How can I explain to my mom that dad can't be a handy man and fix things around the house like he used to?

My father is 81-years-old and has had every ailment known to man, and has managed to overcome everyone of them. However he is still pretty fragile, but my mother INSISTS on making him do everyday things he would have been capable of twenty years ago. Perfect example, I came in the other day to find him trying to changing lightbulbs! (he has to use a walker) How can I explain to her, when she isn't in her right mind, that dad just can't do those things and its just dangerous?

Answers 1 to 9 of 9
Awwww. We had the same trouble. Mom didn't understand, and Dad couldn't perform. She never will understand. This further frustrated Dad, and caused greater distance and hostility between them. Since he was moved to a nursing home because she couldn't care for him, my husband became her "fix-it" man. But her unreasonable expectations and unrealistic demands alienated not only my husband, but Mom from us, as well. Nothing we can do will make her understand; no explaination works because she's not cognitively capable of comprehending the changes in both of them. Still, she rages on. Sad, but it's not possible to reason with an unreasonable person. Her brain no longer accepts reality, and due to her mental incapacitation, probably never did. Some people just are wired to accept anything other than the reality they perceive, especially when not in their "right mind." To them it's real...and they simply cannot understand why we don't see things "their way." Makes for a difficult journey. We just do the best we can, taking over responsibilities as able, with grace and love. Even that she doesn't understand. Some elders have a harder time than others adjusting to life's challenges and changes, and some won't accept help, even from their loved ones. Best wishes, and hope your situation is on the better end of things... In times, you may be taking over more and more. How does your Dad cope with all that's going on?
The reason why he can't do things like he use to and fix things around the house is beause he is ill or injured and is medically unstable and needs care immediately.
Sorry to hear it. Growing old and getting ill is tough on all, isn't it?
You probably can't convince her if that is her habit pattern and she is not 'with it'. It is easier to smile & divert her attention than struggling to make her understand.

You can however divert her attention by putting up a white board with a marker, or giving her a note pad to write down what needs to be done and then making certain that you let her know you will take care of it on a regular schedule - take away the lightbulbs, the stepladder, tools and anything else that would be too difficult for your dad if used. Remember to just give them both a big hug and tell them that you want to be their grown-up handyman from now on. You will have to train both of them of it, so it will take a bit of work on your part. Maybe you can let your mom & dad 'help' you when you are there.

Just focus on how you all normally interact. Every family has a different dynamic, but you might find that it just takes a little creativity and diversion. What do they like to do for hobbies? Do they have a pet? What holds their attention that you can add to? Can you make a joke or stories - or talk about how they handle things right versus wrong?

THis is probably not your first challenge, but welcome to the club if you have parents at home who need more of our attention.
My Mother (81) is fiercly independent, lives in a large house, can't make the payments anymore, wants 'the kids' to give her money which she then spends on maningless things, causing debts to mount only for the 'kids' to bail her out. Any discussion of 'the kids' managing her finances results in incredible arguments and denials on her part. She is not always lucid and has serious lapses in memory. This is now costing the 'kids' around $15,ooo a year and quite simply, we can no longer afford to support her. How have others dealt with this?
Has she seen a Neurologist to test her memory? How about a Geriatric Assessment Clinic? Sounds like a good idea... Also, quit bailing her out, financially. Talk to her doctor, showing proof of her incapacities, sharing a list of your written observations, and ask his/her advice.
Top Answer
It seems that taking away the ladder and tools might still be the way to go. That way they will have to call you if something needs fixing. :-)

Let us know if anything works for you!
I quit my job to care for my 93 year old parent; is there some financial assistance for me to be his caregiver on a 24/7 basis?
It sounds as though your mother is not only in denial about your father's limited abilities, but she is also scared. She thinks that as long as he is able to do all the things he did before that he is not getting older and will never leave her. Unfortunately, this denial ellicits anger and resentment in the other person.

My aunt just lost a husband who did everything for her. She is struggling to get over his death and has just "shut down." It is so sad for us to see.

I think that diverting your parent's attention to the things they can do is a great idea. I focus on any project my Mom is capable of doing and we do these things together (like baking cookies, etc.) Members of the fiercely-independent, "greatest generation" need to feel useful.

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