We only get along if we are talking about the weather. The second I even mention the smallest concern safety or otherwise I get shut down. Took me 6 months to get a handicap parking tag for my car. She wouldn't even consent when I explained it would help me to help her. Every appointment I had to park at the door, get her inside and go back out to park the car. She lives alone in not the safest environment. Only upstairs bed and bath. No dementia, but a weak, frail 90 pound body. Now we are battling over a medical alert necklace and in home help. All free with her Medicaid. I live 45 minutes away and am her only child in the area able or willing to help. I have been getting her groceries, running errands, and small household chores for the last year and 1/2. She hides and lies about all aliments untill she is in a crisis. She recently stayed with me for 9 weeks due to a foot ulcer that she hid. I gave her my 1st floor bed and bath, showered her 3 times a week, and fixed all nutritious meals.

She insisted to go back home, where there are only sink baths, a very limited diet due to being too exausted to fix full meals and an upstairs only bed and bath. She fell twice while at my house and thank God didn't break anything. I call her every day, nope she won't call me, nope she can't use up her minutes on phone card. Nor will she get a normal phone even if I pay. I am at my wits end and need to set up conversation boundaries for my own health. The stress is too much. If I tell her how I feel, she tells me it's my own fault how I feel and how she's been through much worse. Please help.

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It's really tough dealing with seniors who are resistant to care and unreasonable. I think it's pretty common though.

I know that a lot of people say their senior parent is okay mentally, but, to me, if a person is completely oblivious to their condition, refuses reasonable means to help themselves and takes multiple unnecessary risks with their health and safety, THOSE things tell me that they are NOT thinking clearly. And, if they aren't thinking clearly, it's doubtful that they are going to respect me or my opinions.

What I try to do is to get the doctor to address the problems and see if they will listen to the doctor. If not, I have to let it roll off my back. Unless, I'm the Guardian, I can't insist they do anything.

It sounds like you do quite a bit of work to keep your mother afloat. When it gets to be too much, you might just tell her that and suggest other options. Sometimes, it helps me to sit down and write out my options.. Like, hire help-she pays, hire help-I pay, IL or AL, etc. If I know there are other options and that I won't always have to be under this stress, it helps me feel better.

Maybe, others have suggestions that will help, but, I no longer have faith that a senior is going to suddenly listen and get on board with being reasonable and cooperative. It's rare if my opinion.
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Isthisrealyreal Apr 2019
Yes, rare indeed. Very good points about refusal of help is a sign that their mental state is in decline.
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Sometimes we just have to let it go until there is a crisis.

She is being propped up by you and therefore can continue to believe that she is independent. Take that away and she will quickly find out how much her independence depends on you. But you can't let her sit and starve and not go to the doctor, so you grin and bear it.

Sorry I couldn't offer a better solution, but I have two very stubborn, un-empathitic parents. I quit banging my head on the wall to help a long time ago. They ask when they are ready.
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My heart rate has just gone up in sympathy.

With the Medicaid support on offer, it could be that actions will speak louder than words. Are you yourself in touch with the providers? Would they accept a go-ahead from you? Could you then be present for the first few visits to get the routine established? It *may* be that just doing it, rather than talking about it and thus forcing her to agree, gets you further.

If your mother is of sound mind then she is free to make these stupid choices, I'm sure you understand that and I agree it doesn't make it any easier on your nerves. What happened when the foot ulcer finally came to light, do you mind my asking?
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wenmal Apr 2019
She was hospitalized. Then came to my house for 9 weeks, I took care of her foot and took her to wound center apts. The wound is down to the dead tendons. Foot is not even close to full recovery but she insisted to go back home. Does have a visiting nurse twice a week for dressing change. She is doing it the other days. It will be 240 miles for me to go get her, double back and get to the clinic and take her back home again.
I tried to set up medical alert but now won't call me back. I have a feeling she called them and said not to. I just happened to be getting there today with groceries and home made food and flowers when the nurse came. She gave me such dirty and mean faces when I came into the room and introduced myself to the nurse. And the meanest glaring face ever when I sat down. More mean faces when I asked a simple question about the cleaning solution. I did leave the room then so if she wanted to say something without me hearing she could. Then she came into the kitchen like nothing happened and wanted me to run an errand. I am sorry to say that I lost it and left. I won't let her starve but I'm done unless she can acknowledge the way she treats me and stop doing it. She denied glaring at me. "Oh I just looked up, I don't know what you mean."
I think you need to offload as much of Mom's care as you can in the short term and be ready to use social workers to pressure Mom into a more supportive living arrangement. Engaging Meals on Wheels fills two needs: food and the daily check. Our local sheriff's department now does daily check in calls to seniors so maybe there's something similar in your area, Is there a grocery store or a service that offers delivery? Can your mother use the microwave to heat up frozen dinners? My mother loves the many of the Healthy Choice meals (not loaded with salt and sugar) and not too expensive. Tell her if she wants help with a bath she needs to engage the in home care Medicaid is offering. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging and request an evaluation of what services your mother needs and assistance available. You need to get down to one weekly visit where you maybe bring some prepared food, load a weekly medicine box, and generally check things out.

