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First off, I know I am so much more fortunate than so many others, so just want to say that to start.


My mom is 96 yrs old and has moderate dementia. We have a helper come monday-friday from 9-12 and her neighbor brings dinner daily. I go on weekends and take care of all her needs. I call her every day and that is where I'm having difficulty. When she was cognizant, just last year we used to talk for an hour or two. Now that has changed pretty suddenly, well within a year or so. I'm recently retired, not doing much and I don't have much news to talk about. My life is pretty boring and she can't discuss daily topics anymore. I try to ask about her past to reminisce or anything I can think of to talk about. Some days are a little better than others but it is just so sad. I tell myself to be glad that I can still call and talk to her, just to say hi. I know how much I will miss that when she is gone. However, it just makes me so sad every day. I know this sounds shallow and selfish but it kind of ruins my day. I don't want to not call and know I need to re-frame this but I'm having trouble doing that. I doubt there is an answer for how I'm feeling. I can tell when we just don't have anything much to say we talk about the weather or some little something and then I just say- ok mom I love you and I'll talk to you tomorrow. It's still just so sad. Is there any way to ever feel better?? I know I'm grieving that loss. She has always been my one and only best friend. Maybe I need counseling??

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Hi Linda,
First, caregiving is so very difficult for many people. The changes in function of the aging is not easy. I once heard a very wise and seasoned woman say that depending on family members to serve as our very best friends can often be disappointing...for various reasons. Also, not going out of our inner circle hinders us from growing as "individuals" and becoming all they we were created to be. Additionally, it's easy to get caught up in being a "total rescuer"...which has downfalls as well. As adults, we need to detach from our families of origin in order to move forward and thrive. I realize this sounds a bit deep or "woo woo!" Here are a few things that have helped me:
1. Write on paper how you would like to "see" your life.
2. Review what you wrote at least once a week.
3. Buy or create something for yourself...that "you" like...not what you think your mom would "think" you like.
4. Start distancing yourself a bit. Send small notes and cards to your mom, but don't feel oppression if you decide not to call her.
5. Get physically active daily. A 5 minute walk is a great start!
6. Go somewhere different.. a group... volunteer...even if you find yourself miserable...reward yourself with something you like.

I think sadness can hit at very unsuspecting times, too. However, I think we all need to find ways to become excited about living the days we have left and thrive to our fullest. You can do great things, Linda! Sending you a big hug and lots of positive thoughts!
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LindaC11 Jul 10, 2021
Hi
I really love all of your ideas. It is good to look outside the family, you are right. I appreciate your input and value all the advice tremendously.
Thanks you so very much!!!
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Linda,
I’ve had to pretty much give up on the idea of conversing with my mother. She can no longer do the back and forth of conversation. Questions from me agitate her. She gets frustrated about her lack of memory, and that causes anxiety.

Once the anxiety begins, she gets in a dementia loop, repeating the same statement in one minute intervals.

It’s maddening, sad, and depressing.

So, now, when I go in, if she’s in her room, I just sit quietly and don’t really ask her to engage in a “visit”. I pray, or read a book, and I just sit there.

If I go in when she’s in an activity, she just gets crazy anxious to get back out into the main room where the activity is going on. Not because she likes or is engaged in the activity, but because it is part of the ROUTINE. Anything out of her routine makes her incredibly anxious.

When I leave a visit, I HAVE to plan something fun to do. Even if it’s just going to Lowe’s and buying a $3.00 plant. Anything to distract myself into thinking about what just happened. ‘Cause the little griefs just pile up.

You’re in a good place here. There was no instruction manual for this season of my life. But, though reading through others’ experiences, I’ve learned so much, and don’t feel so quite alone in this.

Colleen
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LindaC11 Jul 10, 2021
Hi,
It's good to hear someone else's way to deal with these
feelings. Yes, when I ask questions to try and keep the
conversations going it does bother her when she can't
remember. Best to just keep the phone calls short.
Love the idea of a pick me up too!!
Learning as I go.
thanks so much!!
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Whoa. Some people are so quick to lash out on a board, and I'm sure they'd refrain from speaking that way to someone's face. It would be a nice thing if this was a soft place to land so to speak, but I guess not everybody feels that way.

