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Stressed and Depressed 
Started by KCBJ
04 Apr 2012, 4:27 PM
Hello. I have been caring for my mother for many years. However, during the last 5 years, I noticed a severe change in her behaviour. About 3 years ago, I noticed that she was becoming quite paranoid, forgetfull, accusatory, and overall quite nasty and mean. After speaking with our GP, I was told she has dementia, among her other pains, and the behavour she is exhibiting is quite natural. She will be 98 this year and lives with me.

My life over the past several years has ground to an abrupt halt. I am single. My routine is to go to work and come home. Except for one friend that visits maybe twice a year, no one else comes over. She very generously has volunteered to phone my mother twice a day to take some of the phone calls off me. My neighbours hide when my mother comes outside.

Along with being nasty, she has also become extremely vulgar and I can't believe some of things that come out of her mouth. I dread weekends and vacations as there is no escape and that is typically when the verbal assaults take place. Over a 4 week vacation period, I had 2 days of peace before the barrage of assaults took over.

Most of the people I've spoken with have a parent similar to mine with one difference -- the parent does not live with them. They have an escape! Mine is the backyard for a few minutes.

I already know my nerves are shot and no one needs to tell me that I have been suffering from depression for the past several years. I can cry over anything and I'm not typically a crier.

Just wondering if anyone out there has a similar situation with a live-in parent. Would luv to find out how you cope.
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Reply by Cath1
04 Apr 2012, 9:31 PM

Hi KCJB and welcome to Virtual Hospice!

I feel deeply for what you are enduring in the situation with your Mom. It has to be driving you to distraction! I'm glad to know that you are aware that many others are in similar circumstances with their aged parent(s). While misery may proverbially love company, I have found it of little comfort. We must find a way for you to rise above the misery to find rest and respite for yourself.

My elderly Mom passed away at age 84 a year and four months ago. I miss her immensely. She too, like your Mom, had dementia and sometimes her moods were changeable, her demeanour difficult and the way she treated me at times was not always easy to cope with. A social worker with experience with dementia patients assured me that when someone affected by dementia lashes out it is usually directed toward those whom they most trust. I believe it is true in my Mom's case as the trust between us was true no matter how the disease tried to interfere with it and us, but I will not candy coat the experience, it was a trial that I too sometimes wondered and worried if it would ever end, as I knew from the prognosis it was not likely to get better. Yet, as I'm sure you know, some days to provide us with a break and the once-kind and caring mother we knew shines through. It is those moments that seem to enable us with the courage to carry on.

Unlike you, I never lived with my Mom although I spent most of my "free time" with her. I too work full time and have a large family, my children and their partners and grandchildren, yet my Mom came first in my priorities as she was the most needy of my time and attention. I was there with her and for her because I loved her and wanted to make her life feel safer and more comfortable, yet dementia cannot be overcome and our best efforts don't always make a difference we wish for.

My Mom spent the last 5 1/2 months of her life in a nursing home, and it was not a good experience. Although I was unable financially to bring her home to live with me, I could not and would not have been able to cope with the very valid demands of her illness even if I had been rich and able to have her come home to live with me. That will sound terrible I'm sure to some people, but I know myself and my limitations and I knew then my mother and hers. It would not have been a wise decision to be living together under the same roof.

Are you in a financial position to hire help? Have you considered the options available to your Mom and to you such as long term care or assisted living? Are you able to discuss your feelings and frustrations with your doctor, especially about having felt depressed for the past several years? You may be simply reacting to the feelings of entrapment which are natural in your situation, but there may be something else going one that should be looked into. You must begin to consider your own needs as you are in a very heartbreaking situation and you need to find a better way for both your Mom and you.

I know when my Mom was dying, the lady in the hospital bed beside her kept blurting out obscenities and I was told that it happens to some people with dementia or Alzheimer's disease. It is not uncommon and these offensive words are entirely outside of the control of those spewing them. Your Mom is not thinking about these words, they are an automatic response and don't reflect on her and certainly not on you in any way. My Mom had a mental illness from the time I was born, but was not diagnosed until I was a young teen. There were times when she was not herself, times her thoughts and actions were not under her control and many times she said or did embarrassing things. I learned ignore the odd stares from strangers and began to educate people about my Mom's illness. It was not her fault then, nor was it her fault when she in her later years developed dementia, nor is it your Mom's intention to wound you or others with words. It is not her fault and I suspect you know that her behaviour has nothing to do with the reality of you. It's is so hard though, no matter how much we know in our logical minds, not to take personally the hurts sent our way by the mothers we so love.

