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It is a beautiful day out today. My mother (86 yo) and I went to the doctor after she had been watching TV all day. When we got home, I said it would be a great day to go outside and visit. She tried to turn on the TV, instead. The remote control was messed up, so it wouldn't come on. She has lost the ability to handle it, so she called me. I told her no, I wasn't going to turn the TV on when she needed to go out for a while. She got really angry at me, but I just went for a walk without straightening the TV out.

My mother is still able to walk and talk to people, but she is pulling inside herself more. This puts a lot on me, because she dwells more on herself and relies on me totally for companionship. I need help with this, because being with her means just listening to her symptoms for as long as I can tolerate it. She talks about other things with friends. With me she talks symptoms, like she wants me to fix them.

Does there come a time when we just let them watch TV if they want? or is this enabling them to not make social contacts. To me, it would have been easier to just turn on the TV, but I didn't think it was best for her.

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You guys are too funny. Glad you can still be humorous in the tough times. I'm right there on the floor with you and....can't get up!
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Rolling on the floor, laughing and can't get up! Good one Jesse!

Yes, it took me awhile...

WD40 is now being touted online to rub into sore spots!  Oh NO!
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I should have written ROFLACGU. Where's my alert button?

The rabbit keeps me getting up and down. Pets can be better than squats when it comes to keeping those leg muscles working. Now if I could only find a pet that was good for morning stiffness. :-/
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Jessebelle,
Would you be needing some help getting up off the floor?
Lol. Don't make me laugh, it is getting really hard to get up.
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ROFL. So true.
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Well, at least you're polite.
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I am POA for healthcare, but not for finances. My names are on her banking accounts, so it hasn't been a problem. My brother is about 850 miles away, so he couldn't help if he wanted to. I doubt he would even do the POA duties if needed. I really don't want guardianship of her. Nor do my brothers. The closest one didn't want to be POA or executor. He wants nothing to do with anything here. The family is like a handful of polite strangers.
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You're right, JessieBelle, you really have no say if you are not the POA for healthcare for your Mom. Which is totally UNFAIR. As the saying goes...if you keep on doing what you are doing....you will keep on getting what you are getting. Stand firm. Don't let your bro enslave you. Getting Mom declared incompetent is easier than you think. You just have to prove it to your brother, which may mean that he now is the caregiver. I know this may sound harsh, but, for your own sanity, Mom has to be moved. You really don't know what is doable until you do it. I can sincerely feel for you. You cannot change others, but you can change your circumstances....however you want to look at it. Prayers your way and let me know how it goes.
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Here's a little different perspective -- I was thrilled when my husband Coy could watch tv.

Coy had Lewy Body Dementia. When it first became apparent the symptoms were extremely severe. His attention span was about 2 minutes max, he was fidgety, couldn't focus on anything. Tried to read the newspaper upside down. But then he gradually became better and after a few months settled in the "mild" stage of his disease.

It was awesome to have him able to focus again! Complicated drama with commercial breaks was too frustrating for him, but I bought a few videos of shows he used to like. Hogan's Heroes was wonderful -- under a half an hour, simple and predictable characters, and plots he had seen more than once before. There were several others. Also he loved travel videos or nature ones. About the only thing he watched on television was sports. I worked from home and I could not stand the loud television so I insisted on wireless earphones for him. At first he resisted but then he discovered he could still hear the game while he went to the bathroom and after that he was OK with them.

So while there are many posts on AC about how to get a loved one to not watch so much tv, I spent a lot of effort on making sure that watching television was pleasant entertainment for my loved one.

