This is my first post here. I think my mom may have dementia, but all her symptoms are sort of exaggerations of personality traits she always had. Always vain, she now preens and seeks approval of her looks, she's ok for 80, but sheesh.. She keeps going to the emergency room, again she has always been a hypocondriac, but has been thoroughly checked and nothing is wrong. She hallucinates blisters in her throat and mouth, no doctor can see them. She wil not make an appointment with her doctor, but will wake me up at 5:00 AM to make sure she has a ride to the doctor because she's dying. If I show up to take her, she won't go because the appointment is inconvenient and she can't sit in the waiting room because she's too ill. She makes demands and gets angry if I won't drive into town to buy her ice cream. Meanwhile, I have an autistic 9 year-old, a farm to run, and a husband who is frequently in Afghanistan. I want to be a supportive daughter, but I'm losing it. I pray daily, but I also fantisize about hitting mom in the head with a rock. How does one deal with this?
Last edited by quetzalmom; 08-18-2008 at 08:29 PM.
Reason: bad typing, should be Trying not to sin
Queztalmom---I'm 63 and a mom. I've always believed that honoring mothers and fathers does not necessarily mean catering to their every whim.
Build up your confidence and practice saying NO. Actually say it now and then. Your mother may put up a fuss...but...If you ignore it, she will stop. Say it enough and she will eventually get used to hearing the response. (My partner has Alz. but is still capable of understanding the meaning of the word)
Exaggerations of personality traits, worrying about being ill, and the feeling that they are the most important things in your universe can be dementia or just a part of getting old. You obviously have a full plate...but...Try to find the time to get a diagnosis or at least a very educated medical opinion ruling one out. A good place to start would be setting up an appointment with your mother's GP...Cluing them in ahead of time about your suspicions...Making your mother keep the appointment...Making sure that you are in the examining room...and Having her sign HIPPA waivers so that medical information can be shared with you.
Could part of the problem be that you have so much to do that you don't have time to relate to her except as her "fireman"? Try complimenting her on her appearance when she does not expect it. Soften a "No I won't" with I can't but we can do ........... later. If she is mobile...Try to keep her busy. If she feels as if she is contributing and valued...She might be less tempted to focus on herself.
Good luck and take comfort in the fact that some of the causes of 'dementia' are correctable.
Welcome to the boards...
And I'm sorry for what you are dealing with...and thank you for what your husband is doing for our country. My hubby is retired AF adnwe have a Navy son headed for Japan next month.
Your Mom sounds lonely to start with and in need of attention. To be truthful, I don't think that it's Alzhiemers, at this point. Hypochondriac, yep!, Neurotic? Sure! Are you an only child? Is there any other sibling that shares in this wonderful "wealth" of constant demands for attention, or are you the only stuckee?
YOur Mom needs to be checked over and put on meds for her anxiety for one, her depression for another. Both of these will help calm her down and this should help with your calls. Even if you have to tie her and drag her in. You could couch it in the terms that you are sooo concerned about her that you want to have her checked over to make sure that she is as healthy as she is beautiful...
In the mean time do you have a durable POA and a medical POA for her? IF this is a type of dementia, you need to get these in place before she gets incapable of doing this. Also, you should be put on her accounts at the bank so that is covered also.
TO help limit the calls and the balking that she does, perhaps you can tell her, look, I can come xx number of times, but I can't be there all the time, you know that hubby is gone and the farm needs work. Let's set a time that I will be here for you. Then hold steady to that. It's hard, but it's that or you will continue to run back and forth.
Your other option would be to hire someone to sit with her or run her around as she needs to go......
Good luck and welcome. Keep posting and we'll keep our fingers crossed.
Thank-you to both of you for your responses. It helps to know I'm not alone. Thankfully husband is home for a while, but his own mother is really dying, not pretending to die like mine. I already have a POA that lets me act in all matters. I am on all her accounts and have been for years. I've tried everyway possible to get her to make an appointment with her regular doctor. Responses range from "you can't tell me what to do, you don't know anything" to screaming at me that I'm no good. Some of this has happened in front of my son, who is then anxious the entire day. I'll try again after he's back in school. I have also tried to plan 2 mornings/week to visit, run errands. The visits have been short because of the way she acts in front of my son. The trouble is, even though I'm in town the same two mornings every week, and have been for months, she forgets this, wants to go somewhere on other days, and claims I never told her the days I'm available. If I insist I did tell her, she's angry and hangs up. Whether it's dementia, depression (very possible), or something else, the short term memory is definitely gone. So she's frequently angry with me for not doing things I never knew I was even supposed to do. She no longer asks anything about my life and seemed unconcerned when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. She has never had a social life, doesn't even want anyone in her house, and has always been that way, so she is isolated. And yes, I'm all she has. Her husband died last fall, she refused to believe he was even sick. He had told me about the ER visits and that she was driving him crazy, so I imagine he absorbed a lot of the same stuff and it has been going on longer than I thought. Of course grief has made it worse. Well I guess I've now gone on longer than I intended to, it just feels so good to write what I feel. It may prevent me from resorting to the rock.
