My mother was diagnosed a year ago. She is very difficult. She will not go out and she will not take care of herself without a lot of difficulty. It took a big argument to get her to go to a very necessary md appointment. She smells like urine and will do nothing about it. She refuses any kind of help to come into the house and she never will leave the house. My sisters live with her so they pretty much dictate how to handle the situation. They do not want mom told she has Alzheimer and they will not push to bring people in to help get mom clean. How do you convince an elderly person to do things that they refuse to do?

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All valid points here. I know from my situation that it is not always the way it seems, nor is it easy to deal with when the decision is made to jump in. My mom lived with my brother for 24 years when Alzheimer's took my father. When she moved in, she was fine. Still active in church, etc. In the last 10 years, she started forgetting things and after awhile it became apparent that bringing her to my house for the weekend was no longer a good idea because it was too troubling for her. Her day to day routine, however, was fine and she was making her meals, bathing, washing her clothes, etc.

My brother's wife died of cancer at the beginning of 2003 just 6 weeks after being diagnosed. Since then, my brother and Mom were living there in the house and it seemed all was fine. My brother worked all day so until he ran into some issues of her "putting away" his client paperwork, everything still seemed fine. She followed the same wake up, eat and sleep schedule so it seemed alright.

After the paperwork issues, I offered to stay with her during the day just to ensure that she had activities and his things would be left alone. It wasn't until I was there during the day that we discovered just how bad things had become. She would stand with the refrigerator door open for 5 minutes numerous times a day and she didn't know what she was looking for in it. She would wear the same clothes for an entire week - underwear included - and some of those clothes probably didn't get clean because if she hung them back up in her closet, they wouldn't go down to be washed.

She had a schedule that she typically followed for meals and snacks but I found that sometimes she would forget that she had already had a meal and start to make it again. Other times she would think it was a different time of day and would skip a meal altogether. (For example, it's now 9:30 am and we ate breakfast 2.5 hours ago. She is sitting in a chair here and drifted off for a few moments. When she woke just a moment ago, she looked at me and said, "Good morning.")

My brother knew there were a few issues but nothing that said she wasn't taking care of herself and we all thought the same until I experienced it.

Like STAlone, my husband, brother and I made a quick decision to bring her down here to live with me. It was an adjustment and there have been, and will continue to be, battles but I think that it was easier than trying to do the same thing in the house she had lived in for 24 years. For the most part now she considers me in charge and goes along with my schedule for her baths, eating, etc. I keep the house, including her room, clean and make all the meals. There are still battles but less frequently than when we first moved her in. Most important, she is more active. She no longer spends all day sitting in one chair. We go out to take walks when the weather cooperates and go walk at the grocery store or the mall when the weather is bad. We take her out to eat and visit with others. She enjoys it even though she can no longer have a coherent conversation.

Family interaction is also a consideration. My siblings would tell you that I am the only one who is comfortable standing up to Mom. That doesn't mean I fight with her - it means that when she yells at me I can stand there and remain calm and not take her railing against me personally. I am the only one that will continue on the necessary path of ensuring baths are done and things are clean and food is prepared in spite of her battling against me. I'm the baby of the family and I think her authority over them is still too ingrained.

So, I've gotten terribly windy but what it comes down to is - it's easier to see when you aren't there all the time, it is important to do something if you can and lastly, be prepared for battles. Best thing you could do right now is get a copy of The 36 Hour Day so you know what you are heading in to.

I wish you luck and I hope that, like me, you'll enjoy the caring and comfort that you can provide.

Unfortunately, nothing is easy about this disease. When you have someone who is uncooperative, even with a POA, your hands are tied. If you have relatives that are helping out, that in itself is a bonus. Discuss how you are feeling with your siblings, since they are living with your mother they may have more insight on the issues involved. You can not force anyone to do something if they do not want to. Consult and elder attorney with or without your siblings and see what suggestions they may have for you.

Don't be quick to judge - unless you are living in the situation 24/7 you may not be aware of all of the battles that go on daily.

