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How do I handle this. I have a lot to do and Mom asks if I can help but the minute she starts helping she leaves, goes in her room and takes her jewelry and looks at it. Then she is constantly asking me to help her with cleaning her dresser. I have done that but she just takes her stuff out again. What can I do? Leave her alone with it or what? Thanks!!!

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I would say, if her puttering is harmless and isn't upsetting her, leave her to it. If she is upset, try to reassure her and try to redirect her to something she enjoys (So far I can always manage to redirect my mother with a crossword puzzle or to watch Law & Order.) For your"missing bills" problem, nowadays many companies are offering the e-bill option... Is that something you can do to ensure you know what is due each month?
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If this is the only problem that you have then count it as a blessing.Don't sweat the small stuff. Buy her some more bling to play with.Look in second hand stores.
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jennegibbs, thanks for the book referral. My sister, mother, daughter and I have been unable to actively mourn the decline of my Daddy. Yes, we are all sad, overworked, overwhelmed, etc but there have been no tears. No, I can't say that. The day the doctor asked me to agree to a DNR I cried. That may have been tthe hardest things I have ever done in my life. That was 2 years ago. Sad thing is, I wish he had died then. He has been so miserable, all of this has slowly been destroying my mother, & I am exhausted. I worry so much about what is going to happen when he does die. I guess I keep picturing a balloon being blown up slowly. Each small amount of air increases the pressure until the breaking point & if there is not some type of release, there is an explosion.
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lavender123, I don't know if I mentioned it to you before (I've recommended this numerous times) but I suggest the book "Loving Someone Who Has Dementia" by Pauline Boss. She is a highly-respected therapist who really gets it about what the caregivers of dementia go through. It was very insightful of you to understand why you got so angry, and that will help your reactions in the future. This book will give you additional insights. One that helped me was to recognize the need for mourning each small loss along the way. For example, when I gave in and ordered new pants for my husband two sizes smaller than he had been wearing that was a practical act but it was also an emotional one -- it was acknowledgement that this thin and frail man my husband had become was not going to regain some weight and be robust again. So I let myself mourn that small loss. Pauline Boss's book has lots of stories of spouses and children coping with various emotional/psychological aspects of dealing with a loved one with dementia. Many books deal with the practical aspects, but not many offer such good support for the emotional life of the caregiver.
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I appreciate all your comments on this. Now mom has appandoned her bedroom and jewelry to go for the kitchen. I came in and there were cleaning things from under the sink all over the floor. I got angry. I now know why I get so upset./ I guess I cannot accept my mom is not who she was. I cannot accept that at all. All I do soemtimes is cry and berate myself for getting angry and yellign at her. God Help Me.
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How about getting the mail forwarded to a PO Box where it will stay safe until you can retrieve it and take care of it. Would she miss that? If she wonders, tell her you'll check into it in a bit. As notwellmyself also indicated, direct drafts are an alternative. Tell mom it's the new thing and everyone's new policy so it's not on your shoulders. I agree, therapeutic fibbing can keep everyone safer and happier. There's no harm being done.

I agree that swapping out the jewelry for some costume fake jewelry might be a good idea, though I'd do it gradually so that it's not a big shock to go from one day where she recognizes the pieces to the next day where nothing is familiar. If you do it gradually, some of the pieces will probably start to become familiar. If she's hiding it all over the place, it's not like it's not already missing from her collection and so I don't see what difference it might make.

Yeah, you might not want to tell the brother or his wife. By the time they start to question if she's capable, it could be a long way down the road if they aren't that interested. I have a brother that only managed to call Dad twice on his own in the 18 months between my parents deaths and never visited him once. I used to make sure that he knew everything that went on anyway, but I'd then also have to put in hours every week responding to his telling me what I should be doing. At one point I figured if he wanted to know what was going on with Dad, he could call. He never did and he quit meddling and putting in his 2 cents to which I had to respond.

Some of these changes might cause questions or concerns for her at first. After awhile of not dealing with them, those thoughts will fade and mom will find herself much happier.

