How Do You Care for An Aging Widowed Mom with Aspergers

My mom has Aspergers. I’m not 100% sure about this diagnosis, but she shows symptoms. Shortly after my dad passed away, I had her visit a therapist who confirmed it after a couple of visits talking with her. Can you make this diagnosis in this way? I’m not sure, but just work with me, I’m sure she has something along these lines.

She lives alone, well she did until her relief society president saw a need and filled it. Another woman in her ward needed a cheap place to stay, my mom could use some company, so now she has a roommate. But she’s effectively alone, her roommate leaves in the morning and comes back late at night and mostly just stays in her room. My mom isn’t so easy to live with – she raised me, I know.

But now she doesn’t have my dad, she has me, she has her ward, some really thoughtful home teachers and a few neighbors that know her. We live close, but not close enough. I see her at least once a week – I take her shopping on Saturdays. We try to bring her to our kid’s activities, but we don’t always.

She mostly just wants to stay at home. She can’t tolerate our house for very long. We’ve thought about moving her somewhere else, but she doesn’t want to move. She has stability and wants to keep it that way, I’m trying to honor that as long as possible. We haven’t moved either, mostly because of her, but thankfully I’ve had a nice run at a couple of nice companies, so I’ve conveniently been able to enjoy a nice career without having to disrupt her with a move, especially now in her old age.

So, she can generally take care of herself, except when it’s difficult. She’s sick right now, something with her stomach. She minimizes this kind of stuff – she didn’t tell me my dad was sick until he was laying on his bed for three days groaning. When I finally arrived, he had suffered a stroke and a heart-attack. Nine months later he was dead. My dad moved to Mesa near us in hopes to avoid this sort of thing. It didn’t work as well as it could. So, she minimizes bad stuff. She can’t handle change and bad news forces change into her life, so she copes by ignoring or minimizing it. So, like with my dad, everything is always fine. I want to believe her.

Today I took her shopping. Normally, she’s fine taking her shopping cart around getting a very modest amount of food for the week. Today, though she felt sick to the stomach and couldn’t walk. We found a chair, I did her shopping and took her home.

We were supposed to go out to eat with her to celebrate belatedly my birthday. She wasn’t filling up to it. We went out and brought her food home for her. While eating, she again, felt sick to her stomach and then suddenly, she got up to go to the bathroom, but too late, as she left a trail of accident from her chair to the bathroom.

We helped her clean up. She stayed in the bathroom quite a long time. My wife and kids went home, while I stayed with her until she went to bed. I kept asking her how she felt, she kept saying fine.

But she’s not fine. She’s getting old. I’m sure she’s lonely. She really has no good friends. She has Aspergers and is just unable to make a deep connection with others. She’s emotional, but not empathetically. It’s mostly emotions expressed in stressful freak-outs. I feel connected to her, deeply and emotionally as I’m sure my sisters do, but it’s biology and a shared history. She doesn’t like change and doesn’t want to leave her condo. I get calls from members of her ward occasionally, her hometeacher, a relief society president, all wondering about her, concerned. The problem is when you are elderly with Aspergers, the Asperger behavior blends in with being old behavior. People aren’t sure which is which, and it’s difficult to distinguish mental dysfunction due to age and just plain Aspergers.

She’s my mom, I love her, but I’m not sure what to do. Or maybe the answer is obvious, but I’m just afraid I’m not up to it.

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