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Tips needed on dealing with moms memory loss
Hi, I am a new member and in need of some advice. Mom, 75 years old and lives alone, has no short term memory and recently it has been noticed that she is beginning to struggle with long term memory as well. She has not been officially diagnosed with anything.
She is aware she doesn't remember things and apologizes for repeating herself multiple times. Family members will repeat information for her but at some point it becomes frustrating. She becomes angry/agitated when we tell her we cannot repeat a story or answer a question again.
I am looking for some helpful tips on how we should respond to her when she repeats herself over and over again so we can try to avoid the frustration we all feel and her becoming angry with us.
Any feedback is welcome. Thanks!
My advice is for you to get accustomed to the endless repetitions. This is your new future with your mom. There is no sense in being frustrated or upset, because you must now live in her world. She's not doing it on purpose and she can not live in your world any longer. She really doesn't remember that she just told you that story over and over and over again. And she really can't remember that you just told her something over and over and over again. So just deal with it.
Try to put yourself in her situation. OK - someone just told you something for the first time - - then they scold you because they say that they have told you that many times before, but in your mind you never heard that before. How frustrating would that be?? That is what your poor mother is hearing time and again all day from her loved ones. Just stop it !! Go with her flow. Listen as many times as you must and repeat as many times as necessary.
Once you learn to live in her world, it will be much easier for you.
I know how it feels, you get the feeling that repeating the answer is pointless since they cant remember from one minute to the next. I even tried printing out the answers to all her common questions and giving her a sheet to look at when she wants to know.. but that only worked a few times and she accused me of making up answers. Bottom line is in order for them to stop asking you questions you need to misdirect them to talk about something else. Sometimes when i get asked where am I? I will respond with talk about her father or about something she did when she was younger. It will often take her mind off what she was so worried about.
It all gets very frustrating, sometimes to the point where I will just play on their sympathies and say I have a bad headache so they will relax for a bit.
I hope you can get an official diagnosis from a Dr. There may be other diseases that are causing her memory loss. For now just keep answering the question and use as few words as possible. Ex: my DH asks " where are we going?" I say "the grocery store." He asks again and again and I answer with the same answer. As others suggest redirect them and talk about something else and often that helps and they stop asking the same question.
I mention getting a diagnosis as soon as possible as often the Dr can get the patient started on a med.
Hi, I am a new member and in need of some advice. Mom, 75 years old and lives alone, has no short term memory and recently it has been noticed that she is beginning to struggle with long term memory as well. She has not been officially diagnosed with anything. Without a diagnosis, your mom could have some other treatable condition that mimics dementia. It would be sad to lose cognition to an eminently treatable vitamin or hormone deficiency. It's possible a medical professional would advise against mom living alone based on assessments. Is she driving? Can she safely cook? Is she managing medication appropriately? Does she ever have overnight guests who would have a sense of what goes on at night- a time when many PWD struggle with delusions and hallucinations? FWIW, I thought my dad was in much better shape than he was until I came to stay at my parents' home when mom was in the hospital. The other piece to this, is does your mom have the necessary documents around POAs and medical directives that would allow one of you to act on her behalf without the expensive and time-consuming process of obtaining guardianship?
She is aware she doesn't remember things and apologizes for repeating herself multiple times. Family members will repeat information for her but at some point it becomes frustrating. She becomes angry/agitated when we tell her we cannot repeat a story or answer a question again. The bolded? Don't do that. If she could remember, she would not ask. Her brain is damaged. Put yourselves in her place and answer each time as if it the first. Rinse and repeat. If it helps, try to think of yourself as an actor rehearsing a scene or make it into a game be rephrasing the answer in as many ways as you can. Or just create a script you automatically use when asked again. I found this quick read useful for understanding how my dad experienced dementia and allowed me to be more compassionate and empathetic.http://www.dementiacarestrategies.com/12_pt_Understanding_the_Dementia_Experience.pdf
I am looking for some helpful tips on how we should respond to her when she repeats herself over and over again so we can try to avoid the frustration we all feel and her becoming angry with us. If she is early in the disease, and can still read and learn to use it as a tool, perhaps using a white board with the answers she needs on it might be an option for a while. Some people in my support group used a white board for a time with a daily schedule on it for their LO. Good luck.
When Daddy asks the same question 3 or more times an hour, I start giving him the same answer, but rephrasing it, like harshedbuzz said. I've also found out that repeating the question back and the shorter the response to him is, the more likely he is to understand the answer.
Daddy: Where is your mother?
Me: Where is mama?...gone for bread.
Daddy: What time is it?
Me: What time is it?...almost 5:00. (no need for minutes, it just causes more confusion to him)
Hi YankeesNY - I, too, am relatively new to this as DH and I began caring for his mother who is currently undiagnosed, but has a strong family history of ALZ and dementia (she has 3 living older siblings, 2 of whom are diagnosed). I agree with everyone else - just go with the flow and answer each repeated question as though it's never been asked, listen to the same story you've heard 100 times, and distract as much as possible.
After 7 months, I am getting really good at it, but DH really struggles. He's never been the most patient sort anyway and then after his mother asks the same question 3 times he'll get frustrated and tell her, "We've just discussed this, don't you remember?" and leave the room. This causes MIL to get pouty and go to her room and close the door and then I have to go lecture DH on being more patient as I remind him (again) that his mother does NOT remember asking the same question 3 times in a row. He's getting a little better with his patience.
Thank you all for sharing your experiences, seems we all have a lot in common. I will definitely pass this info on to the rest of the family. We do just "go with the flow" for long periods of time and then we sometimes need to leave the room to take a break when the same question is literally asked every few minutes. I was just wondering if there were any responses that you use that seem to work since we all know the responses that cause our loved ones to become upset. I like the suggestion about redirecting onto other topics that might work. I did try writing information down for mom but then she forgets to look at the notes anyway.
Mom is not open to seeing dr's, going for testing or taking meds so I don't think getting any official type of diagnosis will happen anytime soon.
Thanks again for all of your responses!