How do I get my mother to agree to respite care for herself?

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Hi Everyone,

I am new here. This is my first post.

I am assisting my mother after a stroke. She has mobility challenges and post stroke dementia. I and my sister live with her but I am finding more and more urge for some Respite now. We have been assisting her since mid November. I have tried to bring up my urge to help her find someone she enjoys being with so I can have some breaks during the week..... I am with her alone Monday through Friday when my sister works and I also help her on weekends as my sister is often busy with household matters when she is home. My sister assists her when she can too, but I feel I need at least one weekday away from being with my mother now.

She was deeply resistant to admitting she needed help before her stroke. Now her reactions are even worse as she gets so upset at needing people's help with her mobility at this time. She needs supervision for so many of her current walking activities and daily tasks right now .... She does understand her physical challenges meaning she knows she can fall and get hurt but yet can't admit that she needs constant assistance at this time.

She refuses the possibility of anyone else being with her besides my sister and I. I am even willing to be present in the house while someone else helps her with certain things so I can at least try and attend to some additional personal matters in another area of the house ( like doing some online course studying ) and just be here to assist her for more private concerns if she doesn't want to have someone help her in the bathroom and such... But if she agreed to a helper for us I could try and have some study time in my bedroom while someone else helps her with walking or with food preparation and such.

Anyone Please have any suggestions?

THANKS SO VERY MUCH.

27

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My mom and I fought about this a lot when I first started caring for her!

A counselor once told me that she might ignore her own needs indefinitely, but that, as a mother, she would smash down a mountain if it meant helping or bettering the life of one of her children.

This was in the context of a session I had with her when I was trying to persuade my mom to move closer to me, so that I wouldn't have to give up my community, my career, and my support network when she started to need more care.  My counselor told me to tell my mom what I stood to lose if she didn't make the move. It felt selfish to make it about me, but I was surprised to discover how swiftly it worked. Mom made the decision and put her house on the market the next day!

So every step of the way in getting my mom to accept more support, I've learned to make it about me. I tell her the walker, the wheelchair, the hospital bed, the community nurse visits, the occupational therapist visits, the home support visits....they're all for me, because I'm overwhelmed with the tasks, or because I can't physically support her, or because I'm in pain (I have a disability), or because I need a routine, or because I need some spare time to do x, y, and z.....whatever the reason, I make it about me.

Whenever she grumbles about home support now, I just say, "They're here to help ME, Mom."  Most times - not every time, but most - she stops grumbling and goes along!

Worth a shot....
Helpful Answer (24)
Reply to Dorianne
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You say "...to help her find someone she enjoys being with so I can have some breaks during the week..... "

Mmm. You might have to abandon part of this goal: the "enjoys being with" part.

The thing is. You need regular breaks. But you're expecting your mother not only to agree to letting outsiders in, but also to be happy about it. And she just isn't.

Too bad! This is about you needing time off; and can you name any other role in any walk of life where a person is expected to be on call 24/7/365 without a break? So rather than the "by your leave" approach, go for the "like it or lump it" approach and stop waiting for your mother's permission.

I'm not suggesting you shouldn't try your best to find a good personality match, a capable, experienced person who will look after your mother nicely and be pleasant company. Just that your mother is never going to agree to your looking, so you're going to have to make it happen whether she likes it or not and let her make the best of it.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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I think that Dorianne's advice is sound. Make the respite about you.

After agreeing to move in with my sister when she could no longer be on her own our mother wanted to change her mind. She didn't really need that much help and she didn't want to be a burden to her daughter ... One of my other sister took her aside and said, "Since Sis retired they are are having trouble making their mortgage payments. It would help them a lot if you move in and pay rent." (This was not true, by the way. So what?)

Ah. Mom didn't want to do it for herself, but if it would help out one of her children, well that was another story!

Another objection you may hear is "I don't need a babysitter. Nothing is stopping you from staying in your room or going out for a day. I can take care of myself." I hear that from my husband. I'd admit that he was probably right. He would probably be OK on his own. But I would worry the entire time and it would not be at all relaxing for me. Please accept this aide for the afternoon, for my peace of mind."
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Reply to jeannegibbs
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I did the same thing with my dad that Dorianne did with her mom. With my dad I did what I referred to as the "Help me help you" strategy. My dad was also resistant to assistance outside of my assistance but, like you, I needed help. In the course of several discussions I let my dad know that his accepting help from the outside would help me take better care of him in the long run. That I couldn't do everything and I needed help. It worked and he became more accepting of outside help.

