My 78-year old mother has been repeating the same stories on a weekly basis for at least the last 2-3 years but we thought it was because she hates a lull in conversation and just wants to talk.

In the last year, my dad passed away (after she nursed him to the end with bone cancer - very traumatic), I moved her to a retirement village to make friends, her only good friend landed up in hospital and nearly died and then she fell and broke her hip.

Since coming out of hospital 6 weeks ago, she’s been in a frail-care and been diagnosed with vascular dementia. I was advised by a specialist that she now has to remain in frail-care with 24-hour help as her chance of falling again is very high. She is still not walking on her own, hates everything about the frail-care and complains all day to me about the food, people, etc and makes up stories about what’s happening in the home.

So, my question is …… is she not improving - with her walking and memory - because she’s so unhappy in frail-care or is it her brain that is just not letting her walk again properly?

I have so much guilt not looking after her myself but I have young kids and am busy most of the day - she has also become even more difficult (than she used to be) and very demanding and negative. She phones me 10 times a day (even after I’ve visited her) and I’m just exhausted but worried I have her in the wrong place. I worry that whenever I move her she’ll find something wrong and be just as unhappy.

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Please stop feeling guilty, it only adds to your stress. Your first obligation is to your small children. I'm in no way saying to forget your mom.

Your mom has had a series of blows, loss of her husband, breaking her hip, being diagnoses with vascular dementia. Just breaking her hip can be a game changer in your mom's life; my grandmother gave up after she broke her hip (she even told me she was ready to give up - I begged her not to - but it was evidently more than she could handle.)

Have mom evaluated for pain level from her hip fracture and if she is in pain that can be addressed. Your mom most likely will not get substantially better. Does she still do rehab? Is she able to participate in rehab? Without rehab she will not get stronger. Pain can also make your mother crankier and more complain prone. Let's face it living where she is living is probably not much fun. Your mom, not you are responsible for her happiness. When you visit, sometimes bring her a special treat to make her day a little sweeter.
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Reply to cweissp

Will they let you take her on drives for ice cream or spend afternoons at your house or for dinner? That might improve her spirits. I’ve found that the mind with dementia does affect physical ability & also that yes, changes do make dementia worse. In her situation, if she dislikes frail care it is affecting her negatively in every way & she will decline. If she can be with you, maybe hospice can be set up to visit your home, provide supplies, advice & give help.
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Reply to Kelkel

With the dementia she may not improve more than what she has.
She complains about the food, people and makes up stories because that is all she can do. If you talk to most people in Memory Care, Skilled Nursing and even Assisted Living you will get the same. (remember when you were in school I bet you complained about the other kids, the food, the building, and talked about other kids...same thing. )
If you want to look for another facility you have the right to do so but it will not change the fact that she is vulnerable, she WILL fall again. (it is not a matter of IF she will fall but WHEN)
Her memory will not improve.
I think she will have the same complaints no matter where she is. So if you feel this is a good facility, is caring for her I would leave her where she is. Moving is difficult as well.
there is a very good possibility that she would have been diagnosed earlier if she were not caring for your dad. That was her focus and those were the tasks she did and that kept her where she needed to be. Once he died her purpose was gone and trying to deal with the normal day to day life is when the "wheels came off" But if you think about it repeating conversations the past 2 or 3 years should have been a clue. Not that there was anything that could have been done. It would have been an earlier diagnosis with the same outcome.
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Reply to Grandma1954

Keep in mind, she's never going to recover all the way. My experience with vascular dementia combined with the loss of a spouse and a move to a nursing home (my mom after my dad died) is that she will take a step down, then plateau there for a while before the next step down. There are no steps back up again.

Aging is little more than a roller coaster, but just like a roller coaster, you never get back to the highest point again. You just have some temporary ups, but they're always followed by a steeper dive down as you wind your way to the end of the ride at the bottom.
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Reply to MJ1929

Start with the assumption that there is NO RIGHT PLACE when someone is confused, physically compromised, and unhappy, and consider the fact that you are responsible for her CARE, but none can manage or be responsible for “happiness”.

Don’t even consider moving her anywhere yet.

It is part of your job as a caregiver to be as certain as possible that you get all the FACTS available about her situation. Without knowing as much as possible about her cognitive, emotional and physical issues, you’re not in any position to make decisions about moving forward.

Just from what you have written, your mother suffered a STAGGERING LOSS when your father died, and whether she’d been able to stay in your home, HER HOME, or ANYWHERE ELSE, she would have been dealing with that.

”Guilt” is a useless reaction in your situation. Her medical “specialist” has told you what she needs, and her safety and treatment is what you need to address. Ask at her residence if there is a psychiatrist or psychologist available who can evaluate her current situation and offer a possible calming medication. to see if that helps.

Adjustment to new circumstances can often be very difficult for dementia sufferers, but remind yourself that her safety is the most important thing that needs to be addressed at present.

It is probably a good thing for you both to limit her phone calls to a couple times a day. Allowing her to constantly repeat things that cannot be changed is not helpful for either of you.

If you have done ALL YOU CAN, and it sounds as though you have, then you have done enough. Give her and yourself the time to adjust to her new, VERY CHANGED life.

Many here have felt as you have. Keep coming.
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Reply to AnnReid

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