Dad's dementia is worsening and it's breaking my Mom's heart. How do I let her know what's ahead without scaring her to death?

Follow
Share

Dad is still functioning somewhat, driving to krogers, fussing around with his plants and mowing grass, but the short term memory is going fast. Mom is having a hard time with it. We've talked at length about not correcting or arguing with him and she does very well most of the time.

But I haven't talked with her much about the horrible progression of dementia and what we will be dealing with as time marches on. Mom is 84, still is mentally sharp, has lots of medical issues and a history of depression.

Any thoughts, stories, suggestions?

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Find Care & Housing
21

Answers

Show:
1 2 3
Thank you all for your kind responces. Since I posted my poor Mom has dealt with about 3 or 4 crisis with Dad. She's doing great, it gets her down but it challenges her. But, it's going to get overwhelming very soon. So I have long talks with her, tell her how well she is doing with him and try to buck her up.

But tonight, she mentioned how difficult it was to just have an adult conversation with him. I told her to talk about the old days like I do with him. She said, "I'm up to here with the old days! I was there Ya know!" Damn... She's right. His old stories are sometimes new and interesting to me when I'm there for a few days. But she's there 24/7 and she was there 24\7 years ago. We're good for now. We will see about tomorrow.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

Focus on talking to your Mom about planning for herself so that she won't be worried.
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

If your dad is still driving and stuff, he may have many years ahead of him before the dementia takes him completely away. It is well documented, though, that a hospitalization accelerates the process. With my FIL, from the time that children began the intervention in their day to day lives to his death was about 4 years. He had TIA's and dementia and a number of hospitalizations. His was so different than MIL's, though. He was angry, agitated, mean. So far, she has begun some anger, but we are 10 years into the process and still going strong. She has developed some Parkinson's symptoms and that adds to the memory deficits. Trying to keep her mobile is our primary focus at this time.

Point is, there may be many years ahead, or it may be a few. Two of my favorite sayings are "One day at a time" and "it's a marathon, not a sprint".

I'm so sorry for anyone who is having to deal with this. Wish they could find a cure or a cause - and in our lifetime.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Windy, I don't know if his will help. My dad started losing short term memory over 10 years ago. Mom covered for him and was in denial, so it took a while for the rest of us to catch on. However, when we did, about the time he had surgery, he really went downhill. and Mom was starting to have long term memory problems. Long story short, they are in AL together. It was a long road, but I am glad the 4 of us kids decided together to make the decisions that we made on that 7 year journey!! We learned it all the hard way. don't argue, keep them safe, make it their idea when possible etc. They are in a place that is close so 3 of us can keep an eye on things. As both parents progressed in their dementia, they were where they could be helped the most! I must add that sibling 4 calls Mom every night and Mom expects the call!!
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Dear Windyridge, I'm sorry your family has to go through this. My suggestion is that you help your mom evaluate options of moving to assisted living before your dad gets worse. Both your parents will be resistant but she will not feel so isolated and will have others for support and your dad's condition worsens. The early stages of dementia are very depressing for everyone. It takes a few years to accept the reality of the situation. Your mom is slowing losing her husband and gaining a child to take care of. I am relatively young (61) and have been on this journey since 2011 without any family nearby. It takes a lot of planning, patience, physical strength and personal sacrifice. Changes are difficult to anticipate and challenging, like wandering, incontinence, not remembering how to get into a car, not being able to swallow. Week to week abilities are lost and it is very stressful. Your mom needs help now, your dad eventually will not remember.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Let her go on the website for alz.org and let them do the explaining. No one said you have to keep her informed, and if she is still mentally sharp, then let her do all the research. Adult children of senior parents want to act like helicopters. She knows her husband is different, and let her know as much as she wants to know.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Babalou, yes mom has been on anti depressants for 40 years, has been admitted to phyc ward a few times through the years and has had counseling, shrinks etc. it's been a lifelong battle for her. I'm surprised at how she's holing up these days. I keep telling her she has to stay strong for dad and she's hanging in there so far.

I'll never be able to get in home help of any kind until dad is so far gone mentally or gone physically to memory care . Even follow up nursing care at home following moms many hospitalizations has always been a battle.

They were not separated during the war. Dad was a little young for the draft.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Windy, is your mom's depression being treated? Does she see the geripsych or at least the Nurse Practioner every couple of months?

The whole "they're declining at different rates from different illnesses" thing is one I watched with my Aunt and Uncle. My cousins brought in a service called "Visiting Angels" run by an RN who was of the same cultural background as my aunt, and I believe, a friend of a friend (or so they told her...it's called therapeutic fibbing). Eventually they had round the clock aides until my aunt passed away
( my uncle, who had dementia, fired them everyday, but they would simply hang around out of site waiting for my aunt to need something). When my aunt passed away, my uncle was moved to Memory Care at an AL and eventually to a VA nursing home.

We have a theory in our family that some of these couples were separated early in their marriages by WWII and that it was such a painful experience that it terrifies them to contemplate another separation. Don't know if that applies here, but maybe worth mulling over.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

FF, I'm with your Dad on this. It's all going much too fast. My latest gadget even knows when I swear at it - and responded with hurt indignation, which enraged me still further. Technology needs to get back in its box if you ask me.
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

Windy, I am also living in limbo regarding my parents. Both sound good on the phone, except for the fact Mom can't hear me, she gets a conversation going about the weather and if they sat outside in the sun.

Your Dad has DSL? He's one up on my Dad who is still using dial-up in a huge metro area. I keep telling Dad that trying to get onto the internet using dial-up here is like peddling a tricycle on the shoulder of the road trying to merge onto the information highway while everyone else is zooming by at 200 mph. He rarely gets a connection. He won't pay for cable service. It's so sad as Dad was also computer literate, in fact he use to write computer code... no, Dad, people don't use DOS and floppy disc any more.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

1 2 3
This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.