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My sister, who is only around 2 weeks a year is telling me that I need to treat our Mom like a five year old. To get in her face and tell her she must take a shower now. No negotiating, no say, no choice. Or, not allowing her to choose what she wants for dinner. Or, telling her at 8:00pm that she must close her eyes and go to sleep when there’s no reason for that to happen at that time. Mom is able to tell when she is being treated like a child and it is upsetting to her.

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Even though they may become child like. I do not think we should treat them like children. We must guard their dignity and integrity the best we can.
As stated before, do not give too many options. But do allow them a choice in things.
Sometimes we have to barter, like after we do such and such, we will do such and such.
But I never think it is ok to treat them like a child. Or to order them around.
May God bless you in this journey. It is truly a challenging one, but please do it with love.
A true labor of love.
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I think your sister is taking "they become like children" too literally. You have to take things as they come. Its hard , even in the early stage, for people suffering from Dementia to make decisions. So you don't give them too many choices. With my Mom it was going out to eat. She would look at the menu and you could tell she was confused. I knew she liked liver and onions so I said "how about Liver and Onions". Of course she said yes. Or I gave her two choices. Sometimes I just ordered for her.

Why does Mom have to go to bed at 8? I had a hard time keeping Mom awake till 9pm. I would have been happy with 10 or 11. Any earlier she would have been up early. The later she went to bed, the later she got up.

I tend to have a "tone" when I am frustrated or overwhelmed. My Mom would give me that "look" when I used it with her.

I found when Mom was in rehab they would ask "Mrs E would you like to take a shower" of course her answer would be no. One weekend the therapist did the same thing. I told her don't ask, tell her. "Mrs. E time to go to therapy". No problem with her going. I have been told by aides they have to ask like a question. Well, it doesn't work and they had my permission to say "its time for a shower". If they said no then OK u can't force them.

I never asked. This may sound horrible, but when Mom lived with me, things got done in my time. If I was ready to give her a shower, thats when we did it. So it was "time for a shower Mom". I was lucky, she never protested. She got her meals basically the same time everyday. They do better with structure but you don't have to be strict with it.

There will come a time when Mom will be like child. I think they go back in time as the desease progresses. In their minds they are children again. Thats when you my need to be firm. But remember, Moms mind is broke and dying. Yes, she will be childlike but there is no way to teach them. They can't be taught consequences.

You need to tell sister that everything is working fine between u and Mom.
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lcrawford Jan 5, 2020
Thank you JoAnn. That is very helpful.
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The things I have had to change are my attitude and voice volume. I find that when I’m calm in my approach, my Dad responds better. I’ve also had to pick days of the week for showering and in between are wash ups. This works well.
Maybe have a weekly calendar with icons for different activities. This could provide structured routine and give your Mom a voice in her care.
Have you checked in with your doctor? There could be some home help services for which she qualifies.
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lcrawford Jan 5, 2020
Thank you Iiveii. That is very helpful.
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No! I realize there is a lot said about adult children having to become the parent, but in the case of dementia, you are not dealing with a child. A child's mind is growing and expanding. Someone with dementia has a broken brain! It is not growing and expanding. It is dying. The person can't help what they are doing and if they could back up to their former self, with a functioning brain, they would probably be horrified to know what they have become.
When my mother suddenly developed vascular dementia, I found the best way to get her to do something was not to ask if she wanted to. In the case of a shower, I just said....come with me and she did. I led her to the bathroom and at that point, she would get in the shower.
It takes understanding, tons of patience and compassion. Sometimes it is hard to find those things because you can easily get worn down. When you are losing it, just walk away for 5 minutes. It helps tremendously!
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lcrawford Jan 5, 2020
Thank you. That is very helpful.
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Wow, your sister needs to learn that you treat everyone with dignity, even a 5 year old.

Getting up in anyone's face is a sure fire way to have behavioral problems.

You may need to stop sharing information with your sister.

Hugs to you for all that you do.
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Ask your sister if that's how she wants to be treated if/when she's in those shoes. Also, maybe do some research online about how to interact with dementia patients and share it with your sister. You mom's brain is broken through no fault of her own. She's still the person you've known all your lives. But treating her like a child is not the right approach because a child is learning and improving, but that's not how it works with dementia. Your mom needs understanding and mercy and a finessed approach to work with her ever devolving situation. It can be emotionally exhausting because we are constantly having to look at our parent, and our brains want to keep reacting to them as their old selves but we are constantly having to override that impulse. It's difficult and sad. I wish you peace and harmony in your family.
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First response: no, obviously not ok. Your mother is not a child. She is a senior adult who should be supported in making the kind of choices she habitually made for herself when she was well. You are aiming to maintain *her* lifestyle as she developed it over the years.

It becomes more complicated than that, and will get more so. As dementia develops, choices become hard work and people do better with simple guidance and instructions. Selecting from a menu, planning when she'd like her shower are difficult, so you do those for her based on what you know of her preferences - but she still has the choices she can express, such as whether she is hungry, or wants to watch a tv program.

Why was your sister trying to make your mother go to sleep at eight in the evening? Any particular reason for the hurry?
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lcrawford Jan 5, 2020
Thank you. That is very helpful.
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How early is early? If she's still high functioning, then I don't see the reason to do that. If she isn't. If she's acting like a child, then well yeah you treat them like they way they are acting.

But treating her like a child doesn't mean you have to be so authoritarian. There are different ways of parenting. It doesn't have to be my way or the highway. One well established technique with children is to give them a choice. Instead of saying she has to go to bed at 8pm. Ask her if she rather go to bed at 8:10pm or 8:20pm. Either answer solves the problem and she feels like she's in control. It's possible to structure someone's life without making them feel like they are in prison.
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