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saraha

advice please

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So my mother in law is starting to forget. Like a lot. One issue that has come up before and then again today is forgetting that she talked to me earlier about plans. Every week my kids go to her house to help with housework and yard work. Starting this week the schedule was going to change. Same day, just later time. I talked to her and reminded her this morning.  This afternoon she called and left a message while I was outside wondering where we were, we were supposed to come up and weed her flower beds. She sounded so sad and disapointed. I got the message 20 minutes later and called back. No answer. Called 3 more times, no answer. finally about 2 hours later, I got a hold of her to remind her when we were coming and she was really upset that we didn't come and went out and tried to weed herself.  Now she feels like I let her down.

How do I deal with this? I foresee this happening a lot in the future.

TIA

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Would a big whiteboard in the kitchen or somewhere prominent help? Especially if the whiteboard is located above the landline. My aunts write important phone numbers there too.

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Does she acknowledge that she could be forgetting? Do you tell her?

If so, could you encourage her to write things down in a certain, visible place? Then she could refer back to it regularly?

That's a tough situation. 😞

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How old is she? Has the starting to forget been gradual or sudden? Are her doctors aware? Any med changes around the time it started or got worse?

Arcadia has a great tip if this is a known issue, and there are other practical things you can do, but making the docs aware and ruling out physical or drug-related causes comes first. 

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does she live alone, or is someone else there?  has she been formally diagnosed with dementia?  does she know she is forgetful?  has she had a thorough physical lately, including looking for any nutritional deficiencies?

she may be at the point where she can't live by herself.  are there plans in place for when that day arrives? how does she feel about it?  if she's to be moved - it would be better sooner than later so she can more easily get comfortable.

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when mil was living with sil - there was a big sign board on the wall "today is:___, I will be doing ___ today at ___ time" etc.  with a clock nearby so she could refer to it.

her paranoia eventually became too great and she's been put into an assisted living/nursing home with 24/7 supervision.

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She lives with my Father in Law, who is in great health and has no problems taking care of her. He is very protective, and has experience with this as MIL's mother moved in to live with them when her alzheimer's made it so she couldn't live alone. I have no idea what her doctor knows/doesn't know. She is still having more good time than bad ones. It just broke my heart yesterday that she was so sad that we weren't there, even though we were still coming and I had tried to prep her for the change.

   I love the white board idea. Right now she has a calendar hanging by the phone and she writes on it quite a bit. She knows what is happening, and watched her mother and 2 brothers deteriorate with neurological issues as they aged, so she worries and cries quite a bit over it all. She has actually been saying for years, before having any real symptoms, whenever she would forget something normal that "this is it. I am losing it. You all will have to forgive me and be nice to me, my mind is leaving." But sometimes in the moment she gets so emotional and I don't know how to react with that. I just couldn't convince her that we were still coming, not to worry. And when we did show up, she was so happy, and then looked me right in the face and said with the sweetest smile, "Why,  you guys didn't have to come up here, I am sure you are all tired" completely not remembering crying on the phone about how we weren't there yet and had forgotten her. I want to love her and be gentle with her and do the right things. 

  Thanks everybody, and I would love any advice anyone has for us. I have never had someone in my life that had this issue, so am at a loss.

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Does her doctor know about her anxiety with neurological deterioration? The “mood swings” are worrisome. My dad is the youngest and his siblings didn’t have the emotional issues with mental loss, there were frustrations but not “emotional roller coasters”.

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26 minutes ago, saraha said:

She lives with my Father in Law, who is in great health and has no problems taking care of her. He is very protective, and has experience with this as MIL's mother moved in to live with them when her alzheimer's made it so she couldn't live alone. I have no idea what her doctor knows/doesn't know. She is still having more good time than bad ones. It just broke my heart yesterday that she was so sad that we weren't there, even though we were still coming and I had tried to prep her for the change.

