My anxiety is building and I'm looking for guidance from the good people on this forum. My mom is 80 with early AD still living at home with my dad. She wants to do two things socially in the upcoming months. Bless her, she has always been social and lucky to have many friends, however I am worried for how my mom will be perceived or talked about as well as that I want to give her a stress free situation. The 2 events are very different. The first one is a memorial service for her best friend. I believe it will be well attended with people who haven't seen mom in while. Second is that she wants to have a luncheon at a restaurant for her own 80th birthday inviting 20 of her friends who still talk and visit her regularly. (Bless her. If she wants it, I'm going to do this for her. I'm planning to send invitations and do all the planning as well as help her that day with make up, etc.) Selfishly, I wish neither of these events was happening because my anxiety is through the roof. However, I am happy mom is still interested and I'm going to do what I can to give her a good day at each event. What is the best I can do to handle these situations - or, would you try to disengage from such events? Thanks for any replies.

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My hubby doesn’t have dementia, but due to mobility issues is a recluse. In a non-accessible home, and with him weighing over 300#, getting him out and about is darned near impossible. I would give anything if he would be able to get out again.

Give people credit for being understanding about your mom’s issues. Stay close by at these occasions, but don’t hover and wait for her to slip up and then jump in to correct or explain or God forbid, apologize in front of her for her miscue. Even if acquaintances haven’t seen her for a while, they will realize that there are some issues and will be kind to her. I’m sure that for both occasions, she will be on her best and brightest behavior. Don’t anticipate failures or embarrassments and stress yourself out over it for weeks beforehand. Mom will get the idea you’re not really on-board with the idea of her socializing because, perhaps, you’re afraid she will embarrass you (?) and turn inward. That’s the last thing you want her to do.

Encourage her wish to socialize as long as she possibly can. Spending time with friends and acquaintances can delay the inevitable.
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You say your mom is in early Alzheimer's. Does she know about her diagnosis? If so, how did she take it?

A lot of people in the early stages are in denial. They can't see the slipping memory or the slight confusion that others see.

At this point she's still social, so I'd indulge her in her plans. I know you want to protect her from questioning looks or difficult conversations but I'm not sure the people she knows wouldn't catch on after a little visit. Most people are very understanding.

In the mid stages of Alzheimer's, I physically got behind my mom and would mouthe "dementia" at someone who didn't understand her ramblings.

I don't think your mom is there yet. Early on they can "fake it" pretty well. Chit chat comes easy. It's the details that trip them up. Usually they play it by ear. They learn to take cues from the conversation then blame their forgetfulness on a "senior moment".

She may embarrass herself or you but you can quickly "redirect" the conversation to something else. In fact, it might be good to be prepared with a few "distraction topics" so you're not caught off guard.

You are anticipating the worst. You both can't truly enjoy yourselves that way.

The friends and family members are going to find out that mom's got a problem. Not the end of the world. Most folks are pretty sympathetic.
I don't think she'll do anything so horrible to greatly embarrass herself or you. (That comes later ☹️)

Pray, meditate or have a glass of wine before you go. Then relax and have a good time. Let her shine.
Sorry to say, all too soon these times will be gone.
Helpful Answer (21)

If you have the time and energy then go for it. I don’t see what harm would be done.

Are you worried about how people will react to mom’s dementia? If she is still interacting with all these people her dementia must be pretty mild. Most folks quickly recognize that elder friends are changing. I used to be on edge with other people around my dad as his dementia worsened. I Thought I had to explain to them that Dad was different now. No short term memory.    I learned to just let things run their course. I might  get an alarmed look once in awhile or have a talk away from Dad if people ask but it was no big deal. 

But this all sounds like some doings. Can you scale things back a little?
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Ginger, God bless your Mom AND you. If you are willing to take on these two functions, it will provide some happy moments for your Mom. Imagine having her closest friends together for her birthday?
As time passes, her ability to handle groups will diminish. These events can be very special. And, as guests understand her limitations and (hopefully) ask how they can help --- be ready to suggest visits at your Mom's place to help her pass the time. Let us know how it goes.
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When I was working we would do something called PFMEA. Basically it’s to plan in case of failure. We basically would have to analyze the many ways something could get screwed up and have a plan to avoid or mitigate the failures. I would use this approach for these 2 events and try to anticipate the things that could go wrong and what you could do in advance so it doesn’t happen. Can you go to each of these venues and try to image it from your moms perspective? Where will you park, how far will she have to walk, where is the bathroom, (will you need to bring supplies?) will she be able to eat the menu, will it be loud and can she deal with that?things like this. You seem concerned how her friends may perceive or react to her condition? Perhaps having an answer ready in your head for perhaps insensitive remarks? Anyway planning for the things that could go wrong may take some of the stress out. These 2 events seem pretty benign but if her condition changes where it may be a problem don’t feel bad about scaling back. You want her to enjoy herself and have a happy memory.
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I hope you’ll plan and enjoy doing both of these things with your mom minus your current hesitation. Her friends and family will invariably figure out the changes in her sooner or later, there is simply nothing to prevent it. Those who love her will be kind and understanding, any who aren’t you don’t need anyway. Illness has a way of letting you find this stuff out. But please concentrate on enjoying time with mom and not the worries, enough of those for later
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I took my mom out to do as many things as I could for as long as I could. Even at the start of stage 7 we were doing some events. I found that people were always understanding. I had store clerk comment how great it was that we were still getting out. People at church functions greeted mom and said how happy they were she was there. Not only was it good for mom, it was also good for me.

As she progressed we had to drop some the movies when they no longer made sense and were a bit frightening. But other things remained as long as we could, like family parties...we just moved them here so she could be a part for a bit and then she and I would go to her room when she had enough. Just learn to read your mom's cues and only do as much as she can handle.
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Ginger; when you send, email or phone invitations to these events, can you include a line that tells folks that mom is having some "cognitive issues"? And that she may not seem herself?
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Please do this for her. I too do a lot of things my Mom wants and I am either so uncomfortable or stressed. I just pray and get through.
But I will help her do what she wants as long as she wants to, and ignore my own issues of discomfort.
It's part of this sacrificial love. May God bless you for loving her.
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I took my Mother everywhere she wanted to go and I sat through all her groups and meetings and luncheons,etc. with her.She needed me with her to watch her oxygen and help her with her food and give her drinks and she counted on me and wanted me with her because she had become insecure through all her illnesses and she was so blessed to still have her friends and a lot of them and it was a huge light in her life left to be with her friends.Ofcourse they saw her declining and they all knew she was on Hospice,but they never said a word to me about her.They just seemed glad that she was there and it took Mother's mind off being sick for a little while.
While it was hard on me, I'm so glad I did all I did for her.
I think it is wonderful of you to have a special get together for your Mother's Birthday and you will always cherish the memories you make that day.Just play it by ear and do the best you can and good luck with everything.
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