How can we convince mom to get help?

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My mom is 86 and shows signs of memory loss and has gotten real negative, bitches and complains no matter what you do. She won't tell any of her children her funeral plans, won't let us know any her medical info or who to contact for her insurance. None of her business if something happens to her. What are we suppose to do? She has 5 children and none of us know any of her important info.

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I was wondering about something. . .does your mother have a church minister/pastor or some such person that could sit down with her to get information for you? My mother gave each of the four of us bits and pieces of information, so we were in a pickle attempting to wade thru her papers for her plans.
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You will not be allowed any medical information unless she gives one of you (or more) POA due to the privacy patients' act. Talk to her doctor (if you know who it is) and tell him/her about her symptoms. Until she does something like start a fire, or gets into an accident (is she still driving?), you have to just monitor her behaviors and document them. Good luck!
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Jericho40, I fully agree with "compassionate fibbing". My mother was diagnosed with mild dementia 3 years ago. I have found that as it progresses, my fibbing has increased. You have to understand that one cannot reason with someone afflicted with dementia. Their reasoning capacities are diminished as are their powers of concentration. You and your sibs are just going to have to get things done for Mom one way or another. That might mean that one sib entertains Mom with a game of cards while another sib snoops through her important papers in order to get information so you can get things in order. Get her utility and insurance bills set up on auto pay through her bank. See if she will make a trusted sib joint account holder so her finances can be overseen and other bills paid for her. When someone takes her to the doctor or dentist, quietly ask if her bills can be sent to one of you so they will certainly get paid. As her memory worsens, she will lose and/or forget to pay bills.

As to her funeral, she may not want to talk about it because it only brings home the fact that she is nearing end of life. It is an uncomfortable topic for many people. Or, maybe like my mom said, "What do I care what kind of funeral I have? I'll be dead." My mom truly doesn't care if we go traditional or with cremation. And as she said, the funeral is for us, not her.

Your mom's bitching and complaining may also be a sign of dementia. She may be feeling overwhelmed with getting her paperwork in order. She may not be able to concentrate on it all and that frustrates her so it comes out with negativity. One of you just needs to calmly sit down with her and help her go through things. Find out where her important papers are. Help her pay bills. Just help her go through her mail. These are all things that are "too much" for a person when their memory goes and/or dementia sets in. As this sib slowly takes over these tasks, I bet she will eventually be quite grateful to turn it over to that sib. My mom was very happy to not have to worry about all those details. Persevere and good luck.
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You have to ease into this, it creates a lot of anxiety for her. Start by going with her to doctor visits, say nothing but take notes and ask for copies of reports. If you take her to a funeral ask her if she would like something similar. Listen to her stories of sick friends and ask what she would do if she had the same malady. Just don't bring it up out of the blue at dinner.
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Do you think she "trusts" any of the five children more than the others or maybe feels more sympathetic toward one. Theraputic lying or compassionate fibbing may work in your case. The "one" would have to be a great actor, go to Mom with a very sad story, most likely about something to do with him or herself, not knowing what to do, needing mom's advice and assistance. Or it could be something pretend stressful about a friend who is sick and the trusted one doesn't know how to help the friend. So, mom, what would YOU do, how can I deal with this, or how can I help my friend, etc. l found that no matter how cranky my mom was, if she thought she was helping me out of some kind of torture or jam, she was johnny on the spot. You may be able to get your mom to show you papers she's got simply by asking her, gee, mom, I dunno mom, how would that work? If she is secretive and you want to get her to reveal her plans, you may have to use quite a bit of creativity, including subterfuge. Please, as hard as this is, don't feel bad about it because you are doing it for her own good. You may even find that you can take care of something or put something in place that she has overlooked, and that will be of great help to her if you find it early. For example, this happened with my aunt when she allowed her supplemental medical insurance to lapse. By the time I got involved it was too late to reinstate her without significant waivers. This "little oversight" on her part cost a great deal of money during the last 6-1/2 years of her life. That's just one example, but given to assuage your guilt over the need to be dishonest with your mom.
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I'm sorry you're having to deal with this. Unfortunately there's not a lot you can do if your mom doesn't want to share this information. We had the same problem with my father-in-law when he passed away. He wouldn't tell us anything - and when asked - he'd say "what do I care, I'll be dead". We had to go through piles and piles of papers and figure out what we believed to be important and call and see if the policies and funeral arrangements were valid. It was a nightmare but there's nothing anyone can do if the person doesn't want to cooperate. Good luck!!
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