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I am the full time caretaker of my Mother. I have been doing this for a little over a year now. It is obvious to me her dementia is getting worse. My Mother was always a gardener at heart. She loved planting gardens and growing indoor plants and she passed that love onto me. When I moved in with her she had several plants. Lately though she has decided to cut down or tear out beautiful growing plants as she says they are ugly to her. I would have never guessed in a million years that she would do that. Yes if the plant is dead or dying beyond what you can do to get it to recover, but she has taken perfectly good plants and ripped them up as they "bothered" her that they were ugly. I realize this is a trivial problem among many but I took great pride in helping her nurture these plants all summer and now that they are in the house she has become destructive towards them. Is is the dementia telling her to do this or what? It is heartbreaking to me on two levels. One: to see her act this way and Two: to watch the destruction of something that I helped create. If I try and stop her she just shuts down and ignores me. Should I just give up until all the plants are destroyed? I have decided to take my most favorite ones back to my house to avoid their destruction, but it does make it easier for me to tend to them when I can see them daily rather than when I managed to get home to my house every two weeks or so. Is this trivial or is it stress. I mean you can always buy new plants, am I right?

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I'm sorry your going through this heart-wrenching time with your mom. My mom has dementia also. My mom was an amazing calligrapher and now can only scribble. Heartbreaking to say the least, this disease robs our loved ones of their minds and talents. Would sharing the plants with a school where children could nurse them as a project be an idea? A part of your mom will live on and grow and I think children would be excited to water trim and take responsibility with her cherished plants. Hugs to you
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The other day I sat down with Mom and made a list of upcoming things we could do now during winter, in spring also. I even wrote down a few things for summer...it took a while since she kept losing her concentration and started talking about other things, so we kept it at a slow pace (not that i had any control over that lol)...we finally got it done and then I reviewed it with Mom...i did this for several reasons - 1. to take up some time 2. to interact with her 3. to get her mind going with ideas 4. to make her feel useful and part of upcoming plans 5. because some of these things she used to love to do 6. and, most importantly is because I love her and I want to do these things with her before she doesn't want to/won't want to anymore....I also did if for myself because I am not ready to 'give her up to this terrible Alzheimers/dementia disease'....I want to get the most of every moment with her as long as she can remember and know what is going on....she is the sweetest soul and don't get me wrong, I get very frustrated with her and sometimes I get mad upset and then I make a point of telling her I am sorry for getting upset . But I will miss her sweetness and the 'Mom words' she used to have for me....she has just lost that ability to empathize ; the emotion part of her is gone and her gerontologist has just said last week that from 'here on out, it's only a one-way street'. This hit me hard and when I started crying and when the Dr. even hugged me as I sat right next to Mom, Mom didn't even question why I was crying or why the Dr was hugging me....I thanked the Dr genuinely because I knew how it was going to be and the Dr must have known how much HER hug meant to me...this is a wonderful site and I could just type and type on my experiences with Mom but I thank you all for reading :) we are all in this together and it makes it just a little bit easier :)
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Of course it is the dementia that is causing Mother do destroy healthy plants. Plant-lovers in their right minds do not behave this way.

How do you navigate that kind of insanity? Oh boy, that is hard. I think it helped me to know a lot about the dementia (my husband's was Lewy Body) and generally what behaviors to expect. No two persons with dementia go through it the same way, but still I found it useful to hear about typical behaviors. I got this through my local caregivers' support group, online forums like this one, reading everything the doctor suggested, and watching Teepa Snow videos on U-tube.

This doesn't make you feel any better for losing the plants, but it does remove some of the shock value. In her irrational world she does have a reason for doing this. It may not make sense in our world, and she may not be able to express it, but there is a reason. If you can figure out the reason you may be able to meet her need in some other way. But figuring out the reason is not always possible. Can you go along with her ... "let's pick out all the ugly ones and I'll take them out of here." Arguing that they aren't ugly, you spent a lot of time on them, etc. is not apt to change her mind. She has a reason and you haven't addressed that yet. So go along, and do the best you can to mitigate any damage.

Is this trivial? Well, it is never trivial to see evidence of dementia advancing in our loved ones. That hurts. The destruction of the plants is sad. but perhaps a little on the trivial side, too. In the overall scheme of things, what's a few plants? I don't mean you shouldn't feel bad about this -- it is a loss to you, and you have every right to feel that loss. Mourn the plants and move on.
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I just thought of something. It could be that they are trying to recreate what they used to do, but have lost the ability. My mother used to plant things. She was terrible at maintaining things after she planted, but she still considered herself to be quite a landscaper. It may be that she was trying to be the person she once was, but the plan wasn't coming together. If that is true, it may give people some ideas on what they can do when parents go through phases like this.
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I understand how you feel. Yes, save what plants you can.

My mother went through this phase of pruning the shrubs outdoors. She pretty much destroyed one azalea bush and a Ligustrum by cutting and cutting. She chopped down the ferns, thinking they were weeds. The yard ended up looking like a very bad haircut. It was sad, since I tried to keep things looking good. I know they'll ultimately grow back, but it will take years.

I don't know what causes this sudden onslaught against plants. My mother really had it in for moss and ended up destroying a large part of the yard. If yours is on that same destructive path, I would take the most precious plants and put them out of her sight. Maybe you can give her something she can work on that won't be so heart-rending to you. If your mother is like mine, the phase will come and go, then finally pass.
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