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I am an only child doing my best to visit my mother every other day, cook for her, listen to her complain how lonely and miserable she is. She lives in her house, which is not fancy but nice. My mother doesn't have any grandkids, just a 56 year old daughter who is doing her best. I talk to her about going to a nice Assisted Living facility in our area. She doesn't want that. She looks out the window of her house and sees life moving forward, but since she had a small health issue last December, she has given up. Up until then, she was sooooo active. My father has been deceased for 15 years. I only stayed with her one night and that's the day he passed away at home. Very strong and independent (well, use to be). She has had so many loved ones and friends die, and I really never saw her cry. She never dwelt on things or too much of a worrier. If something happened, it would upset her and then move on. After she had that health scare last December (fainted with a bleeding ulcer we didn't know she had), she hasn't been the same. She doesn't go anywhere, but to the beauty parlor once a week. It takes her hours to do that. (not physically but in her head). She worries about everything. She use to love watching tv (soaps, Dancing with the Stars, etc). Nothing. Just kind of lays in the bed. I'm not a doctor, but I think she suffers from depression and an anxiety disorder. I have gotten her some meds when all of this started, but she will not take them. She says she will be a zombie. I have a wonderful husband, but I am not going to burden him with all of these details. When he sees her every several weeks, she said she looks good. She does. Truly, the problem is not physical. Sometimes, I just need to share this with someone who is experiencing similar things. My colleagues are all young so I really don't have any one to relate to. Thanks for the forum.

I too am an only child with no children in a VERY similar situation with my mom who is 84 and has just been diagnosed with vascular dementia, only I am doing long distance care-giving. She has MUCH regret, laments the past and all who are now dead (family and friends), has lost her ability to handle her own finances (her main job), and feels hopeless with nothing to live for, won't take medication, and doesn't want to live either. She won't, won't, won't do anything to help herself, as well. So I feel your pain and can understand only from my own perspective what you are going through.

To share: What I have learned so far is that I must remember that she now has an irreversible disease of the brain. With dementia, the executive function of the brain is broken and they CANNOT remember, cannot plan nor do complex things, and they CANNOT help themselves nor what they are doing, even though they desperately want to and may (or may not) know it is difficult or irritating to me/others. So they become stubborn, anxious, irritable, and push back against everything and everyone because they are trying to hold on to their independence and control as much and as long as they can. Many, including my mom, will not take medications. The reason is usually because they have seen other loved ones or friends who were over-medicated in assisted living and nursing home situations and don't want fall victim to that. Heartbreaking.

Tough love and /or reasoning does not work with dementia patients...they often cannot remember what they did, even a few minutes ago, nor what they are doing or why they are doing it. So many losses they are facing: often they are deeply depressed about having lost the dear family, friends and people they know and love. They also experience profound loss of their previous capabilities and abilities due to the disease they have, and as a result the try to hang on to as much control as possible. They no longer feel needed and that they are just "in the way" with nothing to live for.

I have determined that my job is to love her as she is now, be as involved with her as I can and allow her to do what she can and help with the rest that she cannot do. I do my utmost to treat her with respect, dignity, and honor... the same way I would want to be treated in a similar situation ("do unto others...") and try to work around these difficult issues with her as best I can. I have also realized that we are now in a different season of life and her personality is now different than the mom I knew as a child. But I believe we can still have a good relationship - just different now.

Here is a very good list that I received from CereScan.com/conditional/Alzheimers that has been very helpful to me. It is serving me well and I keep it posted by my phone as a reminder:

Living with Dementia:

1. Agree, never argue
2. Divert, never reason
3. Distract, never shame
4. Reassure, never lecture
5. Reminisce, never say "remember"
6. Repeat; never say "I told you"
7. Do what they CAN do, never say "you can't"
8. Ask, never demand
9. Encourage, never condescend
10. Reinforce, never force

I would also recommend reaching out to the Alzheimer's association in your area for someone to discuss available resources for your situation and various ways to handle it.

