Mother isn't thinking logically. What can I do?


My 83 yr old mother has a compression fracture in her spine which has resulted in a pinched nerve and great pain. Her doctor told her she should have surgery, but she doesn't want it. He gave her a prescription for pain medicine that specifically targets nerve pain. She refuses to get the prescription filled. She is seeing a chiropractor and is feeling somewhat better but won't walk like he has suggested. Whenever I talk to her, all she does is complain about how much she hurts.

I was unwilling to visit her last week because of her reluctance to call friends or a transportation service to get her to appointments, but did take her to her eye doctor appointment yesterday. On the way to the appointment, my mom told me that she had driven (stick shift vehicle) to the "city" 9 miles away on Saturday so that she could go to the bank, get some groceries and use a coupon at the gas station that was due to expire. All of this was in spite of the fact that she was crying most of the time due to the extreme pain she was suffering.

I asked why she would drive 9 miles when she could have banked at the credit union and gotten groceries at the convenience store--both which are just a few blocks away from where she lives. Her explanation was that she didn't have enough money in her credit union account, the groceries would have cost more at the convenience store, and she HAD TO USE the coupon for gas as it was due to expire the next day.

I asked her why she hadn't just written a check from her bank account and then cashed it at the credit union? My mother told me that they wouldn't do that.

Then I asked how much gas she put in her car as I knew it shouldn't have been much since it hasn't been driven much in the past 3 weeks, due to her injury/pain. She told me, "About 5 gallons."

I told her that I couldn't undertand her logic. She drove about 20 miles round trip just to save $1.25 at the gas station and to get cash at the bank. Plus, she was in so much pain that she was crying????????

All she would say is that she thought it was logical.

I understand that she is lonely. However, she refuses to call anyone to help her or even to talk on the phone. Her going to the store, etc., got her some sympathy and a chance to talk to someone and do something different.


Any suggestions?

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She's probably not filling the prescription because she doesn't think she can afford it, if she's worried about not having enough money in her checking account for other things. Extreme pain can also really affect your decision making capabilities. Is there a way you can check the cost of the prescription and help her out with that if she can't afford it? I'm pretty independent, so I can understand your mom's reluctance to call others for help if she thinks she can handle it on her own. I'd do my best to get her pain medication so she can start taking it. Once she feels a bit better, her thinking may get back to being better.
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I can understand you feeling guilty. Most of us would. But shove that feeling to the back and let your logical self act. It has only been three weeks. Maybe Mom is just not feeling sociable yet. She is entitled to some time off while she heals. It is her decision about how she wants to treat or not treat the pain.

She is entitled to make her decisions, even poor ones. You, too, are entitled to make decisions about your life and your actions. Please try not to let unearned guilt drive those decisions.
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She used to play cards twice a month, but hasn't gone since she hurt herself (3 weeks ago). She also has had to miss her monthly VFW Aux. meeting. I don't know anyone from the card group and my mother insists she doesn't know the names/phone numbers of any of the members of this group even though she's been playing cards with them twice a month for at least 8 months. I'm sure most of them (if not all) live in the community and some are surely listed in the phone directory.

I have called one of the ladies from the VFW Aux. and she assured me that she and the others in the group would be happy to take my mother anywhere she needed to go. All they'd need is a phone call from my mom to let them know when and where. My mom refuses to call anyone.

Part of me feels guilty that I'm not willing to put myself in her shoes and offer to take her to these places. I live 35 miles away, work part time and have my own family and house to take care of. I might be able to rearrange my work schedule to accomodate one of the meetings/card playing sessions each month. However, another part of me feels that she could do more to help herself by just calling someone.
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Once she got herself ready and got into the car, it probably didn't matter a whole lot whether she drove 3 blocks or 9 miles.

The illogic I'd worry about is putting up with pain when she could at least attempt to minimize it with a prescription and/or by following the chiropractor's advice. And I don't know what you can do about that. Does she have any friends who are on pain medication and who might talk to her about it?
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Sometimes you just want to bang your head against the wall. My MIL would drive 10 miles to save thirty cents on bananas.
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If she lives on her own and takes care of herself she's allowed to be illogical. What's the harm? It sounds like her pain is tolerable enough to get out and do her errands. She's going to do what she wants to do whether it makes sense or not.
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