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Dementia? Patience?

I am primary caregiver for my 90 yr old mother. She is not a social woman (never has been). Her hobby is reading and doing word puzzles which is how she spends 90% of her waking hours.  My husband recently lost his mom and he is a very devoted man to me and my mom as he was with his mom and dad when they were living. After his mom passed we moved back into my house (we were living in his house to be next door to his mom who was ill). I'm struggling a lot with adjusting to living in general with my mom, but most importantly lately she seems to be losing short term memory and will argue if I even mention that she has eaten a particular food before, or been to a local event or met particular people. I try so very hard to let it go, but it's very difficult because sometimes I feel like I'm going crazy.  She and I have always been very close, but often I don't want to even start conversation because she will talk for 10 minutes repeating details and details of information that is not relevant to the conversation at all.  If I do want to share something about something going on in my life she often looks at me with blank stare...it seems she really isn't processing what I say.  Very strange. She is healthy, only on BP meds, but I'm at my wits end trying to figure out how to handle it. I pray constantly for patience and for God to show me a sign of what to say, how to act.  My brother (3 hrs away) saw signs as well, but He really offers no help in terms of her care.  I work, but from home so I am never away from the situation....I often hide upstairs in my room and workspace so I don't have to engage...and of course guilt then sets in. Sometimes she gets a bit short with my husband, but see this as he's taking my time and attention from her.  I'm 64, newly remarried (6yrs).  I almost feel like I need counseling, but hate to go that route if I can just find a way to reconcile and understand what is happening with her. Thoughts from others that may or are dealing with like situation?

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@c153632g wrote:

I am primary caregiver for my 90 yr old mother. She is not a social woman (never has been). Her hobby is reading and doing word puzzles which is how she spends 90% of her waking hours.  My husband recently lost his mom and he is a very devoted man to me and my mom as he was with his mom and dad when they were living. After his mom passed we moved back into my house (we were living in his house to be next door to his mom who was ill). I'm struggling a lot with adjusting to living in general with my mom, but most importantly lately she seems to be losing short term memory and will argue if I even mention that she has eaten a particular food before, or been to a local event or met particular people. I try so very hard to let it go, but it's very difficult because sometimes I feel like I'm going crazy.  She and I have always been very close, but often I don't want to even start conversation because she will talk for 10 minutes repeating details and details of information that is not relevant to the conversation at all.  If I do want to share something about something going on in my life she often looks at me with blank stare...it seems she really isn't processing what I say.  Very strange. She is healthy, only on BP meds, but I'm at my wits end trying to figure out how to handle it. I pray constantly for patience and for God to show me a sign of what to say, how to act.  My brother (3 hrs away) saw signs as well, but He really offers no help in terms of her care.  I work, but from home so I am never away from the situation....I often hide upstairs in my room and workspace so I don't have to engage...and of course guilt then sets in. Sometimes she gets a bit short with my husband, but see this as he's taking my time and attention from her.  I'm 64, newly remarried (6yrs).  I almost feel like I need counseling, but hate to go that route if I can just find a way to reconcile and understand what is happening with her. Thoughts from others that may or are dealing with like situation?



@c153632g wrote:

I am primary caregiver for my 90 yr old mother. She is not a social woman (never has been). Her hobby is reading and doing word puzzles which is how she spends 90% of her waking hours.  My husband recently lost his mom and he is a very devoted man to me and my mom as he was with his mom and dad when they were living. After his mom passed we moved back into my house (we were living in his house to be next door to his mom who was ill). I'm struggling a lot with adjusting to living in general with my mom, but most importantly lately she seems to be losing short term memory and will argue if I even mention that she has eaten a particular food before, or been to a local event or met particular people. I try so very hard to let it go, but it's very difficult because sometimes I feel like I'm going crazy.  She and I have always been very close, but often I don't want to even start conversation because she will talk for 10 minutes repeating details and details of information that is not relevant to the conversation at all.  If I do want to share something about something going on in my life she often looks at me with blank stare...it seems she really isn't processing what I say.  Very strange. She is healthy, only on BP meds, but I'm at my wits end trying to figure out how to handle it. I pray constantly for patience and for God to show me a sign of what to say, how to act.  My brother (3 hrs away) saw signs as well, but He really offers no help in terms of her care.  I work, but from home so I am never away from the situation....I often hide upstairs in my room and workspace so I don't have to engage...and of course guilt then sets in. Sometimes she gets a bit short with my husband, but see this as he's taking my time and attention from her.  I'm 64, newly remarried (6yrs).  I almost feel like I need counseling, but hate to go that route if I can just find a way to reconcile and understand what is happening with her. Thoughts from others that may or are dealing with like situation?


Good morning! wow that IS frustrating, and a big adjustment for both of you. So your husband and you have two houses, and his mom just died (recently) and your mom is getting more isolated and rigid as her brain cells die off one by one. You are a bright vibrant working woman, married to a dear man who is grieving. And you just moved!

 

Can you say, "STRESSED OUT!!"??? Yup that would be you.

 

One thing i can say is that i hope you and your husband are spending 'quality' time together, helping him to be where he is emotionally, helping you two to continue bonding with all this upheaval, grief, and change, and helping you to adjust with his kind help. Keeping the two of you bonded and in sync is very important.

 

Another thing is that you are having to adjust to your mother's current mentation. Seriously, there is no point to pointing out that she just ate something or whatever. It's kind of like you trying to tell a 2 year old child that someday she'll be an electrical engineer, but backwards in terms of time. Your mother USED to be able to keep track and remember and tell interesting stories instead of the same ones over and over. The toddler says, huh? Your mother fights back. Same thing though. Their brains can't process. It's a big switcheroo for you, no question. But here's the fun part, you get to improvise and go with her ideas. You get to be playful and kind. Or leave her be. AND leave her be. I wish i could find an NPR story about a husband and wife who are comedians familiar with improvisation and engaged one of their mother with silly improv. She would say there's a monkey in the corner and he would say, well heck, let's invite him to tea! and soon all would be giggly. 

 

It's kind of like distracting a baby from sitting on the floor eating dog food. instead of explaining or scolding, you pick the baby up, do a little tango cha cha and plot said baby in front of leggos or pots and pans to clang.

 

Does this make any sense at all?

 

Be kind to yourself, accept mom where she's at, be kind and thoughtful with your husband, make time for date nights, bring your mother to see her son for a weekend 3 hours away (seriously, pack her up and drop her off). 

 

You can do this.

 

Jane

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Thank you Jane....yes it all makes sense. After caring for my mother-in-law last year I learned a lot and embraced what you're saying, probably without even knowing it.  She and I had lots of laughs and tears in her last 3 months.  I'll always cherish that. Interestingly, my husband and I have said how he can accept my mom as she is and I his mom much more easily.  Not surprising, just interesting to us. We also know that in 7 short years my husband and I have gotten thru more than most in a lifetime and we'll handle this too....with prayers and each other.  Reaching out in a community such as this helps tremendously, just to know we aren't alone.  😊 Thank you again for your thoughtful words.

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