I am praying through it all every day, too. Day at a time...

Best wishes to you
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Geaton777 Dec 9, 2019
L&H, that's an AWESOME list. Thx so much for sharing it!
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Gm, I am the owner of an a ALF, I see this happening everyday. Clients don't want to leave their comfortable environment. If your mother is alert you may have to sit down and really explain to her that she is not a burden, but you can not care for her without the experience. Tell her that you care enough for her that she either spend her income on homecare ( which will become expensive) or go into an Alf to get the correct care that she needs, not all Alf's have bad people. If she decides to have homecare her income will become exhausted and when it's time for Alf she may not have enough to live off and the next step will be a nursing home ( which she has to be qualified for), and if she is not be able to stay there, she may have to move in with a family member. This is an important matter, you also can explain this to her doctor that she is not capable to live alone and he/she(the doctor) can write an order to your mother that she has no choice but to move or get help at her residence for her safety. I would not give my mother that option because I have experienced my residents having no more income after homecare and they was just floating through the system and getting denied help. You have to be honest with your mother, because she doesn't see the big picture, just choose an Alf wisely, look for the Best Care more than the best room. I would not advised to let her visit a Alf until she comes to some agreement after the doctor talks with her, because she will find everything wrong with the Alf and you will find yourself moving her over and over, she may also need to see a psychiatrist, this transition may change her mental condition and or behavior, there is nothing wrong with talking with someone besides you, this will make her feel involved and she won't see rush. Let the doctor know so there can be an order written. Sometimes they acted out because you are family, an experienced Alf will take good care of her, you just keep your promise to your mother and I think she will be ok. She will make you feel bad through this process but this is part of the transition, this process is not easy but you have to not give up, just know that this is better for her health, you have to stand strong and stay with your word. Let her doctor know how you feel and let them explain, because you are family she will think because you are not experienced and think you are just trying to get her out of the way. She won't listen through you, let the doctor explain to her the dangers of not taking her medications and concerns of living alone. She is going to be mad at you but that's tough love and she will eventually come around, you are doing this out of love and she will eventually thank you. I hope this helps you and your family.
Good Luck!
Don't give up😊
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HelpPlease1963 Dec 10, 2019
Wow! profound words. Thank you.
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Your mom is suffering from depression and the answer can’t be for you to somehow be the fix. She needs an updated medical exam and meds for her condition. I hope you can convince her to go for this. Sadly, if she refuses there’s little you can do and it may be time to back away a bit. Maybe tell her this, that you’ll only help if she gets some help, and see if that provokes her being willing to go. Best wishes in this, not an easy one
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Allowing someone who is severely depressed to dwell on their troubles is unhealthy. If you will, it wears a rut in the brain so that the person is more prone to negative thoughts. It's a self-perpetuating cycle.

Mom needs professional help. She needs meds and perhaps a social worker to speak with. She needs someone who knows how to challenge her wrong thinking in a healthy way.

At this point, you are enabling her misery. If she doesn't have dementia, getting up and leaving when she starts in on her tale of woe may shake her up. Insist she see her doctor.
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HelpPlease1963 Dec 6, 2019
Thank you
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Misery loves company......in this case, YOUR company. I'd stop visiting daily & crying with her, helping her amp up her pity party to the max! Tell her you're more than happy to help her when SHE is ready to start helping HERSELF. She can do that by agreeing to start taking her meds, as a first step. Until then, you're done visiting daily; she can call you if she's in need of anything urgently, of course.

I too am an only child who refuses to enable my mother in ANY way. Her drama & histrionics have been a huge burden for me my entire life (62 years) and I refuse to play into her antics anymore. I managed to get her on Wellbutrin back in 2011 when she refused to leave her apt after an illness b/c she felt 'ashamed' and like everyone was talking about her behind her back. The meds DID help quite a bit, but it's still been one thing after another since then. She's now 93 in January. I wound up moving both of my folks into Assisted Living in 2014 after dad broke a hip and rehab refused to release him back to independent living. That was THE best decision EVER, because dad passed in 2015 & now mother is taken care of and she has social stimulation, activities, etc.