Good luck! Come back and let us know how it's going.
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Reply to Eyerishlass
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I refer to the "helper" as our friend. I start out visiting with my mother and our "friend" and gradually leave the two of them, first by staying in another room and eventually leaving the house.
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Reply to Sandy321
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First of all, you are very clearly a caring daughter and looking out for your mother in every way possible. One of the best things a counselor told me about my mothers care was, “be the daughter“. She told me not to be the doctor, the health aide, the counselor, etc. there’s no way to follow this advice 100%, but it has helped as a guidepost overall for me. My mother has late stage metastatic liver cancer and has recently gone on to home hospice. My sister and I take care of her as well. She has total resistance to having hospice volunteers come in because she does not know them and feels “awkward“ around them. A note of humor… I feel awkward cleaning my moms poop every day and seeing parts of her body I’ve never seen. My mother has dementia like symptoms due to ammonia in her brain from the cancer. In many ways, I must think of her as a child and therefore be firm and tell her what we need her to do. It’s so hard to do that and feel like I’m still treating her with dignity. But it’s like the air mask on the airplane, we must take care of ourselves first, so that we are available to take care of our mothers. For me, this has been a journey of radical acceptance and compassion for my mom AND myself. My mom has her own journey of death, and it involves some awkward moments and things she doesn’t want to do or face. Same is true for me… There are so many parts of this journey that I don’t want to face and yet I have to. All of us involved are accepting these new challenges, so our mothers must also. Death, by nature, forces us to have to be “one among many”. We must learn to be one person among many who have faced death, and in that, we become more human. It’s challenging for me to allow my mother to face the realities of death. I must admit that I, by default, most frequently buffer those realities for her. Bottom line, we have to take things one day at a time, getting support and relief that we need. Sometimes I picture myself bowing to my mother, like in a Namaste, and saying “I’m sorry I can’t help you in this moment, but I have provided other help for you.” I wish you peace and courage as you and your sister continue to care for your mother.
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Reply to lastwoman44
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DLW
Give us a bit more information in order that we can help you sort this out.
How old is your mom?
You and your sister?
Is mom getting therapy to help with her recovery?
Is she improving?
Does your mom have funds for private care?
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Reply to 97yroldmom
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Excellent advice above. I’ll only add that I’d start from the beginning with the number of times per week that you ultimately want the caregiver to come. If you want 3x a week don’t start with one, for example. With a resistant parent you don’t need to wade in, better to present the new normal as it’s going to be instead of having to get her to adjust all over again everytime you up the hours or days. Good luck!
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Reply to Daughterof1930
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I live with my 86-year-old mother and am with her 24/7. She can't (or won't) get out for anything but quick trips to the grocery store. She has moderate dementia and can still get around and take care of her own hygiene. She can't be alone, though. My sister comes when she can, but she works and has family obligations. I think about bringing someone in to sit with mom for a few hours, but she is extremely private and isn't used to having people around. Even if I could get her to agree to it, I fear that I will pay for it after the fact. Maybe I'll try the "it's about me" thing, but honestly, mom is not that selfless. Around here, it's all about her. I just can't see it being anything but more trouble for me, but I'm really burning out.
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Reply to debbye
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I wish Dorianne’s strategy worked with my mother. Nope! When I’ve tried that tactic, my 97-year-old mother’s response is, “It’s all about you, isn’t it? I’M 97 YEARS OLD!!” (Like her being 97 and infirm trumps my health and sanity at age 60 ... she’s a narcissist anyway.) She refused to let me bring some help in when we decided take a trip, trying instead to talk me out of the trip by telling me there will be plenty of time to travel when she’s gone (she’s 97 and still living alone ... she could live another 10 years!). So, we planned the 3 week trip in our motorhome, set up my daughters to go visit her on the weekends, and we took off. It has not been easy for either one of us. I call her twice a day and listen to her moan about how lousy she feels, how she’s just sitting and looking out the window, nobody comes to see her, etc. And I just keep telling myself it’s not my fault; I tried to make sure she’d be taken care of, etc. When we get home if she tells me how hard it was for her, I will remind her that we talked with her several times about having someone come in to help her and she refused. When SHE was 60, she went where she wanted when she wanted with no impediments or guilt, do I not deserve the same opportunity? Or must I wait until she is dead before I travel? And what if she lives another 10 years? What if my husband or I get sick in the meantime and can’t travel? We’ll be home one week from today and I’m ready for her!
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Reply to Quint41
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