   I love the white board idea. Right now she has a calendar hanging by the phone and she writes on it quite a bit. She knows what is happening, and watched her mother and 2 brothers deteriorate with neurological issues as they aged, so she worries and cries quite a bit over it all. She has actually been saying for years, before having any real symptoms, whenever she would forget something normal that "this is it. I am losing it. You all will have to forgive me and be nice to me, my mind is leaving." But sometimes in the moment she gets so emotional and I don't know how to react with that. I just couldn't convince her that we were still coming, not to worry. And when we did show up, she was so happy, and then looked me right in the face and said with the sweetest smile, "Why,  you guys didn't have to come up here, I am sure you are all tired" completely not remembering crying on the phone about how we weren't there yet and had forgotten her. I want to love her and be gentle with her and do the right things. 

  Thanks everybody, and I would love any advice anyone has for us. I have never had someone in my life that had this issue, so am at a loss.

has she been checked out by her dr?  if her mother had alzheimer's and her brothers had neurological issues - she may well have them too. it could also be something else.

my grandmother had TIAs, (as did a number of her siblings).  my mother had TIAs, and was in denial for a long time.  they are my greatest fear, as the damage is cumulative.  I have a MTHF mutation - which can lead to vascular (tia/stroke) problems - so I take mthf in hopes it will head off/delay.  so, I understand.

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Is FIL home during the day? The white board is a great idea, but FIL is likely going to need to help support her by re-orienting her to the information.

As far as her being upset goes, even if you arrange things perfectly and provide a lot of supports eventually the time will likely come when she will still be upset no matter what you do. I really, highly, truly encourage you to begin setting up an emotional boundary where you don’t take this personally. Remember how quickly she also forgot that she had been upset earlier? As the disease progresses time for her is going to kinda cease to be linear and she is going to spend a lot of time in the immediate now and potentially a lot in the past.

In a recent conversation with my loved one, her mother wanted her to go out and feed the chickens. She was mentally living her life in the early 1940s. I asked how her mother was, how many chickens they had these days, and what else was going on in her life. It was a beautiful way to join her where she was and to learn about her life then....the time for re-orienting to time and place has passed as her disease is now end stage. She hasn’t known who I am in a few years now and spends a lot of time sleeping. She also spends a lot of time upset because dementia sucks. She operates out of emotions rather than reality.

In the early days it’s easy to take it all personally because it’s hard to separate out when the disease is talking and when the person you know is. Beyond my advice to not take things personally, my other advice is to support your FIL. My experience has been that the husband often becomes a pushover letting the wife do whatever she wants and that he also suffers from frog in a boiling pot syndrome—his ties to a normal reality become skewed. Give him some respite care and start the discussions now about when it will become too much for one person to do. IMO and IME that should be generally before he is emotionally ready.

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On 5/9/2019 at 12:17 PM, prairiewindmomma said:

Is FIL home during the day? The white board is a great idea, but FIL is likely going to need to help support her by re-orienting her to the information.

As far as her being upset goes, even if you arrange things perfectly and provide a lot of supports eventually the time will likely come when she will still be upset no matter what you do. I really, highly, truly encourage you to begin setting up an emotional boundary where you don’t take this personally. Remember how quickly she also forgot that she had been upset earlier? As the disease progresses time for her is going to kinda cease to be linear and she is going to spend a lot of time in the immediate now and potentially a lot in the past.

In a recent conversation with my loved one, her mother wanted her to go out and feed the chickens. She was mentally living her life in the early 1940s. I asked how her mother was, how many chickens they had these days, and what else was going on in her life. It was a beautiful way to join her where she was and to learn about her life then....the time for re-orienting to time and place has passed as her disease is now end stage. She hasn’t known who I am in a few years now and spends a lot of time sleeping. She also spends a lot of time upset because dementia sucks. She operates out of emotions rather than reality.

In the early days it’s easy to take it all personally because it’s hard to separate out when the disease is talking and when the person you know is. Beyond my advice to not take things personally, my other advice is to support your FIL. My experience has been that the husband often becomes a pushover letting the wife do whatever she wants and that he also suffers from frog in a boiling pot syndrome—his ties to a normal reality become skewed. Give him some respite care and start the discussions now about when it will become too much for one person to do. IMO and IME that should be generally before he is emotionally ready.

I am so sorry for not seeing this before, thank you so much. We have been trying to help give him a break by coming over every Tuesday and cleaning, mowing the grass, visiting, and providing a meal big enough to pack up leftovers for a couple of meals during the week and he can go and do whatever he wants.

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Would it help to call or text her at the old time to remind her that you'll be there later?

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