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Today we took groceries over to my parents house. For the first time I saw my Mom [97] climb up on a short stool so she could put things in the freezer [refrigerator that has the freezer on top]. She has Dad hold open the freezer door while she rearranges things in there.

I can fully understand why my Mom would prefer to put away the groceries instead of Dad helping her.... Dad doesn't clue into the fact that the newer items go behind the older items so the older items get used first. No wonder she becomes The Flash when we bring in the groceries :)

But standing on a stool? Short one or not, to me that was a high risk for her. Yes, I tried Caregivers but Mom asked them all to leave... [sigh]. Mom is still of clear mind so there isn't much I can do for her. As Dad keeps saying "we can manage"... :P

What risks are you seeing in your own family?

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FF, I don't think Mom has dementia at all, or at least nothing that could be diagnosed. She is constantly fighting battles (and mostly losing) with Dad to keep him from doing dumb stuff like burning brush piles, climbing ladders and trying to dig up stumps. She is very aware of what dangers are lurking should she not watch Dad like a hawk. But it totally baffles me how she immediately recognizes situations where dad is about to screw up but then takes off to the kitchen without her walker and does a header into the bookcase.
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Windy, I had always thought my Mom was mentally pretty sharp at 97 until Sunnygirl had written "I can't fathom that a person with full mental capacity would be that much in denial." and that was a light bulb moment for me.

Now thinking back over the past couple of years, and not realizing what dementia was until I found the Aging Care forum, I am now thinking both my parents were developing dementia.... but were hiding it pretty darn good.

My Mom still was having Dad [94] still do fix it chores around the house, some of which including climbing up ladders, like to replace a light bulb in a ceiling fan on a cathedral ceiling. HELLO, Dad is a major fall risk. What was she thinking? Now I believe she wasn't thinking clearly at all.

And the snow shoveling... Dad said he needed to shovel the driveway in case of an emergency and he needed to get the car out. Earth to Dad, if there is an emergency you dial 911, the fire department and EMT's have their own shovels.
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Interesting disscussion. My Mom has lots of mobility issues but is still mentally pretty sharp at 84. She has just recently untangled some mail order prescription issues and a lost credit card problem over the phone. Pretty amazing stuff really. But she doesn't remember to use her walker, use the lift assit on her chair or think to have Dad help her in and out of the car. So she has falls. Two or three a month that she tells me about. She always is amazed when she falls, I JUST CANT IMAGINE HOW THAT HAPPENED! I think her self protection instincts are still there but her ability to reason is failing. It's a mystery to me how she does some complicated tasks very well but she doesn't recognise her most basic limitations.
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YogaGirl, that's what I keep forgetting - the effect by memory loss, cognitive decline (and other aging related brain issues) on what would otherwise be normal self protection.

I haven't done much research on older age brain issues but I'm wondering if one of the first functions to deteriorate is self protection. I don't say this in a facetious manner but rather just a "wondering out loud" query.
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GardenArtist, so true!! Combine those issues with memory loss and cognitive decline.
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As I read through this thread and am reminded of other threads in which parents refuse to listen to advice that's best for them, I keep wondering how we can manipulate (uh oh, did I really use that word?) them into doing what's best for them, and why it's such a problematic issue.

I understand the need to retain the pretense of independence, as well as the delusion that nothing's going to happen to them, but I think there's also an issue of not wanting to be embarrassed to ask for help.
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This is a great question that I must have missed. My parents are their own worst enemies. Dad probably would not have had that bad fall from dozing off in a chair with no arms when he was alone in the kitchen. They never listen to my warnings. He still tries to get up alone and sometimes gets upset if we assist. I gasp and hold my breath quite often knowing that I'll be the one to feel bad and have to take care of them when they fall again.
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Both my mother and Aunt are fan of the "stepstool"... Aunt has fallen several times and broken bones.. we're just lucky Mom hasn't yet. We give her heck ( she listens to hubs more than me).. both say "I'm not going to fall".. Well HELLO.. you have Auntie!! Both my mom;s Drs have told her she needs a cane if she wount use a walker.. heck will freeze over first.
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Another gasp for me was when I heard that my parents were helping each other walk up and down the stairs. Good grief, neither one of them were steady on their feet. Dad said they had fallen a couple of times. COUPLE OF TIMES ??? Right there if that was happening to me, the For Sale sign would be in the front yard before midnight, and me checking out senior retirement homes.
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Blackhole, you brought up something I've never seen here before - the use of knives. My mother does a lot of dangerous stuff, but this one freaks me out. She leaves sharp knives all over the damn place to use for an amazing number of things. Opening envelopes, packages, catsup packets, any use where a normal person would use scissors. When I gather them all up and put them in the sink - she always reacts like I am so very strange. Her coordination is very poor and her vision not that great, so all this knife stuff is bad! But she won't listen to me, after all I'm her daughter the least informed person in the world.
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BH, you're Mom is just like my Dad. My folks are not rich but have plenty put away but he refuses to replace filthy, hideous old furniture or spend 200 bucks to get the carpet cleaned. Mom and I have given up. This is the same guy who, until a few years ago, had to go out and buy a big ass Buick every 2 or 3 years.
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BlackHole, I thought I had problems with denial of limitations by an elder but reading your post about your mother going up and down the stairs really, truly, gave me the shivers.

