From Indifference to Highly Emotional

For issues specific to caring for someone with dementia.
Mostly my mother is indifferent to her predicament which I understand is a symptom of dementia. She has vascular dementia. Today, when I mentioned that this month was her birthday and I told her age (95) she just shrugged.

However, she suddenly went to the other extreme and became VERY emotional....she was crying and saying "my life has gone".

What do you say to someone who exclaims their life has gone...what can soothe the situation?
I mentioned her achievements but this made no difference and I can understand why, i.e. it doesn't change the stark reality she soon faces.

(She is a catholic but, oddly, doesn't believe in the afterlife).
Hi Amy, My Mum is 99 and doesn't seem to believe that her death might be imminent at all. She bemoans the loss of sight, hearing, mobility. Mourns the loss of old friends and family members. Denies that she is expecting the 'Queen's card' when she is 100, next August, but still talks about next Christmas as if it were a certainty.
She will not talk about what kind of funeral she would like or which possessions she would like to leave to whom, but will only repeat that she wants to buried in the same grave as my father. ( A long distance away).
If it were my Mum, and yours might not react the same, I would 'jolly her along'. I'd say something like. 'Well, you are still here bossing every one about, doesn't look like you are done yet, I think you are going to beat all records, the news today was about a woman of 108,' (that's true). Or 'Well there's a big party waiting for you in heaven and when you decide to join in they are going to complain that you've kept them waiting'. Or 'When it's time to go you will be ready, but that's not yet awhile'. Or, 'It's not over yet Mum. You are still here and you are still loved and cared for. Every day is special.' Don't 'gloom' with her. Be sprightly and change the subject. Make her laugh if you can
X
Elaine
I suspect that when we know death is really imminent, we just may well not want to talk about it, or think about it! Much easier to talk about it when we believe we still have years and years left!

Seems odd to be a catholic and yet not believe in an afterlife. But is this because her generation of catholics were probably raised on a nightmareish diet of hellfire!!!! So it probably seems 'safer' to her to NOT believe in an afterlife than to believe in one!

I'm sure things have changed in the Catholic Church since then in that respect (well, I certainly hope so!), so I wonder if you checked out some of the nearby churches/priests, you might find a priest who does not take the old fashioned 'you're all DAMMNED!'/ 'Purgatory lasts for what will seem like an ETERNITY!' etc etc, but has a much more actually Christian attitude towards making amends for whatever few sins most of us have clocked in our lifetimes.......

She may also find it catarthic as well, and enable her to 'meet that moment' when it comes with less fear and more hope.
amy green wrote:Mostly my mother is indifferent to her predicament which I understand is a symptom of dementia. She has vascular dementia. Today, when I mentioned that this month was her birthday and I told her age (95) she just shrugged.
Hi Amy,

My 88yr old mother is currently in a nursing home, is seriously underweight, and is not expected to last longer than a few weeks. Mum has no obvious dementia but I'm pretty sure she has it, and displays supreme indifference to most things, including death. The nurses have prompted discussions about end of life care, but she just changes the subject, seeming to prefer burying her head in the sand.

I have no suggestions on how to handle your mother's periods of emotional angst, but think the suggestions posted by others seem worth a try. Maybe it's best to simply change the subject asap and hope that her dementia will reduce her short term memory so that she'll soon forget what upset her in the first place? One can only hope!

PS: When I first saw the title of this thread, I thought it referred to the feelings of long term carers, approaching the end of their caring duties. I could use that title to describe my daily roller coaster of feelings very aptly.