How do I comfort my mother as she is realizing that she is forgetting more things and becoming a bit more restricted in what she can do?

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My Mom is 83 & today it just really seemed to hit her that she is getting older. She realized that she is forgetting more things, like the name of a store and where is it located, or a person's name & has trouble articulating her thoughts sometimes because she can't think of the right word. She broke down today in tears and said that she feels so alone. It broke my heart and all I could say to her was that she wasn't alone, but in a sense she is, because I can't know how it feels to understand that her world & existence has changed so much. What do I say? I should say that my Mother, sister and I all live together & I am her primary caregiver since being laid off a few years ago.

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Sometimes its difficult to talk to family, but if she's still mobile, consider a support group. Does she have friends or consider reaching out to Alzheimer's Associations, they have free consulting and support groups.
If she's not mobile and or shy. I like to use humor. Have a conversation and find out her fears and understand the scenarios she feels uncomfortable. Then have code words. My husband and I have code words, like 'Red Dog Flies', 'Popcorn', '911' for certain situation, so when you see her forget or there's a situation she needs to trust your judgement, use the code word that only you and her know what it means.
Her dignity stays intact and you two have started a new path into this new normal.

Stay Inspired,
Shonda
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Cs1stDaughter Aug 15, 2018
Good morning Sbrock, and thank you so much for your response. As it happens, I do use humor when Mom is feeling down, but this was different. It caught me completely off-guard and I was so unprepared for the rush of emotion. She is mobile, but has absolutely no interest in joining any groups, just prefers to be at home. We had to respect that. Her dearest friends have already passed away, and getting out to meet new people is not something she is interested in. She spends her time doing religious word search puzzles, she enjoys them and says that they help keep her mind working. I love the idea of using code words, though. I will try that. I want to do all I can to keep her dignity intact.

Thank you so much!
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While your mom may have you and your sister there she can still feel alone. Allow her to have her feelings. People can feel alone in a crowded room.

You said the right thing to her, that she wasn't alone. You addressed her feelings and responded to them. You respected them.

You can ask her at an appropriate time why she feels so alone or you can just keep being there for her when she's feeling lonely. Either way is supportive.

I wonder if your mom is saying "alone" but means "isolated."
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Cs1stDaughter Aug 15, 2018
Good morning Eyerishlass...I love your name. Thank you for your very, very comforting words. This is all such new ground for me and I always worry that I may not be saying the right things or not reacting in a comforting or safe way for her. I always try to address her feelings so that I can try to understand those feelings and support her in whatever way she needs (I also keep my sister in the loop so that we are on the same page with Mom and her needs).

After I submitted my question, I went back to talk to her and I was surprised to see that she appeared to be fine. The spark was back in her eyes and she was smiling. A little background, prior to her upset we had been in the process of paying some of her bills and she got several of the payment slips mixed up with the wrong checks, she had written the wrong account numbers, and it took a bit to get everything back in order. As I was getting everything sorted out properly, she made mention of some things completely unrelated to the bills, but she had dates and facts wrong...she had forgotten some things. It is at this point when I was reminding her of the forgotten points, and she got upset and began to cry. She was so distraught and I tried to comfort her and let her know that she wasn't losing her mind (she said she thought she was), she was just getting older and that it was normal to sometimes get things a little jumbled or to forget things, and it was at this point that she said she felt so alone. I asked her what she meant when she said she felt alone, and she explained to me that it was because sometimes she couldn't find the right words to explain what or how she was feeling, and we couldn't really understand since we are not her age. She said she just got overwhelmed with everything that had transpired within the last hour (getting her bills mixed up & forgetting some things) and her frustration just boiled over. Basically, she said she just needed a good cry to get it all out. I love her so much, and I just hugged her and told her how much she means to me, and how precious I consider the time that I get to spend with her. I always want to preserve her dignity and let her know that we are with her on this journey and she will never be alone.

Thank you again, Eyerishlass...
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I know how this hurts. I am 64 with fibromyalgia, high blood pressure and arthritis. When we first moved into this house 8 years ago I did all the lawn and flowerbeds by myself. I babysat for 2 grandsons. I canned vegetables and fruits. I cleaned house. Now, I caregiver for my bedridden husband and that has sapped any energy I had left. When I look in the mirror I see a wrinkled old hag. I tried cutting down roots around the base of a tree a few weeks ago and was sore for a week.

Assure your sweet mom that no matter what happens and when, she is your mom and always willl be and you love her very, very much. Find a nice little tea room in your city, dress up and go for a High Tea. Or go play mini-golf. Whatever you do, don’t pity her. If you are positive about what she can still do and not pitying her for what she’s lost, she will take her cues from you.

Sending hugs to all of you and a special big one to Mom.
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Cs1stDaughter Aug 15, 2018
Bless your heart, Ahmijoy, thank you for your warm response. I so appreciate your encouraging words. When I began this journey with my Mom, I made a vow to myself, to never pity her or respond to her in anger or frustration. I must admit, sometimes I have to leave the room for a couple of minutes to compose myself, and to remind myself that she is depending on me to support her in whatever way she needs. I love her so much, and I want her days on this path to be as loving, supportive and comfortable as I can. These days, I can't get her to go out much...she prefers to stay at home due to her circulation issues & she has a bit of COPD. My sister and I make a point of taking her out on Saturdays, and we make it special for her, taking her wherever she wants to go. We go do what she wants to do and then take her for dinner. She so looks forward to her Saturdays...it is so cute, when the weather is bad, she reminds me of a little girl, sad because she can't get out, so we just spend the whole day inside together, talking and laughing about whatever. I have to say, I look forward to Saturday too, because I get a kick out of seeing her look of wonder sometimes when we go someplace we've never been.

After I submitted my question on this forum, I went back to talk to her and she was fine. Basically, she just got overwhelmed with the realization that things were changing and her frustration boiled over. I remind her often of the many things that she can still do and how much we love her. We hugged it out & she told me that she knew that in spite of her issues, she was blessed. I came across "A Letter from a Mother to a Daughter" a few years ago, and I re-read it often to remind me of how things are for her, and to give me comfort that I am doing all I can for her.

Thank you so much, Ahmijoy for the hugs & I will definitely give Mom a big one! I wish you well and am sending prayers for you and your husband...
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