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My husband and I decided that it would be better for my elderly mother to come and live with us 9 months ago, because she was not eating properly and refused to leave the house, she was also phoning the neighbors repeatedly asking for anything from food to doing odd jobs.


Since she has lived with us we as a family have found that she is very demanding and wants to control our family, she is very selfish and expects everything to be done for her when she wants and not when we are ready.


She has no hobby interests outside of reading the newspaper and housework which we refuse to let her assist with because she refuses to follow simple house rules, even when these are explained and pointed out to her she will still do things her way.


We have had to stop her from entering the rest of the house and have confined her to her room, we have tried to encourage her to develop a hobby, with suggestions of knitting, sewing, embroidery etc, she refuses to try anything, she just pushes everything she is not interested in to one side.


She will wrap and hide food she does not want to eat in her socks and or in put it in her pocket and under her mattress, she will even hide drinks and then ask for more.


Our biggest problem is that she never considers our schedule/routine, she will awake as soon as the sun comes up and refuses to sleep and or rest until it is dark. We have explained that she will get three meals a day when we are ready, but she refuses to listen, which means that while we are busy she will repeatedly say she is hungry and wants her breakfast, lunch or evening meal, depending on the time of day, but if we allow her to get her own meals, she will just get a piece of bread or a roll, and a glass of milk, which is why she was losing weight when she lived on her own.


We feel that she wants to mother our family but in her own outdated way and refuses to listen to anything we explain to her, we all feel stressed and feel the best option is to not get drawn into explaining anything to her.


I would add that she has a habit of trying to get our attention, this can be anything from hiding a drink and telling us she wants a drink, or throwing things out of the window and then asking us to pick it up.


It does not matter what we are discussing with her, she will not take any notice and just focus on what she wants and when she wants it, so for example if she is focused on telling us to get the evening meals ready, we will sit and explain when and how we do things and she will not listen because as soon as the conversation is finished, she will just repeat the same again.


Here I would add that when we talk to her, it does not matter if its a positive conversation or a negative conversation about her behavior, she will thrive on it and try to draw out the conversation as long as she can, but at the same time she does not take in what we are talking about, because she only listens and remembers the things that matter to her.


We feel she is a very selfish woman who 86 years age still wants to mother everyone in the family, at times we feel she cannot remember and at other times we feel she is lying, but she definately remembers the things that matter to her.

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I suppose, when you are blending two established ways of life into one household and aiming to create harmony, there are two scales to consider:

#1 The older person, scale ranging from absolute poppet to complete vampire and you're sorry you ever invited her over the threshold;

and

#2 The householders, scale ranging from 'nothing is too much trouble' to 'does she have to breathe like that?'

If something annoys you in your home and you cannot stand it, you cannot make it tolerable by any attempt to be reasonable. But then neither should you take on the care of a vulnerable elder, probably.

Perhaps the moral of the story is that just because you feel - or all the more so if you are made to feel - that you ought to do something it doesn't necessarily make it a workable plan.
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I think everyone is being a bit tough on the OP. My grandmother was like her mom. We took her in for a couple months after an illness. She made our lives miserable. She wanted to be treated as an honored guest AND as the person who ruled the house. It was all about her wants and her schedule. She finally decided she wanted to go home when it was apparent that the household would not conform to her wishes.

My suggestion is to let her have the milk and bread but insist she sits and eats something at the NORMAL meal times. Is it possible to give her small insignificant chores to do such as folding towels? I also took the confining to her room as not allowing her to barge into other's private areas. My grandmother was famous for walking in on people in the bathroom as she felt they were not entitled to any privacy.

If she is 'healthy' why is she not living in a senior residence with maybe someone to come in and check on her occasionally? Where was she living before she moved in with you?
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daughter985 Dec 12, 2018
Thank you. My mum wanted us to treat her exactly as you have explained, but when she said she wanted to go home, we had to explain that her doctor had advised us that she should not be living on her own.