In my mother's case, the ONLY thing that works is tough love from me. Anything else backfires and keeps me jumping through fiery hoops and getting nowhere. Like a hamster on a wheel.

Your mother may need some tough love too, since commiserating with her every day isn't helping. Get her to start taking her Rx or get her back to the doctor for another workup. Otherwise, stay away for a while & see if she comes around to your way of thinking.

Best of luck!
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HelpPlease1963 Dec 7, 2019
Thank you for your words .
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There are very nice Independent Living facilities that offer assisted living services. I think the older generation doesn't know that there are actually nice living accommodations and they are not like nursing homes. You can take her for a free lunch at most locations so she can get a feel for how it is. I think it doesn't hurt to tour one and maybe take her when they are having a residents event. What I found out with my grandmother, is they don't realize they actually want friendships and were missing it. These residential homes have all types of activities for the elderly to enjoy a good quality of life. She is probably depressed, and that is why it is worth looking at some senior communities. You might want to even tour by yourself first...
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H'm.

I think it might help to go back a bit and see if you can't find the end of the thread, so that you can start untangling things. What caused the ulcer?

It's often overenthusiastic use of over the counter painkillers. If so, then of course you need to ask... why did she need regular pain relief?

Meanwhile, bear in mind that your mother's having real problems, a reason why you and we should and do sympathise with her, does not mean you can solve them! Quite often you can't; and then although you still sympathise you definitely want to cut back hard on efforts and sacrifices that just won't help her.

Your mother is 88. There is a limit to how well and how happy you can expect her to be, you know.

And don't make the mistake of thinking that psychological and physical difficulties are distinct from one another. Very often they are tightly intertwined.

Since she was forced into contact with the medical profession last year (I'm guessing she's not habitually a fan?!), what have her doctors had to say about her health in general?
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HelpPlease1963 Dec 9, 2019
Thanks for your replay. Yes, you are right. I am not 88 and I don't know how that feels. I am 56. I am a patient person; very. I am a teacher. That being said, when you are a person who is a problem solver and fixer, and you can't fix this problem, it really hurts. I hate, really hate, that she is miserable with her life. She use not to be. She didn't abuse pain killers. She would just take a 80 mg aspirin to keep from having a stroke. When she had that little health scare, it made her finally realize her own age, mortality, all of the deaths of friends and family that she never dwelt on, and alot of regrets. Alot! So, I just pray alot, cry, talk to her, visit her, cook and take her food, and keep putting one foot in front of the other until something changes.
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Your post is so beautifully written HelpPlease1963. It seems to me that your Mom is loosing Her will to Live. Can any Person imagine how tough and awful it must be for Our Elders to out live all of Their Family & very special Friends.
I witnessed this situation with my own Mother and it is very tough on them.
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HelpPlease1963 Dec 9, 2019
Thank you for your kind words . What in the world does age do to the mind . It is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to be so strong for, and my dad died with Bladder cancer; life is good but boy can it be a challenge to .
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Your mother has reached a point where she needs a little 'help' to get over the rough spots.

I fought the doctors re: putting DH on Zoloft until the day I saw him so depressed and his head hanging down from worries. The Zoloft helped him his last year on earth. I had no regrets as I had to allow the Zoloft to allow him to continue living his last year.
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My mother refused to move to independent/assisted living no matter how hard we tried to convince her. Last February she fell and broke her femur and that changed her attitude. She finally decided (on her own terms) that she would move into a facility and to our surprise she has turned into a friendly socialite which also shocked us because we always considered her an introvert. She has been on antidepressants for about 10 years so that may have helped. The hardest part is trying to convince them to move and it is almost impossible if you are close family; they seem to respond to the advice of strangers more.
Good luck and remember, there is still hope.
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