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My mom, 93 years old, sent out over 2000.00 in cash gifts to all her children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. She does this out of the kindness of her heart. However, this Christmas she received only about 10 cards and of the 10 cards there were only 1 from the ones she had sent the money to. She keeps asking me why she has not received any cards or a thank you from the ones she sent the money to. She has dementia (I think the early stages at some times and then intermediate at other times) and gets depressed easily when she does not get telephone calls or letters or even visits. My brothers and sisters do call and some come to visit once or twice a month. But I wish they would call her more often and visit more often to give her spirits an uplift. Most of them are not retired but some that are, live about 1.5 hours away. Do you think I should write them and tell them my concerns? I have talked this over with my husband and he says that this is a part of aging and that being lonely, depressed is not uncommon. I feel for my mother because when she gets a visit or phone call I can see her spirits rise up and she has more energy. Because I care for her 24/7 I feel I am doing all I can for her as it is and when I go out I like to be by myself. I am in a bit of a delimma. Is anyone else experiencing this situation?Thank you for listening!
Linda

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This is not uncommon as people get to be in their 80s and 90s. They have outlived most of their friends. Many family members, unfortunately, don't understand the value of a note, a card or a visit. They live their lives and don't think about it. I think a kindly written email to the whole family may spur a little action. They likely just figure you are taking care of things (they have no idea what you are dealing with!). They go on their merry way. Not bad people - just not trying too hard to understand the difficulty of your situation and the loneliness of your mother.
One thing to remember - visits are soon forgotten when someone has mid-stage or beyond AD. Even early stages often present as memory loss. The elder looks forward to a visit for a long time, the visit is only for a day or weekend, and then the visitor is gone. Often, so is the memory. While I'd certainly encourage visits, I'd strongly suggest that you underscore the value of cards and notes. Then your mother can read them repeatedly (or you can read them to her). That will mean a lot and will take minimal effort from your family. Do try to explain this without any blame. Good luck,
Carol
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It's amazing how often I read in this forum about people who are doing caregiving and are full of resentment and anger and judgment about other family members who are not showing up. There are a couple of problems with just deciding that the caregiver is a good person and everyone else is a bad selfish person. For one thing, it won't exactly attract more visitors. To visit with a demented elder is very difficult for many people, and understandably so. If that parent was a source of trauma or difficulty in the past, all the more so. When you call or write or visit and the elder's immediate response is, "why didn't you call or write or visit BEFORE," or "please please please do it AGAIN" that's another thing that makes people just want to avoid the experience. And when the caregiver who IS present is giving off waves of resentment, that can be enough to pretty much clinch it. This isn't only about generosity vs. selfishness. It's also about the quality of the relationships involved.
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Just went through several years of this myself - mom died just in December, in the last few weeks I did not endear myself to my sister-in-law (my brother died several years ago) and her three featherhead daughters (my so-called nieces) for exactly this reason though we are still on speaking terms, and if it comes to that I have a nephew, my sister's son (sister died just this last February) who is the exact same way. Mom was 94, did not have dimentia but had a lot of trouble walking and getting around, never missed a birthday or a new baby (they breed like minks...) without sending a card with a little money in it (I pointblank refused to mail the last couple, but she insisted), the ingrates never even would call and say thank you even though we all live in the same small town. They are more interested in their hairstyles or make-up or their tanning parlor or whether they go to Branson twice a year or not. Couple examples, one I ran into one niece (hard not to do in a town like ours) - she asked how grandma was, I replyed that she was not very well at all, and she exclaimed "Why!!!" as if it were new news, I looked her square in the face and parctically yelled so that the whole store could hear "She is dying - what part of that do you not understand?". She looked sheepish, but still no calls or visits, another one another time said "Tell grandma I love her.", to which I turned around and snapped "Well, why don't you just call her and tell her yourself?!" You guessed it, still no calls. Now every one of them is clambering for a ring or something of grandma's because they "loved her so much"...My sis-in-law did drop by on one of her every-other-month or so visits and I called her on the carpet about them, she must have called them because the next day all three of them showed up at the same time (you would think they were triplets the way they 'hang' together, visited with grandma for about an hour, who obviously enjoyed it pathetically, on the way out the door they told me that if I ever "Needed anything, just call", to which I would have liked to yell "But why should I even have to call?!", but I did not want to spoil the moment for mom. It is all very well and good and may be true that they might not want to remember grandma this way, but in the end it is just selfishness. In her book, "Mansfield Park", one of Jane Austen's characters agreed she was selfish, but she said, "Selfishness must be forgiven because there is no cure." Well, I do not forgive them except for the fact they know not what they did, they are just mechanisms walking around. I have said many times on other treads that those who do not have a vested interest in the care of a family member are usually only too happy to stand by and let someone else with more compassion do it. The true mark of a shallow personality.
