Follow
Share

When she has problems finding the right words to use, I give her time to find them and then I fill in the words for her. She gets angry and tells me to stop helping her, I’ve waited a minute or more at times and she’s still trying to say what she wants to say. Conversations are hard with her because she doesn’t remember what we’ve been talking about when I comment back to her.


She also wants help with house and yard chores. Two of my sisters who live 45 minutes away get frequent calls from her, two of us live out of state, and she demands that they drop everything and come help her. She calls them at work and they tell her that they can come on Saturday or Sunday afternoons to help and her response is always, “You know me, I want it done when I want it done and you girls will get a lot of money when I die, you owe it to me to help when I ask.”


She does expect my sister and myself to fly to her immediately to help. We are both teachers and cannot just take time off and go. We both have gone during breaks and during the summers to help her start the process of reducing what she has, at her insistence, so if she wants to move from her home of 40 years, it will be easier. When we get there, she has changed her mind and says, “I don’t want to get rid of anything and I’m never leaving my home.” So we’re left sitting at home with her watching television and visiting with her. We cannot go anywhere because she refuses to let us drive her car. She’s been told not to drive by her doctor several times and tells her that she won’t, but she does. She not a bad driver when she goes six blocks to her grocery store and her bank. None of us are comfortable with riding with her. We’ve both gone on two separate occasions and have had the same experience both times.


Shes always been manipulative and pits each of her four daughters against each other, and she lies and always has. Three of us caught on quickly after we were married, but one still believes everything she says and argues with us about why we’re not taking better care of mom.


She is in perfect health. My two sisters who live near her go to her doctor’s appointments and at 87, her doctor tells her that she’s very healthy, but has memory issues. She agrees with her doctor, but when she’s out of the office she maintains that she can drive and doesn’t have a problem with her memory.


Help us to live peaceably with her. I call her every other day, my other sister that lives in another state, doesn’t call her very often. The other two have been run ragged and are running out of patience.

Down sizing is an art. I suggest you do this gradually and with your Mom's help. I started going to my mom's house every weekend and cleaned out one drawer, or one closet. I set up 3 boxes, one for trash, one for donation, and one for items to keep or pass to family or friends.

It was like an archeological dig! She kept asking me "where did that come from?" I was firm with her having to make the choice, I didn’t care what it was but she had to decide. She usually caught me if I tried to sneak something into the donate or trash box. And she always insisted on checking through the boxes before disposal. And if there was anything she wanted to keep I didn’t argue, it was her stuff after all.

It took most of a year but was worth the work when it came time to sell the house and clear it out. Good luck!
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Frances73
Report
Llamalover47 Aug 13, 2020
Downsizing does not have to be an art if you routinely purge, which is what I do.
(1)
Report
Imho, you all are not to be at your mother's beck and call. You are the ones who set the rules and not her. She may not be in "perfect health" if her mind seems to be slipping. Prayers and good luck.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Llamalover47
Report

There's no 'peace' to be found with mothers like this. I know. I've had one for 63 years. YOU have to make the rules and set down the boundaries, that's the only way to roll. Otherwise, SHE calls the shots and you see where it's gotten you!

Mother, I will be over on thus-and-such a day from thus-and-such hours to do XYZ for you, if you'd like it to be done. If not, we will visit and that opportunity will be lost until the next scheduled visit.

My mother has moderate dementia & lives in a Memory Care ALF. She is the ONLY resident there who does NOT have dementia, dontcha know? And doesn't even BELONG there! There is nothing wrong with her at ALL, so why I 'put' her there is something she'll never understand. Meanwhile, "I" had nothing to do with where she went after she was hospitalized with pneumonia and rehabbed for 3 weeks a year ago last May. There is no talking to the woman, so I keep it light and fluffy. As far as lying goes, she hasn't told the truth more than a handful of times I'm aware of in the past 93.5 years of her life, and it's only getting worse. She's a pathological liar and always has been. Everything she says and does I have to fact check with the staff at the ALF otherwise I'd be led to believe she doesn't eat or even leave her room on a daily basis. Meanwhile, she weighs 190 lbs so she's eating SOMETHING methinks! :)

