I don't want to be my Mother's answer to loneliness. Is anyone else go through this kind of thing? - AgingCare.com

I don't want to be my Mother's answer to loneliness. Is anyone else go through this kind of thing?

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Mom is 86 with alzheimers. She still lives in her small home but the disease is taking its toll. She has no memory left, says every day that 'Im kind of confused today', can no longer manage her finances, and isolates herself. She also does not believe she has alzheimers, which is common I'm sure. My problem is that by not being open to visiting a day center, she only has me to come around, to visit, do her shopping, etc. Without her memory, she is unable to carry on any kind of conversation so unless i talk, she just sits. I end up trying to fill time talking about something, anything, and its not easy to do for hours. She is extremely stubborn and has been independent for the last 30 years since my father passed. I feel guilty not wanting to spend hours over there just sitting, and shes always quick to say...when will you be back to see me? I dont want to be her answer to loneliness and although everything I read says social activities are so important, she refuses to consider assisted living or any social gatherings. She lives 30 monutes away, which is not far, but ive limited visits to every weekend...and i feel bad that shes lonely but i also dont want to feel guilty that im not giving her more of my time. Does anyone else go through this kind of thing??

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Hugs to you. I completely understand your pain. It can be difficult to balance love and your life when your parent almost demands that you become their soul companion . Take the advice of people here. It's okay to want time for yourself. You deserve time for yourself. If you have the resources, look into bringing in someone at least part time to help with the loneliness. If your mother is anything like my father, she will push back. However, it is not your job to be your parents everything. as a new caregiver, I understand it's hard to make that change. However, if you don't take time now, you will seriously resent it later. Who's to say how long your mother will be around? Yes, you love her. It is okay to love yourself as well. You will be a better daughter for it. Trust me. Best of luck to you.
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I handle all of moms bill paying and finances and do her shopping. I always look around to see what has been eaten from when i shopped before so i do know that shes eating. Plus she sees the doctor every 4 months and her weight is not fluctuating. As far as hygiene, i check her bathing soap, toothpaste and laundry detergent. She still goes to a hairdresser every week. I am diligent on watching closely for any signs of decline but so far, she is holding her own. I think within the next year, things will probably deteriorate further. Thats why ive already checked out facilities and chosen one nearby. She wont go to a day center for socializing because she says its probably just a lot of old people with mental problems(!!!)...shes definitely the type that once she decides she wont like something, you can bet she wont...even if she actually had a decent time...she will find some reason not to like it. I know that she is scared...and i tell her all the time that things are going to be fine, that she doesnt have to worry because ill always be there for her. I also try to look at things from the prospective of am i going to regret my action (or inaction) after shes gone. As we all know its a balancing act. Not everyone has the mental, emotional, or physical stamina to take on 24/7 care, especially without additional family support. And from all the hundreds of posts ive read on this site by people who are doing it, it sounds like it has take a terrible toll on the caregiver, both emotionally and physically. Its definitely not a one person job.
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It's good you have looked around at Memory Care facilities. Most will tell you that it's best for the resident to come in before they lose most of their faculties, so the staff can get to know them and they the staff. They can provide her with activities and something to do everyday. My cousin seemed relived when she got to Memory Care. She seemed much more relaxed to be with other dementia patients.

You say your mom still handles her hygiene and meals. How are you sure she is doing that. Dementia patients often lie about what they can do. My cousin would say she had bathed, but the shower was not even wet. She would lie about practically everything I asked her. Food was not eaten, bills not paid, medication not taken, laundry not done. She didn't know what she was saying. She may have even believed it, but it was not in reality. Posters upthread are right. Once you are out of the early stages of dementia, it's not safe to stay alone. They can start a fire, harm themselves, get lost, etc. It's just not safe.

Rarely, will a person with dementia tell their loved one that they are not able to care for themselves and that they need to go somewhere they can get help. It normally doesn't happen that way. Usually, there's a lot of negotiations, doctor visits, discussions, and other interventions to get them on board.

I think I might plan a visit with your mom and observe what she is actually doing around the house for a couple of days. That way you can see for yourself if she is able to care for herself. It is often a crisis or some incident that gets the family's attention and highlights that things are not going well inside the home of a dementia patient. You're doing the right things. I hope it works out well for you both.
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I can very much relate to this as my mom is lonely. She's 86 as well and I suspect has dementia though she refuses to get tested. The signs are there and with her doctor's help treat her naturally along with her meds. So far not too bad. But my dad is 84, stubborn, rude and mean sometimes, has his own health issues which he denies but at least now taking his meds. Anyway, it is a tug of war emotionally to deal with so I commiserate with you there.

I have a friend that used to be in home health some time ago. She goes over there every so often to visit. At first my mom was like today is not a good day and I just ignore her. Once my friend is there then she doesn't ever want her to leave. I met with a home health agency seniors helping seniors since the companions are older and my mom can have someone closer to her age. The agency has hired my friend after I asked about the hiring criteria. Next month she will be there two days a week for three hour visits to start. As far as my mom is concerned, it's just a visit and they can talk, go out, do whatever. I don't know if that's an option, but I think it's important to integrate another person or two who can be around consistently for companionship and to observe the situation given that it sounds like your mom may need a facility soon. That's the other thing I'm working on. I'll be visiting some AL facilities so I can know what's available and what the process and wait list looks like.

My parents are still in there home and I'm stressed out so I know I couldn't take care of them like that. I thought at first I could but I'm wiped out now and the mental stamina required, not to mention the physical, is just too much for anyone. I'm only 51 and thought they might out live me here at this rate. Those who do it have my utmost admiration and respect.

Years ago when my dad was sick I went through a bad bout of anxiety. I talked with a counselor in Canada over the phone each week for a year. I live in VA, strange as it may seem, it proved invaluable. I can look back and see how it may have been God's way of preparing for now. There are two things I recall distinctly that I think about often: he said Jacky stop holding your mother's ropes. He used a visual of going across a tightrope and me trying to get her and myself over at the same time. His point being you can't provide for her every need and expect to be well. It will never happen. Help where you can but don't try to live her life. The second was another visual of packages going down a stream. He said you know the content of them (ie: fear, dread, worry, etc) so no need to open them over and over. Just observe them passing by on the water and go on. It may sound stupid, but for some reason the meaning behind it really seems to help even now. Others have given similar examples above and this is right in line with that thinking. My prayers and hugs are with you, we know and are with you. Jacky
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Now, before you get any further into the quagmire, find her a place to go. If I had it to do over, I never would or should have moved my mother in with me. Our issues go way back, but for the last 10 years, she has refused to pursue any social activity that didn't involve me. How I wish I had made clearer boundaries from the beginning. Do what you have to do to keep yourself sane, else you'll be so burnt out that you won't even be able to be nice to her from the resentment you feel. Put on your own oxygen mask first, they say....
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Yes, many of our answers and opinions here are influenced by our current situations and challenges. When this started for me 3 years ago I was so eager to make everything perfect for my folks whom I adore. Now guys, I'm so exhausted and lost somedays, I may sound bitter to some of you, wiser to others. Today I took mom out and I have to admit I enjoyed myself. Some days surprise you like that!
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SherylBeth, I think I need to retract my earlier answer. I was assuming you were dealing with a narcissistic mother, and that doesn’t seem to be the case. Someone with narcissism has no respect for you as a separate individual, and will take over your life (dementia or not) without a second thought, and so distance is sometimes the only way to deal with it. In your case, your mother has dementia and is lonely. So that’s different, and I think I jumped the gun because of my own situation. It’s commendable what you are doing to try to maintain balance, as you said, and recognizing your limitations while trying to help your mom. Best of luck to you, I hope you are able to get suggestions that provide relief for your situation.
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SherylBeth no one has any right to look down on you. Hold your head up. And meanwhile, until your mother really can't manage at home alone any longer, you're right to set boundaries you find manageable. I'm sorry for your mother's situation, because I doubt if she is able to cope with the idea of changes such as bringing in outsiders or, as you say, being "seen" using a walker (oh the shame the shame! - my mother was the same about admitting to frailty); but it still isn't anything you can reasonably do anything about. Best of luck, please keep posting.
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Yes mom was diagnosed a year ago when it became clear that her short term memory issues were progressing significantly. I take care of my 2 grandchildren during the week which gives me some additional financial help with my pension. I will, of course, do whatever i can to keep mom in her home for as long as possible since she refuses to live anywhere else right now. Whenever it becomes clear that its no longer safe, i have already looked into facilities nearby which also have a memory care unit and found one i like. She would do better to move now for the social aspect, but as long as i know shes eating and maintaining her hygiene, shes ok to stay at her home if thats what she insists on doing for now. I havent pulled away from her...im trying to manage my own life and still be there for her as much as i can with a balance. For those who live with someone with dementia 24/7, i applaud you and respect you. I know i cannot do it and maintain my own sanity and health. If that causes someone to look down on me, then so be it. I am willing to recognize and admit my own limitations, since i did live with her for about 6 months and was able to see how difficult it was even at the beginning stage. I would never abandon her...i am all she has since my oldest sister passed 10 yrs ago and my middle sister is terminally ill now. But if she had her way, i would be there multiple times a week so she would be less lonely, and thats not something i can do. Her brain is damaged, yes....but her decision to stay at her home and be lonely is not something i can change. She wont allow a visiting companion and she doesnt want to go anywhere or do anything because shes embarassed about being on a walker. So my hands are tied.
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SherylBeth, does your mother like to be read to? Even if she can't fully follow the plot she may enjoy your voice and the attention, and that would relieve the need to have a one-sided conversation. Many children's books are very engaging for adults, too.
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