To me it sounds as if it could be the onset of Alzheimers. Yelling at you in front of your child? She didn't used to do that, did she? Dementia patients stop having the kind of self control that tells you what is appropriate behavior and what isn't. It's not only memory loss - it is loss of your old personality, the person you used to be. An annoying person will still be annoying, but in a totally irrational way, and will not know what he said or did that annoyed anyone.
We used a trick to get Mom to the doctor. I told her "Mom, I have to see Dr S on Tuesday, but I am a little nervous about this examination. I know you are very comfortable with him, so would you please go with me?" Meanwhile the doctor and the nurse were well informed about her symptoms - irrational talk, getting lost, not being sure who I was after I had moved in with her a few years back, etc.
Once we got into the examining room, he just started a normal conversation with her, and next thing you knew he was asking her those key questions which help them diagnose dementia - and her answers were somewhat "off" ... after that we had more checkups always saying ''it is about your heart'', ''it is about your kidney'', ''it is a routine exam'' - never mentioning memory loss.
Finally Dementia was dignosed, but none of the drugs did any good. Mom suffered with Dementia for perhaps 8 years. The last 2 she was in a good nursing home. She died in December 07, after her body shut down, was unable to process food, she couldn't swallow, she lost weight.
I hope your Mom does NOT have Dementia, but if she does, this is the place to find sympathetic help.
LOL.... Just make sure you wrap the rock in a towel so the dents don't show so much.... OK, the memory loss does sound like an early start, but short of hog tying her, which might be a good idea, I do think that getting her on some meds might be a start to calming down some of the highs and lows that you are being beaten with.
First off, Keep your son away from her. It isn't fair or good for him to be subjected to the wrath or stupidity of her violence. He is too young and with his own issues he doesn't need to be exposed to her own brand of reality. I seriously doubt that she would notice if he was even there, or does she crave an audience? Does she even notice him?
About the only thing I can think of is to get a calendar, mark off when you are willing to ferry her around on the calendar, glue it somewhere when she can't move or lose it. Get caller ID or an answering machine for the phone-and don't answer if it's her. It may save your sanity.
I would seriously consider finding someone to take her around town to do whatever errands she thinks she needs done on a day that you can't be there. If she has to go another day, you have that covered. Surely one person can't have that much to do that three or four days a weeks won't cover it.....you tow morning a week and someone else one or two mornings or afternoons....for heavens sake. Is she lonely?
Welcome to Planet Alzheimer..here's your towel..hang onto it, we'll hold the other end for you, I think you're going to need it. Welcome to our little corner of the universe...and I'm sorry that your Mom is such a pill about this. Perhaps she's just plain scared.
You are definitely not alone quetz. You have found the right place. Absolutely wrap the rock in a towel and have at it. It sounds to me that it is a combination of a demanding attitude and dementia. Martha is right about Alz patients losing the ability to control their behavior. It definitely makes tendencies worse. I hope it is not dementia but either way you definitely have your hands full. Finding a companion for her might be what you both need. Someone that can deal with the daily demands and keep an eye on your Mom for you. You do need to check into anti anxiety and/or anti depressants to see if there is a medication or combination of medications that would make life easier. I would definitely have her checked out for dementia. If she does have dementia then your course of action will be different but if she doesn't have dementia then it's a matter of teaching her that you are not at her beck and call. Marking a calendar is a good idea. Once your son is back in school deal with your Mom without your son around. He doesn't need her rants in his life. There is nothing wrong with saying no when necessary. Just like a child hey will fight you at first and cause all kinds of chaos but eventually they will get the idea if you stick by your resolve.
Welcome to the forum and keep typing. We do hear you and have all been in that frustrating position at one time or another. Hopefully life will get better for you and your Mom. I will keep you both in my thoughts and prayers..
