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She is 93 year old and repeats everything I tell her to do, like " Put on your shoes Mom." she repeats it then asks "on my feet?" If I say she's being silly she get really mad and says I'm being sarcastic. She seems to want to be told everything to do and it's driving me crazy. I have a nagging feeling she is doing it just to engage me and I have tried just leaving the room, asking her to figure it out, and even just answering every question over and over till my brain explodes! Other times she is "normal" especially when visitors or therapists are there. I hate to think she is that manipulative but I've known her a long time and it may be possible. Do you guys always answer "dumb" questions with a smile or does it get to you too?

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BlackHole,
I can see that. My Mom has lived her life in denial but there was no hiding it when she was starting to slip mentally. Fender benders, not remembering how it happened, forgetting where she parked her car, passing work tasks off to other people because she couldn't remember how to use equipment anymore, etc. She eventually had to admit she knew she was changing so I took her in for a test at the hospital. She failed it pretty badly. Even though I am sure it was a blow to her ego, I told her she was endangering her life as well as others by her refusal to quit driving and working. I am sure if I had not been keeping close tabs on her or lived far away, she would have kept going and there would have been a disaster in some form heading her way. My brothers sort of picked up on it but did not take it seriously, they just thought it was normal for her age to be getting "more forgetful."
My brother actually accused me of getting her to retire, like it was a bad thing, she was 74! I told him they were getting ready to force her to retire and how humiliating it would have been for her to end her life long career as a nurse by being forced out instead of her keeping her dignity intact and bowing out gracefully. I had the inside scoop of her work performance as I was friends with a co-worker of hers so I knew this was a fact. The hard part is determining from day to day her mental competence. Some days she seems to be fine, other days it's like the spaghetti isn't sticking to the wall, she asks the same things even though I just told her 10 minutes before. It's tricky because I do know so well the side of her that has lived in denial most of her life especially with things she did not want to think about or face. So I still battle with, is she purposely forgetting our conversations because she doesn't want to remember, or is it the dementia?
The other day we were out shopping at the grocery, just before we left I brought over a new roll of paper towels and showed them to her and put them on the holder. While at the store, we passed the paper towels and she insisted she needs them. I told her, "Mom, I just gave you a brand new role before we left, do you remember?" Then she just kept saying, "I only have a few sheets left!" I repeated what I told her previously and she replied the same. It just wasn't sinking in at all no matter how many ways I tried to tell her she had a new role. It freaked me out. That was the first time she was not understanding what I was telling her no matter how many ways I tried explaining it. Also, since she has been living with me, (going on 4 years now) she has never had to buy paper towels, TP, sponges, and other stuff I buy in bulk at Costco so I always make sure she has what she needs. That was a first. I then wonder, bad day or is the dementia advancing? It's the wait and see what she will be like today. It is sad to watch and somedays, I am just not in the mood for being asked the same questions over and over and sometimes I get irritated. Then I feel awful.
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And then there is straight-up lying. And errors of omission.

Before dementia, whenever my mom felt insecure or challenged, she gave the answer that made her sound comptent and in charge. Not necessarily the truth.

As dementia slowly crept in, mom clung to that. In hindsight, the cover-ups were increasing. But the justifications and dismissals sounded just like her old self.

And to komentaightor's point about the eldery using their words to control the people around them -- bingo. My mom's false "I'm fine" and "I don't need XXXXX" and "I know what I'm doing" and "I called the gutter cleaner last week" kept me from knowing how much she was really slipping.

Pretty convenient -- for mom. She did not want me to know the truth. And for the most part, I did not.

I learned a lot of truth by snooping -- while she was alive. That was depressing. The neighbor-helpers mom swore to secrecy started singing like canaries....after she was dead.

And cleaning out her house, oh boy. That's the truth-teller.
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There is also something called "learned helplessness". My 85-year old Alzheimer's friend (now mercifully in full residential care) found out long ago as an early pensioner that having small symptoms and endlessly running to a doctor or pharmacist made her feel important. But she hid her Alzheimer diagnosis from me for 6 months until I saw her behaviour was erratic.
Liking attention, she deliberately provoked quarrels between me and a long-standing male friend by refusing to cooperate in any system we set up to keep her living independently at home. She loved it when the two of us quarrelled over her. One day we wised up, and we stopped.
So early-stage Alzheimer patients are able to quickly detect what buttons can be pushed, and they push and push them because it is a way that they control the behaviour of the people who are telling them what to do.
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Thanks to all for your response! Blannie, thanks for the insight, I struggle sometimes with figuring things out with how the dementia works because, as you said, some days she is clearer than other days. Hard to keep up with what you will get from one day to another.
Jeanne, yes what she did to me hurt beyond words but deep down, I think if she truly allowed herself to absorb and face what I told her, she would never feel the same about him & she would have had to make a choice between her two children and just could not bear to do that. I also knew if I left her with either one of them, she would have been put in a home and or financially bled dry. It was also her request to be with me, and even though she turned her back on me when I needed her, I would be no better if I did it to her when she needed me. I will die knowing I did the right thing. No, it isn't easy all the time to smile and pretend all is perfect but Mom is happy she is with me and tells me how lucky she feels all the time.
Patticake, I gather from your response that you are, or were in a similar situation and now know you are not alone! The frustrating world of caring for a parent that often pushes your buttons can wear you down. I am here for you if you want to vent, I would love to hear from you and what you go through, it's comforting to talk to someone that is in similar circumstances. I appreciate everyone's support, thank you!
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Rainey69 I so enjoyed your post! Hearing what you said echoes so much of how I feel. Thank you
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Rainey69, under the circumstances, why are you taking care of her? I would think that advocating for her good care would be sufficient. Having her live with you is way beyond the call of duty.

