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BS: a kind of bereavement

nutty 11 Dec 06 - 04:17 AM
Georgiansilver 11 Dec 06 - 05:46 AM
jonm 11 Dec 06 - 06:36 AM
Divis Sweeney 11 Dec 06 - 06:53 AM
Dave (the ancient mariner) 11 Dec 06 - 07:01 AM
artbrooks 11 Dec 06 - 09:48 AM
Scoville 11 Dec 06 - 10:33 AM
Little Robyn 11 Dec 06 - 02:16 PM
Partridge 11 Dec 06 - 02:33 PM
Ebbie 11 Dec 06 - 02:43 PM
SINSULL 11 Dec 06 - 03:18 PM
nutty 11 Dec 06 - 03:29 PM
ClaireBear 11 Dec 06 - 03:56 PM
Metchosin 11 Dec 06 - 04:06 PM
Herga Kitty 11 Dec 06 - 04:16 PM
Barry Finn 11 Dec 06 - 04:43 PM
Kaleea 11 Dec 06 - 05:26 PM
GUEST, Ebbie 11 Dec 06 - 07:43 PM
MBSLynne 12 Dec 06 - 03:14 AM
Richard Bridge 12 Dec 06 - 04:18 AM
Big Al Whittle 12 Dec 06 - 05:04 AM
GUEST 12 Dec 06 - 11:24 AM
open mike 12 Dec 06 - 11:35 AM
GUEST 12 Dec 06 - 11:50 AM
Ebbie 12 Dec 06 - 01:13 PM
Elmer Fudd 12 Dec 06 - 01:25 PM
MBSLynne 12 Dec 06 - 02:35 PM
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Subject: BS: a kind of bereavement
From: nutty
Date: 11 Dec 06 - 04:17 AM

I've lost my mother .... not physically .......... she hasn't died but, since she had a fall last year and had to go into a care home, she has slowly disappeared.

Physically, apart from a few minor problems, she is extemely fit for a 95 year old but mentally she has retreated into her childhood and even at times gets distressed that none of her friends or close relations (all long dead) don't come to visit her.
She has lost all memory of her close family (except for my sister, brother and myself) and can't even remember the names of her grandchildren.

She has totally lost all ability to cope with the technology of the 21st century. Turning on the TV and changing channels is beyond her. Money is still Pounds, Shillings and Pence.
She thinks the Care Home is a Hotel that she stayed at many years ago and constantly worries (despite assurances) that she won't be able to pay the bill.


My sister and I visit regularly but find it exceedingly difficult to cope with a situation that we were never prepared for.
It would be so much easier just to stay away but obviously that is not an option.


I'm sure there are others who have had to deal with similar situations and I would be grateful for and advice. What coping strategies did you employ??


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Subject: RE: BS: a kind of bereavement
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 11 Dec 06 - 05:46 AM

I guess I was fortunate in some ways that my mum died quickly after the cancer took hold so I did not have to suffer as you are.
I have friends now who are in a similar position to you and are suffering the agonies of the frustration that it brings. A doctors advice was to take a step back and look logically at the situation... realise there is nothing you can do but take it one step at a time.
Try to carry on with your own quality of life as best you can and carefully choose the time you spend with your relative.
That sounds O.K practically but 'feelings' are not always congruent with practical are they?. Best wishes and my thoughts and prayers will be with you, Mike.


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Subject: RE: BS: a kind of bereavement
From: jonm
Date: 11 Dec 06 - 06:36 AM

We found with my wife's grandmother that taking newer members of the family with immediate family on visits helped her focus on who she was seeing.

I guess when you lose more recent memories and regress to past times it can be difficult to remember family as other than children, so taking someone they have only seen as an adult can help.

It is very difficult to keep the good memories of the person in healthy mind alive as their condition worsens, but you need to hold onto the good times...


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Subject: RE: BS: a kind of bereavement
From: Divis Sweeney
Date: 11 Dec 06 - 06:53 AM

I was also fortunate (it that sounds right) that when cancer came to my mother it stole her from me inside three weeks.

This is dammed hard for you. Quality of life is everything. Always keep your visits cheery and talk and share old memories of childhood, you may not think she understands, but some of it will get a positive reactive.

Use items like photographs, music and mementos to stimulate her memory.

