Mom wants to go home - and actually believes that she can. Any advice on how to reason with her?

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Mom had a stroke over a year ago due to taking herself off her meds due to the cost of those meds. She's obese, diabetic, a-fib, multiple aches and pains, etc, etc. Her stroke risk factors were off the charts, but she voluntarily stopped her blood-thinners and promptly had a stroke. She did the rehab routine at a nursing home and convinced the staff she was OK to go home after getting cut off by her insurance company.


She's of limited means, so paid caregivers were only a limited option. The home caregivers her insurance company was willing to pay for were of limited value and duration. I became her primary caregiver: cooking, shopping, meds, bill paying, keeping her company, taking her to the doctor, arranging a medical van since she could not travel my car, making her phone calls, banking, coordinating caregivers, and basically pulling out all the stops to try to keep her in her home. Unfortunately, in spite of my very best efforts, her condition declined under my care. There just were not enough hours in the day and I work outside the home as well. I also have minor children - one of which is not even in school yet. I needed additional help - which was not available.


Mom and mom's sister both felt I should be doing more and they felt I should somehow be mandating other family members to do more as well. Mom and mom's sister did not have a kind word for me (even though I was killing myself trying to care for Mom, my kids, my spouse, trying to work inside and outside the home) & they seemed to feel that if they bullied me enough, I'd find the strength to provide the 24 hour care that Mom needed?


I don't know that I've ever been so used and abused in my life. I feel like only someone who has tried to care for someone could possibly understand the level of exhaustion and heartache. In spite of that, I really did try to maintain control and my heart was in the right place. Mom was falling, making med errors, ignoring the meal plan and then telling family friends that I had left her with "nothing to eat", calling 911 for frivolous reasons, leaving her phone off the hook (which meant we could not reach her and would have to drive over there), getting her phone and TV remotes mixed up and pressing wrong buttons, having urine and stool accidents, threatened an imaginary intruder with a knife, tried to apply for credit cards and purchase things she saw on TV, refused to do her exercises she was being taught by in-home PT, and probably multiple other things I'm not even thinking of right now.


Her last day in her home involved an unwitnessed fall with likely loss of consciousness. She went back to the hospital and then to the nursing home. With 24 hour care, she has really done well & we are thrilled! However, she constantly wants to "get an apartment" - which she cannot do - unless I want a replay of the antics I listed above. She refuses to see that the reason she's doing so well is ONLY because she's getting 24 hour care. She would not have 24 hour care in an apartment. If she ever did get an apartment, she would need to understand that I would not be making myself available to her anymore and she would need to be 100% independent since there's no one other than me who can or would help at all. Trust me, she's not 100% independent & she now blames me for that.


She claims she would be fine if she got out, but will "become an invalid" if she stays in the nursing home. I have talked to the staff about this, and they feel that all the residents would like to go to their own place & I shouldn't worry about it. the problem is that Mom is "with it" enough that she KNOWS she's been placed in a facility and it's permanent. I can't pull the "Let's talk about this next time" routine. Unfortunately, Mom doesn't remember all of the things that she would not (or could not) do which would have been necessary to keep her at home. She believe she needs no care or assistance at all and she can move to an apartment any time. The nursing home provides high-quality ongoing care - make no mistake about it. It's a nice facility. But Mom fails to see that and says things like "What difference does it make if I watch TV here or if I watch TV in my own place?" The nursing home does a lot more for her than provide her with a TV. Any advice on how to reason with her?

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Thanks so much for the responses. Snoopy - Yes, Mom has always been difficult in one way or another. She's very manipulative & will adjust her behavior to get what she wants from a sensitive soul. If she thinks crying will get her what she wants, then she cries. If she thinks yelling/threatening will help, then she yells/threatens. If she can get away with a lie, then she lies. Whatever it takes to get what she wants and avoid what she doesn't want. She's not someone who will set a goal and work towards it in a systematic way. She's someone who decides what she wants and gets others to do it for her. Unfortunately, her stroke recovery (PT/OT/diet/etc) was something she HAD to do herself (with guidance/assistance from others) and she could not pawn it off completely. For a woman who pawns everything off and places blame constantly, she truly didn't know what to do with a situation that depended upon her OWN inner strength - which she doesn't have much of. She's never needed inner strength - everyone always rescues her. And she presents the pathetic, "poor me" just enough that most people do feel sorry for her to some degree. I have even cautioned the staff at the facility not to fall for her fake charm.

Barb - You are correct. She does not have the life skills to even obtain and seek out her own apartment - let alone live there. Since my original post, I verified with social work that Mom does essentially nothing without some kind of assistance. Some of that is Mom's laziness (which I've observed for decades) and some of it is Mom's attitude that "that's what they get paid for here, so they should help me." She minimizes what she staff truly does for her. The real kicker is that when I cared for her at home, she demonstrated over and over that she either cannot or will not do basic life tasks on her own. I recall one of the few days which I tried to leave Mom alone in her house for one whole day and (to make a long story short) it did not go well. That was one of many, "You don't appear to be able to live alone anymore" conversations which I had with her. It was an awful day all the way around. Jobu: I probably could have written your first paragraph myself as it's exactly how I feel. If Mom somehow manages to seek out and get an apartment (she would have to trick someone else into helping her do it) I will not be assisting in any way and I'll tell her this if it comes down to it. I'm not helping her move, shop, get meds, TAKE meds, cook, mend, doctor's appts. If she's so great, she can do it herself - which she of course cannot. There are a couple of people who might attempt to help her get a place, but then those people will have to follow it through to the inevitable disaster of a conclusion - not me. I already tried. She would never get out of the nursing home on her own, but if she ever did... I'd say it would last about 45 minutes and she'd be calling 911 for something which (of course) was someone else's fault.
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Reply to OverTheEdge17
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My Dad did the same thing when we brought him to live with us 2 years ago. He thought he could still live by himself and was always talking about figuring out how to get back to the town he lived in. I told him he was welcome to go if he could figure out how to get there on his own as he would get no help from me. I also said he would be 100% on his own and I would not be there to help him with ANYTHING. I even said I'd change our phone numbers and would even consider moving and we would be completely out of his life. So....go ahead if you want bub, but you are on your own. It sounds mean but it shut him up.

He turns 90 in 6 months and has finally accepted that he can't do it on his own anymore. In fact, he thanks us for being so nice to him. We take him out of the house and try to make his life as comfortable as possible.

He gets on my nerves and we still have conflicts....as most fathers and sons do. I'm not real thrilled he had to live with us as he has totally disrupted our lives....of which we wonder if we'll ever get back, but our house is the best place for him.
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Reply to anonymous783209
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I agree with Snoopy. It sounds like she has limited cognitive abilities and no insight. It really doesn't matter if this is lifelong, or if it's dementia. She doesn't "get" the reality of her circumstances.

Does she have the wherewithal to get herself an apartment? Can she make phone calls, arrange for a credit check, get herself there to visit? No? "Mom, those are the the things you need to be able to do to have an apartment by yourself."
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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Unfortunately, it sounds like she is a person who cannot be reasoned with, so I wouldn't bother. Has she always been difficult? Maybe it's time to set boundaries about how much time you will spend with her AWAY from your own life, work and minor children. I have to be frank, she sounds awful and certainly hasn't done anything to deserve such a caring daughter.

Time to stop the insanity. 
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Reply to SnoopyLove
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