How do I respond more appropriately when Mom doesn't understand some day to day discussions? - AgingCare.com

How do I respond more appropriately when Mom doesn't understand some day to day discussions?

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I'm noticing that when we have discussions around day to day things - like paint and household things, often she's great but sometimes she doesn't understand basic things I approach her with. We end up with these circular conversations. In this case it had to do with matching an existing, in-the-can paint color, which she interpreted repeatedly as needing to buy new paint, leaving everything mismatched, etc, It's very frustrating. Then I realize how crazy it is for me to keep pushing her when sometimes she just doesn't understand. She does not seem to hear anything I say sometimes.I keep trying to explain whatever the issue is and go back to where the communication breakdown is (there's no need to use new paint, we can use our existing paint). I lose my patience and start talking to her like she's 5 but really it's passive aggressive anger. She doesn't understand, that's it. None of these approaches are getting either of us anywhere.

My adrenaline starts to rise as I start to feel angry and frustrated and the only thin g I can do is get out of the room and try to pack up my things to take with (lunch, purse, etc) to get out of the house before saying something regrettable, for awhile till I can put up with it again.

How can I respond more appropriately?

Yesterday she pitched a fit when I was using a piece of masking tape on something, going on that tape was so expensive, don't use it, and she went into this panic spin about it. Round and round. I recognized she was tired and managed to not argue or talk reason to her, and diverted her attention to something else in the room, then resumed what I was doing after she left. That seemed to work okay.
I"m just making myself angrier but trying to talk reason into her. But what do you do when there are things that need to be discussed?
Sometimes she's fine. Or better. Most of hte time she will shoot down anything that is proposed without really even understanding.it. It's very frustrating. You have to go through, NO, NO, NO, NO, (IRRATIONALITY), NO, NO, sometimes just to get to a basic yes. Mostly because she's overwhelmed with anything presented to her.
I hate this. All of it. Being here, dealing with this just all of it. On a good day it's not so bad. But it's really trying.
How can I respond in a more appropriate fashion ?
Thank you

added thought: people have suggested getting her to a doctor but that doesn't seem to be a reasonable option at this time, other than her GP who is not really taking me seriously), so I'm trying to figure a way to do that. In the man time, what's the best way to handle it?

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Thank you all, I'm too tired to respond tonight but all of your answers have been helpful.
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Well, if we haven't been in your shoes yet, most likely we will be at some point. So don't feel alone in this. There are some dementia medications, the jury is still out as to whether or not they do anything. The goal of the meds is to slow down the advancement of dementia. However, how would you know if it does or doesn't? And some of them aren't cheap. So that's a personal decision. You may have heard of Namenda and Aricept. That's two, I can't remember if there's a third. Some doctors sort of automatically put their elderly patients on them, I gather.

She does sound anxious and perhaps would benefit from an antianxiety medication. There are a few that are prescribed for the elderly, but they all have side effects. This is something that could really help her.

If you sit down with her and make a to do list, then make a good effort to actually do those things, it might help her. Let her draw a line through the things that are finished and she may get a sense of relief from that. Some people just need that affirmation.

As things get done, maybe her anxiety level will decrease on its own and peace will reign! I wish you could come help me with some projects here. As time gets shorter, I've given up on some things, but there are still things I want done and hubby still works full time. My important things are not always his important things, either.

Good luck! Eat right and exercise and take care of yourself mentally and physically. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
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Thank you everyone,
Thankfully it's better today.
Saying nothing when this happens, keeping my mouth shut, is going to be so crucial because by engaging, I make it worse. She's okay until I upset her and that's when things break down for her. So I"m going to have to learn to be more skillful.
It's almost irresistible to try to reason with her, and most of the time it's ok, but sometimes she's just not rational.
I know I sound so angry and negative, but that's because I come to the forum and post when I"m out of my mind with it all. Instead of saying something that makes it worse. Most of the time things are alright and we manage fairly well. Fortunately we have a decent relationship so that helps.
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Besides threads of personal experiences with dementia there are several good articles about how to deal with dementia on this site. The info really helped me understand and deal with my dad.
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She needs antidepressant medication and perhpas an antianxity med. Doesn't need a dx of dementia to get them although getting her to a geriatric psychiatrist would be the best way to go. Write all this stuff down for her GP and let HIM talk to her about it.
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I may be projecting from my own situation with my mother, but there's a good chance that it isn't you. Your mother is pushing you to the moods, perhaps as a way to control things? Back in her youth she may have done these things herself, but now she can't, so maybe she wants you to be her hands and her legs. But she doesn't want you to insert a different brain, even if hers is not working right. Chances are that each task she talks about sounds like one more straw on the camel's back. And if you do it, maybe it isn't right. Who wouldn't go crazy and get irritable? The strange thing is that we end up feeling guilty, like it is our fault.