Take care and in my thoughts

Divis


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Subject: RE: BS: a kind of bereavement
From: Dave (the ancient mariner)
Date: 11 Dec 06 - 07:01 AM

She is still your mother but suffering from delusions, and you must learn accept her mental state. The world she creates in her mind is how she rationalises her present suroundings and conditions; you can spend what little time you have left with her trying to correct her mistakes and making life frustrating, or live with it and accept it as a function of old age.

Yours, Aye. Dave


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Subject: RE: BS: a kind of bereavement
From: artbrooks
Date: 11 Dec 06 - 09:48 AM

The condition is generally called "dementia," which does not mean "crazy." Rather, it is a progressive decline in cognitive function, which may have a variety of causes. Old age is only one of them, but it is more common now as people generally live longer. My mother-in-law (who is now 97) has been there for several years now, with it getting gradually worse, and my father (86) is starting the same process.

Herself (the occupational therapist) works with older people a lot, and says that this is a very common problem...she has patients whose birth language is Spanish or Navaho and they often lose the English they learned later in life...her solution has been to learn some Spanish and Navaho. My own way to deal with it is with patience-if they ask the same question they did an hour before, answer it the same way you did then; don't say something like "I told you that, Mom," because she will just not understand. Sometimes each moment is a discrete one...there is no memory of what happened 5 minutes before...because the connections in the brain just aren't working right.


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Subject: RE: BS: a kind of bereavement
From: Scoville
Date: 11 Dec 06 - 10:33 AM

My grandmother had Alzheimer's for almost a decade before her body finally gave out. It was awful. At first it was little things like forgetting which was the TV remote and which was the phone. She lived with us for a few months when I was eighteen and insisted that she was my dad's wife (since they had the same last name), that none of her relatives could find her since she had moved because the Iowa/Missouri border was in dispute so she never knew which state she was in (she was in Texas, but couldn't remember that), and she kept looking for things in our house as if she were in her childhood home in Illinois, where she had not lived in over 60 years. My uncle and I went to see her in the home where we finally had to put her and she thought I was his new wife and starting telling me which food he liked, etc.

It was ENORMOUSLY stressful for her children. Artbrooks is right--don't try to reason. Just work with what she can remember.


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Subject: RE: BS: a kind of bereavement
From: Little Robyn
Date: 11 Dec 06 - 02:16 PM

Instead of trying to drag her back to our time, just join her in her time.
I look after a small group of aging Downsies and Alzheimer's seems to hit them around 55-60. One little old man has started talking about his father and my lovely 65 year-old keeps asking for her parents. We try to find old family pictures and go with the nostalgia bit. Another lady has lost the power of speech altogether and just sits watching. I still go and talk to her as if there was nothing wrong, as if she still had an opinion and I'm sure she can appreciate that. Just watch the eyes for a response, no matter how small, and remember, this too will pass.
In a year or two I won't have any of them!
Robyn


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Subject: RE: BS: a kind of bereavement
From: Partridge
Date: 11 Dec 06 - 02:33 PM

Hi Hazel,

My mum lost part of her memory before she died and it was a bit like being a friend that she had forgotten. When I went to visit I just helped as best I could, whether she remembered me or not - never take it personally if she says the wrong thing or forgets who you are.
You are right that it is like a bereavment, but it put it bluntly there is no closure - and thats hard.

Positive thoughts in your direction Hazel,

love
Pat xx


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Subject: RE: BS: a kind of bereavement
From: Ebbie
Date: 11 Dec 06 - 02:43 PM

You are fortunate that she still recognizes her children by sight, nutty. This is not always the case. My mother had a 'rest home' and I have lived among and worked with many elderly. It happens to be an age group that I love.

One dear friend of mine who lived into her 97th year knew ME but did not recognize her daughter. She still talked about her daughter but didn't recognize the white-haired woman her daughter had become. It was enormously frustrating to her daughter and she frequently got exasperated with her mother. She couldn't help but take it personally, it seemed.

In my opinion, ANYTHING that a person takes comfort from when he or she reaches that condition should be condoned, if not encouraged. If there is a doll or a teddy bear or whatever that he or she names and cuddles and cherishes and rhapsodizes about, more power to them. This too happened with my friend, and I followed her lead.


