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Mom is 86. 3 of us daughters help out, but two live far. She doesn’t like our help reminding her of meds, despite the fact she forgets them most days. She doesn’t like us putting our arm in hers so she doesn’t fall. She thinks things like the house being filled with smoke from leaving the electric stove on is no big deal!

I think you already know the answer to this. Mom needs help. None of us Seniors want to accept the fact that we are aging. I hate the fact that at 65, I’m slowing down. When our kids tell us we need help, our first inclination is to disagree. We know we need help, but we sure aren’t going to admit it.

But, in your mom’s case, she’s putting herself in danger. When I came into my mom’s apartment once and she’d left her oven on, I knew then she needed help. Falls can be deadly. They happen in a split second. If we can right ourselves, we may get away with a pulled muscle or a few bruises. But, we might also hit our head or break a bone. In addition, your mom could start a fire and endanger the lives of others.

A kind and loving intervention might work. If you know a good friend of her’s, maybe ask them to start a conversation and mention how great it would be to live somewhere (like a senior apartment or Independent Living) where there is access to help and senior activities. You and your sibs can also speak with Mom and firmly but lovingly tell her you’re scared she will get hurt and you’d be devastated if something happened. But, you cannot force her to accept her aging. If her mind is sharp, she will continue to deny anything is wrong and you will have to be super vigilant until she, herself realizes she needs assistance.

At the least, maybe a Life Alert subscription?
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Snoopycharlie Apr 19, 2019
This is extremely helpful info. To see where my mom is coming from, and empathize, to how to move forward in helping her. Thanks so much
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Don't put your arm through your mother's to prevent her falling. You won't stop her falling, if she's going to, but you might well dislocate her shoulder.

This is apart from the obvious point that people grabbing hold of you in general is disagreeable, even if they are well-intentioned. Would you like it if someone did it to you, without your say-so?

A physical therapist can show you this technique - your mother takes hold of *your* arm, and you put your free arm around her, across her back, so that you're holding her hips up against yours.

E.g.
You on left, mother on right.
You hold up your left arm.
Mother grabs onto that and holds tight.
You place your right arm around her waist/hips and hold her close to you, firmly but comfortably.
You set off on a sort of three-legged race basis.

Filling the house with smoke is not necessarily a big deal - done it myself, regularly. But there are TWO points there which are a very big deal indeed. One: is there a smoke alarm? Is it working? And two: leaving the electric stove on. Especially if you might return to it and not realise it's hot, God forbid, shudder...

Anyway. All in all, you want an Agenda.

Falls. Will your mother's GP/PCP suggest a walker, rollator, or any other kind of anti-falls aid? Would she be more likely to use it on professional advice?

Medications management. What meds are these? Have you considered one of the many types of dispensing reminder box, or consulted her pharmacist about it?

Cognitive assessment. If these difficulties are all part of a pattern that has recently come to light, it would be sensible for your mother to have herself checked out by her doctor. I'm guessing she's not going to do that to please you, correct? I'm also guessing that you don't have HIPAA authorisation - she hasn't named you as someone to share confidential medical information with? But you can still write to her doctor and share your concerns with him/her, even if you don't get immediate feedback. You then do some nimble talking and get your mother along for an appointment, any old appointment, and leave it to the doctor to explain.

More generally, your mother seems to be feeling "got at" and criticised for these "little" niggles; whereas all you want is for her to take her own wellbeing seriously and accept help where it's wanted. For now, anyway [you don't say that to her!]. I know how frustrating it is, but every time you talk to her remember how sensitive she is about it, and try to reassure her that you're not about to have her bound and gagged and dragged off to a nursing home. This is all about her *staying* in charge.

And, of course, she may herself be petrified at the idea that she's "losing it" and doing all she can to ignore problems. You can't blame anyone for dreading the loss of their faculties; but the answer to that is always - better the devil you know. If she faces up to aging, which comes to us all, and finds out where she stands, and takes some basic precautions, then God willing she'll get to make choices she's happy with.
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If she need to have an arm to steady her...she needs a walker. "Helping" her like that will just have 2 people down on the ground. And if she will not use a walker you need to learn how to guide her to the ground NOT stop her from going down.

If she forgets meds, falls and goes out to get the mail alone she really should not be living alone.

