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My mother is really sinking fast into her vascular dementia .. On the other hand she sees other around her in the AL who are worse and she fels great fear and shame about what is happening to her. "What is going to happen to me next?"" Don't let people see me like that" (about patient dozing in their chair.)" I hope my grandchildren will have memories of me different than how I am now."
I try and reassure her to the best of my ability and she can't remember the reassurances, but keeps saying the same things again. She calls me several times a day from the AL asking who and when someone is coming next to see her (even though one of us goes every day.) She pleads to leave there and come to my house more. I bring her here a couple of times a week for several hours, all that I can.
Her pain and insecurity is so difficult to watch and of course I feel vicarious pain. She only seems to relax a bit and feel soothed when I am actually with her. She will not trust caregivers or ask them to assist her and they are busy with others and need her to ask for help. She often calls me, and asks me to come over and help her. I usually call staff then and ask them to check on her which they will gladly do.. Anyone have any ideas to help her feel more soothed when I can't be with her?
I should mention that she has had mental illness and trust issues all her life. My father, before he died 30 years ago, was the only person on earth she trusted, then it was her brother till he died, and now me I guess. It is wearing me out emotionally.

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captain: I liked what you said about empathy and common sense. It's very true and so little of it around these days. These things don't cost much, and it is something that we can do for our loved ones even if they don't remember it. Sometimes it's the little things that mean the most, like the wheelchair pad or arm pads. Thanks for sharing your story.
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It's important that you get godo med management from mom's doc. Also important that she adjust to her new living situation or you'll wear yourself out.
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Judah. Of course I don't know what you mom is taking but I'm guessing it's not enough, not systemic enough, and has been told something like it's for her nerves. So she takes it situationally maybe not on a regular basis. She may need one or more antidepressant medications which ease anxiety as well as depression , apparently by keeping the brain supplied with serotonin. I hope you get some answers from the doc. Its im poo tant mot to wear yourself out and important for mom to adjust to her new living situation.These are not seating. One of the things my mom lost at the beginning of her vascular dementia was perspective taking. Anything that happened to anyone she knew was going to happen to her. She was terrified of going blind because she knew someone with advanced macular degeneration. She was insisting on a trip to the eye doctor every two months because her eyes were itchy. "We better look into hearing aids". Why? Because someone she knew had to get them. At the same time she was hypercritical of residents who snooze in arm chairs and who didn't stand up straight when walking with their walkers. "Mom, she had a stroke". No excuse.
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Thanks everyone for your empathy, she is on medicaiton for anxiety already, I am going to meet with her geriatrician this week to see if we can adjust the dosage. She refuses to take more than two pills twice a day and has often refused medication entirely for a day or two at a time. I have to tell her I can't take her out if she refuses her medication, because she becomes unmanagable.
I guess because she feels like I am her lifeline, to the outside world, it is so hard for me to say no to her, and that is my challenge to overcome.
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Judah, we had very much the same isue with my mom, who also has vascular dementia. She was on anti anxiety meds as needed, but she wouldn't take them for fear of becoming an addict. We finally got a good geriatric psychiatrist on our team, and with a combination of antidepressant and anti anxiety meds, mom was able to actually enjoy her independent living facility. When she would call with things that were wrong (ants, fear that her sink ws not draining) we would say Mom, you've got staff to do that now. After 50 years of living in a house and hsving her husband and us to fix things, she needed to adjust to the idea of "apartment" living. I agree with listening and validating, and of course finding out ehat is wrong, but she will not adjust to a new environment if you keep removing her from it. Please understand that I'm not talking about sedating drugs that will make her "out of it". Proper medication will enhance her ability to enjoy her life.
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I can see that it would wear you out to be the only person your Mom trusts. Yikes! Take comfort that she does have other trustworthy persons in her life. The staff will take good care of her, especially if you help by being the messenger. It would be good if Mom could contact them directly, and maybe that will come over time.

Can you think of ways your father and your uncle helped her stay calm?

Does she have a good recent picture of you in her room? Is there some article of clothing or jewelry or a pillow, etc. that would remind her of you? When she visits next time, could you say "Why don't we take this afghan back to your room? You can hold it and remember that I am thinking about you and will see you again soon." That might not help, but it would be an easy experiment.
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thanks vegaslady. i think empathy and common sense are pretty interchangeable terms. you clearly take pride in what your doing or you wouldnt be watching the videos.
cuz sharon is being a pain right now. edna is in physical rehab after a uti and a fall and sharon dont see why id like to take edna to her own apartment for short visits. duh.. part of the rehab is cognitive rehab. edna needs familiarity around her. wont bring her her purse. how disorienting. im gonna get doc down her neck if she isnt careful.. im a doll as long as im getting my way.
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Captain, you are a nice person. I really like the way you did practical things to improve your aunt's comfort issues. Listening is important. Sometimes we should try imaging ourselves with the impairments that our care recipient has and see if that would make a difference in what we do. Can you tell I just watched a marathon of three DVDs of Teepa Snow yesterday?
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i think the required care IS emotional in nature. a good phsyc doc may find a medication to soothe her anxiety . i dont think theres a simple solution. calming, reassuring, validating, acknowleging, and trying to sense their needs. generally , agitation in the elderly is caused by loss of control. present your mothers options to her and let her at least think shes making every decision in her life. most of all listen to her. she has a list of things that are troubling her but its to no avail if noone is listening carefully. one of the first things i fixed for my aunt was ingrown toenails. thats not a small issue, im glad i was listening.. tightened up her loose wheelchair arm pads, got her a comfortable recliner to sit in, moved her phone closer to her sitting corner, got her some new eyeglasses, got her a nice wheelchair pad and ripped some foam out of the middle for a little hemmorhoid relief. pretty soon there is much less to fret about..
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She needs anxiety medication for starters. Do not take calls from her several times a day, it only encourages her to keep calling. It also discourages her from interacting with other residents. Cut it back to once a day and ignore her other calls. Been there. Done that. Once I got my sister down to once a week visits, she started socializing with peers. When I stopped bringing her home on weekends, she was better still. Do it for her sake.
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