She had a fall and a concussion when she came, and I was doing most everything for her at that time. I have continued doing the cooking, the dishes, the laundry, helping with her shower and even toileting, which she needs many of those still. I’m finding that I am ready to ask her to do some of her own things. She does usually fold her clothing and towels. Though at first she didn’t do it well. I got a concussion last summer and know how that affected me, so I understand her responses and behaviors at that time. She seems to be stronger and more healthy. She has macular degeneration and I’m not sure how bad that actually is, it seems to be getting worse. She has some dementia, but I’m not sure how much of that was from the concussion, and how much is how much she has deteriorated. I guess I can take her to the doctor to get that tested. She is definitely stronger. We had to get a back molar in each side removed because she wasn’t brushing her teeth well enough, and they had cracked or had to have a root canal. She has had dizziness ever since a root canal almost 20 years ago, so we just had those pulled. She has memory problems, but she seems to remember better what needs to be done for her nighttime routine, but she doesn’t brush her teeth well enough when she does it on her own. I am really doing her hygiene things for her.

She would not shower or brush her teeth if left to do it herself. When I’m not at home, she will go to bed putting her top dentures in a cup of cold water, no brushing or denture tablets. Even though she knows where they are. Sometimes she does use them and other times she doesn’t. I’m not sure if it’s forgetting or just not wanting to make the effort. Most nights I have to make sure, after she’s used the toilet, I wipe her because she has a mess in her depends. Which I make sure she changes night and day. She usually uses the toilet for urinating, so that isn’t a problem.

I’m finding myself feeling guilty for asking her to do things she can do, though it’s probably good for her to do them. 4 to 6 times a week the toilet is a mess from her attempts to clean herself up after a bowel movement. The last two nights, it was right as I was about to make dinner. So I placed Clorox wipes on the toilet in the areas there was stuff that needed to be wiped off, and asked her to please clean the toilet up while I made dinner, as I do make all the meals. She did it willingly as best she could. I feel like I can ask her to do more. She tried to contribute in the ways she wanted to. But it usually causes more problems than it helped. She throws things away she thinks I shouldn’t want. 😂

I love her dearly and she has loved me as her own daughter. We have always had a good friendship and deep love and appreciation for each other. She’s grateful for things we do for her, but also sometimes is like a 5 year old, resentful that she has to do personal hygiene things. I realized she probably hadn’t showered for a year before she moved in. She said she had had a shower, but I think she was occasionally getting her head wet, maybe sometimes using shampoo, but never enough. She had a particular odor about her that was from her somewhat washed/wetted hair and unwashed body. She was an immaculate woman when she was younger, always took care of herself. I just don’t know how much to let her attempt, when she doesn’t take care to do what needs to be done. So I so far just have her do what she CAN do without making a mess or making things more complicated for myself. I have got to get some outside help to take of her, one member of my husband’s family is willing but it sometimes feels like their needs are more important than my needs though she lived here 24-7 the last 8 months. The other two family members could not do what she needs to have done because if their own issues, can you tell me what you have an elderly parent do that lives with you?

Dementia, very poor vision, history of falls, dizziness, and 89.
IMHO, you are asking too much. Cleaning a toilet will put her at grave risk for a fall due to postural hypotension changes.
I think that you MIL has now surely entered the phase we call "total care". Sadly. And it is not necessary that you feel you are up to doing this care for the duration. It is time now to have a calm, gentle, loving heart to heart with your husband about the future necessity of placement. So sorry. Hard thing to do.
Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to AlvaDeer

Rather than waiting for your other family members to fit you into their schedules 🙄 I think you should hire aides to take care of some of the more contentious tasks like her shower. I'm going to ask the money question - presumably she was financially independent before she moved in with you, so how much is she contributing to your household expenses, are you being paid to be her caregiver, and how much might she be able to contribute to hiring outside caregivers?
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Reply to cwillie

I agree that you should keep her busy and engaged with tasks that she can still do, albeit imperfectly...but you must remember she is losing abilities -- not maintaining -- so your expectations must be tempered and flexible as she declines.

Maybe the hygiene things need to be outsourced but have her do other things like fold laundry, make her bed, wash vegetables and fruits/stow them, dust with a Swifter, sweep the floors, whatever her failing vision will allow. I agree with Cwillie that you should now consider outside help as long as you are not the one paying for it., or you could consider a care contract to be paid for your caregiving. Please make sure she is not co-mingling her funds or gifting money as this may delay or disqualify her from Medicaid, should she need it. You are a wonderful DIL...she is lucky to have you (and so is your hubs)!
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Reply to Geaton777

About 25 years ago my mother had surgery. To recover, she went to stay with my sister, who is a retired nurse. My sister did everything for her until mom had to come home for a recheck by her Dr, ( My sister lived about 350 miles from mom's home and I lived about 50 miles.

While with me a few days before her appt, my sister called me to let me know that she was going to have colon cancer surgery and I would need to do 2 things, keep mom and the worse part tell her of my sister's cancer.

I watch mom and saw she was miserable. After dinner one night I asked her if she wanted to help clean up. She was excited. Every few days I would another small chore that she could do. Before long she was doing most everything necessary to live on her own. Since I lived in a very small town, I began to let her drive home from the shopping trips and soon she was driving both ways.