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Subject: RE: BS: a kind of bereavement
From: SINSULL
Date: 11 Dec 06 - 03:18 PM

My sister-in-law's mother (my adopted mother) became very confused, got into arguments with "an old woman who had moved into her home and wouldn't leave" (her reflection in a mirror?), and went into a nursing home. On one visit she saw her daughter and went into a panic - she thought she was talking to herself. Very sad business.

Give her little gifts - things she once loved - maybe a certain kind of chocolate or a favorite magazine. And odd as it may seem, laugh. It will help.
Mary


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Subject: RE: BS: a kind of bereavement
From: nutty
Date: 11 Dec 06 - 03:29 PM

Thank-you all for your kind words and advice, We have tried numerous strategies with photo's and mementoes etc. and they have had limited success.
It probably hasn't helped that this year both my sister and I have had health problems of our own, so we probably have not viewed the situation as dispationately as we should have.

I recently had Shingles so was asked by the home not to visit for 2 weeks. It felt as if a weight had been lifted from my shoulders but I also found it much harder when I started visiting again ,,,, hence this thread.

The most frightening thing about all this is that I know that I would not like to live out my old age in such a manner.
The indignity of incontinence etc.
I know I would (as Mum does) find very difficult to bear, but until living wills become legally binding then I guess it's just pot luck.


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Subject: RE: BS: a kind of bereavement
From: ClaireBear
Date: 11 Dec 06 - 03:56 PM

I have a feeling that what you are asking for is more a way to get through your visits than a way to evoke memories in your mother that it may no longer be possible to evoke.

After my mother's stroke, I found surviving the heart-wrenching visits a supreme challenge. But eventually I stumbled on a solution: I could survive the stress of regular visits if, instead of trying to get her to respond the way I wanted, I simply read to her. I chose books I was fairly sure she would enjoy (my mother was not very responsive, so it could be hard to know what she liked) and simply greeted her, sat down and read to her -- a short chapter a day, two or three days a week. It did both of us a world of good-- her because she heard my voice, and me because the interaction was so much easier if I had something to concentrate on besides reaching her.

I don't know if that solution would help your situation, but I hope so. Best of everything -- luck, strength, cheer -- to you.

Claire


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Subject: RE: BS: a kind of bereavement
From: Metchosin
Date: 11 Dec 06 - 04:06 PM

Have been going through the same thing with my Mum and demetia for the past couple of years, nutty. I find it helpful to just answer her questions straight up, no matter how often she has asked the same thing. When she is obsessing again and again on things that don't make sense, I sometimes enthusiastically change the subject to distract her. Don't bother correcting her, it won't work.

Perhaps I don't find as much of a sense of loss for some parts of her personality, as I have been in the position of mothering my mother since I was about 13. Some aspects of the adult-child relationship got a bit reversed early on. I probably won't know fully what kind of impact that may have had on me, until after she's gone.


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Subject: RE: BS: a kind of bereavement
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 11 Dec 06 - 04:16 PM

Nutty

Sorry, I just think you have to brace yourself, and prepare to feel guilty. However much you do, you won't feel it's enough.

I went through this 3 years ago with my mother - I had to get her admitted to hospital, aged 87, when I found her talking to nonexistent guests and having delusions, and then to a care home. Having coped wonderfully on her own for her age, she too couldn't cope with turning on the TV or radio, and also, because she was very deaf we had great difficulty communicating at all.

You are right, it's already a bereavement, because the person you knew and loved all your life isn't there. And you wonder whether the care staff are looking after her properly, because she can't really tell you if they aren't. Even when we couldn't communicate meaningfully with our mother, my sister and I visited just so the staff would know that someone was keeping an eye on things.

She'd always been very aware and sensitive, but turned into a senile delinquent - the care home asked for a conference with my sister and myself because our mother had been nicking food off other residents' plates and they thought she needed a higher level of care (nursing) than the residential home could provide, so would need to be moved.

Within a week she'd fallen and broken her hip and elbow, and although the hip replacement op was successful, she succumbed to bronchial pneumonia.

And I absolutely know I don't want this to happen to me, especially because I wouldn't even have a daughter to come and visit.... sorry if this is a bleak post, but bleak is how it is. Best wishes for getting through it!

