What can I do when my mom is in denial about her health, driving, and self-care and when confronted she places blame and argues?

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When dealing with these types of issues I have found that four things are important:
1. Always be on the side of the elder. Be their champion for their independence and freedom.
2. Determine what the real issue is. Usually the presenting problem or objection is not the "real" issue.
4. Be creative. Find mulitple solutions and options to problems or concerns (e.g., a friend takes her to church, she goes on a shopping trip with a women's club, the doctor's office picks her up for her appointment, you hire a town car for her "spa day" to take her to get her hair done, etc.).
3. Negotiate. If you do this, then I'll do that...or if I do this, will you do that? Offer positive alternatives that the elder may find attractive.
You join the club...

No, you sit her down and talk with her about your concerns preferably with the help of someone she sees as an authority, a doctor,, a church pastor or the like. Let her know you are sincerely worried for her safety and point out the things you have seen. Ask her what she is most afraid of and when she feels most comfortable making adjustments, take it step by step so she doesn't think she is gonna be whisked off to an old age home the moment she surrenders the cars keys.

And if you have Power of Attorney you can talk to her PCP about you concerns, contact elder services in your area get family involved and always listen to her, even if you have to say no.
It is probably very galling to be told in word or deed that one is no longer the authority on ones own life, you know. Nobody sees that coming. Especially for the generation that never asked for help and made do for 70 years.

It is a process denial and anger and fear are very prominent here, get support for yourself and don't take it personally it usually isn't.
I agree with everything said above by Jsomebody. Her point about this generation of elders having made do by themselves for so long is such a good one. I hadn't thought of that before. These are independent, strong people. It is so important to communicate respect for them when you are carefully discussing the areas you mentioned. In our case, it helped to bring in a respected uncle to deliver the news to my father about his having to stop driving. My husband and I also found that it is a process......allowing the elder(s) time to absorb the meaning of what they are hearing from their adult children, or acknowledging that they are getting older and certain things need to be discussed. The change is so difficult for them, understandably.

It might help to address just one issue at a time. For instance, look at your mother's situation and decide which issue has the highest priority----the driving, her living situation, needing help with self-care, etc. I found with my parents that one type of change was all they could handle at one time. It always helps to put yourself in their shoes and then proceed from there.
"In denial about everything" is like saying to someone "you always..." or "you never..." -- it means you are frustrated and triggered, yourself. And you can't negotiate well when you're frustrated and triggered.

Imagine finding a lost child at the mall, who says "I'm fine," "no I'm not lost," "heck, I always go to the mall by myself" -- when it's perfectly obvious those are not true. The denial is another layer that complicates solving the real problems, for sure. But you'd know in that moment that being mad at the child for the denial wouldn't help. What would you do? You'd get very gentle. You'd say stuff like, "It's scary not to know exactly where you are" -- even if the kid is saying "I know exactly where I am", because you know they don't. You're expressing a fear for the kid because the kid can't afford to express it for himself. There's a danger in this analogy -- making your mom out to be a kid puts you in a potentially patronizing position. But it's useful because it reminds you to be empathic towards someone who's actually terrified even when they're being difficult or downright obnoxious.

Empathy doesn't mean letting things go on unchanged. It means connecting with the feelings behind why things are the way they are right now; that's the only way people let go of them and move on.

I agree with "alwayslearning" My mother is doing the same thing. She'll say she wants me to go in the Dr.s office to help her remember stuff and in there she denies it and tells me I have to listen to her because she's older. Well I sat down with her and asked her if she had ever heard me tell her a lie (as an adult that is). She said never. She said so I suppose you have to be the mother now. I said no, you will always be my elder and mother, but I'm asking you to trust me because you do know I love you and always want to treat you with respect. I said for that matter if anyone is disrespectful to you they'll have to answer to me. I said maybe we could look at this like I'm helping you because you deserve to sit back and let us do for you now. We do the work like driving, laundry, cooking, scrub your back in the tub etc. She said that wasn't a bad idea and I said if you ever think I'm talking down to you, tell me so we can talk about it. It's a daily effort as it can be frustrating on her bad days, sometimes I just want to scream especially since my sister is absolutely no help at all. Like some people have said I try to remember the nice way she treated me as a child. If all this doesn't on work some days, have a nice big glass of wine! Good Luck
Weeone, people hate to give up their independence and driving is usually near or at the top of the list.

Is there a doctor that your hubby respects and trust, maybe that doctor can convince him to let others do the driving for him. Of course it also depends on where you live.... if it is a small Mayberry type of town, your hubby might still be able to safely manage the streets... if it is Boston or Chicago, forget it.

It took a doctor to tell my Dad to stop driving and Dad took his advice. What was hard was that my parents would hop in the car 2 to 3 times a day to go here or there. Dad wanted me to pick up where he left off, but running all over creation wasn't my style, and eventually after 6 years I started to really hate driving.

Hope those driverless cars come to the consumers soon... that would be a great help to everyone who can't drive or are uncomfortable driving.
Hi--There are many good replys here-to which I agree as well. What I am not sure of the reason why your Mom is in a stste of deniel--might it be a dementia or an other issue? Often times, and thru my own personal experience, the Mom or even a Dad does NOT want to worry their children about their shortcomings, hence they seem to be in a state of denial---I personally feel the sooner you know what is going on and why-the better the chances are of hopefully reaching some type of resolution. This is difficult-but keep in mind-you cannot change another persons way of thinking. but you surely can change your own. If you have any further input on the situation-please let me or the others in this forum know.
Yes, many good thoughts here, be creative, negotiate, be their champion, but when dealing with dementia and denial these solutions become ineffective.

At some point caregivers have to make the tough choices: Can I do this in my or their home? Do I want to give up my life? Should I let things continue even though I know it's breaking down?

This has been discussed in numerous threads. Like it or not, it usually takes a crisis to tip the cart To expensive 24/7 In home care or assited living. If you're dealing with dementia negotiating doesn't work. You have to do what has to be done.
These answers are all very good; however, none of them quite answer the problem we are having. My spouse (87) has always until now been an excellent driver. But in the stages of moderate alz, my children and I don't want him to drive anymore. He doesn't need to because I am still able. But, when his children tried to talk to him, he threw a "tantrum" announcing that he would do no such thing - that he was still perfectly capable on and on and on. And that I WAS NOT CAPABLE BECAUSE I HAD HAD AN ACCIDENT........ The accident he was talking about was a fender bender and happened 52 years ago!! So, we are now at the what do we do now stage.
I understand exactly what you are saying. I'm having some of the same issues with my mom. Ralph Robbins made some very valid points. I try to empathize with my Mom, putting myself in her place, but it is hard when your parent just doesn't want to accept reality--especially when refusal to do so can place their safety at risk. I try to be as gentle as I can with my mom so that she doesn't feel attacked. In regard to health, I have pointed out to Mom that doesn't have to take this medication or have that procedure, that she does have the right to refuse treatment, but that I think it is in her best interest to do this or that. I don't always know how much it sinks in, but if I am too confrontational it just doesn't work.

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