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Does anybody have experience calming unreasonable fears in elders?


Not quite delusional but at this point Mom gets something in her head and refuses to let any evidence quell her negative outlook on the outcome of these "chair" visits by repairmen who have extensively tested and replaced a few parts. She still insists it doesn't work right even though she doesn't follow the charging instructions given explicitly by the repairmen.


It works right. She is scared it will quit working right.


I am soooooo sick of hearing about this chair.


Should I recommend she buy a new one? She can afford it.


Thank You

Mom THINKS that having these devices plugged in and 'out' where people can see them makes them think she is super techie. It's patently ridiculous as she cannot even log in to either device and has never been able (or interested) in doing so.

To me, it's just another waste of a nice little laptop and Ipad. I got her a SKYLIGHT for photos from the grands and g-grands and somehow she broke it. Literally has 3 buttons on the back--is beyond user friendly. She saw the pics loaded on it ONCE and turned it off. Said it was annoying. Pointless to point out to her that she has a grand total of 4 TVs in an 800 sf apartment that are on ALL DAY LONG.
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Reply to Midkid58
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Midkid58: "Of course, even though these were never used and now are totally ruined, she insists they stay plugged in and sitting on a side table."


THIS!!!!

My poor Mom has gone to war w/physics as well!
There is no amount of evidence that can convince her of the charge cycle requirement of her chair's battery bank.
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Reply to trials
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It seems to me that the wheelchair is related to the fear of being left helpless if anything happens as well as the worry of losing independence. Do you suppose working through a "what if" strategy with her would be helpful?
What if the chair dies when you are doing A, B or C, how can you (she) navigate that? What about some kind of panic button that she wears (there are so many systems available now, either monitored or not).
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Reply to cwillie
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Ah--you hit on the base problem.

Often battery powered things need to practically exhaust all the battery power before you recharge them. She's not getting full use of the battery pack, and probably watches that 'power level' all day long, waiting for it to get to a level that's still letting it run just fine, but she'd not happy with it. It could have a couple hours more power in it, but it makes her anxious.

Once the battery has 'accepted' the new charge as being the 'norm' it may never reset, it will likely accept 80% discharge as being the norm, therefore requiring more charging and a slow decline in the overall charging ability.

I have quite a few little appliances, etc., that have this feature, they need to practically discharge completely before they are put on the charger.

IDK if simply replacing the battery pack would solve this dilemma-or if she needs a whole new chair--and better management for powering it up. Some how you need to distract her from the power indicator.

A new chair will solve the problem for the short term, but not in the long term, b/c she'll do this same thing.

I'd ask the manufacturer or the repair person if there's something you can do to get the chair to accept a charge that will last longer.

Mom ruined her little Ipad & laptop by leaving them charging ALL THE TIME. After a YEAR of being plugged into the charger, it simply didn't recognize 'on' and 'off'. We never could get her to use it and then let it run down some and THEN plug it back in. Of course, even though these were never used and now are totally ruined, she insists they stay plugged in and sitting on a side table.

I wish you luck. This is an expensive fix if you have to buy a new chair every time she gets anxious about losing power.
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Reply to Midkid58
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It is a powered wheelchair.
It is a replacement for one she had that had worn out.
It was new in 2019 I think...
Qualified techs replaced the joystick, interconnects from control module, and batteries.
The power indicator lights that typically have 2 red, 1 yellow, and 2 green intermittently show 1 less green than she wants. The tech says you have to charge it 8-10 hrs after running the batteries down to the yellow. She cant stand running it down to yellow, subsequently it doesn't do the deeper charge that is beneficial to battery life, additionally she wont leave it on the charger for the right amount of time.
It is what she does.
I do not believe there is 1 mortal person who could convince her she is doing it wrong.
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Reply to trials
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Countrymouse Mar 29, 2021
Oh I see, I'm sorry I misunderstood what sort of powered chair.

I can only sympathise. My mother used to start hyperventilating if the fuel gauge in her car dipped below 4 (out of 6) orange lights, even though another gauge showed this meant we still had about 200+ miles left in the tank. It led to a frank and prolonged exchange of views on one trip (I was driving) which was only halted when Daughter 2 piped up from the back seat with "mother, just stop for fuel for f***'s sake."

But your mother's problem will no doubt be identical on any model, no?

Hmmm.

