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My mom has plenty of money to take care of her home, but she keeps finding excuses and puts it off. I live with her and am her full time caregiver. She is 89 and will not make decisions about home repairs or much else. I don't know what to do. If I try to push her into making a decision, she gets frustrated or just plain angry at me. She says she doesn't feel like making a decision today and will think about it tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes. The issues with her home are getting larger each day she puts it off. It's not that she doesn't have the money, she is just afraid someone will cheat her or not do the work properly. Her reluctance to make decisions is getting worse every day. Any suggestions?

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Whatsaname - Went through this with my mom. Turns out "Won't" was really "Can't". Her reasoning skills and decision making abilities were the first casualty of her Alzheimers. She was so stubborn and proud that she would rather people think she was a stupid old woman who didn't want to fix anything than to think she had dementia.

The house is a symptom of another problem that you probably need to look into. Get your mom in for a neurological evaluation ASAP.

And when you get durable power of attorney (do this ASAP too), you can hire the work to repair the house and pay out of her account, not yours.
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My mother and father put off maintenance on their house for over 40 years. There were things that were easily fixed, but they didn't want to be bothered. So two gutter overflows led to rotted window and door frames. We had to get to crisis points before my mother would agree to do anything. We still need to do a lot, but to tell the truth, I am tired of dealing with it all.

Something that helped me was Angie's List. I let my mother know that I am looking to get the best workers. Although I tell her that Angie's List is on the computer, she thinks I come back and call her and she gives me a recommendation. She even has talked to Angie herself on the phone. :)

I did one thing really important. I found a good handyman on Angie's List. He does good work for an excellent price, so now I just call him for most things. My mother is comfortable with that, though she still hates having anyone around the house. (Not wanting anyone around the house is what led to the 40+ year neglect in the first place. Hermits! What can you do?)
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whatsaname, there were a few times I paid for repairs when my mother protested. Perhaps you could find a good handyman and pay him yourself for something smaller. If your mother likes and trust him, she may be open to let him do some of the other repairs. Sometimes we have to sneak around the side when direct approaches don't work.
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Most of us write to vent, whatsaname. We know that there are no easy answers. We often have to wait for the pendulum to swing to get things done. Until then we just do what we can.
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I wonder if your mom would consider letting someone take over the responsibility of getting the house maintenance up to date. Does she have a POA where you or another family member could just check out the house along with a handyman and see what needs to be done, hire the people and pay them. If you keep delaying, it's going to cost a lot more as damage occurs from neglect, water damage insects, etc.

If you are in a small town or if you just are too wary of strangers to go on line, you might check with your local church for referrals. My parents have found great plumbers, electricians, handyman, etc. right in their own church. These are well known people who don't overcharge the elderly. And if they can't handle it, they usually deal with other trusted professionals that they can refer you to.
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Jessie, I'm glad that you're pleased with Angie's List, but do want to share some info on that company. It's grown quite a bit since Angie first started it. I don't know what real quality control there is or what checking, if any, is done on recommendations.

I recently saw the truck of a plumber I hired several years ago, touting an Angie's List membership. Although they did work more or less to satisfaction, one of the plumbers was constantly whining about the type of faucet I had chosen; another one connected a reciprocating saw to a circuit already hosting the freezer (w/o asking me which socket to use) and blew out a fuse, causing an answering machine phone to blow out.

A poster on a DIY forum I visited shared experience with a contractor he hired from Angie's List, and it was all bad. Clearly the contractor wasn't qualified and/or reliable and this man ended up with a lot of damage and repair work to correct that damage.

Whatsaname, I've been through your situation; it took awhile to figure out what was going on.

I think at that age the mind begins to focus more on issues far more critical to health and survival than housekeeping and repairs. There's only so much a stressed person can handle, and those things that don't immediately threaten health and safety just kind of float away like downed leaves on a lake in autumn.

There's also a mental disconnect which I don't completely understand, but it apparently allows someone under physical and mental stress to put aside those things that aren't critical to immediate needs.

