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Struggling with my relationship with my mum

Discussion in 'Younger people with dementia and their carers' started by beenen, May 24, 2015.

  1. beenen

    beenen Registered User

    May 24, 2015
    3
    Hi all, this is my first post here, really hope someone can give me some advice. I feel very bad writing what I'm about to write but I'm really struggling to cope on my own.

    My mum was diagnosed around 2 years ago with Alzheimer's - she is now 60 (and I am 27). I currently live overseas and she is looked after full time by my dad; I try and Skype every day with them both but I'm finding myself consciously focussing the conversation on my dad and am avoiding talking with my mum. The reason is I get very upset and frustrated when I speak with her - I feel like I've completely lost the mum I had. She was always so sharp, intelligent and quick and now even just asking her how her day was is a painful process for both of us - she struggles to be coherent which makes her frustrated and I get frustrated as she is upset and I don't know what she is talking about to be able to help her explain - it's a vicious circle.

    We've always had a fantastic and close relationship but as her condition progresses (which has been incredibly fast), I'm finding it so hard so come to terms with the fact she has changed so much, especially as she is so young. I guess it's a coping mechanism that I avoid talking with her but I know it's wrong and I feel so guilty about it - I certainly don't want to feel this way about her. Can anyone recommend any ways that I can reconnect with her or just anything I can do to change my negative attitude? Feeling very much lost at sea and want to change.

    Thanks very much x
     
  2. marionq

    marionq Registered User

    Apr 24, 2013
    5,600
    Female
    Scotland
    She might be struggling with the immediacy of Skype. I talk to my daughter in Kuwait every day on my iPad without seeing her which allows us both to answer when it suits. If your Mum was giving short written answers she would have time to think what she wanted to say. Try her without the visuals and see how she does. Ask short questions or give info in short sentences.
     
  3. beenen

    beenen Registered User

    May 24, 2015
    3
    Thank you for the advice - unfortunately she is unable to use any form of technology as she just doesn't understand how it works and will spend an hour trying to write a simple sentence (she has an MMSE score of 10). :(
     
  4. Tears Falling

    Tears Falling Registered User

    Jul 8, 2013
    637
    I am so sorry to read about your mums situation and how it is effecting you. :( if you call her on the phone is she able to hear you and understand you okay. If possible do that maybe as a 3 way conversation with your dad on the line to help with the conversation. If you continue to Skype and I do that with my mum who has vascular dementia then after my dad has set it up, we talk about what she wants. So I may get info from dad to say she has been doing x or y and we talk about that. I try not to question her incase she thinks it's a test. I comment on how well she looks, that I like the colour of her top, that her looks nice etc. things that I think she will appreciate. If we have any questions then it will be about the weather. She will say I don't know I have been anywhere but when I say look out the window she can tell me. You could also try sending your mum some puctures and arrange for your dad to hand her them so she can look at them whilst you tell her the story behind them.

    I truly believe that my mum is in there and that if she makes no sense, or doesn't fullyunderstand what I am saying that she realises I love her and that I am thinking of her. I love you mum andd she will respond to that.

    I hope you can find some peace and that you are able to have chat with your mum. Keep it short so you don't both end up tired out. Get your dad to be ready with a distraction if it's needed. Talking with my mum, whilst text or emailing my dad is a frequent occurrence so he knows what's happening if he is out of earshot.

    Oh....you could also maybe get her something from you. I knitted my mum a couple of scarfs and she loves them both, constantly wears them and shows them to people saying they were from me. I gave them to her as a I can't be there to hug you so wear your scarf and know it's me giving you a hug.

    Rambling now....
     
  5. Tin

    Tin Registered User

    May 18, 2014
    4,829
    UK
    I skpe my brother regularly so that mum can see him, sometimes its like he is in the room with us. Anyway I have told my brother not to ask questions, statements and comments work best, I tell him what shes done on any specific day and then he starts their skpe conversation with "I know what you did today" mum usually answers with "what" and then he tells her.

    Things like telling your mother how good her hair looks or you like what she is wearing today, tell her about your day. Don't worry about trying to engage her in conversation just try to make her smile, very simple questions that only require a yes or no, if you think about these before you Skype you'll find things a lot less stressful for both of you. You could try telling her that you'll skpe again later before she goes to bed to say "goodnight" It works in my house and my mum is definitely more relaxed when skping now.
     
  6. Tears Falling

    Tears Falling Registered User

    Jul 8, 2013
    637
    Tin I like the idea of skype to say goodnight :)
     
  7. Jasmine123

    Jasmine123 Registered User

    Jan 22, 2014
    40
    Hi Beenen

    My mother is 61 and I'm 28 and last year I was living abroad so very similar situation! I also struggled to speak to my mum. It worried me as she had lost all ability to write so she couldn't email me or write to me so I started doing Skype conversations with her when my dad was there. We couldn't really have a conversation as such but I would talk to my dad and then with my mum just smile at her or say really slowly and clearly that I liked her top, or say things like I'm hungry and mime looking hungry, or I'm tired and mime being tired and she'd laugh. And yes I know this all sounds slightly rediculous but I just wanted some form of communication.

    And then once a fortnight or so I would write her a long letter by hand, about what id been up to, and id post the letter and make sure my sister sat with her and read it really slowly with her. Writing her letters was as much for her as for me,

    Not much help, but I do empathise with how upsetting it is not bein able to communicate.
     
  8. beenen

    beenen Registered User

    May 24, 2015
    3
    Thank you all for your kind suggestions. I think it's a great idea to make statements rather than ask questions - thinking about it, the "conversation" works best when things are kept to simple facts, rather than me requiring a response. I will always generally have my dad in the conversation when we Skype because he can help my mum if she does want to explain about something, I guess I just need to make an effort to really make it about my mum than relying on my dad to keep the conversation going! Thank you all once again! x
     

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