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My MIL was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment, which might have progressed to early stage dementia – her nutrition is terrible and who knows how long she hasn’t been taking her pills properly (including for thyroid and blood pressure). She lives alone in her house, basically inhabiting two rooms, doesn’t shower, doesn’t change her clothes. My husband is now her DPOA, has gotten the bills in order, goes over every two weeks; I go sometimes and work on some cleaning (including laundry and mending). My non-expert but informed evaluation is that she needs someone to come in 5-7 days a week for maybe 3 hours a day, to make sure she takes her pills, eats one good meal a day (instead of surviving on 3-4 bottles of Ensure), gets some exercise, and has someone to interact with (and some reason to not smell and look bad). Either that, or assisted living, if she ever becomes willing. The problem at the moment is that my husband, a scientist who rather likes to look things up and research them, is refusing to research MCI/dementia and various care alternatives. He sometimes gets so frustrated that he yells at his mother, tells me “She’s a grown up, she has the right to live that way/kill herself if she wants”, or says that she’s nuts, and frequently accuses her of lying when she says she’s done something and she hasn’t. I honestly can’t tell when she’s lying to get us off her back, or when she’s simply confused, but because he won’t research the condition, he can’t even consider the confusion alternative. And he continues to expect things of her that are probably too much (like sending her to the doctor for a report without one of us being there). I’ve sent him Internet links and offered him various books that I’ve accumulated while learning about my mother’s dementia. I thought he might like The 36-Hour Day, the first book I read. But he just won’t look at these things, and I don’t know why. I know, I need to ask him why he won’t. But I thought that perhaps someone who had faced this, in themselves or someone else, might be able to explain to me or have some ideas that would help. He doesn't deny his mother's condition ... he just won't learn about it!

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I'm glad he's going to the neuropsych appointment. The basic questions are
1. What level of support does mom need?
2. What kinds of things should we expect her to have difficulty with?
3. How can we address her inadequate nutrition? Her poor medication management?
Have him read Atul Gawande " On Being Mortal"
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Mooserix,

It appears if your hubby doesn’t learn about and understand his Moms condition, he doesn’t have to face it.

It appears he doesn’t want to face it because if he did he would have to admit she’s not crazy or lying.

Your DH probably knows enough about Dementia to know things get rough and get pretty bad.

“This shouldn’t be happening” and not wanting to understand his Moms disease sounds like he just doesn’t want to face what is really happening to his Mom and how it is going to affect his life.

I wish I had a suggestion for you.  I dont.  I watched my husband behave like yours when his Father’s health started decline rapidly.  My DH let his sisters handle everything and stayed as far away from the situation as he possibly could.
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Since your husband is a scientist who relies on his brain for his livelihood, I wonder if he's afraid that this may befall him someday? If he ignores it and pretends it's not there, he doesn't have to think about his own cognitive future? Just a possibility. And it may be a number of things. Acknowledging it means he needs to get more involved which will take more time and probably difficult situations with his mom. Good luck. I never got my brother involved with our mother's care. He was too self-involved to be interested in mom and her situation. He left it all to me.
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All I can say is that your husband needs time to grasp what’s going on. All of us who are caring for loved ones feel this “shouldn’t be happening to” us. Even those who feel honored to be caring for loved ones. It’s unavoidable and there is no forcing or suggesting acceptance. It’s an internal struggle and takes many small steps on a very long journey.
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After my post this morning, my husband noticed that I looked troubled and more or less asked me why. So I told him. Reminded him that he gets after me to do a good systems engineering plan for any project, and he isn't doing it for this "mother care" project. He'll be going to her neurologist appointment with no background knowledge and won't know what to ask. Why is he doing this?

He said he doesn't want to know/read up because "this shouldn't be happening to" him. I believe he meant the required changes in his life. Anyway, we settled on something that he can *do* ... if I can find the appropriate section of the book (36 Hour Day), he will read it, and can make a list of questions and fax them to the doctor ahead of time.

It's a beginning, anyway. Does anyone have any other suggestions?
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I have made suggestions but it seems they fall on deaf ears.
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Pretty much the same boat here so, no, you are not alone but I have no answers yet. I know we don't know who has a poa
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I told this story in a post last week, but we had this in our own family years ago. Even though MIL was the one who was the most vocal about her health issues, FIL, a sweet, quiet man, had Parkinson’s and never, ever complained about it. Everyone seemed oblivious to the fact that Dad needed help except for his daughters-in-law and son-in-law. I truly believe it was a case of not wanting to face facts. I couldn’t believe that when Dad fell, they’d just wipe him up and sit him in a chair. Finally, after a bad fall, my 10 year old son took it upon himself to call 911 and brought Dad’s issues right to the forefront.

Hubby may feel the same way. No one wants to face the fact that people they love are slowly going to fade away and we can’t stop it. I truly believe, at some point, your husband will realize he needs to face facts. He may not become a scholar about Mom’s disease, but he will learn how to handle it on his own terms.
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This is a dynamic I've seen in my extended family and I see it as a way to avoid making hard choices, sort of "if we pretend we can't see anything it isn't our responsibility". This is often coupled with preconceived misinformation, generally hyperbolic worst case scenario stuff like your husband's comments that she is crazy and a liar. The funny thing is that if they would just pull their heads out of the sand and learn to see things clearly everything could be easier, but like you I'm at a loss as to how to make that happen.
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Denial.

This is his mother. He should be involved in her everyday care but you can't force him to if he doesn't want to. 

His denial may stem from how his mother's illness will upset his life or he may be in denial about the MCI itself. But I think he's hiding out from something. The majority of the care giving shouldn't go to you. This is his mom, not yours. 
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Thank you. Your answer made me realize that I need to hit the basic books again, as I might be over-estimating her abilities myself. MIL has another round of tesing (I think it's neuropsych) next week--she's been having these every 6 months or so since last spring--followed by a status appointment with the neurologist. She'll be accompanied this time, and we'll see what he says.

As far as I know, my husband hasn't had a bad relationship with his mother. More of a distant one. They're both very independent.

Part of the issue is that we don't know how much her symptoms are caused by terrible nutrition, lack of social stimulation, and not taking her meds for various conditions. In other words ... is her condition permanent and progressing fairly rapidly, or could she actually improve if she receives the proper assistance?

I wonder if "willful ignorance" is the same thing as denial? I'm not sure. It might be denial, not of MIL's condition itself, but of the changes that her needs might mean in my husband's life. He's seen the changes in *my* life after my father died and I became responsible for my mother's care.
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Wow! He is at a huge disadvantage as DPOA without knowing anything about her disease. You say he doesn't deny his mother's condition, and that might be what he wants to believe, but his actions are shouting DENIAL loud and clear.

Or is this anger at her rooted in their past relationship?

What would be really helpful at this point is to get a needs assessment of your MIL. Call your Area Agency on Aging and find out the best way to go about that. When you get an appointment, be there with her for it. The assessors know that people being evaluated often exaggerate what they are able to do, but they have to accept the answers they get. If MIL says of course she can get her own meals, you can remind her that she mostly drinks Ensure. (Normally I would recommend that her son be the one with her, but since he is in as much denial as she might be, I don't think that work in this case.)
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