For the past few days, I leave the food within her reach and she will sometimes eat a little of it, but her intake has been only about a third of what is normal for her. She is angry because I won't let her 'go home' (as if I could) and won't speak to me, either. When I'm out of the room she rants and raves about what a horrible person I am, but clams up when I try to talk to her. She doesn't seem weakened at this point, but I'm worried; how long can she do this without harming herself?

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How long can she go without harming herself? I think that would depend a lot on what condition she is in to start with. If your mom has anything like diabetes or a low immune system - not very long. It sounds like your mom is struggling to show/get control but being dependent on you her methods are limited. My adult son has autism - nonverbal and functions at about a two yr level. When Rainman wants to exert some control he has bathrooming accidents on purpose - but at least those are just icky, not potentially life threatening. Have you tried pointing out to your mother that if she continues eating like she is she is likely to wind up in the hospital and then rehab? If it were my mom that possibility would be the only thing that might work. In your situation I think I might try cooking up some of moms favorite foods to try to temp her. Then I would carry on business as usual working to show the power play isn't getting her anywhere but hungry and possibly sick. Finally I think I'd try to come up with something benign to let her exert some control over - a choice in something that will allow her preference over yours. It's a little trick I do with my son that works. But then again while autism and dementia certainly have some similarities they are also very different. Best of luck to you!
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I used to try to find out why my mother was mad at was a time she reverted back to when she was use to take at least 3 days for her to come out of it. Now she gets mad I get quiet then gently walk away..hoping this all turns around for you..
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