I am in a situation where my MIL has Dimentia, she has been told numerous times but insists that she is ok and nothing is wrong with her. We are lying to her and none of her doctors have ever told her she has Dimentia. So, telling your mother she has Alzheimers doesn't necessarily mean she will remember she has it or understand what it means. My MIL goes to doctors (all the time) but never will do anything they suggest. My husband has filed for guardianship and we are currently waiting for the court date. My husband has 2 siblings that won't even return phone calls, they have run away and will not help us in dealing with his mother at all.

I have found the easiest way to get my MIL to do something she doesn't want to is to bargain with her. If there is something they want or someplace they would like to go - suggest as soon as you shower I will take you to "X". But, if she refuses to go anywhere you may have to find another source to bargain with.

You have to just hang in there and do anything you can. Remember sometimes the best methods are those that you might use on a child and sometimes you have to pick what battles are the most important at the time. Good Luck!

Thanks again. I feel hopeful that things will change soon.
Take care.

Marybeth... my apologies if it seemed like I was saying that they were abusing her, but any 'signs of neglect' CAN be 'written up' as elder abuse, even if they were trying to do everything they could for your mother! My brother's lack of involvement was not looked on favorably by the 'state' when the neighbor called it in! I know my brother would not abuse my mother (intentionally) but THEY didn't!!

I say this for you to impress upon your sisters' that an anonymous call to social service will put them in the position of explaining WHY Mom isn't in better shape! It happens, and unfortunately in more cases than not, someone needs to step in and 'help' the elder person. If for no other reason than to educate the 'caregivers involved!
Non of this is easy, do the best you can, educate them, and make sure that SOMEONE has durable power of attorney over Mom (or guardianship) so she will get the help she needs!

God Bless

Thanks. I need to make it clear that my sisters are always working hard to tdo what my mother needs. They have been stressed beyond belief. They don't see it as abuse because we have talked to doctors and asked the office of the aging for advice and no one can give us any. They don't abuse my mother other than they seem unable to realize that she is no longer capable of making rational decisions. I will talk to them immediately about bringing people in regardless or whether my mother agrees. Thank you for your advice.

Without more information it is difficult to offer suggestions other than the obvious. I would: GET THE AUTHORITIES INVOLVED. Of course that could have some serious effects too, so please:

First, try to have a 'family meeting' with your sisters. If you have any influence over them, tell them that NOT providing care for "Mom" while they are under the same roof, may be considered ELDER ABUSE and they could be held responsible for her care, even if she is unwilling to co-operate.

Next talk to an elder lawyer about getting LEGAL authority to handle your mothers affairs. You didn't state if one of the 'resident sisters' have POA (Power of attorney) or not, and if not, then you need to apply for DURABLE POA so you can help your mother. If one does have POA and you don't feel they are performing those duties (which is obvious again) I would REPORT them to the authorities!!

Talk to your Agency on Aging in your area, on what can be done to see that your mother is getting the correct care. This is a two edged sword, but could be a matter of life or death for her. Choose not to do anything, and you won't be able to live with yourself, should something happen to her. Choose to do something and get the authorities involved could make matters worse with your sisters, and cause other (family) problems too.

I am hoping that one of the other experts on this board will add their words of wisdom (less emotionally than I) and give you a plan to follow. ME... I just see it as elder abuse, much like I saw in my mother's case. (but that is another story).

Many years ago I had to 'kidnap' my mother to make her leave her home, but I did it, and after that she was 'ok' with being away from home. Her condition at one point was so bad, it pained me to think that her 'favorite son' had been neglecting her care for so long! His excuse? "She didn't want to co-operate, so I figured SHE is old enough to know what she needs....." OMG! And my other brother in the same town was just "too busy with his life" to get involved.

Well that was almost 5years ago, and my Mom has passed on, so the point is moot, but HE is an adult so I will just have to go on his premise that "he is old enough to know what HE needs...." etc. etc.

God Bless... do something, don't delay what you know you SHOULD do.

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