Hi AC Forum,

I hope you are having a good Sunday!

My dementia mom (96 yrs old) cannot focus on anything for more than 2 minutes. She is so fixated on the past and getting away that those thoughts are continually on her mind.

I tried watching TV (Lucille Ball program) last night and she keeps looking out the window or looking down and never even watches the TV. There are funny parts where I laughed and you probably could have waved your hand in front of her face and wondered if there was anybody home.

She woke up this morning asking why she is at our house (now 16 months and same thing day after day). I have work I have to do at home before I go to work tomorrow. Washing, house cleaning, meal prep and I don't have time to babysit her and sit with her all day long.

Caregivers find her frustrating and I'm lucky they come during the week when I am working.

Your experiences or thoughts?


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Have you had an opportunity to read up on dementia?

These are hits for "dementia, short term memory":

Memory loss and inability to focus can be characteristic of dementia. It will help to learn more about it and recognize that your mother can't help it - it's not her fault and she's not doing it to be disagreeable.

If you ever get dementia, you'll probably be the same way.

You also wrote:

"Washing, house cleaning, meal prep and I don't have time to babysit her and sit with her all day long." Have you thought about getting a caregiver for her on these days so she won't be alone?

And frankly, if you feel you're "babysitting" for her, perhaps it's time to examine whether she's in the best place and getting the best care. What's more important, your mother or cleaning house and washing?

And why not bring your mother into these tasks to help you? She can fold towels to help with the laundry. Even if they're not folded to your specifications, it's something for her to do.
Helpful Answer (8)

Luv2015, please review the purpose of this site. It is to support each other in our journey of caregiving. Keep in mind that every situation is different. Some of us are facing all of this without help, some have financial issues and some are affected by years of abuse by the person for whom they are now charged with caring. There is no place for the type of comment you made, and your personal attack on the OP is out of line.
Helpful Answer (7)

It's kind of like asking why that rain cloud keeps raining on me, she acts that way because she has dementia, that is just THE WAY IT IS.
BTW, I wonder what kind of caregivers you have if they can't deal with her behavior either, they can't be very experienced.
Helpful Answer (5)

I made a comment earlier today and while I was looking for something I'd written in Word, I came across this letter that was obstensibly written by a mother in her 80's to her daughter. I was as profoundly moved, if not more so, reading it a second time, perhaps because I'm going to be 77 years old in a few months and I had a mini stroke last week that was terrifying but the symptoms were short lived. Here is the letter it's long, but it's worthwhile reading it:

Through My Mother's Eyes
By Martha Larche Lusk

My daughter, do you have any idea of the fears that haunt me? One is that I'll no longer be needed. Another is that I'll become a burden. I break out in a cold sweat when I think about having a stroke or an accident when I'm alone. This worry is alleviated somewhat by wearing my Lifeline Help Button that connects me with a hospital emergency room, but what if I couldn't press that button?
I live in terror that I might have some kind of lingering illness. And this fear flows into another fear - such an illness could wipe out my savings, destroying my very last shred of independence.
Do you realize how much of my precious freedom I've lost? Consider, if you will, having to depend on someone to take you to church, the market, everywhere. Once I was master of my own transportation. I could go anywhere I wanted, anytime. In our society, the automobile is an arm of independence. For me, old age amputated that arm.
I know my elimination reports bore you at times, but at my age when my body lets me know it is cooperating, I like to share the news; another accomplishment in another seemingly insignificant day.
Octogenarians are proud of any accomplishments, and one in which I take great pride is that I've conquered city living, and in my own apartment to boot. When you moved me here years ago, it wasn't easy to leave the small town that had been my home for almost my entire life, but I adapted. Yet sometimes the longing to be back in my hometown brings tears to my eyes.
But then sundry things cause me to weep these days. Some of the tears you don't see, like when I remember the two husbands I outlived. Or the tears I shed when staring at my one-sided flatness where a few years ago there was a breast. When I contemplate the chance I might someday face the cancer monster again, extra tears well up.
More often than not my emotions erupt with the hormonal spontaneity of a teenage girl. But at least emotions prove I still care, I still hurt, and I still love. Emotions prove I'm alive even though my life has taken some bizarre turns. One example is that I've lost my adult status. Yet no matter how many motherly duties you may perform for me, I'll never be a complete child of yours in the same way you were mine.
Although I'm deeply grateful that I have you to help me, I cringe each time you're forced to take over another of my tasks, such as balancing my bank account. I'm angry that I can no longer do it myself. I could tear that bank statement to shreds when I remember all my excellent office skills during those many years I worked. Perhaps if you'll now try working an algebraic problem (since algebra was never your favorite subject), you'll understand how I feel.
It's not only the bank account. You've taken over Medicare and insurance forms also. And now you must dispense my medicines, too. Over and over, day by day, I'm rendered more helpless. For every chore relinquished, old age claims another little chunk of me, making me fear the day I will be completely dependent.
Therefore, so long as I have a wee scrap of independence left, may I offer some loving advice to you, my daughter?
Don't fret when I eat a food not included in my medical diet. I know as well as you that it's wrong, but some pleasures are worth the sacrifice. To sneak a forbidden bite of a favorite food is just about the only adventure left in my life.
Try not to criticize me for what you see as clutter. While you choose to put things away, I find it convenient to leave them out, saving me steps and energy.
Show patience with my physical slowness. A quick step for you can be a slow painful one for me. Pain is my Siamese twin.
Let me talk, if I choose, about the past. Compared to the limited future, it's often more comforting to remember what has gone before instead; and if in the process of reminiscing, I repeat myself, try to overlook it.
Everybody forgets sometimes, even you; grant me the same human frailty. Forgetfulness doesn't always mean senility.
Let me complain about the weather. Realize that for me there's no perfect climate control. My personal thermostat responds to allergies, thinning blood, and aching joints.
Please don't push your way on me too much. Your way may not always be best for me. I'm not even sure efficiency is all that important anyway; a jumbled grocery list isn't the end of the world.
When people address you concerning my requests, bypassing me entirely, stand up for me; I still have a brain, as well as the ability to speak for myself.
I don't like to whine, but please spend as much time with me as you can. I love you, and I enjoy being with you. Contrary to what you might think, I'm aware of the toll all this responsibility has taken on you. It shows in your face. To take on the parental task of caring for an elderly child is to look in a mirror and see your own mortality. I can't help being a constant reminder of your future. And I know all the devilish challenges you'll face.
Now for my most important piece of advice, which is experience-borne. Strive to grow old with courage. I pray that in the future you may know more of the joys of old age than I and less of the trials. And may you always have someone like you, someone who cares.
Helpful Answer (5)

