My 78 year old single mother has been recently diagnosed with early dementia, depression and emphysema. She also suffers from anxiety attacks. She takes medication for all these but they only help a little. I am her only child and moved in with her 6 years ago after living abroad for most of my adult life. She is now very lonely during the day but too apathetic to do much about it. She is becoming increasingly possessive over me and looking to me for company which is becoming stifling as well as impractical as I work fulltime and in a relationship. She is not averse to going to a care home and we’re organizing a trial period to see how she gets on. The doctor has advised me on not telling her she has early dementia because this would burden her even further, however, without her knowing her condition she can't appreciate what the limitations will be for her. Will it help her to know what’s coming? Also, I'm increasingly feeling guilty of the resentfulness I feel that as an only child I'm suddenly in this situation. Are there any single children out there feeling the same?

For what it's worth, my 94 y/o mother has moderately advanced dementia & STILL doesn't believe there's anything wrong with her at all. She lives in a Memory Care AL and it's 'the others' who are 'stupid morons' and other ugly names, but she's just dandy. No matter what you tell a person with dementia, they either won't believe it or they will forget it 10 minutes later. So what's the point? If your mother is truly in the early stages of dementia, she can probably qualify for regular Assisted Living vs. Memory Care and then segue into Memory Care if/when the need arises, that's my suggestion. Keep her OUT of Memory Care for as long as humanly possible. Really, who knows 'what's coming' and telling her what you think may be coming is an exercise in futility and can scare her for no good reason.

I'm an only child as well and have plenty of resentment for being the only person on earth to deal with my mother (and my father, too, up until he passed away in 2015) since I had to move them close to me in 2011. I think you and I are both fortunate in that our folks have the funds and the willingness to go into managed care, however, so DO make use of that service asap. That doesn't let you off the hook in any way, shape or form, only prevents you from doing the hands on care giving, which is good. Everything else will fall on your shoulders, as it does mine, yet you'll hear people say how you 'ditched your mother in AL and now have no worries or duties to manage whatsoever'. Which is a joke. I have 1001 things to do for my mother including managing her finances, trips to the ER which we just took this past week, talking to her doctors, medication changes, and a thousand other things in general. It's been a good thing and a blessing for my mother though, b/c she stays busy & there's lots of people to canoodle with and activities/meals/outings to keep her occupied in AL.

Wishing you the best of luck managing HER life and YOUR life at the same time. It isn't easy but you can do it, if you play your cards right.
Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to lealonnie1
Madisoncuckoo7 Aug 2, 2021
As an aside, Lealonnie whenever I read one of your answers I am struck that we are living parallel lives! A few differences but overall the situation is spot on twinning itself.

Glass of wine ( the good stuff! ) to you and the poster here. Shoot, all of us really
My mom has Lewy Body Dementia..We chose to tell her. As a family who has lost numerous young family members we agreed to always be transparent and never hide diagnoses from each other. Mom knew for 2 yrs something was “wrong with her brain”. She would say “My brain is so foggy today”. She finally got an answer to the weird anxiety provoking issues and when she has a hallucination she will ask me “was it real or did my brain make it up?”. Knowing what she has has relieved her anxiety. Some days a voice speaks to her…she uses techniques I suggested to tell him to stop. He no longer upsets her. On bad walking days {Parkinson like symptoms with Lewy}…she knows tomorrow most likely will be better. At 87 she has told me what she wants done in the future if she has another 8 month mental collapse. I reassure her I am always here to keep her safe even if she can not. She helped choose her Assisted Living facility. She loves it there. I found mental health counseling for me helped me to accept this new normal and life is good again.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to Sadinroanokeva

The challenges that you mention are illustrated in this Teepa Snow video.

It’s only a few minutes long, and will help you understand why this is all feeling bonkers to ya.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to cxmoody
Beatty Jul 30, 2021
Thankyou for sharing this. I had seen this clip before but I learn something new & look at things a new way everytime I watch Teepa. She is amazing. I have saved this for future reference.
Most people that are experiencing mental decline, realize it themselves and don't need to be told. And it can be very upsetting to them when they realize that their brain is not working like it once was. Usually that is early on in the decline, and as things progress, and they get further into the decline, they are more oblivious to it, and someone trying to explain it to them at that point really is useless, as they won't retain what is being told to them.
I'm sure her Dr. told you too, that depression is a leading factor in causing dementia, so hopefully her depression is well treated.
When my husband was diagnosed with vascular dementia(the most aggressive with a life expectancy of 5 years) in 2018, I chose not to tell him, as I saw no purpose in him having to have that in the back of his mind. Instead, we focused on making the most of each day, and as hard as it was some days, I wouldn't change a thing, as I lost my husband in Sept. 2020.
I hope and pray that your mom will like the facility she will be trying out, as it's important that you get to continue on with your life. Just because you're an only child doesn't mean that you're responsible for your mothers care. You have a life to live too, so make sure you are doing just that, as you're not getting any younger either. I wish you both well.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to funkygrandma59

