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My mom has lost all interest in life. The crossword books she used to love are left on the end table untouched. She was always so good with crosswords. She would work every one she got her hands on. Now I can't even encourage her to try to help me with one. She was once a brilliant artist and has many original works worthy of an art gallery, but those abilities are gone. She loved to read and loved to watch movies. I have bought simple books to try to encourage her to read, but the books go unopened. Any movie we play on tv is a waste of time. As soon as the movie starts she falls asleep. She can't hold a conversation and can't remember what happened an hour ago, let alone expecting her to recall what she ate yesterday. Where did it all go? Why is she like this? She has no interest in the people around her and only perks up when one of the four of her children show up. Mom has been in Assisted Living for two months now. There is endless activity there. She has a beautiful room and people who assist her day and night. But there is still no light in her eyes, no thrill in her voice. She is just a shell of her former self. Is there no hope to find something that will bring some delight into her life? I wonder how her thoughts traverse through her mind. Is this disease painful? I want to help her find a small sense of happiness but have come to the conclusion that it will never happen again. How utterly sad. Although my mother is still alive and breathing, we are about to sell her house and give away all of the things that she loved. We will divide her art collection and sell her furniture to the highest bidder. My sister and I are torn to pieces. How do we reconcile what we are about to do. We are ending my mothers life before the Lord says Amen.

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The transition to assisted living may have set her back some but it was likely the best (or only) choice. Either way, she would have reached this stage. Dementia is terminal and you can't fix that.

Your pain is palpable. Those of us who've been through selling a house when our elders are still physically alive know that pain. Keep what you can for now, just for the memories.

You also may want to hang some of your mom's artwork on her AL walls so that she can see them and so that the staff and her visitors can comment on them.

You can't expect her to do crosswords and read books if her mind won't hold what happened just before since both require memory. I don't believe that watching a movie with her - even if she sleeps - is a waste of time. You can hold her hand and be in the room with her. She will likely register that.

Talk to the staff about different approaches to helping her enjoy life more but don't expect what may not happen. Each person is different. Some who have dementia can still laugh and enjoy some moments while many others withdraw.

My mother stopped enjoying life from a combination of mild dementia and the pain that she was suffering. She also gradually withdrew because she was worn out from hearing about the deaths of her friends and finally the death of her husband, my dad. She only lived five more months after that but she was ready to go.

You can only do so much so don't berate yourself for not making her better. Work with the staff to give your mom whatever you can that may bring her some enjoyment. Other than that, offer her your love. Often, a certain amount of contentment is all that we can expect to see.

Take care of yourself, too. This is a hard time for you and your sister as well as your mother.
Carol
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Transitioning to assisted living can result in a detached group of behaviors in the elderly. It is a conundrum because many land in ACL from an increased need in memory care. Their surroundings that are alight with activity can overstimulate their hampered senses and where familiarity once was, is no longer the case.

Sudden changes in mood and interest can result from more than just old age. Depression is a common issue for elderly and they may not be aware of it due to altered memory changes, the change in environment (a huge factor) and the long associated stigma with mental health issues. Negotiating the emotions we identify as commonplace are not so easy and logical in an elderly mind - esp one that has been mitigated with memory.

Is it a waster of time? Nothing is a waste of tie. The approach may need to be altered if it is not working. Think of it as an opportunity rather than an obligation that one is tempted to presume it is a waste of time. Because when we understand the needs of the elderly and their mind loss, it is essential your approach is unique and creative and one that is tailored per person. The fact that she lights up with G Kids is a sign all is not lost. They are familiar to her. Her current environment is not. 2 mos is hardly a long time. Excess and/ or new stimulation can cause the elderly more confusion. Trusting new people to care for her must be hard for her. Can you imagine? If your mind is not what it was and everything is not as you recall (even muscle memory counts here - such as knowing where her bathroom was in her former home - where the kitchen was), trusting a stranger (no matter how pleasant or well meaning) does not compute. I repreat. DOES NOT COMPUTE. Maybe the gkids can segue the bridge in connecting her to her caretakers by participating in activities involving all.

This is your mom. I encourage you to speak to her in private and very close to her face where she sees ou and filters out the extraneous goings on. Ask her how she feels. Tell her what you see. Involve her in her care by asking her what she thinks might help.