Ah ladies, I just met you and I love you already. Bake&Pray ( I'm better at praying than baking) you are correct, mom doesn't see or notice my son. She has never accepted him, he's adopted and of another race. In spite of his own disability, I can give him a magazine and ask him to sit through Mom's appointments and he is no trouble to anyone. She rarely acknowledges his presence. She does not seem to realize that he didn't sign up to spend his summer in offices of accountants or doctors. Yet he, as my child has to be my first priority. The calender idea is good, after telling her six times today that I would come in on Thursday, she still left me a message asking me to get something in town tomorrow. Can I have Tuesday and Thursday tatooed on her arm against her will? Finally, all I can figure about the need to see her doctor and deal with this is that at some point I need to tell her that this is not working, that I'm unable to deal with what her neurological disorder is causing her to become, and that we will either visit the doctor and pursue help or I will cease to answer her phone calls. I can make this stick, though I will suffer the agonies of the damned, but will it likely work? The companion idea is a good one, but Mom will not allow anyone in her house. She thinks they will try to rip her off. When my stepfather (terminal throat cancer) approached hospice to arrange for care, she refused to allow them in her house either. This may have contributed to his decision to commit suicide.
She probably already had Alzheimer's when she made that decision about her husband. How sad.
I think telling her which days you will answer the phone and/or help her is like saving water in a sieve. She will not remember it, and keep on calling. Probably she has no clear idea what day it is.
We finally had a home health aide in the apartment when I was at work. Mom hated that plan and took it out on the aides. She was vigilant the entire time they were there, refusing to lie down in case they stole something. She never believed they were licensed by a bonded agency and anything 'lost' would be replaced, or they would lose their jobs. We had a few oddballs, but two fine ladies. Mom didn't want them in the house - but when my brother said, it is either this, or moving you to a nursing home, she agreed. We gave the ladies their own key. When Mom woke up, one of them was there. (in theory ... actually she woke up as soon as I tiptoed out to work, and burnt pots and pans and climbed up on chairs, and dressed in weird unmatching outfits before the aide came...)
A NH is a far better idea. There, Mom loved the nurses and the aides, and felt very much at home.
It seems that we have already come to a set of decisions for you to present to you mom. First off, shame on your Mother. Your son is your son whether he is adopted or birthed. You have given your heart and soul to him as should she-but the bigotry of the older generation can be burtal.
Your mother can either allow an aide to help her or she can "retire" to an assisted living facility. The question to you is do you feel that she is in need of being somewhere where she would get help? Is she in need of having support services? Does she take meds? Is she taking them when she should? Is she starting to mix up the times when she should be taking them-a good bet judging by her time issues with everything else.
Is her doctor aware of her paranoia? Is her aware of the other issues that she is having? Is he a good geriatric specialist? Is willing to talk with you in advance of seeing her? Have I asked enough?
We have all walked this rocky path and are just trying to push some of the stones out of your way so you can get down the path a little faster....
Good luck-and If you are going to use the rock-swing hard and fast!
I will add my own set of questions. Can she keep your bills paid and her check register? Can she get money out of the ATM? Does she cook without burning? What does her refrigerator look like? Does she buy the same things over and over? Does she forget the things she really needs and is obcessed with things she doesn't need or already has? Could she subtract a number that she has to borrow? Does she dismiss things she should know and can't remember by saying she didn't need to know that anyway?
Being demanding is not necessarily dementia but dementia can cause the demanding. I would definitely insist that she go to the doctor. If she doesn't agree then take her on one of her demanded trip and just take her to the doctor. Hopefully her doctor will be able to adjust her medication to help her calm down. If she does have dementia then you have to decide if she is capable of living alone. Then she has an option of inhome help or a facility. It's up to you to make it happen. It appears she is beyond helping herself. Take it from one who has been there.... once the decisions are made it is much easier
I do hope things get better...
Not sure that you can get her tattoed without her permission but Sharpies work
When my mom's care came to me and my brother, we made the doctor's appointment...we didn't tell her til THE day..we got her in the car and took her there...she was FURIOUS with us. And to make matters worse, the doctor told her she couldn't drive anymore. Well, let me tell you, the "you know what" hit the fan. She was hot, upset, sad, scared, confused and broken hearted to lose her car, her independence. It was so bad that when we got her home we opened a couple of bottles of wine and we all shared it...mom too. It made her go to sleep! Phew...that was a tough day.
That was last December. She now lives in an independent living facility with care givers keeping a close eye on her and nurses giving her pills to her twice a day. Does she like it? No, not really, but since February when she moved in she has gotten to know more people. She has built herself a little community there. She misses home and the life she had before her husband died. She misses her things but this is what we had to do for her sake.
