My mom with dementia thinks EVERYTHING is broken...and wants me to fix it. Any suggestions? - AgingCare.com

My mom with dementia thinks EVERYTHING is broken...and wants me to fix it. Any suggestions?

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Her bra is broken, the tv, the remote, the lights, her phone, etc. Everything is broken or just doesn't work and I don't know how to help her. I can't teach her how to use it and I can't "fix" it so it continues to work after I leave. Any suggestions on how to manage my mom with dementia frustrations?

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HI,
I am sorry you have this to deal with. It is so frustrating and confounding dealing with people who have symptoms of dementia. I am not sure there is a "fix" for this situation. Do you tell her you fixed it and then she cannot use it after you leave?
My only suggestion is to try to simplify everything as much as possible.
If the TV has more than one remote, consolidate them into one. I put different colored tape on the buttons to help my mom. Green for the "on" button, red for the off. There are also remotes you can buy (Flipper Big Button Universal Remote for 2 Devices) that are designed for people with memory issues.

Is the telephone a landline? There are phones for this, too. So you can pre-program who she calls most and put the name next to the button. That way she just picks it up and pushes one button.

Hopefully, if you are able to simplify as much as possible (a no hook bra?) she will have fewer frustrations. Sounds like she is at the stage where multiple step processes are too much for her.
Best of luck,
Margaret
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I agree. If she's that affected with dementia, I'd explore around the clock care. Leaving her alone could be too risky. I'd also discuss her obsession with things being broken with her doctor. My LO benefitted from medication for anxiety, since she was very concerned over certain things and would worry, cry and not let things go. Medication was quite helpful.

And, when she would ask about things that were not real, like the remote was broken, I would say that I would fix it, later. Put it away and later, I'd just hand it to her and say I had fixed it. She would forget and believe that it was fixed, since, it was fixed when I used it. (She thought it was broken, because she no longer knew how to use it.) Keep in mind that she may misuse electrical appliances, medication, cleaning products, if not supervised and that can be dangerous.
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If everything is "broken" are you sure that she should be left alone any more. I believe this is a signal that some in-home assistance is needed. This could be simply a companion for a couple hours. Does she get out? Can she?
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I have the same problem with my mom who is 93 and is aware that she is having memory issues. She write's endless notes that she won't be able to decipher tomorrow. The staff at AL will help her with simple things like her flip phone. One thing I have to watch is "fixing" something too fast which she interprets as implying she is stupid. The flip phone is an ongoing problem for her. But the TV remote she uses every day seldom has a problem. She gets names and faces mixed up but we don't call her on it unless it is important and not casual conversation.
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Going through the same thing here. Some people suggested around the clock care. I read your frustrations and thought of my situation. It is after I leave his bedroom and go to mine that it is broke again. I am not going to stay in his bedroom 24/7 and we can afford 24/7 care to sit in his room. I am disabled so I am at home with him and I feel that is enough. I am in my 11 year of this. It is about preservation for the long haul. I find I have to tell him it doesn't work and I am sorry. It is a sad situation, but it is what it is. We have simplified as much as we can and very good suggestion for those who dont know. I even use simple sentences. Thank God we have this site to see we arent alone and get suggestions.
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Your profile says Mom is in assisted living. Good! Have you discussed this problem with the staff? Does she ask them to fix everything all the time? How do they handle it? Is it only you she thinks can fix things?

What she really wants fixed, of course, is her life. And who can blame her? She's been using them for decades and now she can't even get her bras to work! How frustrating would that be?!

She is aware enough to know that everything is wrong, but not articulate enough to express her real fears. Poor lady. Poor you!

My husband had that awareness also. And he understood that he was never going to be cured -- though we often hoped that "tomorrow may be a good day." I was gradually able to convince him that his limitations weren't so important, because I would always see that he was taken care of, he had one of the best doctors in the US, the day care staff liked him and looked out for him, our kids wanted the best for him and understood he couldn't do certain things anymore. It was terrible that he had this disease but he wasn't facing it alone and we would keep him safe.

That wasn't the message he wanted to hear in the very beginning, but eventually he did start to relax and accept that others were looking after him. (He had Lewy Body Dementia 10 years.) When we'd go to a new medical appointment he'd say, "Jeanne comes in with me. She is my memory now."

For your mother, everything is broken. That is her reality. I don't think you can talk her out of that, but perhaps you could help reassure her that she can still get on with her life as best she can, and there are many people to keep her safe. Her light won't go on? Well, isn't it a good thing she lives in a place with so many helpers? When she goes to the dining room she just has to mention this to a staff member. They will put it on the maintenance list, and someone will come by and fix it. Just like in a hotel! And isn't it good that there are other lights in the room, so she won't be in the dark alone?

One way to "fix" things is to simplify them, as others have advised. My mother got to the point where she only watched a game show station and baseball on TV. We listed those channels on her white board and very brief instructions for the remote. Mom couldn't do it, but when an aide came in Mom could say, "I think the Twins are playing tonight. Can you get my tv set?" And the aide could easily follow the instructions, without having to keep track of who watched what and how to use dozens of different remotes." Keep it simple -- for whomever has to do it!

An absolutely wonderful simplification was when Mom gave up wearing bras. Hallelujah! Not all women can comfortably do that, of course, but those of us who can should certainly take advantage of it!

Keep in mind that your mother's world is broken.
"Fix" what you can by simplifying things.
Discuss the issue with the ALF staff. What is their experience with her?
Reassure your mother repeatedly that even though things are broken she is living in a safe and attractive place and has you and many other people to help her.

I don't think you can remove all the frustrations of dementia! I hope you can minimize this particular set. And if you try some things that work, report back to us. This is a very common problem and we learn from each other.
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Can you humour her? You can't fix it or her, so look for a way to help deal with her frustrations. Teepa Snow does good videos giving ideas how to deal with dementia patients.
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I am sorry for your situation, it can be so frustrating to not be able to help. The above answers all have really good advise. I would try to just love her and do the best you can, this is a daily changing journey with dementia and I have found that love and laughter are my best resources. When my dad starts on the same complaint, usually something I can do nothing about, I remember a funny story or something he did and we change paths. Works most times and helps me not be focused on what I can not change. Good luck finding your path on this journey. God bless and keep you.
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Oh, yes, dementia is a very cruel disease. I suggest that you don't move her piano in. Leave it in her house. But find another one EXACTLY like hers, so she can enjoy it where she is until she goes home!
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Thank you everybody for all the kind words and helpful advise. Mom is in AL and we have been able to simplify a lot with light timers, remotes that we programmed with her favorite channels so she can surf, camisole bras, etc. Even with all these simplifications she is still frustrated daily with most things. I'm working on moving her electric piano in for her - she still loves to play but she is against me moving the piano..... that means it won't be back at her home that she doesn't realize she will never live in again. :( My heart is breaking as I watch my mom and best friend slip away without being able to put up a fight of some sort. She's aged so much in the past couple of months, and she's only 68 years young. Such a cruel disease.
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