New at caring for elderly mother in law. How do I help make her last years better? - AgingCare.com

New at caring for elderly mother in law. How do I help make her last years better?

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Three months ago, my husband and I brought his mother a thousand miles from her home to live with us. She is 87, walks with a walker, and has Alzheimer's. So far we are doing ok with her care. We've had her to dr. For check ups and physically she is good for her age. In the last couple of years, she's had some falls resulting in broken hip, broken arm, broken shoulder which was what led us to moving her in with us, to take care of her and try to keep her from breaking anything else. There is just one thing that I don't understand. She gets up in up in the morning and comes in the living room and sits in her recliner, and never says a word. If you ask her something, she will reply with one or two words. Ask her if she's hungry and she will say yes or no. Ask her what she would like to eat she says she doesn't know. I have tried to have conversations with her, asking her things, trying to draw her out, but nothing seems to work. She will sit here for hours with her permanent frown and not say a word. She never asks about her neighbors and friends she had where she lived. Never asks about her grandchildren. Never asks about anything. I find it very depressing, she hasn't said it to me, but she's told my husband that she just wants to die. I would love to help her and make her last few years better, but I am totally at a loss.

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You might try some type of routine. Morning care; breakfast; something that involves movement (a walk or chair exercises); lunch; quiet time; and activities that help you. It's likely she can fold laundry. Can she stir jello at a table while she sits? Can she feed a shredder? Sort through magazines? Accompany you on certain errands? How about religious services, any interest there? She probably feels useless, find things she can help with. Empty the utensil drawer and wash the container, then have her reload the items back into the drawer.

Stop asking her open ended questions. ALZ sufferers can't handle them. Instead, 'Mom, how does cereal and fruit sound for breakfast? Think of her old life (and I mean many years ago). What were her interests. Can you get something going with that?
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Sometimes the act of moving from a familiar place also breaks ties with friends and daily routines. It's like trying to uproot a large tree and plant it somewhere else. Instead of improving their mood, they become extremely depressed. Granted they can no longer be alone, they need caring, but they also need social interaction like they had at the previous location. Assisted Living puts them with contemporaries and age-appropriate activities. While I prefer a quiet house, my MIL is always seeking to go out, take a ride, go to lunch, get her hair done, play cards, do some shopping, attend the church coffee hour etc. What was her life like on her own? What elements can you replicate? Did she have friends she would like to chat with? Does she like cats or dogs? Keep her in touch with those things she enjoyed.
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Did she want to come live with you? How much time does her son spend with her? Do you think she might be depressed? If so, there are meds that can help. I think it's really hard getting old, but since the alternative is dying young, maybe not so bad.

I think I am going to make a picture book of family photos for my MIL and it will give her something to talk about when her caretaker comes or she has visitors. Maybe your MIL would like that and tell you about the photos.
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