Kitty


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Subject: RE: BS: a kind of bereavement
From: Barry Finn
Date: 11 Dec 06 - 04:43 PM

My wife's family just goes on treating their mother pretty much the same. When she's wondering where her husband is we just tell her he died a long time ago & she gets it


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Subject: RE: BS: a kind of bereavement
From: Kaleea
Date: 11 Dec 06 - 05:26 PM

Please ask the Activities/Social Services Director or Director at the care home when & where the family support group meetings are. It would help you lots to know that you are NOT alone, and how others are coping. While we cannot control our loved ones, or the situation life has dealt them, we can attempt to learn how control our own actions & reactions to our loved ones & their situations. Learn everything you can from others who deal with this every day, whether they are staff members or family members of the residents of the care home. You must try your best to do what you can while you visit, then leave & let go of it for a few days--knowing you are doing what you can. Please attempt to NOT put yourself into a state of constant worry, as this will not help you, your family, or your mother. Try to accept her in the frame of mind she is in at the time, and know that she still loves you, but she just can't access that part of her brain right now.
Many people I know have found it good to ask about the family of earlier generations, & have learned a great deal about their family geneology which otherwise would be lost in the past. Ask her to tell you stories about family members. If she thinks you are some cousin, so be it. She will be comforted by knowing that you are some means of friend or family, and that you care enough to visit her. In time, it will be less difficult. You may even be able to laugh a little from time to time. Good luck!


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Subject: RE: BS: a kind of bereavement
From: GUEST, Ebbie
Date: 11 Dec 06 - 07:43 PM

And don't forget the music! The songs she grew up with and the songs that she taught you when you were growing up are probably still with her. Maybe give her an oatmeal box as a drum so she can accompany the songs.

The best of luck to the both of ya.


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Subject: RE: BS: a kind of bereavement
From: MBSLynne
Date: 12 Dec 06 - 03:14 AM

I'm going through this at one remove at the moment. EPN's mother has recently gone into a home for the same reason, though, at the moment she is only mild. It's hard for me in a different way because I have to see Ted's pain and not be able to do anything about it. Fortunately his mother is still fine in the present, she has just lost her memory. She says it's as though her life and background have been taken from her. I don't think I'm being horrible when I say I hope she dies before she gets to the stage of not recognizing her family. She really doesn't want to be here. Never a visit goes by without her saying "I keep looking at John's (her husband) photo and saying "Why don't you come and get me?""

I think it's hard to give advice on how to cope with this because, from what I've seen, every case effects the person differently so only you will know what works (if anything) and what doesn't.

We've been sorting out her house to get it ready for sale lately, and it's almost worse to be going through someone's personal things while they are still alive, than when they are dead.

Just remember not to feel guilty if you hope for her speedy end, or if you feel relief when she does die. You are not wishing her ill. Her time is up and she is probably ready to go.

Love Lynne


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Subject: RE: BS: a kind of bereavement
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 12 Dec 06 - 04:18 AM

Yes, not looking forward to this. My mother is 95, will be 96 in March, still lives wholly independently (local shops deliver etc) and I visit twice a week.

But she has broken her left fenur twice (and survived Medway Maritime hospital twice, no mean feat) so seems pretty tough physically, yet is starting to become less acute mentally - last year she was still doing her own tax return, this year she can't be bothered, simply to get the small tax rebate. She can't be bothered to read a newspaper any more (until 2 years ago it was the Telegraph every day).

When the time comes I will have to persuade her to go into a home, and I know she will constantly complain about the vulgarity of the TV the others want to watch, their table manners, etc, and until she has no mind left worry about her life savings disappearing at £30,000 per year (typical cost of a residential home, never mind a nursing home), then I'll have to persuade her to let me sell her bungalow, then she will watch the value of her last assets dribble away, and keep saying she'd rather die, until her mind is gone altogether.

Still, I suppose it means there will be no inheritance tax to pay.


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Subject: RE: BS: a kind of bereavement
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 12 Dec 06 - 05:04 AM

I spent my last six years as an entertainer working in old peoples homes. I regarded it, as the VERY best time of my life in the music business. Much better than my years as a slave of the music business. Though I'd had some success in other things, it was the one job, I could really do well. The staff in these homes used to compliment me, because I gave really animated enjoyment to people who were completely isolated, by their mental condition.

