My mother, probably in the early stages of dementia is really needing more help with things. Today I discovered her state tax return was returned because she had marked several crazy things such as she was a dependent and she was married. My mom went to my husband with this because she was trying to hide it from me, but of course my husband told me. (She had also made a big goof with her federal taxes too). Moms housekeeping also lacks much to be desired. I refuse to do this because 1) I have my own house with two young boys to try and keep sanitary 2) I just REALLY hate housework and my own house is never good 3) it enrages me she doesn't even throw away garbage when the can is two feet from the where she sets it down.
These aren't the only issues she needs assistance with but just an example and I'm sure more things are sure to come soon.
How can I convince her that she needs to let me handle things and that she needs to trust I'm going to do what is best for her? I understand she doesn't want to give up independence but I'm worn out with cleaning up messes and would prefer to just handle things the first time.

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Hi WinnieinWI,
You didn't mention your mother's age or whether she has been diagnosed with dementia. Medications, underlying infections and stress are just three of the issues people can have that will cause dementia-like behavior. It would be good if your mother could have her medications reviewed and a complete physical in case there is something going on that is causing her to be more confused and perhaps less interested in keeping up her house. She could even have issues with her eyes that could explain both of the situations that you mentioned, though you did say there were others than may not relate to eyes.

The reason I mention these things is that because of much needed awareness campaigns about dementia, it's now quite easy for adult children to immediately leap to the conclusion that their parent is developing dementia when other issues that are reversible should be addressed first.

Of course, your mother could be in early stages of dementia. In that case she will worsen and eventually need more help. Windyridge has offered solid advice.

Dementia or not, it's difficult for an elder to give up independence. The more heavy handed and demanding that their own standards are kept that the adult children are the more likely the elder is to refuse intervention.

It's difficult for you, I know. I've been in your shoes - raising children, keeping up my own home, working and trying to help multiple elders. We'd like to be efficient. Get things done and get on to the next demand on our time.

But this approach - which your intro about "forcing help" indicates may be yours even though you don't mean to be heavy-handed - backfires as often as not with it comes to aging parents. Grit your teeth and do your best to be patient and understanding. It's hard but a softer approach will pay off.

Please keep in touch with us. Whether or not this is dementia, people on this forum have a wealth of experience and are wonderful about sharing strength and compassion as well as advice.

Take care,
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I have a slightly different approach. For my new clients, I find one who is a good fit with a loved one. Then we do everything to make them feel comfortable, such as arriving with an item they like,e.g. Starbucks, flowers, magazines. When they feel we are like a friend to them, we begin to clean. We make it sound like another friend is coming to help. Then I take the loved one out of her house, while the cleaner works. Often, the loved is total amazed by the difference. We are careful to keep their most valued items in their place. So if the loved one read magazines at the dining room table, then we leave a small stack of them. We also use lavender Febreze and other lavender-smelling cleaning products, so the loved on can smell the difference. A deep cleaning of rugs, drapes, bedding, all surfaces makes a house smell so much better. Often a loved one breathes better because the embedded dust and dirt are gone. I recognize that my solution won't work for everyone. But I do believe it is better if the loved one does not see her family member cleaning. If you can afford it, have someone come in 1-3 hours M,W,F to do spot cleaning, grocery shopping, etc. Regular attention will make a huge difference in reducing the frustration of keeping a house at least presentable.
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I should also add, " therapeutic fibbing". Sometimes it takes a little trickery. If I or Mom suggest that he go to the podiatrist for his horrible toenails he will flatly refuse, nothin wrong with my, we just make the appointment, no disscussion, or arguing, don't even tell him, and on the day of the appointment Mom announces to him that it's time to do to the foot doc. He says, Huh...Well ok. Works most of the time.
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Tough assignment for you....My take is that Mom is doing what folks with dementia do Being perplexed on your part is natural. Being enraged by some behavior is not in your best interest. Reason? That;s what folks in her condition do and you can't do anything about it as far as changing her habits.
How you can change her? you can't. "Change me, bless them" is a good prayer. You may find that a doctor telling her that would work. It may be possible to explain that making you her POA is in her best interests because if she falls ill, she would not be able to sign documents on her own.

In ten years and more of caregiving, I learned very early to accept the behavior of the missus as "logical" to her. If I can't figure out what she wants, I say, "Well, you know what a dummy I am. I am sorry, but I just don't get it. Let's try again to understand one another."

