Is shadowing driving you nuts? - AgingCare.com

Is shadowing driving you nuts?

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At least that's what I think this is, I've read some other posts in here that it's common with ALZ. Mom doesn't have ALZ that I know of, but she does do the following me around thing. I posted about my 56 year old mom a few days ago. It's a complicated mess. I'm her guardian and she lives with me at the moment, but am trying to set up home care or AL for her. I guess I just need to vent. She copies everything I do. If I make myself a sandwich or something, she sits and stares at me eat, then will go and make herself one, even if she just ate 30 minutes ago (and she is insulin dependent diabetic!) She can prepare food in the microwave, that type of thing, and I do cook too. If I get up, she usually follows me, even to the kitchen, and stands over my shoulder while I'm doing laundry. She also wants to borrow my clothes, even though she has her own, and I usually tell her no because I never know when I'll get them back. If one of my kids has a headache, etc, she does too, that kind of thing. It's like this from the time I get up until I go to bed. I can only nap when my 20 month old is napping, and have to go in my room and lock the door. Mom has always been clingy, and when I was a teenager and in my 20s always wanted to hang out with me and my friends, but she did have a life of her own too. Now she doesn't because she's basically a hermit due to her increasing anxiety. She's been treated for mental illness (paranoid schizophrenia), but neurologist is trying to see if she might have Parkinson's as well. I'm not trying to be a martyr, I just needed to let off steam so I don't pull my hair out. I know I signed up for this (God help me!) and hubs, kids and I are trying to make do until we can get some other care arrangements in place. I really don't have anywhere else to go during the day because my little one is with me too and I have to look after her, plus I just don't have a lot of energy left, or I would hire someone to sit with her for a few hours whIle my little and I went to the zoo or something. I am so glad for this forum. You guys get it, and I'd rather gripe here than be snappy at mom.

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My husband does the same thing (except wanting to wear my clothes) ;-) He follows me everywhere including the bathroom. I have tripped over him or he has stepped on my heels so many times as I go about housework, gardening, etc. I know when I am getting ready to stop, turn and pick up something, but he hasn't a clue. I have to keep up a loud, continuous narrative of what I'm doing next. Even out in public. He looks over my shoulder as I read the newspaper. Maddening!!! He was never home during his career and I learned to be alone and busy on my own once our children left home. For the past 6 weeks he has been in all day adult day care and I am just beginning to have normal days again. I had no idea how much I needed to have some alone time. Maybe your mom could try a day (or 5) at a senior center so you could breathe again.
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Reply to Longears
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Frazzled, bumping this up as I think it got lost in the shuffle.

I don't have any experience with this issue, but it sounds unbearable! Especially to me as an introvert. Arghh!!

You're a saint and your mom is lucky to have you. :) I hope others have some insights for you.
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Reply to SnoopyLove
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Frazzled, in one of the posts somewhere on this site I read something that has stuck with me: Caregiving has to be a two-way street. It can't be all about just placating mom, doing what she wants, having everything her way. You have valid needs and wants too.
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Reply to SnoopyLove
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Oh, my gosh, you caregivers with shadowers are SAINTS! I couldn't handle that for a day. I think daycare is a great idea for Frazzledmama's mom if you could get her to go. Setting some boundaries is a good thing too. Don't take away your happiness by trying to please or placate mom all of the time. My heart goes out to you both dealing with this.
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Reply to blannie
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Frazzled, I would suggest that she be evaluated by a geriatric psychiatrist. There may a medication that would help. Sometimes clinginess is due to fear and anxiety.

Setting firm boundaries are good too. You need to have time. Contact your area Agency for Aging. They may have a program that would assist you in getting some respite. Perhaps an in home attendant for a couple of hours once or twice a week.

Your doing the best you can for your Mom. You need to take care of yourself too.
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Reply to Becky04473
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I don't have a solution either but it would drive me nuts to have someone follow me around all day everyday.....while I care for a baby! I got anxious just reading about it.

Have you told your mom to not follow you?
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Reply to Eyerishlass
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Thanks, SnoopyLove. :) My therapist told me today basically that same thing. She also said I needed to consider how this is affecting my husband and kids. My poor youngest son (12) is so frustrated with her here he is about to pull his hair out too.

We had planned a week long vacation at the beginning of July way before mom moved in. I was actually thinking of cancelling, because I think with mom it would just be more work than fun, but in researching AL facilities, I learned that some offer respite services, and some even do a free night or two hoping to sell you on the facilities.

We may do a week of respite care at a nice AL facility and it would be a safe place for mom for the week where she is well taken care of, plus she would be able to "try out" the place and see how she likes it. I know she's not going to be exactly enthused about the idea, but if I can find her a good place that she likes, I really feel she would thrive more there, maybe in a semi-private room with a roommate, and activities that she might enjoy.