You have a few options.
1. Have someone come in to help out daily. Remind her to take her meds and makes sure she does. And in general monitor her for falls, helps her get the mail.
2. Assisted Living facility or Memory Care where she can be independent but can get help when she needs it. (If you opt for AL she will eventually be moved to MC so choose a place that she can transition and not have to move to another place.
3.Have Mom move in with one of the 3 (or one of the other siblings). Notice I put this last on the list of options.

You mention she has Dementia..This will not get better. It will get worse.
She may go to get the mail and wander off and if lucky will be found by a neighbor or police.
The falls will become more frequent chances are she will break a hip, arm, shoulder. At that point surgery, rehab and with dementia rehab is difficult. The result may be that she would be in a SNF if she does not gain function fully.
And it does not sound like she is safe where she is. I would disable the stove/oven have her use the microwave and if possible get Meals on Wheels to deliver. At least this way someone would be checking in on her at least daily.
And you might want to think about getting cameras in the house so you can monitor her until a decision is made on the next steps.
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Reply to Grandma1954
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Mom really should not be living alone at this point.
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Yeah, my mom didn’t want our help either but she really really needed it. She had Parkinson’s related dementia and for some reason thought that she was able to do everything on her own still without our help. It made it very very difficult for us to continue to help her, we had moved in and sold her house to do so but she did not appreciate it. For us, we were successful in caring for her until the end of her life which was two years from the point of our moving in. I guess you have to ask yourself if you are willing to make such a sacrifice for her when she may not appreciate what you are really doing. If she is not capable of living on her own and maybe time to suggest that she lives at home. If she is not safe at home currently and she does not want to help you might consider telling DHHS.
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Stephanie4181 Apr 19, 2019
My mom is exactly like that. So stubborn, doesn't want ANY help for ANYTHING. But she already knows she doesn't have a say! I will always look out for her whether she wants, knows or appreciates it! We just talked about that earlier this evening
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Unfortunately her being able to care for most things is not good enough. If she's falling and forgetting meds and going to the mailbox, you know that she is at risk.
She's leaving the stove on too? Even if it is electric that's a huge red flag. (We had to take all of the knobs off of the stove. And my mom couldn't remember how to use the microwave. My sister was afraid she would burn the house down while they were sleeping. Luckily it didn't come to that.)
And yes, this is a big problem, the transition from being an able bodied person to a person who needs help, but you have already reached that stage.
Assisted Living would be ideal, as she would have her own apartment and she would have meals prepared, and possibly thrive with a community of other elderly, and could take part in activities.
It's time to take action.
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If she falls, one fall too many is on its way.
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Oh yeah, and look into learning how to use a “gait belt”. They are phenomenal in keeping people from falling or controlling a fall safely, especially when used with proper body mechanics.. best.
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Reply to Matrix7
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She is losing her mental capacity which is scary, since it comes along with losing control of your personal life. She was independant, and now kids want to step in and help. 3 kids help out, just make sure is not alone for a long period of time.

Do check to see if stove is off, oven is off, shower is off. water outside is not running. She should have a smoke detector and a carbon detector in the mail hall anyway.Does she have a walker? Well if you don't, get one from Goodwill.make sure she will use it.

remeber: bend at waist, fall on face.. goes with most things. Look online for GAIT BELTS. They have some that have grab holds in different positions, they are great. just the belt around her waist, and you can grab it in the back. Plain and simple, but it actually works.
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Sadly it does appear that your mother needs more supervision to help keep her safe.
It IS a big deal if mom leaves a pan on the stove on and the place gets filled with smoke.

Yes she will be stubborn about this but for her safety it’s time.

Options are AL or NH unless the family can hire private CG’s which is not in our budgets to pay those aides.

Good luck to you!
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Have someone just stop by and check on her
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Our situations sound similiar, Snoopycharlie. My sister and I chose to take the calculated risk of letting Mom live at home, despite a diagnosis of Alzheimer's, but we were lucky in one regard because she had no interest in cooking (even when we were kids!).

We have been going to a caregiver support group for about a year because Mom is as stubborn as a mule. Won't give an inch or admit anything is wrong. Everyone in the group felt like we were taking too big a risk and one finally told us, it will be an injury that will spur action into an irreversible transition to another living situation. They were right.

This December, Mom called my sister at work to come get her mail (which she's paranoid about leaving in the street side box for more than 5 minutes) and to pour her a drink because Mom hurt too much to get it herself. We wondered what the heck happened, so - long story short - we cooked up a story to get her to a doctor (which she would NEVER do voluntarily, even if her arm were falling off) and she had a fractured tibia, just under the knee cap. From there, it was a whirlwind trip in an ambulance to the hospital, then to rehab, and now in the memory care facility, which she still doesn't realize she will never leave.