LindaC11, I think you are a saint for calling your Mom everyday. You are doing much better than I am. Feeling depressed is a normal reaction. You've gotten a lot of good advice here on why self-care is so important. You have a lot on your plate. You no doubt have heard what has been said about the empty vessel - you have nothing left for others when you're running on empty. Do something nice for LindaC11 so you feel recharged to take on the hard stuff. Good luck and hugs.
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LindaC11 Jul 10, 2021
Hi there
Thank you so much for acknowledging the hateful reply.
That is funny, my 1st reaction was Whoa exactly, lol.
People who are hurting sometimes like to hurt others.
I thank you so much for being understanding and encouraging.
I have received wonderful advice from so many caring people.
I will take it all to heart!! I really appreciate it so much!!
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In going through the 5 stages of grief, it's easy to get stuck in one stage, especially anger or depression. It sounds like you are experiencing this depression in both the loss of your job and the loss of your close relationship with your Mom. A therapist would definitely help you sort this out. Journaling helps sometimes, also. Every morning when you first get up, jot down what you are feeling that day. Most everyone on this forum understands the pain you are going through. I'm praying right now that God will surround you with His arms of love and help you to move forward. ((Hugs!))
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LindaC11 Jul 11, 2021
Good Morning
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. It means a lot.
Yes, I am in stage one for sure! Great idea about the journaling
I have been kind of hit and miss with it but doing it first thing sounds
like a good idea. Thank you for your prayers& hugs!!! I pray for you
and all the others suffering.
Thanks again!
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Conversations or visits don't need to be long to have meaning.

Sitting quietly with someone can be all they require. Or maybe listen to music together, or watch an old film (& doze off).

I was blessed last year to spend time with a lady who just wanted to look out the window at 'her tree'. Sometimes she hummed a song to herself or talked to the birds. It was enough.

Peace to you 🕊️
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LindaC11 Jul 10, 2021
Hi
You are so right about the length of time.
Mom used to always want me to stay longer but now
sometimes I can tell she is ready for me to go.
If she knew we could just sit it might be more enjoyable
for her. I always feel like there has to be a dialogue going.
So, thank you. I'm learning new things!
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It’s hard to watch someone slip away slowly. All kinds of emotions. Counseling may not be a bad idea. Not because you’re not handling it correctly, but to sort out your feelings with some guidance.

You mentioned that your mother is your one and only best friend. That’s wonderful that you’re close! But It implies that you don’t have a circle of friends. And I’d guess you have less interaction with others than before, now that you’re retired? I may have missed the mark and interpreted that wrong. Apologies if I have.

Start trying now to cultivate new friends or activities, especially with being newly retired. Maybe at a church, or volunteering for a cause you care about. It’s not easy and can take awhile.

Of course no one can replace your best friend, and no one would want you to! It just helps to have your own immediate circle, and you’ll need that circle more than ever when your mother eventually passes.

If meeting people is too emotionally taxing right now, there’s a lot of help online, as you’ve discovered here. Many support groups are still meeting online. You definitely aren’t alone!
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LindaC11 Jul 10, 2021
Hi and good morning
I loved reading your reply. So much what I needed to hear.
Yes, the feelings are all there and all over the place.
I do need to find some other friends, interests, etc. as work
was very enjoyable and kind of my purpose in life.
Thanks so much!!!
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Linda, I can so relate to your post. My mother was my best friend as well. I would phone her every day and chat. I did most of the talking but my mom enjoyed our conversations and she used to tell me that I was her "lifeline"

But when my mom got to be in her late eighties, early nineties her short term memory was shot and conversations became awkward, sometimes very one-sided because my mom would repeat the same questions and I would get frustrated and end the call early.

I found as someone on here said that eventually just being with her and sitting quietly and companionably ended up being what sustained my mom. Looking out the window together or just looking through a magazine etc.

I know you're sad and believe me I was sad too. When she died at 92 I not only lost a mom but my best friend as well. Please just try to enjoy the time you have left with her even though it makes you melancholy and know she appreciates you even if she may not be able to show it as much.
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LindaC11 Jul 10, 2021
Hi
You do understand and I appreciate that so much.
It's so good for me to read responses from so many caring folks.
My mom says the same thing about me being her lifeline.
Thank you for bringing to my attention about just sitting.
When I'm at her house I usually am busy "doing" something
as I feel awkward just sitting with no conversation.
She doesn't want the tv on when I'm there.
thanks so much!!!
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When I vent about my 94 y/o mother to my 28 y/o daughter who's an RN, she keeps repeating (over & over again) to 'go get therapy' or 'go get counseling'. Which irritates the snot out of me b/c I've been down that road in the past. And guess what? Nothing changed. And nothing will change, either, unless the 'counselor' or 'therapist' can stop my mother from having dementia and repeating the same things over and over again, or complaining about the same things over and over again, or insisting that I should move her in here with me, or that one of 'the family' (who are all dead) should move her in with them, etc etc.

