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  1. #1
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    How can I deal with Mum's unhappiness

    My mum is 80 and has lived in a nursing home for just over a year now. She has Alzheimers and Vascular Dementia and other medical conditions including brittle diabetes so there's a lot in the mix. I live very close to the home so do try to visit most days although these visits are forgotten by mum almost immediately. She can walk a few steps with a zimmer and will pace if she has the energy. She no longer wishes to watch tv, listen to the radio, do her word books or read anything at all...one by one all of these things have stopped. She refuses to join in any activities with others and stays in her room. She always cries when I arrive and the horror stories begin. She will sit and wring her hands telling me things like she's been in a cage for three days without food or drink; people have been punching her, they've stolen all of her belongings, she's been told we were all dead, they were killing people in the night, etc etc etc. The whole visit, sometimes up to 3 hours, is just a series of horror stories which she firmly believes. I have tried to distract her and to reason with her which can result in her saying I just dont believe her and then sulking! She is in such an unhappy place all of the time and I just don't know how to deal with it. She is constantly asking me to take her home and I feel so guilty but shes in a nice home and they are very kind to her despite her occasional aggression towards them all. Any ideas...anyone experienced this?
     

  2. #2
    Hello Jackies, I am so sorry to read about your mum. I can understand how you feel, we had many similar visits to this, and it can be very distressing for you all.

    Have you spoken to the staff, esp the NH manager to see how your mum is when you are not there.

    You may already have tried these ideas, but they are little things that helped us. We made a memory book with photos etc of as much of my FIL's life as we could. He did enjoy looking at the photos and it also gave the staff something to look at with him. We also tried to take the possessions that he was particularly attached to, very small things, in his case the most important was his bedside lamp, and he did seem to find some comfort in having it turned on. We also put CDs on, they may have helped us more than him.

    We also took little treats, something to try to focus each visit on, they sometimes helped to ease things. Often it was just one banana, or some kind of fruit.

    We used the doctors as a reason for not being able to take him home, and this seemed to be accepted, we always had to wait to see what the doctor said next time he came to visit. When we left, we always said it was because we had to go to work, we never mentioned going home ourselves. This made leaving a little bit easier.

    I hope you don't mind me saying this, but for me, I couldn't have stayed for 3 hours. I really found one hour was enough of trying to distract from the questions about going home.

    My very best wishes to you. You have every sympathy, please take care of yourself and let us know how you get on xx
     

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by jackies View Post
    My mum is 80 and has lived in a nursing home for just over a year now. She has Alzheimers and Vascular Dementia and other medical conditions including brittle diabetes so there's a lot in the mix. I live very close to the home so do try to visit most days although these visits are forgotten by mum almost immediately. She can walk a few steps with a zimmer and will pace if she has the energy. She no longer wishes to watch tv, listen to the radio, do her word books or read anything at all...one by one all of these things have stopped. She refuses to join in any activities with others and stays in her room. She always cries when I arrive and the horror stories begin. She will sit and wring her hands telling me things like she's been in a cage for three days without food or drink; people have been punching her, they've stolen all of her belongings, she's been told we were all dead, they were killing people in the night, etc etc etc. The whole visit, sometimes up to 3 hours, is just a series of horror stories which she firmly believes. I have tried to distract her and to reason with her which can result in her saying I just dont believe her and then sulking! She is in such an unhappy place all of the time and I just don't know how to deal with it. She is constantly asking me to take her home and I feel so guilty but shes in a nice home and they are very kind to her despite her occasional aggression towards them all. Any ideas...anyone experienced this?
    Sounds very similar to my mother in many ways. She's told me several times that 'they' are killing people - I can't help wondering whether she's been wandering about at night and seen a newly-deceased resident being wheeled out - several have died since she's been there, in fact she's the only one of the original 9 in her wing. Like your mother she won't listen to any tactful argument to the contrary - 'they' are very clever at fooling people into thinking how nice they are - just look how they've fooled me!

    I try to distract her, but it's very hard since it's impossible to hold anything like a halfway proper conversation any more and she's just not interested in anything, not even the photos she used to like - now it's just a cursory glance, if that.

    I do take her out, which she used to enjoy up to a point, but now she's invariably fretting that she 'ought to get back' after 20 minutes, or else she's 'frightened', but can never say what she's frightened of.

    She doesn't like any of the activities, either, and the CH does try. TBH she was never very sociable anyway, certainly not a 'group' person.

    It's very hard to know what to do for the best. Do hope someone else can make
    some helpful suggestions - I could certainly do with some!
     

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christin View Post

    I hope you don't mind me saying this, but for me, I couldn't have stayed for 3 hours. I really found one hour was enough of trying to distract from the questions about going home.
    Me too, and I don't mind admitting that I mostly find even an hour a strain, unless she's in one of her rare relatively peaceful moods. And even after nearly 5 years I still have to psych myself up to go - and then I feel awful for having to psych myself up to go and see my own mother. Guilt monster constantly on my shoulder.
     

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by jackies View Post
    She no longer wishes to watch tv, listen to the radio, do her word books or read anything at all...one by one all of these things have stopped. She refuses to join in any activities with others and stays in her room. She always cries when I arrive and the horror stories begin. She will sit and wring her hands telling me things like she's been in a cage for three days without food or drink; people have been punching her, they've stolen all of her belongings, she's been told we were all dead, they were killing people in the night, etc etc etc. The whole visit, sometimes up to 3 hours, is just a series of horror stories which she firmly believes. I have tried to distract her and to reason with her which can result in her saying I just dont believe her and then sulking! She is in such an unhappy place all of the time and I just don't know how to deal with it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Witzend View Post
    Me too, and I don't mind admitting that I mostly find even an hour a strain, unless she's in one of her rare relatively peaceful moods. And even after nearly 5 years I still have to psych myself up to go - and then I feel awful for having to psych myself up to go and see my own mother. Guilt monster constantly on my shoulder.
    If you add in that the food is dreadful then it could have been me posting.