It took an injury to get things moving. Lucky for us, it wasn't too serious as in having life-threatening consequences. I feel for you, but if you reread your original post again, I think you - and your sisters - will see that something needs to happen. It's hard as hell. Every minute of the planning will feel like conspiring and doing something *to* your mother, but you are doing it *for* her. Sometimes the best care we can provide a loved one is letting the professionals handle it.

Meantime, do some research on area homes where she can live her life in an "aging in place" community. Start with your state agency that oversees SNFs, etc. See if you can find a senior housing specialist in your area (or wherever Mom will likely live) who would probably charge the facility where your Mom is placed, so no out-of-pocket for you.

Good luck to you and your sisters. It's also helpful if all three of you are in agreement about next steps and you each share in the load that is to come. It doesn't stop just because Mom is placed somewhere. Seek the support of a caregiver support group.
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Buy her a Med Ready pill dispenser. Take her off or reduce any medications that could cause her to fall or be dizzy.
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TaylorUK Apr 23, 2019
Cannot just take her off meds you didn't prescribe unless you are qualified to have prescribed them in the first place and know total medical record - there may be adjustments that would be beneficial but that is a case of taking her to physician who prescribed and getting current assessment done.
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She wants to remain independent so downplays the potential seriousness of these issues. But she's going to have to accept some tradeoffs. So if memory is an issue, for safety, she's not going to be able to access the oven. Definitely contact the local fire dept and ask about getting a knox/lock box where her house keys will be safely locked inside for emergency purposes. And get an emergency alert button, perhaps one of the new versions with fall detection. Maybe the MD can insist on a walker. Falls happen regardless of where one is; sometimes a bone breaks and THEN there is the fall. Consider meals on wheels; a microwave if she has the capacity to use that? But be aware of what the meal is delivered in...i.e locally, it's now in an aluminum pan which cannot be microwaved (and regrettably cannot be recycled here either). Med dispenser can be helpful. Camera to keep an eye out for you. Can the location of her mail being delivered be changed so she doesn't have to go out if it's cold or icy? Some people I know have carriers that know they are disabled and will place it in a bag hanging on their doorknob or a hook.
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shb1964 Apr 22, 2019
Good advice about the fire department but unfortunately, not all county/city fire departments offered that service. I called to get that for my mother before we moved her and I got transferred from dept to dept to dept until someone finally told me my county doesn't offer that service. But now that her house is empty and squatters have taken up 3 doors down, we've asked the sheriff's dept for occasional drive-by watches. Not sure what good it will do except for increased law enforcement presence. They don't get out and walk around the house (which might be a tip off to anyone watching that it's empty anyway), but something to think about.
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It’s time to move her. Our mother was the same. The catalyst for us was finding out she was being drained of large amounts of money by a “friend “. We were able to use the situation to get her out of her home before she fell and was hurt badly - or burned the house down.
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I think you and your sisters have already identified all of the reasons she cannot be alone. She is lucid enough most of the time to know she wants to be independent, but has gaps where she forgets important/dangerous stuff like the meds and the fire hazards. The biggie here is the stove and a fire. And all three of you are going to have a huge dose of guilt to live with if she burns herself and the house down.

To keep her in the home, she has to have more attention each day and meals. My mom is ok mentally. It's her knees and walking that became an issue. A neighbor of my mother's comes each morning to cook breakfast. In the evening, she brings a plate of food from what she cooked for her family. We still buy groceries each week and the neighbor uses our meats/veggies two or three times a week for suppers and then uses her own the other nights to cook for her family and my mom. Works well and eased my mother out of the kitchen all of the time. Left overs from supper can be used for next day's lunch. We pay about $10 a day for her to come cook breakfast at the house and bring a plate for supper. Plus she was another eye on the situation to see what's going on. Even after I started staying full time, the lady continued the cooking thing.

If you get someone to come in/out each day, such as meals, that person can also put the meds with the food and you will eliminate missed medications.

If she is falling, does she use a walker? She may be able to use a rollator walker just to have something to hang on to. My mother was very resistant to this idea, so I bought one and took it with us on a trip. I pushed it myself until she complained of being tired and then I offered it to her to sit and rest. The walker thing took some time, but she eventually realized it was good for support.

The other thing is getting her a life line emergency button to hang on her neck. After checking them all out, the 5star that you buy at Walmart was the best deal. You don't have to be close to a base unit inside the house for it to work. Has gps, too, to locate her if she happened to wander off. And they answer it immediately if you push the button. You give them phone numbers to call (you/your siblings/neighbors) if there's an emergency. About $23-24 a month and well worth it. Again, takes time to form the habit of wearing it/charging it.

Bottom line, and it seems you already recognize it, your mom cannot be in the home alone all day. Disable the stove and put a note on the back side of it for a repairman to see if she happens to call one....do not fix the stove ... tell her it is not repairable. You need to call her when it's time to get up in the AM and when it's time to be in bed in the PM and someone needs to pop in each day. Falling can be bad, but falling and laying on the floor for a lengthy period can be fatal.

Good luck on the modifying her life. It's not easy, but worth a try
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Isthisrealyreal Apr 22, 2019
You and mom are truly blessed to have such a wonderful neighbor.

What a great set up.

Thank you for sharing.
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You are being an ostrich quite frankly - your mom is an accident in the making!! - she needs more help - just the fact that she didn't seek help when the house filled with smoke shows you this - she needs assisted living somehow whether she wants it or not - check her smoke detector today

Get an alarm clock & set it beside her meds so that she will see them & take them at right time[s] until you can sort it all out

You probably won't like what I'm saying but soon you will have a crisis that will give you no choice so get the family together sooner than later even if it only a conference call & make a plan of action while having an united front [hopefully] when dealing with her
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It is good that she can take care of most of her daily needs, but her life is in jeopardy right not. Falling, forgetting to take her meds and leaving the stove on is a big deal. You may need to get a Power of Attorney and either move her to a place that can give her the assistance she needs or have someone come into her home to assist her. Today there are so many wonderful assistant living facilities around where Seniors can live in there own space and have someone come and give them their meds, they can dine with others and have a active social life if they so choose. Letting her stay at home alone and knowing that she is a detriment to herself is something that you really need to think about.
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It's time,..... to get her help for her safety and health.
I had an extremely difficult time getting my mother help, other than being there myself non-stop. My sisters were closer to her home, but since I was a DPOA my sisters, thought I should care for Mom. I found support from the health professionals, as my mother would at least listen to them, instead of myself. It is not easy and an uphill battle. My mom still has continuous falls, altimzers, PAD, , spinal stenosis and chronic UTI's to name a few of health aliments which put her in the hospital, then rehap, followed by home care. Eventually, we were able to start her home care several times a week, then gradually to additional time. Suggesting a good geriatric physician, and converse with them about your concerns, see if they will write a script for home care, starting off with PT/OT and nurse and perhaps can start care a couple times a week. Then ween her into caregiver several times a week. Think about purchasing some sort of medical alert device. It is difficult and your mom probably won't like it, but keep in mind it's for her safety and health. God Bless you
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Snoopycharlie Apr 22, 2019
Hello, your answer was so helpful. I felt like I needed someone to help break it down in steps for me. Thanks so much
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This is a dangerous situation. It sounds like she has moderate to advanced dementia and it will only get worse. As hard as it is, your mom cannot be left alone.

I've recently been in the same situation and we are 3 siblings with two not living close and all of us gainfully employed. My mom left the gas stove on and said "oh, everybody does that." She was not eating properly and lost a ton of weight. Was also having issues taking her meds. She fired all the round-the-clock help we hired. So we moved her to assisted living. Glad we did it when we did because at this point she doesn't know what day of the week it is.

Best of luck. It is hard to find the right caregivers or facilities, but it is dangerous to leave your mom on her own for her own health and safety.
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TaylorUK Apr 23, 2019
Maybe you are in the US? My mother behaves in very much this way, she has been diagnosed as perfectly capable of independent living and with no signs of dementia- just a little age related fogetfulness. All the experts here would support her right to continue to live in her own place. We have had assessments for aids - none needed as she does has a walking frame if she want to use. Physio not necessary, some things that might be helpful suggested but if she doesn't want to do them no problem. Is it dangerous to leave her - yes it will be one day, but she's a compos mentis adult and is entitled to make her own choices - so we modify our lives on a just in case basis, and she carries on her own way.
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I want to second Karen 51 who indicated that her family member was drained of finances by a friend. As a professional social worker I saw this happen often to confused seniors. My own mother fought living outside her home and a medical emergency provided the timing to move her to assisted living. From there and over 10 years she moved to progressively more care until she passed. Once she moved she was very happy because I chose a facility that met her needs, not mine. Fit is important in selecting a facility. POA is not feasible unless your Mom is "well" enough to agree to a POA. Only an attorney can make that determination as it is a legal not medical distinction. There are many great suggestions on this site but the bottom line is that it is not safe for your Mom to live independently given your reports on her risks. Good luck and thank you for being a concerned and loving daughter!
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My mom was incredibly independent but eventually adjusted to a few interventions. You can get a med machine that hooks up with her phone and will notify you by phone if she misses a dose. You can also subscribe her to a lifeline service that is fall sensitive. If she falls, it automatically notifies you/911. It would also help to have someone walk through her home to determine ways to improve her space to reduce the risk of falling. In addition, mom should be doing physical therapy and exercise to improve her balance and core strength. Although dementia can also affect balance, there are many things one can do to make falls less likely to occur. You may need to rethink her stove use, however. There are some appliances that have automatic shut-offs. I purchased mom a microwave and keurig to minimize the use of her stove.
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Someone needs to Take Over Here, dear, It seems Mom is in a Dangerous Spot where it Could One day fall in the lap of you three Siblings for Knowing Mom is "Failing Some, hun," But No One did anything to help Her.....Consult a lawyer, Social Services, protective Adult Services and Get on the Ball.
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My mom was in a similar situation before we moved her into memory care. We tried a lot of different things to keep her independent for as long as possible. Eventually we knew we needed to make the move.

Meds were one of our biggest concerns. While living on her own, sometimes she would
forget that she had taken them, and take them again, or forget all together. We found a pill box that had an alarm, and only dispensed 1 day at a time. My mom found the alarm to be annoying, but she admitted she felt better because she was taking the meds consistently.
We, in turn, had peace of mind that she was taking what she was supposed to. We’d fill It for her once a month and knew she had what she needed. We found it on Amazon:
LiveFine Automatic Pill Dispenser, 28-Day Electronic Medication Organizer with Alarm Reminders, Flashing Lights and Safety Lock. It was around $80, but worth every penny.
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Oh, yes! This was my late mother! She was adamant about living alone in her own home 500 miles away from me and her son. He lives across the country. I live 7 states away. Solution was - I had to MOVE there. When we tried everything else and she said "NO - I WANT TO STAY IN MY HOME - I don't have to tell you when I fall"- dropping meds all over the floor - legally blind - CHF - A-Fib, starting fires in the microwave! Yes, something must be done because leaving the stove on IS A HUGE DEAL! One of you may have to move in. I did.
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Oskigirl Apr 23, 2019
I wouldn't think they have to move in. There are very fine and caring AL facilities. My mom's is great and she gets caring, professional care. I realize not all are like that, but it takes homework to find one.
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She doesn't need to live alone anymore. Try finding a NH or something. It'll be safer for her and then you girls won't have to worry as much.
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TaylorUK Apr 23, 2019
She may not need to but if this is her preference then it is unfair to her to push her into a NH. The day will come she has to go into a NH or heaven forbid she does something that kills her, but if that would be her choice she should be allowed to make it and OP should not feel guilty over it.
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If this is what she really wants to do - and my mother is determined to stay living independently - then get her a call button alarm contract system if she doesn't have one, talk to her about paying someone to pop in once a day, and leave her alone to do as she wants, just keeping the conversation on any help she needs bubbling along so she can pick it up if she needs to.
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Oskigirl Apr 23, 2019
I disagree. She clearly is suffering from dementia and cannot stay home without round-the-clock care which would be far more expensive than a quality AL facility. She seems to be where my mom was a few months ago -- in her case leaving the gas on after boiling an egg. This is a catastrophe waiting to happen, and the mom does not have the reasoning capability to understand that.
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Interesting this is mentioned,a story on the local news a man burned to death smoking outside NH. He was using oxygen.
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When my mom got bad it became a matter of giving her options and letting her choose. After a few trips to the hospital over a short period we gave her the option of having a Personal Emergency Response installed of moving to my house in another state. She chose the PERS. When she needed to stop driving it was give up on her own and we could keep the car there for when she needed someone to take her someplace or we would have to sell the car. She gave up her keys. Give her options so that either way you win. “Mom I (or one of your siblings) will call you every night to check in and remind you that you have taken your pills or we will have to have a medication dispenser installed & that will cost you $40.00/month. Which do you think will work best for you at this time?”
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I think you have to start realizing she needs 24/7 supervision and i don't mean from you - in a safe facility. The time is coming and the stove is the clincher.
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