Mom got on a tear Saturday (caregiver gave me the weekend off so this is through her eyes but I trust what she is saying) about how Mom is the boss and she can do whatever she wants, but what she wants to do isn't safe for her to do, i.e. iron, dress herself by standing up, cooking, going outside in 104 heat index weather to pull weeds, etc. Caregiver said she was like this ALL DAY and would pitch a fit and then cry because she was so angry. Mom called her brother and told him how mean we have been to her and he asked Mom (phone was on speaker so Mom could hear) how I have been treating Mom. Mom told him I have been mean to her and that she was going to talk to me about it. I guess I am mean by keeping her at home and trying to keep her safe and out of either the ground or a nursing home. I DARE him to say something to me about it and tell me to be more "patient" with her. I am trying, I really am!

Mom told me this morning that someone is coming to the house to clean the yards (we already have a lawn service to cut the grass) because there are some bushes that are out of control. I have no problem with anything that touches the house, but now Mom wants to cut down the bushes between her driveway and the yard next door, and the trees beyond the fence. Mom backs up to vacant land and Mom wants all the trees on her property cut down. Ain't gonna happen! A few years ago, Mom wanted ALL the pine trees cut down in the front yard and it cost $12,000.00!! Daddy let her do it, but I don't see it as necessary.

Anyone have any advice on how to deal with someone who has no concept on what it takes to care for her? She wanted to go to the grocery store Saturday and she cannot understand how 2 people need to take her; one to push the wheelchair and one to push the buggy. I have taken her by myself before and it is about impossible to push the wheelchair and pull the buggy behind you. I won't do it again.

I get that she is bored at home but everytime we suggest something she says no. We have offered for her to go do the Senior Citizens Center in town but her response was "they are all old". I have tried and tried to get the ladies from the church, and her neighbors, to come and visit but they just won't. Mom is very limited on what she can do and so I have tried to get her involved in other things but she refuses.

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A friend of mine had this same battle. She ended up getting some easy to grow houseplants and put them where her mom could easily wheel her chair to water and fuss over them (when she remembered them) and it distracted her from the outside stuff. I'm not sure if she wanted to continue to garden and this worked, or if she was frustrated at not being able to do what she used to and this was a distraction. Anyway - she has some pretty houseplants and African violets now.

In the case of my mother, she seems to feel that if she can make changes it will magically make her better. For example, if the moss was gone, then she would like to go outside more. Didn't work. If I refinished the wooden swing, then she would want to sit on it. I did and she didn't. If we moved the swing to the other side of the yard, then she would use it. That didn't work. But it did leave the blank area that she decided needed to have grass on it again. She had the grass taken up two years along with the moss. So we came full circle.

I don't think that she is intentionally going in circles. She is just searching for reasons to explain why she wants to stay inside and watch TV, instead of going outside. I really don't blame her for not going outside. Between the rain and the heat we've had all summer, I don't want to be out there, either. But it's not the moss, grass, swing or anything else's fault. It is just too hot!

There are other things. When she has some problem, she'll decide what is contributing and want to get it fixed. Mostly it is magical thinking that changing something will make her feel better again. I do the things that are reasonable, but try to ignore those that aren't.

Beside any issues of dementia, it sounds like a elder tantrum, insisting she still can do what she can't do. All the things you mentioned in your first sentences are ones which she should NOT be doing - it's like a child who wants to do something well beyond his or her capabilities and throws a tantrum because Mom or Dad won't let him/her play "big child." I'm not trying to insult or degrade your mother, but sometimes comparing elder's behavior to that of children does make some sense.

So the question is what can you do to redirect this frustration and anger into something she can do?

As to cutting down bushes, maybe you can trim one bush, giving her the trimmings as well as some pruning shears (if she can safely handle them), to trim the branches in little pieces for the compost pile. Or she can bundle them if you give her a table or something to lay them out for bundling. Or just snip them up and put in a lawn sack for pickup by the sanitation service. Or she might get mad and refuse to do it.

For the larger issue of cutting down trees, call a few services, get estimates and show those to her. Depending on her financial situation, you might ask her if she would rather have the trees cut or have food on the table and pay the utilities. But that also might produce an outburst if she gets angry.

Perhaps you could think of something she'd like to do with the funds that would be spend on cutting down trees - put bird feeders under them so she can watch the birds? I'm trying to think of some way to see the trees as valuable (which they probably are).

I have a feeling though that she's angry at her situation and isn't going to cooperate with anything you do. So perhaps you need to pull the ultimate weapon and say very sweetly that nothing you do ever pleases her, and you're tired of trying. Then leave and let her think about that.

Don't take her calls if she starts to harass you as well.

There are really 2 people in your situation, plus the caregiver. Each has to contribute so each can receive something. It's just not possible for someone to be on the receiving end all the time - that's just not a workable situation.

Sometimes you just have to "lay it on the line", then leave for awhile while it sinks in.

If your brother does call, tell him that you'd just love to have him care for her for a weekend or more and share suggestions with you, especially since he can't do that unless he's on scene to see what really happens. If she does behave with him, you'll have some confirmation that her behavior is manipulative (although it could also be cognitive).

But elders can play people, especially siblings, off against each other.

Oh, my. I thought I was the only one in the group with landscaping woes. My mother drives me absolutely crazy with the changes she wants to make to the yard. She wants to plant grass. She wants to take the grass up. She wants to cut down a tree. Then if someone does cut a tree, it was an awful thing to do. She wants to destroy all the moss. She wants to plant rose bushes even though she rarely comes outside. She tells me that if she could do it, she would. Then she adds that at MY age she was outside working in the yard all the time. Of course, I know the truth. At my age she used to plant something, then neglect it until it looked like wild kingdom. Each year I watched as her house grew up with foliage. It wasn't bad. It just wasn't suburbia and sometimes the neighbors complained.

I spent the first year or two here trying to put some order to the yard. Monkey grass ruled the place and I still have an active battle going with that demon. The yard now looks okay. Not great, but at least presentable. We even have that raggedy old 60-year old scrap of wire fence replaced.

But anyway... her talk of what to do with the landscaping happens when she is bored and looking for problems to fix. I try to ignore and if she is insistent I tell her that we aren't going to do that. She has been known to try to do it herself, creating a mess. She also calls in the yardman to get him to tear up large portions of the yard. Drives me crazy, but I let it go. Later she'll regret the change and want to go back the other way. Sigh. It's not easy living with crazy. And I'm starting to realize she's not the only crazy one around here. I think it runs in the genes. :-P

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