In addition, I think the stress of aging, declining health, limited mobility, etc. narrow the tunnel of decision making. Sophisticated problem solving and analyis become more difficult if not impossible.

And with any home repair project, if you don't already have a good group of contractors, there's the issue of getting ripped off and/or having someone worsen the situation.

Risk taking is not something that easy to internalize for someone who's already at risk for a variety of health issues.

When your mother says she'll think about it and postpones the decision, I would interpret that as meaning it's too complex or unsettling for her to deal with, now, tomorrow and perhaps never.

Perhaps you could prioritize the tasks, and if there are safety and health issues, research DIY forums to get an idea how these would be handled, then gradually discuss them, in small increments only, so that your mother can become confident in your ability to manage the projects with pros in the area. Perhaps if she sees that you can look out for her interests, it might comfort her.

You might also try some of the simpler repairs yourself, if you're comfortable with them. I would avoid electrical and plumbing though.

Another issue I learned about through the Alzheimers Assn. Creating Confident Caregivers course is that older folks can gradually limit their social and professional contact for a variety of reasons - failing eyesight, hearing, loss of social skills, etc.. They become less comfortable with strangers and DON'T want strangers around them or in their homes.

I also learned from taking care of my father not to ask him to make decisions generally, but only between limited options, which have now been narrowed down to 2 or just one. Instead of asking if he'd like to go out to eat (broad question), I'd ask if he'd like to go to any of his favorite restaurants (less broad but still too broad). Now I ask him if he wants to go to restaurant a. Period. One choice, yes or not.

So try to simply the issues, and work out as much detail as you can so that she just has to answer yes or not. It probably will even take awhile to get to that point and she may still refuse.

Established order helps maintain their perception of their life, and anything that alters, changes or threatens that is not something they'll want to deal with.
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Whatsaname, what you're describing is what I now know was a symptom of my mother's dementia. She would describe the problem, and then outline the solution (find a repairman, take the appliance to the repair shop, etc.), but would never follow through. I didn't understand it at all at first, and if it was minor, I'd just let whatever it was continue to not be repaired. I finally realized, as things got more major, that it worked best if I just handled it. Find the repair person, schedule the appt., or bring the item to the shop -- whatever. Deal with the person, and handle the payment, whether you'll be paying or your mother. My mother is very controlling and not at all cooperative, but I found that if I had a relaxed attitude about it all, and sometimes implied that she had agreed to it already (if she hadn't), it helped just get things done.
And, if you need access to her accounts, now is the time to get that squared away.
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Thank you all for your answers. I have tried most of what you have said. I can't pay for the repairs, I don't have the finances to do so, but my mother does. She will purchase or do anything to make herself more comfortable. She has just about turned her bedroom into a hospital room, because we both know that soon she will not be able to leave it. She walks very little and only if she is hanging on to something. She gets around the house in her elect. chair and only leaves the house for doctors apppointements. She refuses to see any specialist, only goes for her semi-yearly check-up. Her doctor has pretty much stopped giving her advice on things to do to have a more productive life because she won't do what he says anyway.
Thanks for listening, I guess I know there's nothing to be done. I think I just needed to vent...
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It is true that picking someone's from Angie's List alone can be risky. For example, there is a local company that scams people on HVAC systems, telling them they need to replace the system when a simple repair would suffice. They advertise cheap system cleanings, then find problems. Many people fall for it. They target seniors, who tend to be more concerned with the central heat/AC systems. On Angie's List they are a top-rated, award-winning company. So you do have to be careful.

My mother had made an appointment for a cheap system "clean" with this company. We didn't need it, since we are under contract. I dread these telephone solicitors when it comes to old folks. I checked with the BBB and found they were scoundrels. The people who evaluated them on Angie's List had mostly had their whole system replaced. They didn't even realize that they had been taken!
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I got shafted with a mover I found on Angie's list. I'm pretty sure all their A grades and reviews were by employees and the owner's family.
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