    Mum generally ends up yelling at me for not doing something for her that she can't remember what she wanted doing but she knew she wanted it done so its my fault.. After 3/4 of an hour I want to run away but usually try to stay for an hour and a half.

    Lemony xx


    When life gives you lemons make lemonade.
     

  6. #6
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    Yes, all of the above, plus "they" tell her she could go home, but her mum & dad don't want her back.

    She takes no interest in her photo wall, in fact most of the photos are stuffed in a drawer.

    I wish I had an answer, afraid I don't.

    Do sympathise with all of you, though.

    Lin x
     

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Witzend View Post
    Me too, and I don't mind admitting that I mostly find even an hour a strain, unless she's in one of her rare relatively peaceful moods. And even after nearly 5 years I still have to psych myself up to go - and then I feel awful for having to psych myself up to go and see my own mother. Guilt monster constantly on my shoulder.
    crumbs!!!this is exactly what I could have written except my Mum has been in the ch less than 5 years.
     

  8. #8
    Nothing you say or do will make her happy is my guess too. Speaking to the CH Manager re her depression would be one thing I would do, and then shorten the visits.

    I live in the US and call my Mum, our conversations are about 5 minutes long, and I used to feel guilty about that too but have finally came to terms with the fact I can only do what I can do.

    Every time the guilt monster comes out I wrestle him back into the box by posting and getting support from wonderful TP people.

    Sue
     

  9. #9
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    Hi jackies

    This may sound silly, but instead of trying to distract her, or change the subject, or cheer her up, or whatever, have you tried going along with her accusations? Saying "oh, that's terrible", "I know, isn't it awful", that sort of thing? Non-committal agreement followed by something like "Don't worry, I'll get it sorted".

    Am I being daft here? Would this calm her down for the moment, assuming that she won't remember what you've said later, but at least make her feel that you believed her?

    I have no experience of this so am worried that I may be completely bonkers with this approach. Please feel free to ignore if so!

    Good luck.
     

  10. #10
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    Thanks to all......it helps knowing you're not on your own! 4 hours today but thats because Mum's poorly again. Have worked out that the cage is the bed with the rails up. Mum has only recently started to allow them to put her to bed at night...for a year she sat in the chair!
     

  11. #11
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    I could have written this too up to a few months ago, before Mum took a huge downward turn. I found this the most difficult thing of all to deal with. Nothing I did or said made any difference at all. She didn’t want to be in a home and that was that. She hated all the other residents, they hated her (she thought), they hit her (so she said – I used not to believe her but I think there was an awkward resident who used to hit people when the staff’s backs were turned), everything was awful. She used to chant “stop it, don’t do that” all the time, and slap herself and even gouge her face. And sob and sob whenever I visited – which seemed totally logical to me because I reminded her of ‘outside’ and the life she used to have. She would beg me to take her home with me. She complained she had nothing to do but she couldn’t tell me what she wanted to do, apart from “go into town”. She was frightened. She wasn’t really capable of doing anything. I ended up in a state as well just seeing her like that, and wondering whether her being in a home (which was my doing) was making her worse. And she would say sorry – even in the state she was in she always noticed my tears, which made me feel worse. So I do sympathise with those of you still going through this – for me it only passed once Mum had declined to the stage where she couldn’t move or speak or recognise me.
    C
     

  12. #12
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    Yesterday was the worst visit ever. My plan was to go early and only stay for an hour or so. When I arrived Mum was in the day room asleep. This is unheard of because she will not socialise. She looked awful. When she woke that was it.....she screamed and shouted and sobbed for me to take her home so I took her back to her room in the wheelchair (although she had walked to the day room on her zimmer) but nothing I said could calm or console her. She made no sense at all and just repeated over and over the last word or sentence I had said and then she would stop....stare into space for a few minutes and then start again. The staff said she had been pacing for a while (a few months ago she walked up and down almost non stop for 40 hours!). It was the first time I cried in front of her ...she just started at me. Nothing I did or said could make any difference. Food and drink was thrown together with medication. She looked so bewildered it was heartbreaking. Her rate of decline is alarming. After an hour and a half of this I left and when I left she was standing at her windown banging the window open and shut. She ignored me completely. A month ago we were all celebrating her 80th birthday. There was some nonsence in the mix of course but we could hold a normal-ish conversation with her. There's none of that now. Is this how its going to be from now on? Has she gone???? So, so sad.
     

  13. #13
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    Our Mum used to tell us amazing stories, what was happening and what she had been doing, a recurring theme was "working really hard, having to march for hours without food etc. etc."

    A further stage on and now her vocabulary has shrunk so much that she can not express what she feels. But she seems happier in herself. Sometimes we had really funny/sad conversations but that does not happen any longer, so perhaps your Mum will move a stage on from where she is now and she will become happier too.
    Last edited by Clementine; 01-04-2012 at 09:03 PM.
     

  14. #14
    Hi it does sound really difficult for you and I feel sad for you both.
    I have noticed with my mum that she gets frustrated and unhappy because this terrible illness makes her feel worthless and useless. So I try and show her she is worthy, helpful to me. It's not easy but I discuss things she could do even though I know she can't do it as I know she will forget the details, it just makes her feel better to think she is needed. Sorry if this sounds inappropriate to you and your mum.
     

 

 

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