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My 88 year old mother does not have any "serious" ailments -- no diabetes or heart trouble, anything like that. She did just have a mastectomy this year and has high blood pressure. She does have dementia which seems to get worse day by day. She has not interests and is depressed about not being able to do things she used to do, and about losing relatives who have passed on. She seems to have aged dramatically over the past 6 months, and I have the feeling she won't be around much longer. It is like she has given up and is just waiting to die.

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hi dianne
like to ask you a question is your father still living?or something else? sometimes elderly people get to the poimt where they missed the mate, I have noticed when i am taking careof a client and their spouse is around and they end up passing that their lives has a big void in the heart ..there are several reasons it could be in her surroundings also, she may not feel she is wanted even though thats not true, im just letting you know elderly people die with a broken hearts for no apperent reason it that they feel lonely and feel they are not needed so they get depress unhappy, they start to isolate them selves stop eating is one of the major systoms they feel if they do not eat they will go faster..its so sad that you cant do anything for their unhappenisess i wish you well my friend
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Wow! That is a good idea, naheaton. I gave it some thought for my husband, but I don't think he is the Dear Abby type. Dianne, if your mother could get into providing some answers that you could then share online, I think that is a great idea.

It sounds like you need to get Mom signed up for Part D or some other drug coverage, although I think that can't happen in the middle of the year. You also need to read up on dementia.

Are there any household tasks Mom can still do? I wouldn't set her to scrubbing floors, but you might be surprised at what you can come up with. My husband (85, dementia) sorts socks out of the drier, and folds towels. We use washclothes as single-use hand towels, with a basket of them on the sink and hampers in each bathroom. We go through A LOT of towels, at least 4 loads per week. Hubby can see that folding them is a contribution to the household and not a made-up job. He uses those towels himself every day. Can your mother do some cooking tasks, with supervision? Tearing up bread for meatloaf, measuring spices? Can she water plants? All of us like to feel useful, and a little work on your part to make some household tasks possible could be very worthwhile.

Is there a senior center she could visit? Maybe with some card playing or singing or other activities to take her mind off herself?

Yes, being a caregiver can be overwhelming. Especially in the beginning, when you are not only learning a new role toward your mother, but also dealing with paperwork and insurance companies and doctor's offices. It is a big job. Hang in there!
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Thank you, naheaton, for your response. I will give that a try. Yes, my mom is also very insightful about her seniors think and should be treated. She also feels like she is a burden and useless because she can't do things she used to. That might help her morale to feel that she is still worthwhile and can help others. Even though I try to encourage her, I think it will help more to have something specific she could help with. Thank you for the suggestion!
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Diane, maybe your mom needs something to distract her from thinking about how her body is failing. How about printing off some of the questions posted on this website about her peers. Since she's the same age as many of the people we're talking about on here, what would she do to encourage a woman to take a shower for instance? How about when an elder won't eat? Does she have any insight into how the old person thinks about certain things? I know I've run a few things up the flag pole to my mother-in-law who also has dementia, and she's quite insightful about how the senior citizen thinks. Who knows?
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Thank you for your response. First, I would like to clarify some things. When I said my mother doesn't have serious illnesses, I did not mean to belittle what she does have in any way. I just meant that she doesn't appear to have any current illnesses that would seem to put her at risk. I have some of those same things--depression, high blood pressure, and do realize the impact on a person's well-being. However, she is on medication for her blood pressure, so it is under control. She is cancer free. Her cancer was limited to the breast and did not extend to the lymph nodes. She seems to be recovering very well physically from the surgery. The dementia has not been formally diagnosed. But it is very obvious to family members that it does exhist. The doctor thinks it is possible that the dementia may be caused by small strokes. My mom does not live in a care facility. She lives with me. I would like to see her put on an antidepressant or mood stabilizer, but her Medicare plan does not cover medication, and she cannot afford the high cost of antidepressants. I am in the midst of working with the doctor to deal with these issues. I am new to being a caregiver, so I am currently overwhelmed with what to do to help my mom.
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Your mother does have serious ailments. Breast cancer, high blood pressure, dementia, and depression are each in their own way very serious. I hope the cancer was successfully removed, and that Mom is taking meds for her blood pressure. Dementia, which often includes depression, is quite serious. There is no cure for it, although there are treatments for some symptoms that can be quite helpful, especially in the earliest stage. Advanced dementia is a terminal condition. It is serious.

What does her doctor say about her present condition? Have you discussed the rapid decline? Does your mom live in a long term care facility?
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