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 Sister "indulges" Mom's hallucinations 
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Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 1:46 pm
Posts: 4811
Location: SF Bay Area (Northern CA)
Post Sister "indulges" Mom's hallucinations
Here's a Q&A on about one sister "indulging" the mother's hallucinations. (Victoria posted this on the LBDcaregivers Yahoo!Group.) ... to-do-that

Dear Family Advisor
My sister indulges Mom's hallucinations; I say she's crazy to do that.
Must caregiving siblings always agree?

By Carol O'Dell, Contributing Writer
Last updated: November 02, 2010

Q: Our mother has Lewy Body Syndrome, the condition that’s similar to Alzheimer's but features hallucinations, even hearing voices. I try to ignore them, but my sister encourages whatever Mom thinks she sees or hears. I've told my sister countless times, "What if Mom thinks there really is a taxi on the corner and wanders into the street?" She says going along with her delusions is better than arguing with her all the time.

She treats Mom’s illness like it's a game, and that infuriates me! Other aspects of her "caregiving" drive me nuts, too. But since she's with our mom all day and I help out at night, on weekends, and holidays, I feel like I have less of a say-so.

Shouldn’t we try to be in agreement about caregiving decisions?

A: Yes, ideally, family caregiving decisions should be agreed upon. Honestly, though? That rarely happens. It’s really okay if the two of you have vastly different caregiving styles. There’s no one way to do this.

I wonder: Is this really about your mom, or is this a power struggle between two sisters?

I know you’re concerned about your mom’s safety, and rightly so. But arguing with your sister isn’t going to change her mind. She’s probably going to have to get a scare before she realizes how serious this can be. Meanwhile, do all you can to eliminate wandering dangers. My mom had Alzheimer’s and was constantly trying to escape -- we nicknamed our house Alcatraz for awhile.

Here's one way to cut the irritation you're feeling that might surprise you: Start a gratitude list. Notice one thing every day that your sister does right and jot it down. Look for things like the way she makes you and your mom laugh, how clean and coiffed your mom is, the way she catches little things you miss, and how well she handles the doctors. Value her for who she is and what she gives. Without even trying, you’ll start feeling different about her.

Start referring to what you two are doing as co-caregiving. Act as if you’re already a team. Judge her less. If she doesn't see you as a threat, she might begin to realize that her approaches to certain aspects of care aren’t working. It's harder for her to budge while the two of you are acting like you’re in the Wild West, with guns drawn.

Maybe she embraces your mom’s fantasies because it’s far easier than facing the truth: that her mother is in so many ways, gone. Allow her to experience the grief and loss that comes with caregiving.

Our siblings bring out the worst in us (sometimes!) but they have much to teach us. It’s a bond as strong and as easily tangled as fishing line. Remember you can’t control everything. Find ways to celebrate what you have today -- your dysfunctional, chaotic, frustrating-to-no-end, and caring family. With dogged determination, this caregiving experience that seems to be tearing you apart can, ironically, bring you all closer -- if you let it.

Tue Nov 02, 2010 11:39 am

Joined: Wed Aug 11, 2010 2:34 am
Posts: 54
Post Re: Sister "indulges" Mom's hallucinations
This rings a bell for me actually. I am probably the one who has indulged my fathers hallucinations to a degree in that I don't constantly argue that these things or actions that are so real to him did not happen. This is the path that my mother took and it has seriously impacted their relationship always being defensive trying to get each others opinion across about what is fact and fiction. Dad just got so frustrated. And as I mentioned yesterday he actually made a conscious decision on the weekend when mum again tried to dismiss his stories that he dropped the subject to save a confrontation. Which I am still so blown away about. I don't always sit and nod my head when dad is telling me what he has seen but I often when I feel his is in a good state of mind to just say "Do you think that could have been one of your hallucinations?" and sometimes he will say "Yes probably and even gives a little smile" and other times he will say"No it really happened" I can only be a listener at these times not a judge and jury. The other day he was certain that there was a dead fish in the bottom of his bed where the blankets had been turned down and I simply said "Well let's have a look" I pulled the top blanket away and the carers had folded it in a triangle to fold back up later. He had a good look and I jokenly said "Hey I won that bet didn't I" and he grinned and was satisfied with what was really under the blanket. I think you really have to choose your battles. But I do realize actually living with a LO is entirely different as you are faced with this 24/7. My heart goes to all the carers who have made the decision to keep their LO at home you are all doing a fantastic job.

Tue Nov 02, 2010 6:04 pm

Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 1:46 pm
Posts: 4811
Location: SF Bay Area (Northern CA)
Post Re: Sister "indulges" Mom's hallucinations
You are doing a fantastic job yourself!

Tue Nov 02, 2010 7:04 pm

Joined: Wed Oct 28, 2009 11:53 am
Posts: 969
Location: Ocala, FL
Post Re: Sister "indulges" Mom's hallucinations
Dear Kelli:

I enjoyed your post about your relationship with your father. I especially agree with your statement, "You really do have to choose your battles."

Many years ago, I said that to a friend, the mother of a teenage girl who was making choices of clothing her mother didn't want her to buy or wear. I told her that 'making everything a battle' will alienate her. Today, mother and daughter are best friends.

You made me realize that I'm doing the same thing with Dale. I try to 'correct' him only when I think I can get away with it - and especially when we are both in a good mood. Most of the time that works and we can turn his strange thinking into a sort of a joke between us. If I can make him laugh, I feel I've won a huge victory.

Leone Carroll (75); wife of Dale (75) who passed away March 23, 2011

Sat Nov 06, 2010 10:01 pm
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