It seems almost certain that she is not going to get better, only gradually worse.
Learning to be patient, at least on the outside, is in your best interests.

Grace + Peace,

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OMG check the property taxes to see if they are paid. Too many seniors resent paying taxes and toss the bill. Then they lose the house at the county tax auction. Seriously.
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Hi Winnie
I don't have a clue as to your financial status or your mum's so please bear with me on that. If you can afford it or mores to the point if she can why don't you get her to come to you for a couple of days or to a friend's or take her away for two days while hubby looks after boys (basically anything so she is out of the house) and then get cleaners in to deep clean the whole house - carpets window woodwork the whole shebang (I might add they may do a deal if you got yours done at the same time which if you hate housework might lift a bit for you - much easier to keep a house clean than to get it clean in the first instance).

Yes it will involve some upfront work for you and hubby but not as much as is wearing you out now and you will have a fantastic end result. Then tell her that for a birthday present you have organised a lady to come and clean once a week for a month so you can see whether you like it or not.

You need to arrange a POA for her so that someone who DOES know what they are doing can do returns etc for her but there will be a cost attached so be warned up front.

I also think you are kidding yourself - this sounds more than the early stages of dementia...when Mum was in the early stages she functioned quite well not so much as time went on - you need to get her reassessed - all dementias follow different patterns for different people and no two people are alike although they are, to some extent, similar in that they all progress (Albeit at different rates for the individual)

Either that or you could visit your mum with a cleaner and you spend time with your mum while the cleaner cleans - dump it on her as a surprise or an I love you Mum present.

Finally Winnie don't be enraged by her be enrage by the disease that is dementia - it is a long and very tiring road and it is pointless getting het up about things you cannot control - Remember the first lines of the serenity prayer and trust me I am not remotely religious but I think the words are words of wisdom

God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace

Don't get hung up on stuff that you can change act to change them and ease your path and your mum's a little xxxxx
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This is so hard. I go through the same stuff with my Dad. He refuses to get the absolutely filthy carpets cleaned for example.

Mom and I tackle it two ways: clean, fix, etc while he's gone, or just do it anyway. He has a fit but forgets the whole episode by the next day. And it's so very hard to not get mad at him but it's not his fault, he just is unable to reason any longer.
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Par if they actually test her it will be very obvious - they ask simple things like count backwards from a hundred in 3s or say the months of the year backwards or what date is it, who is the president, what year did ww2 start. they give them a list of things to remember and then ask them at the end of the test. You would think all was well but Mum thinks it is 2007, she had no idea of the date could manage one or two count backwards but not many, had no idea of the date, didn't know roughly what time it is and thought Maggie Thatcher was still prime minister of UK which is worrying since we live in UK and MT is dead. Hey ho
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you sound stressed, i.m sorry to hear.
Have you thought that your Mom is displaying classic symptoms of depression. I know because I have bipolar disorder signified by poor concentration, lost motivation, lack of caring about household condition and personal hygiene, and cannot enjoy what once was enjoyable, low energy, irritability. Depression in seniors can have serious physical consequences
There is no need for someone's house to be pristine. Perhaps your estimation of what presentable is may not be the same for others. In my view, there are things we can just let go of.
I have all my daily needs set up around my armchair so I don't have to get up. That includes a was paper basket within arms reach, footstool, kleenex, lotion, nail clippers, lamp, Qtips, radio, TV remote, etc.

Depression in Elderly is something to Google and download a pdf for a number of pages of statistics, signs to look for, symptoms, and helpful strategies. I cannot give a link. Sorry.

Look for groups that can help support you and meet regularly to exchange like stories and find out wht has worked for others. You can also access seniors' outreach services.
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I would always ask my mom if she needed help cleaning and she would say she JUST had. Really mom? So, I did the same as above and started out slowly. She would not hear of someone coming in and cleaning HER house! Dad would take her out and I would do what I could in the amount of time I had. Then, as she progressed we would take her out or bring her to my house for quite a while and let the professionals come in. To be honest, I don't think she even realized it was so clean but my dad did and was so relieved. And yes.....that's exactly what it is.....therapeutic/creative fibbing. I also agree that she needs to be reassessed or diagnosed with geriatric doctor. It needs to be for more than a 10 minute appt. My mom could "trick" anyone into thinking she was just fine in the first 10 minutes of talking to her but after that a person could see she wasn't fine. Plus her appearance and hygiene went down the tubes from years of being a beautiful and well kept woman. Good Luck and God Bless
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