As my mother gets worse, I deal with the task and mood thing in different ways. Many times I stay quiet. It's the best way I know not to instigate trouble. Sometimes I say no, it's not going to happen. That causes major problems. Strangely enough the thing that causes the most problems is when I DO it. That is because it is never ever done right. Or worse yet she'll get upset that I did it and tell me that I should not have. A good example was just this week. She asked me to cut back some limbs on a bush so they could move a swing. I did it and it looked very nice. Three days ago she seemed to be looking for trouble. She saw the bushes and started crying and yelling at me. How could I cut the bush? The one that she and her hubby had planted for their 50th Anniversary? She was inconsolable and angry beyond reason.

Sometimes we can't win. All we can do is tuck our tail and slink out of the room. I know that things like this are not me. I feel anger at having to go through it so often. I envy the people whose parent becomes sweet and wonderful.
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Actually it's maybe not fair to say she puts all the responsibilty for her moods on me. That's how it feels but it's not really accurate. She's just a bit more of a sponge than I'm comfortable being around. And sometimes she can be very bullish and stubborn, so she does have defenses, But my moods do affect her more than most people would be affected. If I have a bad day she has a bad day, where most people could shake it off, she becomes anxious. So it's a very unsettling mirror. I just want to learn to respond in a way that keeps her calm and happy and does not affect her negatively. That is my goal. Teflon. Then I can go off on my own and break a few plates.
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Thank you.
She's 76 . And she's too stubborn to see another doc. She's also dealing with some other medical issues so the mere suggestion of, hey maybe you should go get tested for dementia would throw her over the edge. I don't see that the specialist is a realistic option at this point although I can talk to her GP again.
Here's a question - what's the point? They can't do anything about it anyway, right? Except stress her out more by telling her she has dementia? She also presents fine at the dr's office and to some of her friends. Well sort of.

What would help most at this point is probably knowing ways to respond to this.
And now once i mentioned the household issue above and we argued about it, I left and six hours later came back and she was just spinning out on anxiety about that issue and adding all these other issues to it. Really there's nothing major wrong. Her bills are paid, the major household and life issues have been addressed she has food in the fridge and a small but functional income. She says she has a list of like 30 things that are just chasing her and it never ends and it's so much and it's all so stressful and..... on and on like a dog chasing its tail, around and around. She can't talk rationally to me tonight at all. And yet there's nothing major there. So there are a few plants to plant now that it's spring. And a small list of minor things for the handyman. That's like, it. But I caused this anxiety spinout by my bad reaction. If I had been nice and pleasant and told her don't worry about it, she would have gone on with her day/ I hate being responsible for someone else's moods. it's like having a small child or a pet that reacts to your mood. If I wanted children I would have had them. She puts all the responsibility for her mood or how she feels on me and she has absolutely no defense, boundaries or skills. And is not likely to acquire them. so it's not like dealing with most people. And I am angry internally about all this dependence and it comes out in my tone, although it has gotten much much better since reading this board, it's been a valuable resource.
I hate this.
what's the best way to respond so it doesn't go in circles? And helps me defuse and get out before I start feeling frustrated, and without releasing my frustration by being disrespectful or demeaning to her?
thank you
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Sounds exactly like the beginning symptoms of Dementia. There are different causes of dementia, could be Alzheimer's Disease, could be something else. There are tests, both short and long and detailed, that can help to pin down the area of the brain that is dying.

It will only get worse, so do all the reading on the subject that you can, there are lots of good articles on this site and elsewhere. Learn calming techniques for yourself, they will come in very handy.

ALSO, as far as the cost of things go - people who lived through the Great Depression learned to value the cost of things and be frugal. A lot of times if they develop dementia, those old ways resurface. What things cost and the feeling of not being able to afford things and not wanting to spend money become very BIG concerns to many elderly, dementia or not.

You can not argue with dementia, you will go around in circles. Nobody wins.
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How old is mom? Has she been diagnosed with dementia? Why is it so hard to get her ona doc? She sounds like my dad. I can't reason with him about anything. We have to divert, fib, move on and do what has to be done.
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