She lives with me in NC. Due to her diabetes, I have my mom on a meal schedule, count her carbs, test her blood sugar and give her insulin, and make sure she takes her medication. I have healthy high protein, low carb snacks for her close by. She is prone to UTIs due to her urethra not closing at all, and poor hygiene, and pressure sores because her arthritis makes it painful for her to walk so she will not move around enough, and fungal infections because it is a struggle to get her to bathe. My mother will raid the refrigerator at all hours, drinking a couple of glasses of milk at a time, eating a quart of yogurt in one sitting, etcetera, which sends her blood sugar soaring and all that sugar feeds the fungal and bacterial infections that she is prone to getting.

There is absolutely NO money for a decent nursing home, though her doctor says its getting to that point because she is so resistant to following medical advice. My mom is dead set against a nursing home, and with the lack of funds I can only imagine the sort of place she might wind up. It is getting to the point where if she doesn't comply, the doctor might take steps to take that decision from her. So, is it ok for me to install a lock on the refrigerator to keep her on track for her health? I have tried talking to her, explaining about drinking too much milk and overeating, and she would just snack and eat all day long and get no exercise if I didn't keep my eye on things.

I do have to work, and when I am out of the house ,all bets are off. There is no money for any sort of home health assistance, so I really need to keep her from raiding the refrigerator when I'm at work. I really cringe at the thought of locking the refrigerator but I need ingredients on hand to cook for us, and if I don't prevent her access to it, there is no controlling her blood sugar and helping to prevent the subsequent infections that come from it being too high. Another concern is that when I tell her that her blood sugar is too high, on occasion, she has gotten her insulin from the refrigerator and given herself 60 or 90 units to bring it down, and I am concerned about that, though lately she's been forgetting how to fill a syringe, so that's not the danger it once was.

When her doctor mentioned a nursing home, she got better about regular meal times and bathing, and for about a week, that's been ok, but the snacking continues and I'm having trouble steadying her blood sugar. I'm hoping with a few more weeks of regularly scheduled meals 3 times a day and a couple of low carb snacks, her urge to snack incessantly will stop. She eats when she's bored, and spends all her time on the Internet, so if the Internet goes out or she gets confused and can't remember how to log in, she gets bored and just eats and eats. If we could get her a new prescription for reading glasses, she would read books when she can't get online, but with her blood sugar up and down so much, new glasses would be useless because her vision changes from week to week based on her blood sugar and its effect on her eyes.

I feel like some sort of monster for even asking about the legalities of locking the refrigerator, that seems like such a horrible thing to do. I just don't know how else to keep her on track with her meals and blood sugar control and now that she's afraid of a nursing home after her doctor spoke to her about that two weeks ago, she is more willing to be compliant with her treatment but the snacking is a long ingrained habit.

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Just a side note, I wish doctors wouldn't use the threat of a nursing home as a "time out" to get a patient to comply. There will be a time when a nursing home is the only high level of care one has, and they will think they did something wrong.
Helpful Answer (10)

She needs more supervision, and "we can't afford it" is not an adequate reason for her not to have it unless/until ALL possible financial solutions have been explored. Have you looked into Medicaid? Do you realize that Medicaid provides in-home care as well as financial help with nursing homes?

Have you actually looked at nursing homes that accept Medicaid? Don't make the assumption that they are inadequate compared to those who only accept self-pay.

As to your specific question, I don't see a problem with locking the fridge, especially if she has access to a reasonable number of snacks and plenty to drink during the day.

My heart goes out to you. You are doing your utmost to help keep Mom healthy, and yet her own behavior is self-destructive. How frustrating and painful! You obviously have to work, and there she is, unsupervised, and offsetting all your hard work!

I suggest expanding your focus to advocate for some kind of financial aid for Mom. I know you are already overwhelmed with managing her health concerns, but in the long run spending some effort in getting her financial help to afford the daytime care she needs could be a very worthwhile investment.

