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It frustrates me to re-wash dishes, hunt for misplaced items, etc. She is active and drives, does not seem to have dementia, but may not see details well and may forget where things go. She wants to feel needed but I need the kids to do their own chores and sometimes she interferes. She also gets indignant if she catches me re-washing an item, so I'm on eggshells at times! Am I dealing with Alzheimers?

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The only way to know for sure if she has Alzheimer’s is to have her tested. Buy her her own dish set and tell her she can washnthose and only those, she may just be trying to be helpful, to “pay her way”.

I’d like to add another problem to the mix though. If she is having vision problems and is becoming forgetful, she should not be driving.
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Ummmm... appoint her Supervisor?

I have a bad conscience about this because back in the day when my mother washed and I dried I used to pop substandard items back in the bowl with a merry cry of "re-ject!"

I can now see I'm quite lucky that my mother was a patient and kindly woman who would never have poked her daughter in the eye with a soapy rubber glove.

How long has your MIL been using your kitchen?

You don't have a dishwasher? You wouldn't think about getting one?
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Riverdale Dec 7, 2018
I love the thought of merry cry with re-ject. Really made me laugh.
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Be grateful that she is willing to help. Maybe do a chore chart and include her.

The thing is, grandma's do try to help their grandchildren by doing chores, or giving money or cooking special things. This is so far from most posts that the g'parent doesn't even acknowledge the g'babies or gets jealous or treats them terrible.

I would try to be happy that she is trying to be an active member of the house and come up with a story about why you're rewashing dishes or do it when she won't see.

But that's just my opinion. I deal with someone who thinks I was put here to be his personal servant and won't do one single thing at my house except make work.
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I am like this too. It just makes more work for you. Sorry, if my MIL were living with me the kitchen would be off limits. Why? She was visiting with us. I came home from work and found she was making Mince tarts ( an English thing) and cutting the dough directly on my counter. All she had to do was ask my husband where it was. I have a large cutting board. It wasn't that she was scratching up the surface but I had cats.

I think ur Mom just doesn't see. Its it a well lighted area. Maybe allowing her to fold clothes. Run the vacuum.
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Countrymouse Dec 7, 2018
Furry mince pies! Gosh I hope that doesn't catch on 😟
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Thanks to all of you for your responses. You've all been very creative and helpful, and don't think I haven't considered all of these! Will respond again later, but wanted to thank you all immediately.
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To answer some of your questions and suggestions: It was her kitchen long before it was mine. She lives on the family homestead with her son, whom I married about 10 years ago. It's not feasible to block her out of the kitchen, as it's an open layout. Nor is it necessary at this time, it's only an annoyance, not a real problem yet. Not feasible to give her her own dishes either, that would hurt her feelings. Yes we have a dishwasher but some things get hand washed. I have tried to let her know that I LOVE kitchen chores (true!), that the kids NEED to do chores to earn their allowances and learn life skills (also true), that she's earned her rest (very true!) etc., but nothing works. I guess I just needed someone to talk to about this. Thanks for reminding me that things could be a lot worse. She really is a dear and I am blessed. I still enjoy her company so I will count my blessings. It's nice not to feel alone.
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Rosses003 Dec 8, 2018
We, the lucky ones, all go through this Desert. And I figure you know what I mean by “lucky”. So many people here are dealing with serious caregiving loads, where their loved ones cannot even do the most basic tasks by themselves.
My mom not only still cleans the kitchen, and tries to do as much as she can, but she criticizes me because I never do things right! which as you can imagine adds another ounce or two to the “annoyance” :) So, like you said it yourself, count your blessing my friend! You are not dealing with dementia or Alzheimer’s, you are dealing with a human being whose capabilities have been diminished, yet she is striving to remain active and useful..there is very little one can do at 90 years old to feel alive, hold on to a little independence and attempt to still feel like the same person from 70, 60 or 50 years ago!
I would suggest that instead of trying to modify her behavior, you could try to modify yours to ease the situation. Learn to breathe, slow and deep, and quickly put things in perspective when you feel annoyed.
And please try not to make evident to her that she does things wrong. Put yourself in her shoes, that always helps in life! :) Good luck, and embrace this opportunity life presents you with to increase your patience. Remember we will all get where she is -that is if we get to live that long!- and hopefully we get there like she is: active and willing to keep going!
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No, it not dementia or Alzheimer. After 50 years old, our vision diminishes and at 90 years old it is a blessing that she is active. She will only be with you a few more years, so take comfort that you are not changing her diaper, cooking for her, spoon feeding her, washing her up in the morning before you go to work,running errands for her because she blind, or realizing that she doesnt know you as her child or her surrounding and looking out the window in a catonic state. Most caregivers or children on this site would love to have an active mom at her age. When she goes to sleep clean up the kitchen. When she does the kids chores, tell the kids that grandma love you so much that she is helping you but you need to pitch in because she is fragile. If you get too frustrated, have grandma/hubby watch the kids and go get a loving massage and facial. Rejuvenate. Dont sweat the small stuff, enjoy your time together. Create memories and not regrets. Your kids will grow and be great adult in time.
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Rosses003 Dec 8, 2018
Excellent answer! “Create memories, not regrets”. Perfect reminder to all.
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I had the same puzzlement when MIL’s dishwashing skills went down hill. ‘You're supposed to forget the recent things, not something you’ve done all your life’. When my eyesight for close things deteriorated, I too realised that it was a vision thing. If she is still driving, it would be good to have an eye test done. My long distance vision is better than 20:20, so I don't have problems driving even though my washing up without spectacles is substandard!
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DesertGrl53 Dec 8, 2018
She still passes her driving vision tests, Margaret. ;) And she sees her eye dr on a regular basis. I think you're right, she sees well enough to drive but close work, esp in bright sunlight, is not as good. I've just come to realize this is going to be my life for now.
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She will never stop working until she is unable. Living on a Homestead creates workers, if you don't work you don't live. It is part of her to work at this point.