Dear LastOne, I too am caring for my 90 year old Mother who has dementia. It is a very challenging job but I am happy to do it. That was not always the case though and I think like you are now I was very confused, anxious, frustrated and angry when these signs first started showing. It is incredibly frustrating and I think the whole "what the hell is going on here?" throws you for a sixer! Hind- site is a wonderful and helpful thing but unfortunately I didn't know several years ago what I do now so like you I had to go through all the emotional symptoms people do when dealing with the worries an d health issues of elderly parents.
May I ask if your Mother is on any medication to slow down the dementia? Mine is and it has helped. Although every day is still "Ground Hog Day"! I find it helpful to speak as you would to a child, very simply and patiently and slowly. Get their attention first by looking directly into their face, smile, make whatever you have to say sound like fun, even like a game as you would with a small child you are trying to teach. My Mother and I have lots of laughs together because I have finally found a way to help through each day while she deals with this sad, sad fog that has encompassed her brain. I pray that I can stay strong for her. I always try to remember she is not doing this on purpose, there is no way my Mother would ever have wanted to be like this. I hope you find a way to help yourself and your Mother. God Bless.
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Sorry if I misread something into the housecleaning issue. Part of that was from experience. As my family's life became more chaotic, I had less time to focus on things like cooking and cleaning. Just didn't have the energy.

And gradually I began to feel a sense of loss of control. So when I set aside time and do some floor to ceiling cleaning, I feel as though the house and dust bunnies aren't usurping my rights.

I've also read of similar situations, so I was also extrapolating to yours. No criticism or reactionary behavior was intended.

Guess I better shut up now before I really put my foot in my mouth!
Helpful Answer (3)

Well put akdaughter!
Helpful Answer (2)

Lastone, I feel your pain. It is a lot to handle and can become overhelming very quickly. I know you don't want to put her in a home but may I suggest you at least look into an Adult Foster Home. These are small usually 6-10 residents and therefore they get more attention. If you check my profile page you will find a link where I wrote about these types of homes. They are becoming very popular because they are a family like setting and cost half of nursing home living. You may like this option. Everyone has to find their right balance. I hope you can find yours. Reach out to me anytime, I am a family caregiver for mom and also a private caregiver for my clients. I have been on both sides of the fence. Wishing the best for you. Ruth Anne
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Just another thought on this line of conversation -- I'm so glad we can converse this way and let others in to our often chaotic life with our loved ones. I can't imagine sharing my struggles with any of my family members or even church friends -- they would surely judge me as being selfish, inconsiderate, and unkind. And sometimes I am, just like many of you, but as I look back at the 3 years my mom has lived with my husband and I, I realize that I am basically a very loving and kind person being in a situation that tries my patience to an unbearable limit and where I fall often, but like all of you, I have learned to get back up and continue on this journey, because no matter what, my mom(dad, husband etc.) IS WORTH IT! She is almost 98 years old, wheelchair bound and has dementia, but still has enough wits about her to tell me when I kiss her goodnight and tell her I love her, "thank you for taking care of me". I open the window of my emotions and all the anger, frustration, and dissatisfaction with my life, flies out in the night air. (your loved one may never say that and I'm truly sorry for you if they don't )We need to get all those negative feelings out before we become monsters and this is where we do it and most of us understand totally and support each other. By doing this we are allowing each other to heal and learn new ways of handling difficult things and how to listen with our mind and our heart. Thank you for all of you -- we need each other in this 24/7 journey that we have been called to travel on whether we want to or not.
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Lady, that is so emotional, yet so true and insightful. I realize after reading that how much our parents must keep from us, perhaps not only from admission of frailty and embarrassment at growing old, but also to protect us.

I've copied it and intend to read it whenever I feel myself growing older, but also when I'm tempted to be short with my father. It will be a reminder that he sees life from a very different, and a very compromised, perspective than I.

I did Google it and found that it's an excerpt from a Chicken Soup for the Caregivers' Soul book. I'm tempted to read the book, which I believe I have, but I'll probably use up all the remaining Kleenexes I have.

Thank you for sharing this very moving revelation of a woman growing old.
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