How to tell 94-yr-old mom she is too old to move 1400 miles and live alone?

Follow
Share

My frail, newly-demented 94-yr-old mother is hell-bent on moving back to a city she lived in eight years ago. That was the last place she "was herself" (quote), drove, had lots of friends (that she has now outlived), and life was wonderful. I've tried to tell her it would not be the same as she remembers it. She believes she could step right back to the way it used to be, totally ignoring the fact that she has aged considerably and has many issues she didn't have them.


Anyway, how do I respond to her rants (she is absolutely livid about this)? Do I appease her, and seem to go along with it? It's impossible to reason with her. Or... do I figure out a way that she can actually make this move? She would be totally alone, no relatives there, nothing... Of course, the only way it would at all be feasible would be assisted living. She is now living independently, but thats got to change soon, wherever she lands.

26

Answers

Show:
Hi LighteningRod,
Of course she can't live alone (anywhere).
That's the thing....you don't come right out and say "no". You WILL get a fight.
You can use some "non-committal" phrases, " Wow, wouldn't that be something?" Or, "I wonder if the old neighborhood is still the same?" You are talking with her about it but not committed to sending her back.
She is remembering what life "used" to be like and is not in touch with the reality that things are different now. Know that with dementia you can NOT reason with them, they aren't capable of understanding and will fight tooth and nail that they are right.

I would suggest calling her doctor and asking his/her opinion. If she is anxious all day and night, he can give her some medication to help that. There are meds that just "even them out" instead of knocking them out. Sounds like she would be a good candidate for that.
I would not tell her it's for anxiety because she'll deny that. I would say it's for something else (maybe an addition to another med she takes).
Do NOT try to force her to understand by explaining until you are blue in the face. You'll be frustrated and she can't process information. Her brain is "broken".

Do NOT argue with her, just drop the conversation or "redirect" her onto another conversation. In her stage, however, that can be difficult.

DO a lot of reading on Alzheimer's and the stages so you know what you're dealing with.

Try not to get mad at the "constant" questions or nagging. Turn your hearing off. Ignore her if you have to or excuse yourself for a chore or just go in the bathroom and lock the door.

I would not suggest you go along with this move because dementia causes horrible confusion when their routine is disrupted (even if they say they WANT it to happen). She'll be twice as confused there!

Blame her "inability" to move on the doctor (cue him in first by e-mail or note). He can help keep things running smoothly.

Good luck. At this stage my mother was a pistol! 😜
Helpful Answer (14)
Reply to SueC1957
Report
LightingRod Sep 14, 2018
Thanks for your input. A pistol, ha, -- my mom is a CANNON!
(6)
Report
When my father talks about going to Michigan, I tell him we are saving money to be able to do that. When I tell him we are saving money for it that satisfies him until the next time, I give him the same answer.
Helpful Answer (12)
Reply to Glendaj2
Report
Jasmina Sep 16, 2018
Great answer😊
(2)
Report
My dad did the same thing, I told him, after months of trying to redirect and deal otherwise, that just do what you need to do. However, I can not in good conscience assist you, so whatever you can pull off by yourself, you can do.

It took him sometime but he went back, when he discovered that there really was nothing there for him, he moved to a small town in Utah, because he used to work there and knew people. His ex stepdaughter lives there and he talked her into letting him live with her.

He told me that he would rather die in a Walmart parking lot than live in a facility. The ombudsman told him he could do whatever he wanted, so I backed off, he would no longer listen to me anyway. All responsibility and no authority is not a place to be. Besides, who am I to force misery on him, he always did what he wanted, regardless of the consequences and I'm thinking that will never change.

I hope your mom comes to terms with her reality soon, the beginning of dementia is tough, they still remember tons and dig their heals in. From my personal experience anyway.
Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to Isthisrealyreal
Report
jumparope Sep 16, 2018
Thank you, so well stated..."All responsibility and no authority..."
(2)
Report
Of course you don't help her move - you aren't seriously considering that option are you? (Although I can sympathize with the desire to move the problem far, far away😉)

Yes, say whatever it takes to appease her, you could even go so far as to help her plan the details if it makes her more contented, just don't allow it to go beyond that - I'm assuming she couldn't possibly accomplish this without your help right?
I agree that you should explore medications that might help her be less agitated and hopefully more contented, it would improve HER quality of life as well as yours. And if she gets angry you can just leave - sorry mom, I'll come back when you are in a better mood.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to cwillie
Report

