For over 6 years now I’ve cared for my 94 yr. old mother with dementia for six months out of the year. My sister has her the other six. I’m a widow, so being alone, I can’t even go to the bathroom without hurrying for fear she will fall. Even though she is legally blind and has hearing loss, she can still shower, dress herself, watch tv, carry on short conversations and get around the house. She is a fall risk and needs the constant supervision and attention similar to what a four year old would need. My home smells and looks like a nursing home a lot of the time. We have daily battles about small things that come up, like throwing her garbage on the floor, sticking her chewed gum all over the place or losing her teeth in her pockets somewhere or throwing them away wrapped in her napkin. She’s angry with me a lot of the time. Seems nothing I can do makes her any happier.

When she is watching her show with her “tv ears” on, sometimes she will cry and talk to my dad saying she wants to be with him. She will cry about all her limitations and the loss of her independence. I think when she has her tv ears on she feels like no one is around to hear her. It’s a regular thing that happens.

I feel bad. I don’t go over to hug her. I do cry a little when she’s going through that, but I don’t feel close to her anymore. I try hard to be soft and caring with her, but eventually it just turns into stress and frustration. Our relationship is just “do my job, take care of her/ battle with her”. I realize a lot of it is my attitude and perception but it’s difficult to shake.

I feel terrible that I don’t feel the urge to hug her and

I feel like I have a cold heart. Actually, most of the time

I just feel numb of everything around me.

I’m I the only cold hearted one out there?

Yes, I felt this way. I'll go even farther and tell you that I posted on the forum that I was beginning to wonder if the mother I thought I knew before was just a false persona and this person I was now caring for was her true self. By then I truly hated everything about her - her disability, her neediness were a ball and chain. When I began to avoid being near her and when I exploded in anger and frustration earlier each day I took stock of what I was doing and realized that it was not fair for my mom to be around this angry person and that I didn't want this horrible vision of my mother to be all that remained of her when she was gone. Realizing I had burned out I sent her to a nursing home for a crisis respite stay and she never returned home. I'm happy to say I was able to let go of the bitterness in the year and a half she was no longer in my care.
Helpful Answer (26)
Reply to cwillie
mally1 Nov 29, 2018
Wow! To hear you say this is amazing to me! I don't even live with my mom, but her sheer neediness drives me nuts.... She called me 8 times today, mostly trying to get me to come over tomorrow evening for a small get together she is planning. Fine, but not only do I not have wheels tomorrow, since my husband is taking my van - because of a 3 day snowstorm coming in, but I don't travel in ice/snow. She knows that, but doesn't care; kept calling back to ask if someone could bring me, if her housekeeper (in a pickup truck, not a good driver) could come get me, etc. When she calls for me to shop for her, it's always stuff at different stores, so I have to go to 3 or 4 to get just what she wants. So now I'm a bit sharp with her and she's taken to telling me to settle down, while she's trying to get me to do something she wants. Yccch! Hubby and I are doing our very best to help keep her out of a NH (God is doing way more!), but the thought of her well cared for in a nice faith based NH we know of an hour away is tempting.... Thanks for sharing cwillie; I appreciate it!
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Definitely not - and my Mother and I were extremely close.  I reached a place that I thought there must be something terribly wrong with me.  Then one morning I woke to find her on the floor in such a state that I had to call an ambulance.  While she was gone (in the hospital for a week), I went through a whole gamut of emotions - shame, regret, tears and questioning why I had grown so cold.  I am learning to forgive myself.  What we are experiencing is the normal result of years of unrelenting stress, demands and the emotional pain of watching someone we love slowly dying before our eyes.  I watched a family video the other day and it was surreal.  I couldn't even remember the woman in the video; full of life, witty and so physically different than now.  I don't have any answers - maybe a NH would make the difference for you.  God bless you.  You are a loving, giving person.  If you weren't you wouldn't have these concerns.  I pray for all of us experiencing this dreadful, emotional journey.  Hold on - don't let it get you down - you're not alone and you are loved. 💙
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Reply to dlpandjep
Rosses003 Dec 1, 2018
“If you weren't you wouldn't have these concerns“...So on point! Great answer!
Surviving the struggle you now have requires the 'detachment' that you are experiencing. It's what longtime medical professionals experience.(It doesn't mean you don't care). Sometimes we endure difficulties better that way, it's not abnormal. But since it worries you, you need to make a change to better your own life. Time to choose a facility for your mom. God bless.
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Reply to Tiger55

I have to admit I am "all business" when dealing with my father. I have no warm and fuzzy feeling towards him. And while I do feel something for his situation, I don't feel sorry for him. My father has a long history of disappointing me and always putting my feelings last. Everyone else on the planet seemed to be more important to him than I ever was. After awhile you do grow cold to it. Now he needs me. Now I am important to him. 50 years too late. I do what I have to do to make sure he is safe and taken care of but I don't jump to try and fulfill his every wish. I know how that will end. I am sure I look cold to others but it is really self preservation on my part. I am not going to open myself up to being hurt.
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Reply to lkdrymom
Davina Nov 30, 2018
Don't blame you; my dad was the same way. When he finally died I felt only amazement that such a mean person could live soooo long.
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oh My God no. You are not the only one. I feel the same way. She lives with me. I remember her as a beautiful, intelligent, fun person. What she is now is just plain sad. This is a terrible disease that takes so long to end.
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Reply to Erinm60

No you are not cold hearted. I have a 90 yr old mom and I do not live with her but I have totally empathy with you. Your mom seems to be in a much deeper area of dementia than my mom and my mother drives me crazy just the same. My mom has never been a warm huggy person and is even colder now. I get blamed for loving her too much, not loving her enough, doing too much for her, not doing enough, etc etc. I think the reason many of us become a little “cold hearted” is we are putting up a guard so we can help and not be as hurt by them. I am an only child which makes my obligation to her much bigger but I am lucky that my husband is sharing this burden with me. Also I think as our parents get to be more of a challenge, we are getting older and don’t have as much energy and patience either. Thank you for sharing your story. It makes us feel less alone.
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Reply to LPRhelp

It is not mandatory that we have "warm, fuzzy" feelings towards our parents. Just because they are blood relatives, does not mean that we are connected emotionally at the hip to them. (In fact, some adult children and their elderly parents barely speak to each other.)

It's all the more difficult for us when that parent has become difficult to deal with.

Sometimes, you just need to "do what needs to be done" and not worry about how you feel about it. Been there, done that.
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Reply to dragonflower

I am the main caretaker for my husband who has Parkinson's and dementia. I also feel guilty and shame for no longer feeling like we share a "husband/wife" relationship, but now it is "child/parent" or "patient/caregiver" roles. No wife expects to have to change their spouse's diapers, but here we are. Our relationship dynamic has drastically changed over the last few years and will continue to decline. My hubby can no longer participate in the financial or household decisions, daily conversations about my day, future plans, etc. Just like you and your mom, your role as a daughter is no longer valid. Your role is now a caretaker, and filled with stress and day to day "dirty business" of just getting through the day without a fall, mess to clean up, or trip to emergency. This is normal. Seek a caregiver support group, go to a counselor who specializes in caregiver support, and take a break for your mental health once in a while. The saddest truth is we don't know when our loved one's misery will end, nor our role as caregiver. We just take one day at a time. Hugs.
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Reply to wnewton

Thank you all. Just hearing that others have felt this way has helped. My mom is a good person and she wasn’t a bad mom, but she was never the warm cuddly one, even when we were sick. My father was the one who cuddled us when we were sick and read us stories at night. We always knew we were the most important thing in his life. Sometimes I think I might not feel this way if I were taking care of him. But, that just makes my guilt worse so I don’t think about that much. Tiger55, thanks for your insight and
remarks. I think you are right. I think we do need to “detach” to some extent or the emotions would be overwhelming.
We (my sister and I)have been talking about assisted living. I know my mom feels my negative emotions even when I try to hid them. I don’t want her to feel abandoned but, I think assisted living staff would be more patient and tender with her. These decisions are so hard, but thank you all again.
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Reply to aannie
debbiec123 Dec 9, 2018
so glad to hear that you are considering this, aannie. I find that since mom is settled in, our interactions are based on fun things now(bringing her favorite foods, looking at old pictures that we saved when we cleaned out and sold her old house, taking her for lunch, etc) and we know it's finite, and we can go home. so much better!
My mom and I never had a warm a cuddly relationship. As she grew older and more frail, I needed to detach even from our distant relationship in order to be able to see what her needs were. All of the "oh, she's as sharp as a tack" stuff from relatives who loved her were good for her, but didn't get her the assessments and care that she needed.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
Tiger55 Nov 30, 2018
So true.
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