How to deal with my difficult Mother?

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A little background. My mother is 81 years old. She has been a widow for over 20 years. She adored my dad and basically gave up on quote living unquote when he died. At first, she went out and socialized with friends, but gradually stopped. Now she just sits at home and goes out only when she had to do grocery shopping and to the bank, and occasionally to family gatherings. Her condition. Physically she is in pretty good shape. She is nearly deaf, but refuses to get a hearing aid. She rereads the same books, watches the same things on TV, does not have a computer, so she is not stimulating her mind. She is having short-term memory loss problems and has a chronic cough she has had for months. She went to the doctor last week, has not been for years and only went because it had been so long she was going to be dropped as a patient. The doctor suggested a chest x-ray, which she has refused to do. She is going to a hearing clinic to check out her tinnitus, but refuses to get a hearing aid. She quote forgot unquote to tell the doctor about her memory problems. My sister lives in a nearby city and tries to visit her once or twice a month. I live across country, so cannot really help other than to try to do research on how to handle our mother. My sister and I want to know how to talk to her about her options. We feel if she refuses to get medical help for her cough and memory problems, she is going to end up in a nursing home soon. My sister thinks she is afraid to know what might be wrong with her. But she is also afraid of going to a nursing home. She is also very stubborn and refuses to talk about it. Even claiming she does not have a memory problem. How can we talk to her and get her to at least understand her options? My sister has not wanted to tell my mother that she is going to end up in a nursing home if things continue as they are because she feels it is too cruel. But now we think we need to give her the truth of the situation. We are torn between allowing her to live her life the way she wants, it is her life after all, and wanting to help her lead a better life so she does not end up in a nursing home, at least for awhile. What do we do?

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Partsmom. My mother would be perfectly happy not to see more than two people a week. Communal living is not for her.

I'm thinking maybe my sister and I should approach her situation by just asking her what her plans are for when she can no longer live by herself.
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"quote forgot unquote to tell the doctor about her memory problems" - love it...
but really, a chronic cough could also be a treatable infection or even a medication side effect, as could be the memory problem. Davesmom, how would YOU approach getting her to have the symptoms checked out before they can brew up into something worse? Would you stoop as low as a phony note from the doctor's office saying she had to be seen face to face again to keep writing her Rxs or for Medicare purposes of keeping her account active?
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What about a small board and care home?? We had a neighbor who was a retired nurse, and after her husband passed, she set up er place to accomodate three old ladies.
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Bablou. I'm glad your mother adjusted. I don't think mine would. You'd have to know her to understand why. It is not just loss of independence, it is a aversion/fear of being around people.
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Rob, i would have said the same thing about my mom, being miserable in a facility. She adjusted. I think sometimes our parents plant these mantras in our heads.
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Partsmom. Thank you. That is a good point. Not sure it would make a difference to my mother who, basically, does not want to leave her home and would be utterly miserable in a community setting like an assisted living/residential care situation.
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Judging from many of the postings on this forum, the words "nursing home" scare people. So don't use them! Mention "assisted living" or "residential care" or something that has a more positive vibe! Even most skilled nursing facilities don't call themselves "nursing homes" any more. There are a lot of options between 24/7 family caregiving and flat on one's back in a hospital-type setting.
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Thank you everyone for all your advice. Learning how other people are coping with this similar situation helps my sister and I make a more informed decision on what action to take.
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May I interject? I'm 70 yrs. old, care for my 47 yr. old son who has renal cell lung cancer and his 8 yr. old son, of whom he has full custody. I retired from my accounting job of 35 yrs. to care for my grandson originally, but still help them online in the evenings, so my mind is still pretty sharp. I can tell you that I and my friends as well, actually prefer to stay home. We all spend lots of time watching TV, and I could easily read the same book over and over. My point is that because you're younger your perspective is different than hers. From my point of view, she seems entirely normal. I think as you get older and therefore closer to death you come to terms with it and it is not the big issue it would be to someone your age. I would ask you to consider respecting her wishes and let her live her remaining life as she chooses, at least as long as she is able to care for herself. Perspective!
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I've been a long distance caregiver to my parents for about 5 years. Mom is mentally fit, or the most part, Dad has dementia. There is no one else but me,so I call every day, pay bills, set up doc stuff, and make the 10 hour drive whenever a crisis erupts, which is getting to be about 6 to 8 times a year.

I've learned a few things: Pick your battles, establish priorities. Don't hesitate to fib, cajole, plot and scheme to get important things done. Don't worry about the small stuff. (My Dad will not drink water, only coke. For 75 years. Like I'm gonna change that...)

He won't go to the doctor either unless I trick him into it. It goes like this: I call and say, DAD! Your doctor called! Your late for your checkup! Long story short, he's in the car and on his way before he knows what hit him. Mom helps with this trick also. When that quits working well come up with some other treachery for his own good. And at some point he will go to the docs or care facility whether he likes it or not.

Having said all that, with your Mom it's may take a medical crisis, 911 call, and trip to the ER. As much as I would like to get Dad in my eldercare chokehold and drag him to the podiatrist, that's not a reality at this point.
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