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    Need Advice on Overcoming Denial
    algof posted:
    I live 1000 miles from my 81 year old mother. I cannot afford to visit except every 2 or 3 years, but my one sibling, a sister, lives close to her.
    My mom had some serious surgery last fall and in the process of discussing her odd behavior, my sister and I realized that my mom may have been showing symptoms of dementia for several years. Her personality has changed from a kind caring person to someone who is mean and spiteful and incredibly difficult to be around. (When my sister mentioned some baby rabbits she'd seen in the hospital lawn, my mom said, "I HATE baby rabbits. They should call an exterminator." That's not the mom I grew up with.)

    It's been bad enough long enough that I have avoided communicating with her because I thought she didn't like me. But during the time she was in the hospital, my sister and I realized most close family members thought she didn't like them either.

    My sister stayed at my mom's house for a few days to care for her and discovered many truly disgusting cleaning oversights--also not like my mom.

    My sister left earlier than planned after surgery because my mom refused to eat anything my sister cooked, even though they'd planned the post-surgery meals together.

    My mom has hidden the important documents we would need to continue caring for her should she become disabled. She has also sewn up in bags and hidden around her house my dad's coin collection. And driven the city animal control people mad complaining about bats in her attic, which there aren't. (Once it was a large moth. She thought it was a bat with rabies.)

    Every time my sister asks for her most recent doctor's name or info that might help us get her in for an evaluation, or access to documents, her accountant's name, etc, my mom says my sister just wants her to die.

    My mom has a close friend who is approaching 90 and is trying to help us, but even she can't break through the resistance, denial and paranoia.

    All the articles and books I've read have strategies that aren't going to work in this case.
    Do you all have any suggestions?
    davedsel2 responded:

    I am very sorry this is happening to your mother and family.

    Your best course of action would be to find an elder attorney and get all documents in order - a Durable Power Of Attorney so you and your sister can take over her finances, and a Health Care Proxy so you can make decisions about her medical care.

    You may need to have her legally declared incompetent to force her to comply with these document. This all may sound very harsh but it sounds like there is potential or your mother to cause harm to herself and others.

    Your mother also should no longer live alone. You need to find options such as a full-time aide coming to the house or moving her to an assisted living facility.

    Go to the Alzheimer's Association website ( ) and find the chapter that is in your mother's area. You can ask questions, get other's advice, and even employ their help in getting your mother the help she needs - either an aide coming in or moving her to an assisted living facility. They will also have a list of reputable elder attorneys, plus listings of local support groups in the area.

    Most of all, see if you can get her to her primary doctor and then a neurologist that specialized in dementia for an accurate diagnosis.

    I understand how hard this is, but it all must be done to ensure your mother's safety and that she gets the care she now needs.

    I pray you and your family can get all this resolved asap.
    Please click on my username or avatar picture to read my story.


    algof replied to davedsel2's response:
    Thank you. Really helpful. I'll talk to my sister and see what we can get started with.

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