I manage the considerations on caring for my 96 year old mother. She’s in good physical health aside from pain from a longstanding back issue. Her mental capacity is declining. The doctor says she has moderate to severe dementia.

Mom is in a small indepentent care facility where she can interact with others or stay in her private room. She is safe and has oversight by staff. It is a “family” type atmosphere.

Relatives rarely come to see Mom. But occasionally they come or call.

The problem is that Mom is paranoid due to her dementia and does not think she is in the best place and also complains about things like the food there (I think it is good...better than I could do), and her television (the TV is in good working order, but she cannot operate the remotes I have provided even with written instruction).

She doesn’t complain to me, but she cannot remember her financial details (I manage her money and do her errand running and medicines management...I have POA). She tells the relatives all her complaints when they call. There are only a few that she still remembers and recognizes, but these are the ones causing issues.

When she complains they assume I am not doing anything to address her concerns. In truth I have tried many avenues to address them, to no avail. They make matters worse for my mother and me by agreeing with her that something should be done to make Mom happy. I, of course, am the problem. I don’t know the extent of their betrayal because Mom doesn’t tell me and relatives generally don’t talk to me....unless they want to know something.

They haven’t come out and accused me of neglect, but I am questioned about why Mom doesn’t have this or that.

They question my use of a camera in Mom’s room (I use it only to monitor whether someone comes in and takes or moves things in Mom’s room, which is something Mom claims (they haven’t. It is part of the dementia to be paranoid.) The camera also allows me to see that she is okay at random times of day.

I cannot describe all the ways I have provided and they have questioned, but hopefully you get the picture here.

I cannot control them. But I’d like to discourage them if possible from making Mom more paranoid, miserable and unhappy than she is by encouraging her to complain and feel sorry for herself. Communication would be wonderful, but I think they have already made up their minds, unaware of the extent of Mom’s mental decline.

Ideas? Advice?

Thank you in advance.

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Thank you, all. This was my thinking, but sometimes the pressure of caregiving lends itself to worrying more than clear thinking.
I needed your input to verify my position.
Helpful Answer (1)

How about this: First find a good summary of dementia patients’ frequent complaints, hallucinations and persecution fantasies. Keep the website link.

Then write an email with a copy going to everyone on your difficult list of meddlesome friends as relatives, along the following lines. ‘I am sure you all know about the issues faced by and with loved ones who are ageing, whether they are cared for in a facility, or in their own home with carers, or with family. If this is new to you, you can read all about it here ..(web link).

‘I have become concerned about the number of old friends and relatives who seem to believe everything that mother tells them, and then contact me to pass on mother’s complaints. In fact some of the things passed on to me are so unlikely that I am beginning to wonder if the person I am hearing from needs an ‘aging’ check themselves! As you all know, I have sacrificed a lot of my life to make mother’s situation as good as possible, and I can’t believe that any of you could accept some of the outrageous statements I hear from time to time. It makes my job just so much more difficult, particularly if leads to mother feeling that her complaints are justified and the imaginary problems can and will be sorted out.

‘I value the contacts that you all still have with mother. However if you hear anything that troubles you, perhaps you could send it on as a group email to all the other people who are receiving this, to get a better idea of what is likely to be correct, before you contact me. It would help mother to be calm and happy, and help me too. I have to deal with her distress that comes from some of the conversations, and my own distress that my efforts could be so distrusted. If you all agree that you are concerned, please ask me what I have already done about the problem. I will send any future communications to all of you by email, which is less stressful for me that multiple phone conversations.’

This very politely says that you are all off your own rockers, unreasonable and stupid, and you should pull your heads in. Any more stupidity is going to be shared widely to everyone who knows you and her, so get off my back if you have any value for your own reputation. If you phone, you will get told to email check it as asked. It just speaks with forked tongue - bler bler bler, like we used to say as kids.
Helpful Answer (1)

This is one of my biggest pet peeves EVER. The armchair critics who have opinions on everything, yet do absolutely nothing to help us! Just sit around pointing fingers at what we're NOT doing, as if they even had a clue about what dementia is all about!! If they did, they'd ignore 99% of what mother is telling them and chalk it off to dementia.

Quite often, my cousin calls my mother in Memory Care with advanced dementia and hypes her up even MORE than she already is. When luck is with me, the cousin can't get her on the phone at all. Now that mom can no longer operate her answering machine, there's no messages to deal with, thank God, and that's a huge relief in and of itself. Every once in a while, I'll get a Facebook dm *believe it or not* asking why my mother isn't getting 'the proper medical attention' about the pain in her legs. Well gee whiz, who knows? I guess b/c I've thrown her out in the street like a dawg, right?

I ignore the DMs on FB b/c who can be bothered with nonsense. When the meddlesome family calls me from time to time to ask after my mother, I tell them she's fine, as a rule, b/c that's what they want to hear. If they have anything negative to say, I tell them someone's at the door and I have to go. Buh-bye.

When the armchair critics want to actually HELP, then I'll have time to talk to them. In the meantime, all they do is cause MORE drama than we're already dealing with and it's all too much for an already exhausted me to handle.

Wishing you better luck and more patience than I have dealing with the armchair critics.
Helpful Answer (2)

IGNORE them.
You could on a lark write out ALL that you do for your mom and when someone suggests that mom is right and "something should be done" you can hand them the list and ask if they would like to try to do a better job for the next month. (they can do everything but financial duties) I will bet that they will back step very quickly.
You can also tell them that if they have any concerns about what mom says, rather than saying something should or will be done, they should discuss the issue with you prior to telling mom that it will be taken care of.
Helpful Answer (1)

I would not even worry about them. If they want to report you to APS, let them APS will investigate and find there is nothing wrong.

Don't take their calls.
Helpful Answer (4)

Simply tell them that you have enough stress in your life without the constant questioning and second-guessing. Tell them that you are no longer open to their questioning and their opinions, that you appreciate their willingness to visit but that you do not appreciate the constant litany after said visits. Tell them you are exhausted with explaining your Mom's conditions over and over again, and that you will not be open to phone calls anymore if it continues.
Helpful Answer (3)

As her POA, you have the authority to discontinue further contact.

However, people can make accusations all day and it will not cause any legal issues. She is in a care facility, she is getting the best care possible for her, so I wouldn't worry about the accusations. I would consider her overall wellbeing when deciding to cut contact. If they do more good for mom by providing an outlet for her perceived problems and it only provides an annoyance to you, well, maybe it is better to let it be and figure out how you can stop the nonsense from being put in your ear.

Dementia is so difficult to deal with, then add relatives that refuse to see the reality, ugh!! It is not your responsibility to listen to the nonsense but, to ensure that your mom is receiving the best care possible. That does not mean that she will be happy with any of it, I promise you that she will find something to complain about. I, personally, would rather she was complaining about things that are easy to disprove and not something that she makes up because you are fixing every complaint.

Keep up the good work and work on your eye roll for these bothersome people.
Helpful Answer (3)

Has mom’s doctor been asked about possible help with the paranoia? I’d send an email or some other form of communication to the relatives, maybe include mom's current evaluation from the doctor on her stage of dementia and what that looks like. Explain that you’ve done your best to fix every issue, but it’s like whack-a-mole that new things pop up and needs change. If they don’t get it after that, forget trying to justify or defend what you’ve done. Make sure mom’s lawyer or accountant are aware of her status and your efforts in caregiving. Keep good financial records. And then forget annoying busybodies
Helpful Answer (5)

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