My father is 81-years-old and has had every ailment known to man, and has managed to overcome everyone of them. However he is still pretty fragile, but my mother INSISTS on making him do everyday things he would have been capable of twenty years ago. Perfect example, I came in the other day to find him trying to changing lightbulbs! (he has to use a walker) How can I explain to her, when she isn't in her right mind, that dad just can't do those things and its just dangerous?
My aunt just lost a husband who did everything for her. She is struggling to get over his death and has just "shut down." It is so sad for us to see.
I think that diverting your parent's attention to the things they can do is a great idea. I focus on any project my Mom is capable of doing and we do these things together (like baking cookies, etc.) Members of the fiercely-independent, "greatest generation" need to feel useful.
Let us know if anything works for you!
You can however divert her attention by putting up a white board with a marker, or giving her a note pad to write down what needs to be done and then making certain that you let her know you will take care of it on a regular schedule - take away the lightbulbs, the stepladder, tools and anything else that would be too difficult for your dad if used. Remember to just give them both a big hug and tell them that you want to be their grown-up handyman from now on. You will have to train both of them of it, so it will take a bit of work on your part. Maybe you can let your mom & dad 'help' you when you are there.
Just focus on how you all normally interact. Every family has a different dynamic, but you might find that it just takes a little creativity and diversion. What do they like to do for hobbies? Do they have a pet? What holds their attention that you can add to? Can you make a joke or stories - or talk about how they handle things right versus wrong?
THis is probably not your first challenge, but welcome to the club if you have parents at home who need more of our attention.