Mom's stubbornness is confounding to me...

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So she's in her second week of rehab. Every time I visit she just wants to "lie down". Plus she has a completely unbelievable fear of falling, I mean she's comfortably in bed and gripping the railings like she's on a boat being tossed at sea. She says there's no vertigo or dizziness there either. Today I merely tried to raise the bed a little so she could eat properly and see me and she starts carrying on like it's the worst torture imaginable.

So I was talking to the therapist and she tells me that on Friday they had to change the mattress so there was no other option but to get her in the wheelchair for a while. This has been a goal since day one. She tells me that after a brief struggle she did get in the chair and remained there for a few hours with no issues. I was astonished as Mom never mentioned it.

So today I'm there and we figure let's go for it again. They sit her up and immediately the death grip begins. This little old lady who's always too weak to move was fighting off three people and resisting with everything she had. There was no risk whatsoever of falling. Eventually the therapist had to give up and i could see the annoyance there, as I felt it too.

I'm wondering if maybe it's me. When I'm there she never stops with the hapless routine and the fear of falling, then I hear that while I wasn't she's actually doing something. Perhaps i should skip a few days and see if it helps?


My sig other when he has a cold acts like he is on his death bed, but I will overhear him talking to his daughter on the phone saying he is feeling fine, just a bit under the weather.... say what? I am the opposite, I can feel like I fell into a cactus plant and walk around like there is no problem.

For some reason some people will put on an act, whether to get attention or to make us feel sorry for them.

Try skipping tomorrow but go the next day, tell Mom because of the time you spent at the dentist and recovering, you were behind on your work/chores. Try every other day, then ask Rehab how Mom is doing.

The fear of falling is so very real. I broke a shoulder falling in a parking lot, and for two months I had a fear of falling down the stairs because the handrail was on the side where I couldn't use that arm to grab the rail. Rehab is helping me get use of that arm again, so now I can use the handrail, thus the fear is started to disappear. At your mother's age, it make take longer.
Does she have vertigo? It can be devastating with the instability it causes.
dmanbro, I think your idea about skipping some days is an excellent one. I may give some time to get your mother back in her chair and give you a break, too. You can stay in touch with the rehab people and judge what you should do from there.

The death grip does let you know she is afraid. Maybe if she doesn't feel the pressure to perform, she'll do better. It can be hard to know what is going on in their minds if they don't tell us.

My father had a bad fear of falling that went along with his mixed dementia and balance problems. He stopped getting up and down except when he had to. I hope the rehab people are able to give your mother back some of the confidence she needs to let loose the death grip she has on the things around her. I know it is miserable for her.
errr... you don't need me to give some time. IT may give some time. :-D Boy, did I ever sound narcissistic.
Sorry, I missed your statement that she doesn't have vertigo.

After reading this post and recalling your other posts, I don't really think your mother is stubborn or being uncooperative. I think she has a real fear of falling, and this needs to be recognized. And she should be treated with the respect of someone who does have a legitimate fear.

I think it's often so difficult to figure out what elders are doing or thinking and whether or not there's a legitimate issue. We can't switch places with them, and by the time we're old enough to be in a similar situation it'll be too late.

Your mother must be terrified of falling, for some reason or other. I can't help thinking there's something more to this.
GardenArtist: Everyone has asked and she says no, except for after PT when her BP is climbing when she complains re: dizziness. She has no vision trouble either and her appetite is very strong. Believe me, I know her fear of falling is definitely real but the way it manifests itself even in situations where there's no possible way to fall is alarming. I totally get her not being confident where walking is concerned, but even raising the bed to a 45 degree angle sends her into a panic where she's gripping the railings like her life depends on it. If it is a pain issue she isn't identifying the specific source of the pain either other than a generic "it hurts" which could be from any number of things or nothing at all. So it's vexing to everyone. She still has pretty good upper body strength for a woman her age, I'll tell you that. She isn't just going limp when pressed to get out of bed, she's fighting back and with vigor too.