My mother had vascular dementia. She was aware of what was happening but would say "I know I know that but why can’t I remember?" I would tell her, well, you are 92 years old and your brain is so full of information you just can’t fit anything more in there!
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Frances73

My 91 year old mother has also been diagnoised with early stage dementia, and I too, am her only child. She lives with my family of hubby, 2 grown daughters and 3yr old grandson. It is very trying and our home dynamics have changed drastically since we had to bring her in to live with us after she suffered a fall at her home. Mom is forgetful, accusatory (of everyone but herself), emotional, moody and and suffers from what I call "victimization" or always feeling like she is the victim no matter what the scenario. I felt the need to tell her about the dementia so that she could understand why things were happening to her (such as forgetfullness, etc). i think that discussing this with an elderly person depends on their emotional stability in receiving it as well as the doctors' advise. You have to do what you think is best for your situation. Fortunately you are financially able to look into seniors living arrangements for your mom. We can not take on that financial burden, especially since my mothers income is not sufficient. Thankfully God blessed us with the means and a home large enough for everyone to live comfortably. But I will say this......everyday is a real challenge!
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to MyCrossToBear

I think it is totally irresponsible for doctors to not tell their patients they have been diagnosed with dementia. Why lay the burden on the loved one?

I waited over three years for a doctor to spell it out for my husband and none of them did. When my husband was faced with a surgery he did not want but was struggling with whether his "wants" should be outweighed by "what is the right thing to do" I finally told him about the two different dementia diagnosis because going under anesthesia would not have a favorably outcome for him. He needed that information in order to finally feel okay about his decision.

It should not have been on my shoulders to have that discussion with him. His pcp or neurologist should have explained his diagnosis to him, discussed what the future holds, and provided us both with direction for support services.

So to Ricky6, I say, "Yes, it changes things."
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to graygrammie

I'm an only child too and I understand how stifling this can be. I would not broach the subject with a scary medical diagnosis. Just tell her she is getting forgetful and you'd like to see her make friends and be in a safe environment for when you are not home during the day. Research shows that people who go into Assisted Living can slightly slow down the progression of the disease because of the companionship and help they receive. I believe the isolation can accelerate the progression. By placing her in AL, you are removing dangers like the stove, how to work the washing machine, cleaning up the house, and the risk of her wandering off. This will free her mind so she can relax and make friends.

Pick a place that is close to you so you can assure her you will visit. Also, at first maybe you can take her out once a week, take her to dinner or to church. This way she won't feel like she is locked up, and she can still live a normal life.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to LadyCarolyn


The “limitations” will be addressed by your are sites staff.

Knowing “what’s coming” will not carry the meaning youare hoping it will, if she is already confused and forgetful.

I’ve been “the only child” twice, first with my mother, and now with the last of her sisters. It is brutal, but I will tell you honestly, there is often NO SHARING OF RESPONSIBILITIES , whether there are siblings or not. And sometimes a sibling is MUCH more trouble than dealing with just the parent.

What you are “feeling” is doing her no harm, but for your own good, find a sympathetic, non involved listener and talk it through.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to AnnReid
ThisIsIt Aug 2, 2021
Find a support group for caregivers of people with early stage Alzheimer’s. It’s a way to talk out your feelings and hear suggestions from others
Everything you describe is Dementia. They know something is going on they just don't know what. They get needy because you are one of the constants in their lives. And yes, it nerve racking. I can't do needy. I don't like being the person they depend on. I don't want to turn around and find someone right there. That goes for kids and animals, too.

"She is now very lonely during the day but too apathetic to do much about it." She can't do anything about it, her mind can no longer sort things out.

I think your "trial period" is a good idea. You may be asked not to visit too much. You need to allow the staff to do for her and she needs to learn to depend on them.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to JoAnn29

See All Answers
Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter