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I am the youngest only girl with 6 older brothers, married with no children and a home in Lake Forest, CA. I retired 4 yrs ago and ever since been caring for my Mom in her apartment 24/7, except occasionally 2 brothers come give me a break for 5-7 days. My Mom was a fantastic Mom (my best friend) and if I had to grade her, she would get an A+ hands down. She never worked and never had to drive. My Dad was an alcoholic and died at 72, 29 yrs ago and it was a big relief for her and she loved being independent. Life for Mom has always been her children and grandchildren, however the past year has changed her to someone I don’t recognize. She just started experiencing short term memory, but insists she was never told about something or never saw a certain show on TV. She is ready to verbally fight anyone who would disagree with her and if we even hint she is wrong she will say we think she is stupid and don’t really love her. She is always angry, critical of her family & others, judgmental and quick to anger. She has never cursed a word that I have heard nor so mad she will throw something, but she does now. In the past 6 mo. she has fallen twice, but never broke a bone and had such bad constipation she ended up in the hospital for 2 days (has always had stomach issues) then she had a tooth extracted 5 days ago and seemed to be getting better but today she said it hurts more than ever. She does have very low pain tolerance so it is hard for me to know just how bad it is or any pain she complains about. She has been on some type of antidepressants since she was 35yrs. and decided she would no longer take them about a month ago. She has lost a lot of weight doesn’t want to eat much (never has eaten much anyway) and refuses drinking protein drinks anymore. She worries and is afraid of everything, My issue is that I am starting to feel helpless, my marriage is suffering after 25 years together, and not sure how much longer I can actually help her and keep my marriage together anymore. I am a Christian and want to do the right thing by my Mom and husband going forward. I wonder if placing her in a care facility would be best for both of us or just continue to help as much as I can and basically watch her die. Does anyone have a suggestion for me?

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I have no doubt whatsoever that you dearly love your mom. She was a wonderful mom to you while growing up.

You have had a long marriage. Congratulations on your 25th wedding anniversary! Cherish your life with your husband. He has stood by you, but is understandably growing tired of this situation. Marriages do take a hit in these circumstances. Please don’t risk destroying your relationship with your husband. Both of you deserve a happy life together.

You don’t have substantial help with caring for your mom. Your brothers have only helped out a small fraction of the time. You need more help. One person cannot do everything required to take care of a 99 year old woman. Have you considered placing your mom in a facility? Have you contacted Council on Aging or a social worker to help guide you through the process of planning future care for your mom? That would be a great place to start. They can do an assessment of her needs, and give suggestions in regards to the care that is needed at this time.

Caregiving never becomes easier as time goes by. It only increases. As your stress level rises, so will your husband’s stress level rise right along beside you. I don’t think that you want to put your marriage in jeopardy. You most likely feel caught in the middle of your mom and your husband. Make the decision to put your husband first. The rest will fall into place.

Your dedication to your mom is admirable. You haven’t let her down. Please know that you have done all that you can and let go of the idea that you can do everything. You can’t.

What do you really want? I will assume that the answer is, having the best possible care for your mom. You can attain this by allowing a professional staff, doctors, nurses, aides, social workers and clergy to help her in her final days on this earth. This exists in a facility or an ‘end of life’ hospice house. You will still be involved in her life as her daughter and advocate.

I wish you peace as you navigate your way through this difficult time in your life.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
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I was a caretaking child also. My parents were also A* and my best friends. I was also from a large family (in my family, no one helped me with the care- not even occasionally). I cared for my parents in their home and my home (eventually, with help) until the end of their lives. Since they passed away I have missed them terribly.

I cared for my parents both for them and for me- not for my siblings. There was a time when I wanted to be “thanked” by my siblings, and then I realized that they weren’t appreciative of my caretaking in the first place so any expressed gratitude would have been disingenuous.

Should you/shouldn’t you change your mom’s caretaking situation? Only you can answer that based on your needs and abilities and her needs and abilities. If you are asking this community for permission to make a change, give yourself that permission instead. If you are asking this community to answer whether you can do it yourself, know that you can do it yourself, or yourself with help in a myriad of combinations, and if you choose any of those courses, or a different one, you will be fine too.

The most important thing is for you to choose what is right for you and your mom (not what is or what was right for us). Don’t look at this as a lose-lose choice. Try instead to look at it as win-win. Either way you have a super mom. Either way you will continue to be a presence in her life and she in yours, for as long as possible.

As for your marriage, I believe that a “perfect” caring partner is understanding and even helpful when caring for a parent in-law. That being said, no one is perfect. If your husband is being difficult, you need to decide whether his behavior is rational and acceptable to you. Does he need more attention from you? Probably. Could he pitch in? Likely. This is his chance to be a superhero (if he accepts the challenge). Of course, he could still be a really great guy even if he doesn’t morph into a superhero when you need one. You shouldn’t have to choose, though, between your mom and him. No one should put that kind of pressure or ultimatum on you while you are already hurting and grieving changes in your mother’s capacity. If he doesn’t help you, it would be nice if he could at least intangibly support your choices.

The antidepressant is one key to improving her situation. It takes 30 days to realize a change in mental health medication which aligns perfectly with your fact pattern of problems. It sounds like your mom should see a geriatric psychiatrist (if possible) to restart or tweak her meds to meet her needs.

Growing old is depressing to the best of us and she may need extra help because she is going through changes and loss. (Capacity, abilities, freedom, control).

Regardless of your choices, it sounds like you need a break. (Can you take a vacation to assess your options). Caretaking causes burnout.

It is hard enough when everything is going well, but when a loved one is struggling, everything hurts and life begins to feel hopeless.

Everything will be okay regardless of the parh you choose.

I wish you the best and understand your pain.
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Reply to ACaringDaughter
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“She has been on some type of antidepressants since she was 35yrs. and decided she would no longer take them about a month ago.” Aren’t you now seeing the consequences of stopping the needed meds? She needs an updated medical evaluation that includes her resistance to doing what’s best for herself like taking meds, along with her change of personality. This will give you a path forward. And yes, your husband needs priority in your life. Don’t lose your marriage, it’ll be more important than ever when the caregiving ends. Having her move to a place with professional care would likely be a gift to all of you, mom included. I wish you the best in moving forward
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Reply to Daughterof1930
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First I have to say how blessed you were/are to have a great mom growing up. Second, I have to agree with Daughterof1930 that mom needs to put back on her antidepressants. I don't think it is coincidental that her behavior has changed after going off them.
Then I will say that your husband and your marriage MUST be your number one priority. If that means that you hire some full-time help(with moms money) to come in to care for mom 24/7, or you place her in the appropriate facility where she will receive the 24/7 care she needs, either one would be appropriate at this stage.
By allowing others to care for her, you can then get back to just being her daughter, and enjoy whatever time you have left with her.
Your mother would never want you losing your marriage because of having to care for her, so it's now time to make some much needed changes. Best wishes.
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Reply to funkygrandma59
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When you place her in a care facility, you can have 24/7 coverage AND be be in a better position to attend to her ADDITIONAL needs. You can oversee her overall care plan and refocus on your own well-being.
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Reply to GAinPA
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The kindest thing to do for your mother is find her a good care setting. She needs 24 hour care. Not many people live to her age and still be on their own. Kudos to her. But it's time for her to be cared for round the clock by professionals. And it's time for you to enjoy your retirement. You have certainly earned it. God bless you. Your mother will live out her remaining days in an enviroment that is safe for her.
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Reply to SweetSioux
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My mom was 99 when she began to decline..she lived to be 105. When my mom got angry/ upset nothing you could say would change her mind. All I could do was smile leave the room for a few minutes come back with her favorite snack and redirect. I was beyond exausted at times but never would have done it another way. I'm a caregiver now and I see how facilities can be. The best care comes from the home. Hire a caregiver for an hour or two a day to help out and relieve stress from you. Stay at the house for the first few days then leave..get out..breathe !
You said she had taken antidepressants for 35 year and just stopped about a month ago. There's your problem. After so long taking it can't be just stopped. Talk to her doctor and see what medication options are there.
Hang on there !
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Reply to Ahamner
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Dear Momisnumber1,
Your mother sounds like an incredible woman. How fortunate you are to be the daughter of an A+ rated parent. And to still consider her your best friend. Right there you are in a better starting place than many on this forum who are caring for really difficult parents.
Seeing that Mom is 99, doing the math reveals you aren't necessarily a youngster yourself. That makes it even more important for you to give your needs some priority. I have four suggestions for you:
1. Considering the drastic personality change I suggest a full medical check up. A UTI can do unbelievable things to a person's mental state. And various forms of dementia can do the same thing, so a neurological exam should be in order as well.
You may never know why she pulled herself off anti-depressants but those meds helped her through nearly her whole life, since age 35 or so. Start back up on them!!! Even if you have to somehow hide them in her food or maybe not explain exactly what they are. As a Christain and an all-around decent human being you may find it very hard to lie to your Mom or mis-lead her. But those of us on this forum know that a "therapeutic fib" is in the best interest of the patient and will not do any harm.

2. Once the immediate health evaluation is taken care of you should take steps to get all the proper legal things arranged (POA, health proxy etc) Hopefully that is already in place.

3. Then hire caregivers to come in regularly and often! A 3 or 4 hour visit every day can take a huge load off your shoulders. They can do some of the tougher things, like bathing and dressing. They may even be able to encourage her to eat more.

4. Finally, YES, it is time for you to start looking at facilities to place her in. She needs to be cared for and those needs will only increase. Your marriage needs to be cared for. And most of all, YOU need to be cared for. If you get burned out, you can't help Mom adequately and may even start resenting this woman who has been your best friend and an A+ mother. You deserve to have a fulfilled life. And if your Mom were in her right mind she would want you to have that.

So don't feel guilty about placing her. That is in her best interest in the long run. Visit regularly and nurture the "best friend" part of your relationship with Mom. Then go home and nurture the relationship with your husband.
I wish you the best of luck.
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Reply to swanalaka
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DianneKK Jul 31, 2021
Wish I could have put it that sweetly!! I may be a bit burned out. Just one day at a time! Sometimes you just don't know the right or exact decision to make. They cared for us our whole lives and we do just want what's best. Sometimes what's best, like LTC, is a hard pill to swallow:)
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I agree about the medication. She has gone cold turkey. She is in withdrawal. I also suggest she get checked for a UTI. It does cause Dementia like symptoms and aggression.

Having complete labs would not hurt. There could be something physical going on.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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Seems your mom needs to see a doctor or a few doctors. Her change in behavior and the fact that she used to take psychoactive seems to indicate she needs to be evaluated by a geriatric psychiatrist to diagnose her mental health issues and get her on a medication regimen to handle her anxiety and/or depression type issues. The fact she has GI issues points to need for a medical doctor appointment. The short term memory loss is best evaluated by a neurologist who can determine which type of dementia she has and best options for treatment.

As for the "when" to move to other caregiving options, I usually like to ask questions that lead you to your own answer.
1 - Can you physically do all the tasks of caregiving or has something become more or "too" difficult to accomplish?

2 - Does everybody, except your mom, in the house have enough "time off" to care for themselves and other relationships? This includes 7-9 hours of sleep every day, 3 healthy meals at a reasonable pace, time to complete their own hygiene and medical needs, time off to nurture marriage (daily), friendships (at least weekly), and other relationships (monthly to weekly).

3 - Are you having "time off" just for fun?

4 - Do you have family, friends, members of faith community, and/or paid help that will step in to help if you are sick or injured?

If any of these answers are "no," then it is probably time to seek another living/caregiver situation for your loved one. Being a Christian adult child of an ailing older parent means making sure they get the care and treatment he or she needs. It doesn't mean using all your money to accomplish this or taking care of him or her personally.
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Reply to Taarna
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swanalaka Jul 30, 2021
Excellant advice! Those are very good points to look at when trying to make the difficult decision of To Place or Not to Place.
Thank you.
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