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My mother in law has lived with us for the past 4 years and she is 86 years old. She is fine healthwise and gets regular checkups but she has some strange habits that are causing me some difficulties in relating to her. First of all, she barely talks at all, she wears dark sunglasses and a hat all day long and sits for hours on end and doesn't move or say anything.I try very hard to be patient and am most of the time, but it is really depressing me to be around her and even though we have asked her what is the matter she never says anything. Recently her only daughter came to our house and we had an unfortunate incident where the daughter attacked me and my husband physically along with her own daughter, needless to say the daughter has not been allowed to come here anymore and no phone calls from her either are allowed. We spoke to my mother in law and told her why her daughter couldn't come anymore and she agreed or seemed to anyway, she saw the whole episode when her daughter came that day. I'm wondering whether this has caused her to become depressed, obviously, it is not easy for her to accept this, but the fact is she never even talks about anything at all, in fact she says nothing.Please help as it is causing me a lot of anguish and anxiety and problems between my husband and myself. Her son has been an excellent caregiver for her but she doesn't seem to appreciate anything or all he has done and does for her and it makes me mad that she seems so selfish in acting this way especially as we are the only ones who have taken care of her..

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Izmir55, my parents started lowering the lights and pulling down the shades to keep the sunlight out of the house.... it was like walking into a cave, surprised there weren't bats flying around. And that was due to their eye sight becoming very sensitive to bright light.... what might seem normal light to you and I was extremely bright to them.

I see nothing wrong with wearing a hat inside the house.... today guys will wear baseball caps inside the house. No big deal.

As for not talking, maybe Mom-in-law is having issues with hearing. My Mom was almost deaf due to age related hearing loss, and anyone who met her would think she had serious dementia because of her not hearing correctly and giving confusing answers, yet she was still sharp for her age once she caught on what someone was talking about.

Time for some doctor appointments.
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1. When's the last time she had a thorough eye exam, preferably by an Ophthalmologist? She may be shutting out the world, but she may also have an eye condition that causes extreme sensitivity to light.

2. What's the relationship between her and the feisty daughter been prior to MIL moving in with you? Daughters don't just get mad and start beating up on someone in the family. Is there a history of physical altercation in this family?
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Agree with others that your MIL appears to be suffering from depression, and that there may be other cognitive issues (like dementia) at work here. Also, you state that she is in good health, but there may be some health issues that have yet to be discovered. I would suggest a series of screenings for these things, including seeing a geriatric psychiatrist and neurologist. You may have to press the PCP and the system to get these things. When you /if you secure a diagnoses in any of these areas, then Medicare will pay for the medical care that she needs. It appears as though your MIL is not able to get around easily so, this care can be brought into the home. This would not be "long term care" (that comes later) but I suggest you look into seeking a determination from her PCP that she is "homebound" and the care she needs for her conditions can be delivered in the home (if that's what you want). This would give you and your husband some well-deserved relief. wish you well
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This woman is so obviously clinically depressed. Of course she doesn't know what is wrong or appreciate the things you do for her, the hat and sunglasses are an outward manifestation of her inner world, and it seems very dark. Speak to her doctor and get her to a geriatric psychiatrist.
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Kind of reminds me of a young child covering their eyes and thinking you can see them .
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First off I want to apologize - I have to admit I had a tiny giggle at your expense. But here's why : one of the first thing people ask when a poster describes a situation such as yours - with no dementia diagnosis is: is this behavior/attitude new or has she always been this way? The mental image you draw - of an 86 year old woman sitting statue like in the house wearing a hat and dark glasses...! Actually it's kind of creepy! Have you any idea if she thinks she is incognito? Or is this her way of saying she doesn't acknowlege you or your husband? Either way this does not seem like a "normal" behavior. Have you asked her why she is doing it? And how is she at other times - like meals? Unless it's unusually bright in your house with breeze - I would definately have her accessed for cognative impairment. Im so sorry if I sound flippant but this is for sure a new one to me. As for her appreciating all you and your husband do for her, if it is dementia you can forget about that and perhaps expect hostile behavior as the norm going forward. If she sees a regular doctor and he is unable to see the problem - ask for a referral to a neurologist who can do a full range of tests. Some times a regular PCP knows a patient so well they don't notice the first more subtle signs of dementia. Lastly - the thing with the daughter; was that unusual behavior from her? I'm not necessarily suggesting a cognative impairment there - more trying to see the likelihood of a repeat. What caused her to become so agitated that she became physically aggressive? I don't blame you for not wanting her in your house - but if it is having a negative impact on your MIL are phone calls out of the question - assuming daughter can behave on the phone? Again, I am sorry - but I will add I'm afraid you may be in for a bumpy ride. Is it an option for MIL to live somewhere like Assisted Living? Taking care of you and hubby, protecting your marriage has to be your first priority! Best wishes.
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