I hope I am not overwhelming you with information. I will wait until you respond before writing more. I just really want you to know that while everyone's circumstance is different, we do share some of the same experiences which can help when we are feeling alone. You are not alone, KCJB, and I hope you know that together we can come up with a plan to help you cope. You are very courageous to write so openly about the truth of your experience, and I know it's not an easy thing to do. I admire you, and even though your Mom is being very hard to get along with for some time now, in her heart of hearts she doesn't mean it, and she loves you just as you so obviously love her.

We must find a way to ensure that your Mom receives the best care possible while also ensuring that - YOU - find a way to make yourself a priority. We can never care for another if we completely burn out.

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Reply by Cath1
04 Apr 2012, 9:36 PM

Hi again KCBJ - My dyslexic tendencies caused me to switch the letters in your name when I wrote my post to you - sorry!:)

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Reply by claudia c
05 Apr 2012, 1:27 AM
Dear KCBJ,
You have already made a giant step forward by expressing your feelings so eloquently on this web-site!  Cath is wonderful and we have been communicating with each other regularly this past two weeks - listen to what she says - she is very wise and speaks from the heart and from her own experience.
For me, when my mother died it took me more than a year to begin to reach out to talk to others, to start to share what I have been going through - so I know what you went through to just write down what you said.
My mother had bipolar disease from the time I was 16 - so for 44 years - she died 3 years ago at 94.  There were times when she was in a balanced mood, and times when she was not. 
What I'm going to say now, I'm only speaking from anecdotal experience and it is quite possible that my mother's diagnosis has no relationship to your mother's condition.  But here is our situation:  My mother was in a retirement home for the last 14 year of her life.  About 10 years before she died Mom started to become very mean and bizarre.  She said the devil was coming to get her and I was in league with the devil to take her away.  The retirement home doctor was able to arrange for me to take her to our local psychiatric hosptial on day visits and they were able to change her drugs  - she had been on lithium for 25 years and then valproaic acid for 10 years.  I do not now recall the medication they tried with her but it worked to bring her back to a more balanced state.
So perhaps, although you say the diagnosis is dementia maybe there is some medication availabe to help her mood swings.  Can you access a local psychiatic doctor? At least for a consultation for your self to understand what your Mom is experiencing.
Also what Cath says about you getting a break is really important.  Find a respite care facility where you can have your Mom spend a few days and you take a break to renew your energy - physical and emotional!
Keep sharing - it helps a lot!
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Reply by NatR
05 Apr 2012, 4:29 PM
Hello KCBJ,

I tried to respond to your message yesterday but had computer issues.  You have gotten some great advice and support from Cath1 and ClaudiaC.

I certainly was touched by your circumstances.  It is not possible for us as caregivers to work round the clock endlessly.  I do hope that you will get some respite care for your mom and give yourself a much needed break.  Loving your mom and trying to do it all is an impossible task - but I certainly understand why you are trying to do it all.

You are as valuable to your Mom as she is to you.  She wouldnt want you to work yourself to the breaking point (which it seems like you are close to) because of her needs.  None of us can do 24 hr care for loved ones.

You are an amazing daughter.  Keep us posted on what you do for yourself...and congratulations on loving and caring for your mom into her nineties.  Behaviours are very wearing for us as caregivers.  Working in a LTC facility - 8 hrs at a time was more than enough for me.  Now I caregive for a family member and am not nearly as committed with hours as you are - but I know I am running out of steam also.

It is not just the caregiving, its all the other aspects, patience to deal with everything that you have to face - behaviors, verbal remarks that cut you down when you are caring so much.  Please know that many people have walked in your shoes - and know that a point comes when you have to say...I have reached my endurance.

There is no shame or failing in saying that.  Just the fact that you wrote about your situation means that you are recognizing you are only human.

I have been thinking about you since I first read your post.  My heart goes out to you.
Write when you have time and know that others do care and have heard your cry for support.  

Sincerely,
NatR
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Reply by KCBJ
06 Apr 2012, 6:01 PM
I thank you all for your comments and for sharing. It was a bit difficult writing and trying to not say anything that sounded overly bitter. If you only knew 5% of happenings, that would be too much. But sey la vie -- things happen. I have taken after my mother in being strong and pray that what she is going thru, I will not have to experience. And thank GOD for the dogs.