Nobody can fix dementia. Nobody can fix the broken mind of the person suffering from it or the daily turmoil the 'child' has to suffer when calling the parent to talk on the phone. Or driving over to see them. It gives me a stomach ache every single time. It's rare that we're able to have a pleasant conversation, or a real conversation of any kind, or a nice visit. It's always strewn with a lot of cussing (on her part) and name calling and general angst/agitation/complaining about everything from the food to the other residents who live with her in the Memory Care ALF. She often hangs up on me, too. The whole thing is nerve wracking.

If others want to tell you it's 'shallow' or 'selfish' of you to feel depressed or upset with this situation, that's flat out wrong in my opinion. We're all entitled to feel whatever emotions we FEEL. We've lost, or are losing, our mothers to an ugly disease that makes them impossible to talk to; to interact with; to deal with in general. The argumentativeness is beyond belief; just that alone is enough to make any attempt at 'conversation' impossible, at least in my case.

Feel however you need to feel. Get it off your chest. Come here to vent & to get support in general, from most people who understand and empathize with you. Take what you like & leave the rest, as it is with the entirety of the internet.

Get counseling if you think it will help you, by all means. I just don't like that answer as a 'be all and end all' across the board remedy to everything. Sometimes I just want to vent and be heard, that's all. Or punch a pillow and scream. I want my daughter to say Gee mom, I hear you.........I know how tough grandma can be and what a horror show it is to go over there & have her treat you like dirt. Not "Will you please go get counseling, geeez mom." You know?

Wishing you the best of luck with a very difficult situation. You have my understanding and support, and here's a hug for you too.
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NeedHelpWithMom Jul 13, 2021
I agree that sometimes all we want or need at certain times, is simple validation for the way we feel. You are absolutely correct in saying about counseling being the “be all and end all” to every solution. Some situations don’t even have solutions. There is never a ‘one size fits all’ answer. It’s all trial and error. What works for you, may not work for me and vice versa. Nothing is written in stone.

I have noticed that some people use suggesting ‘counseling’ as an easy way out for them. They aren’t interested in listening to the other person speak about it anymore. Other times, counseling is suggested from a place of true concern, which is great.

There are generational differences too. I have two daughters. I absolutely know that we won’t see eye to eye on everything. That’s a given, right? Just like we didn’t agree with everything our mom said.

Anyway, great posting!
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My dear fellow caregiver, there is NOTHING shallow or selfish about what you are feeling.

Having a periodic conversation with a good professional counselor will not do any harm, especially since you’ve pretty well defined your needs already.

My own mother and I had a very troubled past until she was quite elderly, when we developed a wonderful closeness that remained until she died. Those lovely times together remain with me as cherished memories.

Have you tried to enter whatever subject she talks about, and letting that be the center of your conversations together? I presently visit a dear LO who is a two time Covid survivor. I’m so grateful to just be with her that whatever she talks about, no matter how detached it may be, can somehow delight and comfort me.

It’s not what it was when we were younger, but there are days when I feel amazingly uplifted by what conversation goes between us.

Whatever she says or doesn’t say, I can practically bet that the love you feel for each other has survived whatever cognitive skills have been lost.

By the way, I doubt you’re boring either. Please be sure that you’re doing a little something that will delight you or comfort you or cheer you EVERY SINGLE DAY. If there’s a caregiver group somewhere near you, you may be able to share some of your sorrows and concerns there, and you will be helping both yourself and others.

Hope you will soon find peace and comfort.
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LindaC11 Jul 9, 2021
That is excellent advice and I appreciate it so much. I have been depressed after losing my job very abruptly, I was kind of blindsided when let go.
So none of that has helped. It is so uplifting to get some insight and
I am so grateful to have this group to open up to.
thank you, thank you!!!!
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I am so sorry..I had the same depressed feeling..it is called Anticipatory Grief.. you grieve before they are gone. I went for counseling {took 3months} and now I can enjoy what is left of my mom..please try counseling..I can feel joy again in the little things we share..God Bless you…
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