How do I get mom to accept the fact that she needs to go to the doctor for a memory assessment?

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My 81-year old mother has been experiencing declining short-term memory loss over the past several years. She's been to a geriatrics physician who gave her a memory test, and she's advised my mom to go for a more thorough memory assessment. My mom is refusing to acknowledge there is any problem with her memory. Several of her friends have shown concern about it to her in the past, and she's gotten angry and offended. How do I get her to go for this memory assessment if she's unwilling? I can't drag her to the doctor's office.

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This is a common and frustrating problem because you can't force them. Generally, I suggest getting them to a doctor under some other pretext, but you have already done all the ground work with the geriatrician, which is perfect. What to do now? If even her friends and doctor can't convince her, would her pastor or Rabbi be able to help? Hard to tell, but sometimes they will listen to a spiritual leader. What she needs to know is that there are drugs that can slow the decline. She likely is in denial, because she thinks there's nothing they can do anyway. This was true for a long time, but now there are things that can help, if people don't wait too long.

Good luck. You may or may not get anywhere with this. You can't physically drag her. Let us know if you make any progress.
Carol
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You might want to consider this approach. Ask the Geriatrician to write out a prescription for additional tests. You make the appointment with a NEUROLOGIST for the memory testing. Add that Appointment time at the bottom of the prescription that doctor wrote. Tell your mother that the doctor made that appointment for her and is expecting the results of the tests. On the day of the appointment, if she doesn't remember that she is going to the neurologist, tell her that you are taking her out for an ice cream, lunch, or some other thing that she likes, and drive to the neurologists office. Tell her that she is scheduled for a blood test,show her the prescription written by the geriatric doctor then you are going out to do the thing she likes. Call the neurologists office make arrangements with the office staff to come out to escort her into the office at a certain time, and then be there at that time. After the office visit is over, the DO take her to where you promised her that you would go. This technique is called "therapeutic fibbing" and is used to accomplish the greater good.
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i know how you feel,my mom 75 living with me is showing signs of memory loss.I was just thinking to myself how was i going to get mom to agree to even agree there is a problem that may or maynot to be concere about.Well it"s nice to just know i am not in this boat alone. I wanted you to know you not alone . THANKS for shareing!
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You certainly aren't alone. The issue is frustrating to loving family caregivers who only want the best for their elder parent/relation. I would enlist the assistance of every MD your mom visits. Ask them to tactfully bring it up at each visit. Have the MD let her know that medications now exist that can be of help. Carol's idea of a clergy or other spiritual advisor is great and may be more effective than an MD. The anger and defensiveness may come more from a place of knowing deep inside there is a problem but fearing the acknowledgement of the problem may cause more pain than continuing to hide it. True, you can't take your mom kicking and screaming. I believe that sincere, gentle pressure coupled with loving patience and validation of what fears your mom might have in concert with pressure from your mom's MD could be helpful in the end. Take heart, it won't likely be a brief journey.
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Thank you all for your kind words. To make matters worse, my mom has never been able to get over my father's death 5 years ago. She is lonely and depressed a lot of the time. All she does is go shopping. My brother and I have tried time and again to get her to the Sr. Center in the town she lives in, but she won't go. We even took her there once and met some lovely people. Her new geriatric physician has told her she'd like to see her exercise, get a hearing test, and have the more extensive memory assessment by the geriatric psychologist. She doesn't care about her health or her well being and won't do anything to make her life better. My 4 siblings have basically divorced themselves from the situation, and I'm on my own here. I've always felt responsible for her well-being - she's always suffocated me and abandoned me emotionally when she was upset with me. Yuck! I'm so tired of it. I think I'm just waiting for an event to happen that will force her to go into assisted living. I'm glad to be here on these boards and to know that I'm not alone. Thanks for listening.
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You know, when it's all said and done, it won't make a bit of difference whether or not she goes for a "memory test". Of course her short-term memory is failing. She's old! My suggestion is to stop worrying about her memory. It's going to slip. Revel in the long-term memories that you can share with her.
Most of the "tests" and doctor's visits are diagnostic and are not therapeutic, so why worry? Be happy.
If I had it to do over agian, I would cut out half of the drugs, concentrate on good nutrition, sunshine, salt water air, and very mild exercise. I would provide happiness with good reading materials, (favorite magazines with lots of pictures) and music. I would make sure that family and friends participate with joy in the final years of her life. When it's over, it's over.
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All of the advice and sharing offered in this dicussion thread is right on target, in my opinion, and, I also fully understand the position you have taken, pgscott. Like you, I believe that sometimes the angry denial is just a matter of reasonable fear of the unknown, and trying to save face. Who wants to acknowledge gleefully that he or she is losing memory? Sometimes a person needs some breathing room to experience denial, maybe anger, and, progress at his or her own pace to greater acceptance. The medical practice model; moves at warp speed from testing to diagnosis to treatment, often overlooking that a human Spirit is involved and sometimes needs lots of breathers, barring emergency situations.