You've gotten some great advice here, and I feel for you. My 91 year old mother still lives independently with my help two days a week, and a friend taking her to Bingo another. She is on medication for anxiety which helps her sleep and she takes if she is anxious during the day.
I hear "I'm not myself" a great deal, and many complaints, made up concerns, and scads of requests throughout the week just to keep ME busy because she's bored.
Whenever she suggests a major change, like moving into an apartment on another block in the same complex that is a tiny bit smaller than hers, I have to explain why that would not be a good idea and that if she wants help cleaning, we will get her more help with it. She actually has it made where she lives because the maintenance man for the complex lives below her and does chores and cleaning for her and so do I! She's always been restless, but aging has made it worse. Instead of trying senior or assisted living, she insists on living in an apartment complex where she's outlived her few friends that she constantly complained about.
You and I and other care givers can not be the "end all to be all" for our loved ones. We have to create firm boundaries and provide options for their best interests. Work with their doctors and make sure they are safe and healthy. Whenever my mother makes an outlandish demand, I tell her it's her life, but I won't be a part of a bad choice. She has other options, such as in home care and cleaning, and then she backs off completely for some time.
It's important for you not to argue with or bend over backward to please your mother. I've helped my mother's three sisters before her and now my Mom. All of them moved slowly into senile dementia, and sometimes it was hard to tell when they were crossing over to the unreasonable. That's when YOUR good judgement and the best interest of your loved one kicks in and you have to act in her best behalf. Put your foot down if she won't listen to you. You may be surprised at her reaction to you saying "It's against your best interest and I won't be a part of it. You're on your own if you move forward with this." And if she does, even after the best advice of you and her doctor and other professionals such as a senior social worker, then she truly has to own it unless you can prove that she isn't competent to make the decision. When I go to my mother's doctor appointments with her, I will sometimes raise concerns she tells me but wouldn't tell a doctor. The last time we were at hers, her doctor told her "You need to use good judgement in all you do; don't overdo or you'll have shortness of breath or be tired. Don't stay out too long until you're tired. Nip it in the bud before you're tired. You have to think about your best interest all the time and make good choices."
If you're concerned about her cognition, anxiety, and ability to reason, you should share that with her doctor and/or a senior social worker who can provide you with the advice you need.
I wish you and others here the best!
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to pattiac
Report

You don't have to be the bad guy. You also can be unavailable to help make her wish come true. If she is so insistent on moving let her plan it all out and make it happen. If she is anything like my father it won't go anywhere is she is actually expected to be the one putting in the work to make it happen.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to lkdrymom
Report

Wish her well and then detach yourself from the situation. Let her make all of the necessary arrangements: moving, finding a place to live, finding new physicians, transportation etc. If she asks for your help, let her know that if she’s independent enough to move, surely she can make these simple decisions and plans. You know she won’t be able to do it. Problem solved!
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to Susanonlyone
Report
moecam Sep 16, 2018
When my mom said she wanted to go back home I told her to do it but I didn't think it was good for her but she had the means in her purse [credit cards etc] however she had to make all the arrangements herself & if she couldn't then she needed our help which had to be close on hand - she couldn't formulate a plan much less carry it out ...END OF STORY
(2)
Report
Have a Doctor tell her and then you are off the hook at being the bearer of Bad news.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to DILburnout
Report

This page is so amazing. The last week my mom has been pining for snow and her old neighbors and “wouldn’t be upset” if she had to move back to Ohio (she has been living with us in Florida). I have just started to think about how to tell her that A) I’m not paying for her to move and she can’t afford it. B) My sister who she doesn’t get along with is moving back there and she assumes that she’ll be welcomed into her home but my sister has zero interest in having her around and will tell her so if pushed. C) It will cost her a lot more to live there than the $600 she pays me for her in law suite. So thanks all for the wonderful ideas!
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Tluther
Report
Bellerose63 Sep 16, 2018
agree on have a dr/+eye dr tell my LO what’s possible and NOT possible. i’ve had to privately clue a dr or their nurse in on LO’s current abilities/disabilities and what ‘news’ i needed them to break
to my LO.
(2)
Report
What, exactly, is your mother "absolutely livid" about? What are the main subjects of her rants?

If you wouldn't mind just going back a bit: eight years ago, your then 86 year old mother sold up and moved from Shangri-La to a new home somewhere near you, did she? Was this at your suggestion? And is she still living in an urban setting, or what?

The reason I ask is that although there could be any number of reasons for her discontent and the resulting conflict about whether she can return to base, I think it is those reasons you want to tackle rather than getting into an argument about her moving back.

So, what exactly got her so aerated in the first place? Was it the dementia diagnosis? Could it be dementia itself, which can cause all sorts of personality and behavioural upsets? Or has some other difficulty or disagreement come up?
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Countrymouse
Report

See All Answers
Related
Questions