What do I say when my mom says "you're too young to know..." to me?

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Mom walked out in front of a truck Thurdsday night. I was grabbing for her and the driver slammed on brakes, so she wasn't hit. She then insisted that she was waiting for him to pass (although her feet were still moving forward) and "I knew he was stopping anyway." Friday night (after I had cooled down) , I broached the subject of her diminishing judgement ability framed by by concern for all involved in the incident. And guess what -- that incident "never happened". I persisted and was told very plainly and with great arrogance that I had no concept of how it felt to be old and like it or not I would be old one day too and until then I had no business telling her what she needed to do. So how do I respond to that????
Mom has (officially undiagnosed except by previous family physician) NPD and possible MPD with increasing dementia. She says "of course I'm a bit forgetful. ALL older people are forgetful. When you grow up, you'll learn that. I still feed myself and fix my meals and take care of myself, so I'm perfectly all right." Great -- but I'M going crazy... I don't try to control her choices unless they are really big. As long as she's not going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, she can bob around upstream all she wants. But, when it matters, how do you answer "I've been where you are, but you haven't been where I am so you can't judge my decisions" ?

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Hi Wannahelp, several months ago, my dad and I were walking around the backyard, he spotted a spider on a chair and went to brush it off with his hand. It was a large black widow spider. Before he could reach it, I grabbed his arm, pulled him back and shouted 'don't touch that!. My reaction startled him and needless to say, he was not pleased. Dad to me: "Don't you ever grab me and pull me like that again" "I don't like it, and for God's sake, it's just a little spider!" Then he angrily walked away (but at least he wasn't bitten).

My dad's 93 with advanced Alzheimer's. Our reaction to any imminent danger to our parents is immediate action regardless of the behavioral consequences that may follow, and I applaud you for instantly protecting your mom.

What I've found in caring for my dad is that he's trying to hold on to all the independence and decision making he can, although that boat sailed long ago. In the beginning of all this (almost 4 yrs ago), my brothers and I would try to reason with dad, and just like you, frame the conversation around our concern for his and mom's safety. He fought us tooth and nail, told us he was still capable of making the decisions and he WOULD make the decisions. It took us a while to realize this approach was no longer going to work. Now what I do, is just agree with him, and then try to suggest things by asking his opinion. In reading your mom's comments to you, these are a couple of my suggestions:

"When you grow up, you'll learn that. (you know, Mom, you're right, I really appreciate all the things I've learned from you already) I still feed myself and fix my meals and take care of myself, so I'm perfectly all right." (Mom, I agree, you're pretty remarkable with all the things you still do, hope I'm functioning as well as you when I get older/or 'grow up' - LOL, I'm 59, I don't think they ever truly see us as adults).
"I've been where you are, but you haven't been where I am so you can't judge my decisions" ? (again, try responding with positive affirmation of what she's saying. "You're right, Mom, I'm not where you are, and I really don't mean to judge you, I'm sorry it comes across that way. I know you're doing fine. I love you, Mom, and I can't help but be concerned once in a while; sometimes I do worry about you, but remember, you're the one who taught me to be a caring person, and I thank you for that, for always caring and being concerned about me"

These are some of the phrases I'd use with my dad, so the words and phrasing could be adjusted to fit how you and your mom communicate. I just always try to affirm dad's thoughts and feelings, and then suggest with a question "dad, what do you think if 'you hold the ladder, while I climb up it?" "would that be ok with you?" Another concept I've tried is using a third person scenario, i.e., "Hey dad, do you have a minute to discuss something with me?" (he always does). Then I'll bring up a situation my 'friend is going thru with her elderly parent(s)", and what he thinks, how would he want it handled if it were him and his kids, etc.,
You might tell her you saw what you saw - and that had you not acted the two of you you would not be having this conversation. That instead you would be grieving at her bedside or graveside because she was too stubborn to allow you to help.

One of the bigget hurdles we can face as our parents age is the 'fight back' period when it has become clear to us our elders require assistance (driving, bill paying, etc), but it has either not yet become clear to them, or they are to proud to admit it.
And your Mom sounds like a real fighter!

Elders who are reluctant to let go of any facet of their independence force those who love them to walk a fine line . . . I walked it for over a year with Mom - who took offense at even the smallest offer of help - and eventually told me (very rudely) that I wasn't welcome at her house anymore. All I could do at that point was call, watch, and wait, and hope she wouldn't do harm to herself or others.

I get it. If I live long enough I am sure my 3 daughters are going to be all up in my business wanting to help and protect me. And I am sure I will fight them every step of the way.

As for answering Mom's question "I've been where you are, but you haven't been where I am so you can't judge my decisions" ? I call BS on the question. All of us have needed help, and asked for it, at many points in our lives. And one doesn't have to be 'old' to know what the physiology of aging does to our bodies - it's fact. Our capabilities - both physical and mental - all decrease over time . It is nothing to be ashamed of, and there's nothing to be done about it, except to hope that someone will love us enough to lend a helping hand. Tell her she's lucky to have you. There are many who have no one who cares if they step out in front of a truck or not.

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