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I'm really trying to keep my emotions in check and my expectations reasonable. It's hard when my mother consistently asks me do I need help with things and I tell her sure and she starts talking, reading the paper, looking through her magazines and etc. She's literally standing right next to me so I find it hard to believe she's not remembering. I get frustrated because she's always asking me to help and how she wants to make sure she's contributing. She goes to the mailbox but only when she has donation envelopes to put in. Other times when I ask her to grab it she's not feeling well. Jesus take the wheel!!!

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I think you'll find it less frustrating if you base your expectations on something else.

The question is not why she can't do something. It's whether she can, or not.

E.g.
Can she be relied on to pick up the mail every day?

No, she can't. So don't expect her to. Don't *rely* on it. Ask her, by all means, but don't let it matter if you end up doing it yourself.

That way you save yourself the botheration of trying to figure out if she's being bone-idle or really can't remember to do it; and you also avoid trying to force her into more than she can handle, and resenting her the while.

If you believe (and I wouldn't argue at all) that it is important to her wellbeing that she stays involved in daily household routines, then break tasks down into simple steps and prompt her to carry them out. If she's able, great. If she isn't, leave it be.

Suppose, for example, you ask her to dry the dishes. And suppose she starts fine, but then puts down the cloth and wanders off round the kitchen, fiddling with things. That's annoying because it doesn't get the dishes dried, and there may not be any obvious reason why she can't carry on, but the fact is she can't sustain the focus on the task - a slightly different thing from not being able to "remember" what she's doing.

It isn't until little links in the chain fray and break that we come to realise just how complex our humdrum daily routines are.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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Unfortunately Alzheimer's and dementia are often thought of as memory problems but memory loss is just one symptom, it sounds as though your mother has a loss of executive functioning which helps her to follow through with her intentions. I'm linking an article from verywell health "How Executive Functioning Is Affected by Dementia" that may help you understand what is going on:

https://www.verywellhealth.com/executive-functioning-alzheimers-98596
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misty1031 Nov 17, 2020
Thank's so much for sharing the information with me. I think I will take her back in for another cognitive test to make sure there hasn't been any changes we aren't aware of.
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Yes, I have dealt with that myself.  I think the "wording" or verbal skills are still there and they are on auto-pilot to say it, but they don't know what it means and can't follow through with it.  My mom is literally sitting there watching me make her bed, pull all of her dirty clothes out from every crevice of her apartment and will start droning on about how she misses doing yard work. It's just talk.  If I said can you go to the bathroom and get a bar of soap out of the cabinet, she would not be able to do that.  It's like they have an old tape in their head and they push play..."do you need help".  My mom was telling her brothers family that she still does her own laundry.  My mom hasn't done her laundry in 8 years.  It's just talk.
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cxmoody Nov 19, 2020
Yes, yes, yes. Thank you for mentioning these "tapes". There are things that come out of my mother's mouth that SEEM to make sense, but don't match up with the action or discussion that has to happen next. It makes me think that *I* am losing my OWN mind. I learn so much here!
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Are you just answering "yes" to her question? If so she may not know what to do.
If you are making dinner and she asks, hand her potatoes and ask her to peel them. Or give her a stack of plates and ask her to set the table. If you are cleaning give her a dust rag and have her do the shelves, or hand her a broom or the vac and have her run that over the floor.
I have read that it can take 40 seconds for a person with dementia to process what was just said. 40 seconds does not sound like a long time bit it is, in 40 seconds I am past the first part of the conversation and onto a second or third.
If she has problems with the potatoes, setting the table, dusting don't let it frustrate you. Let her do what she can and forgive/forget the rest.
Life is short enough to let little things like this stress YOU out. The more stressed and up set you get the more she will.
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Reply to Grandma1954
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I am so happy to learn that this is not just me. My husband has Frontotemporal Dementia. We started Hospice Care this week and still every time I move off the sofa or walk thru the house he says “can I help you with anything”. At one time he would say this to me 20+ times per day, no exaggeration!! I confess I got very irritated with him earlier on, because the truth is I did need his help at times. Then the times I would suggest something he could do, he just sat down. Aaaarrgh I got angry and at times I let it get to me the cruel irony of it all. I began to realize that though he really could not help me due to his cognitive impairment, In his way, by offering to help, he is telling me he knows how hard this is on me. By seeing it this way, I’ve now learned to just ignore when he offers and he seems to think I just didn’t hear him and for him, 30 seconds later..... the whole thing is forgotten anyway...so now when he says it, I am able to just let it go.
Blessings to you!
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Reply to NeesaLee
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Well said by Country Mouse.