She is SUCH a control freak that her Depends briefs are now the new bone of contention in her world. I've ordered them on Amazon for years and had them shipped to her directly. Now, all of a sudden, she has 'a million' of them and NO ROOM in her apartment for them and blah blah blah. She has to call someone in to figure out what to DO with ALL THESE DEPENDS YOU KEEP SENDING. Just another control issue she's discovered she still has. So, I will no longer be sending Depends to you mother, now it's up to YOU to tell the caregivers when you need disposable briefs and they will bring them directly to you. Never
mind that she hates the brand they use, right? :)

You can't fix the broken relationships with your siblings, unfortunately. I wouldn't even think about 'inheritances' at this point because frankly, who cares? When the time comes, you'll figure it all out. If your sister doesn't call her mother very often, there's nothing YOU can do to change that.

Taarna has a good suggestion about calling the police about your mother driving. Let THEM be the 'bad guys' and tell her she can't drive anymore. Next time you're over there, you might want to make her car keys 'disappear' too, that's always a good idea. And then look into Memory Care ALFs in the area as your backup plan B for when mom can no longer live alone. Because she aint' comin' to live with you, that's for sure!

Wishing you the best of luck setting down boundaries to make YOUR life more manageable!
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to lealonnie1
Report
Takincare Aug 13, 2020
Not only lose the keys but also disable the car. Leave interior lights on so battery dies, pull a couple of fuses, fuel pump one is a must and not as apparent as disconnected battery or missing plug wire. I would keep at minimum liability insurance on the car incase she calls a repair shop to come get car and fix it.
(0)
Report
This is from my personal experience: keep an eye on the troublemaker sister. Do not give her your share of the inheritance, that’s may be exactly what she’s trying for.

My youngest sister tore pagers from my parent’s Trust and blamed it on another sibling. She bullied my Mom into signing her house over to her, when it was promised to us equally,

She got the house and we lost a sister - not a fair trade at all.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to BeckyT
Report

Giving people time to find words is *incredibly* difficult on the telephone, not least because you can't see from her expression whether there's any progress being made towards finding them. Resist, resist, resist the temptation to supply them. If your mother is becoming frustrated and annoyed, see if you can skip a couple of sentences ahead to get the conversation under way again, but don't whatever you do call attention to her struggle.

Mother: “You know me, I want it done when I want it done and you girls will get a lot of money when I die, you owe it to me to help when I ask.”

Sister: "I see your point of view, but I'm afraid it doesn't work like that. We are of course happy to help when we can."

And they should block her number during working hours. It's so easy to do that on cellphones there's really no reason not to - unless it's the potential for Freudian forgetting to unblock her again...

What kind of memory/mental health services does mother's doctor offer? It sounds as though mother is perhaps more open to discussing investigations with official people than with her own children.

I have a classic showtimer client just now. She is a *lovely* lady, 99 years old next week, partially sighted, very deaf, and with impaired short-term memory. Her daughters, who share care, think she's as demented as all get-out and can't be trusted even to clean her teeth; that she becomes agitated and difficult if things don't happen on the dot; that she resists all support because she's too confused to realise that she needs it; and that she must be washed, dressed and placed in her chair like a Victorian china doll.

And, of course, with me she's been a delight: I can't imagine how infuriating it must be for "the girls." This morning she remembered me from yesterday (when the daughter had already done everything because mother "wouldn't wait") and agreed to support this time. I watched her select the right washing things and do everything in the right order, running hot and cold water appropriately, using text-book technique for standing, turning, balancing and seating. With her permission I did her feet, back and bottom. Buttoning her blouse was a bit too much of an ask (lots of little buttons), but we'll try again tomorrow (I do the top one, then I suggest we race - I start at the bottom, she takes the top and we meet halfway. If she can only manage one it's still an achievement, and if she can't it doesn't matter). It will be interesting to see how she is during an evening or bed call, if I'm lucky enough to get her on my late round. But at the moment, quite a chunk of the daughters' despair comes from their expecting their mother to function as promptly as she used to. When you get to 99 and you can't hear or see properly, it doesn't take severe dementia to slow you down a lot.

The driving conversation will be difficult but it is essential to have it. Again, this might be better coming from an outsider with authority. The promises to the doctor have been broken; perhaps it's time for "safety advice" from her local law enforcement? - backed up, crucially, by viable alternative transport. After all, what is she waiting for before she decides it's time to retire from the road? - a devastating or even just humiliating accident? But I have a feeling she isn't going to listen to such reasoning from her family. Find allies!
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Countrymouse
Report

About your Mom's driving. My husband had dementia and he still was able to drive, as long as I would tell him where to turn. He didn't listen once, twice, 3 x, and at busy hour of the day, 3-5 pm, he was driving in the left lane, supposed to go straight, and got in the left lane to turn. When the light turned green I told him he couldn't turn left as there were 4 lanes of oncoming cars. He continued and I was reluctant to grab the wheel as I am short and don't have long arms, and couldn't control the gas pedal or brake. Luckily, all the oncoming cars stopped and let our car proceed. I could have been hit broadside and not survive. THEN, I went on vacation to see my siblings in another state, far from home, hadn't all been together for almost 50 years., I put hubby in respite care. BUT as my brother and I were talking about my hubbie still driving and I described some of the daily things he did while driving, my brother piped up and said,_ HIS WORDS: "If hubbie had an accident with me, (meaning my brother), I would sue for everything you are worth and then some, and you couldn't do anything about it, as you let him drive." Well, that was a wake-up call for me.
When I returned to our city, Hubbie was still in respite care, I stayed with him that night, and next morning he wanted to bring some light suitcase and bags to car. The car was not "out front", but across a small parking lot. He couldn't find the car, and came back with the stuff. I knew, don't give keys. He never drove again. Didn't like it, but was quite docile after that. A few years later, I couldn't find him in the house, I was cleaning up after meal, he was gone, where did he go. He went outside to the car and was trying to put his house key in the ignition, so he could see his wife (he only had one--me) in another city. It was also time to lock up my own keys each time I came back from somewhere. It took my brother's firm, hard comment for me to realize what danger we all were in, including myself physically and financially.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to JoAnne80
Report
Llamalover47 Aug 12, 2020
JoAnn: Glad that you were okay in the auto with your husband driving! Fortunately, my legally blind knew when to hang up her auto keys.
(0)
Report
So much for our siblings... unfortunately, we often get stuck with difficult family members who don't agree with us. I hhad to stop trying to be everything to everyone...I say, give yourself a break and give yourself a nice hug/pat on the back.
When our parents are difficult, it's so hard to know what to do. Taking away their driving privelages is a disastrous situation for us, but necessary at times, for their own safety and the safety of others.

Best wishes to you.
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to Mississippi4
Report

As for her driving, please report it to your local police department. They can assess her driving and then require her to give up the keys. The family can then make arrangements to get rid of her vehicle - and please do so now!

The rest is manipulative behavior. She wants to be in control. She is manipulating people to visit her. Maybe create a schedule when "her children" visit throughout the week. If that is not possible, maybe arrange for home health care to assist with housekeeping who is mostly there for companionship.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Taarna
Report

If you don't want her to drive anymore, you can call the DMV and talked to them and they will pull her license. That's is what I did. I took her to DMV after talking to them and they ran her through a couple of questions and told her she failed. She can't blame you then.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to hicksy
Report

Good for you on the decision to make her take care of her house. This will relieve a lot of the stress burden so you can do the other imporant things needed.

By the way, it sounds like we share a Mom! I have been slowly learning to set boundaries.

I moved in with her and became daughter, spouse, child and slave immediately. It took a while to recover and start saying No! I heard a lot of arguments and threats on her end! I still have a long way to go, but feel much better at taking some control back. Keep working at it! Her now is not your now! Let her own it and stick to your guns.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Weeroo
Report

Thank you everyone, one of my sisters has a POA and MPOA and mom has a will,

One of the four of us has been difficult and argumentative for many years. Two of us have decided that if she decides she wants our portions from her estate, then she can have our portions. No amount of arguing will be worth it to us. She is not on the same page as we three are.

I appreciate everything all of you said. It was good advice and several comments were things that we haven’t thought of before.

I understand that she’s not healthy because she has advanced dementia. What I was referring to was that her body is healthy and she could live for many years. We want her to be safe until her time comes. We’ve gone from asking her to move to telling her she must move and telling her to stop driving. She is not going to do anything she doesn’t want to. We’ve been told that something has to happen to her that was detrimental to her health or well being before we can take over and make decisions for her.

We have decided, today, that she must start paying to have things done around her house and outside because that’s part of being a homeowner. We are all in our 60’s and none of us can continue to replace her sprinkler heads for her lawn, trimming trees, and the many chores inside her home, attempting to fix her hot water heater, painting her walls, cleaning her chandelier among other things. Perhaps she’ll want to move to avoid all the maintenance issues she has.

For me it was cathartic just to tell my concerns and have them addressed by kind and knowledgeable women. Thank you, so much!
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to Sherapop
Report
ToniFromRVA Aug 8, 2020
I'm so glad to hear that you were able to say what you needed to say & be heard by your mom. Maybe she might realize that she does need help. Make sure that someone calls or checks in on her everyday to make sure that she's safe.
(1)
Report
See 1 more reply
Due to the pandemic some things may be limited or by telehealth. With your siblings meet with mom (in person, Skype, etc.) & let her know that you are there for her when she sees the doctor, gets the diagnosis & discussions to be made afterwards. Your mom needs to see a geriatric doctor & according to Medicare should receive a cognitive test every year. The doctor should then sit down with her & at least one of her children & explain what the results show & how she may need to handle her life differently. Contact DMV in her state to see how mom's license could be revoked anonymously & follow the protocol. Once DMV revokes her license it's time to take away the keys &/or sell the car or use it when one comes to visit. The siblings should get together with mom & discuss POA, MPOA, Advance Directives, Will if she doesn't have one, future living situation, etc. Explain how hard it is sometimes to help her on the spur of the moment & suggest that may be time to hire someone to do the yard, etc. so that you don't have to give up the W/E trips that don't amount to anything. Agree with transparency among the siblings. Maybe each could help in a different way so that not one bears all the burden. Does she have a close friend who might be able to help her make some decisions or downsize? Maybe suggest hiring an organizer who can help her go through her things & encourage her to downsize now when she is better able to make decisions on her own. Mom may be angry at all the changes, but doing it with love should help. When my mom was told by her doctor of cognitive changes (early Alzheimer's) she made most of these decisions by herself & her children were unaware. I found out years later when she told me one day she was leaving the same grocery store where she had shopped for years that she didn't know how to get home. I took her to her next doctor's appointment & found out that she had been on meds for over a year. Show her love & concern as you journey through this time in her life. Depending on your mom's willingness to have her children involved with diagnosis & discussions will cause you to act accordingly. Good luck & I hope that your mom will be open to hearing her children out & allow each to help her. Personality changes happen with dementia & aren't easy to deal with.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to ToniFromRVA
Report

I suggest looking into having a caregiver come in a couple hours a day to help with chores or drive her to errands. You don’t have to tell her it’s because of memory issues ( if you think that will anger her), but maybe tell her you have this lovely young lady who is looking for a job and she would love to be helpful to you. Of maybe you can have a live in who gets free rent in exchange for companionship and to be around?
Good luck!!
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Mel875
Report

"Help us to live peaceably with her."

