Hard to Get Out of Parent/Child Mode

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by KarenC, Oct 16, 2005.

  1. KarenC

    KarenC Registered User

    Jun 2, 2005
    Los Angeles, USA
    Mom has made a remarkable recovery! A couple months ago it was dubious if she would resume eating enough to live much longer. After several weeks of very slow progress, she seemed to turn the corner and really get back to close to the level of energy, etc., she had before. :)

    So today we (my husband and I) took her from her dementia home over to visit Dad at his nursing home. When we got to the dementia home, Mom was engrossed in conversation with a male resident, Ed. she didn't seem too pleased to see me/us, pointed at me saying "Bad", and mostly ignored us. When I tried to take her hand she shook me off. After a while and a distraction by a passing aide, we mentioned going to see Dad. She was agreeable to that ... in theory. Getting her disengaged from Ed and out the door (past the dog, the balloons, the cat, the interesting picture on the wall, etc.....) still took a long time.

    Getting her into the car was a minor challenge. Once in the car, when we were on the freeway, she opened the door. :eek: That was exciting, but she was belted in and the wind pressure kept the door from opening much. The visit went OK; she recognized Dad and was glad to see him.

    Getting her back into the dining room at the dementia home when we returned her was a repeat of getting her out -- slow, with many distractions, she was unwilling to be led. Running into Ed again ended any chance of further progress. They tried to include me in their conversation, but I wasn't too successful at it. :eek: Mom did tell Ed I was her daughter, so she knows who I am if not my name. At one point she waid "You shouldn't say things like that here," so perhaps I had misspoke. :confused:

    So, overall things are going OK, but Mom is increasingly in another world, another reality. and I'm still stuck feeling like she's my mother and it means something when she "rejects" or "admonishes" me. :(

  2. Kathleen

    Kathleen Registered User

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Sussex
    Hello Karen

    I understand your feelings totally regarding the parent/child relationship.

    The first time Mum looked at me blankly and had no clue who I was, although I always knew that day would come, it was a horrible shock.

    I felt as though part of me had been torn away. For the first time in my life, I felt rejected by her, lost and vulnerable, I cried buckets that day, for the first time in months.

    A few months on, I have been her daughter, her sister, and several times recently been told to get my hair cut, or people will think I am a girl!!

    I see the funny side now and have accepted the fact that she knows me, but is not always sure where from, and that is the best I can expect from her. That is our relationship now and I make the most of our time together, however odd or bizarre those times are.

    The hurt is far less, but still lying just under the surface, no doubt waiting to surface and bite me again at some point down this very rocky road.

  3. Lulu

    Lulu Registered User

    Nov 28, 2004
    Can I just ask a general question? Does this failure to recognise people happen in the very later stages, or can it be earlier? My brother says that when he phones my mum, it's as if she doesn't know who he is ..even though she calls him by name and carries out a conversation with him in the manner she has always done.
  4. Sheila

    Sheila Registered User

    Oct 23, 2003
    West Sussex
    Dear Lulu, with my Mum, it was more come day go day. I too was every one but me at times, then another day she knew exactly who I was, and that even at 50 something, "I was not too old to put over her knee and spank my girl"! Even at the end she seemed to know us some of the time. I think this would vary from person to person though, depending on where the plaques in the brain had done most damage. Mum could do some things well and others just didn't come together at all. Also with the memory of things, some she had perfect recall, others, well, they just no longer existed for her. Although she was often "funny" with us, I think she knew we loved her. I think this is the same with everyone, we all respond to love and kindness I think. Love She. XX (Sorry so many I thinks, but thats what it is, my thoughts on it.) :)
  5. Lulu

    Lulu Registered User

    Nov 28, 2004
    Thanks. I think my mum is pretty much the same Sheila. She is staying with me at the moment (the shower is being fitted) which has totally thrown her routine, and we are getting the same reaction as on holiday. I feel as though I have been naughty, have done something wrong, and am getting snapped at. The atmosphere is awful and the sulks have started again ...feelings of rejection are creeping in ..! I wouldn't want her to feel indebted to me or anything, but it is certainly very hard being treated this way when I am the one doing everything for her!! I just can't tell what's going on in her mind.
    Karen, I'm sorry for butting in on your thread. This mother/ daughter relationship is fast becoming very bizarre. I am mothering my mother whilst she is becoming more child-like and at the same time treating me as if I were the child ...
    I'm happy for you that your Mum is doing well at the moment Karen.
  6. KarenC

    KarenC Registered User

    Jun 2, 2005
    Los Angeles, USA
    Thanks for your thoughts, Lulu et al! "Recognizing people" is a bit of a tricky concept. My mom definitely recognizes people she is familiar with (the family, other residents at the home) but I suspect it varies from day to day as to whether she knows names, and whether she understands people's relationship to her. It's hard to tell what is just not coming up with the right word, and what it truly confused -- for example, several months ago when I called and I could hear in the background they were bringing her to the phone and she was asking "It's my mother?" Grandmama has been dead since 1988 (more than a decade before Mom started visibly having memory trouble), and I don't know whether Mom (a) thought it was Grandmama, (b) just the wrong word came out, (c) she is getting confused about mother/daughter, or (d) something else.

  7. daughter

    daughter Registered User

    Mar 16, 2005
    I was thinking about the fact that sometimes my Dad seems to know us and other times he doesn't. Sometimes he will greet Mum and I as though he is really pleased to see us, but doesn't seem to know who we are, he'll say "hello, dear". I liken it to when you see someone in a place that you wouldn't normally see them, and can't remember their name.

    Later, during the same visit, when we've been sitting with him for a while, looking out of the window, talking, singing, having a cup of tea (all things he used to do when at home), he will often use our name in a sentence without even appearing to think about it. I believe that when he's feeling comfortable and everything is long-time familiar, it's just automatic.
  8. jc141265

    jc141265 Registered User

    Sep 16, 2005
    Uncoscious vs the conscious

    I too never know if Dad knows who I am and suspect he just knows that I am important to him in someway, it doesn't matter if I am or not, cos the poor ****** has to put up with me talking to him and hugging him for an hour nearly everyday so he's come to accept me whoever I am! I decided to take a different tac, he may not know that I am his daughter (and yep that is a sad thing to deal with especially because I know he adored his daughter natalie) but I will make sure he sees on every visit that I know he is my Dad!

    Rationally thats all very well and good to say, but isn't it crazy how our heart doesn't give a damn about what our brain knows?! :confused: My heart hurts when he has whacked me in the face, shooing me away, and its not just a little annoyed when I do something nice and realise that I think he thinks I'm my sister who never visits. Such a petty thing to be annoyed about! :eek: I guess though, these are the things that make us human.

    Lastly though I want to suggest that although the concious behaviour of the person you are dealing with doesn't know who you are, I suspect that most of the time there is an 'unconscious' taking it all in and remembering and feeling the love they once had for you as their child. Your Mum or Dad is in there somewhere and they know you and they thank you for putting up with all this ....crepe and are very sorry that this other conscious them will not do or say the things that they would do if the unconscious them still had control. :( I think this because every now and again, he gives me a look when I believe his unconsious wins the battle for a few seconds, and I think he does still know me, yesterday he looked at me, and something came out of him mouth that sounded very much like 'Nat' and the look on his face told me thats what he said. Then there is the fact that he acts as though he doesn't recognise my Mum and she gets very annoyed when he pays so much attention to me, but you know she's the only one he still puckers up to kiss! He will kiss other people, but he does a 'real' pucker for her! :rolleyes: Its so cute! :D
  9. Canadian Joanne

    Canadian Joanne Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 8, 2005
    Toronto, Canada
    It is so amazing how individual this disease is. My mother was able to tell time until about 8 or 10 months ago. But as for recognition, I have been a friend, a sister and occasionally a daughter. Confusing me with her sisters started probably about 3 years ago.

    However, her face lights up when she sees me. She may not be sure of the details, but she knows we're important to each other. That's the main thing.
  10. connie

    connie Registered User

    Mar 7, 2004
    Dear Joanne, hang on to that. You have a feeling `that Mum knows who you really are. Hold on tight. Who knows what tomorrow brings. Love Connie

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