But that's how it is with humans - either your mind goes to hell or your body does. I think actually the mind is a better option - there are still enormous avenues of enjoyment to be had when your mind has gone walkabout. Whereas to die like my Mum did, fully aware of what was happening as the lights slowly went off seems unimaginably awful.


As somebody says - the songs are the key. When the mind goes, it retreats down very familiar pathways - scraps of knowledge and memory, keep surfacing. You don't need to go the expense of getting backing trax. But look for some cds of singalong stuff. Some market stalls have them. Try the net. Not stuff of their era. Rather stuff of the Jolson era and maybe the war era, for these are the songs that were sung to them as kids - maybe some of the more popular music hall pieces.. Max Bygraves does some not bad ones, but there even better ones.

Then you must learn these songs thoroughly - no use just shoving a cd player on and then sitting there like a pudding. then you perform them. You hold their hand as you sing them. Present them with a big smile on your face - I'm talking about a really aggressive pitch. I used to have to bound around the room, but you only have an audience of one. If they want to dance to the music - encourage that.

If you get it right, it triggers all sorts of wonderful things. mainly nice things, memories good and bad.

What I'm saying is - be pro-active. You have nothing to lose, and you may just give them something really nice. Something perhaps you never even suspected was there between you.

Anyway its always better to try something than be despairing. You can always do the despair thing - if that doesn't work.

best of luck

al


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Subject: RE: BS: a kind of bereavement
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Dec 06 - 11:24 AM

Nutty, it's not about you and how you feel. It's about you making sure mom is as safe and comfortable as she can be, so just do that. Bring kaleidoscopes and photos to amuse her, jabber about the news, softly sing songs, read, whatever--and hound the staff to be sure she is cared for.

There was a time you were a screaming unreachable terror of a two-year-old and she didn't get a lot out of being in your company.


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Subject: RE: BS: a kind of bereavement
From: open mike
Date: 12 Dec 06 - 11:35 AM

you might benefit from an Alzheimer's support group.
There are many who experience the same responses to
a loved one with this condition. Be kind to yourself.
And I hope she is feeling peaceful despite the confusion.


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Subject: RE: BS: a kind of bereavement
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Dec 06 - 11:50 AM

Hooray for the good soul who mentioned music. A very dear friend of mine spent several years with Alzheimers and the one thing she could enjoy was music, she even sang along occasionally. We made cds for her of songs from her youth and...she remembered most of them and could sing to them. We also took her tapes of old radio shows. Although she did not recall them she enjoyed listening to them. Although she did not recognize us as her family and friends, she did know us as the people who brought the songs.. not a bad way to be known, really. My heart goes out to you> I wish you well and hope that you may take heart from those who have been through this before.


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Subject: RE: BS: a kind of bereavement
From: Ebbie
Date: 12 Dec 06 - 01:13 PM

NBC News last night had a segment on Alzheimers in younger people. They don't believe that Alzheimers is changing, they think they are just getting better at identifying it.

There was a man on who is aware of what is happening to him. His wife is already having to watch out for him. (Shoes in the refrigerator, that kind of thing.) He is 45.


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Subject: RE: BS: a kind of bereavement
From: Elmer Fudd
Date: 12 Dec 06 - 01:25 PM

Do you live in the USA? The National Alzheimer's Association can be enormously helpful with information and support. There may be an office in your area. Our local director is a gem and very compassionate. He's written a few books on the subject. I'm sure he would talk with you, wherever you are. PM me if you want info.

Whether or not you need or want any such active support, my heart is with you. It's very difficult to see someone you love look the same on the outside, but almost become a different person. All the best to you at a very hard time.

Elmer


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Subject: RE: BS: a kind of bereavement
From: MBSLynne
Date: 12 Dec 06 - 02:35 PM

Richard, at your mother's age, the chances are her mind won't go. My grandmother died at the age of 94. She was in a home for the last couple of years because my aunt (in her 70s) was finding being a full time carer a bit much, but her mind was fine. She got to the 'can't be bothered' stage, but I think it's more because they are tired and life has been long enough. It's not necessarily a sign of dementia or senility

Love Lynne


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