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My mother has dementia. I am single and living with her. My brother stopped speaking to her (and me) several years ago so I am the sole caregiver. Sometimes she knows she is confused and gets upset because "things aren't right in her head." Tonight she said that she feels like she doesn't have a purpose. I now realize that by doing things for her is contributing to that, but she can't remember how to do things, can't find things, etc. I'm trying to think of meaningful activities for her to do. Does anyone have any suggestions? We live in a small town and do not have any day-care services available.

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My mom has also said something similar to me. She said that she didn’t understand why God was allowing her to live this long instead of being united with my father in heaven. So hard to hear but I do understand it. She and my dad were married over 50 years, did everything together and truly loved one another.

She doesn’t go on and on about it but I know she misses my dad. My dad showed my mom how much she meant to him. She showed him. Not in a superficial way, sugary words, but in daily living, being there for one another where it truly matters. I matter as a daughter to mom but I could never be the same as my father was to her. He was her special someone.

My mom isn’t able to do chores or things but I will ask her for her opinion on something. Everyone wants to feel respected and needed.

The other sad thing older people say, is when my mom has said, “People forget about us old folks.” That one hurts too.
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Not much help but my mom said the exact same thing it broke my heart. She said she feels like she is useless and doesn't feel like she belongs. She also can't do much for herself. I just tell her that I still need her and can't imagine what I'd do if she wasn't still here to give me moral support.
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You know the other thing I always ask mom to do is pray. She has deep faith and she feels needed hearing me ask for her prayers. I don’t know if this applies in your situation but everyone can pray and I for one will never turn down any prayer offers said for me.
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HVsdaughter Apr 28, 2019
Yes, prayer. My 91yr old dad was a strong and active farmer who also was my mother's caregiver for the last few years of her life. Now he is 70lbs lighter and much weaker and said to me several years ago that he felt worthless. I told him (involved in a church all his life) that as long as he had a mind to think, he could spend time praying and praising the Lord for his family, friends, pastor, missionaries, government leaders, etc. He took that to heart and also bumped up his Bible reading and devotions. :)
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I am in the same place. I brought my mom to live with me 6 mos ago. She is 85 and has apathy. Not depression..apathy and it is terrible. She has no interest in anything. She used to be so vibrant. It is one of the most common symptoms of dementia. About the only thing she really likes is music. I try to take her to as many plays, symphonies, talks as much as I can. She used to be a staunch Catholic..now she won't go to church..She says she can't understand why God would allow this. She also says she has no purprose. She does fold clothes for me. She is always tired and spends most of her day in bed. I tell her that her purpose is to give ME a purpose. Hugs to both of you.
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texasrdr22 Apr 29, 2019
My Mom is 89 and says she feels she has no reason to get up each morning. She broke her hip a year ago and did great in inpatient rehab and outpatient rehab but now refuses to exercise at all. She does not want to go out and do things and since she is mobility impaired since the hip surgery (walks with a walker), she is not interested (or able, really) to go shopping or anywhere that would require lots of walking. She tires easily. I try to get her to exercise but she always has an excuse like her knees hurt or her back hurts. She once said that her lack of exercise and absence of desire to go places and do things probably bothers my brother and me a lot more than it bothers her! She is not able to cook or get down to pull weeds or plant flowers, etc. I wish I could find something to interest her and get her more active.
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When I visit my mother, we will bake cookies together. I will give her a cup that is the appropriate measure for flour or sugar and she will put it in. She will also put the dough on the cookie sheets and they are also just perfectly formed and even on the sheets. Then I have her take them off the cookie sheets and start over again. Moms have baked so many years they don’t forget basics. We also made egg salad and she took the shells off the eggs and then stirred it all together as I added ingredients. She added salt and pepper all by herself.

Moms also like to sing and people with dementia, for the most part, remember most of the words.

Moms also like to play cards and for some reason, never forget how to play.

Also, going through old photo albums is a good past time. They can remember stories you may never have heard of.

Good luck! She may surprise you!
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My mom has said this many times as well. She was an avid sewer and loved to garden. She now has Parkinson's and is wheelchair bound and has very little use of her hands so she really can't do many physical things. I ask her for a lot of advice about sewing projects. I tell her what my needs are for an item and then ask her how she would sew this item. If she can't think of something right away I tell her think about it and let's discuss next time I see you. I also take pictures in my garden and ask her advice as to what plants she would put in spots. Or I take pictures of plants when I am out and about and ask her to help me identify what they are. She enjoys "helping" me figure out these things and giving her input.
Best wishes for helping your mom find her purpose in life.
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NeedHelpWithMom Apr 28, 2019
Sounds just like my mom. Wonderful seamstress! Great cook too! My mom has Parkinson’s too.

You have great ideas. 😊
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Folding laundry, washing dishes, stuffing envelopes, following a recipe with your assistance, vacuuming, sweeping.
Any thing she is physically able to do, she can do with your patient guidance. So important for them to feel purposeful. Especially if they feel they are helping and contributing.
It is good that you care. May God bless!
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Any routine repetitive chore that you can ask her to 'help' with? Often with folks in dementia, the 'help' they give is a lot like the help toddlers give -- one part assistance and two parts making a mess -- but she might feel more useful if she was participating in something that appears useful.

When I worked in the Alzheimers' unit, a lot of our folks enjoyed putting together puzzles -- not the 1000-piece kind! -- the kind sold for the age 2-5 set, a wood frame and 6-15 wood pieces that fit inside it. We never called it 'playing with puzzles' or even 'puzzle time.' We called it 'could you help me put these away?' after we dumped the pieces in a pile.

Folding laundry is great, but if she can't manage clothing, have her 'help' you fold the laundry by folding towels or napkins. They can be the same ones she folded yesterday, as long as she feels like she's 'helping'.

Also, people with dementia often still like the same hobbies they used to like, they just can't follow through. But they can still do a part. The person who used to paint in watercolors might enjoy a brush, a piece of paper, and plain water. The person who used to garden might enjoy digging holes in the dirt, or 'weeding' a patch of grass. The person who used to embroider might enjoy a craft project with a small piece of plastic grid, some yarn, and a blunt plastic needle.
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Mom felt valued when asked for advice or her opinions. This also strengthened her mind and she would be sharper afterward. I think we all feel this way.

She loved going to the movies and watching the news on television. We would discuss afterward.

She loved polishing and dusting furniture. Her help with the laundry was invaluable. She liked tedious small -scale cleaning, like scrubbing grout with a toothbrush.

She responded beautifully to praise and gratitude. It changed her whole disposition.

Playing with and watching pets was one of her favorites.

My my siblings were also a huge disappointment. I’m not quite sure how they can live with themselves. Often, their concocted stories (about why they couldn’t come) would take longer than a visit.

I told her her how she was now the matriarch of the family, we needed her to be our queen.
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AvaC42 Apr 28, 2019
I agree about the siblings with excuses. I have lengthy texts from my brother about why he couldn't visit. Oh well, I can't change him, just my response to him. So - I just don't respond anymore and I feel so much better!
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My mother does not have major cognitive problems, but her mind is not what it used to be. However, she cooks, sometimes 3 times a week, and makes out a weekly menu and shopping list. She does her own laundry, and folds mine.
Mentally, she is always much sharper on days when she is active.

Try something simple, like folding laundry. That may also give her a sense of purpose. I've also asked Mom to straighten out disorganized drawers in the kitchen. You'll have to try to judge what activities she's going to be able to do without too much frustration. But I think the key is that it makes her feel as if she's contributing to the household.
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