Can you bring in photos and have the gkids and staff to make a memory book? Often videos and memories from photos will access those areas of long term. Short term is the hardest. That is why she may be having trouble.

Keep remembering to look at life through her eyes. Ask her to tell you what it looks like. Don't be afraid to ask her. It's okay and it may be a relief to her.

It also might be her medications. Have someone check in with her physician and make sure you let her Dr know what you are observing.

I would not presume you and she cannot find happiness again. If you think from the perspective that it might be a waste of time, ask yourself if that is really fair. Is it fair to give up trying Then you will never know. If you try, then there is a chance. If your child was experiencing a life altering situation and asked you if it was pointless to try, would you tell them yes based on their situation? Or would you continue to seek hope through the gift that love provides in offering them hope and seeking several approaches? It is no different for the elderly.

The fear you hold is not uncommon. Watching the elderly change is hard. It is transitional and hard on her and you. But I think it is more hard on the elderly. From that shelf, ask if you would want your children to try and reach you if he situation were reversed. Would you hope that someone would be able to reach in and find you again to bring you back out into the light? What if you had difficulty expressing it due to a physical impediment in the mind or body? Hearing is the last sense we lose with age (among the hearing). Speaking to her and talking to her as though she were part of life may be helping her and she is unable to respond in the way you are used to. It is a new normal.

I think the journey does not have to be sad. If you have decided the conclusion is she will never be happy again, you may be wrong. But you won't know unless you try. And what you think she feels may not be so in her mind. She is separate from you. It helps to put what you feel in your own claim bin and accept that she has her own feelings despite what it may appear to be. In the event you are right about your observations after a discovery process, then there is no harm in holding out hope and bringing the party to her in a way that honors her at her own pace...not yours.

Bring her paintbrushes. Bring her fingerpaint. Put a brush in her hand and ask her to help paint the sky with you. You will have her prints, and possibly your mom if you at least try. Bring her favorite music in and play it while you paint with her. Don't worry about the mess. Sing to her and ask her to hum or rock or sing with you if she can. Lie in bed with her - and tell her to close her eyes and sing songs you both remember - Happy Birthday is the one probably committed to long term memory for her and easily accessible.
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Sorry I got cut off.

Don't marinate in despair because it will affect your ability to make a difference if you stay there too long in sadness. Acknowledge it - cry - and then get back in there and show Mum you are there for her and won't leave her in the last leg of her journey.

If you can go to therapy I strongly advocate for it! It will help smooth out the bumps in between. The pain. Ask for a different perspective to help change the way you experience pain in this transition as per Mum. Maybe finding paint and paper is a start - a start of excitement and new memories rather than a sea of surrender to sadness. It is possible. Anything is.

The hardest part about all of this is wondering where Mum went, aye? I catch glimpses of Mum but it is deteriorating. She is becoming a new person. Someone I have not met completely. Maybe part of this is akin to adolescence and the changes we go through as we transition into adulthood. In other words, it is a transition into a new phase of life. We may not like what we see - but it is part of our journey. It is reverse aging - which reverses roles and perhaps gives us pause as we have front row seats to our own mortality. Where Mum was the leader, we find a bit of fear in the role reversal. Who will be our Mum now, right? I think we have to become a Mum to both our Mothers and ourselves. Remind yourself it is all going to be okay. She will be okay. It is a journey not a race to close the book. May as well embrace what is possible until we trip the final line. Who knows what lays beyond? Exploring spirituality may help. Did you and she ever say prayers? What about praying or singing religious songs? If so, it may offer a huge comfort to you both.

My point is this - nothing worthwhile is a waste of time nor is it pointless when it comes from a loving, genuine belief that hope is always possible...that the journey (even the unpleasant times) can provide tremendous growth in people. There may come a moment or moments of clarity for her that will make you LOL and worth every amount of effort. Isn't it well worth that hope? That possibility?