It sounds like you are all blessed and you just needed to vent. 2 women in a house is a challenge under the best circumstances.

Keep up the good work!
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DesertGrl53 Dec 8, 2018
You are absolutely right, Realyreal... I have come to realize she can no more stop working than she can stop breathing.... thanks for the encouragement. :)
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Possibly bad housekeeping. My mother could never clean anything. At least how I would describe clean. Her own mother threw a pot out the window rather than deal with stubborn food remains. Fortunately I inherited cleaning from my father's mother. My husband cleans with great efficiency. He credits it to being a boy scout. All pots are cleaned at one daughters house before we use them and at our other daughter's our son in law says how he will miss the cleaning of the cast iron pan once we leave. You could tell her you prefer the dishwasher to clean and sterilize. If Alzheimer's is responsible for clean dishes the age range has dropped to a younger crowd.
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DesertGrl53 Dec 8, 2018
Thanks for the chuckle, Riverdale! I've been tempted to toss a stubborn pan out the window myself.... until I discovered the most amazing cleaning agent known to mankind: Efferdent!
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Thank the Lord that she is still able.
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DesertGrl53 Dec 8, 2018
Thank you, I do!
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DesertGrl, I'm glad you're feeling a little happier about this in general - and even gladder you're still friends with her :)

The only alarm bell that's now tinkling with me is: if this is her kitchen that she's lived in forever... why's she having difficulty with remembering where things belong? Has there been a recent reorganisation of cupboards, or something? Is it only in the kitchen, or are things turning up in odd places all over the house? Just something to keep an eye on.
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DesertGrl53 Dec 8, 2018
Thanks, Countrymouse. No, things are not showing up in weird places throughout the house, that was an excellent suggestion. She's always been casual about where to put things in the kitchen, according to her daughter .. and I'm meticulous! And yes, when I moved in we did remodel the kitchen somewhat, but not drastically ... probably more of a difference in style. I mean I'm not finding fresh fruit in the freezer, spaghetti in the dog food bag, cheese in the silverware drawer or salt in the bread box. (I've taken care of an Alzheimer pt before.) So I'll take a deep breath and relax!
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Install a dishwasher if you don't have one, ask her to rinse them and load only.
You can just as easy handwash them later when she isn't around or sleeping. That way she feels important, and things get cleaned enough.
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DesertGrl53 Dec 9, 2018
Thank you. She likes to clean up after breakfast. I'm raising a couple of grandkids, and (with great difficulty!) I have managed to convince her, for the most part, to let the kids do the dinner clean-up. I keep the kitchen tidy the rest of the day, usually because I am cooking, baking, etc. But she does try to sneak in there at every opportunity; for example, if I'm baking and leave for a minute to go to the bathroom, I'll return to find she's washed the bowls I've been using (badly) and put the measuring cups away (somewhere). She either thinks she's helping or can't stand an untidy kitchen. And like I said, she gets offended if I "do-over." I usually just leave it until the next time I need the bowls and wash them first;she doesn't seem to notice. It just makes extra work for me when I'm trying to cook. Anyway, thanks to all for your suggestions, I'll just try to be grateful for her "help."
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