She no longer wants to go to church, watch, her favorite sports team, etc. She really just wants to lie down and read...which really means to sleep all day. She is on a new antidepressant, but doesnt appear to be working

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How old is your mom and about what stage of dementia is she?
There are personality changes with dementia, so it helps to know if dementia is new or if she's well into the progression.

It can be depression. It can also be that doing activities that were favored in the past are now too confusing. Brain changes can bring on what looks like resistance and stubbornness, in addition to depression. Definitely keep working on the depression.

My mom's memory wasn't necessarily affected by her dementia nearly as much as her executive functions and emotional regulation. Yes, she had some pretty fierce depression going on in there too. It was a hot mess. She got downright ugly and combative over any suggestion she get out and do anything, anywhere. Once in a great while, she'd drive the few miles to my dad's grave and be there for a while, until she fell out there in the cemetery, and had to roll to the car to get up. Quite the mental image. The cell phone from 1988 was still in the car and plugged in to charge, so she really was up a creek. She didn't go out there again.

Looking back over the years, I think we all assumed that her unwillingness to be social and "do" literally anything was 100% because of her stubbornness and depression. We assumed "wouldn't" when I think it actually had turned into 50% "couldn't". She was just really good at putting up a front to make people - and probably herself - think it was her choice to sit there in the house all day and night, doing nothing. Leave me alone. Get out of here. You can't tell me what to do. Etc.

The doing nothing was really bad for her mental stimulation, so it made her go downhill a lot faster. If you don't use it, you lose it, right? She would stare at the wall and not even listen to the radio or watch tv or read the mail. Living alone, way out in the country, it was a recipe for fast decline.

Now that she's in care, she is gotten up, dressed, given her meds, and taken to activities. She will protest that she wants to stay in bed, leave me alone, get out of here, etc. But when they get her up, dressed, fed, and into an activity, it's good for her. She has even enjoyed them a few times! Wow! The nurses & aids can do what I never could.

I think that having someone else work with my mom made all the difference. It wasn't me "making her" do anything, which was insulting. It's the people in charge instead. Her depression is carefully monitored and her meds adjusted when they need to be, which is a huge factor.

Sending hugs and good luck. Please stay in touch!
Helpful Answer (2)

I'm going to give you some contradictory advice:

Persons with dementia shouldn't be "forced" to do anything. Encouraged, yes. Offered, certainly. But if she doesn't want to go to church, even after you talk it up and suggest going to favorite cafe afterwards, I wouldn't try to force her to go. And I can't imagine how you could force her, anyway.

Persons with depression lack initiative. Getting started on doing anything -- even something they really enjoy -- seems just too much trouble. Lying there reading is just easier, and nothing matters anyway. (I once sat and read a magazine through twice, because it was too much trouble to walk across the room and get a different one.) For someone with depression it can be especially helpful if someone else takes the initiative. This can even include a fair amount of pushiness: "I know you don't want to go out, but Sunshine Cafe has your favorite dessert as its daily special and I know you'll enjoy it once we get there. I think you can wear what you have on but let me get your colorful cardigan and a necklace for you."

As cmagnum says, follow up on her treatment for depression.

My husband was very lethargic with his dementia and his doctor prescribed a med for excessive daytime sleepiness. He also took an antidepressant, but depression wasn't what was making him so listless. Dementia can really mess with circadian rhythms and sleep patterns. I hope she has a doctor who truly understands dementia.
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How long has she been on the antidepressant?

They normally take about 2 weeks before working.

It she had been on this medicine for depression longer than two weeks, contact her doctor for it may need changing to a higher does.

How old is she and how bad is her dementia?

I would not force a person with dementia to do things.
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