There is mention of respite. Twer that possible to leave my mother somewhere or have someone stay here, that would be great. I could handle this much better and for a longer period. But alas, that is not the case. It took me 2 yrs to talk her into accepting homecare. She definitely would not go anywhere. Guess you gathered I've tried that in the past. :-) 


I think I will try to speak with a psychiatrist. The trouble is that due to her age and health, no one wants to touch her.  Even a change in medication is touch n go.

Thanks again everyone. Happy Easter!! 

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Reply by Cath1
06 Apr 2012, 7:09 PM
Hi KCBJ:

You don't need to worry about coming across as bitter. Life has a way of making us all feel embittered by circumstance from time to time, but it is up to us to challenge that state of mind and heart because it will only eat away at our strong spirit and soul. Anger is not a pretty emotion but it must be released in a healthy way or it has the power to consume us.

I relate to the admiration you feel for your Mom as I felt the same way about mine. It's amazing what some people must endure but you are right, we inherited certain strengths from our Mom's that cannot be denied. Blessings indeed.

KCBJ Your life is important. Of course so is the life of your Mom, and while you may have to consider that she is no longer capable of showing you that she is aware of this fact, you must never lose sight of it. Your life will become unbearably sad if you continue to put your Mom's needs so far ahead of your own. Are you afraid to do things differently because you feel solely responsible for your Mom's happiness? Are you concerned that by making yourself a priority that it would mean you are giving up on your Mom? I can guarantee you that by seeking and accepting help for yourself to cope with the demands of your Mom’s situation is in no way giving up on her, rather it is necessary for your to re-discover your own life and the joys that are now missing from it.

I know that homecare is riddled with problems and is far too inadequate to meet the very real and complex needs of many elderly people and those with the responsibility to care for them - 99% of the time it is loved ones - family and especially females as daughters like you and I and Claudia and NatR and others all know only too well.

Please don't give up on sharing your feelings here. It may take more time, and sharing in trust more openly the extent of the feelings you are dealing with for this supportive process to begin to give you some emotional respite. I think it's great that you will seek help for your Mom and/or yourself with a professional, but at 98 years of age, there is as you say not always a lot of appropriate interventions possible for your Mom in terms of safe drugs that will affect her behaviour.For instance, elderly people are very sensitive to side effects from anti-psychotic drugs, though at times these potent medications are necessary.

Your life is extremely complicated now, but is it possible for you to ask for help and to accept it without considering your Mom's possible objections to it? You are in my opinion being highly controlled by your Mom and she is not in a state of mind or stage of her life where she should have any power over you or your decisions. A little space from the situation and between the intrusive presence beteen you and your Mom can help restore perspective in your circumstance.

Think of a child who rails against a parent when going taking the child to school for the first time. They may scream and kick up a fuss in an effort to get the parent to rescue them from the fear of having to go somewhere new where there will be people with whom they are unfamiliar. Once the parent leaves, the child will usually calm down and accept the new circumstance and with time and with evidence that the parent returns for them each day, they adapt. Your Mom would adjust in time as well, and you must not permit your feelings or hers to prevent you from taking the chance to get help. Your Mom may “misbehave” while in the care of others, but if they are professionals the carer will know how to handle her distressing moods or behaviour and you would have a much needed break. You must rely on your own better judgment of the situation and consider doing what is not only best for your Mom, but for you.

Please write back and let me know your thoughts. Don’t feel you have to paint your words with a happy face before sharing anything you feel. You need not feel any inhibition about sharing the truth with us about your feelings and frustrations, From where I am sitting, you have been patiently holding too much inside and bearing it all for far too long, and alone. That’s so unfair to you. You are not alone, and even though my Mom's and my situation was not identical to your Mom's and yours, I do get it. Trust me.

You need respite. Soon. Somehow we have to find a way for you to find and accept it in whatever manner is best for your particular situation. Someone must be able to provide the right kind of help that you and your Mom both need and deserve.

Happy Easter to you KCBJ! xo
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Reply by KCBJ
06 Apr 2012, 8:50 PM
My social life stopped at 42 when my mother moved in with me. I'm 59 now. I made th conscious decision. Granted, had I known what was to come, I would have thought twice and then run for the mountains.

My mother, quite honestly, is a manipulator. She has and continues to do whatever it takes to get her way. Her pain, illness, etc will increase up to the moment I attempt to go out for an evening. If I did make it out of the house, my cell phone rings almost every 15 mins with something happening -- one of the dogs has disappeared, gotten sick etc., someone is phoning and threatening her, someone is knocking on the door and running off, or she has fallen and can't get up. Because of her constant lies, you don't know if she may be telling the truth at the time. Getting the picture? Of course, when I come home, the dogs are there, they are fine, she's fine, etc.

Then we have her going into her weekly rage. The first target is that I went out to 'screw around' and then the vulgarities get really interesting. (and I can't put those in print) Now this goes on the entire weekend.

The yelling, screaming, insults and everything else that she would spew from her mouth is not pleasant. After a while, just to try to shut her up, you just stop doing everything. 

I suggested recently that a nursing home should really be considered now. I had to endure a barage of insults everyday for a 13 day period.

My girlfriend for many years very generously volunteers to call my mother twice a day. My mother tells her how I've been stealing her underwear and other clothing to give to my lesbian whore girlfriend at work. She came up with some imaginery girlfriend about 2 yrs ago. (Should I be able to escape long enough to have an affair of any kind.) I don't even remember what it would be like. :-)

So, in answer to your question: "is it possible for you to ask for help and to accept it without considering your Mom's possible objections to it?" The backlash just isn't worth it!!
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Reply by moderator | modératrice
06 Apr 2012, 9:12 PM
Hi KCBJ,

Welcome to Virtual Hospice. As everyone else has said; please feel free to express your feelings. We do not judge. 

Cath1, NatR and ClaudiaC are so supportive and share degrees of similarity to your situation in that they have all cared for their mothers and other family members. They are also wise in underlining that their advice and suggestions are their opinions and represent anecdotal "evidence". This kind of support goes a long way. However, it does not replace professional help.

If you're not sure whether to seek professional help or where to find help in your area, you can submit a question to our clinical team on Ask a Professional. Our Ask a Professional team includes doctors, clinical nurse specialists, a social worker, ethicists and a spiritual care advisor. 

Warm regards,
Colleen


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Reply by Cath1
06 Apr 2012, 9:25 PM

Hi KCBJ:

Thank you for sharing more of your story. Your humour is fabulous and I imagine it has helped your get through many a difficult day! ;-)

In my opinion, you are in an abusive and circular relationship with your Mom. You must I'm sure see this and yet you may feel compelled to take the abuse. That often happens in complex relationships where one person is in control and the other is constantly seeking the approval of the controller. Manipulative manoeuvres should not be rewarded. At age 59 you are not far from becoming a senior yourself. Time is precious and you need and deserve to live well the rest of your life despite the hardships you now face!

Your answer to my last question is understandable, yet I really believe that your life is worth making the effort to change. You can make decisions that affect your life and get support to help you cope with the consequences for making them. Deep love and perhaps some misplaced guilt and long-bred resentment seem blended in your reasons for sticking by your Mom with unquestionable loyalty, but if you continue to permit yourself to be used as her crutch in life it will be you who ends up emotionally crippled. You are the person with the judgment required in the situation. She is unable to let go of her need for you to do what is best for you both.

I am happy to know you have a close friend in your life to help you and to take some of the pressure off of your strained shoulders. Your relationship with your friend(s) must also be affected by your constant care and involvement in your elderly Mom's life. You cannot even entertain a friendship as you should be able to, let alone a romantic relationship. You must find an escape route that will not sever the loving parts of the relationship you share with your Mom, but that allows you some healthy breathing room.

I urge you to open up to a psychiatrist with all the details of your life and the emotional impact it has upon you. No wonder you are feeling depressed and helpless to change things. You must find a way to reconcile the situation for yourself so you can embrace your life and invite people into it. It is your innate right to have a life of your own!

From what you have shared here, I believe strongly that you must make a decision privately and your mother must accept whatever it is. You will need help and guidance and encouragement to begin the process of disentangling yourself from this emotionally unhealthy way of living, because it is in fact no way for anyone to have to live. My heart goes out to you KCBJ!

Please don't give up on yourself. As Colleen rightly advises you, we here may not be professionals, but these resources are definitely available to you. Whether or not you will choose to speak to a pro, please keep sharing your feelings here with us. We care and do not judge. I'm strongly opiniated, but I am also open to listening and respect as strongly what others have to say, how they feel, and what they have experienced. I am learning along with others that we truly are not alone.

There is an answer and you will find the courage to accept it, with help! Hugs! BIG HUGS to you! xo

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