Where can I find someone who'll give me a break from caring for my mother with dementia?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
Sandyy asked...

My mother is 86 and has dementia. I am 63 and live in her house with her because she can't be alone. She is able to walk perfectly well, take care of all her own needs including cleaning,etc., but her mind is all confused and she is very difficult. I have no life because she will not allow any home care. I would just like someone to come and take the heat off of me for a while. Even a couple of hours a day set her off and she made my life hell for a week. She does not recognize me a lot of the time and is afraid, She calls my sister up at night to say that I disappeared and someone else is in my bed. etc. etc. I am so depressed....I can get no relief. Any real helpful suggestions? please?

Expert Answers

A social worker and geriatric consultant who specializes in dementia care, Joyce Simard is based in Land O' Lakes, Florida, and in Prague. She is a well-known speaker and has written two books, one focusing on end-of-life care and the other, entitled The Magic Tape Recorder, explaining aging, memory loss, and how children can be helpers to their elders.

Your mother is fortunate to have you as a daughter. You did not say if she had been diagnosed with a dementing illness and if she is on one of the medications to help slow the progression of AD. Make an appointment with her physician but make sure you talk to him or her before the visit so they will know what is really happening. She may need something for her depression.

Would she try participating in a day program? That would give you some releif. If you have funds to support taking her to an Assisted Living community or nursing center for respite care do so.

Contact the Alzheimer's Association closest to you and ask about respite funding if you need some financial help. They will also put you in touch with support groups.

Develop a schedule for helping your mother so that family and friends know when they are needed to help you.

If you are able to hire someone to care for her during the day and your mother refuses help tell her a friend of yours is coming over and have the paid aide introduced as a friend. It may help to have someone (your friend) com over a few hours a day for awhile "just to visit" and that might make it easier when suddenly you have to go out and your "friend" offers to stay.

Remember at this stage telling her the "truth" is not the approach to use. I say "fix the problem"...be creative and you will find a way to lessen your frustration. If she does not recognize you have a picture of you and/or your mom in a place where she can see it. Put names on the picture "Mom" & your name on the picture. If that does not work be whoever she thinks you are...if that is pleasing to her. You must get into her world.

I hope some of these suggestions are helpful.

Bless you,

Joyce Simard