JessieBelle: I suppose it really can't hurt, I'd really like to speak to the staff so I'm seriously thinking about just "spying" tomorrow without her knowing I'm there. A this point any idea are welcome. Thanks as always for all replies!
My husband says his charge is also afraid of falling. I looked it up and it is common with the imbalance issues surrounding Parkinson's. I believe that once the patient has fallen, no matter how brave and independent they are, their fall risk is greater and a professional assessment should be made, perhaps more supervision. We just never know what balance issues or fears are going on in their heads if they have dementia. There are, however, passive maneuvers to assist the patient to regain their balance if they are dizzy. The rehab should be aware of these, or ask the doctor. If the room was circling around you, wouldn't you hold on for dear life? There are medications, if it turns ouf to be dizzyness.
Had an epiphany this morning when I was stressing about something that in the whole scheme of life would seem minor, and had to ask myself why this particular issue was so problematic. Trying to put everything in perspective, I realized that when life's focus narrows, when someone is older and not very mobile, not free to get out and drive wherever as the whim strikes, the world begins to close in.

Options and activities can diminish, the focus begins to be on the immediate surroundings and issues, not seasonal or annual or long term plans. As the scope of planning and thinking begins to narrow, so does the focus on those issues. I think it becomes more like "just get through today!"

I think of the issue now as a cone shaped problem - as people slip to the bottom of the cone mentally, those thoughts, fears and preoccupations become more compacted as others are squeezed out.

This made sense to me, so I resolved to plan some massive garden programs for this year, as well as Fall and possibly winter activities so I can reset my focus to longer term and stop fussing about something that could take up to only an hour or so of my time.

Dmanbro, try to shut your mind to everything except being in rehab, being afraid of falling, and having a lot of strangers around you. Think about being in that situation, and think about it for several hours, making sure to block out thoughts of anything else. Perhaps you could even just spend several hours in one of the visitors chairs.

I wonder if it will allow you to enter your mother's world for awhile.

With all the technology being used for so many different things, I'm wondering if someone has created a holographic program by which caregivers could temporarily enter the world of their parents/relatives and experience first hand what it's like to have life slip away and become more and more confined.

Back to your comments, the dizziness she experiences after PT can be so destabilizing that she could develop an anxiety toward PT. If you've ever had vertigo and held onto something because the world was spinning, you'll know it's a terrifying feeling.

I think this is an issue to explore - what is happening during PT that her BP rises? Is it the anxiety, or is there a medical issue? Is her BP stable otherwise?

Therapists are creative; perhaps they can find a different approach to avoid BP spikes.
GardenArtist: her BP and heart rate spikes during and after PT due to her resistance and panic. For example, yesterday. The therapist swung her legs out and just asked her to sit upright on the edge of the bed. There were three people there, no chance she could fall. Once upright she began losing it, "I wanna lie down, gimme my pills, I'm gonna fall!". Then she sort of hunches over and grabs whatever is nearby while simultaneously trying to "flop" over, it's a mess. Then lunch arrived and she started wolfing (and I mean wolfing) it down, almost in defiance, like she was trying to say "look, I'm fine". It's like she can't focus on anything but wanting to "lie down". They've achieved some success by distracting her during PT but it's always very tenuous as she might break down at any time.

She's always feared falling but the panic attack end of it is a new phenomenon that only started barely a month ago. There's no evidence that any sort of incident triggered it either. No sign of a fall, no sign of injury. It's a sudden terror that erupts over the mildest situations, like trying to raise the angle of the bed for her. She's on anti-depressant and anti-anxiety meds and thus far they've done nothing. Stronger anti-anxiety meds just make her fall out completely for the day, which is just as counter-productive as the attacks are. When asked to point out any specific pain or malady she denies anything is wrong and says she's "fine" which makes diagnosing her issues that much more difficult.

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

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