I moved my mother in with me three years ago. When I moved her in with me I was retired and not working. My daughter who also lives with us was working so I was able to stay home. About a year ago my daughter had a stroke and is unable to work and is still waiting for disability. I had to return to the workforce to handle the household bills. My mother is a doctor junkie and when I moved her in she had at least 8 Doctors she was seeing and had multiple medication(s). I have siphoned her down to two doctors and reduced her medication to only what she needs which is a lot of supplements. Within those 3 years she has fallen on several occasions which required trips to the hospital and follow up care. She blames her balance issues on a series of mini strokes. However, no one seems to know the Doctor who cared for her or made this diagnosis. Just about every time she has fallen, it has been behind closed doors with different stories about what happened. On one occasion my mother “fell” on the porch while we were all out back, my granddaughter later said grandma laid down then said she fell. On two occasions I walked in to check on my mother and she was jamming her shoulder into the chair which she injured in one of her falls. I have spoken to her PCP about this but it was shrugged off. I’m really concerned that she is going to really injure herself very badly seeking attention. I want her to see a health care professional regarding these issues, but when I bring this up I hit a wall. How do I get the care she needs to stop hurting herself?

Find Care & Housing
The legion of doctors and the staged falls is for attention. If you have been able to cut down the medications to mostly supplements then reduce her doctor collection from eight to two and she's fine, she's putting on a performance with the falls. A medical drama where she is the star and everyone's attention is focused on her. Same thing when a little kid has a 'boo-boo' and it's nothing at all. This is going to sound outrageous but take it from a person with decades of senior care experience. In a sense your mother is jealous because granddaughter's serious and very real health issues are getting more attention then grandmother's staged and made up ones. She resents your daughter getting more attention. Get her checked out by her primary care doctor for your own piece of mind, but this is what most likely is going on. When you bring her to the doctor, tell him IN FRONT OF HER and so she hears well, that you're very concerned with the falling and ask what he suggests. My guess is that your mother is probably totally fine at any doctor's appointment. You and your daughter are the audience for her performances, not the doctor. The next planned "fall" which results in no injury whatsoever, help her up then completely ignore her. When she starts going on about it with you and your daughter totally ignore her. Refuse to even acknowledge it. Talk right over her if you have to. Change the dynamic in the house to attention gets shuts down when complaining and drama performances start up.
If your daughter actually saw mom get down on the ground then lie saying she fell, that proves it.
There's two ways to handle this nonsense and both work most of the time. Find her something to do during the day like adult day care or the local senior center for the day. Tell her that because of her falls that it's too risky to let her stay home while you go to work because your daughter won't be able to help her if she gets hurt. If she refuses day care or the senior center then tell her she will have to go into a nursing home or an AL facility for her own safety because she could get seriously injured the next time she falls if there's no one around that can help.
Get your daughter in on it too. Guaranteed you will see a drastic and immediate reduction in the number of "falls" your mother has.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to BurntCaregiver

I am not beyond making a threat. Tell Mom if she keeps falling, you will need to place her in a Nursing Home because you can't care for her and daughter too. See what happens then.

So sorry about ur daughter. My niece had a stroke in her early 40s. She is now 48 and has bounced back. Not 100% but she walks without a cane and drives locally. She says CBD oil has helped her. Hopefully she has a lawyer helping ur daughter. She will get a retro payment going back to the day she applied if excepted for SSD.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to JoAnn29

You do not give moms age or why you moved her in with you.
IF she is cognizant a sit down talk with her might be in order. Tell her that if she continues to "fall" or get hurt that this might not be the safest place for her and begin looking for Assisted Living for her.
If she is not cognizant. but grasps what she is doing a move to Memory Care might be a proper place. If she does not grasp what is going on a move to Memory Care might be in order there would be more eyes on her, less "alone" time so less falls. ( Don't get me wrong falls do happen)
The best way to "prove" she is doing this on purpose is to install cameras. The main problem would be that cameras can not be placed in areas where one would expect privacy (bathrooms for example) in that case if she is doing this on purpose all of her falls would then happen in areas where there are no cameras. (that would be telling in itself)

Next time you see her hurting herself call 911 and tell the dispatcher that she is self harming and you are concerned for her safety.
How to get the care she needs to stop doing this depends on her cognitive ability. Therapist, psychiatrist, medications and time. You need to get to the Why before you can get to the stopping.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to Grandma1954

Install cameras in the house and you'll be able to have proof that she is hurting herself.
Tall to your mom about why she is hurting herself and let her know that you will be making an appointment to have her psychologically assessed.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to bevthegreat

Maybe she's not a doctor junkie. Maybe she's actually a pain pill and sedative junkie. She's not doing it for the "attention." She's doing it for the prescription. She can do this level of intentional planning AND still have dementia at the same time.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Beekee

Ask her doctor for a referral to a psychiatrist, preferably one that deals with seniors. This self-harm is a mental health issue and should be addressed promptly. Also consider making sure she is never alone without somebody watching over her until you can get her treated.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Taarna
MargaretMcKen Mar 11, 2021
Taarna, from what the OP says, mother isn't actually harming herself at all. She is faking because she wants attention. Making sure that she is never alone may be giving her exactly the attention she wants, and would be very very hard to arrange at home.
Has she been screened for dementia? Some mental regression can lead to "child-like" behaviors. She isn't a child and shouldn't be treated like one, but as someone else mentioned, children will often seek excessive attention for their "boo-boos", even some that are not really that bad. Some children (and adults!) will attempt self-inflicted injuries to regain that attention. Usually this doesn't involve serious injury, however it would be better to get to the bottom of it and get it to stop. Ruling out conditions can help narrow down the cause. She did have your undivided attention for 3 years, so being unavailable to her now may be behind this behavior. It would be better to know there's no system imbalance (blood work), no UTI (culture is best), and determine if dementia is at play.

Through some research online, I figured out my mother had signs of early dementia myself (some of the very subtle signs were missed previously, but she lived alone and I knew nothing about dementia then. it's only in hindsight that these incidents make sense!) Initially the plan was to try to keep her in her own place longer, so I hired aides 1hr/day. Before starting, they sent a nurse to do the screening/evaluation. This IS covered by Medicare and was more extensive than the test a PCP office does. It was less scary/threatening to her as it was done in her place, at the kitchen table, with 2 of us there observing. You might be able to get this evaluation done in other ways (through doc office, if they aren't being stupid still), but you could contact local aide agencies to see if they provide this service - you could imply intent to hire, but need to have mom evaluated first. Schedule it when YOU can be there, to ensure mom participates (and gets the attention she craves!) If they determine dementia, if she can afford to hire care-givers, perhaps having an aide there at least part of the day while you are working can keep her occupied. This should NOT fall on your daughter, she has enough on her plate to deal with! However, she could at least monitor the activities and relationship between your mom and the care-giver(s) - not all are a good fit, and it may take trying several to find the right person/people.

"I have spoken to her PCP about this but it was shrugged off. I’m really concerned that she is going to really injure herself very badly seeking attention."

This PCP is doing your mother a disservice. Either PUSH back and get the issues addressed or find another doctor. No matter what your concerns are, they should not be "shrugged off." Full checkup, blood and urine tests for starters. If nothing is found, then insist on additional evaluation. If he shrugs off again, either find someone else, or hint at legal action if she harms herself.

Always better to entice the bees with honey, but sometimes that doesn't work!
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to disgustedtoo

You don't mention Mom's age, and it actually can be that she has minor balance issues from mini strokes.However, jamming her shoulder into a chair is alarming behavior. Install wifi cameras that will record events and that you can access on your phone. At least you will be able to see for yourself whats going on behind closed doors and not have to guess. I like the suggestion to get her involved in senior group activities but with Covid rampant, that may not be possible in your town. That said, I'm sure there are Zoom groups she can join during the daytime. The local library usually hosts group Zoom meets also. This is a hard problem to solve, but it sounds like she has too much time on her hands that needs to be re-directed. Perhaps a geriatric doctor can help pull all the pieces together for you by getting a proper diagnosis.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to NYCmama

There's no "I think she's faking it". You know she is!

Don't worry about her truly hurting herself. She evidently has the presence of mind to "fall" and not hurt herself too much. She is acting like a child, and therefore needs to be treated like one. A loved child, but a child nonetheless. Some ways to approach this:

1. "Mom, I don't think this is a safe place for you anymore. I'm very worried! Since I have to work and daughter isn't well, we need to get you into an assisted living place ASAP. I've found a few nice ones close by that I think you'll love."

2. "Oh, you fell again? You're fine. I'll help you up and have you lie on the couch for awhile." Do just that and walk away.

3. "It seems like you're bored here, Mom. I found a great senior 'day care' place where you can have fun things to do."

I suppose #3 seems like the option she may agree to most. I assume she will balk at the Assisted Living suggestion. When you don't rush her to a hospital for every "fall", she will get the message that her antics aren't working anymore.

If she does "fall" and actually does get hurt, then it'll be Assisted Living time regardless. You can get the ball rolling with this as soon as she is in the hospital. Best thing would be to get into AL straight from the hospital.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to LoopyLoo

You said you talked to the doctor and they didn't seem concerned. Are you listed as someone that they can discuss her care with? If so, give their office a call and ask the doctor to call you. Tell him/her you fear she is attempting to injure herself (or mimic injuring herself) in a bid for attention. Ask for what she needs.
1. Does she have a medical issue that might cause this.
2. Ask for a referral for a neurological evaluation to rule out dementia that might be causing her behavior. A neurologist can attempt to clarify her history of mini strokes (when, where and who diagnosed).
3. Ask for a referral for the VNA to send a social worker out to assess her safety at home due to her history of "falls"/ attention seeking behavior.

Sometimes we have to be assertive to get the care our family members need. Healthcare professionals are seeing more patients in less time, trying to deal with electronic record-keeping during visits and some times in the rush, "minor issues" aren't addressed as well as they could be. I am absolutely not being critical of any provider at all when I say this.
If you can talk to the doctor with a list in front of you it's a lot easier because they know what your concerns are and how you would like to see them addressed. They might have different or better ideas but you have opened up a dialog and now they know you have your mom's best interests at heart.
I'm not a medically-trained professional, but do have a background in a medical administrative position. I have been around this block more than once with both of my parents and have been a full-time caregiver for the last 7 years. You learn a few things along the way; The most important thing is that we are the ones that know our loved ones best and often the ones who have to be the squeaky wheel.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Seaglas415
disgustedtoo Mar 14, 2021
"The most important thing is that we are the ones that know our loved ones best and often the ones who have to be the squeaky wheel."

This, for me, applies to pediatricians, veterinary doctors and any doctor your elderly LO is seeing. Babies and pets often can't talk, so WE have to advocate. Young kids can't always express what needs to be said. Elders often brush things off. Add in a dash of dementia, forget it! I've lost count how many times my mother was beside herself, ill or in pain, but when you get to the doctor's or the ER, absolutely nothing wrong, she's 100% fine!

Any doc or vet who doesn't talk WITH me about the exams, issues, etc isn't going to keep my business.
See All Answers
Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter