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This has been going on the last few times we have seen her. My mom with dementia has been in a memory care unit a few miles away from where we live for 6 months now. Prior to that she lived with us for 18 months. All she does when we visit is complain about everything and tell us how badly she is treated there (the facility is lovely, and the nurses are very pleasant, compassionate, and skilled). And then, out of the blue, she goes off on a tirade about how not to expect her to come to Thanksgiving OR Christmas this year and not to think we can make her. OKkkkkkk? She gets a bit weepy and juts her chin out as if to challenge us. This feel like her "martyr complex" rearing its ugly head (again) and is just a ploy for attention. I used to think she would be hurt if we did not have her join us, but now I'm wondering if she really and truly does not want to spend the holidays with all of the family (my husband, three grandsons with spouses and two young great-grandchildren). Has anyone else run into this? Very confused as to what to do.

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Rascal, most NHs have a large room that they will rent or give you for a couple of hours. Bring in food, cokored table clothes, and a cd player with holiday music. Invite your crowd, and bring mom in to see everyone, enjoy some food and merriment. Bring games and puzzles for the kids.
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So I FINALLY got a response from my mom regarding not wanting to join us for any events, holiday or not. (We've asked her out at other times as well, and she doesn't want to go.) There IS something left of her memory, and being with all of us brings back the bygone times that are gone forever. She didn't say it quite like that, but all of a sudden the light bulb went off over MY head, and I understood. Made me so sad to have my mom stuck in that place in her mind. Our family is getting together after Christmas this year, so I'm going to ask everyone (9 of us, including the two great grandchildren whom she adores) to go to the NH as a group to see her. It will probably be a short visit, but I think us going to her in her usual surroundings may be OK.
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Maybe she didn't have the ability to appreciate that seeing the bridal party all dressed up was a treat. Maybe it confused her. She may have forgotten that she said she didn't want to go.

My loved one changes her mind very quickly. One minute she is going to church, the next she doesn't recall it at all. I would never actually take her plans as what she wants. She doesn't know what she wants. So, I make those decisions for her, wording in a way that she thinks she made them. It works out fine. If we didn't do it that way, she would likely be frustrated and confused.

Depending on her progress, I would likely plan for a happy gathering and ensure that it happens. If she gets overwhelmed, it can be wrapped up quickly. Take pictures first so she will have pictures to remind of her of the happy occasion.
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Thank you - I do realize her brain isn't working properly anymore. And I don't think she is trying to hurt me specifically. This behavior is more of the same, only amplified. I'm just trying to work around the situation as best I can, without causing her more agita. When she missed my son's wedding, she was terribly upset, even though she insisted she wasn't going to go, "because he really didn't want her there and wouldn't miss her". He and his bride went to the hospital to see her right after the service and so she could see them all dressed up, and to bring her flowers. I would like to avoid the same regarding the holidays. I tried letting her know the holidays would not be the same without her, but I'll repeat (and repeat) as necessary so she gets the message!
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I would certainly work on finding the proper medication and dosage. That worked like a charm for my loved one. Sometimes they have to try several to find one that really helps with depression and/or anxiety. Cymbalta really worked for my loved one. She is quite content most of the time.

I would try not to read so much into your mom's words about the holidays. You seem to put as much stake into her comments as you would if she did not not suffer from brain damage. Try to stop thinking of her as manipulative and stubborn. Maybe that used to be true, but you have to let it go. The dementia is not allowing her to think clearly. I would try to put that into context. I would not take this as a calculated way to hurt me as I would if she told she was flying on a saucer to Disney Land. She's suffering from a brain that is not working properly. Our only option is to try to help her feel better and turn the thing around.

I might respond that the holidays would only be complete with her. (Even if it's not true.) And that she can come to the house or the family will come to her. You can actually pick the day and time to celebrate early if you wish. Tell her the important thing is to celebrate together and you have a wonderful gift awaiting. (Even if you don't. Get something that will make her happy.)

Depending on her progression, you might plan to just have the family meet at the facility to celebrate, eat, take gifts, etc. If she's well enough to leave the facility, then plan a schedule. Anticipate her needs in advance, so there is someone available to carry her back early if she gets too tired or anxious. Realize that she may only be able to tolerate 20 minutes of celebrating before becoming overwhelmed.
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Oh, I can SO understand responding this way. I think in our case it will be "damned if you do, and damned if you don't"! I just wish she wasn't so unhappy, and this goes back years now. It's really such a sad place for her to be at this time in her life.
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You might ask the psychiatrist to stop back. It may not have kicked in yet ( it can take a month or more) or she may need an additional med, or a higher dose.

Two years ago, when my mom was still in Independent Living, she declared that she wasn't coming to my son's wedding: she was right, too, she had a stroke and was in the NH by then. I talked to mom's doctor who said " just drop it, say, that's fine mom, whatever you want to, we're happy with your decision".
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Thank you! Ya know, I try to not take the bait, but I am trying to understand what she wants. I realize she is no longer in control of her "destiny", so to speak. And for someone who was always controlling, the situation must be really difficult. I thought of depression, too, based on her behaviors over time, so I asked that she be screened by the psychiatrist who services the facility. Now she takes an anti-depressant. (I can only imagine what she would be like without the anti-depressant. Oh, my.) But her saying she does not want to share the holidays and share family time is just baffling to me. It just feels like she wants to punish us in a rather bizarre way. I try to change the subject, but she's like a dog with a bone about it. She did the same thing earlier this year when our youngest son got married, and she declared she was NOT going to the wedding. This went on for weeks before the wedding. She ended up not going, not by choice, but because she was in the hospital for a blood clot. I'll just have to go with the flow and see what it takes us.
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Is your mother being treated for depression? If she's in chronic pain, has had a recent life-changing move and has dementia, the chances are very good that she's depressed and would be helped by antidepressant meds. Is there a geriatric psychiatrist who consults at her Memory care facility ? Ask for her/him to stop by and see her.

Just an aside; we now bring the holiday to mom, at her facility. For several years, we'd been doing a second Thanksgiving, so what we do now is, Second Thanksgiving the Saturday after the traditional one, and Prehistory on the Sunday before the 25th. It makes it easier on mom to be in her familiar facility, where she can go back to her room if/when she gets overwhelmed. Her facility has a community room that they allow us to use.
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Her world is sooo teeny-tiny now. Try not to hold it against her. She is, probably for the first time in her life, completely powerless. TOTALLY.

Ignore it of you can, don't take the bait other than to let her know that if she doesn't want to join you, she doesn't have to. And then, when it's a few days before, remind her that you're sure hoping she'll join all of you, and you're going to make her favorite dish. And for Christmas, that there's gifts under the tree with her name on them.

Compassion is really easy until it isn't. This is one of those times that gives us the opportunity to earn angel wings. Good luck.
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