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I feel bad but Mom (only 76, but an old 76) is just making me nuts. I know so many of you are dealing with much more difficult situations than I am so I apologize for whining about my life, when, yes, it could (and probably will) be soooo much worse.


So, here's the background. Mom had a knee replaced in July. In spite of how little PT she actually did, she's healed up well and, as I expected, that knee is now the least of her worries. Her other knee is almost as bad as the replaced one was and qualifies for surgery too. She's said "I'd have to be crawling to get the left knee done". OK, great plan.


Shoulder arthritis is also causing her a lot of pain. She is starting PT for that in 10 days. Also has back and hip pain. She thinks it's funny to say that there is no where on her body that does not hurt.


She's still in PT for her replaced knee, mostly because of on what was supposed to be her last day, she wobbled quite a bit on the stairs during PT and the therapist was not impressed and wants her to continue since she is a fall risk. I'm all in favor of that!


Now, for the problem. She does not want to do her home exercise program. Whines that it hurts. No matter how many people have told her that she HAS to do the PT, she does not care and does not "want" to. She wants to sit in her recliner all day and feel sorry for herself. She wants to move as little as possible, thinking that will keep her as pain free as possible. I know her pain is real but I just can not wrap my head around WHY she does not believe the rest of the world that inactivity is NOT the key to resolving her pain??? Her short term thinking is going to severely and negatively impact her future.


I have battled with her about this before and had our last blowout about it yesterday. She lives with me and I'm so angry that as she refuses to do anything to help herself, she is just making more work for me and my husband. I wanted to make that point to her yesterday but she stormed off in a crying fit when I'd only just begun to try to make some conversation about this.


I see her just giving up and declining and not understanding or caring. I'm so DONE with this. BUT if I'm done with it, she's going to need to hire herself and aid to help her with some little things and her needs are going to quickly escalate if she continues on this path. And in a nursing home ultimately. I'm so upset because this is AVOIDABLE. She IS capable of doing the PT, proven by doing it when she GOES to PT. Why oh why does a person CHOOSE to NOT help themselves and insure their own decline, where they are going to suffer more and miss out on all kinds of great things??


I've offered to help her with her PT and she doesn't take me up on it. After surgery, I tried to help her but quickly turned it over to her because I was just toooo frustrated with her laziness, for lack of a better word.


What's a girl to do???

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I sure feel your pain. I’m caring for my mother right now and she is in bed A LOT. She doesn’t want to do the breathing exercises every hour and complains if I try to get her to sit in a chair for an hour now and then, even though the hospital had her up the day after her surgery. Her non action speaks louder than her words. It took a lot of arguing to get her to start walking. We just had a blowout cause she waited till she was out of pain meds to tell me. I can’t babysit her 24/7 to keep nagging her to do things. It sure does make me crazy that she thinks she is doing more than she is.
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againx100 Oct 7, 2019
Right? They act like the littlest thing they do is a BIG deal and trot it out for everyone who will listen. Just absurd! Mom folds the laundry and acts like she is doing such a BIG deal for the household. And what do my husband and I do? Like a million times that, for goodness sakes. I mean, yes, it is SOMETHING but it's just funny how she "brags" about it. I guess she has no idea how silly it sounds (at least to me).

That must be very frustrating that she won't do her breathing exercises. It's maddening how much they complain and fight US yet will do things when they're in the hospital, at PT, etc etc.
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PT does hurt. Anyone who has done serious PT knows this. I have after a bad accident and I had to have surgery with steel rods placed on bones in my arm.

I did have meds prescribed for the pain but I am not a person to use a lot of pain meds. I took for only the amount of time I needed it, then stopped.

Now, doctors don’t prescribe meds as often and my husband did extra PT to help combat the pain after his surgery. Doctors do push for PT rather than an over use of opioids.

Some people use certain creams for pain. Ask people on the forum if they know which ones you could try.

Best of luck to you.
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Great advice above. I would add that you need to do whatever you need to do so that you don't find yourself following in your mom's footsteps, so to speak, and become older than YOUR chronological age, as well.

