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lynnhm posted:
My mother who has recently been diagnosed with mild to moderate dementia refuses to acknowledge her condition. She takes very good care of herself and is physically healthy, but has stopped paying bills, claims a "little person" is living in her house, misplacing all her clothes, and stealing her medication. She buys extravagant items and clothes daily (we've taken control of her bills and credit cards) but she loses her keys, hides her medication, can't remember passwords, etc.,. The neurologist we took her to prescribed a couple typical medications and she won't take them, calling him a quack. We have POA and medical POA and my siblings and I would like in home care for her but know she will be furious. Any suggestions how to present this to her in a non-threatening way? Any mention of her needing help sends her in a rage.
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davedsel2 responded:
I am sorry you are going through this with your mother. I fully understand.

Being that you do have POA, you should be able to have all you mother's bills sent to you so you can ensure they are paid. You could close or reduce limits on credit and debit cards, or close accounts if needed. You can do some or maybe most of this without letting her know your did it.

Taking over a parent's life is extremely difficult for all involved. The parent does not want to give up their independence, and the child does not want to see the parent's health failing.

I think you need to keep trying to talk to your mother about her condition and get her to understand that she needs your help. I'm wondering if there is any family member that could stay with your mother for a while, on the pretense of a "visit", to watch her daily behavior and protect her when needed.

My dad refused to believe he had dementia but accepted he needed help because of his diabetes. Something like that may be an option for you as well.

Please keep us updated. I pray you can get all this worked out soon.
Please click on my username or avatar picture to read my story.

Blessings,

-Dave
 
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lynnhm replied to davedsel2's response:
Thank you for your response. Yes, we have her mail being diverted to us. I don't have a family member who can leave their family to stay with her. We visit, all five kids, but usually leave crying, scratching our heads or angry because her typical response to any suggestion of help is, "you all want me to die" or , "all you kids want is my house or money", and, "you all want to put me away". We pay all her bills, own her house that's paid for. All it takes is one mention of her needing help to send her in a rage. All we say is we want her to be happy but she needs help because at the very least to keep the "little person" from stealing all her things. I guess we're looking for an easy way to insist on in-home care, a daily visitor, to a person who looks at any attempt to help as a threat.
 
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davedsel2 replied to lynnhm's response:
I'm not sure there is an easy way to insist on home-care. My dad was very resistant to going to an assisted living facility, but I assured him his doctors said he could no longer live alone and needed the help. The whole process was stressful in many ways be he eventually agreed it was best. We focused on the fact that he would no longer have to worry about maintaining his home or live alone, but be well taken care of in a very nice place.

If reasoning with your mother does not work, it may be time to just step in and insist regardless of her reaction. Her behaviors seem potentially dangerous to both herself and others and she needs to be monitored more closely.

I will be praying that your family finds the best way to get your mother the care that she really needs. Please keep us updated.
Please click on my username or avatar picture to read my story.

Blessings,

-Dave
 
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cjh1203 responded:
Hello lynnhm,

I also am sorry you and your family are going through this with your mother. It's heartbreaking and horribly stressful, I know.

When my uncle had Alzheimer's, we found that trying to reason with him about anything got the same result as you're getting with your mother. He would argue and get very angry, whether it was about stopping smoking, not going outside alone, or having professional caregivers to help my aunt. The caregiving battle was fought for a long time, and he would just get furious whenever the subject of bringing in help came up.

When everyone stopped trying to reason with him, the results were much better. He was like a child, so his first response to anything new or that he didn't want to do was to say "No!" and throw a tantrum. We could reason with him until we were blue in the face but, because of his mental state, he couldn't process the information and make a sound judgment based on what was best for him.

He stopped smoking when the doctor handed him a prescription for the patch and told him if he ever smoked again, he would end up in the hospital. We had spent years telling him all the reasons he needed to quit, and it took the doctor one minute to actually get him to do it.

