My mother's obsessive thinking is causing real problems.

Started by

My mother is bad about getting obsessed on certain ideas. I've been able to handle most of them okay. This newest obsession is more difficult.

My mother has weak pelvic muscles, so has a lot of urinary accidents. She denies it and does laundry all day long to try to hide it, but I know the truth. She absolutely refuses to wear any protective undergarments. Period. I try to keep the floors clean, but the accidents are so frequent that it is hard to keep the smell at bay. I clean, it comes back. It is under the toilet. I need to clean and caulk, but she has another accident before I can get it dry and caulked.

For the past couple of weeks she has decided that the smell is coming from my rabbits. She tells me that I need to have them put down. She pulls at my bedroom door a lot, trying to get it more shut off. She tells me to stop opening and closing my door, because it lets all the smell out. She sprays the house so much that the floors are sticky.

She has taken to blocking the shower drain because the rabbit smell is coming up from there. She tells me I stink like the rabbits. I tell her that it is her bathroom. I clean and the smell goes away, of course, but then there are more accidents.

I work hard to keep the rabbit room clean and fresh. If there is any smell, I take care of it fast. Their room is off mine, and I certainly don't want any stink. Today was a really bad day with my mother. She did everything she could to conquer the "rabbit smell." She won't accept that it isn't the rabbits that smell so bad. I try to explain what it is, but she says I'm lying -- that I need to have the rabbits put down. I'm sorry, but I can't see putting the rabbits I love dearly to sleep because my mother can't stop peeing on the floor. This is a situation I can't figure out how to handle and feel that my caregiving days are drawing to an end.


Dear Jessie, This is a very difficult dilemma, and I feel for you. They can be so stubborn, but is there any way you can really put your foot down and make her wear the adult pull ups? I believe they make them in pretty pastel colors now. What about sanitary napkins - the super long overnight syle? The funny thing is, she must be aware of what she is doing, because she keeps using the washing machine. I know she is in denial, but with the frequency of accidents, would it help if you just stopped her on the spot where she messed and made her look right at it and said - "See - you just did that yourself, and that is what is smelling, and that is why you need the Depends or the pads". What would her reaction be? If there is only one bathroom, could you put a potty chair next to her bed? Would any of this register in her brain? I agree with you not to put the rabbits down - maybe put a lock on the door? It is a sad day when you have to make the decision to proceed from home care to facility care, but for some of us it is inevitable. You can only do so much. God bless you!
When we started taking care of my mom 7 months ago she was wearing my dad's old underwear. She would actually layer 3 or 4 pair along with big gobs of toilet paper, paper towels, or socks to keep from having accidents. We also went through a spell where she would actually try wearing my nephew's diapers and my son's night time pants. We had a bit of a time getting her to wear the depends (and we don't call them that) but she has finally adjusted to them very well. We got her the pretty pink/peach colored ones : ) Hope you can get her to give them a try!
I know this feeling only too well. My MIL does this same thing except she is blaming our dogs for the smells when it is only her room ad bathroom that smell. I was fortunate enough to get a huge box of depends and other various brands of adult diapers for her but she hid them to make us think that she was using them. What she was using was wash cloths in her panties thinking that this was going to block the wetness from getting through. We also caught her urinating in the floor next to her bed, on the carpet, my husband couldn't believe she was getting so lazy that she wouldn't go to the bathroom. She argued with him that he did that she didn't, it was his fault. She refuses to bathe and uses baby lotion and powder to say she was clean. We are at our wits end with all of her antics, she has gotten meaner each day and yells at us all the time, it's getting really old. We told her we were going to call her daughter and her and her family could come stay with her cause we can tolerate her anymore. She went to her room and took the phone off the hook throwing the receiver as far as she could, we discovered this when the phone didn't ring for the longest, she thought it was funny and she was able to keep my hubby from calling my SIL.
I have tried everything. I bought her one pack of Depends that she threw away. I bought her some more -- the Silhouette kind -- that she refuses to wear. I bought her some Tena pads. No luck. She refuses to wear them. To make matters worse, she goes commando anytime she is at home. She wears pajamas most of the time in the house, so the thin PJs become her diapers. They are not very good at holding a lot of moisture.