Caregiving seems to be an aging activity. I find myself fighting off the aging effects myself and I care for a person who is "easy" and truly does as much as he can for himself.
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againx100 Oct 6, 2019
Oh, you know it! I am 110% on top of THAT one. I see exactly what I do NOT want to be like when I'm her age. At 55 I am in excellent shape, if I do say so myself. I work out, am active in my garden, take walks, etc. etc. I have had some minor joint pains, worked with PT (the same one mom goes to!) and resolved this issues so that I am not unnecessarily limited by issues that were so easy to fix.
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Since Mom does PT when working with a therapist and resists doing the exercises at home alone, I suggest looking for a senior exercise class. I personally favor water _walking_ because it's so good for the entire body, but particularly good for the lower body and core muscles. Your mother may enjoy the social aspect of a class or she may be more compliant with the class leader than she is with you or just doesn't wish to appear whinny in front of other class members.
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againx100 Oct 7, 2019
Thanks for responding. I totally agree. I am trying to get her to go to the senior center and do their exercise classes. I think she could really really use both the exercise AND the socialization. She loves people and chatting but it's just me and hubby here and it's gotta be so boring.

She would totally be more compliant with a teacher and in front of her peers instead of home alone.

The biggest issue with this is that we live waaay out in the country and the closest option for anything is 20 - 30 minutes away. Makes a project out of doing almost anything. I don't mind it but it is another excuse for her to NOT do things. Lordy.
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Is your Mom getting any pain medication that she can take about 30 minutes before the start of the exercises? I'm not by any means advocating for her to get addicted to narcotics, but pain, and even the fear of pain, could be keeping her from even trying.
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againx100 Oct 7, 2019
Yes she has oxy because of her chronic high level of pain. She could certainly do as you suggest and it was suggested back when she was starting her PT after surgery. I will try to nicely remind her. Nicely is tough these days though. I HATE bringing anything up on this topic because it's such a freakin powder keg. Hmmm, maybe I can set my sister up to say it. Yup, I'm big into avoidance these days.
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Goodness, you are in a tough spot and it is frustrating. Arghhh....

As others have said, you can't make her do the exercises that will help her. The choice that you DO have is whether you will enable her to sit in her recliner. If you do her cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc then she will continue to sit there. Sometimes, it's a hard call if she is able to do a chore or not. For example, If it's about to rain, the arthritis may be flaring up more than normal and it's more painful to move.

We had that situation with my MIL. She lived in our basement for 2+ years and had all kinds of health problems. She was in a rehab for a month and did great. She was walking longer distances and much happier for it. After discharge, she walked with me in the driveway three times and then wouldn't do it again (there was a very slight uphill that she didn't like). She had every excuse - it's too hot, it's too cold, it's too sunny, it's too breezy, I'll do it tomorrow...

She had PT coming to the house several times a week and looked at it as a social call. Sadly, the PTs weren't willing/able to convince her to try. A single "I'm tired today" from her was enough to call it quits. She refused to even do exercises while sitting in her recliner.

Watching her do that with the PT flipped a switch for me. I thought, why am I working so hard to take care of this woman when she won't even do a single leg lift? So I made the decision to help her less when possible.

On the days when she slept well and woke up feeling good, I vamoosed from her apartment as quickly as possible. No making her breakfast, etc.

There were days when her vertigo kicked in that she couldn't/shouldn't walk much to be able to care for herself. Those days, I helped her.

She was diabetic. On the days when her sugar was too low in the morning, I would do whatever she needed. One morning, I finally asked her what she had for her night-time snack. She told me she had a pop-tart at midnight. She knew better but did it anyway. That day, I helped her with her essentials (breakfast and bathroom) but no more. She felt lousy for hours but she did it to herself. It was hard to say "no" to her wants (water her plants, do her laundry, wash her dishes) but told her she could do those when she was feeling better. Then, I left. It was hard to walk up those stairs but it needed to be done.

As she got older and her diseases progressed, she needed more and more help. It was a guessing game to know how much help she really needed and how much she just didn't want to get up. Sometimes, she was manipulating me to get me to do more for her than she really needed. Sometimes, I got it wrong and didn't give her the help she needed and I feel bad about that.

All of that to say, that you have a challenge ahead of you. Perhaps, you could make a list of who does what...you wash her clothes/she folds them and puts them away, etc. Perhaps, if it is written down, you will be less emotional about it and avoid more arguing. Hopefully, with time, she will be more cooperative about doing her own care if she knows that you simply won't do it. It will be hard at first to stick to the boundaries but it will help you both in the end if she will do more for herself.

