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My husband passed away a few years ago. I have my mother, who has dementia, part of the year while my sister has her the other part. Recently, my mother has decided she wants to sleep with me. I'm with her 24/7 and my bedroom is my only alone time. She plays on my emotions by crying and saying she is lonely. She's happy most of the time until bedtime. This is new, she has only started doing this the past few weeks but, I need to stop it some how. We've always gotten along well and we had a good routine with me tucking her in and then she plays games on her iPad a while and goes to sleep. My sister still has her husband so she doesn't do this with her, just me. HELP!

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My mother has had similar complaints when she has been in the hospital. Sleep disturbances are common with dementia as you may know. My mother grew up poor and always slept with sisters; now my father. For years, she complained about having bad dreams... The last time in the hospital, she was hysterical. We finally spoke to a psychiatrist about it and he gave her a small dose of an anti-anxiety meds at bedtime... No More Bad Dreams! While I am not an advocate of lots of meds, this made a huge difference for my mother and my father, because now he gets a better night's sleep, too. It is worth discussing with your mother's doctor.
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annie,

There are many excellent guided meditations available online for sleep, anxiety, loneliness etc. If your mother already uses the iPad you can download and create an icon for her favorite one and after she has finished playing her games she can simply tap the icon and listen to the meditation that will help her fall asleep. My 85 year old mother who lives with me was diagnosed a few years ago with dementia and suffers from depression and anxiety. I have found that soothing meditative type music or guided meditation helps during those times when no amount of consoling will help. I might also suggest a daily meditation practice for yourself for the much needed brief but valuable respite you deserve.
Bless you for what you are doing for your mother and I hope you find comfort in knowing you are not alone.
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Rainmom, I agree. I should never have let it happen but, she caught me off guard.
we went through a lot with her these last few years and we finally felt we got everything right and she was happy. And she is happy except with this.
Someone suggested music. Maybe I will put her music on in her room at bed time. She's happier when she is listing to it. Maybe it will distract her.
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I have an adult son with Autism. I have noticed many similarities between dementia and autism. Stacy is absolutely correct in saying rituals are key - they provide a sense of security- the person knows what comes next even if it is somewhat instinctual due to repetition. However - I'm afraid you put your foot in it by allowing it to have already happened - now you've got to break the habit. I realize it's painful to hear your mother cry - but you said it yourself - it's done to manipulate you. This can be a long journey you're on - and things will only get harder. If you don't start setting boundaries and sticking to them you are going to end up exhausted and bitter. In the long run - being allowed to sleep by yourself will make you a better caregiver.
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This is something that creeps up every once in a while with my mom, fortunately she is wheelchair dependent so I don't have to worry about her coming to my room. I can't sleep with mom because with her body pillow and positioning pillows there just isn't room and besides she likes to keep the temp tropical, although I do sometimes lie beside her on top of the blankets for a few minutes hoping she will fall asleep. Otherwise I just tell her I'm going to my own room just down the hall and I tuck her teddy into her arms and I go. I guess I've gotten pretty good at being a cold hearted b**ch because I just shut the door if she keeps calling, I've got earplugs too.
Someone mentioned a baby monitor, I have one that goes two ways and it used to be really helpful to be able to reassure her from wherever I was, unfortunately now she no longer can hear what I am saying.
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My mom was also one of those people that never slept alone. After deciding that my dad needed a break, my sister and I took turns spending the night. We put 2 twins beds in the same room and this really helped my mom. neither one of us could sleep in the full size bed. Don't know how my parents did it for over 45 yrs!
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Thank you staceyb! You are right. Seems that, with dementia, just when you get one problem figured out a new one comes along. Hopefully this is temporary.
She mostly retains memory in ten minute increments with a little lasting longer.
It's her short term memory, as I think it usually is with dementia. She remembers everything from her childhood and young adult life. And I agree that laying with her more than a few minutes may be a bad idea. I just don't want her to cry and I don't want to deprive her if something she needs. It can be a fine line. She will be going to my sister in October. Although my sister is great with her I think she gets more "one on one" with me because I have no husband and it's just me and her. I need to get a man in my bed!!! ;) (just kidding)
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Annie, ahh, so you have given in to her, and now you have a situation where you will have to break the cycle, you are going to have to go about this very much like correcting the mistakes we made with our toddlers, I know that I did, it's goingnto be tough love I'm afraid. I hope others will correct me if I'm wrong, as dementia is different I'm sure, but consistency is probably key here!
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Givingitmyall. No, it's not for me. She just doesn't want to sleep alone. My father has been gone 13 years but, this problem has only recently come up. She says she doesn't understand why I prefer to sleep alone. I have put pillows behind her. It doesn't seem to make a difference. It's kind of strange that it suddenly became an issue. When she does sleep with me she keeps check to see if I am still reading or if I have put my book away and gone to sleep. She says she doesn't want to stay up reading 'alone' if I am going to sleep!! I'm laying RIGHT NEXT to her!!! Why is my going to sleep while she is reading a problem????
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My mom is the same way
She grew up in poverty and slept in the same bed with her two sisters
I think she is just afraid to be alone - unless I needed to keep awake to help her she'd sleep in her own bed but I'd let her come in in the morning on the weekends

