Question: My mother, who is 80, has Alzheimer's. Physically, she is in good health. Her right hip has been giving her fits, but her mental health is not so good. All she does is cry if I raise my voice because she is hard of hearing. She thinks I am yelling at her. The doctor has changed her meds for depression and put her on a higher dose. My question: when is it time to put her in a home? It would be the Masonic Home as she has been in eastern star for 40 plus years. She has been with us for almost a year and a half and I know she hates it here. She is from Germany and very proud but I feel like I am climbing the walls as I stay home to look after her. There is only so much to do. I feel bad having these thoughts because she's my mother. I have sisters and brothers, but they are not able to help.
Dr. Amy: It is perfectly normal to have the thoughts you are having. This does not mean you don’t love your mother. In fact, it seems to me that your actions and your concern demonstrate your love. You have taken her into your home and have devoted your days to her care for a year and a half. While you are on a difficult path, your mom may feel better once her new medication kicks in. Sometimes it can take a few weeks before medicine for depression takes effect. If she does not, I encourage you to talk to her doctor.
On the question of whether it is time to move your mom to a home, I think you would both benefit from having her thoroughly assessed by a geriatric care manager. The information you receive will help you decide the best course of action. Does she need to go to a home, or would an adult day care program for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia meet both your needs? Or would professional home care support be a better solution? I encourage you to read a little more about geriatric care managers.
What about her hearing? Have you discussed this with her doctor? Is it time for your mother to consider getting a hearing aid? If she is not ready, I encourage you to talk to your mom about what you can do to help. For example, as you likely know, it is important to face your mom when speaking to her. That way, she can read your lips and see your facial expression. Also, it helps not to shout, as this distorts your words and actually makes it harder to hear. Here is a list of other tips, from the University of California, which you might find useful.
Lastly, it sounds like you might benefit from joining a support group. Caregiving can be a richly rewarding experience— but it can also stir up a host of troubling emotions. Sharing your journey with others who are on the same path can really make a big difference to your own wellbeing.
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