If she refuses to do what she can for herself, then it's time for other options - aides, AL, or whatever solution works for everyone.
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You are not being a “big baby”. You cannot force anyone to do what you want them to do or what you think they should do. If you continue on this path, the only one stressed, aggravated and frustrated is YOU. I have had this exact situation with both parents. 1st my father..would not listen, use a cane, etc. He fell, broke his back and less than 2 years later is in LTC and will never come out. His choice, and he tells me he will listen now... my mother refuses to admit she has some issues and has only done what she wants to do...she is beginning dementia, but refuses to believe it..she is very hard of hearing and refuses to wear her $4000 aids...refuses to stop driving.. and I got TIRED of being her servant to take her everywhere, make sure she took meds, etc. I told here until she is ready to take the proper actions to help herself, I’m done. And she suffers the consequences. I had no choice...my sanity and life were the price to pay for this. I chose me. I wish you luck, do not let your mother affect your life, relationships, and health. She makes her choices and she takes the consequences.
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againx100 Oct 6, 2019
Thanks for letting me know you've been there too. I like this "until she is ready...I'm done". I have been thinking about the consequences. She does need to feel the natural consequences of her actions or lack thereof. I feel kind of mean but I do believe that it is necessary. For example, we have stopped going to some restaurants that are hard or impossible to get into. There are a lot of steps to get into them. Unfortunately, one of them is my son-in-law's restaurant and that will hurt if she can't go there anymore. It's ghastly watching her try to get in and out of there!
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I have had a similar experience with my bro in that he has a benign tumor sitting in his brain above his medulla and it has ruined his balance so that he lurches about in a sort of drunken gait. When he was in rehab for a month after a serious accident they improved his balance enormously with exercises and cautioned him that it he continues them his balance will stay improved and if not will quickly go away. He doesn't do them. They are simple. The one foot directly in front of the other heel to toe, and etc. I have done these for years waiting for the bus and they DO help. But no. When I pushed he acted all "I have no control over ANYTHING in my life any more and I will NOT be told what to do". At that point I knew my pushing was hurting, not helping. So gently explained one last time, and moved away from the subject.
For you there is yet another option. To tell Mom that you understand how hurtful, how hard to do, how tedious these exercises are, and know she hates them, but that here is YOUR worry as regards these; if she doesn't do them she will lose strength and become more weak. That will almost certainly mean a move to assisted living, as your back (and whatever) will not handle the care of her at that point. Then tell her that you will only say it this one time; failure to do her exercises could lead directly to being w/c bound and in the care of others. Which would be painful for you both.
Other than that I cannot imagine what you can do.
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ML4444 Oct 6, 2019
You always have the best advice. I wish I had been on this site 2 years ago, with all the sage advice and input from so many good folks,I might have avoided the frustration and heartbreak that many have. But I’m on track now.
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Until he had an epiphany in his most recent round of physical therapy that kept him in rehab for the entire summer, my husband was the same way. Bedridden, incontinent, his skin covered with spots of irritations from lying in his back 24/7/365 watching 40-50 year old reruns. When his blood pressure bottomed out in June, I saw my opportunity and had him hospitalized and then sent to rehab. The therapists were phenomenal miracle workers and got him strong enough to turn over in bed and actually get out of his bed and on a walker.

I was guilty of enabling. I waited on him hand and foot, at one point when he issued three or four orders at the same time, I got so flustered I tripped over a rug and fell right by his bed. He was concerned I was ok, but it didn’t really change things. The change had to come from within me, and I’m still working on it. I love him and will care for him as long as I’m able. But I can’t lose myself. If I let him use me and don’t speak up, he will. He is not that demanding or obstinate most days, but he is also 100% dependent on me.

You need to be the change. Mother won’t do for herself as long as you do for her. She has chosen not to participate in her own rehabilitation and you angrily sigh, shrug your shoulders and do it for her. She needs what I call a “Come to Jesus” discussion. Take her to the doctor and get her on some antidepressants. Include the doctor in this talk. He/she needs to pull rank on Mom and tell her that you all cannot and will not continue to be her posse of servants. Either she gets off her behind and puts forth the effort or she will be placed in a long-term care facility. Time to unwrap her from the cotton wool and give her a dose of reality.
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againx100 Oct 6, 2019
Thanks for responding. That's great that your husband has come around a bit.

You're unfortunately right about the enabling. She can do sooo much more than she is. She seems content to do less and less which is totally baffling to me. We did too much for her before, though it seemed "necessary" at the time.

When I was writing my post (rant?) I did wonder if her anti-depressant needed to be upped, since describing her did bring back up the concept of depression.

I do need to have a talk with her. But I'm too mad still. I tried and failed yesterday and increased my frustration 110%. I know I am being a big baby but I can barely say anything to her right now. We're going out to dinner with my kids and hubbies today so I don't want us actively angry at each other. Right now it's just simmering below the surface. OMG, talk about avoidance! But when hubby goes back to work tomorrow there will be avoiding the elephant in the room and I'll have to give her some tough love, even if I make her cry again. I'm not being mean to her but I think she needs to clearly hear and understand where her lack of activity and effort are going to take her. So not looking forward to this necessary evil.
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