Coy did other activities as well. Television did not consume all his waking hours. But he enjoyed the time he spent on it.
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nebbish, my mother has dementia. I wish she would go into a facility, but getting her into one would be like wrestling a bear. There is only so much we can do if they aren't declared legally incompetent. My brother is her POA, so I really have no say. The only thing I can personally do is decide if I will stay or not. If I were to leave it would be the crisis that would mean she would need to move to a facility. She would not do it before I left, because she would swear that she could take care of herself. She can't, so it wouldn't work for very long.
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It sounds as if your mother is living with you. Congrats to you. My Mom is beginning to withdraw from interaction with other residents in her assisted living facility. She is 93. She has dementia. One of the symptoms of dementia is withdrawing from interaction with other residents. Part of her problem is that she cannot find the words to communicate. She says she still goes to play Bingo. So now all she does, in her downtime, is watch TV. She, too, messes up the remote and can't get the TV on. That's when she calls me and we try to get it straight. But she is really pretty upset because it doesn't work and the TV is her only means of belonging to society.....if you wish to call it that. You might want to have her evaluated for dementia or Alzheimer's. And, if I were you, start looking into facilities that could handle your Mom....if she can afford it.
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Yep. My 65 yo hubby still can manage a 40 hr workweek, but he walks in the door at 7 pm, eats and is in bed by 7:15. The TV is on (LOUD) the headphones are also on (noise cancelling) and he's flipping through his phone to post on Facebook. He slept all day yesterday, he just now got up and got into the bathtub only because I invited the grandkids over. He'll be asleep by 9 and probably sleep all day tomorrow. He literally sleeps 3-4 days of the week.
I KNOW he severely depressed. He refuses to treat it. He is retiring soon and plans to do nothing but sleep.
I live my life and he lives his. I hate it, but it's never going to change. He stopped caring/listening to me years ago.

Someone has to WANT to change or they won't. Simple as that.
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Jessie - it's when you DO start to see the poison ivy that you need to start questioning your sanity. For now, you're probably okay.
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Something else that is funny, the "poison ivy" she had four years ago is still there. Two or three times a day she talks about her poison ivy and how she got it doing some yard work on the side of the house. She hasn't been out in a year or two and there is no ivy on the side of the house. I don't say anything, but listening to the poison ivy story every day for a few years is very trying. Sometimes she shows me her poison ivy and I can never see anything. Neither can the dermatologist. But to her it is there and it is something she just got, though it has been four years now. I don't know how we keep our sanity. I'm not sure I have.
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I have to admit I got a giggle in reading the original post.

Memories of the hundreds of times my mother told me to turn off the tv and to go outside and play.

The circle of life, right?
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Well, here it is 4 years later. My mother still sits in her pajamas watching TV all day. There is one huge difference. I don't feel the need to be her entertainment committee anymore. She stopped wanting to go to church and she wants me to bring food home to her, instead of going to restaurants. Her friend across the street is in long-term care now with end-stage renal failure. I don't know how many more miles are on my mother's road of life. She only moves down the road an inch a day, so it may be many more years.

One thing I thought about recently is that the TV was always on when I was younger. I was in and out of the house during the day, so I don't know what she was doing. But at nighttime she was in front of the TV. She watched sports all weekend. The TV is more interesting than real life and is a lot safer, I guess. She is still the same person, I guess, and she won't change from it. So I do all the things that need to be done and leave her with her TV. It would drive me crazy to join her, so I don't. There are so many other things that need to be done.
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It's frustrating. Too cold to leave the house quickly becomes too hot to leave the house. It might rain. It might snow. It might be windy. It might be humid. There might be lots of traffic.

And I listened to all that crap with a straight face. No point in trying to inject how the rest of us handle the air that we breathe.

The only thing that matters is their reality. Their teeny-tiny reality.
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Yes, I understand the issue completely. My Mom doesn't want to do anything, I thought it was because she was in pain from her back...but about 10 days ago she had a new injection which ended the pain..for sure.

Still..she sleeps till noon. Eats a little bit. Doesn't want to go outside. Doesn't want to go anywhere. Sleeps again for a couple hours in her chair. Eats a little. Sleeps again till about 6pm. Then goes to bed.

She has very profound aphasia so nothing she tries to say makes any sense. Even when I take the time (an hour isn't unusual) to piece together one sentence... it is mostly just some nonsequitor that still makes no sense.

I get she is trapped inside herself. Unable to understand what is said around her. Unable to communicate whatever she is thinking.

But, she seems to have given up on everything.

She seems cheerful enough and cooperative. Just doesn't want to do anything.

I know the TV makes no sense to her. First..she refuses to wear her hearing aid..so she cannot hear it...but, also. Verbal communication is quite beyond her
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Thank you all for sharing your stories. These really help.

My mother is 78, and she has recently moved to my city to be closer to my husband and our family. She is in a retirement community, so this is very helpful because they cook and clean and check on her daily. Still, I feel constantly pressured to figure out when we're going to get together next because this is what she wants.
My mother is very sweet, but doesn't like my husband or kids because they question things about life and don't believe everything portrayed in TV. She has all her life been a follower and gets very upset when we suggest that TV and media are not portraying the truth. This is maddening to her and she has even called my husband 'strange' because she can't agree with him. It makes it nearly impossible to spend time as a group since there are very few topics we can all discuss together. Furthermore, when we get together she focuses on me almost exclusively, putting pressure on me to lead 'safe' conversations and keep things going. I'm an introvert and I hate this pressure. It's exhausting.
When I was young, my father died, and she had trouble dealing with this, so became an alcoholic. I am still very angry with her about this, and generally about her being a doormat all her life, to the point that she didn't 'raise' us, but simply fed us. My brother and I raised ourselves. Now somehow she expects me to be thrilled that she lives close by so we can do things together.
I just spent a weekend taking her to another state to spend time with her sibling, who she may not see again since they live in different states. I took my kids too. It was so tiring since we couldn't talk about much of anything. Can't stand the idea of talking to her again for a few days and of course feel like a horrible daughter since I should be more patient. I can only do my best though and am thankful that at least she lives in a place that will take care of her. I don't think I could do this.
Thank you for listening/reading this rant...it helps to write this out somewhere to express my feelings and hope this may help anyone else going through similar feelings. We'll get through it, right?
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Exactly, we cant force them. I DO try to "encourage" to get outside, get up and move , etc. But....."I am too wiped out now".

The nurses at the home where we had him for respite care twice, stated the same the really tried getting him to come listen to music, etc in the main entertainment area, but he refused.

This, is by far the hardest job. I could raise 20 kids, verses one parent with alzheimers disease, seriously. As crazy as that sounds.

"Blessings to all of you & big hugs"!
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My Mom who is now in a nursing home also sat at home in her pajamas all day for about a year before going into the nursing home. Once she could no longer drive she stopped going to church which was her only social activity except for when her and I would go for coffee, walks etc.

Now in the nursing home since March she has only gotten dressed once. She sits on her couch in her room all day. The staff at the nursing home really tried for a long time to get her out of her shell and participate in the activities there but my Mom would just refuse. I admired their perseverance but to no avail.

My Mom has been a widow since her early forties and is now 91. She never remarried and was always kind of a recluse. I don't think now at her age I can start trying to teach an old dog new tricks (so to speak) so I visit her and have stopped suggesting she mingle cause if she is happy sitting on her couch all day I can't force her not to.
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Dear lord, going through this now with my father in law, and feel like breaking down and crying....

This "staying in the pajama" issue started now two/three months back. I have brought it to his attention and he back talks me (which , I give it right back & he knocks off his attitude)!

This is our "fourth" parent, and the only one with Dimenshia and honestly, always liked being waited on, now.....its not an option .

He has COPD, dimenshia, diabetes II, severe leg nuropathy, degenerating bone disease, Glacoma, hearing loss, high cholesterol, blood pressure issues, had colon cancer in 2011, (we think could be back, due to odd blood work). Lots of issues, but he was a severe alcoholic, and many of his issues were from that. (which no alcohol has been in his system for years , since I told him no more drinking, or hes on the street)!

Been handling all appts, referalls, setting up an aide to come out each week, since he wont wash properly, setting up therapy to keep his range of motion twice a week, calling in all meds, keeping a med box filled with each meals medications, since that had to be taken away when we realized he was double dosing himself! Cooking, cleaning after him , taking him to all appts, grocery stores, etc.

My husband does help, but he's not here all day...some days I make him stay home & work from home, since I feel so overwhelmed sometimes !

He was to be "independent" when he moved in back in 2005. Never really happened.

All he does mainly in a day is, eat & watch television, now in his pajamas. I will grab clean towels and ask him to wash and dry them "just to get him up & moving", and well its not hard to do laundry! I even run dishes through the dishwasher 'just to get him out of his recliner" to empty it and moving!

Not sure if depressed, fully lazy or his dimenshia is getting worse???

