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It's an unsettling way to live.


My mom is not considered incompetent event though she does have dementia, diagnosed last Spring.


She has made it crystal clear that she and she alone runs her life. (But be available when she needs help)


I could list 20 things but last eve during dinner twice I wanted to scream. First a nurse from her primary care doctor called to see how she was doing. Her PC doctor has tried to be more pro-active with my mom and her issues and enrolled her in a program that basically follows and monitors health issues. This is a very good thing. Well my mom could not have been more rude to the nurse. My mom stepped into the other room and got even meaner and told her to "NEVER call AGAIN". Then came out and proudly told me and my husband how she took care of that! No more calls to bother her! I wanted to vomit.


Then later she starts talking about her cottage and going there this Spring. I've already mentioned here that I don't feel she is safe to be there alone. Then my mom tells us she is going to keep the cottage and keep going so she can keep driving. (PA licenses need renewed every two years).


Again I could feel myself getting so angry, she should not be driving now! My husband briefly said something about there being problems with her having declared PA as her official residency (to get the license) and taxes and my mom just looked at him and said "I don't care".


I did not confront her, because it only gets worse. My mom can become enraged.


I'm always wondering how much bad behavior I will have to watch before she implodes and I am left to pick up the pieces.


Anyone else feel stuck like this?

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ALL of us are waiting for the shoes to drop. That's what I call it. We know it is coming and it is terrifying to think about. I try with all my might, and in calm times, to stay in the moment. We can't predict what will happen and when and the uncertainty is one of the worst things for me.
That said, what we THINK is coming might not. Right? We might stroke out instead. Or something. We just can't predict. And that is so tough.
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kbuser Feb 2, 2020
Love your post, my sentiments exactly. We never truly know what's coming, it does make it tough. Trying to take one day at a time.
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Having gone through incidents that many of you describe, my 87 year old mother called 911 and was taken to the ER by ambulance for a possible heart attack. She was in a psychotic state when I arrived. The Dr said she didn’t have a heart attack and that they would release her the next day. Because they didn’t know her, she seemed stable to them. I lied and told the Dr that she had been suicidal and that she had lots of meds at home and that if they released her she would most likely take them. In which case I would sue the hospital for releasing her in this state. The next day I received a call stating she was evaluated by a psychiatrist and would be transferred to a private facility for observation. This led to the proper meds and placement in AL where she comfortable resides and is very happy putting an end to years of anxiety for me.
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seekingjoy Feb 4, 2020
Well played. I’m going to keep this creative tactic in mind, lol.
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"She & she alone runs her life..............but be available when she needs help." The 'be available when she needs help' is the part of the sentence that renders the first part senseless. As long as you're there to pick up the pieces for all of her fails, she'll continue to think she's independent and 100% in charge of her own life. Maybe if you stop being there for her 24/7 she'll understand that at this stage of her life, it's a COMPROMISE. It's not all 'take', mother, there is some 'give' involved as well. The next time she's in need of something, what is she planning to give YOU in return?

This is how we managed to get my dad to use a cane; by compromising with him. We refused to 'do' for him until he 'did' for us. You want to go out for dinner, dad? Sure. But first, we're taking you to the store to get you a cane.

Tit for tat.

Just a thought.

Hang tight
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gemmab123 Feb 3, 2020
This is a great idea for some people. My mom was never a compromiser--it was her way or the highway--I think that will be true til the bitter end. Plus with the dementia she has never been able to understand she needs help and is under the impression she can do it all. But wouldn't it be nice to be able to teach an old dog new tricks..
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I don't think you always have to wait for a crisis to occur to intervene. I'd consult with an Elder Law attorney about your options. A court may be able to assist by appointing a Guardian. States vary on what is required, but, I'd inquire about what evidence is needed in your jurisdiction. The courts wish to protect people unable to protect themselves before they are injured. Based on what I read here and see in real life, it rarely come a time when the senior who has mental decline says, I'm not competent, I need help, please make the decisions on my behalf.
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helpingson Feb 4, 2020
Sunnygirl1,

I contacted several Elder Law attorneys two years ago but realized I couldn't pursue guardianship directly due to its expense (and thought mom would contest it in court) and the petition would boldly state my name (i.e., son vs mom). I'm my mothers primary caregiver. Adult Protective Services (APS) got involved. Worked with 5 APS social workers for 18+ months during crisis-after-crisis (hospitals, police, community reported multiple concerns). County Attorneys office petitioned the court. Swift process and appointed an Elder Law attorney as guardian who, with my assistance, placed my mom in assisted living (48 hours ago).

ExhaustedPiper,

Sounds like my experience is much different than yours, but the commonality is that I knew a major crisis would occur. Without my sharing a lot of details and not wanting to take the attention from your post, I've been living on the edge trying to protect my mom from herself and being vulnerable living on her own. I thought the major crisis would be that my mom would have a major accident (i.e., fall down the stairs) before I could get her the care she needed but resisted. Mom has advanced dementia and several untreated chronic conditions. But mom would often say to me: "I'm not stupid, dumb, or incompetent." That was her defense. Mom isn't dumb or stupid ... she is an intelligent woman; however, after a thorough APS investigation and court ruling, she was at-risk living on her own, vulnerable, and was deemed incompetent by the judge/court.

I care about my mom's health, safety and welfare and I'm thankful I received help, beyond what I could do myself, to ensure she received the assistance she needed (whether or not she realized or admitted she needed).

