She says I've made her a prisoner in her own house; even though I go over after work three times a week after work; have arranged for someone to take her food shopping and to visit with her twice a week; I can't help feeling guilty; she calls me all hours of the day and night; she's become extremely forgetful which is part of the disease; we're currently waiting for her house to sell so that she can go into assisted living; How do I stop feeling so guilty.

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Rdf, my mother-in-law and her husband drove across the U.S. many times in their motor home she did probably 80% of that driving. So when her doctor finally told her that because of her macular degeneration she could no longer drive, oh my gosh it was as if the world had stopped. And in many ways it had for her. Compound that with the death of my father-in-law two years ago, and she suffered a terrible loss on two fronts. Plus the shock of him dying after such a short illness, threw her into full blown dementia/alz. So now she's lost her marbles too! So believe me when I tell you I understand what your mom is saying about being held a prisoner when she can't drive herself around anymore. What I have done for my m-i-l is to put thousands of miles on my car driving her around because I know she used to love road trips so much. Now I know you can't do that because of your job, but maybe on a smaller scale your mom would like to get out and NOT just to shop for groceries. I've gone through a set of tires for my mother-in-law but she pays for the gas. She enjoys our road trips so much that it's become a regular thing. We get lost, we see things that she and my father-in-law never saw, and we stop and look at dumb stuff that he never wanted to do. It sucks getting old, it sucks losing your marbles, and it stinks big time when the one thing you could do that gave you independence is taken away. I get it.
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Remember that you have to earn guilt by doing something bad, something that will cause harm to another person, or something for your own benefit without regard to whether it may harm others.

Have you earned that guilt you are toting around?

Now imagine this scenario. It is tough to listen to Mom's badgering all the time, so you give in and give her the car keys back, and lecture her about being careful. She is delighted and immediately starts driving. All goes well for a few weeks. Then she is backing up in a parking lot and doesn't see the family walking to their car, directly behind her, When she feels the impact of hitting something, she immediately lurches forward and hits a lamp pole. She has injuries that keep her bed bound the rest of her life. The infant in the stoller she hit dies.

Now did you earn your guilt?

I feel your mother's pain. Being unable to drive is my husband's number one complaint about dementia. I'll bet he mourned his little special edition mahagony Miata for a year. It is very painful, but not a fraction how painful it would be to cause harm to others.

I felt very sorry for my husband. I felt very sorry for me when he badgered me. But I never felt guilty. I suggest there are enough legitimate unhappy feeling to deal with when a loved one has dementia that it makes good sense to give up the ones that you haven't earned.

Lose the guilt, please!
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