It seems like she has no spirit. Cannot make decisions or meal choices. Will not step outside except for doctor appointments. Asks permission to sit at island before dinner is ready ... Almost seems like she is an abused child. She does a lot of staring, when spoken to she becomes agitated or irritable. She has specific routines, waivering makes her nervous.

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Patti, good news, and a good start! Your mom probably needs a lot of support yet distance at the same time as she heals in her own way.

I wish the best to both of you; please do keep us up to date.
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We have the doctor part down. She is in great ohtsical health.
I guess she is following a natural course of healing. The towel folding she started a couple of weeks ago. We got a kitten a month ago, she responds to him. Sounds like I will see my mom "coming back" to me in a while. Thank you both.
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This is so sad. She's probably so overwhelmed by the years of caregiving and eventual death that she's literally numb and locked into fixed positions of response, dealing with burnout and grief simultaneously.

Jessie's right about the stability of a routine providing orientation, and grounding. I would continue that to the extent possible, while also working toward helping her in other small, gradual ways.

Perhaps try something basic, and proven to help people dealing with depression: music and animal therapy. Play her favorite music; if you can get her to go for a walk, visit people in the neighborhood who have pets, or ask them to swing by your house when they take the animals for walks. Don't be discouraged if she doesn't respond right away.

Nature therapy can also help relieve and ground a person. Just being outside seeing birds, butterflies and sometimes other critters as well as being in the fresh air can be rejuvenating. Go for short walks if she's comfortable, or go to a local park and just sit and observe activities.

Although I'm opposed to medication as a first resort, I think in this case it might ease the transition for her.

And keep choices simple, not "what would you like to do", but "would you like to do this?" Make it easy for her. Involve her in household tasks such as setting the table, folding laundry - those always seem to be good starters. And don't worry if she doesn't do them to perfection.

But it also would help to get a good thorough physical just to make sure that everything else is within normal parameters; caregivers often aren't able to maintain their own health, so there could be something else going on as well.
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Patti, do you get the feeling that her mind is not working right or that she is depressed? If she had been carrying on fairly well before your father died, then she may feel like a boat drifting out to sea without him. I would see if I could talk her into seeing a doctor for depression. Taking care of someone with dementia and then losing him after being married for a long time is enough to make anyone depressed. She may feel totally loss and need someone to help her get reoriented. Sometimes a mild antidepressant can help.

It's not unusual that she has a set routine. I imagine she also tried to keep your father on one. Keeping a routine probably helps her feel a bit more oriented. I hope that she will feel better about life soon if it is depression and mourning.
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