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Here is the deal. The local senior center has a Thanksgiving meal coming up on Sunday, the 20th. They have a meal like that once a month on Sunday. The other meals are on the weekdays. My husband and I would like to go the Sunday dinner on the 20th. I usually don't take Mom to this meal because she won't dress properly. She has dementia and lives at home alone. She wears the most ratty clothing that is dirty. I cannot take her out in those clothes so we go w/o her. She will no change her clothing. If I ask her to do so, she yells at me. So her neighbor takes her and there she is sitting with the neighbor when we get there. So I sit by her. The last time I did that she proceeded to yell at me during the whole meal. By the time I left, I had a migraine and a stomach distress. So I ask you, would it be out of line to not sit with her or to move when she starts yelling at me while I am eating? Or what should I do?

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So I went to the dinner today and Mom was not there. The neighbor in question was sick. Had a good time. Thanks for all the advice. I really like it.
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Jeannegibbs and Ruth1957: Its funny how we all think alike being total strangers. I did early on not giving my mom the choice. because I would know the answer before she would say it. So I guess thats why we got along within reason. I guess part of me was used to talking to my kids like that so it fit right in with mom. My kids like most do the opposite as you ask. But If reword the question into a comment my kids are like putty in your hand. Its like magic to see kids do things without throwing a fit. It has even worked on my husband and he didn't know it LOL!!! My mom would do things that I thought I would never get her to do. All by rethinking how I would say the words!! This allowed me to remain in some control of most of the time, without screaming, and beating my head against the wall in a no win situation. For me it became a win-win for everyone.
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BW:

Keeping it on the "I": Dementia or not, I would never tolerate that kind of abuse if I'm the only one she yells at. First because I like to chew slowly and enjoy my food; second because it's clear my presence bothers the other person. So I'd move to another table; or leave if there's someone else willing to bring her back home.

Seems like your Mom's yelling is triggered by an external negative stimulus: you. Others might tell you "Don't feed into it," or suggest you let her vent at her leisure because she's "not all there." For every action there's a reaction, so condition or help her learn by association. If she yells, leave; if you're about to serve food and starts ranting and raving, take the plate back to the kitchen and cover it. She can feed herself afterwards. A folding table in a corner with her name tag on it can also communicate to her that yelling at the dining table isn't acceptable behavior; whether your marbles are intact or not.

This might sound a little nutty, but when at home yelling right back could not only be a liberating experience but the answer to your prayers.
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jeannegibbs - That's exactly what I mean, and then one step further. It's like - if you say to your husband "here is a warmer jacket for you" and you EXPECT him to say "What do you mean? This jacket is fine" - chances are he WILL do as you expect. But you "expect" him to just accept the warmer jacket and hand you the light weight one - and he does, right? It's weird, but it works in so many aspects of life. I've used this in my business to overcome price objections before they come up. It's amazing.
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Ruth, I think this may go along with what you are saying. I learned early on not to pose instructions as a question, unless I was prepared to accept any answer. I used to say to my husband, "It's cold out. Don't you think you'd feel better in a warmer jacket?" Now I say, "It's cold out. Here is a warmer jacket for you. Give me the lighter one and I'll hang it up." I only say, "Do you want a sweater," when I think either answer is acceptable.

I'm not sure that changing communication styles is going to solve Brandywine's challenging situation, but it might help.
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Brandy, what does your mom's friend say about this? I'd go with what she suggests since she's dealing with her during the stressful dinner. You sure don't want to lose the one other person besides yourself that actually takes your mom out still right?
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I'm going out on a limb here, and you can tell me to butt out or that I'm crazy if you want. I care for a lady with Dementia. FINALLY I figured out that she resists what I am afraid she WILL resist. Isn't that wild? I sort of "put it out there" and sure enough, it comes true. I've been practicing, lately, expecting cooperation and understanding, and I've been getting it. Sort of like I had a silent communication expecting her to be angry, or resistant - so she obeyed! :-) Now it's a statement, rather than a question or suggestion. "We're going to get you into a clean shirt." Period. And into a clean shirt she gets. I speak in a lower tone than normal, very gently, and firmly. "It's cold today - you will wear this sweater." and wear the sweater she does. If I expect a fight, I get one. If not - well, you know. If you arrive at her home early and try this, you may be surprised. If it doesn't work, well, you're used to having her dress in stained clothing and smelling a little off... so you've lost nothing. I would take charge and state it with NO options... "Mom; before we go to the dinner, we're giving you a nice hot shower and clean clothes. You just never know who might show up to meet you today! I'll fix your hair, and even do your nails!" (I use that one a LOT with my ladies - and even say the President may come, and I laugh - they love that one) As to sitting with her at the dinner and being yelled at - wow. I would definitely tell her directly that you do not wish to be talked to that way, then sitting elsewhere. But I might add saying "I'd love to have you sit with me Mom, but you may do as you like."
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This dinner happens once a month, not once a year. I like your suggestions. she won't remember from moment to moment if she is going with Jane or not. Candy is a good idea.
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I guess I'd say take a step back and try to see if this is really about this one dinner a year. If your mom won't change out of dirty, ratty clothes, is she mentally competent? Does she, or should she, have a guardian? Other than this one dinner a year, how is your relationship with her? Has she always taken things out on you or is this potentially a sign of dementia? If you have been able to take the stand that you won't take her out unless hygiene issues are addressed, can you take a stand that you won't sit with her either? I am asking all these questions because in my own experience, my mother has become very nasty to me in particular. She was always critical, but now everything is my fault - I believe because I'm the one that makes her feel her loss of independence because I'm the one taking care of everything. If she smells like urine, unfortunately I'm the one to have to tell her, she smells like urine (I do it nicely, but I tell her not only because I think she would want to know but also because she gets so many UTI's.) In many ways, it's very hurtful that she can be such a sweet old lady to my siblings and others while she trashes me. So - if you look at the neighbor as her friend and she's attending the dinner with her friend and you're attending with your husband, can you set this up in advance by saying - Mom, are you going to the dinner? Are you dressing and coming with us or is it your preference to go "as is" with Jane? If she says she's going with Jane, just say ok that's fine with us, I hope you have a nice time. Then don't sit with her. If you are worried about what other people think (which is normal I worry too but remember that most people don't understand the inner workings of trying to have a relationship with your aging parent), my suggestion would be to bring a small holiday gift of candy for Mom and Jane and drop the gift off at their table and say Hi, happy turkey day, hope you have fun and then go sit across the room. If anyone asks, isn't that your mom? - just say, Yes, she and Jane are BFF's sometimes, I brought them both some candy, aren't they cute? Guilt is a horrible part of taking care of our parents and the flip side of guilt is resentment so don't let her be the travel agent for your guilt trip. You offer to take her if she washes and changes, you show your love and respect with a little holiday gift, and you go have a good time - don't accept the guilt because it will seed resentment.
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