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CARENOTES | Past Carenotes | Let's Talk


Welcome to CareNotes. In this special section we will feature a reader's letter and provide an opportunity for an interactive exchange that will help find some answers and possible solutions to concerns. If you wish to respond to this letter, simple follow the link provided at the end of the letter and add your comments and thoughts to our CareNotes Board.

This Week's Carenote - 2/11/14


I have an elderly mother, 83, who was diagnosed bipolar 30 years ago. She has recently been placed in a nursing home, after being in the hospital psych ward for one year. She is in a deep depression. No drugs worked for her. Shock treatments are ongoing and help a little. Some of her coping mechanisms or reactions to her drugs (not sure which) are constant rocking and humming. Her depression has also caused her to believe she can't chew or digest regular food. She has lost 50 pounds and is on a pureed diet, but dislikes it. I am now on an anti-depressant myself. I'm finding my visits with my mother, whom I absolutely adore and have had an excellent relationship with all my life, emotionally draining. I am only visiting her once a week now, but what can I do to make those visits less draining for me and more beneficial for her? Any suggestions?

Sandra in Canada

Caregivers Reply

Shared by: Annon Amos

Plan ahead to do an activity both of you enjoy when you visit her. For example, read to her, play music for her, finger paint, do a craft project, give her a manicure, give her a shoulder/back massage... Think sensory stimulation--things that delight the senses... Show her pictures. Share pleasing aromas. Make it an adventure and try to engage her if possible. Is there anything special you used to do together? Regarding nutrition, you can put almost anything in a milkshake and make it delicious--mix protein powder, milk, fruit, stevia if additional sweetner is needed, a little dry pudding mix if thickening is needed, etc. Take it to her in a special pretty glass each time you visit. Even better if you take one for yourself and share a shake together. It's very draining to be with a person suffering from depression, especially when you are depressed yourself. Having a specific plan for each visit with realistic goals and a speci fic timeframe helps. It minimizes that "empty" vacuum that seems to permeate the room and suck the life out of you. Be genuine and take some positive energy with you. Feed yourself positive thoughts--let your thoughts guide your emotions instead of allowing your emotions to be in charge. Best wishes.

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