Now that she's in a facility she even asks her favorite caregivers to sleep with her because she's scared and I often lie down next to her (full size bed) in order to get her to fall asleep before I leave

Since a baby monitor is only one way - it didn't help - she couldn't hear me and she had no interest in cuddling a stuffed animal

Her last night at home ended with a fall in her room at 2:30 am - being old and demented is a tough situation for everyone
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I have read time and time again on this forum, that often dementia goes through phases, and the person will be very adamant about a certain thing, and then that fades away, while another thing crops up. I certainly hope that this is going to be one of those phases for you, and eventually she will forget about it. Has there been a recent "changing of the guards", between you and your sister? Is your Mom able to retain any of the conversation from the previous night, or is this a repeated loop, that is happening new, and now every night. Is she able to verbalize if something is scarying or bothering her when it comes to bedtime? I don't have any real adult experience with dementia, only that of my childhood, where our Grandmother lived with us, so I have no expertise in this, but I do definitely think you should hold your ground on this, and would also limit my getting in bed with her longer than a few minutes, or she may misinterpret this as getting her way, and could further use it as a manipulation tool. Rituals, all I might suggest is bedtime rituals, get her cozy, make a fuss, glass of water, a story even, her favorite blanket, pillow, stuffed animal, radio or TV set to go off after 1/2 hour, her computer games, much like putting a toddler to bed.