I'm sorry but I don't think it's going to happen -- she is struggling and is in denial and will fight reality tooth and nail. Has she assigned anyone her durable PoA? If so, this person/persons now needs to bring her back to the doctor and discretely request a thorough cognitive exam so that the results are in her medical records. If her memory is as bad as you say, then this test result will allow the PoA the authority to make the decisions, whether your mom "likes" it or not. Please understand that at this juncture in her mental abilities, it is no longer about pleasing her/making her happy: it is about what is in her BEST interests and what works for the caregivers as well.

If you have driven with her and she is a scary driver, you can go onto her state's DMV website and anonymously report her. They will send her a letter calling her in for an exam. No one should take her to this appointment. Let her license just expire. Then, have a sister take her out to lunch. During that lunch have another sister remove her car and all the keys. She may report the car stolen but you can show the PoA paperwork to the police and indicate she is an unsafe driver. Nothing will happen if she calls the cops. She will be mad as a hornet. My elderly uncle ran a red light driving on a route he drove his entire life to his office. He went through a red light and was t-boned by innocent victims who fortunately weren't seriously hurt. But the collision killed his own wife in the passenger seat. Please remove the car.

Keep taking her out places and while she's gone start downsizing her house and making it elderly-friendly if she's going to be in it for a while still. Just get used to the fact that she will never be happy with anything you do. Also, there are very helpful videos on YouTube by Teepa Snow about dementia behaviors. Your description in the first paragraph is exactly what she talks about and how to deal with it.

Most important, since there are 4 siblings please do everything with transparency so others are not taken by surprise by how any of your mom's care is managed. The one sister may eventually come around BUT a medical diagnosis of dementia in your mom's records will prevent her from reassigning a different PoA, which is a good thing in her mental state.

If your mom hasn't assigned a PoA and refuses to do so, your only other option to legally manager her care is to pursue guardianship through the courts. This costs thousands of dollars + time + effort. This is also why it's important to get a cognitive exam in her records. If family doesn't pursue guardianship then you and sisters will watch helplessly from the sidelines as she declines to the point you must call APS. Then, the county will remove her and pursue guardianship and all control by family is lost, even of all her assets, including her house. This is how it went with my step FIL.

Now you and sisters have some decisions to make and planning to discuss if you want to work in your mom's own best interests. Do not feel like you have to jump when she demands...you will burn out if you do this. Also do not spend any of your own funds for her care and do not take the bait of the promise of "inheritance" as an incentive since care is extremely expensive and unless she is very well funded family may not ever see a penny of it at the end. Maybe, but you don't know since it all depends on whether she has a PoA assigned or not. I wish you all the best and much success in helping her, and peace in your hearts that going forward "it is what it is" -- just do your best and stay unified with your sisters as much as possible.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Geaton777
Report

Your Mom is not in perfect health. She has dementia, and that means that she is very debilitated indeed. It is time for the sisters to get together, physically if able, to get Mom diagnosed and to find out her level. Then there is the matter of POA for health and for financial. Mom may fight this; sounds as though she will as she has strong denial going on, and she may need a conservator or guardianship. This is no small job and time to find out which sister wishes to do it. She is discussing "a lot of money for you girls" so if there is an estate you may actually want a fiduciary to handle things so that you can do hands on. She will soon require placement.
I would say that the very best thing you sisters could do now to to get together and have a long discussion about Mom, then perhaps all four of you attend a session with an Elder Law Attorney. Mom is going to soon need protection. If there comes a war between sisters with a lot of division and fighting I myself would be the first to step back and say "You who wish to bicker about this come to a conclusion you feel is best. I am out of it, both decision making AND care until the bickering stops." Honestly there isn't time for it. Mom is in trouble.
Some elders understand they are losing their minds and it will get worse. My bro knew of his Lewy's Dementia, and we could discuss "how he saw the world" . That is unusual. Many who have an inkling what is happening sink into denial and fighting for their lives.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to AlvaDeer
Report

Ask a Question
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter