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Feeling overwhelmed and frustrated - need to vent.
Posted: Thursday, October 22, 2020 3:17 PM
Joined: 10/14/2020
Posts: 12

I am the 24/7 caretaker for my MIL. She moved in with us in July and I quit my job to take care of her. She is severe Alz, but is very mobile and stubborn. She's always been active, but there's nothing to do. The senior daycare center in my area is closed because of Covid and has no plans, as of yet, to reopen. She can't read, she can no longer play cards, she can't do puzzles...I've tried several things but she gets aggravated or is disinterested. Today, for the first time, my MIL escaped. When she's mad (which seems to be a lot), she likes to go outside. We have 5 acres that is all fenced in and we have a gate that goes across the driveway. When she's mad, I close the gate because I don't want her wandering off the property. We live in the country and she would have no idea how to get back. I didn't think she could figure out how to open the gate, but today she proved me wrong. She got quite far before I found her. Caring for an Alz patient is like having a toddler who can't learn. But instead of hugs and kisses, you get p-ss and vinegar. When she doesn't get her way, she throws a fit like a toddler. And she gets very mean. I know that she can't help it. I know I shouldn't take it personally...but it's so hard. She doesn't like being told what to do. She won't let me help her with her personal hygiene, but she doesn't understand basic life concepts anymore, like showering properly, or brushing her teeth. She can dress herself, but her fashion sense is hilarious. Her word recognition is very poor. She always wants to help me cook dinner, but if I ask her to get me the milk from the fridge, the doesn't recognize what or where the fridge is. When I show her, she'll pull everything but the milk out and ask, "this?" So it's difficult. She loves to do laundry but she doesn't understand the difference between the detergent, bleach and fabric softener and doesn't know where they go. The last time she put her clothes in the dryer, she also put the glass mason jar that I throw change in, in the dryer. Sorry...I didn't mean to make this so long. I'm struggling with my patience and my sanity. We move here last year and I have no friends, other than my husband. I don't get an opportunity to get away much and have a true break. My husband did set me up with a couple of his co-workers who invited me to a girls afternoon...but that was only once. Okay...I think I'm done. Thanks for letting me vent.
Posted: Thursday, October 22, 2020 4:50 PM
Joined: 10/19/2020
Posts: 20

Girl, yes!! None of this is easy for sure and its so hard sometimes to keep your own sanity as it seems we now live in crazy town. Does she like to fold laundry? I would just give her the towels, hand towels, and wash cloths as many times as she wants to fold them. Also give her the cards and tell her to play solitaire, or ask her to organize them for you by number or suit. I always say "can you help me with this please". Also untieing knots from rope. Have you heard of busy boards or fidget blankets for alz and dementia? She may enjoy something like that Also i play 50s country (his jams back in the day) on pandora. Sometimes he will bop his head and tap his feet for hours. 

Praying for all of us in crazy town. Super nice to have neighbors that understand and we can vent to for sure! God bless lady, you got this!

Posted: Thursday, October 22, 2020 5:26 PM
Joined: 2/6/2018
Posts: 503

Jacs has great activity ideas. The ones I've tried have been successful for me too. You can also have her sort all that change in the mason jar, and buttons by color or size. My Dad loved to do something if he felt he was helping me and he never questioned why we were doing something or realized that it was busy work.  Even when I loaded up his daily medication holders for the month, he was in charge of closing all the containers and putting them in the right slots. And I had him take the labels off the empty medication bottles. Some favorite music plus a task for him to dig into at the patio table kept him happily engaged for a long time. And a break for me. The meanness is especially tough to live with. Hang in there Yankee, you're definitely not alone!
Posted: Friday, October 23, 2020 8:35 PM
Joined: 10/9/2020
Posts: 4

I feel you and have experienced VERY similar things with my father. It is so hard and I can't even remember the man who raised me at this point. I feel bad because he feels like nothing but a burden to me. So much like a toddler.

The thing to remember is that it all passes in time. Each steps brings a new set of challenges but some things get easier. My father no longer cares that we have to bathe him and that we have to have him wear depends. It is nice not to have to argue about this any more. 

I went through this with my mother also. This disease has taken so much.


Posted: Saturday, October 24, 2020 12:46 PM
Joined: 6/12/2016
Posts: 1369

Im sorry you are feeling overwhelmed. She is truly blessed to have you!!! I would suggest  putting a clip on the gate latch, something that she can't open. When my MIL was sundowning  she was fast as lightening. At night I actually barricaded the front and back doors because she was always "going home". I wish you luck.
Posted: Saturday, October 24, 2020 3:50 PM
Joined: 10/14/2020
Posts: 12

I got her one of those sensory pillows but she didn't want to have anything to do with. She can't read and doesn't understand basic concepts anymore. So even something as basic as matching, she can't do. I am going to order some bright colored socks and see if she can sort them. I've asked her to dust and she has said no. I want to ask her to help me weed the garden, but am afraid that she'll pull up my good plants. I did order a new Alexa Dot for her room so I can play music for her in there. She's very stubborn. And very mean when she doesn't get her way. The struggle is real.
Posted: Saturday, October 24, 2020 3:58 PM
Joined: 10/14/2020
Posts: 12

I know that this must be extremely difficult for my husband because it's his mother. She's not the same mom that raised him. She's mean, and violent. Stubborn and pigheaded. She wants what she wants and doesn't care what anyone else thinks. She no longer has gratitude or compassion. We have the same conversations, over and over again, but doesn't remember. It is like having a toddler, that never learns. Having her belongings moved up here, I think, was a mistake. It has caused so many problems. We thought she'd like having her own things, but it has only caused fights. I'm having a hard time with the meanness. She's soooooo mean. I keep telling myself that it's not her anymore. She can't help it and she doesn't know any better....but that is little solace. Sadly, we think she needs to decline just a little more so that it is easier, like you said. It will help when she isn't fighting us on every single thing.
Posted: Monday, October 26, 2020 10:07 AM
Joined: 4/23/2018
Posts: 145

I feel your pain. Would she be willing to have you on stand by in the bathroom? Maybe she could be on a shower stool, using a shower head with a hose (we got a magnetic one that is super easy to attach and detach) and you could hand her a new shampoo or body wash. Or hand her a fluffy warm towel when she is done. If 'helping' is just not going to happen, can you get personal care wipes? I know they are not environmentally friendly, but they can do the job in a pinch. Would she be up for a 'spa day' and do some pampering. Maybe nail care, lotion, that type of thing. 

Since your MIL is mobile, can you use that to your advantage by getting her into a vehicle and going on car rides? Not knowing exactly what living in the country means, are you close to another neighbor's property or a town? Maybe you could run errands together? Sometimes a change of scenery helps!

Have you contacted the local ALZ chapter to see if there are any online support groups in your area? Just knowing that someone else is 'close by' and going through similar things can help.

Did you feel any connection with any of the women you met through your husband's work? Maybe you could reach out and do an activity with one of them.

When your husband is done with his workday, can he be the in charge person so you can have a break? Maybe you could watch a mindless show on tv or the internet or read a chapter or two of a book. Or go for a walk or a run or a drive or whatever would help recharge you.

Are there any friends from your old neighborhood or colleagues from your former job that you aren't currently in contact with, but want to be? Maybe you could reach out and zoom or text or email or phone with some of them.

Keeping your sanity is super important! I hope this forum helps!

Posted: Monday, October 26, 2020 1:31 PM
Joined: 3/7/2012
Posts: 2631

That is why we are here, so you can vent if need be. Does she act the same way when your DH is around? Just curious.

Have you contacted the local ALZ Chapter? If not I would do so or call the help line 800-272-3900. They could possibly put you in contact with the local chapter. Since no one is meeting in person they possibly will have virtual sessions for her to attend. That way you both at least have some contact with other people.

Come and vent all you want, your in a difficult situation.