I honestly am at my wits end, not sure how long I can do this anymore? Its been since 2005 & here we are in December 2014. "Im so wiped out". Thinking after the New Year, it may be time for placement.

I can't even get to my female doctors for mammograms / tests, since all I do is run after this man. Its been four years, and have had three appts & had to cancel all due to this.

Hes been in Respite care twice, and all he did there was the same (stay in pajamas, eat, and watch television). And complained the nurses were lazy & not fast enough to bring him his meds/food/etc once he was back home!

I "completely feel for you all". Prayers to all of you !
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Ohhh Jessie..... Your story is almost identical to mine. My mom is exactly the same with me. Also my dad passed away a little over a year and she did not really show signs of sadness. Its crazy how I felt like I was reading my story. She only wants my company and she had a friend visit but just like you said, she slowly turned her away. She also was a reclusive person most of her life. Only difference is that my mom hates to watch t.v. She ONLY wants my entertainment. I wish she wanted to watch t.v. then at least that would entertain her. If I put on the t.v. (she finally learned how to turn it off) she runs around the house looking for me. One day me and my husband were having a disagreement and my mom walks into our room and sits down and asked us what we were doing so innocently. I was so angry but I had to laugh because she is nonchalant about it. I understand where you are because I am too in the same position. My mom has dementia and walks with her walker (due to hip replacement) but that is pretty much all she has and this dementia thing is really upsetting and very hard to deal with. I have no life. I have 5 children who want to be with me without grama but they know how much she means to me and I think they feel bad about her situation but Still it's hard no matter which way you look at it. I wish I had advice but I don't really. My mom is on anti-deppressants and it still doesn't help but Maybe just knowing someone else shares your story will help. Many Hugs and prayers to you JessieBelle.
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Jeanne, thank you for that. You managed to hit the problem on the head -- I don't know whether to encourage her to get out or accept that she only wants to watch TV. It is the Game Show Network all day and sitcom reruns at night, so it is not something I enjoy. I watch with her sometimes just to provide a little company.

In the past encouraging her to do more has worked sometimes. Left to her own devices, she will stay in her pajamas all day and watch TV. Sometimes I would suggest for her to do something, and she would get mad, but later that day she would do it and enjoy herself. At the present time we have a lot of doctor visits -- 3 or 4 a week, so I'm getting frazzled, needing time to myself. That may have a lot to do with it. I need for her to interact with others, not just for herself but for me.
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I had to smile about the antidepressant. She takes so many pills already that I feel like a pharmacist. She has diabetes, high blood pressure, generalized anxiety disorder, a bad back, and a host of other problems. She likes taking OTC pills, so I have to keep bottles away from her. I've seen bottles that should last a month disappear in a few days if I don't. She denies she takes them, but I know I don't, so that just leaves one person. We have a running joke about a gremlin that must be doing all of these mysterious things.

She tried Aricept and didn't do well with it.I decided to stay away from these types of medicines, since they don't slow the progress of dementia, anyway. She has not been officially diagnosed with dementia -- unable to get her to go to a doctor that would be interested in diagnosing her. She doesn't want to know and her present doctor is not concerned.

The thing that concerns me most is that her lack of involvement will lead to a faster decline. My father got to where he wouldn't leave his chair, so we had to wait on him completely. I don't want that to happen to my mother. But I guess I'll just have to let her choose what she wants to do.

Thank you for your words. I don't know how much impact my father's death had on her, to tell the truth. She didn't seem to be all that concerned about it, since he had been dying for years. We did most of the grieving in the years before his death. I am sure it had some effect, but she just hasn't shown it much. She also recently lost her favorite sister, but it doesn't seem to have affected her much. My mother can be a hard person to understand. She doesn't seem to take death as hard as many of us do, or at least doesn't show it.

Well, I've lost track of what I'm talking about here. I wish there was an answer besides more pills. I guess what I am hoping for is something a bit more spiritual to come in to get her away from that TV and with people other than me. Soon the dementia may rob her of the ability to interact, so I don't want her to let this time of opportunity pass. Yes, I wish we had family that was more involved. They don't even call, so it is pretty much her and me.
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Ah, Jessie, this is so hard. If Mom is depressed, then encouraging her to do things that are good for her but that she doesn't have the initiative to do on her own is a kindness. If Mom is withdrawing into herself because the dementia is progressing and that is the stage she is going into, then it may be unkind to insist that she behaves differently. Sigh. Where is the crystal ball when you need it?

