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Mom (in-law) came to live with us 5 years ago. This is a permanent arrangement. All of us agree that something drastic changed when she got c-def, because of the way Mom has decided to deal with the current "situation". A little background on us. We have been married for 25 years, we have known each other for 43 years and have a strong tender relationship. We have grand kids, we have 5 grown kids , all successful and the best part, we all live in separate states. Don't judge me on that last statement, it's healthy and it works. The issue now is the current ambulatory restrictions on Mom. They have been imposed by her. There is nothing wrong with her health, but she has decided that she would rather live in a hospital. I'm no dummy, I've had a hand in raising 250 foster children as a respite care giver and a foster parent. I do not lack compassion for her and her condition, however my first concern is my lovely wife and her aging issues, not to mention the fact that she has to see her Mothers behavior and wonder (as we may all), if she is destined for the same road. I need a perspective that is created by the realization that it is possible that an elder person does not have to have Alzheimer, or Dementia, to display the common behaviors of a 12 year old that cannot cope with the rules of the house, the limits Nature has put on him, and remain productive, relatively positive, and appreciate the people that help the most. I believe she may be exercising her authority upon her daughter which, I believe she thinks will cause friction, and maybe force us into the kind of thinking she has adopted. We are determined that this won't happen, but were surprised at the lshortage of others in this specific situation regarding elders, and of the proliferation in the pre teens but no line drawn between the two groups. I think there may be tools here that could work for both, I need help in recognizing the similarities, and governance of response and application of techniques more likely to attain results than create an atmosphere for deterioration. Any suggestions?

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She came to live with us after becoming a fall risk. Over the past 5 years, she has been slowing down, but after this C-Diff, it really took a toll on her. She was in the hospital for 4 days, then moved to a rehab/nursing home to rebuild her strength. She was waited on hand & foot in the hospital and now she is in the rehab center, and still expects to be waited on. She is almost resisting physical therapy and doesn't think she will ever get better. She wants to eat in bed and doesn't interact with any of the other residents. She just wants to lay in bed, as she has become more depressed. We fear that when she comes home, it will be more than we can handle.
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Your mom-in-law is now in a nursing home, is that correct? Are you contemplating bringing her back home, or is it her decision to stay in a care center?

When adults act like a twelve-year-old, is it effective to treat them as you would a 12-year-old?

Maybe. Sometimes.

There are some big differences, though. First, this adult acting like a bratty preteen has had decades of adult experiences. In dealing with her you aren't really starting from the same places as in dealing with a 12-year-old.

And perhaps even more significantly, the 12-year-old is acting like a 12-year-old because that is where she is developmentally in her life. Why is the adult acting that way? If it is because of dementia or other problems in the brain, then all bets are off. Teaching someone new (or different) behavior once her brain is damaged is not like teaching the same thing to a healthy child or young adult. It is not hopeless. You may be able to influence some changes in behavior. But the things that worked with a 12-year-old may simply not be effective in this situation.

While MIL is in the hospital or nursing home or where ever she is, is it possible to have a full geriatric medical work up, so you can get a better idea of what is causing these changes? You ask (I think) whether dementia is the only possible explanation for such changed behavior. No. It is one possible explanation. I think the c-def has a lot to do with it. Or maybe she just really is deliberately being bratty. But getting a professional opinion based on testing and observations would be worthwhile.

I am not sure what "this situation" is. I agree with Debralee that whatever is going on you need to be supportive of your wife above all else. If together you can find ways to help her mother spend her last years comfortable and with some enjoyment, great. But not at the expense of your marriage and your own comfort and joy.

You sound like a very compassionate and committed couple. Do not allow anything to come between the commitment to each other.
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After attempting to decipher through all that theological jargon, I believe a simple answer is your MIL is acting like a 12 year old because she thinks she can. Do not enable her and concentrate on the needs of your wife. If your MIL wants to live in a hospital, then she will fit right in living at a NH. Your raising all those foster children shows you are a compassionate person, use it for your wife she deserves and needs it more.
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Yikes. Really trying to follow you, JJ. Is your concern that your mil is taking advantage of your wife? Is it that you are not sure if your mil has dementia but is acting like a bratty adolescent? Are you concerned that mil's behavior is possibly effecting the way you and your wife think and live?
After raising 250 foster kids, I doubt that one elderly woman could affect your lives that much. Again, it is difficult to decipher your concerns, as JesseBelle pointed out. Could you narrow your thesis so posters can answer you? Thank you.
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C.def is a debilitating illness for many healthy young adults. I can only imagine the bouts of weakness and incontinence that your MIL went through. Now that she is over her C.def, she is probably still wanting the attention that she had while she struggled with it. You will need to break the "Oh, poor me" attitude that she may have and start with the little things, like getting her own drinks or tying her own shoes. You don't really give enough details about her physical abilities for any specific advice, but good luck. Contact her doctor about referrals for occupational, physical and speech therapy as needed to maintain and improve her abilities. These are paid for by Medicare, Medicaid and VA. Just having an outsider evaluate her abilities may let you and her see what she really can do. Do you have a case coordinator? Contact her doctor or your Area Agency on Aging for referral to a social worker to help get any other needs she may have.
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Can I be honest, JJJ? You wrote abstractly, so I have no idea of what you are talking about. However, I do get the feeling you might be overthinking things.
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