As a caregiver to a loved one, I view my role merely as a staunch advocate of my loved one's life choices and preferences, not what I think I know intellectually, or based on medical research. Some individuals who are not medically ill have a high tolerance for ambiguity, just as some have a higher threshhold for pain tolerance. It happens. Others tolerate very little cognitively and/or physically before they seek medical, or other intervention.

The path I chose many years ago is a path of respect of a lifetime of Mom's choices; not mine. I certainly respect caregivers who choose to exert greater pressure and/or enjoin greater collaboration with a loved one's doctors behind the scenes to get things moving for their loved ones. Those are individual choices of caregiving.

There is no such thing as a one-size fits all when it comes to patient advocacy and doing the right thing as a caregiver. I thoroughly enjoyed reading and reflecting on each person's insightful comments.

You are not alone, pgscott, and should not feel badly about how you have chosen to advocate on behalf of your Mom. Who knows your Mom better than you do? A physician? I don't think so. Everyone means well in our lives, and in the end, you are the caregiver; not anyone else.

Also bear in mind that the paths we successfully choose this minute may not be the same paths we choose as our caregiving situations continue to evolve rapidly, or over the years. We always need to re-evaluate our strategies as new situations develop, and there may come a day where greater nudging becomes necessary. You will know it when you get there, is my opinion.

May God grant you serenity and light your caregiving path, every step of the way, pgscott. It takes courage to do what you have done!
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I do not think you can do anything about a week before my husband passed away I told the social worker at the nursing home he was in he had memory problems and she who saw him for a few min. here and there said he not have a problem and when he was dieing I was told he had brain damage among other things most docs and others have their heads in the sand and do not want to deal with any extra problems that is just the way it is now in the health industry. In time her problems will get worse and will be seen by others and it is sad because there are meds that can make a great difference if they are started early. If you tell her this it might make a difference and she would agree for more testing and you can be sure she knows there is a problem and is probably losing things but you can not make her follow through on it if she refuses and very few docs would have their staff go out to bring her into the office if you have made her doc aware of the problem make sure you write down the date and what you said to him or her and what action if any was done.
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Does your mom take any antidepressants? You commented that she never got over the death of your father. Depression can mimic dementia in the elderly. The sad thing is if it isn't treated, the deficit becomes permanent. Depression and dementia can also waltz with each other. The depression will almost always make the symptoms of dementia worse. At the risk of sounding presumptuous, I'd like to suggest that you find a support system for yourself whether it be from a licensed counselor, a clergyperson, or spiritual counselor, someone you can trust to talk to. You have to take care of yourself.
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My mom is 75 and has been suffering memory loss for the past 5-6 years. She licves alone int eh same apartment she shared with my dad for 30 years. All 4 of us, her children, decided it would be best to be patient and make sure we write down important things for her, and take care of bills, etc after my dad passed away. It began to get worse and so I addressed it with her recently. Needless to say she was defensive, hostile, and denied that anything was wrong with her. She then accused me of wanting to gain control of her money.
I discussed it with the doctor who then ordered an MRI for her. That sent my mother into quite a tizzy. Her barbed remarks toward both the doctor and me included her suspicions that we wanted to get her into a nursing home and that's why we were doing this.
So, after careful thought and discussion with all concerned, we decided to leave her dignity in tact for the time being and make sure we provided all the necessary safety features around the house so that she could remain independent for as long as she could. We will continue to repeat ourselves, listen to her repetitious stories, remind her to take her meds and hope that nothing awful happens in the meantime. It was unbearable to listen to her speak to us that way. I'd rather see her content in her own little world than to shatter it witht he devastating news that she has a degenerative disease that could rob her, permantly, of what she knows so well now. We just can't do it.
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