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My MIL has dementia. She has been sick for three days. We are trying to keep the rest of us healthy. She is fixated with the kitchen. She wants to handle dishes,silverware,wash dishes in her way which means rinse ,dry,and put away. She doesn't remember to wash her hands after being in the bathroom. We had a caregiver watch her for part of the day while I took our dog in for surgery. When I got home he left and I spent the rest of the afternoon and then through the entire dinner explaining to her she had been and was still sick. She didn't believe me and wanted to do dishes. My wife took her to the doctor yesterday . My MIL does not believe she went to the doctor. It is a constant battle to keep her from the kitchen with today getting particularly tough. There is no getting through to her. She argues about the kitchen endlessly. She could care less if the rest of us got sick. After telling her for the better part of three hours that she was sick she said well nobody told her. She argued with my wife after dinner. I am sitting here typing with my blood pressure through the roof and a splitting headache. Normally tomorrow she would go to adult day care,but because she has been sick I will be home with her all day while my wife is at work. Tonight because I told her she was not to do any dishes she told me that I don't want her to live here. The only thing I want is for her to stay out of the kitchen.

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Can you give her a cabinet with a few of each dish, glass and let those be the ones she washes? I am thinking more on the level of making some portion of your kitchen just for her so she can play/wash and be happy. She needs to feel useful too. Good luck.
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You cannot reason with dementia. Trying only raises your blood pressure and does not produce the result you want.

Why is it necessary to convince her she was sick? Boy, I've had some bouts of illness I wish I could forget!

Allow her to wash dishes, but under a watchful eye. Then put all of the dishes she has handled into the dishwasher. It doesn't sound like this is a temporary problem because she's been ill, but a more permanent one because of her hygiene. You really need to come up with a solution that will satisfy you without arguing with her all the time (an argument that you cannot win).

She may lose interest in the kitchen next week or next month. We can hope, right?
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Excuse me, I meant to say she has NOT got the capability to care. I left out a very important word.
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If you have a dishwasher, after MIL has played around in the kitchen, just load it and go. Or better yet, help her load the dirty ones. She may want to wash them first and that may satisfy her need to do the dishes. Or, you could help her by drying and putting the dishes away with her. That way you can control where they go.

By the way, having her hands in hot soapy water DOES clean them too, so her hands are clean by the time she wipes and puts away the dishes.

You cannot reason with dementia. Let me assure you that you will think you can, but you can't. Just tell yourself that this too will pass. It's not worth getting so upset that your blood pressure rises and you get a migraine. It's not that she couldn't care less about your health, she has got the capability to care. If you are her primary caregiver, and you do not feel you can handle it, perhaps it's time to consider other living arrangements for MIL. It's no life for her or for you to constantly be at odds. Just keep telling yourself that she can't help it. Take a wet wipe and clean her hands after she's been to the bathroom. I buy Clorox wipes to wipe down surfaces.
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JimL, when something is important, you do have to make them listen to you. It is when you turn on the Super Boss self and say, "Mom, you have been sick. You are NOT going to handle food and dishes. Out of the kitchen now. Scoot!" And don't argue with her about it. Just tell her that she is not going to handle stuff.
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One has to remember, you never can win an argument with someone who has dementia. It's not their fault, sadly that is how their brains are now wired due to the disease. It's not that she could care less, her brain won't allow her to reason. At the top of the page there is this blue bar, click on "Elder Care", now click on "Alzheimer's & Dementia", there is a store house of information regarding this disease. The more the whole family knows, the better everyone will understand.

As for the kitchen, wouldn't it be easier for the rest of the family to wash to the dishes and silverware they plan to use instead of trying to convince mother-in-law to stay out of the kitchen?
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