As I read her explanation it reminded me of my Grandson and his ADD. When he was a kid you didn't give him tok many tasks at once. Even when medicated. Now he isn't medicated (because of epilepsy meds) and he is worse. I have had to learn to give him only one task at a time. Don't give him too much info. He gets overwhelmed. This is the samevwith someone suffering from a Dementia. They have a hard time processing what you are saying. So u have to keep it simple. If she asks u to do something and you feel it something she can do for herself, kindly tell her that. She wants a bottle of water. She really has forgotten where they are. "Mom, you can get one out of the frig" If she can dress herself but she forgets where her clothes are, lay them out for her. Have her do as much for herself as she can.
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misty1031 Nov 17, 2020
Joanne thanks for your response. I allow her to do what she can without pressuring her to do anything. Everything I mentioned are all things she's capable of doing which is why I'm struggling with how to handle it. I try hard to make sure my expectations are realistic for what she's capable of. She consistently says she's tired which she should be at 83 but I get mixed messages when she says she wants to help in anyway she can then how grown children should take care of their parents no matter what and how at her age she shouldn't have to do anything she doesn't want to do. That's why I asked the question. Confused
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Thank's for your kind response. My mother is 82 and she dresses herself, feeds and bathes herself but I no longer allow her to cook for safety reasons. Yes my mom has been in for the cognitive exam and they tell her she's within the norm considering her age. She does see her doctor regularly and if she complains of anything I make an appointment for her immediately. My mother has never been that motivated and stayed a home body even after my dad passed 28 years ago. She never was really interested in anything outside of mine and my siblings lives which is complicated because we all have our own separate families now. I appreciate your feedback and reaching out to me.
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Beatty Nov 19, 2020
Sounds similar to my Mother a few years ago. Still interested in all her kids lives but no other real interests. Noticed she gave up cooking & other things that required sustained attention. Then a few car bingles. Then forgot how the washing line worked. Doctors didn't notice a thing at this stage. But family did. Brain scan years later showed evidence of previous mini strokes.

Not saying that is happening to your Mother but if early dementia is already diagnosed, there will be brain changes. Easy to cover up as her language is still good in a short Doctor appointment. More thorough testing will explain specific life areas she will have trouble with.

You can decide on further testing if you think it will be useful. There are great resources on Dementia if you like to study. One is a free online course offered by University of Tasmania. I really changed my expectations after completing that.

Sadly, skills will continue to be lost 🙁. Enjoy what you can together.
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Testing by neuro-psyc specialist recommended by Mom's doctor is the best way to find out if, what, and what stages are happening now. Hoping you are relieved by getting some answers that way.
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misty1031 Nov 17, 2020
THanks Alva for your response. I have taken her but maybe I need to have her go back or even see a different doctor. She keeps being told she's fine and within the normal range of someone her age.
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I have a funny story related to this...my mom (85) constantly offers to help and says she doesn't want to be a burden. I do everything myself because realistically it's easier on me, and the stuff I ask her to do are simple things (feed her cats, wash their bowls, etc). But she constantly offers and yet has no initiative.

So the other day I see her with a notepad and she says she's writing a list of all the things that SHE needs to do to be helpful and it's a huge list. I'm curious, but I wait.

First thing, she comes in to say top on her list is to change her air filter. So then she asks me how to open it. What size filter it takes. Where do I get a new one.

I realized, in reality, the list is just more stuff for me to do. I sort of giggled when I realized it was brilliant on her part (if not unintentional).
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Reply to robertsnursery
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Dosmo13 Nov 19, 2020
Maybe your mother wants you to do more. But don't be too sure. Does your mother have diagnosed memory problems? Alzheimers?
She may intend to change the air filter. If she's done it before, SHE assumes she knows how. But when she actually starts to do it, she doesn't remember how! That is so typical of Alzheimer's. It's beyond frustrating (to her especially...maybe more than to you) If she hasn't done it before, she may think she can figure it out. She USED to be able to figure things out or, at least, follow instructions. True. But when it gets right down to it, Alzheimer's may make these processes impossible. Just following a step by step list of instructions can be overwhelming and confusing to a person with dementia. Even "Feeding the cats" seems simple enough, self-explanatory, but it is a process (find the dish, find the food, open the food, find a spoon...) none of which are difficult for a normal person who is used to doing it. But if the brain isn't processing properly, who knows?

Your mother making lists may indicate she realizes her memory isn't up to par. But her memory might need more help than even she realizes. Perhaps she should see a doctor.
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Short. easy tasks - that she may do or not may do - may be all she can do. Try it throughout the day. She may need cuing on how to do the tasks, but consider that she doesn't "hold onto" instructions very well in her brain. Having structure in her life will help and the routine will become her strategy for maintaining some normalcy.
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CharK60 Nov 20, 2020
And then wait to hear how they brag to others on how they "help" out. It's a gift to them to make them feel useful. (Unless they take the other view: you are so mean you "make" them work, you might hear that instead.)
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