fairegoldAugust 4, 2005

I just don't know how to title this thread. Frustrated is just one of many emotions I feel.

As you know, Mother is 95 and mentally alert, very few signs of mental decline at all. She's extremely frail, and losing weight over the past months, down to 79 from 88 in April, altho this last week she was stable. She is slipping away.

She is miserable. She hates the nursing home with a passion. She is whining about everything from the fact that the CNAs do not hang up her clothes properly, they only give her one sennakot laxative instead of two, no one answers her call bell, etc. She cries a lot, she wants to die.

It's hard to even talk to her because she refuses to wear her hearing aid. Forget any soft-spoken death-bed scenes. I close the door and yell. She tells me all her problems, usually related to constipation, but if the charge nurse looks in on Mother, Mother just says that everything is fine.

So the last couple of days have been short ones for me visiting, less than 4 hours. Tonorrow is a 'normal' day. She does not want to do anything, no TV (I watch the cooking shows and read), nothing. There are Catholic communion and rosaries three times a week. If I ask her if she wants to go, she will say no, so I just take her downstairs anyway, and she seems to enjoy the services.

There is nothing graceful, peaceful or serene about my mother. She whines and cries. And I don't have the faintest idea what to do. Can't talk to her, not without yelling. Will discuss raising the anti-depressant dosage tomorrow, altho she has only been on it for 3 weeks, so maybe it just has not kicked in yet.

And ideas?

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"Frustrated" is the word you want. It seems that you can do nothing "right." Everything you try is wrong. Is that the way it is? She's going and she knows it. But she continues to fight. Unfortunatly, you are the only thing she can fight with. Her world is closing in and she must feel a need to try to stop it in anyway she can. It's rough, but you know you are doing the right thing. How does she behave when you aren't there?

    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 9:16AM
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Thanks, PB. Sometimes I just need to vent.

When I am not there, she smiles and tells everyone that everything is "Fine". I told the social worker that she lies. She won't say anything to anyone but me.

One of the problems that I have is that I look at the values that I have, things that I think I grew up with. ANd I sadly realize that my upbringing was a combination of both my father and my mother, and that my father was the tolerant one who would speak his mind againt a wrong, and work to correct it. That's me. Mother talks about all the 'foreigners' who don't speak English (many of the CNAs are from the Phillippines and have accents), or how she pities so and so, and how fat someone is. Drives me crazy, and I have always told her that I do not wish to talk about people that way.

ANd I can hear in my memory my father saying, "that's enough, Helen." Now I understand.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 11:08AM
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Oh wow, that struck a chord. In our area, most of the CNAs are Haitian (with rare exception). My mother was not as vocal as my aunt, who would announce "A LOT of COLORED people work here!" to which I would cringe.

I think PB has a point in that you are the only safe one your mother can complain to. It's not much comfort to YOU, but knowing the reasons behind it might help a bit. My mother was not much of a complainer, fortunately, but I felt absolutely helpless when she would say how uncomfortable she was (from sitting). Because of her brain tumor, her confusion increased as the disease progressed, and she would often say that she "never would have taken this job if she knew what it entailed." So in her mind, she was working a job at the nursing home.

I've often said that I think nursing homes are the most difficult for patients who have all their mental faculties, like your mother. They are accutely aware of where they are and why they are there.

I think the only things you can do are what you're already doing: make sure she's well-cared for, be her advocate, and take care of YOURSELF. If that means shortening your visits, then you have to do that.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 12:55PM
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I have no advice, but I think the other posters have hit on a truth. Your mom is dealing with you openly & honestly (and in her own unique way) about her own frustrations. She puts on a facade for others, but because you're her daughter, she lets you see her real self. My husband tells me that's what my mom does with me. When my children visit, she has only positive things to say. When he's around, it's the same. It's only when I'm spending time alone with her that the litany of complaints surfaces.