When my husband was first diagnosed, and before he got on drugs and probably before the inflamation in his brain went away, he could not watch television. His attention span was too short, the commercials interrupted the flow of the story line, and the whole experience was just too confusing for him. We were very thankful to come up with some CDs of familiar old television shows. Without the commercials and with familiar material that could entertain him for an hour or so now and then. We were grateful! Then he got back enough cognition to watch sports on tv and also liked history and nature shows. Toward the end he once again did not watch television -- he had no interest.

So whether watching television is a good thing or a bad thing I guess depends on where you are coming from.
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Its understandable how draining this is for you, jessie. And its also clear you are a caring, concerned daughter. Nothing wrong with wanting your mom to thrive for as long as she can!

Since your mom has never been a social butterfly, it stands to reason her refusals to engage with others more regularly is just a personal preference. And personality traits are pretty tough to reverse. Keep in mind that dementia and depression often can go hand-in-hand too. She may very well feel she can't quite relate to others or is becoming fearful of situations she perceives as unfamiliar. It can be a heartbreaking thing for a family member to witness, especially knowing that she still has the ability to interact well with others. But in her mind, she could be feeling bad about herself as she may realize she has some cognitive impairments.

Plus, she recently lost her husband--that's a huge change in her life. People with dementia can have quite a difficult time adapting to the smallest changes...let alone something as significant as losing a spouse. Sadly, its not unusual that when the person with dementia loses a spouse, their cognitive impairments seem to accelerate too.

Is there any chance you might feel comfortable looking into getting an anti-depressant prescribed for your mom? Or maybe even a cognitive enhancing medication if she's not already on one?

Your guilt is normal and a sign that you care deeply for your mom. Just try to remember you can't let yourself feel horrible for the lack of control you have over the situation. All you can do is your best and let your mom know you love her.
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Thank you for your response, eldermender. My mother has dementia, so it is difficult to sort through things most of the time. She has two friends, but avoids them. It may be because she is concerned she won't act right. But I think it is more because she has always avoided social contact. She and my father were reclusive, so this is not unusual for her. Before my father died last spring, my mother went out to visit in the front yard with her friend quite often. Now it is almost nothing. She tries to avoid seeing her friend.

This does not all sound bad, but when she talks to her friend, it makes her feel better. And it also takes the pressure off of me to keep her company, so my motive is also self preservation. No one visits here, and the ones that try are increasingly being shunned. She won't go to the senior center. She does go to church every week and we go out to eat a couple of times a week. But again, it is all me.

I guess there is really not a good answer except to let her do what she wants to do and stop feeling guilty because I don't want to be her companion all the time. She is so negative she makes me want to jump off a cliff rather than listen to her.
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Sounds like your mom may have some depression going on. What's her appetite like? Have you been noticing any physical or cognitive changes lately?

Its also not unusual for elderly parents to sound off about more of the negative things with their children/family than with anyone else. In a way, I suppose its their way of demonstrating trust toward those they feel comfortable sharing their struggles with. But it can be taxing and I do understand your frustration.

Your mom's wanting to withdraw more frequently makes me wonder if she's becoming depressed though....she is 86, she may be wondering about her own mortality and I'm sure her daily aches and pains play into it as well. Its wonderful that she still has her wits about her and is mobile, but when otherwise able people start to become self-limiting and/or reclusive, it often is a sign of decreased mood or even increased anxiety or fearfulness. Has your mom experienced any type of other losses recently?

Watching tv all day is not a healthy way to spend time, but of course, it is your mom's choice. My suggestion is perhaps try to get at the root of what is causing the lack of motivation. Is she a candidate to try attending day programs at a local senior center a couple days a week? Does she go out all with her friends? Do other people besides you visit her regularly? Maybe she'd be receptive to a home companion service....there are agencies that match up paid companions to spend time with elders in their homes, engage them in meaningful activity, even take them on outings or help with some light housekeeping. It could take some of the pressure off of you too.
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