About two weeks after that she was ready to go home. Before she left she told me, if your sister had not had cancer, I probably would never have been able to go home because she treated me like a total invalid. Mom lived almost another 20 years after that and continued to live by herself until her death.
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Reply to garylee
Patricia109 Sep 5, 2020
Had you not stepped in when your sister became ill, your mother would of died before her time. You gave your mother a sense of purpose, a reason to live and she thrived and lived another twenty years. I applaud you!
All really great answers here. First I want to say what a great job you are doing. It’s important to keep her mind busy, but she may not be able to manage the tasks you think. She certainly would have some improvement due to your loving care and regular meals, proper medication management, and social interaction. But it’s time to get outside help because that improvement is likely to be short lived. You should investigate what In-home services she may be eligible for from your county or state. Contact your local area on aging. Then assess your MILs resources and see if she can afford to hire additional help. You need to care for yourself too. Otherwise you will end up physically exhausted and overwhelmed, no matter great your relationship is with her.
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Reply to Mepowers

For one thing, don't expect her to do things the way you do.
She may not want nor does she need to take a bath or shower every day.

Maybe she thinks she will fall, you may put a Bench for her to sit on.
1 or 2 times a week would be sufficient.

You can ask her to do anything and everything that you or she thinks she can do.
Best thing is have a chat and ya'll together come up with things she can do.
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Reply to bevthegreat

I know with my parent, even though he does sit in his chair a lot he keeps himself busy. I think it is important to keep oneself active for whatever you can do and as long as you are able for a healthier mind and body. He walks with a walker, goes to the bathroom, will walk around the house and check things out. It's not a lot but he's up and moving. I told him he needs to keep moving. I've seen too many people just stop and then it usually doesn't end up well. I wouldn't feel bad about helping her to keep her mind and body active as long as she is able.
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Reply to mmc0419

After reading all of her limitations including some dementia, I think you are very lucky compared to many cases we have all seen on here. She may be better because she is at your home and not pushing herself to do things. Some parents get mean and crotchety and get into things and even lose their ability to hold in their bowel movements and need diapers they don’t want to wear. Having said that, please remember her true age. With some exceptions, people don’t live much past 90 without being placed in AL or wearing out the family. It doesn’t sound that bad right at this time and you two have a loving family relationship. Don’t ask her, at her age with disabilities to start doing very much and make a deal out of it. Anxiety will set in for her. Enjoy the fact that she is not bossing anybody around and peeing all through the house and everything else we’ve seen on here. Hand her little jobs she can do but not expected to do it every day. She won’t remember. She also may not tell you every ache and pain she really has. I watched my parents each go into decline and they just can’t do what they use to do at that age. Neither could my grandparents when I think about it. Trust me. Things could be worse. Read some of the posts people have put on here and their nightmarish lives. You are luckier than you think. She can fold towels and washcloths sitting down if you put the basket next to her. She may not do it like you do, but she would try. Good luck. Bless.
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Reply to elaineSC

You are doing a great job with your mother. She's at a stage where you need help and advice. Try to get connected with an elder care social worker and elder care networks in your area so that they can discuss options with you. Everybody ages differently, so it's best just to keep assessing the current situation, which will be changing over time. Some people don't realize that they have dementia. My mother began her decline at around age 90, and now at age 96 has advanced dementia and needs help with everything, including feeding, bathing, dressing, and can't walk (she uses a wheel chair now) or do any chores. It's a good idea to have her checked by her doctor who can assess whether there are physical reasons for any of her problems. The doctor can also diagnose dementia. Discuss her prognosis with her doctor so that you know what might be expected. This is best to do privately with the doctor, as some people get stressed if they hear that they have dementia. Make sure all of your mother's paperwork is in order (power of attorney for medical and financial decisions, living will so that you know her medical directives, will, etc.) so that you can take over for her if she is totally incapacitated. Some banks have their own POA forms. My mother was willing to make me a joint owner of her bank accounts, which makes things easier. Look for easy things that she can help with, as long as she is able, but if she can't, don't push her or expect her to be able to do things. You should plan for when she needs more help, and this is where senior-oriented networks can help you with the options.
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Reply to NYCdaughter

If you are planning to have her with you a while longer instead of living in Assisted Living. I would suggest you invest in a bidet toilet seat. The
is allows for a spray of water to clean up. I think they are manual so she might not do it on her own, but much better than the mess. They are not super expensive, are easy to install and you could use her own funds.

I am not sure you grasp how impaired he is mentally. Her dementia is not going to allow her to process anything as she once did and no amount of prodding or reminding will help. The woman you knew is really gone. That is the sadness of this illness. My mother in law was terrific and we liked each other. The person she became was nothing like her and I used to tell the memory care staff that it was sad they had not known her.

I would not try to get help from family. Too much of a headache. People always say “let me know if you need anything” but when you need help, somehow it never materializes. I would suggest a bath aide at least 3 times a week since he is in continent. And maybe a cleaning lady to give you some help in the house. Read more about how to use her money to pay for things so you don’t get her into an issue later if she needs to apply for Medicaid.
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Reply to dogparkmomma

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