You have to have your alone time, and an attempt at good rest, especially at night time! I wish you well with this transition!
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You might try a body pillow. It gives the feeling of someone being in bed with you. Just to clarify, though, is she more concerned about you sleeping alone or herself? The bed pillow would only help if she's feeling lonely.
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JessieBelle. Wow, seven years. That's a long time. She's lucky to have you.
My sister and have been doing this for four years now. Before that, when she was just starting to show signs of dementia, we lived closer (within 20 min. Of each other and our mother) my sister and I use to tag team being with my mother (not sleeping at her house, just spending the days) every other day for two years. So it feels more like 6 years. Now my sister and I live 5 hours apart so when one of us needs a break, we can no longer call each other and have the other take her for a day to help each other out. It is ever changing.
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My room is right near hers. She can see into it from hers. I always sleep with my door open so she knows I can hear her. You know, we've been through other hurdles with her and just when you think you finally have it down where everyone is happy, something new comes up! I really appreciate all of you responding to me. I appreciate your input and it helps just to vent to you.
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We really do have to draw lines. I ran into a problem just today. My mother's doctor wanted me to check her glucose 2 hours after lunch and give extra insulin if needed. I realized that this would take away my afternoons -- the only time I have to get out of the house to go shopping or to get some exercise and visit with friends. I wrote her doctor this morning and said that we can't do it like that. It sounds terrible that I'm not willing to lock myself in the house all day every day for something as important as an extra insulin shot if needed. But I can't do that and have any quality of life for myself. I need to know that I can go out on some afternoons to refresh myself. I've been here 24/7 for 7 years now except when I go out in the afternoons. I had to draw a line on how much I'm willing to give. (She won't accept any hired help in the house.)
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She is incontinent. She has bad vision and her hearing is lacking. So she has more than one thing going on but, those things have been that way for years.
Thank you Evermore99. I do think that my be one of the reasons why it's such a big problem for me. I am also an introvert and if I don't get time alone it drains me. During the time I have her, emotionally I always feel like I'm on "high alert" which is exhausting! When I don't have her I enjoy my alone time so much. She is very social by nature but since her dementia plus her other limits she's uncomfortable with other people so I can't get her to partucipate with anyone else.
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Would a baby monitor help? It might make her feel connected and reassured if she knows you can hear her.
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I want to keep her in her bed and tell her "no" but, I don't know if I can lay in my bed hearing her crying. Maybe if I lay in her bed for about an hour at bedtime and then go to mine. Maybe that will give her some of the closeness she needs without her sleeping with me all night.
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As I said in a different thread recently - dementia wins the argument everytime- at least in their mind. Reasoning and explaination does no good. You can't give in this one - how's it going to be if - and likely - she becomes continent?
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I'm guessing that your bedroom and bed is your only form of privacy when she is around. I'm an introvert by nature and I need my own space and that's my bedroom. I've no problems sharing it with my dogs but I need to be away from people. Don't let her manipulate her into moving into your room as well. It looks like you do have a bedtime routine maybe you could give her a sleep aid but check with her doctor first. How far along is she with dementia? Maybe the moving between you and your sister is becoming a little too much.
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I have two cats that sit with her during the day but, only sleep with me.
I actually got her two stuffed dogs. The soft cuddly one to sleep with and one of those "breathing" ones. I'm trying to be more "hands on" affectionate so she has that closeness. I do think the crying is just playing on my emotions. She is controlling the situation that way.
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You were typing at the same time as me, aanie, so the stuffed animal idea is out. Just stick to your no. We want them to be happy, so it can be hard to remember that our feelings are as important as theirs. You have the right to have your alone time in your bed. You give so much to your mother already in taking care of her half the year. Her life has been much better because of it. There is a point, though, that we can't give anymore and have any quality to our own lives. Just keep saying no when she asks. It is asking too much of you.
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I have done that. I sat her down and told her I really like to sleep alone. She was fine for about a week but, started again these last few nights. I understand how she feels because I miss having my husband laying next to me in bed. I don't want her to feel unwanted or a burden. Now that she knows I want to sleep alone, instead of just asking, she starts crying. Physically she seems ten years younger. She has dementia and is beginning to be unsteady on her feet, so this requires more of my attention. I got her a stuffed animal that looks like the dog she use to have and that seem to help a lot that week she slept alone. I guess the affect has warn off. I her to be happy but, I really need some private time.
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Oh, that would be awful no matter how much you loved her. Just say no, that you'd never be able to sleep with her in the bed. I believe in this case you can be honest. Then maybe you could get her a stuffed animal, like GardenArtist mentioned.
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Maybe get her a soft cuddly kitten or puppy to take to bed with her?

I don't know enough about your situation to guess whether this is manipulation, neediness, or loneliness, so I'm just offering a kind of middle ground suggestion.

Perhaps you could also put on soothing bedtime music to help her fall asleep, if that's by any chance one of the issues.
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Just say "no, that's not going to work". Goodness - don't you derseve even the tiniest bit of privacy and peace? Don't attempt to reason or explain - just repeat the above sentence and change the subject.
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