My Mom's always scared. What can I do? - AgingCare.com

My Mom's always scared. What can I do?

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She is also anxious and depressed, and the meds aren't helping yet. I can't leave her alone, either. When I ask what the fear is, she says that "something bad is going to happen". As for leaving her alone to get groceries or just a break, she's terrified to be left alone. We tried a Sr Companion, but Mom was very uncomfortable with her and doesn't want to continue. My sibs are very little help, as most of them are out of state, or always "busy". I just went through 7 weeks of daily radiation treatments for breast cancer and she came with me every day. She is legally blind and says that each day it gets a little worse. My 2 sisters are coming for 5 days in July, and I can't even begin to figure out what I might do to take advantage of the free time. I want to get away completely, but it's too expensive. I'm depressed and anxious myself, sole caregiver for almost 9 years, not ready to give up yet, but something's got to give. Any advice?

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This may sound weird to all of you but as mother suffered the same fear I can tell you what worked for me.I work with animals that have separation issues.I used the same techniques with my mother.I would say I'm going outside and just leave.Then come back within a few minutes.I would make my time away longer and longer until she became comfortable with my being away and trusted I'd return.I never make an issue of leaving the house.I simply say "I'm off the store, I'll be back in a hour" and walk away.
If she is particularly nervous I assure her she is fine, I will not be gone long, and let it go at that.The more you cater to ungrounded fear the more valid it becomes to your client whether human or animal.
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Does she have dementia or is she just a worrier? My mother has worried her entire life, at one point having what they used to call a 'nervous breakdown' when she was 16 (almost 75? years ago!) She worried when I was young, always twisting her hair, etc., etc. She will worry herself to death.

Try telling her that 'Worry is fantasy and if you're going to have fantasy's, have good ones".

Worry achieves nothing but anxiety on the part of the worrier. High Blood Pressure, Headaches, etc. Perhaps some breathing exercises for her or some soothing meditative music?

How about a 'worry jar' where she can write down her worries for the day and just place then in the jar. Once those are in the jar, she can't worry about them anymore.

I know this all sounds silly but I can tell you that it's annoying when a person is caring for a worrier.

Try Roberta Shapiro's meditation CDs. They are great. I have a CD player in my room and listen to them at night while I fall asleep. I've also had them on in my mom's room ... just her voice is calming even if you don't listen to it, but the advice is great, background music is great, etc.

It's hard.
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it is hard to not be able to share about your own health, because you can't handle the other person's anxiety as well as your own!!! but I hope you get to go somewhere where they have working AC or at least a nice breeze :-)
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Thanks for all of the feedback. I know my cancer has really worried her, both for me and for her. She depends on me so much, and I know she wonders where she'd end up if I'm not here. Her anxiety has benn somewhat less with the new med, but she's so tired that she can't seem to do any of the things she's done just recently. I've tried to think of a place to go while my sisters are here, but I may just load my days with acupuncture treatment, a massage, maybe a movie, and some other things good for ME for a change. New challenge is our newly broken air conditioner that can't be replaced for two or three weeks. The heat and humidity is taking a toll on both of us. It just never ends. :(
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Do you live together? How about getting that companion or home aide -- for you!
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Cmacgreg of course your mother is scared and afraid to be alone. Since you have had the cancer she is terrified that something will happen to you and she really will be alone. I am sure you share some of her fears about your mortality too. She may have little sight but it does not mean she is not aware of your anxieties. As sight lessens other senses become sharper plus she came with you for the R/T and I am sure that was exhausting for you. It is a very draining experience. Is there anyone you can go and stay with while your sisters visit? You are in desperate need of some TLC. When your sisters visit have a frank discussion with them and then include mother about plans as to what will hapen to her if things don't go well for you. As far as the medications are concerned many of them do need several weeks before they become really effective so be a little patient. but if you see no improvement in 3 -4 weeks go back to the Dr and he may increase the dose or try something else. With the elderly they tend to start with lower doses because old livers and kidneys don't get rid of the drugs as fast. Blessings
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Has there been any change in your mother's situation recently, such as deterioration in any sight she may have left or any bad diagnosis of a health condition? Sometimes changes in health conditions loom so large they're an overpowering sense of doom, as well as a recognition that old age and its infirmities are advancing.

My mother stayed with me for about 4 months when my father went south for the winter, and she also was afraid to be alone. Eventually I realized it was because she was recovering from a broken foot and would not be able to get out of the house by herself in the event of an emergency. The fear of being trapped and alone was real for her, and very frightening.

Perhaps you could ask your mother what she feels might happen, then take precautions in the event something like that does occur...update the smoke alarms, get a CO2 detector, medical alert, things like that.

I wouldn't give up on the companion idea though. Keep trying.

If you have a pet, use it as therapy to calm her when she's anxious. Music theapy is also helpful.
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Mom senses the stress you are in, even though you probably have not told her. Something bad has already happened, and you are being strong about it, but the load needs to shift to others for a while. Let your two sisters take the reins and YOU focus on getting through this. Radiation is the gift that keeps on giving, the fatigue lingers months after the treatment. You deserve a long vacation and I think you should take one. Now. Godspeed.
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I have felt that unfocused fear that "something bad is going to happen" -- and it is debilitating. Mom needs and deserves some help. You say the meds aren't helping "yet" -- does that mean they have been started recently? Keep following up with the doctor. If what she is on isn't working, work with the doctor about changing doses or trying a different med. This is treatable. Don't give up!

Plan your 5 days of respite. Perhaps include ONE occasion when you all together (if you enjoy your sisters in small doses) but make sure everyone knows that you have other things planned. You do not have to reveal the the other things are sitting on the deck with a cool beverage and a good book. :D

Keep us informed about Mom's anxiety. And good luck!
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