Hi Dr. Mark,
My mother has vascular dementia
and I take care of her at home. Normally she is sweet and very loving, a great mother. But she is also very dominant and strong willed and that makes care very difficult for me- unfortunately, my nature is more on the docile or "passive" side as compared to hers. This difference made my life a misery when I was younger and under then her "queen" attitude. In the present, and due to our close interaction, I have gained weight and my blood pressure is on the way up. Nevertheless, I feel I should take care of her because she raised me alone without a father and making lots of personal sacrifices for me, and I feel gratitude and love for her.
My mother does not follow my suggestions or "mild orders" -I try not to sound like giving orders- regarding her personal hygiene, and frequently ignores and even fights me over bath and bed time, adequate clothing, combing, etc. She is still physically able to do most things, only her mind does not cooperate with her abilities.
She needs to walk- and this is the biggest problem I am facing now- to retard her dementia. Her doctor explained to me walking is also needed to retain her equilibrium while standing up and avoid falls and limited movements. I always tell her that if she falls down or is not able to perform the usual routines of daily life, she will need a wheelchair and then soon the type of care I could not give her personally since I am a woman myself and not exactly very strong. I can't simply lift her from the floor or from any other places if needed- on once occasion my son was present and he took care of her physically in this manner as it was needed. I tell mother that, with a lot of heartache, I would need to place her in a home if she reaches that weaker stage because I am not simply strong enough to give her the care she would then need. She insults me when I talk to her that way or simply ignores it.
I am middle age and my health is not improving. I cry a lot and am afraid of having a heart attack or something of that sort. My mother then would have no one close to care for her. I need to know if there is a way I can learn to handle her strong personality, if there is an smarter way to deal with her as a daughter. I want to do my best. If I ever need to let her be in a place away from home I want to do it after trying not to.
Can you please, advise me?