And she uses it all the time, yes? So you couldn't run it round the block a few dozen times to give the battery a proper workout?

Will think.
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Since you mention this is her "only mobility" I took this to be about a power wheelchair, others here assume you are talking about a lift recliner - could you clarify that trials??
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Have you sat in it and operated it yourself?

I have seen riser recliners that do a little hop-skip at a point in their elevation or descent, and if I were wholly dependent on one like that I expect it would give me pause, too.

I'm also puzzled about the recharging instructions - what needs charging? And what parts were replaced? And how old is the thing?

If she's completely lost confidence in it, and she can easily afford a new one, and you can find one that fits her properly (the fitting process much overlooked, unfortunately, and it can make such a difference), and you're sure that the new one won't fall out of favour next week because it makes a funny noise or the control doesn't go with her purse...

Then go ahead and let her buy one.
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1) "What are her plans if she did get stuck...?"
She has 2 alarms, a pendant she wears and a hot button on her nitestand.
She has a phone she could mount to her chair if she chose to. She doesn't want to.
There is a lockbox w/a key on the front door all emergency personnel have access to.

2) "Could you have a manual chair as back up and ...you or an aide...could stay with her...?"
We have a manual chair we use on dr appts. she has no interest and says she cant roll it herself even on smooth cement.
Ugh, having an aide who could and would meet her unusual requirements is impossible. I'm slowly illuminating her choices as far as help goes. She thinks I should just continue doing all I have been (due to the pandemic I've been a virtual shut in since halloween last) and she quit using her very great aides from before the pandemic claiming they put her in danger. Soon enough there will be aides, but not the kind you could call at midnight in a tizzy. If her chair quits she will be helpless except for 911 between say 8pm and 8am
This whole episode is predicated by my resuming normal life. I told her I'm leaving sometime after the 5th and she is pulling what I expected.

#3 "...why does she fear the chair may quit working?"
I can't say. I don't know.
I understand there is a component to many mental health diagnosis concerning abandonment and especially in borderline personality disorder this becomes pronounced.
I don't know, but Mom gets really weird when I leave.
She has to understand I never signed up to watch her the rest of her life. I'm supportive and mostly kind but I'm 2 years fighting this bad set up.
I have been doing therapy by phone.

Thank you all for the ideas,
I think we'll get a second chair and keep it in a large unused space in the walk in closet in Mom's room.
Worse comes to worse EMS can pull it out and help Mom onto it.

I'm sure you can all see I'm trying to preempt the reasons she'll say I can't leave
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Reply to trials
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What is her plan if she did get stuck in the chair?

New chair is a good idea. But also a plan. Does she keep a phone within reach? Or wear a falls alarm pendant?

My relative has got stuck in her chair a few times now. Must be a scary thing... has had to push her fall alarm.
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Reply to Beatty
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I realize she can afford a power chair, but it still is very expensive. and it also takes up a lot of room. Could you have a manual chair as a back-up with the agreement that you or an aide you hired would stay with her until her power chair was replaced or repaired? I think she will have the same concern with any power chair, and it would be much less expensive to pay an aide for a few days than to pay for an additional power chair while she still owns one!
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Reply to caroli1
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I think a reasonable question is why does she fear the chair will stop working? Getting a new one won't necessarily quell that fear. Could it be fear of having to rely on a piece of machinery? It must feel like an awful loss of independence; if that goes wrong, where would that leave her?

I'm not a therapist but my first thought was to wonder what might be driving Mom's fear... Anxiety is an aspect of aging; the need for reassurance - from you, repairmen, others - is strong.

If she won't talk to a therapist, perhaps you should, to get a little insight and possible management (think cognitive behavior) strategies.

Wishing you and Mom well.
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Reply to ravensdottir
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Getting an additional chair as a backup is brilliant.
If the one she uses quits, she'll have another.
IDK why it hadn't occured to me.
This insight is worth the price of admission.
TY all
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Reply to trials
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Get a new one and keep the old one as a backup if there is room. Then you can reassure her that she has two and they won't break at the same time.
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Reply to Frebrowser
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You answered your own question when you said "should I recommend she buy a new one?" Yes, you should. And you can sell her perfectly good old one as well, as I'm sure there's someone out there that would like a nice lift chair. Hopefully with the new one, you won't have to listen to her unfounded fears anymore. Good luck.
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