My 76-year-old mother-in-law came to live with us 6 months ago. During my 12-year marriage, I have known her to be active, strong and very social even though she has had a profound hearing problem since childhood.
Since she has moved in, she has become much less active, and her mind and mood suffer substantially from this. On rare days when she gets out for a walk, I sense that her mind and memory return.
Often, though, she "forgets" that we've talked about something, and I'm trying to figure out if she hasn't heard me or understood me in the first place, if she has just forgotten that we had the same conversation yesterday, or if she is bringing the conversation back up again for social/emotional reasons because she *needs* me to make a change and doesn't know how to ask directly for it.
For example, for the last three days she has stood in front of my daughter's room to say, in a very concerned voice, "Her radio is on, even though she is not here." I have explained that I keep it on because *I* can hear it in the next room, and I also know that my daughter has enjoyed falling asleep to the music at night.
Did she not hear me the first time even though she nodded her head and walked away as if the mystery had been solved?
Did she not remember that we had the same conversation twice earlier?
Is she very frustrated that I'm wasting electricity by letting the radio stay on but doesn't know how to say, "It really bothers me that the radio is on?"
Does she need communication to happen differently? Is her memory failing quickly right now that she knows she is here and cared for by my husband and me? Is she irritated by how I am "running the house" and expressing that by repeatedly bringing up the same issues?
How do I sort through all of this in a sensitive way?
Thank you in advance!