Living with A Loved One

Living with A Loved One
Dear Debbie,
I need your help!!! My mother is driving me and the children (ages 7 and 11) crazy. I have no choice, but to live with her as my ex-husband has exhausted our funds and pays very little in alimony – I am lucky to be divorced. I work hard and have not made enough money to live on my own. Perhaps, this is a good thing because I think my mother is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Not only is she a bit forgetful, but she is paranoid and always accusing me of not loving her. She makes it hard for me to do my work at the computer as she is always staring at me. Also, she always calls me wherever I go accusing me of not informing her of my whereabouts. I feel that the madness is contagious. What should I do? (Harried daughter)

Dear Harried Daughter,
You are in a difficult position as it seems like obstacle after obstacle is coming your way. In addition, you are raising your children in your mother’s house and need to follow her rules while she helps you through this difficult financial time. Perhaps, your mother is in the early stages of dementia, but until she is formally diagnosed and treated, you will have to navigate under that assumption. If you can accompany her to a neurologist or at least to her doctor, this would be great. Make sure to be tactful as part of the diagnosis depends on family input.

At home do not argue with your mother or try to prove her wrong. Stand back and observe to objectify and take your emotional stuff out of it. Enter her world which means thinking about how your words will be received. Tell her that you love her and touch her or hug her when you say it. Touch is healing as are kind words. Don’t argue with her, “I told you where I was going, so why are you calling me?” Instead make a little joke and tell her again and again. Avoid stripping your mother of her power. Help her to feel important and of service to you and the children. Remember: She has taken you into her home which upsets her routine and has laden her with the responsibility of worrying about the children even though you are their mother.

Show your children how to love and respect their grandmother even when she is losing her senses. Emphasize what she is good at doing. Make sure your mother is eating omega 3’s, fruits and vegetables, getting her exercise and being stimulated. Play music from her time period in the house, not yours or the children’s. Mostly, use humor to the break the negativity instantly. You will find that good moods are contagious.

For more information on caregiving, read my book, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout. To listen to archived radio shows with guest experts visit Turn On Your Inner Light Radio Show

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