As for the milk and bread, it is the type and amount of food she was eating before she came to live with us, that is why her weight had gone down to 70lbs, had we left her in her own house, she would have died of starvation, because that is what she was doing.

Even now if we allow her to get what she wants, which in most cases would be bread and milk/water, she will refuse to eat the meals we prepare for her, so we have to control what she eats and when she eats to ensure she gets a balanced meal three times a day.

Its not about her barging into the rest of the house, its more to do with her just trying to take over how we live our lives, including telling us to turn off the TV because she does not want it on.

The reason she is not living in a senior residence or assisted living is due to the fact that her condition does not warrant it, as the number of elderly versus the number of places available are limited, we may very well need to wait until she needs to be fed and have her nappy changed before we can get her into a facility.
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Your mother doesn't sleep well. She wakes very early, at around five in the morning. Your schedule requires her to wait three and a half to four hours before she can have breakfast.

Is there any particular reason why she shouldn't help herself to a glass of milk if she wants it?
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daughter985 Dec 12, 2018
My mother gets up when the sun rises, it has nothing to do with the time of day, its more to do with the fact that she feels its wrong to sleep when the sun is up, its another reason why she expects everyone home and wants to close the house up prior to sunset.

The reason we stop her from helping herself, is because she would not eat proper meals during the day, as she has filled herself up on bread and milk.
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You've got an 86 year old Seventh Day Adventist widow who seems to have been unusually dependent on her husband (for good or ill) and who is now based in Japan.

Being based in Japan if you are in fact Japanese is the best possible option because nowhere else is going to feel quite right or natural.

Being *relocated* to Japan if you are a Westerner is quite a challenge. As I expect you know, guessing that you're not Japanese.

Is this your permanent home? Is your husband Japanese?

Where was your mother living before?
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daughter985 Dec 12, 2018
She is a Japanese SDA, who lives with Japanese cultural values.

My husband suggested that we come here to obtain a western perspective, as he is a foreigner.

As mentioned he wants to integrate her into the family, but she refuses.

My mother was living in her own house, had we left her there she would not be with us now, because she would have starved to death, as she was eating bread and milk and then tightening her belt to stop herself from feeling hungry.
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Daughter;

What would be wrong with mom getting her own breakfast of milk and a roll? That's what she wants, right?

If there is "nothing wrong with her" according to her doctor, then she has the right of self-determination. If my mom hadn't been fed when she was hungry in her NH, I would have been livid. One of the rights of elders in care is being able to determine when to rise, go to bed and eat.

Now, I doubt that there is "nothing wrong with her" but I think that you are skating on thin ice with not giving her food or allowing to get her own when she is hungry.

And no, there is no comparing elder care with child care.
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daughter985 Dec 12, 2018
As mentioned if we allow her to eat what she wants, she would not be eating properly and then her health would suffer and it would then be our fault, as we have taken on the responsibility to look after her.

She gets three meals a day, followed by protein drinks.

Yes!! I agree she has the right to determine when she should get up and go to bed, we never stop her doing those things as long as she does not expect us to follow the same routine, which is what she tries to do.
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daughter985, it doesn't matter if a grown child moves in with a parent or a parent moves in with the grown child.... the adult/child dynamic will take over.

Thus, Mom once again becomes the lead adult, and the grown child becomes the child. And Mom know best [even if it isn't in everyone's best interest].

Put yourself in Mom's shoes for a moment. At 86 I bet most of her relatives around that age have passed on, and so have her friends. And the love of her life is gone. That in itself can be heartbreaking for a long time. At 86, Mom can no longer hop in the car and drive to the mall to meet friends for lunch [even if she never did that, you get where I am coming from with this].

Still in Mom's shoes? At 86, Mom's hearing and eyesight are probably fading. My Mom eventually became legally blind but was able to slowly read the paper out of the corners of her eyes. Have your Mom's eyesight checked.

Life is soooo boring for her now, that she will do things just to get attention. Bravo that she likes to read the newspaper... get her to debate on issues that she had read. That would brighten her day.

At 86, I bet she always woke up with the chickens. My parents did that their whole life, didn't matter if Dad retired, that alarm would ring at 6 a.m. and Mom would start breakfast. But they did nap big time during the day.

As for housework, give Mom easy tasks and let her do it her way as she had been doing probably for 60+ years. It will make the day fly by quicker for her, and give her purpose once again in life.

I never heard of a doctor telling a person to eat more meat when her religion says no meat. Good heavens, there are other food products that have protein that are much healthier. My best friend is a vegan due to religion, she is thin but very healthy.

Sorry if I came across too abruptly, sometime tough-love can be an eye opener.
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I agree with JoAnn. Your mother needs to be evaluated by a neurologist. She needs to be tested for dementia and you need to be counseled on how to care for her. Your life sounds like a battle of the wills. It also sounds like you are treating her like a misbehaving child so she’s acting like one. Telling her to go to her room? Really?

When you moved Mom in with you, was it willingly or with a deep sigh and a sense of duty? It truly sounds like everything she does irritates you. It also sounds like you have not much of an idea what dementia is. If she suffers from it, she cannot act as you’d wish because her brain is broken. She needs help and medication to ease her journey through this awful disease.

Please consider making an appointment for her with her doctor for a referral to a neurologist for testing and evaluation.
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Just my opinion, your Mom has Dementia. Hoarding food and put it in her socks! That is a sign. Paranoia. Not wanting to leave the house. Husband probably covered up her behavior. There will be members who will say, they had no idea how bad LO was till the spouse died.

Mom needs to see a neurologist. He will run tests. Everything you have mentioned are signs. Can't talk to her...because she has lost the ability to reason, processing and comprehending. Short-term is probably gone.
I understand not wanting her to wander the house.

If she has money, maybe a nice AL would be better for her. I say this because caregiving was not my forte. I also live in a house with 3 flights of stairs caring for someone who couldn't do stairs.
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daughter985 Dec 11, 2018
I would agree that her husband ( My Father) covered up for her.

It was not my idea to have my mother live with us, it was my husbands idea, he just wants her to integrate into the family and accept the fact that we are looking after her, but as always she wants to control those around her and mother the family.

We had spoken with her doctor prior to her coming to live with us, because my mother asked us to pick up a letter from him, as she felt he was introducing her to a care facility/hospital, the reality was that her doctor said there was nothing wrong with her other than old age and that at her age the best option would be for her to live with family.

When we talk to her, we can see that she is trying to manipulate us into doing exactly what she wants, she fully understands what we are saying, but she refuses to accept/change, because it does not fit with how she wants things to be, she expects us to change to suit what she wants and how she wants us to live our lives.

As for assisted living etc, the cost is based on how much care is required, the more care she needs the more is covered by Health Insurance, the less care she needs the more we are expected to pay.

So while she can feed herself, go to the toilet unassisted getting her in a care facility would be difficult, as they generally only take them once they cannot feed themselves.

We are based in Japan and here nearly every family has an elderly relative living with them, in fact here its actually expected that children will look after their parents in old age, additionally there is a shortage of care facilities and care workers.
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Unfortunately, there is not much you can do, my mom lived with me 13 years and was trying first of all to be a mother of the family and have us to do everything her way, but this works out only with me, not with my husband, but still we changed our lives to her needs and all our vacations were with her and therefore we every time selected something that will be also ok for the elderly...But then worst times came when her short term memory start going away and she starts as you said hiding the food, taking the medications twice, going outside forgetting the time and we were looking for her on the streets....And finally her stubbornness lead her to the hospital and rehab facility and because of all interventions her memory even declined more and everybody said to me that I have no choice as to let her live there for long term care. I am full of guilt and pain, I hired a nice woman to be there for her for at least three hours a day, walk with her, otherwise she ll be just sitting on a chair, I am going every other day to her and still my life is hard and sad....You probably was looking for advice, but instead of that you just receiving a statement that you are not alone....
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I think it’s cruel to feed someone “when we’re ready”. And as far as confining her to her room, you better be careful. You can’t just lock her in her room.

i think you’ve got some control issues of your own and you and your husband are in way over your heads.
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MargaretMcKen Dec 11, 2018
It's not cruel to feed someone to a timetable. My grandchildren on one side whine about 'I'm hungry' and get given snacks, then don't eat a proper meal. The granddaughter looked at me in shock when I said 'you've never been hungry in your life', plus 'you'll enjoy your dinner when it comes'. The other grandchild eats real meals at the table with parents. There may be other issues here, but meals on time isn't one of them.
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I understand you are frustrated. What part of the world are you from, daughter 985?
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I appreciate that you are looking for support rather than criticism, but it is hard to make constructive suggestions without identifying the salient problems. So please do take anything I say as intended to be helpful.

It is a little difficult to understand what you are expecting of this lady.

If she tries to make herself useful, she gets in the way and you are afraid she might hurt herself.

If she doesn't do things for herself, you find it trying when she makes demands.

She is very selfish. She wants to mother everyone in the family.

She can't be allowed to explore the house and has to be reminded to go to her room. She doesn't want to leave her room.

She won't eat properly. She hoards food.

Describe to me the way in which you would *like* her to behave. What could she do to make having her around more comfortable?

She only remembers the things that matter to her. What are those things?

When you mention "her husband" - does that mean this was her second marriage? I.e. to someone not your father? Were you yourself not brought up in the Church? I'm wondering how easy it might be for you to be sympathetic to her... what's the word... priorities? Preoccupations? Prohibitions?

How did you persuade her to come and live with you and your husband? What was the understanding among all of you about how this would work?

And, speaking of money, as you briefly mentioned it: what are her assets and income? I only ask because if she has any, it's legitimate to spend them on her care; and if she hasn't then perhaps she is entitled to various other types of support.

Given what you say about her dependence on her husband, her reclusiveness following his death, her behaviour around food and emotional nourishment, too, I suppose you might call it, her paranoia - I'm surprised the doctor didn't recommend a psychiatric assessment.

How close has your relationship with her been over, say, the last twenty years? Are you able to judge whether her personality has changed, or just become more exaggerated?
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Where do you live? Are you in the US?

What are your mother's resources for paying for care?

Blood tests do not tell you about dememtia. She needs a workup by someone trained to evaluate thinking and reasoning skills.
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As all rooms are on the ground floor we stop her from leaving her room, by asking her to either stay in her room or asking her to return to her room, because she will try to do the house work and hurt herself if allowed to explore the house.

She is also paranoid and has a fear of open spaces and prefers to remain behind closed doors, accept when she feels the need to do housework at certain times during the day.

We have taken her to visit the hospital for a full medical and blood tests, no actual Dementia test has been done, but the doctor explained that all the tests done are within the range that can be expected for a woman of her age.

He recommended that she eat more meat, ( but being an SDA she refuses to eat meat) so we give her protein drinks after her meals. His only recommendation was was that we try to get her into day care 2-3 days per month, as its the best we can expect.

We are looking for advice not criticism in how we look after her, because when she was living on her own, her weight had dropped to 70lbs, since she has lived with us her weight has increased to 80lbs.

I would add that before her husband died she always went to church and assisted with jobs around the church, but everything was done with her husband, in fact she never left the house on her own, she only ever went out with her husband.

After his death over several years she hibernated within the house and never went anywhere, she even refused to go to church when other members offered assistance in taking her to church.

Please understand in our part of the world, 1 in 5 is 70 years of age or older and getting assistance costs money.
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Confining her to her room???

Have you had your mom evaluated for dementia? It really does sound like her brain is broken and that YOU need to understand the best ways to interact with her.

It really sounds as though your mom would be much better off in a care center with trained caregivers.
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I'm sorry - what do you mean by this?

"We have had to stop her from entering the rest of the house and have confined her to her room"

Do you mean this literally? How, are you confining your mother to her room?

I hope I have misunderstood.
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