The main problem is that her will to battle is 1000x greater than my own. If I saw her wet the floor and confronted her, she would simply deny she did it and start yelling at me. wherewerethey, what you wrote about your MIL wetting the floor is spot on what would happen -- pun intended.

People outside the family would have a hard time believing the iron fist my mother has. She seems to be sweet, quiet, and passive. This morning I woke up with a new state of mind. I do that every day now. So what if she wants to get rid of the rabbits. If she orders it, the rabbits and I will leave. She hasn't been declared incompetent, so I will have to leave. No big problem for me, but I don't know what my brothers will do about my mother.
Dear Jessie, It sounds like you are at the end of your rope, like me. It's the dementia that has her brain screwed up, and in my book that constitutes mental incompetency, formally declared or not. There's always that "one thing" that ends up being the thing we cannot resolve that causes us to give up. Incontinence is a major one (my uncle starting to have toileting problems as well). To the extent that your Mom battles you, I doubt even paid help would be able to deal with it if you chose that route for daily respite. No one here would blink an eye if you chose to leave - who could live under such conditions? - It's a losing battle. I don't even know if there are any drugs that would mellow her out enough to become compliant with you.

I don't know any details about your relationship with your brothers, but perhaps you could write (as we do here) a detailed accounting of her daily typical behavior and your daily challenges with cleaning up the messes and trying to reason with her. I agree it is time your siblings stepped in. If I were in your shoes, I would decide on a date ( 2 wks to one month) to vacate your Mom's home, and put your siblings on notice that they must immediately start making arrangemens for her care either by them or in a facility. It sounds like the time has come. I don't know how you keep your sanity!
Give notice and get out!!!! Sounds like it's a total no win! I feel sorry for all involved!
I bought the adult pull-ups and left a few in the bathroom for mom to find. She won't buy them,of course, but she will use them if they are there. Her obsession with the rabbits is probably triggered by anxiety, so ask the MD for an Rx for anti-anxiety medications. Also ask him about kidney failure, because in kidney failure, the urine smell is coming through the skin as well as leaking at the bladder.
Today I began a frontal assault on the stink. I flushed out from under her toilet with vinegar, wiped it up, then repeated. I followed it with 91% alcohol to help dry quickly. Then I caulked. I figure this was going to be the only way I could get it caulked before the next accident. I did a nose test on her toilet safety frame. It has a padded seat that has many tears in it. The seat didn't pass the test. In fact, the frame even failed. The thing is so tattered that I knew it was time for a new one. The urine has soaked into the tears over the years, so the thing smells wicked. I ordered a new one that is just like this one. Expensive, but it's a good one. In the past, she had sprayed it down with Clorox cleaner without wiping and ruined the seat.

Right now I am waiting for the caulk to dry completely before cleaning the bathroom. I know that these things I've done will tackle the smell problem if I mop with vinegar as needed. I used to hate the smell of vinegar. Now I appreciate the smell. Wonderful stuff, vinegar is.

psteigman, my mother has an anxiety disorder. She has taken some form of benzodiazepine for the last 70 years. She has Ativan now. She has always been a worry wart, but with the dementia, she has become obsessed with certain things. This has been the hardest one for me, because it is directed at me and mine, instead of the house in general. We'll have to see if the home improvements will make a difference. If not, I'll be looking for a new home.
Re urine stink: Betadine Scrub neutralizes the ammonia in urine. Also, use the de-skunking recipe: 1 qt peroxide+1/4 cup baking soda+ 1tsp dawn. This foams up and apply it to the stink while it is foaming, for example on a dry dog, shampoo it in, wait five minutes and rinse. For laundry, pour the mix into the wash cycle. You can put it in a spray bottle and clean the bathroom, but you have to spray it on while it is still foaming.
Ativan and Xanax are short acting, we had to add Celexa at bedtime to keep Mom on the happy track.

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