When Mom ends up in the hospital, you can engage the hospital social worker to evaluate Mom and find a good residence (senior apartment, AL, etc.). Hospital SW can tell Mom they cannot release her back to her home without supportive services.

It's very difficult to watch our LOs decline, refuse simple changes to make life safer, and often bully/guilt us into supporting a very unsafe lifestyle. Until your mother is deemed incompetent there are real limits on what you can do. Engaging the social workers (who have a duty to ensure your mother's basic safety) is one way of working around those limits. Many times our parents listen to the SWs and doctors much more than they do the dumb kids they raised. :>)
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It’s hard to understand how seniors who remain in their own homes and require vital assistance from others think that they’re “independent.” They’re actually more dependent. If they lived in an assisted living facility they could make their own choices about meals, activities and be free from constant scrutiny from family. Yet, you can’t cut the cord and leave them on their own because you’re afraid of the outcome. Maybe eliminating some things that you do to enable your mother to remain in her home could be a start. If you became ill or incapacitated who would assist her? I think you have to keep trying to get her to move in assisted living and hope that she’ll comply.
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When I first discovered this forum, I was amazed at how common it is that elderly parents refuse and reject offers of help. I thought my mother was the odd one, but I now know that her behavior is fairly common. I also learned that sometimes the only thing you can do to get help for them is to back off and wait until there is a crisis. That is awful for your nerves and anxiety, but there is nothing else to do. I agree that when they make dangerous decisions - like living ankle-deep in garbage, insisting on climbing stairs, refusing to use the walker or cane, hiding illness or injuries - that's a red flag that they are in mental decline. My mother's doctors still refuse to declare her mentally incompetent. I thin that's due what others here have called "show-timers" syndrome. She is the sweet old lady, just fine, sounds rational at the doctor's office. At home, she is always unhappy, negative, complaining, falls, can barely stand up and walks very slowly (hunched over and groping for furniture or walls to hang onto instead of using her walker). All I can do is watch from a distance because all suggestions and offers of help are met with hostility. It sounds like you need to back off and take care of yourself. If your mother can't reach you, she will have to contact someone else to help her. It sounds harsh, but what if you are sick and can't travel to her? She will find others to help her. It might be social workers, visiting nurses, or other relatives. At some point, maybe the doctor or social worker will demand that she not live alone and that she needs to live in an assisted living residence. I wish you the best. Take care of yourself.
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Dear Wenmal, you asked about verbal bounaries... but is it bigger than that? Do you think you may be experiencing carer burnout at all? You love her & mean well & unfortunately like so many others' experience, she is reeling you in like a caught fish. Some older folk just get like this I think.

I get she wanted to go home, but if she cannot live at home without copious amounts of help from you, I think it's reasonable you get to weigh in on a new plan. Paid help etc. It doesn't all have to be provided by you. Look after yourself too as they all say...

This is why I am writing this from the beach - & two black swans just flew over - magic!

My sister (similar issues to an elder parent) decided to cancel her carers every afternoon over Easter - no idea why buy my phone is on silent & I will not be responding to pleas to be replacement carer.
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My friend is going through ordeals with her mom. Mom doesn't live that far away but always calls and wants to be waited on. They suggested she move into a senior citizen/assisted living.. NOPE I don't want that. Bedrooms are upstairs, so they finally put a bed on main floor..

Staying home is the main thing everyone wants to do, even though it's not the right thing to do. My friend just stopped paying her mom's monthly bills, electricity, phone, property tax., etc. Now, mother is realizing the cost of living there, if kids are not going to pitch in.
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I have lived your reality and strongly suggest that you take as many of the following steps as you can:
- Get your name on her bank accounts.
- Find out where important papers are located. Make copies and store them at your house.
- Consider getting Power of Attorney.
- Gather support from your family, friends, clergy, medical personnel, and neighbors. (You'll need it soon!)
- Look at mail to ensure that bills are being paid. If she owns her home, you may be able to look online to see if her real estate taxes are being paid.
- Sign-up on to get a real idea of what is happening in your mom's neighborhood.
- (In addition to, join a local support group. It is good to have a live person or two to hold your hand and give you a hug while you are going through this journey.
- Stop expecting your mom to make rational decisions. Even if she doesn't have dementia, it is possible that her decision-making process is now clouded by fear of losing her independence. Sadly, fear paralyzes and can cause folks to make irrational choices.
- Make an effort to find things that you still enjoy doing with your mom. It is so easy for her to think of you as her enemy. If you can keep the lines of communication open and share a laugh every once in a while, perhaps she can see that you are trying to help.
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Wow! Sounds like my mother, but mine lives with me! She has been for 6 years!!! She now has Alzheimer’s and Vascular dementia combined. It’s awful. Communication with my mom has ALWAYS been terrible and I have always tried to make it better. I am going to place her in an AL in June and she is refusing to go and tells me she will kill herself first. Unfortunately, the guilt is horrific. Please let me know if you get good advice for verbal boundaries because I sure could use it too! I have MS and this is definitely not good for my health. This is a serious matter so DON’T TAKE IT LIGHTLY. Your health has to come FIRST.
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