get a community of people around you (Note: often strangers understand & are more helpful than "blood family members". In stressful times, all existing family dysfunctions tend to pop up). --here's My story --
FEB 2017 = 91 yr Dad/Mom independently living in their own home; 2 wks later forced to live w/ my only older sibling (a sister+husband) two blocks away in same neighborhood. Reason: Dad suddenly diagnosed with COPD (stopped smoking @ 45 yrs old?), needed oxygen 24/7 & very weak...this rocked Dad's mind, body & soul. He was stubborn, mean words fly when frustrated; likely due to growing up without a father, but he did have a good heart. Mom suffered with Dementia for past 13+ yrs - Mom was a classy lady, calm, risk-taker, courageous business owner and devoted mom / wife....her only downfall was being Passive-Aggressive due to cultural and social conditions. Dad was in DENIAL of Mom's dementia. Sister introduced Mom/Dad to local dementia / Alzheimer's center; both didn't want to participate!! After COPD, Dad couldn't care for mom, their house, couldn't golf, walk longer than 15-30 mins, couldn't drive (taking keys from dad was WWIII)...he HATED all of it - he wanted "control" of his life and took it out on my sister, me, our husbands; our family. He'd pick fights, play us (sister against sister), blame Mom & anyone but himself for his frustrations - his attitude, actions, words were horrible. Looking back, I know 100% now he was simply terrified; couldn't accept his reality of poor health and coming to end of his road in this world. JULY 2017 = Dad has huge fight w/my sister/husband - favorite Grandson picks him up; staying at G-son's home with his wife/kids - Dad calls me/my husband; announces he's coming to live with "US"?! - Mom left behind for my sister to care for (*my husband/I should have said "NO", but God had others plans for us*) - Dad comes to live with us (2 hrs away from my sister) - DEC 2017 = Mom follows to live w/ us - JAN 2018 = I resign from 35yr career; to be caregiver to parents - my sister/I fighting; I'm Living Trust executor past 20 yrs - Dad takes over our home, fights w/ us 24/7 - marriage failing; hubby ready to leave - the Grace of God is all I had - I'm down 20 lbs & a wreck - I learn, fall down & eventually wake up, drop my pride and actively seek help. MAY 2018 = Dad falls; fractures L4 back - I know 100% I can't care for both Dad & Mom (mom needs 24/7 care now) - Move Dad+Mom to licensed, home w/ 24/7 caregivers; 15 mins away - Dad fights 3 mos; finally settles in - NOV 2018 = Dad passed away - Mom is happy & thriving - I'll celebrate 21 yrs of marriage this yr! - Never give up!
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Reply to YukiBob
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Why do you call your mom? Call your sister to support her and let her vent. Do some nice things for your sister like send her a gift certificate for a massage. As far as replies to mom you all need stock sayings that you can parrot back to her like "I’m sorry you feel that way" or "isn’t that interesting" and then don’t say anything further. Don’t get into an argument with her over her accusations. If she has dementia then arguments and reasoning are ineffective and fuel for a fire. There are some great YouTube videos on things to say to a narcissist...write these statements down and have them handy if you talk to her. It will help you feel in control and not let her get the satisfaction of baiting you.
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Reply to Harpcat
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The reason doctors will not prescribe her anything is because of her abuse of alcohol. Until she gets sober, they will not help her. She may need to go into a facility for sober living, but I doubt that will happen. Your sister can either stay or go. Either way, she will die in that house unless she gets sober. No one will help her until she helps herself. Hang in there.
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Reply to mmcmahon12000
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I have no advice. But you and Sister know Mom is not mentally well. She can try to pit you against the other (sounds like she thrives on such drama and uses it as deflection of her issues) all she wants, but you both know better.

My grandmother did not have dementia but spent most of her life being negative, afraid, or upset about something. I don't know what happened to her that made her that way. We all loved her but listening to the griping, the boo-hooing, and negativity was so draining.
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Reply to LoopyLoo
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I'd just talk to my sister and skip the mother. They are destructive people and they don't change so it's okay to stay away completely.
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Reply to Davina
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I would just like to add that you may want to contact her neighbor who is allowing your mom to get drunk at their house that they could possibly be liable for providing an already impaired person with alcohol. If Mom should be on her way home and stumble and fall, I wonder if you could press charges for providing her with alcohol. Now, this is moot if Mom hasn’t been formally diagnosed with dementia, but even so, if she’s drunk and they allow her to stumble home, they should be held accountable.

Loopyloo’s first paragraph is invaluable advice. You both know Mom has mental issues. Dial it down and don’t take her so seriously. When she realizes she can’t yank yiur chain, she’ll give up. If you sense Sis is getting burned out, maybe suggest Mom move on and out.
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Reply to Ahmijoy
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Everytime I read another one of these sad stories I realize how very common this problem is although I’ve been told it many times by many people. I would suggest that you get a counselor. (My doctor recommended one for me and she did help me to see things more clearly.) A psychotic, demeaning, “never wrong,” narcissistic mother who has dementia - even though it might not have been professionally diagnosed - for some reason will destroy anyone that she thinks in her crazy head is doing anything or has done anything that she doesn’t like or with whom she disagrees. They truly do hallucinate and believe that things happened that didn’t happen and will usually blame the one(s) who are the primary caregivers (the ones who are around the most). It’s truly sad because it is so very painful to the caregiver(s) and the parent is truly out of her head!!! No one can tell her anything and everyone else is wrong and everyone else is responsible for everything that she thinks is wrong! It’s like a demon that never goes away!
My mother’s doctor tried to prescribe medication for her due to her delusions and anxiety and then my mother refused to take it because she decided that she didn’t need it - whew! (What a handful she was.). Her doctor did tel me that sometimes medication will make some people worse as in my mother’s case whom he said was psychotic but also that it was her personality. I say take a lot of deep breaths and take some nice long walks, pray, get massages and get a counselor. Everyone told me, “Take care of yourself or your mother will kill you.” (Truly, I really thought she would kill me and she actually attacked me twice and I’ve heard of this kind of thing from others as well.). It’s hard to fit it all in but at least do some things for yourself for your own sanity! May God help all caregivers with His Divine grace and all the graces they need to serve! Best to you!
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Reply to EldestdaughterM
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Her alcoholism is controlling her life, but she is unaware that it is. She can stop this abusive use, but she must want to stop. Personally, I would not listen to such acrimonious talk about your sister, who is her carer.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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I always say the same thing to everyone who is the primary caregiver. Get the legal stuff done and in place! POA, Guardian, Trustee. This will give you power to help those you love who can't or won't make the hard decisions. Dementia changes the brain. It can change a persons personality, memory, effect how organs function, breathing, the ability to walk etc. With the alcohol issue, she will get worse faster.

You obviously love your mother because the 200 mile move didn't lesson your frustration with your mom. You need to try and understand that when you converse with your mother, you are talking to the dementia and alcohol brain. You have to live in their world and learn the art of diversion and redirect.
Eventually she will need 24 hour care, so I hope that is in place. You tell them you love them , listen and acknowledge her concerns. When she gets agitated, tell her you love her and your so sorry she is upset. Keep your voice calm and constantly tell her you love her.
Talk to your sister about your concerns and get a counselor to help with what you and your family are about to face,
I wish you well
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Reply to llmusick
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YukiBob Apr 2, 2019
** llmusick is 100% Correct & Truthful!! **
Anonymous894280 = Don't wait for "someone else" or agreement of family / friends to step up & initiate the hard steps for your
dementia loved one.... you're losing "very valuable time" & will make it much harder when various crisis hit later. Be prepared.
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