Is the joy gone forever? Is it medical? - AgingCare.com

Is the joy gone forever? Is it medical?

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My mom and I get along pretty well and I am very honest with her. I try to listen to her and try to help her and make sure she gets things she asks for and things that make her happy. I want her to be happy in her senior years.
Anyone, one thing I have noticed with mom is that even when she says she likes something or when she says she is happy about something her face never shows it. It is so rare now to see a genuine smile from mom or a twinkle in her eye. Sometimes when I go out of my way to make her happy with the hope of seeing her act happy I get so disappointed because instead of a pretty new outfit she acts like you gave something out of the laundry basket. It use to make me cry from disappointment but then I cried because HER joy seems to be gone. I also wonder if its the medication they have her on like Namenda and donepezil along with her other meds. Does anyone else miss the joy?

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Oh, Tigerlily, I feel for you. I know what it's like to want so badly to make someone happy and then feel you failed when you don't the the "right" response. The fact is, we can't "make" anyone happy. That has to come from within.

My guess is that your mom doesn't feel well physically, emotionally or mentally. Her medications indicate that she has some dementia problems. Namenda and donepezil help keep some people put off the worst symptoms of dementia for awhile. But they don't work for everyone. Also, they have side effects of their own.

If your mom is aware of her own issues, which she likely is, she may be depressed. Check with the doctor to see if there is something that may help lift her spirits. She is dealing with a tough disease. You may not be able to make her smile but you can still help her with her life just by supporting her. That is sometimes all that we can do.

Take care of yourself, and realize that you and your mom are on a rough journey. Sometimes we have to adjust our expectations to fit reality. Many caregivers miss the joy - very much. We just have to learn that some form of contentment may be all we can hope for - if that.
Carol
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Thanks you two, my mom already is on depression medication and she has been on that for years! Without those meds I am afraid NONE of us wants to be around her.! I agree that my expectations need to change because she isn't likely to meet my fantasy. LOL I will just keep doing my best and really enjoy the moments that I can get a real smile and a twinkle. That makes it worthwhile.
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*sighs* I completely hear you. Our goal is to hear her laugh, as often and as long as possible, and when she gets that light in her eye at something she eats, it's such a reward!

When she had her stroke she'd already been on antidepressants when she considered suicide after the death of her husband of 60 years. The antidepressants help a LOT. Caveat: it's also changed her personality. She used to be pretty caustic and demanding. Now, she's the sweet old lady that all the visiting nurses or hospital staff croon over. It's not such a bad thing, but it's kinda hard on the kids who think they've already lost the mom they knew.

At 90, after stroke, many other health conditions, including vascular dementia (not uncommon after a stroke), she's also lost most of her social filters. What makes her laugh is really what's a little embarrassing: She adores Dancing with the Stars and laughs outrageously imagining, "... I bet that guy's got a hard-on!" followed by a nearly uncontrollable fit of laughter, followed by a visit to the toilet to change diaper/pad cuz she's laughed so hard, she pee'd her pants. (And considering she rarely voids her bladder, I count that a good thing, albeit annoying when I've JUST gotten her OFF the toilet, lol.) So, knowing that the, um, raunchy makes her laugh, we take every opportunity. "Edna!! They're gonna smell that fart next door!" .. *laughs* .... We call popsicles "dicks on a stick" ... "Oh! I know why you wanna go to bed .. you're hidin' a MAN under that bed, huh?"

Well .. you get the drift. When we find her laugh trigger, we tickle it as often as possible.

Food: certain tastebuds seem to die with age. What does she REALLY like? sweet? hot/peppery? fried? As long as the diet can handle it .. make every meal a birthday meal (You know: on your birthday, you get to eat your favorites). Edna really likes sweet stuff, so I add stevia to lots of things. She loves her fried foods, so we indulge = occasionally = .. no need to clog up those pores any more than necessary. She HAS to have roughage, so we to sprinkle benefiber/equivalent on her food, cause she's not so fond of the good veggies (she prefers them out of the can = yuk). Anyway .. find what she loves and indulge her.

Activities .. she loves the garden, she loves going to the shore to watch the birds. She loves to sew, do puzzles. We incorporate all these into her daily/weekly schedule. She's a homebody, so doesn't REALLY like to socialize. She just hates the daycare stuff, so we try to do what she might find there. Playing cards, watching a scary movie (for which *I* need to leave the room .. they give me nightmares). But all this isn't about me .. it's about making her last days as comfortable, enjoyable and comforting a possible.

In turn, the satisfaction will lighten YOUR load. I wish you many blessings on this journey.
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There are videos on youtube by a woman named Teepa Snow, who is an Alzheimer expert. She explains in one of the videos that the inappropriate behavior/vocabulary (cussing, sexual) is the last to go because it is stored in the brain with emotion, not logic. Anyway they are very informative and funny videos, and I found out about them in one of the discussions on this website.

As for the lack of facial response, I read that happens with Parkinsons, which can develop into Lewy Body Dementia. Don't know if it happens because the muscles are stiffening, less muscle control, or the brain disengages.

Also with dementia, they become more "egocentric," i.e. it becomes all about them. Their world has shrunk because they are trapped in a body and mind that are failing, and they are busy trying to function. The world outside, include us and our emotions, is too much to process?

As for the lack
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Is she really sad or is it just lack of facial expression? A flat or "mask" face is very common with parkinsonism and with some muscle diseases. With Parkinson's they may be able to smile on command or if they really think about it but not automatically just from being happy. You have to get used to that and maybe accept what they verbally tell you about their emotional state instead, if you can't read more subtle expressions that they may still have. Just a thought to consider, she may in fact just have less joy as life is harder and less rewarding, and you really are doing the best you can.
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