Dear Nicole: How can I be a good daughter to a mom who doesn’t remember me?

Q. My dear mother is now living in a nursing home suffering from severe dementia. Visiting her is agonizing. She doesn’t know me, is pretty much non-verbal and doesn’t interact. It is heartbreaking. The problem? I just cannot bring myself to visit her. My dad visits her most days, but I just can’t make myself do it. I know he is disappointed in me and I’m disappointed in myself. When I do visit I just sit and cry and she and all the staff look at me like I’m crazy. How can I get beyond this and be a good daughter?

— Heartbroken in Hancock County


This is so hard, Heartbroken. Sadly, while your mom is alive, it sounds like in most ways she is no longer with you. It sounds like visiting her is something you do for 1) your dad and 2) yourself. So go visit mom when your dad is there too. It sounds like he is there most days so it should be easy to schedule. You can tell him that it makes you really sad to visit your Mom alone and you’d like to spend the time with him too. He probably won’t argue with that and I have a feeling seeing your parent who is alive will make you a little less sad. (P.S., I think the staff don’t think you are crazy; they probably aren’t sure how/if to comfort you. You can just tell them what you need. “Please act like I’m not crying, I feel very self conscious about it,” for example, and I am sure they’ll be happy to oblige.) If anyone who has been through this before has any advice, book recommendations, etc. to send to Heartbroken, please write in.


Q. I’ve always been kind of turned on by men in uniform and would sometimes picture my husband dressed as a policeman or soldier during intimacy. Lately, though, it is constantly in my thoughts and if I can’t conjure up the proper imagery…..well, you get the picture. Is this normal? What can I do?

— Attenhut(less) in Amherst


Well, I think it’s encouraging that in these moments you are thinking of your husband. There’s lots of people thinking lots crazier things (and lots thinking of other people than their spouse mid-act) I am sure. The great thing about your mind? It’s yours. Having thoughts like this is healthy and normal, so stop feeling so bad. Fantasies keep monogamy interesting and your imagination engaged.

If you and your husband have a relationship with an open dialogue, I encourage you to bring up your fantasies with him (during a non-naked, non-sexual time). In talking, you may find that he also enjoys the idea of power play. He might want to wear a full on police getup, but I bet you can get him to try on a hat next time, for experiment’s sake. Your enthusiastic reaction to the hat will, I’m sure, encourage him to show up the next time in full regimentals. Anchors aweigh!

Nicole Ouellette

Nicole Ouellette

When Nicole isn't giving advice she's completely unqualified to give, she runs an Internet marketing company in Bar Harbor, where she lives with her husband Derrick and their short dog Gidget. She loves young adult novels, cooking and talking French to anyone who'll talk back. [email protected]
Nicole Ouellette

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