Animals - oh boy. Animals can connect in ways we cannot through humans because they offer a sense that is calming and accepting. No words are needed. Can you bring in a therapy pet for the elderly? Check out canine companions organizations or contact the American Kennel Club and ask for a referral through many of their resources. Will her care facility permit this? There are laws protecting seniors rights to have a pet but each facility will vary. Some may even have them on site. Ask if you can bring in a pet for her to brush. It can and often does bring the light back into their eyes! Once they were Mums and being in a position to hug, hold, or groom a pet may rekindle the one job they did most of their life: caretaking!
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My Mom loved doing crosswords and reading was her absolute passion. We used to watch hockey together for years. She would come over to my place or I hers, we'd order a pizza and really get into the games. Then one day she asked me what I thought at the time was the most ridiculous question. Sometimes when they are analyzing hockey games the commentators would animatedly put a circle around a player to emphasize just him in their commentary. My Mom said "how does the player stay in that circle when they are skating?" I realized at that moment that my Mom was definitely suffering from some sort of decreased cognitive ability.

Reading and doing crosswords eventually became out of the question. I love to read too but just think about it for a second. If you pick up your book and cannot remember what you read yesterday............well, it would be hard to enjoy a book after that.

I think what you need to do is as others have suggested is try to get a feel of what your mom is thinking about on a daily basis and then adjust your conversations to fit her new view of life. Sort of like when you speak to a toddler and you get into their world.

If she is depressed and she might very well be its probably cause she still has enough cognitive functions to know that she isn't where she wants to be and may not remember clearly where she was so everything is skewed in her world. Imagine, lets say that you suddenly found yourself standing on a train platform and you can't remember how you got there or where you came from. I know the greatest thing that could happen to me at that moment would be someone I recognize taking me by the hand and saying don't worry, I'll show you where to go and how to get there.

So, take a few minutes every time you go see her to ask her what she's been thinking about and take it from there.

Good luck and keep us informed on how it is going.
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Many people who used to read and do crossword puzzles lose interest when it becomes harder to see. I see your mother is 91 years old, so these things could be hard for her now. Ask her about her eyes and you may find that it is the reason.

Did she used to like TV and movies? Maybe it is a bit of depression setting in after moving from her home to the AL facility. Depression and feeling disoriented are common when there are big changes. It would be wonderful if you could find a way to get her interested in her new life. That would take a lot of the burden off of you in trying to keep her entertained. Maybe the people at the AL will have some ideas how you could help integrate her into the community.
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This, for me, is the best question I have ever seen on here. I went to see my 92 yr old mother a few weeks ago, stayed for 3 days and was so unhappy. Everything about the question resonates with me. I have asked for advice from members of the family on how to make my mother feel less isolated, but none was forthcoming. I am going to try and put into action some of the very helpful answers put on here to the question. I took my mum out a lot, but it didn't seem to help. I felt angry, distressed, and unable to cope but powerless to help somehow at the time.
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Has your mom been evaluated for depression? I might explore medication for that with her doctor. It could improve her mood. I've seen a lot of people get much better with meds.
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I think sometimes we can look at our elderly parents through our own personal lens that affects how we view their lives. My mom just turned 97 and will tell you she's very satisfied with her life. But she does very, very little in the course of a day. She has no short-term memory. She works part of the daily crossword puzzle in the newspaper and loves simple word-find books. She doesn't watch much tv. I bring her romance novels, which she used to love. I'm not sure if she's getting anything out of them since her memory is shot, but I keep bringing them and she puts her bookmarks in like she's reading them.

When I go visit her, she often doesn't hear me come in. She'll be carrying on a good conversation with herself. I think she's thinking about her youth on the farm because she frequently references that.

My point is that me looking at her life through my own life lens, her life looks very isolating and depressing. Boring. But she seems perfectly satisfied. So don't let your own thoughts/expectations create more of a perceived issue for your mom than may be there. I think seniors are satisfied with less stimulation and activity than we are in many cases.
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Skaredtaker hit on something about the lack of familiarity and overwhelming stimulation. When you moved mom there, did you bring her favorite photos, paintings and furniture? I met a lady a couple weeks ago who completely recreated her house's living room and bedroom in the Assisted Living Facility. The same pillows, comforter, throw rug, microwave cart..bathroom towels. It was a bit crowded, but she had her night tables with all of her clippers, kleenex and do-hickeys she always knew where to find. She even had her old silverware and dishes. She was getting along quite well. If things "outside" become overwhelming, she retreats to her "home."
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Cleaning out the house is the saddest and toughest part. We got our cousins to help us carry stuff to a dumpster. Each was allowed a memento- a painting or their favorite piece of furniture or china. There were no arguments and it was nice to see things stay in the family. Call in the cousins.
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