My mother has dementia...How do I help both of my parents? Honestly, who do I care for?

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Over 3 years & several visit to hospital & doctors & putting my mother through several tests & even having ECT Treatments... After setting her up at two different senior living housings & now having homecare, not sure when we started this journey anymore & after reading everyone’s questions & responses, I’m still feeling frustration. My mother is 78 & was always such a go getter’ as of today, tomorrow all I can do is cherish all the love she gave to myself & anyone she met. While my father is 80, yet his doctor describes him as 80 yr old man that has 60 yr old man's heart & body. I’m sorry lost in words trying figure out what I’m trying to say, ask... Why?? Why, after years later one of her doctors finally listened to what I’ve been saying. My mother has now later signs of dementia. All the love she has given to her family & friends turns to pretending everything is great & moment they leave EVERYTHING is beyond great. Love of her life 59 years is now her worst fear & her only daughter myself is a stranger more & more each day it’s like so many of you described. My question is, how do I help both of my parents? Honestly, who do I care for? The one that doesn’t want to live rather stab me with a pretend knife or my father who wants to live yet, can’t imagine life without her, even though every minute of every day he’s dying inside cause of like myself frustration & questions. Why put not only my mother through unnecessary tests ALL DEPRESSION medications & within last few months of emailing & telling her doctor her daily routines actions WOW as they say light switch turn on instead of being off!!! Please understand it isn’t about all the money. My father from the beginning told us over & over he give everything away in a second if she just could be happy. It’s so hard understanding without anger & so much lost time feeling like I should of listened harder, smarter instead last 6 months feeling inpatient with her being selfish & poor me attitude when this whole time~ She’s been crying out from within begging me to help her. I just feel like now that she’s failing more & more everyday she’ll never understand when I tell her how sorry I am for everything putting her through last few years all stressful tests depression she was so scared & she trusted me to help her & I failed her & how much I love her. Trying to process, it’s only been few days since I was told about my mother's condition. When does it finally hit you in the face, that it’s time to place them? We’ve been through like I’ve mentioned 4-6 hospitals (over a month stay each time) plus 2 senior housing to again bring home finally dad & I decided we both needed additional nurse staff during day, cause LOL, we told them mom's getting tired of us we're to boring maybe they could get her motivated! Ya, 4 months later now she wants to be left alone & in her room resting/ sleeping. LEAVE HER ALONE NOT HUNGRY NO MEDICATION so far we still have some control just when won’t we anymore.... very confused ~praying I find some peace & answers God bless

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God bless all of you, thank you so much for your kindness and your support. I was so emotional after reading them. As for my mother coming home was due to my father & I both one not having any real answers diagnosis & her always basically playing out the “ I’m feeling better & stronger!” Within weeks after bringing her back we just fell back into the pain so to speak, same old story. As for geriatric psychologists she has one & he has been working with us now since January 2017. I did however try getting a second opinion just felt like we were starting all over again & getting nowhere she wasn’t willing do go Thur process of counseling and or groups. So, trying moving forward she is homecare 9-5 Monday Thur Friday which of course started week my son left home for his second year of college & my two younger children starting school. Be honest I was so angry I felt as if she was trying to control & make my life miserable & she expected us to just move her apartment ( @ homestead) within same day she cane home. Stop everything it’s all about her while she sits & complain. Now, sadly since mid-August she has declined with nurses to start hiding in her room and if she hears any laughers or talking ( low voices) she either walks out like poor me into living room or walks right pass us with a glare & cold or not leave house we follow her but it’s like she acted up & than turn around go right back inside lay down again. Up & down. Seriously like a light switch you never know for a minute if she’s going have a smile or a glare. Praying for just few minutes later she would stop go on & on about wanting to hurt herself or dying ASAP. I have tried everything & its so hard to explain to my father who’s 80yrs old who just can’t handle the wonderful woman he loves & knew to say & be like she is. My concern now is since she is starting to decline with nursing care he’s going to have to take action on her safety as well as his own cause from 8-9 pm until 8am it’s only the two of them. While she’s going to bed now, what can happen if she gets up confused & feels threatened & goes into their old bedroom while he’s sleeping. I am trying & praying for a better tomorrow yet, I’m not sure how get through to my father. I just can’t imagine losing my father as well... Thank you ladies so very much for reaching out to me. I’m learning everyday & taking one day @ a time. Cherish every minute of every day, & appreciate the love we received from those who love us. Cause no one is promised to remember us. Prayers to everyone
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I agree with Barb in that you have to try to let go of that guilt. We have all been where you are, we've walked the same path you are on now and we know from experience that 1.) you have nothing to feel guilty about and 2.) that guilt will seep into your soul and cause depression and despair. Two conditions you can hardly deal with as you enter into this new phase with your parents. I too felt guilty and it took a lot of years of revisiting that time in my life to realize that I had nothing to feel guilty about. It's a waste of emotion.
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I think many of us were frustrated and perhaps not very patient before we learned our Loved One had dementia. I remember conversations with my husband that went like this:
Him: I didn't know we were going to do that this afternoon.
Me: Well you would know if you LISTENED when I tell you something!

When the neurologist explained that the part of communication my husband was having trouble with was taking the information in, that made sense of what I thought was his inattentiveness.

When the diagnosis is delayed, the more these frustrating misunderstandings occur. I do understand your regret that you didn't have more information, and therefore a different attitude. Been there, done that! But feeling guilty isn't appropriate. This is nothing you did deliberately. Acknowledge your regret and move forward.

A geriatric psychiatrist may be very helpful at this point.

A dementia diagnosis is a lot to process. Be gentle with yourself and give yourself time to settle into acceptance. Dad is reeling to process this, too. You can he can comfort each other.
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You are in such pain over this, I'm so sorry for that. But you also seem to feel guilt, which shouldn't be part of this.

You did nothing wrong. Most of us here with elderly patients are in "fix it" mode; some of us right up till the end and after. "If only I'd...".

Let go of the guilt. It serves no purpose.

A couple of question. Mom was in senior living facilities, why did she come home?

Have you had a professional assessment of her care needs? Her doctor can order one or the local Area Agency on Aging can help get one.

You need someone objective who can tell you what mom needs help with and how much.

I seem to understand that antidepressants didn't work. Dementia can certainly be accompanied by depression, agitation and anxiety. We found that geriatric psychiatrists were amazing at treating the symptoms (agitation and extreme anxiety) that accompanied my mom's dementia. Make sure you find a good one and keep her/him on board.

As to dad, he's grieving. Hug him and grieve together. You'll get through this!
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