Maintaining the dignity of elderly parents as they lose their independence. How do you handle it?

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I am slowly but surely taking over more and more of the daily tasks of living for my 88 yr. old mother who suffers from degenerative spine disease, and macular degeneration. She still maintains her own personal care, but I do most of the cleaning, cooking, pet care, all transportation, and will soon take over paying the bills as she is losing her sight. She often says "I am useless, I take up all of your time." I assure her she is not, and that I value her friendship and companionship, and I have time as I am retired, have only a cat at home to take care of. Her mind is sharp as a tack, in fact her memory is better than mine and I am only 63, but her body is failing on her. Has anyone had similar experience and how did you handle it?

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Since Mom is bright and mentally able, why not see if some adaptive technology can help? A lot of times people don't think about it, because without the mental abilities learning the new skills to cope with low vision will not be practical, but for some tasks, like bill-paying, there are magnification technologies and computer-based screen-reading technologies that would make it possible. Most states have an assistve technology initiative ongoing, and there are home- and center-based low vision education and traning programs that can be considered. Some, such as books on tape, are low cost or even free, and can really enhance quality of life a great deal.
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BestHomeCareMN allows a person with special needs stay in their home and home care services available to help you maintain your independence within the comfort of your own home.
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Use humor. There's that thing from Shakespeare on the ages of man. I just Googled it. It's "As You Like It" and starts "All the world's a stage."

The song from the Lion King, "The Circle of Life." "September Song." Remind her of how "useful" you were when she was changing your diapers. Tell her you need to care for her to atone for your wild life of sin. Tell her HER suffering is needed to atone for her wild life of sin.

Don't be afraid to agree with her that it sucks to get old and lose your abilities. Bette Davis said, "Old age ain't for sissies." Tell her to stop whining, if she would take it the right way. You need lots of different tools, but she's lucky to have you.
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The elderly can get cranky at times, well we all can get cranky at times but as the lose more and more of their independence it can get overwhelming. You are very lucky at her age that she still is sharp as a tack because your job would be very much harder. I'm not saying that your job isn't hard because it is, not knowing what tomorrow will bring has to be the hardest. I think you are going about things the right way by reassuring her that she is not a burden and that you value her, these things are key to successfully be a caregiver. So keep up the good work wishing you and your mother the best.
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It is not easy, especially if they still live independently miles away from you. I am in that situation with my mother. I tried to encourage her to make as many choices for herself as she can and tried to help her when I can. My mother does not want to move closer to me so I have had to tell her I can't keep traveling one hour each way when she needs this or that. She has had to learn to prioritize her needs in regards to my help. Eventually there will come a time when living independently is not an option and she will need to make a choice about in home care or assisted living. Hopefully I will never have to choose for her.
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Hi, my mother had me late in life. She is 95 and I am 54. For me it seemed a lifetime that I had to do for my mother. All of my sisters left home before they were 21 and my mother depended on me to help her out. She started getting sick when I was 16 and for years there has ongoing health issues with her and she always pulled through. Now, she has lost most of her indepence and in a facility. She wants to come home but, she cannot right now and I don't know if she will ever. It is hard for her because in her mind she feels she has something left in her but, she is a fall risk and her mind is diminishing and has gotten forgetful. It is hard for the caregiver because I handled her bills for years and have taken her to most if not all Doctor's appointment. Aside from losing their independency get ready for depression to set in with her. My mother would always apologize to me that she does not want to be a bother and thanks me for being there for her. But to be honestm I gotten so tired because I still work and have my own family to deal with. Assure her that this is why you are there for her and let her know that she should not feel bad about you helping her. There are going to be days when she will not agree with you about her caregiving and it will be a challenge and hopefully she eventually understand that you are doing your best. Get help when you think it is overbearing. We all want to be the protector and no one will do it better than you. Take care and all the best.
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You just do it, to maintain the dignity. I hear your story, and it appears to are doing the best your can. It is a jouney if are not prepared for and commited to, don't do it, and/or pretend to do it. The comments and questions you ask are common fold. However, this journey is most difficult, and if you can't do it, don't do it. And, that's ok. I suggest you roll your sleves up a lot higher (you are going to have to) and get more help, as best you can...if you are going to be of greatest assistance. If you are more concerned about yourself and your life (at this point in time), perhaps take a step back and to the side..and explore all options.

Yes, your comments are exerienced by millions of caregivers...so you are certainly not alone, far from it. It depends on how you deal with it all, and your level of true committment. If it's not there, I think everybody understands. It's ok. I do. Seen it too many times...and is all one big waste of time and energy.

Roll your selves up and/or more on in other directions. It's not going to get any easier.


I agree with anglewhyspers comments.
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How can you continue to let someone with Dementia/ALZ to manage her own life? It seems there is a turning point that someone needs to take over the control of some things- like medication (my mother was changing medicine in bottles because she thinks someone is after her medicine), like driving (my mom had an episode driving her car where she thought the FBI was after her and she was driving a high tech spy car and had to get away so gave the car keys to the postman and wandered off though the village..fortunately the postmaster called the police and they took her back to her apartment.), and like finances (My mom is convinced people- "scammers" -are talking directly to her and that she will be getting a lot of money, etc, and we have had to have her mail sorted before giving it to her which really pisses her off!)), or Basic care needs (Mom thinks she has showered every morning but one sniff and you know that is not true, and the Assisted status in her independent home apartment just makes her feel watched and abused.- Neither of which I can tell are accurate statements). Yet we have gotten her to turn over some control to the "Assisted Living" Staff- they struggle to do any of the normal assisted duties (other then medicine delivery which they convinced her they would be able to keep it from anyone trying to take it) as she thinks she can still do everything and can be convincing that she can when she is in a clear mode.
Dem/ALZ are funny symptoms that defy definition in my mind. I wish my mom would feel she is a burden and I could tell her she is not, but that is far from the space she occupies currently. My parents are 89 (mom) and 87 (dad)- Mom has good physical health but mentally starting to loose it. Dad is 100 % there mentally, loosing some eyesite and hearing but golfing 3 x a week still. He struggles with the burden of Mom's mental delusions and being used to her more independent nature is not sure how to deal with the emotional needy and contrary wife she has become) .I am 5 states away but travel there regularly and have other siblings helping do what they can as well. But Mom is narcissistic (an artist and educator- other wise known as "we know nothing and I know everything" mom- love her creativity and tell her often how great she is but it never seems to be enough. Always a struggle but this is such a good forum! Thank You!!
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Mom will get to maintain her dignity because you treat her with dignity. As I took over for my Mother, we talked about how life changed for everyone and how I was happy we had the relationship that allowed me to remain so close with her; that her value to me was in the love we shared and the joy I felt to have her with me, not in whether she did the dishes. Respecting her mind as you do and including her in decisions you make on her behalf, will continue to let her feel that she has value to contribute to managing her life.
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My mother has dementia, but can still do lovely needlework. I ask her to help me out with mending or laundry and she loves feeling useful. Ask for her knowledge, her memories, her recipes, her opinion... all make her feel she has something of value to give. You can also get an inexpensive digital recorder and have her record her history and family history, favorite stories or recipes - none require good vision, but do require HER. :-)
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