SueC1957 Asked April 12, 2018

We visit Mom in memory care once a week. I last about 7 minutes and then get tongue tied. What do I talk about?

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My mom is 95, stage 6 Alzheimer's, lives in a memory care facility, slightly hard of hearing. She recognizes us but doesn't know that I'm her daughter.

Lately, I can't find a thing to talk about. She can't grasp anything deep so talking about my job is out. We mention her brothers and sisters and occasionally will call them to talk to her. She doesn't remember them but "fakes" conversation for 30 seconds then hands the phone back to me.
She doesn't initiate any conversation.

She's fixated on her "headaches" (been seen by many doctors, including brain surgeon) and no reason for them. Also fixated on "itching powder".

Hubby tries to talk with her but she can't hear him sitting across from her so I have to restate things.

We visit once a week. I last about 7 minutes and then get tongue tied. What else can we talk about?

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jeannegibbs Apr 12, 2018
Sooo hard! Hugs to you!

Can you "do" things with her, instead of relying on just talk? I'd always push Mom around in her wheelchair, outside if weather permitted, and inside if not. I'd comment on pictures in the hallway or new blossoms in the neighbor's flower beds. Mom loved trees and we exclaimed over the particularly nice ones.

I would color with her. I printed out coloring pages that were simple but not childish. She liked flowers best. A couple of my sisters played cards on their visits. I brought in photo albums and looked at them with her.

I don't think I could have sat and carried on a conversation for more than seven minutes, but we had nice weekly visits of 2 or 3 hours each.
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blannie Apr 12, 2018
I agree with the "doing" instead of talking. Could you put lotion on her hands and/or legs or comb her hair or listen to music together? Paint her fingernails or give her a mini-manicure? Bring some snack or treat she loves and eat that together? If you have a smartphone, show her videos on Facebook? I'd show my mom animal videos and she enjoyed those. Maybe buy her cheap cards at the dollar store and make them like a real mailed card, write a short note inside and let her open it up like mail? My mom always loved getting mail or cards. Buy some cute stickers and let her put stickers on things? Buy some dollar store puzzles for kids and put those together? Good luck, it's tough!!
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lizzywho61 Apr 12, 2018
Sue,

This is a hard one.

Moms fingernails grew so fast so once a week I trimmed and filed her nails.

I found an Avon nail polish that really did dry in about 10 seconds. Speed Dry maybe.

Other times I tried to straighten out her closet.

Sometimes she would flip thru a magazine.

There came a time Mom didn’t know me. She was always glad to see me. She would tell me my hair was cut just like her daughter (me).

Hang in there Sue.
(((Hugs)))
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BlackHole Apr 12, 2018
Bring magazines, maybe? National Geographic, gardening or travel, anything visual. Flip through them together. Something might “light mom up.” Just a thought. ((((hugs))))
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AliBoBali Apr 12, 2018
There is a documentary called Alive Inside. Parts of it are on YouTube, maybe on other sites like Netflix or Amazon, too. Watch that if you have time and it will give you some ideas about how use music to engage your mom's brain in ways that may get her talking in a more cognizant way for a brief time. This worked for my grandmother to get her telling stories from her youth, which I loved listening to and talking about with her.  
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rocketjcat Apr 13, 2018
I am with my Mom daily for 3-4 hours at the NH. Some time she naps, and some is taken up at lunch, but here’s how I spend the waking time, in case it gives you any ideas. My mom has lost her vision so some of the things like playing simple card games and looking through her pictures has stopped. But I just yack on about anything. My latest stained glass project, the beautiful Victorian mansions I drive past getting to her NH, what DH is doing today, what the neighbors are doing, details about a wedding I went to, the weather. I may have to say the same stuff a few times but it’s all new to her. Now I’m bringing in my gardening and seed catalogs and she’s “helping” me choose seeds. I describe the plants from the catalog and she oohs and ahhs and voices her opinions. We may repeat that the next day. Repeat. I’ve downloaded a bunch of her favorite music and play it on my phone and we sing together. She can’t remeber my name sometimes but she remembers lyrics to lots of old songs. She used to play the piano and when she could see we would play an easy piano game on my iPad. It’s called BDW Piano with Songs. Anyone can do it just press the red key. Her roomie sometimes joins. We still play it on a good day and I have to guide her finger, but she still loves it. I use a curling iron on her hair between hairdressing appts and do her nails. I make her a cup of tea and a biscuit. I make her bed if the aids haven’t gotten to it yet. We go through her closet and she tells me what she doesn’t like to wear anymore. I get her an Ensure if she’s thirsty. We wheel around the floor and find a sunny window, as she can still feel the heat of the sun although she can’t see it. I may take her to an easy activity that’s going on. I hope some of these have given you some ideas to fill you time with your Mom with some more activities that she might enjoy.
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BarbBrooklyn Apr 13, 2018
Sue, i would work on my " material" all week before visiting my mom. Showed her Facebook photos of great nieces and nephews. Shared videos of my grandkids. Always brought a chocolate treat and a latte.

And wheeling her around the grounds to look at birds and trees is a must.
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cwillie Apr 13, 2018
This is why I visit at meal time. My mom needs to be fed so I do that, but I've noticed others who order the meal and just sit and eat with their loved ones, it can easily take up an hour and conversation can be optional.
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lstuscany Apr 12, 2018
Sue, it’s a tough obligation we feel. At least I did with my father. He was 10 years with that horrible Alzheimer’s.
Eventually, he couldn’t respond at all and just stared. My mom was there 3 times a week and combed his hair and talked to him. Strangely, their life relationship had always been real stormy and financially challenging. They always had fought and it was tough growing up.
But I found that when I was there, it was strangely settling. My mom and I would just have our own conversations while he was with us. We’d just meet there and talk to each other about our day, our week, neighbors, whatever. I don’t know if he was trapped inside himself and listening or not. But it wasn’t so bad while we focused on each other, mom and I. There came to be a strange normalcy in our being there.

I know it’s tough. But, I don’t know, maybe you don’t have to just focus on her all the time while your there. Maybe it’s enough that you’re present and bringing a little bit of your life there.

That’s just how it was for me, for what it’s worth.
Either way, these are some of the hardest things I’ve had to do. Maybe because I just didn’t want to.

I hope you find a way to work it out for yourself.
I wish you the best in this.
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katiekay Apr 13, 2018
I agree with focusing on doing rather than talking. My parents are in memory care and conversations are very difficult. I think they feel like they need to converse so ask me the same questions over and over.. so.. have you heard from any "family"?...errr.. no. (they are unaware of just how out of touch with "family" I am). Even worse.. if the conversation gets too involved it could come around to why are we here? where is the car? etc etc

I try to bring some things with me. I have playlists on my phone of music they like and I bring a blue tooth speaker with me to play music (if its a nice day and we can sit outside), I bring my laptop sometimes and watch funny youtube videos with dogs or cats or other animals, sometimes I bring stuff to do my Mom's nails , I bring magazines we can look through and discuss, I play word games with Mom.. etc.

Sometimes I bring treats.. candy, ice cream, starbucks, or sometimes just oranges or other fruits.

So many family members come and visit and don't bring anything and I see them sitting all uncomfortable and quickly leave. If I plan it right I can actually enjoy my visit with them.. It is just a different type of visit. I try to stay away from involved conversations. If I do converse it is about the here and now.. no big life discussions, nothing about work or anything.

Good Luck!
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