I would agree with blannie that this is probably the dementia removing the social filters. But dementia or deliberate, you should not have to put up with this from a woman who has turned her back on you repeatedly.
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Rainey I have a feeling it's the dementia. My mom has no short-term memory and keeps asking me about my cousin, who I've quit communicating with (for the most part) because she was so mean to me. And my mom asks constantly about how my brother is doing. She talks to him every Sunday (probably for 3 minutes) but she can't remember it. He lives in another state and hasn't visited for 8 or 9 years. So I do EVERYTHING for mom and she wants me to report on my brother too. Believe me, that grinds my gears! But she's not doing it in a mean way, she just can't remember she's already asked me and doesn't remember how that ticks me off. Her memory literally comes and goes. Some days she can remember stuff, then the next day (or hour) it's gone from her memory. Very strange (and interesting). Our brains are weird things that are inexplicable!
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You know, I wonder many times if Mom is being passive aggressive, manipulative, purposely pushing my buttons on subjects she KNOWS will get a rise out of me OR could this all be due to her dementia? I want to believe her mind has become more "sieve like" but she is not in full blown dementia yet. She can do all her own personal care meaning bathing, dressing, brushing teeth, fixing her own food so that is what makes me believe some of this is purposeful. It really gets frustrating that I sacrifice my life to make sure she is safe, has all her needs tended to, take her where she needs to go, handle all her finances, doctor visits, etc. She seems to like bringing up my brother who abused me as a child for years and when I told her (as a child) she ignored it. When I brought it up as an adult, she turned her back on me again. Now that she is living with me as neither of my brothers stepped up, she loves to bring him up all the time even though to this day, he vilifies me and accuses me of controlling her. I do not and never have. She can see him if she wants but I had to kick him off the property because I found out he was extorting money from her everytime he came to visit. So after all this, she constantly likes to rip the scab off the wound and bring him up like me helping her pick out cards for him and his inlaws. I am finding it harder to believe that this is all due to her dementia and not purposely wanting to push my buttons. Then of course, I feel like a jerk when I get upset for having the same conversation over and over at nauseaum. She fixates on the GD greeting cards for every holiday, B-day, anniversary, etc. and "I" am the one who has to pick them out and get them in the mail for my siblings and their families that do little to nothing for her. It just grinds my gears and I have come to just dread the holidays because I know she will start up about the damn cards again. Soooooo, if she can remember all the occasions and holidays, why can't she remember how much my brother hurt me and why I get so upset everytime she brings him up? Selective memory? Denial? Could she really be doing this to get a reaction out of me or is this truly all dementia? I am tired of feeling guilty when I get irritated.
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cm it my not be you but your computer being helpful. mine will often finish a word for me. I start to type page and it will write pace. i can;t touch type so I often miss the mistakes.
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Grrr - beginning to slip, that should be. My typing gets worse by the day...
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JandHandMom, my mother did a bit of this, and other infantile behaviours, and I have to admit they turned my stomach and made me clench my teeth.

Not so much attention seeking as approval seeking, I think; plus her grasp of even basic routines may be beginning to sleep. I managed not to criticise or rebuke mother - God knows I wish I'd been kinder about other things too - because it's not correctable and you just have to grin and bear it. Play along as cheerfully as you can cope with. If it gets to laughing along with or - ugh - joining in with the conversation with a stuffed elephant at bedtime routine you may find that a step too far. I know I did.

Also, when she begins to need help with more intrusive or unpleasant things, like let you manoeuvre her into a hoist, it quite helps to have childish catchphrases ready that she's familiar with - "skin a rabbit" for taking undervests off, "this little piggy" for hand washing (yes I know it's about toes - but it works fine for hands too), that kind of thing.

You don't have to find it cute or endearing. Just harmless and, later, useful.

Are you still getting plenty of normal, adult conversation with her too?
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My mother does this, not so much with me but with other visitors. Like when her doctor or blood tech visits she'll complain about something totally out of nowhere, or when her granddaughters visit (rarely) she'll start carrying on like she's in agony.
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JandH, if she is echoing everything you say, look up "echolalia". She is experiencing difficulty in processing what she hears. Bring this up with her neurologist and make note of when it started, how often it occurs and how long it takes her to process the information.
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P.S. I forgot to add, within the articles there are advertisements, so if you come upon one at the end of a paragraph, keep on scrolling as there is more to the story.
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Jand, I came across this article that I hope helps.

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/dementia-behavior-manipulation-154554.htm
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I know my mother plays more helpless than she really is sometimes. I've never run across the "on my feet" type thing, though. I probably would have to answer, "No, on your hands." I wouldn't worry unless she actually put them on her hands.

Another thing some people can be guilty of is pushing buttons. It can be irresistible after they find a button to push. It can be best to act like something doesn't bother us or else they'll do it more and more. There can be a streak of mean in all the sweetness at time.
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Dementia can manifest in weird ways sometimes, I've had my mom ask for a drink while she has a cup in her hands, it's hard for me to react to "crazy" with a smile and I know for a fact that it isn't manipulation in my own case, so give yourself a break!
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Is your mother showing signs of dementia? Most people will tell you that people with dementia are not capable of manipulation. But, I know my mother was, at least in the beggining stages. The "on my feet?" is exactly the kind of thing my mom would say. The real problem came up when mom would play more demented than she really was but was not able to understand the consequences of doing that.
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