Continue to do your best. But also accept that this is not entirely within your control. Your mother's inability to help care of herself is Not Your Fault. (It is probably also Not Her Fault, if that helps any.) Take pride in all the care you are providing, and PLEASE do not fall prey to guilt feelings. You are doing an awesome job!
Helpful Answer (9)

Lost, I also have read your profile as well as the above discussion and my reaction is that I would never consent to living with someone who destroyed the peace and order of my continually and left all the messes for me to clean up. I wonder if you feel trapped by obligation - your mother needs oversight and you are the only one available to provide it, even you can't be there all the time and she's plenty noncompliant when you're not around. What I see is that she is making your life extremely difficult and unpleasant and she doesn't seem to care at all. The refusal to wear incontinence briefs - my word - if someone did that in my house, and refused to clean up after themselves, they'd be gone. Even if it were my mother.

Yes, you can put a lock on the fridge. I've watched shows about families of Prader-Willi children and they lock up everything when the kids are alone, and overnight. Lock the cabinets too if there's cereal, bread, crackers, or anything else she should be having in excess But essentially I agree with what was said by jeannegibbs above - your mother seems to be mentally impaired. It may be time to let her be moved to a nursing home. And, in either case, take control of your own home back. If she's not mentally impaired, you need to stop putting up with this disrespectful and harmful behavior (thank you jeannegibbs!). Caregivers have rights too!
Helpful Answer (9)

Lock the refrigerator. There's no law against it.
Helpful Answer (8)

She could manage assisted living, but she wouldn't have the servant that she has in you. I would strongly encourage you to get some counseling because I can't imagine putting up with what you're putting up with being healthy for you, either mentally or emotionally.

Your mom has put you in an emotional prison of guilt - I cleaned your diapers so now you clean my urine and feces. The difference is that a child doesn't know any better and had no choice on being brought into the world. Your mom KNOWS better and can DO better and chooses to be non-compliant with her entitled attitude and disrespect for you, her daughter. My heart goes out to you, because you've got quite a burden to carry with your mom. I couldn't do it and wouldn't wish it on anyone else.
Helpful Answer (8)

LostNLoopy, you got answer to whether you can legally lock your refrigerator.

You got a lot more advice than that -- because as caregivers we can empathize with what you are going through and we'd really like to see your life improved.But your attitude that you're "stuck with it" and that there is a "reason" why every suggestion for change won't work means, I think, that you are indeed stuck in the situation. Could you get unstuck? Oh sure, but not with your present attitude and belief system.

That's OK. You are entitled to any outlook on life that you choose. You think your mother did her best and now you can do your best. Your life, your decisions. But I sincerely hope that you can accept your limitations gracefully and NOT go into the black hole of guilt.
Helpful Answer (6)

LostNLoopy, I read your profile and I hate to be blunt here but she sounds like a spoiled teenagers... good heavens, she spends 15 to 20 hours on-line in chat rooms? But won't wear pull-ups, thus you have your hands full with cleaning up after her. She diffidently is bored.

Do like anyone would do with a spoiled child, no pull-ups, no computer time.

As for the food issue, keep those items that would give her a sugar spike out of the house, even if it mean stopping by the grocery store on the way home from work every day. Find fresh veggies that don't have a lot of natural sugar. I can't vision your Mom finishing off a stock of fresh carrots.
Helpful Answer (5)

I've now read your profile. I agree with blannie, and I think your mother must be cognitively impaired. You state her primary ailment is general age-related decline. But normal aging does not result in peeing all over the house without any concern about it. Just because a doctor doesn't think she is impaired enough to be legally declared incompetent doesn't mean she is aging normally.

Most persons with dementia cannot live alone beyond the very earliest stage. Your mother is alone while you work. That simply isn't adequate. Not Your Fault. Not Her Fault. But something must be done.

Given your career I'm sure you'll quickly become an expert and finding resources to make it happen.

