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Since a few years ago, my mom's memory has been declining (might be dementia but we don't have a diagnosis) but it took a particularly deep plunge during the pandemic, since we couldn't go out and had to just stay home without doing much. Our living arrangement isn't ideal since only my mom and I live together. My dad is planning on moving us back together sometime when finances are in better shape, but I'm not too sure when that will be. It sounds very dramatic but I'm tearing up writing this...I'm not sure how I can leave her to go to college. I've currently deferred to a school abroad and I'm supposed to be going in September of next year. The college education in my country just isn't for me, and I can't study the things I love. However, even leaving her to go out with my friend for the first time in 6+ months is a problem since she doesn't like being left alone, which I understand since there is no one here. But it just makes me wonder how I can leave to university for more than half a year at a time when even leaving for a few hours is difficult. I have nightmares about going places and leaving her behind, I have a lot of fears and developed some anxiety-like symptoms because of this, and my depression has become worse. I want to go to university and experience life like all my other friends, but I cannot imagine leaving my mom and I fear that me leaving would have a largely negative effect on her since my dad would be her caretaker and he has to work. He mentioned hiring someone, but finances are a problem at the moment. At the same time, I fear that if I continue to stay here, my mental health will worsen and I'll become bitter that I've been held back in life so early, which will also have a negative effect on her since she's the happiest when I'm also happy.


I'm only 19, but it feels like there's so much resting on my shoulders, and I'm not sure where my life is headed or what to do. Does anyone have any advice?

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Your mom is very young at 57 to have any of the dementias, so I would start there in getting an official diagnosis as to what exactly is going on. Yes, there is such a thing as early onset Alzheimer's/dementia, but you and your dad need to know from a doctor if that is what she has.
And after that your mom is your dads problem/responsibility not yours. You don't need to have any guilt/concern about wanting to have a life of your own, and going off to college. Of course you should do that, you're only 19 years old for crying out loud! It would be very selfish of your mom or your dad to expect you to give up your life to care for her, as again, she is NOT your responsibility.
And if money is an issue for her care, your dad will have to figure all that out, as again she is his responsibility, not yours.
You need to get out there and start living and enjoying your life. It sounds like perhaps you and your mom could benefit from some good therapy. I hope that is available to you where you live. May God bless you and your family.
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Reply to funkygrandma59
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58 is young for a Dementia. Not unheard of but young. I think before any decisions can be made, Mom needs a good physical. Labs will show any problems physically. Low potassium can cause Dementia like symptoms and depression. Diabetes, thyroid, needing a certain vitamin like B12. Heart problems like congestive heart failure. Liver or kidney failure untreated. And Dad is responsible for seeing this is done. This responsibility should not be on your hands. But, if ur the one to get her to the Dr and get testing, so be it. When u find the problem then you can deal with it. I realize it maybe a culture thing, but Dad will need to make any decisions regarding Mom. If its found the problem is Denentia, then its up to Dad to care for Mom, hire aides or place her in a Care facility.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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It is wonderful to see the love and commitment that you have for you mom in your post; you are obviously a responsible, caring young person. .

Like others mentioned, your mom should get a comprehensive medical assessment. Her primary care provider needs to be made aware of these symptoms. Certain medical conditions lead to mental confusion or cognitive decline, and when managed correctly, improvement in such symptoms may result. Beyond this, clinical depression or anxiety also can lead to impaired functioning. There are many good treatments for both conditions, not just medications, but also other therapeutic interventions. In either event, you need the help of a medical professional to help you know how to take care of her. Your are not a doctor, nurse or therapist, so get Mom to someone soon.

Do not minimize the impact of two major issues that you mentioned in your original post. COVID19 restrictions have resulted in mental health concerns for many individuals. Also, having a child leave the nest can be very difficult for some parents to handle. Adjusting to such life transitions can also be helped with appropriate counseling and/or psychiatric treatment.

You do have some time here to make a plan; use that time wisely. Reach out to whatever resources that are available, and INVOLVE YOUR DAD. He needs to take the wheel here, and he needs to be know that it is your intention to go to school in September. You didn't mention where you are from, so we cannot tell you where to turn in respect to social service support. Try to figure that out. Get a notebook and write everything down. Keep that notebook by your bed, and if you awaken feeling overwhelmed, look at that notebook to see that you are doing all that you are able to help your mom and to remind yourself that you have a plan. Make a copy of that notebook for both your mom and dad. Believe it or not, your mom is YOUNG, and she needs to make efforts to be responsible for her own health.

I am not going to tell you to go away to school, because I can see it isn't that simple. But please TRY to get a plan together that will ease your mind so that as the time approaches to fulfill your dreams, you may do so without feeling regret. If you can connect with a counselor, please do so. You also may be experiencing anxiety and/or depression related to facing this huge transition in your life.

Best wishes dear one.
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Reply to caroljnorris
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You are l9 and just starting your adult life. You should seize every opportunity you can to experience life to the fullest and get a good education so you have the base for wonderful career. This comes first above anything and everything. This is YOUR time to live, your parents had their time. I don't know all the answers but you must NOT feel guilt - sadness I can understand because you can't be two people at the same time. This is your father's problem but YOU must set boundaries and look to yourself. If need be, seek outside help from professionals how to handle this but you go to school, etc. or life will pass you by.
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Reply to Riley2166
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Please talk with your father more. Get him to agree to pay for mom's doctor appointment to evaluate her health and her mental abilities. Then, tell the doctor the symptoms you have noticed in your mother. Let the doctor do the evaluation. Whatever is going on with your mom's mental health and cognition, ask the doctor for help in locating all the resources that can help your mother. After the appointment talk with your father about options that allow you to continue your education and make sure your mom is cared for.
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Reply to Taarna
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Please go to college. Becoming a full time caregiver at 19 when you are able to go to college is a horrible idea. Please don’t tank your future. Surely your mother would not want that.

Why no diagnosis for your mother?
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Reply to SnoopyLove
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Where are you?
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Reply to gladimhere
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Taarna has good advice. Looking at the big picture it all seems overwhelming and unsolvable but if you break each step down, you will get your answers. With your fathers help, and your mom's primary doctor - find out where she can go to get evaluated for early onset Alzheimers. I am wondering if it can possibly be a form of anxiety, rendering her fearful and unable to be productive. Once you have a real diagnosis, with guidance from those doctors you will be able to take the next step. They will provide medication and/or resources for you. Step by step your options will become clearer. I commend your taking on this task, but you must insist your father become equally involved, as it is truly his responsibility. We are all here for you!
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Reply to NYCmama
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Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry you have to go through this at such a young age. What country are you in? Your situation is a two-edged sword. Either way, you'll be conflicted. You have to choose the path you can live with, no matter what anyone says about it. If it's dementia, her short-term memory will be affected, but she'll retain her long-term memory, meaning she'll remember you. Alzheimer's doesn't work that way, it affects long and short-term memory, and she will not recognize you at some point. Either way, it is dangerous to leave her alone, so please don't for now. Your mom has a medical emergency if she's declining mentally, and no one knows why. If you can take her to a hospital, please do so. Give yourself a reasonable timeline to focus on helping your mom first, six months? A year? Whatever you can deal with. Invite your friends over to your place to maintain a social life. In the meantime, the goal is to find a permanent safe place for her to live so that you can focus on yourself. It would help to know which country you're in to offer you solutions.
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Reply to Kmorel71
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riceballs: Imho, you need to have a conversation with your father. Your mother is only 58 years of age. Caring for your mother at 19 years of age is actually NOT your responsibility as your father is still living, irregardless that he has employment. His employment is a moot point since he is responsible for his spouse's care.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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