It's frustrating and saddening because at this stage in her life there's nothing you can do to make things better for her. Your visits and your oversight of her care are wonderful expressions of your love for her.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 3:36PM
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Hi Helene, boy what a day! although Al is not in a nursing home, it seems whenever he is in the hospital all he does is complain, -- the food, so i have to bring it from home, because the nurses call me to bring it to him. our RNA's nursing assistants have to go through college and get certified to do their job. he doesn't think of them to empty his urinal, it's me who does it. all the nursing staff thinks he's just fantastic and never complains, but whenever i'm there my dear nice hubby saves it for me to hear!(and this is not like him, ususally he is a super nice guy). so there i sit and listen and nod my head at him and it is hard! also like all the times when he says he's better and is going to check himself out, new rules at the hospital, check yourself out and you have lost your doctor and won't be able to find one who will take you on! i am on paxil and started off with 12mg and am now on 25 i was put on the higher strength about 6 weeks later. take care, debbie

    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 9:29PM
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Thanks for all the insights. Debbie, it's time to back off, dear. But then you know that already, don't you? I am trying to back off, and it's better now that the staff seem to know Mother, and she obviously is getting more comfortable with them, too. Today she asked one of the CNAs to clip her toenails. She has been asking me to do it for weeks, but I flat out refuse. There are people who do this as a part of their job, I told her, and all you have to do is to ask.

That was a huge barrier, getting mother to ask for help. But it is apparently sinking in.

Today was better. It was her scheduled shower day this morning, and that pretty well exhaused her for the rest of the day. She was more peaceful today.

Thanks to you all for your help. I'd be lost without you all.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 11:48PM
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The really hard part for you is that you don't want your last days with your mother to be unpleasant arguments. Are these rhetorical complaints or does she expect you to respond and answer her, and do something. Can you just kind of smile benignly while she goes on to the next issue?

Can you take her out, maybe for a ride or just a walk (with wheelchair) around the neighborhood. Just getting out and getting a snack would give you both a break, and there are other things to talk about - admiring a garden, commenting on the stupid drivers, watching birds or squirrels, etc.

Many older (than me) people don't watch TV, and I haven't figured out why - I want to understand it when it happens to me! It may have to do with the fact that there's NOTHING on! People speak very fast and it's harder to follow, too. Does she have some favorite videos you could bring in for her, she might enjoy those. You can get a small DVD player and hook it up to her TV.

My father was a chronic complainer and as he aged it made spending time with him very difficult. Usually the complaints were directed at me (either about me or expecting me to "fix" something), so after 50+ years of it, it was hard to detach myself from his complaining and not argue with him. Ironically, he was very happy in his assisted living facility and nurisng home. He received great love and attention from the staff, so he didn't complain about them.

Hopefully, she'll settle down, but if she doesn't you may have to speak frankly with her about how upsetting it is to you to have your visits with her be so unpleasant, maybe she doesn't realize she's doing it.

Good luck and give her hug from all of us.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2005 at 7:52AM
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Helene! Friends, i sure hope so! Hate for you to be mad at me, i've e-mailed you privately. Take care! debbie

    Bookmark   August 5, 2005 at 10:18AM
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Oh my! you must be at your wits' end. Worried, sad, FRUSTRATED.

But I can't even feature not REQUIRING her to use her hearing aids when YOU'RE trying to visit with her. Sorry! I've been down that road before and I simply refused to talk to her until they went into her ears. I would turn my back on her when she asked, "What?!". I was so irritated I finally wrote the following on a slip of paper:

It is incredibly rude of you to presume the entire world is going to repeat themselves endlessly for your benefit. YOU have the hearing loss... and the tools to deal with it. Use them. I sick to death of shouting at you and listening to YOU shout at me.

Unhappy and declining she may be, but that doesn't mean you have to stand by and shout or be shouted at. JMO with a big hug for you... . (have a G&T, it's HOT today and you've earned it).

    Bookmark   August 5, 2005 at 3:59PM
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