And speaking of your career, it must be especially galling to you to see your mother's self-destructive behavior since you say, "All my professional life has been about helping people take more control over their own lives, and being responsible for themselves as adults. I am at a loss regarding how to deal with what is essentially, willfulness on the part of a competent adult."

Certainly your mother's behavior LOOKS willful. Even with dementia it is a best practice to encourage the person to take as much responsibility as they safely can. BUT with dementia there is a definite limit to what can be expected from them, and that limit gets lower and lower over time. There is physical damage to the brain and the person truly cannot always control their behavior.

There is a huge difference between falling short of the legal threshold for an "incompetent" ruling, and actually being "a competent adult."

Her doctor obviously knows she is not compliant with her care plan. Have you also told him about other behaviors at home, like not wearing incontinent briefs?

From what you've said, I believe your mother is mentally impaired.

If this is truly willful behavior then I agree with blannie and freqflyer. It is time to take charge and stop putting up with this disrespectful and harmful behavior.

(Tough love simply doesn't work with dementia and that is what I think you are dealing with.)
Helpful Answer (5)

LostNLoopy, I read the things with a lot of empathy. You're not the only one who is working with a parent who is hell-bent on self-destruction. There is often no way we can keep them from doing the things that hurt them without destroying our own lives. We can't be there every minute of every day to keep them from eating when they shouldn't. We can only do the best we can do.

It is hard to not try to control what they do when we know that it would be better. But we do have to remember that they are adults and inside feel that they are the same people as they were when they were younger. In some cases if you did things like lock away food, the person could become destructive. I don't know if that would be the case for your mother. There is so much that we just have to play by ear.

I find it better with my bull-headed mother to approach her at her level. If your mother wants treats, buy some of the sugar-free jello snacks or similar things that may satisfy her cravings for sweets without adding a lot of extra sugar.

If nothing works, it is something you can't control and you'll have to make hard choices -- to continue to keep her at home while she goes downhill or to get professional help for her. It worries me that she sits in her chair all day without bathing and with bed sores, but I know you can't make her do what she won't. My greatest concern here is for you. You happiness is being totally consumed, along with all the food in the refrigerator.

It sounds like you and I are about at the same point on this downhill ride. I am personally ready to say "Enough! I have to get my sanity back."
Helpful Answer (5)

Oh I feel for you.... Here is what helped us. We have been taking care of mom for 13 years and finally the vascular dementia got to be too much, even though it is the beginning stage of dementia, her delusions and hallucinations were terrible. Our county has a Senior Mental Health facility, about a year ago I was told while in the ER with her that I should get her evaluated there. But my "feelings" of caregiving would not allow me too. Finally the hallucinations from the Vascular Dementia got too bad and I placed her there for a 7-10 day inpatient evaluation, Medicare pays. It was the best thing we have ever done. They not only helped mom, but they helped us to find a Personal Care Home - That we could afford!!! We tried to find one thru the companies that advertise online but they would send us to ones way out of our budget. Like you, NO money to speak of, but they found a place that would take mom for what she could afford. There are only 5 ladies at the home and they are all buddies, enjoying every minute together. We still have to pay coincidentals, and meds but in the long run it is cheaper than I first thought because she is not running water for 10-20 minutes to wash her hands, forgetting it is on, etc. Utilities and food bills have dropped, weigh all the actual cost you are dealing with, not just the ones you can easily see. Plus she loves it there, treated very well, and is doing great, I am sure the meds are helping her also for that part. There is help out there you just have to dig for it, even for PCHomes thru the CCSP program and Money Follow the Person. Unfortunately our state is out of money for any new Medicaid help except for nursing homes, has been since September, and will be until the new budget is signed, in other words, we can't hold our breath that long because there will be a mad rush for money when it does open again here. Good Luck and don't give up your search, it has taken over a two years to find help for mom but she is happy and it warms our heart....
Helpful Answer (4)

See All Answers
This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter