For instance changing light bulbs, climbing up in the closet, doing yard work in 95 degree heat. She complains constantly about how much pain she is in - back, arms, legs - yet she will spend a hot afternoon pulling weeds until she becomes soaked in sweat and almost passes out. Or rearranging the crazy hoards of stuff crammed in every nook of the house. These activities end with her in tears followed by an angry screaming rant.

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Chachacha, if she waits for you to leave to get busy then there isn't much you can do short of 24/7 supervision.

I didn't mean any offense about not having it so terrible.

I can't help but feel like our parents still get to make stupid danger choices and we can only watch, only guardianship gives us authority and I for one pass on that responsibility for my parents. The state can intervene. I am not giving up my peace of mind because they want to be stubborn. I cross the bridges as I come to them and if that is a cracked skull or broken hip because they are going to by god do what they want, well I didn't push them and I can only help them through the trouble they create.
Helpful Answer (13)

For me, we can't stop my MIL from doing just this sort of stuff -- Lord knows, we have tried. We have utilized every trick in the book. Now, I accept that she is going to do stupid things, dangerous things, and I really can't stop her. And it took a few years to honestly accept that.

Perfect example: we have finally gotten her to hire a lawn service to mow her 2 acres. . .is that good enough? No. She told me Sunday that she had been out mowing the day before . . . . .her lawn was beautiful, it had been mowed and trimmed 3 days before, no need for her to be out on a Dixie Chopper (zero turn mower) AT ALL. But she did it. And she seemed pleased that she had outsmarted us and gotten out there to do it! ( I thought someone had disabled the mower last fall, so the fact that it was running was a surprise -- her on it . . . not so much, lol) There are many, many things like that. She's using her cane again, despite the doctor saying she should be on her walker only. I had hidden the cane in the basement when she came home from rehab after breaking her hip (and basement was locked, because she will go down the stairs, another thing she's not supposed to do, *sigh*) but a Gr'son took her down there for a tornado watch two weeks ago . . . and she found it and drug it upstairs, and is happy as a clam (and unsteady as a newborn colt!)

For us, she is going to fall again and get hurt. Probably a hospital stay that will turn into a rehab stay. With luck, rehab will turn into placement in a nursing home. DH always says, "If she falls or does something stupid and kills herself, she went out living in her home like she wanted, so that's good" And I rebut with "And if she falls, and DOESN"T kill herself, we'll have a huge problem!" :(

What I have learned is, I can't protect her from herself and the bad decisions she makes. She has not been declared incompetent, so we do not have "authority" to control her. We do as much as we can, behind her back, (fixing things around the house before she notices and tries to do it herself, swapping out her expired food for fresh, counting pills to see if she's missing doses, etc.) to keep her safe, but in the end - she is stubborn, refuses to admit she's frail and ill, does not follow any restrictions placed on her by doctors or therapist, and will not change her behavior at all. I get better results and behavior from my Siamese cat most days!

So, from my experience, hide what you can that gets her in trouble (stepstools for climbing in the closet, etc.) do what tasks you can that she shouldn't - before she tries to, and make peace with the fact that as long as she is on her own, she's going to do these stupid and dangerous things :( Not the best advice really, but it's all we've been able to do.
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Hummer Jun 2019
I'm not so sure she should hide the step stool. For someone who's so determined, the step stool is safer than some of the alternatives they might resort to. Eg., a rocking chair, or other unstable surface.
I will be brief; you’ve had some good thoughts presented here. But after reading one (I’ll keep it nameless), I had to respond. NO ONE, not even Mom, should be allowed to turn your life upside down. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be much good to her. She is aging, she’s caught between wanting to live and knowing she can’t forever. She may even have an internal hope that the risky behavior carries her away. She needs to know that you care, but you can only do so much for her: your life is (presumably) not nearing its end, and you have the right - even call it obligation - to live it as you wish. As long as Mom is not endangering others, so does she - even if that risky behavior hastens its end. Read Dylan Thomas’ ode to his father: “rage, rage against the dying of the light”’is its most gripping line & poignant moment. At 81, & having been in your shoes, I wish you an old age that - for the most part - let’s you be in charge of it!
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You could be describing my mother, nearly 93. She is combative and stubborn, plus has some dementia. The combination is a Big Problem. We try to protect her from herself, but she actually thinks she will "get well." (No, you're old, and your body and mind are failing you.) She won't ask for help; never has; why should she start now.

She's in assisted living, thank goodness, and we actually have motion-activated cameras on her (she knows). We have learned she's up many times during the night, wanders around her apartment in the dark. We got motion-activated lights. We got always-on lights in some places. Her sanitary habits have deteriorated. Bought stuff to help that. Tightwad that she is, she cut the wipes in half. We took away her scissors. Hand-washing was inadequate. Bought different soap to get more action by the hands (Boraxo).

Problem? We try to find an answer. But in the end, there's only so much one can do. Try to keep her safe but recognize your limitations. There may be dementia, which intensifies certain personality traits (stubbornness among them), making it difficult to recognize.

As someone who used to like some yardwork, I think hydration is a serious issue. Perhaps she could wear a water-bottle-holding waist pack? Can she open bottles? Leave some bottles out there in a discreet place. Even if it's hot, it's still water. Put a chair someplace where it's useful.
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Oh dear, Chachacha, I was afraid you would feel "got at" - but I promise you, I was *asking* not accusing. The key question boils down to "what exactly is your mother getting so upset about?" And it's not unfair or unreasonable to wonder if attempts to help her are perhaps making things worse.

Anyway, never mind all that because you've explained :) Your mother is becoming upset and frustrated and angry with her environment and her daily living in general; and when you attempt to help you are coming under fire.

You still can't stop her engaging in these activities. But perhaps what is becoming clear is that her mood and emotional state and cognitive function need investigation and assessment, to see what can be done to help her.

Next tentative question... will she go with you to consult a doctor...? [duck and cover]
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My mother is 92 with vascular dementia , a-fib and just recovered from breaking her hip, second broken bone from a fall. We took tripping hazards ie step stools, ottomans, coffee tables out of her apartment. Might work for some but not her. She gleefully told the woman who comes to feed her cat she had a brilliant idea and now she just stands on a cardboard box🙄🙄🙄🙄. Talked to her ALF and they agreed, better for her to do it safely since she’s not about to stop. Ordered her a step stool with a tall handhold and an ottoman lol.

I can’t control my mother . Why even try

My mother was the same, doing yard work until she was ready to collapse, dehydrated and frustrated because she was no longer 40. You can’t change it and in a way , while that independent feisty attitude is hard for others to deal with , it also shows a strong will to live. It also pushed my mother to crawl thru 2 rooms with a broken hip to get to the door if her apartment to yell for help. So it’s a toss up lol
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Someone could have written this about me! (and I would hazard to guess 99% of the women on this site)
I change the light bulbs and the batteries in the smoke detector because the beeping at 4 am drives me nuts and the light is out and I am the only one that lives here. And to call daughter, grandson or anyone else to do these things further diminishes what I can do for myself.
I pull the weeds because no one else will unless I pay them and I don't have the extra $$ to do that. I would rather pay someone to mow my grass every week. (One "indulgence" I will not give up..unless daughter, grandson or someone else shows up to do it)

I totally agree with she in tears because this it more than she can handle or is it the argument you start.
If you want her to stop climbing ladders to change the light bulbs Show up one afternoon with all LED bulbs and change every light in her house. She should not have to change bulbs ever again.
If you want her to stop the yard work show up on a Saturday and pull weeds with her or pay a lawn care company to do the work for her. (But I can tell you that will not work she will still find weeds that need pulling)
As for the "stuff" in the house leave it unless it is causing a health or safety risk.
If she needs help finding something offer to help but otherwise leave it, you can worry about how to get rid of it when she is gone.
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chachacha Jun 2019
i do not start the argument or the screaming. this is how my mother has always reacted to everything.
i know why she is crying. it is because she has exhausted herself to the point she can barely stand up.
i hired a lawn service - see above.
i change the light bulbs and the batteries. she is right behind me changing them again.
It's really hard to prevent someone who wants to do this kind of stuff...

My late MIL, in her late 70s, found herself in the hospital, having passed out on the street in 95 degree NYC weather. She asked me to go to her apartment and get some bills that needed to be paid.

Imagine my surprise when I found, on her dining room table, 50 pounds of wooden wainscoting from Home Depot; she had carried it home on the bus the previous day.

I asked if she saw any connection between her passing out and the exertion of the previous day. "No connection at all" was her answer.
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Katsmihur Jun 2019
I’m really coming to terms with your first sentence, BarbBrooklyn.

Mom found herself in the hospital, after keeping her doors/windows closed and the a/c off, on the first hot summer day. Late evening, she couldn’t stop sweating & lost control of her bowels. Imagine my surprise when she said she had frozen fish for dinner (turning on the oven to prepare). Mom not only does not see a connection between her heat-related collapse and a closed house with the oven on, but argues and yells because *I don’t understand that she had an inner ear issue at that time* (explanation of this event by ER doc). Of course, she believes him, and not me, ‘cause he is a doc. “No connection at all” in her mind between her heat event and her hot house.

chachacha, I feel for you ‘cause I’m going through the same thing, although Mom is 78. I’m taking comfort from the fact that I know the efforts I’ve put in to help her since Dad died (she won’t ask & when I suggest, she says she’ll handle it later, effectively pushing me out). And I’ll be available to help her through the trouble that she creates as a result of her own stubbornness . . .
So many of us face the same challenges.......maybe not so much yard work per say, but the continual argument of them doing things that put them in harms way. Day after day. From what I have gained from this journey is simply can't stop them.....only stand from the sidelines and watch the inevitable train wreck. Mom has already fallen and broke her hip. Returned home (not my decision) after her stint in rehab and now I hold my breathe until the next time. She is beyond stubborn and self centered. Always has been.....and if dementia is involved this only gets worse. I can relate to the hoarding and the shifting of useless items from one place to the next.......we've tried to purge the basement and attic and now we deal with the fallout of getting rid of the excess that she "remembers" she needs. It's a no win situation.....and the house is far too large for them. Dad would move to independent living or AL, but mom remains adamant. Sigh.

Someone mentioned the possibility of your mom seeing a specialist to determine an accurate assessment of her mental state. If you can get her to go (mom has been resisting for weeks now....appt. the end of next month) it would be a good thing......perhaps more for you than mom. At least you will know exactly what your dealing with and can prepare accordingly. I know, not much comfort when we face the constant criticism, tantrums, and bad attitudes of our LO. Take care of yourself....the best thing you can do moving forward.
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The activities end in tears, or your attempts to stop her do?

How you divert her from something you'd rather she didn't do depends on why she's doing it and what alternatives she has. For example, if she's changing light bulbs because it's become an obsession, that's one thing; but if she's changing a light bulb because it's blown and there's no one else around to do it, that's reasonable enough. If she's breaking down in despair because she's overwhelmed by her hoards, that's one thing; but if she's getting upset because you try to clear them out, that's different.

It sounds as though you posted immediately after an angry screaming rant, did you..? Please don't think I don't feel for you, I really do - I speak as one who eventually figured out that the *only* *way* mother could have got into the position I had to lift her from was by deciding to unplug the electric sockets behind her glass-fronted display cabinet 😰
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