I think there's a grace to growing old and accepting limitations, but some of our elders haven't found it.

How do you deal with the anxiety of what your mother insists on doing? I've spent many a sleepless night worrying.
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Mom has gait issues, hideous balance and extreme muscle weakness. Cannot walk more than few steps without wall/counter grabbing or cane. Yet she insists on teetering up and down the basement steps umpteen times per day. Mostly for laundry. Laundry that her healthy sister always offers to do for her, but NO NO NO NO NO. (A mysterious amount of laundry, for someone who lives alone. And super-size jug of Shout like a centerpiece. Hello incontinence....right??) Mom's laundry ritual involves extra trips up & down the steps cuz her washer only agitates in one direction. When she hears a cycle change, she staggers downstairs to manually counter-agitate her 45-yr-old washer. And woe to anyone who makes the craaaazy suggestion that she replace the damn thing. Gives $300-$500 to her church every month, but "can't afford" a new washer. Oh, she also KNOWS that "it's not worth getting a new washer because the installer won't hook it up the right way." All this and she's a fortune-teller, too. Just shoot me.

I'm not wild about mom's use of knives, either. Her dominant hand is so gimped-up and unresponsive that she cannot write. But every time she wants to open a letter, she's waving the Farberware around like a ninja.
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We,, John, a friend, is 87 years old. He still shovels snow. The village will do it for $15 a time automatically after 3", but he won't pay it. He's a millionaire.

Sometimes there's no fixing stupid.

Your post made me laugh, Freq. that your mom has the optimism to have enough food in her freezer that she has to rotate it. Even I don't have that kind of freezer. And my GRAM, who was probably 91 at the time, once told me she didn't even buy green bananas!

Tell your mom Maggie said, "You go girl!!!"
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My MIL and FIL were driving around. He "zoned out" i.e. suffered TIA's while driving. She has Parkinson's and couldn't drive his truck. Rather than park and call 911 for ambulance, she had him drive them home so that she could transfer him to her car and drive to nearest ER (which doesn't have a stroke unit, by the way). Before anyone recommends possible parkinson's cognitive decline - already brought up to husband and his brother. Denial is not just a river in Egypt.
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Mina, I'm thinking that some of us who have parents and grandparents who are so exceptional in not allowing age to restrict them should write a book!

I would love to counter the perception so many people have of seeing older people as being prime candidates for bingo playing and sitting in wheelchairs watching the world go by.
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Ah, GA.....Grandad is long gone now but YESss....he was on his roof at 85 and my Dad often had to convince him to come down. He was an incredible guy....25+yolder than GMA but he had an amazing energy and determination. Made the best root beer in a barrel, ever.....
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Mina, at 85 your grandfather was up on a roof? I thought my father was the only one who would do things like that. Do you have nightmares worrying him too?
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OK, GA, not surprisingly, you have stolen my opening line....my Mom will be 94 in November. As far as I can rememember, she has never sat still. Everyone in her condo (where she was able to live until 91+) called her " the energizer bunny". Mom has only 1 speed and it's "full throttle ahead".....She is exactly like her father. My most ingrained childhood memories involve us pulling up to the curb in front of GPA/GMA' s beautiful Queen Ann house and GMA coming out of the house, hands waving above her head, yelling to my Dad, " Jim......can you plz get Bill(85+) off the roof?" Well, GPA was 25 yo older
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I can see the limitations in myself and I'm only in my 50's, but there are some things I know I'm just not comfortable doing anymore. My next door neighbours are real sweethearts and they look out for me. This spring she mentioned to me that they noticed my eaves trough overflowing so he cleaned it out for me... oh, no trouble, he was doing theirs anyway, but he's in his 80's!!!
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OMG, where do I start? My father has always been a risk taker, but he's slowed down and restricted his activities a lot. Still, I worry, especially when he starts talking about undertaking a project that requires use of power tools, working in a workshop with no phone hook up and where he could easily be injured. Fortunately one of the neighbors watches him when she hears the shed doors opening.

Standing on a stool? I can beat that. How about standing in an unheated garage, on a step ladder, with one foot on the top step and the other on the hood of my car, to remove fluorescent lights from a garage? As each light was removed, the lighting became less, and as the last light was removed, well, there was no lighting at all other than the lantern I used as a spotlight. Given that the temps were in the teens, it was too cold to open the garage door.

I thought sure I'd have a heart attack before that was over.

I think there are really 3 factors involved: (1) not actually, or not wanting to, recognize that age has severely limited options to do work which is more dangerous now than ever, (2) need to prove oneself and (3) Depression Era mentality, by which you save and take things with you that aren't needed elsewhere.

It's been suggested to me that I do the same thing; some people don't understand why I still have a large garden - "turn it into grass! " (and increase the boring time mowing the lawn, increase the out of pocket cost of gas and oil, increase my carbon footprint through use of an outdoor gas appliance?).

But I do find it somewhat naïve if not insulting that someone passes judgments on my activities without really knowing what my goals are and what my underlying limitations must be. The assumption seems to be that I should curtail my activities even though I'm the best judge of my own limitations.

So I understand how my father feels.
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