She has no friends and doesn't like to go much of anywhere, but if a place like that could help her get out of her comfort zone, I think she might thrive there better than she would being isolated at home, either hers or mine, especially as young as she is. I want her to be able to enjoy her life, which she really hasn't much up to this point, and I know I can't make that happen, but maybe a change of scenery would help.

I'm just excited that we're making a tiny bit of progress in hopefully getting a plan coming together. It's like the light at the end of the tunnel coming into view.
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Reply to FrazzledMama
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FrazzledMama, I applaud both your wiliness to take your mother into your home (even temporarily) and your self-honesty about your issues with your mother being there. You cannot really find workable solutions if you cannot be honest with yourself but many people are not until well after they explode.

As far as conversations with your mother, you also need to be honest about mom's capabilities too, then I suggest engaging your mother on your team. Explain to mom that she had family time without grandparents as you were growing up and you need some of that same time with your family and that WE need to find something that works for BOTH of us to create that time. Remember almost everyone is afraid of the unknown - adult day care and AL are the unknown. Talk about adult day care and ask her to attend 2 days a week to start (Tue & Thu?) as though you never considered that she wouldn't do this for you. As she becomes accustomed and day care becomes the known, add a day (maybe Wed?, then Fri?, then Mon?). As much as possible, I would try to limit changes like this to one at a time. Once she's settled in day care, tackle AL for respite. This is not only for family vacations. She needs to adjust to/learn about AL just in case you or another family member were injured or ill and you could not take care of her for some time frame. Every care giver needs a backup available - at least for short periods.

in dealing with frustrations with your mother's care and presence in your home, I suggest you try to start looking at issues as "mom's problem" and "not mom's problem". My own mother has short term memory problems. So she doesn't remember that she asked me that same exact question every 5-10 minutes for the last hour. That's not Mom's problem (she cannot stop doing it) - that's MY problem to deal with. Sometimes I need to count a few numbers or take a deep breathe before I can respond to her in the same polite and cheerful manner as I did the first time she asked that question. But Mom deserves that and it's my problem to figure out a way to handle that particular issue.

When my mother first came to live with me after being verbally and emotionally abused by my older sibling, she was afraid and anxious that her son would show up at my house (which he did before his lawyer had a restraining order discussion with him). She followed me around a lot and I had trouble dealing with that too. One method I used to handle it was to engage my mother in what was going on so she wasn't standing over me. Even if she was just sitting in a chair 10 feet away that was somehow so much better than standing just 5 feet away and moving every time I did. So the saddle stool in one corner of the kitchen became her perch when I was cooking or cleaning in the kitchen. We kept up a conversation on what I was making, how her mother used to cook something, how much her father like cornbread, how cute the grand-grandchild that visited that afternoon is, etc. If there was some cooking task I could hand off - peeling apples/potatoes or rolling out the biscuits - I did that too. Fortunately for me, as time passed without my brother causing any more problems, my mother felt more secure and this behavior has mostly gone away. Maybe with time and proper medications, most of your mother's following behavior will abate too.
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Reply to TNtechie
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Yes, I've asked her at various times not to hover over me. It might be a little better for a little while but by later in the day she's back at it again.

I'm an introvert also which makes it doubly hard dealing with the clinginess. To an extent, mom has always been this way even before her illness. She's always been the type of person who hates to be alone and needs people around all the time. The illness and paranoia have just amplified it x 100. I am the exact opposite. I have always needed my space and alone time, which is why she and I haven't lived together before now since I left home at 16.

She got her feelings hurt because I told her earlier she couldn't go with me to run a 30 minute errand. I told her I needed some time to myself. I guess in this process I am learning how to set a few boundaries. Baby steps.
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Reply to FrazzledMama
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You all are so helpful and supportive, I appreciate it! :) I had done a lot of online searching and requests for info - well, A Place For Mom reached out to me today and gave me a number of cost estimates for both home care and AL, and there are a couple of AL places here that would be within mom's budget and less expensive than home care.

I was a little wary because I've read mixed reviews about A Place for Mom, but so far the lady I talked to was very kind and helpful, and is going to be sending an email with the info we discussed as well.

So, I bit the bullet and talked some more about it with Mom. I took your suggestion, TNtechie as far as discussing it with her as though there were no question that she would do this for us, and also as far as working together as a team, that we're going to find her the best care for her possible and that this is for her and US. Though we discussed home care vs. AL, rather than the day care, since she was here with me when I was on the phone.

I think you're right too as far as some of mom's fear is probably because, as I found out during the guardianship proceedings, she spent over a year being abused by my sister, verbally, financially, and emotionally, and had turned physical at the end, which is why I brought her to live here. To some degree, I'm sure she has PTSD along with her other illnesses.

As for her reaction to the conversation, to my surprise, though she wasn't jumping for joy at the options, she actually seemed more receptive to AL vs. home care, so I asked the rep to set us up for a tour of one on Sat, and we'll see how it goes.
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