As time goes by it seems to get a bit easier for her. One thing for sure...she isn't mean anymore. (And believe me she was terrible!) But that is because by taking her to the doctor we got her meds straightened out and working better for her. Once in a while it does raise its ugly head and she'll accuse us of stealing from her but she is safe and well cared for...and more and more we have learned how to deal with it. It's hard but it can be done and you will all be better off for it.
I too, must ask forgiveness for thinking like you are, q. Of course, we all come to our senses, and would never use the rock, but there are those moments...
I was just reading some of these posts to my daughter. She was CRACKING up. And then she said, "Mom, I am so glad you found your way back to the only people that understand what it's like." That is so right. You can't say that you're thinking of hitting mom in the head with a rock - and get advice on how to do so - anywhere else.
Thank God for this board, and for these people. No one stands in judgement here, q. No one. We will laugh with you, cry with you, give you MAD props for managing the farm, the autistic child (God Bless you!) AND the nutty parent, stand proudly at attention and salute your amazing husband, and throw you a towel so you have a place to cry, yell, or toss it out as a lifeline.
Welcome. I really mean that. And q - put the rock down. You have us now.
You know, realistically, I believe that we were all more "normal", more "socially acceptable" BEFORE we started dealing with all this. That's why we are now such a warped bunch. But we gotta do this stuff. I actually spent a good six months to a year feeling like I was the WORST person on the face of the earth. I really felt that! Why?
1. My brilliant, sturdy father was now a rock digging, barely verbal, always-in-the-dark nutcase. And I could not fix it. So, I started wishing for a stroke or heart attack to protect him from ever knowing that he pees himself sometimes. Or has feces under his fingernails. Or that he has not the slightest idea who I am. Or that his daughter (that's me!) has to wash his body because he can't get in the shower.
2. My mother (y'all have not heard much about her. There's a reason for that.) died of CHF and ALZ in '04. She was emotionally abusive to me my whole life, and tempered that with a good dose of physical beatings. Nevertheless, I flew 1800 miles every 8 weeks to see her, and spend time with her and daddy. I still cut and colored her hair (vanity seems to be the last thing to leave) and three weeks before she passed, I gave her a manicure and new hairstyle. So, when she was in full blown severe ALZ and swung her cane at my head like Conseco behind the plate while yelling "You are not my daughter!", it made me laugh. Out loud. Because she had no idea how right she was. Being adopted apparently DID mean that I was not her "real" daughter, and in her ALZ fog, she let me know it. And here's the part that took 4 years of healing for me - healing through prayer - I don't miss her. At all. I am instead making sure that my daughter misses ME when I am gone.
So, when someone comes aboard and starts talking about rocks, and sharpies to cover the marks, I get it. We all do. It's never literal. I don't want daddy to have a stroke or heart attack! I want him well.
And the only way to cope with all the nonsense we all carry around with us from our childhood, from our relationships with our parents is to figuratively throw rocks. Little rocks for slights, Big Rocks for the big stuff.
It keeps me sane. Sane and centered. And knowing that none of you will stand in any kind of judgement makes it all so safe.
Good to hear from all of you. I have quite literally never been "missed" before. Makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. Really.
Thanks for the welcome and for getting my sick humor. It's how I deal with hard stuff. I got a big giggle out of Hallmark's Mothers' Day cards this year. They had one that when opened said "Mom, you rock!". Mom can still cook, clean, and keep herself clean. It's only the short term memory so far, and the confusion and non-existant blisters come and go and seem to coincide. Picture me in Walmart with my son muttering about tornadoes (his long-time obsession) and my mom just muttering to herself...ya gotta laugh!
In any event, I'm feeling better since I found this board. You would think given my patience with my son, that I could have realized it's not my mom tormenting me, it's an illness. Reading your situations made me see that. I'm a lot less angry. Bless you all.
I just read about your son's obsession with tornados...and I almost choked on my coffee! I understand that your son has autism, but my son is a "normal" (what the hell does that mean, anyway?) gifted student, and you will never believe this....HE IS OBSESSED WITH TORNADOS! And wind. And scary dark clouds.
He is almost 13. We have had him in couseling, medicated, prayed for, prayed WITH, bought books, explained, educated...and here in Denver, we get tornado warnings at least once a week. Sends my son into a tizzy. A real melt down.
Ohmygosh. Look what we have in common! Who'd a'thought?
And given our situation with an ALZ patient in the family, who'd a'thought we were gonna deal with this, too? *sigh*
Hang in there, q. I pray for bright sunny weather for you and your lovely boy, with narry a cloud in the sky.