Day 1 in assisted living my mom said: "I'm having so much fun ... this is the best day of my life!" I hope she continues to feel this way. The journey continues and I wish you and others in your situation the best!
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Piper; Did you call the doc's office today to seek advice about your mom's continuing to drive?

Have you notified the doc's office, in writing, return receipt requested, that your mother is still driving after the doc informed her that she needed a driving evaluation?

If I were in your situation and "mom" asked for help, I would tell her that I can no longer assist her in evading her diagnosis and the law.

If she became unruly, I would call 911 and have her transported to an ER for evaluation of her mental state.
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seekingjoy Feb 4, 2020
“I would tell her that I can no longer assist her in evading her diagnosis and the law.“
That’s a great sentence. Taking a hard stance, using “tough love” is often necessary in dealing with elderly parents.
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So stuck . .between a rock and hard place. My husband and my mom.

I'm 58. My husband is 74. Hes a fall risk now, along with a few other health issues and chronic back pain. The last 3 nights he has fallen. He falls down at least once a day now. Usually later in the day - early evening. He refuses to use the walker. Yet, if he did, when he needed to , it would be easier and safer for both of us.

My mom , 89, a fall risk, and other health issues, and just like your mom. Same mom. She's across state lines. Not much I can do for her from a distance. And since last year, I'm afraid to come anywhere near her. So all I can do is tell the doctors, case managers and whoever . . .I don't think she should drive. I don't think she should live alone. Help me Help her. I don't seem to get anywhere. She's showtiming everyone. She passes the 'test' they give her . .yet they all agree something in her brain is mis-firing. Her rational thinking is twisted.

I feel like I'm getting older faster because of my LO's My grey hair is coming in fast now. I've losing myself. I'm no longer me. I am becoming more depressed everyday. I find a way to rally here and there - but I really am beginning to feel stuck just like you, and worse, I see my life going downhill fast.
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cheriel53 Feb 2, 2020
Damn I do know. My dad's 82 I'm 54 . I live his life for him. He fell down twice other day & won't use walker either.
I really like your comment " brain is misfiring now" . My dad no matter how slow and nice I am , cannot grasp logic. Now he's got earwax buildup & been to doctors twice to no final result, causing hearing loss and me yelling! Instead I just don't talk anymore.
It must be hard directing from afar, but you can only do so much. Take some time for you! And if you can get rispite care through husband's medical, that might help. Myself , I think physical therapy in home or at clinic up the street would benefit dads mobility, & not be another tragic 2 day stay on his floor because he couldn't help himself.
Good luck
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We felt stuck but not anymore. Moving mom (she doesn't know) into ALMC in a week! But, it was a difficult road getting there. Your mom sounds a lot like my mother a few months ago. I decided I was not living like that and I took the steps I needed to to get her moved. I did take my mom to a geriatric psych a few months ago and anxiety and anti psychotic meds have helped the rage. Now she's just depressed, and, I think, getting tired of raging. Time will tell.
Set your boundaries. Make a plan of action. Your suffering is optional! best wishes.
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Me! Starting around 2012, I began to view my parents as a freight train coming at me. I've lived my life waiting for the next shoe to drop ever since. Lots of shoes have dropped, lots of stress, missed opportunities, etc. Dad died last November but mom is still a hot mess and I foresee another 10 years of life this way. Things don't get better, they only get worse. We just ping from one crisis to the next. My mom has become this huge drama queen, which I find interesting because the years I was growing up she would not tolerate any drama from me. She would pretty much just tell me to suck it up, wait until I was an adult and had grown up problems. Now, most of my grown-up problems are from dealing with my parents for the last decade :(
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ExhaustedPiper Feb 5, 2020
Oh I hear you! My mom is the biggest complainer I've ever known, but when I was growing up she didn't tolerate even the slightest "complaint" even if my need was legitimate. Thanks Mom! Now here I am putting up with all her crap.

Upstream, I know your life got hijacked in a big way, and for a long time. Please tell me your mom is still in assisted living?
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Your wording “,,, and I am left to pick up the pieces” really struck a nerve with me, as - a life time ago I said nearly those exact works to my mother.

The big difference in our situations is that when I uttered those words it was at the beginning of my joy ride through caregivers hell.

It was the eve before my mother was planning on doing something incredibly stupid. Selfish and stupid. And - I knew what she was planning to do was going to negatively impact my father as well. In a very big way.

So, there I was on the phone with her - trying to get her to see reason and not proceed with her plan. She got angry. I got angry. And, each word that came out of her mouth got more selfish and self centered with each passing second.

I said “ So as usual, you’re gonna do what you’re gonna do - no matter how badly it effects everyone else?” Mom snapped “That’s right” to which I said “and I’m gonna be the one left to clean up the mess and pick up the pieces”.

“You’re not going to have to do anything” she yelled and slammed down the phone. Well, guess what? Two days later and for the next six years I was picking up the pieces. It was a frickin’ nightmare that I’m still trying to recover from... three years after my mother passed and my role as Chief Piece Picker-upper ended.

I feel for you. I really do.
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ExhaustedPiper Feb 2, 2020
I don't want you to re-live the horrible event, but if it doesn't bother you to say, what did she do?

I'm glad it's over for you now. Six years is a long time to clean up someone's mess :(
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My brother & I were, we waited 10 years and dealt with all the inconveniences. Finally my mother had a stroke, we jumped. She is now in AL near us, and after all this aggravation, she love where she is. Go Figure!
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katiekat2009 Feb 4, 2020
Same situation and my mom loved AL.
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