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lrobbin3545, I'm afraid people just don't send out thank yous like they used to. When I got married and my husband and I had to go to Colorado Springs because of the Army, my mother called me almost every single day and asked whether I had sent out the thank you notes from the wedding. I was 20years old and didn't get 'it', but now at my age I DO get 'it'. It's the polite thing to do, the grateful thing to do, but people I think are less grateful then they used to be. We've got this generation x (or whatever they're calling it now days) of gimme gimme, selfish adults. I know according to the Bible there's 'nothing new under the sun', but it just seems more prevalent now. Maybe it's in our face more by the instant access to media, I don't know. If no one is coming to see your mom, is she able to travel to their houses? I'm not talking about getting on an airplane and traveling across the U.S. but maybe by car somewhere that's not too far? You didn't say whether she has physical problems that would make that impossible, so I was wondering. Also, if the family can't/won't come visit her, what about her church? Does she have a church home who you can call and ask if there are people who regularly visit with the elderly? Just a couple of suggestions. I get my 87 year old mother-in-law out and about at least 3x's a week (including church) from her asst living place, just so she won't go stir crazy. My husband and I are the ones that she sees on a regular basis, the other two sons do call when they think of it. And my son and his wife have started a tradition now of taking her out on every other Monday for dinner & ice cream. By the way, I DID send out those wedding thank you cards finally, just to shut my mother up. haha
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I agree with a lot of what DT said. Selfishness is a big thing in today's society. Everybody is selfish with THEIR time, and what is important to THEM, and it usually doesn't include an old person. As the caregiver of my Mom, who is 85 and lives with me, I get frustrated as well at the lack of attention from the rest of the family members. I have to think "how hard is it, to just pick up the phone and make a 10 minute call, for God's sake." Or just drop a card in the mail. My Mom's aging sister, 89, lives 3 hours away, and I call her regularly and drop her a line w/ pictures. The old people are the forgotten people. Everyone seems to ignore them, like they're yesterday's news. Frankly, I think it's shameful, and I think America as a society is very much lacking in this respect! I can't tell you how many times I've heard from my friends, "Why don't you put your Mom in care center, as we have done with our parents?" It's like they're pieces of furniture being put in storage, or something. I suppose I could understand it somewhat if the parent was a bad parent, abusive, etc. Then I guess I would think "what could they expect. You reap what you sow." But if the parent was a good, and loving parent, then they deserve that treatment in return. I just can't see any other way to rationalize it. Those parents deserve respect and honor. They deserve phone calls and visits, and cards and letters, and pictures to brighten their lonely days! The sole caregiver does what he/she can, but a bit of cheering support from the other deadbeats would be nice. But....that's if we lived in a perfect world!
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I strongly feel that you should try to reason with your with your brothers and sisters to at least call you Mother more often. A phone call can mean so much to an elder person, even if your Mom does't remember because of her aging. They could at least take turns calling her. Even though sadness and loneliness are normal with aging, we should do a lot to keep her happy and not so lonely.
There may be a reason why you siblings don't visit. My Mom and I visit my Dad with advanced Alzheimers at least every two weeks. It is sad to see him, but I want to spend as much time with him as I can. My Sister is very reluctant to go because she wants to remember Dad the way he was and won't take my Dad's grandchildren for the same reason. My Brother also has a hard time dealing with his feeling about Dad's illness. I make up for the visits because I am retired and they both work.
My Mother is blind and in assisted living and I try to call her almost every day. It makes her happy and less lonely. I am the only one that takes her to see my Dad but I don't mind.
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You can't control other people, so, don't try, you will just lose. You will be mad, frustrated and upset. Enjoy what you have, and the relationship you have with her. Wouldn't worry too much about it. If she wanted to call them, she would. Have you ever thought about dialing the number for her, and letting her talk on the phone to them? Might be worth a shot.
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Have "occasions" and invite people to come.
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Absolutely agree braida - nearly everyone (especially the younger ones) have cel phones - supposedly for their 'buds' to keep in touch at a moments notice, but it works both ways - if it is so easy, what would it kill them if they give grandma, someone they maintain they "love", a call once a week, or even once a month?!
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I just saw a wonderful tv program where the 80-year-old mom had her friends & community set up her wake & announce her death to her family. She then attended the wake behind a black veil where all the family was talking about what a wonderful woman she was. When she unveiled, the family was furious & asked why she would ever pull such a stunt. She talked to each of them and told them how their behavior had left her feeling empty & alone and stated she wanted them to visit her & she wanted to see her grandchildren. Of course, they all cried & hugged & it turned out well. Yes, I would contact the family members and express how you care and what you are seeing in her. Sometimes we have to be the voice for one who has lost hers. At least you will know you tried & may God grant you favor with them.
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