Part of her organizing problem might be that she is scared she's lost something and can't quite admit that. By reorganizing, the hope is that things will turn up and all her fears will be alleviated. I'd suggest that she is protecting herself in some way. When the bills are around, she's reminded that she is losing control. If the bills start to resolve themselves, she can let that fear go.
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I love the idea of putting good jewelry away and buying nice looking cheap jewelry, if you can get away with it. These days, with the price of gold, even what was a relatively cheap piece when it was purchased may not be so now. Why don't you buy her 1 or 2 of those covered jewelry boxes that have the divider sections in them. (This week I saw that Penneys had them on clearance on line). An even cheaper alternative would be the plastic divided fishing equipment boxes. Then get her a "safe" like a Sentry (key only). If you mount the safe in a drawer (screw thru the bottom & bolt it in), she can't move the safe around to hide it to keep her valuables from being taken. She can take the boxes out & play with the jewelry to her heart's content & then put them back in the safe where it can't be seen & "stolen".
On the bills, can you have them sent to a post office box of something where you could copy them and get the originals, or copies, to her so she can hide them from you? See if you can set up automatic drafts to ensure they get paid on time. If you have to, make up "fake" bills on the computer to send her so she has something to hide. If her mail goes to her mailbox, can you tell her you are concerned about things being stolen from the mailbox? You know, it just so happens that you saw on the news that there had been a rash of mailbox thefts. I think someone on here called it therapeutic fibbing. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do to make sure things get done.
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Thank you girlhart for your suggestions. I have a sibling but I am afraid to tell him anything as he and his wife are a big believer in putting her in a home. I could never do that to her. He is not there for us, neither calls or comes by. His wife is very controlling (he married a girl just like Mom). I live with her and will always be here for her as long as I can.
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Oh, this is a whole diff't can of worms...the bills. My parents were a united front to keep me from having anything to do with paying the bills for a few years. Both had dementia. My mom was (supposedly) paying the bills. Eventually, the phone was getting turned off, she was paying huge late fees on her credit card, and was making the minimum payment on a $4000-$5000 bill each month, was ordering 20+ magazine subscriptions, bought monthly mortgage insurance when they didn't even own a home. It was terrible. The checkbook was getting lost every day, sometimes more than once a day. Finally it just go so bad that I talked them into letting me have one checking account that I'd pay bills out of, pay their taxes, etc., and they could have a spending acct. (which I didn't keep much money in). We'd talked and argued about this for months. The day they decided to let me do it, I think it was just one of those "good" days, where you could kinda make sense with them. Afterward, they made my life holy hell over it, hated me for it. But it was done and I wasn't going back to the way it'd been before. Now my dad has passed away and my mom forgets that there are even things like bills. She tells people that my brothers and I are paying for her apt. in assisted living (she's actually in memory care) out of our own money. I get all of her mail. Tax time - the 1099's getting lost before I could get to them - was awful, too! I'm sure you know what I mean.

If your mom still thinks she can pay the bills & there haven't been any untoward consequences (like the electricity being turned off, etc.), I don't know what you could do. Could you have her bills sent to your house? Would she notice? Can you get on her ckg acct with her, which you really should be anyway. It's so hard. My mom would blame me, too, for things that were missing. That's part of the dementia. Same with the nastiness. My dad threatened to hit me several times, would yell at me in the hallway for all to hear where they lived at the time. Do you have any siblings who can help you?
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I thank you for the advise but now she puts her jewelry and other things where her jexelry used to be. There are bills lists of people she plays bridge with and other things. When I tell that we need to look at the bills in her drawer she gets nasty. She says she is hiding things so I will not take them. I would not do this. I need to find a replacement for her bridge game because she cannot play right now. I know she gets some satisfaction in this but the jewelry is all over the house now. In fact, everything is all over the house now. LOL Any suggestions? Thank you all for your comments. You all have been a lifeline in my sinking ship.
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My mother has been doing that same thing for a very long time. She would carry most of her jewelery in her purse and continually take it out to sort. It did not matter if we were at a friend's house, the store, a restaurant, in the car, etc. A couple of cocktails rings (around the $150.00-$200.00 price range) got lost. So I went to a local costume jewelery store and bought her new "jewels" then stowed the real stuff away. My mom loves her BLING. I have purchased it from dollar only stores, gas stations and even a few pieces from thrift stores. Now I do not have to worry if a piece of jewelery goes missing.
I agree with girlhart, it gives them something to do.
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My mom has been doing that same thing for a year that I know of. I think she could hide it before. It has probably gotten worse since my dad died, too. She is also afraid that someone is going to take her jewelry (even tho' almost none of it is valuable). She is constantly moving it around from one dresser to the other, from one drawer to another, wrapping pieces up in napkins, baggies, scarves, putting them in her wallet, inside containers for other things, etc. Gives her something to do, I guess. She always tells me how busy she's been, straightening up and getting things right, and I know she's just been moving things around all day. Makes it difficult to find anything, especially 2 earrings that match when you're trying to help her look nice for a special occasion.
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I agree with ladee. It seems pretty harmless.

One of the caregivers in my support group said his wife was constantly sorting her earrings and other costume jewelry. Handling all those pretty things was apparently pleasant for her.
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I would probably leave her alone with it,,, for some reason the ritual of it is helping her... some elders have a lot of anxiety, and in the long run this is pretty harmless.. so if it helps her.... let her do it.... sending you hugs..
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