As far as the caregiving, my aunt finally hired a case manager who specialized in patients with Alzheimer's. The case manager went to my aunt and uncle's house to talk to my uncle, without anyone telling him ahead of time. She asked him questions about his life in general, about his service in WWII, etc. After they chatted for a while, she said that my aunt needed to have some help or she would get sick, and said that they would be sending nurses to help out. At that point, he liked the case manager very much and agreed, without a fight. He ended up enjoying the company of all the nurses and looked forward to their visits.

That's a really long answer, I know! The point is, trying to reason with your mother isn't going to get you anywhere. It's not because she's being stubborn, but the nature of Alzheimer's that makes her react the way she does.

Try to enlist the help of someone outside the family, like a doctor or case manager, and have that person present it as a given -- not a choice -- that someone will be helping her from now on. Make sure that person doesn't say that your mother can't take care of herself; just that someone will be there to make life a little easier for her. If she can develop a relationship with the caregivers, which she probably will, she'll love having them around.

If you contact your local Alzheimer's Association, they can probably help you with this. I don't know if you have the money for a case manager but, if you do, it's a wonderful way to go. The case manager coordinates everything and takes so much of the worry and burden off the family.

Best wishes to you. I join Dave in hoping you can get your mom the care she needs.

Carol
 
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lynnhm replied to cjh1203's response:
Thanks so much for your reply, from you both! It's nice to know people take the time to respond and offer help. We have contacted a private care manager and the family will meet with her this week. We feel comfortable with their ability to not only provide advice, but assistance through this process. And you're right, there is no reasoning with her and I've learned the hard way just to listen to her stories about the "little person" living in her attic and change the subject. She is a very hard person to deal with not only because of the disease, but because she doesn't (and never has) seen herself as an old person. She lives in a world where she's about 40 and thinks all men are attracted to her and people even 15 years younger than she is are "old", so for her to accept the fact that she's not remembering things that could be due to age is going to be a battle..
 
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cjh1203 replied to lynnhm's response:
She probably does realize now that her mind isn't working right, and it's undoubtedly extremely scary for her. I remember that my aunt found my uncle standing in the middle of the garage once, and he yelled "I don't have a brain any more" -- heartbreaking. But as the disease progresses, the patient normally doesn't recognize any more that there is a problem with the way his/her brain works.

A lot of Alzheimer's patients see themselves as younger than they are. In fact, they often don't recognize the old person looking back at them from the mirror, which can be really frightening. It's one of the reasons they sometimes refuse to shower or bathe -- because they see a stranger in the mirror watching them.

Please let us know how it goes with the case manager. That should be such a help to all of you.

Carol
 
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Judith L London, PhD replied to lynnhm's response:
Hi lynnh,

Often people like your mother will respond when you say that you need help, and involve her in helping you. You will find my books full of practical suggestions to maintain a meaningful relationship with your mother along with having a case manager. Always agree with her - acknowledge her feelings. Imagine what it is like for someone to have to admit that their memory is going. What type of dementia does your mother have? It is important to get as accurate a diagnosis as possible, so find out from the neurologist. Go to www.alz.org or phone 800-272-3900 and get fabulous advice and suggestions from the Alzheimer's Assn.

It's great that you reached out - you are not alone in this journey,
Judy
 
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lynnhm replied to Judith L London, PhD's response:
Thank you for your insight. She has been diagnosed with mild dementia by a neurologist who prescribed the typical Alzheimer's medication that she refuses to take saying "he and we" are the crazy ones. It seems more than mild to my siblings and me. Looking back over the past few years, There were symptoms that we attributed to her general manipulative behavior. On my behalf, anytime we would ask for help, which was rare, she couldn't be there; example, when my husband had cancer and my boys were younger (just in the past couple years) she would say she'd come over to get them off to school and the night before we had a 6:00 am appointment, she would cancel saying,"I might have a migraine tomorrow". Then showed up that evening, after his first chemo session asking where we were going to take her to dinner- she would've never considered cooking a meal- it's always about what we can do for her! She cancelled the night before I had back surgery, then came over that night and said," I just had a little cancer scare but it turned out to be nothing". These stories became so grandiose, I would be censored if I mentioned some of her other concoctions. Now she says my oldest sister is trying to kill her, she's knocked her out with rocks and is dropping off a "little person" to come into her house and take all her things. She has managed to alienate herself from all her friends and any family, she doesn't even acknowledge the grandkids she doesn't like because she says, "they're weird". This cannot be normal behavior. This may seem all over the place, but IMHO, there's more going on than dementia. We have put a camera system in her house to catch the "little" people; she sets up what I call scenes (I watch her do it) knocks things over, rearranges her furniture, pulls blinds off her door, then calls the police so they will come over to see what this person has done- all in attempt for attention, I believe. She writes notes that say awful things and claims it's "the girl", I watch her place them around her house. She DOES constantly lose things and when we go over to help her find them, it's never her that has misplaced anything, it's "the person living in her house" and if you question it, she goes nuts and yells that we want to put her away and take all her money. We actually (five kids) pay all her expenses from a trust our father left us- she ran through her portion a couple years ago, though she claims to still have 20 million dollars. I have shown her video recordings of her doing these things and she acknowledges it, then within a day, is back to the same story. Remarkably, she is very healthy otherwise and takes immaculate care of herself , her appearance and her house. We want her to be able to stay there as long as possible and are hoping an in-home care service will be able to assist during this phase; give her the medication she does take, run errands for her (even though the neurologist said she's fine to drive- I strongly disagree) and keep the "little person" at bay. Our first meeting is Monday. I will update afterwards.
 
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turnema59 replied to lynnhm's response:
Oh My Gosh, are you sure your not talking about my mother? This is exactly the same problem we have been having with my mom. My mom has physical problems though and keeps falling. She broke her hip 3 years ago and is still hindered by that. She also is seeing people in her home and is freaked out about it. She also refused to take medicine her doctor tried to prescribe for her, saying she doesn't have a problem. She also gets mad when mentioning that she needs help. She has also told me that I'm just trying to get her out of the way so I can get her money too. Mind you, she doesn't have much to begin with. I've been paying her bills for years now. And I get to have all of this fun all by myself, don't have any brothers or sisters and dad died 37 years ago. Hope you have some success with your situation. Good Luck. Mark
 
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lynnhm replied to turnema59's response:
Mark, I feel for you being the only one dealing with your mother. My mom has no physical problems, which makes our situation with her mental capacity more problematic. After approximately 5:00 p.m. she becomes a different person (sundowners syndrome, so we've learned and sees what she describes as a "midget and/or a tall Hispanic girl in her house. ) I have shown her videotapes of HER , being the culprit, and though she believes it during the day, she seems to forget in the evening that it's a figment of her imagination. As you said, you are paying for her lifestyle- I have four siblings doing the same and she accuses us of wanting her money, which she has squandered for 30 years. We pay for her lifestyle, that my father would be rolling in his grave if he knew how much money she has wasted..we are talking more money than you could imagine . She tries to manipulate her children by saying,"when we are around more, they don't appear" or, "You want me to die so you can have my money". It's a horrible situation and I feel so bad for you that you're dealing with this alone ; but you are not alone.
 
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turnema59 replied to lynnhm's response:
Hi Lynnhm,
Thank you for your response. Yeah it's been interesting, to say the least. I finally have my mom accepting the fact that she needs to be in assisted living (w/ Memory Care, this part she doesn't know). But this has been such a relief, not having to fight about it. There is so much to do still. Thank you again, and good luck on your journey. Mark
 
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Judith L London, PhD replied to lynnhm's response:
HI again,

Your are really a trooper! The reason why I think that an accurate diagnosis is necessary is that dementia only describes a cluster of symptoms that may be caused by Alzheimer's, Lewy body dementia, fronto-temoportal dementia, etc. Lewy body dementia typically presents with delusions and hallucinations with memory functioning not so damaged in the beginning. Alzheimer's medications are are not recommended in that case. See if the neurologist has ruled out Lewy body dementia. It's a hard call because delusions and hallucinations sometimes occur in Alzheimer's, but in my experience, not usually in the beginning.

Hope you can get some clarification,
Judy


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