Mom's latest obsession.

Started by

I feel beat up today. I've been dealing with my mother's latest obsession. She hates the monkey grass she planted on the bank of the yard. This week she has been after me to poison it. I told her I wasn't going to do that, since it stopped erosion. She phoned our yard man 2 or 3 times about it. He came out today and cut it back some. He told her that it stabilized the bank, so it wouldn't be good to kill it. She said okay.

This afternoon she took some tools and went out on the bank and started whacking. This bank is treacherous, and she can barely walk on a level floor. I told her to stop, but she wouldn't. She just got mad at me. She didn't even realize the danger she was in. I told her the ground near the stream was unstable, but she said it was a wall. She wouldn't come look.

The monkey grass has been there for years and is much neater now than it used to be. But she has zeroed in on it. I'm afraid she is going to harm herself, but she is so obsessed that she won't listen. She just yells. Last year it was the moss growing in the yard. She ended up digging up a lot of the yard. What a mess, but not really harmful. The bank is a different matter. She thinks me trying to get her in off the bank is being mean and controlling, instead of worrying about her falling.

Whoever said wisdom comes with age didn't have a parent with dementia. I do not want to cut that grass to ease her obsession, since it would be dumb and would be a lot of work. This evening I just lay down like a zombie, not really knowing what to do. I guess I could let her do it and call 911 if she falls. I really don't like that idea, though. We can certainly be put in some unfair and depressing situations.


When you don't know what to do sometimes laying down is the only answer. I hope you were able to get some rest.

I don't know what monkey grass is but I'm assuming it's outside since you said your mom has to stand on a bank to get at it.

This story about your mom is a perfect example of why our elderly parents need supervision, sometimes around the clock. That your mom can barely stand on a level floor but is outside standing on un-level ground fussing over grass is such a good example of dementia. Her fixation on the monkey grass (not to be outdone by her fixation with the moss last year) is irrational and she's unable to determine for herself that her behavior is dangerous.

I'm glad you were able to lay down, even if you were in a zombie state at the time. It's not like you could have thrown her over your shoulder like a sack of potato's and carried her into the house. And you're right, wisdom doesn't always come with age. Sometimes dementia comes with age and that is, indeed, unfair and depressing.
Jessie~that is scary. If you are going to have to deal with this all summer and fall, can you put up a small fence or some kind of barrier to keep your mother from the bank?
Jessie, I'm sure sorry you are dealing with a risky obsession this time.

I looked up monkey grass, and, wow, I want some! It would be perfect in some problem areas of my yard. Alas, it is not hardy in my zone. :(

Why is your mother suddenly so opposed to this plant? I mean, what does she give as her reason?

Letting her whack away and being prepared to call 911 is one option, I suppose.

What if she got a visit from an "environmental ecologist" with a clipboard and some forms who needs to inspect the grounds, and then praises what a great job she has done with controlling erosion with the monkey grass. If she tells him she hates it and is going to rip it out, he can tell her then she must replace it with something that will also stop erosion. Then maybe she can obsess with finding an acceptable replacement. At least looking at articles from the internet and talking to nursery owners, etc. would not be as dangerous as being on the bank! (Do you have friends who love play-acting?)

Or ... could the gardener spray the area once a week with monkey-grass-be-gone and tell her she must not go in that area between treatments, and that the product takes a year to be fully effective? By next year, or even in a few weeks, she'll be on to some other obsession.
I don't know if there is an easy answer. The bank in question actually belongs mostly to the city. We've just maintained it for 50 years. It is a steep, uneven bank, so not easy and doubles the cost of our yard maintenance. Thanks, City! Our yard man did explain to her the importance of the monkey grass. She accepted it right away, but it is hard to convince the obsessed mind that it is wrong about something. I went through this with her last year with the moss, with people telling her it was fine. Still she ended up having most of the front yard dug up, doing a lot of it herself. It destroyed the lawn. But it was her lawn to destroy if she wanted to.

This is her third major obsession. I've not been able to handle any of them, because she is so right. She still thinks the house is on stilts and there are cracks in the floor. I finally left the blankets on the floor of her bedroom. For a long time, I picked them up. She would put them down. They are a trip hazard, but there was nothing I could do anymore. I think that an idea gets in her head, then churns and churns until it makes her crazy with obsession. She is on an antidepressant (Celexa), but it hasn't helped with the obsessive behavior. In truth, I think if she had something she liked to do -- a hobby -- that it would help. The bored mind is a empty pit for obsession to fill. Alas, she doesn't like to do anything except watch TV and snack.

Funny thing is that she feels and hurts too badly to do almost everything. But she doesn't hurt too badly to spend hours whacking away at hapless vegetation.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support