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So last night my husband and I were at my mom's to have dinner with her. This involves me doing 90% of the work but I don't care about that, it makes her feel like she hosted us. But as were all talking my heart just sinks further and further. She couldn't figure out the TV remote and my husband was showing her the basic buttons over and over while I was in the kitchen, and 1 minute later she couldn't remember them again. Then she starts talking about her upcoming doctor appointments. Foot doctor (she just had neuromas removed in both feet, didn't improve much of anything), her "pain doctor" for back pain with no known cause, her "head doctor" that's the neurologist appointment coming up.... then she tells me she made an appointment to see a doctor about "getting her eyes done".


WTF! First of all, she had that done about 18 years ago. Her eyes look fine! I tried to tell her-- Mum, you don't need to have that done-- but she wouldn't hear of it. "I want to do it, so I'm getting it done".


I dropped it. We stayed for about 3 hours and then got ready to leave. She complained I didn't stay long enough, but I left anyway.


Came home and made a stiff drink.


No way in hell am I taking her for totally unnecessary cosmetic eye surgery. How do I handle this with her? She will need someone to drive her. Do I refuse to drive. She'll throw a fit. Tell her to take Uber?


This is insane and I want off this crazy train!!

Doctors take advantage of elderly patients all the time! I see it with the unnecessary and excessive number of follow-up visits my FIL has.

Doctors treat Medicare like a cash cow.

I've started pushing back and asking what is the purpose of the follow-up and can it safely be scheduled for 6-months or longer.

Whenever I'm in the waiting room of one of my FIL's doctors, it's like a meeting of the aches-and-pains-sporting society. Once inside the exam room, a nurse takes his vitals and asks FIL if he's fallen lately. The doctor comes in, spends 5-minutes, and does nothing beyond scheduling follow-up because there's nothing substantial to be done.
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I have a friend who works for a plastic surgeon. She’s often sickened by the elderly ladies who come in, some with paid caregiver attendants, to get various cosmetic procedures done. My friend says these ladies have no concept of the risks, pain, or costs. They just want to look pretty and are swayed by the ads they see. And they know they have a credit card. The surgeons office has an additional room each patient visits to be upsold expensive creams and makeup, so more money extracted there. It’s unethical at best, but no one stops it. I wish you the best reasoning with a mom who’s lost reasoning skills, she’s not alone in this, sad as it is
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JoAnn29 Mar 15, 2019
This is unethical and shame on the doctor.
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Before I really understood that my mother had dementia (I hadn't lived around her in 15 years), my mother had, what I thought to be unnecessary (big) things done to her home -- new windows, the old driveway removed and grass put in, trees removed in the yard, the north basement wall of her home repointed --it was always something. Looking back, I think this was how my mother convinced herself that she was capable and "on top of things". Perhaps this is what's happening with your mother: she makes appointments and sees docs as a way of telling herself "she is fine" and "she is taking care of herself."
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ExhaustedPiper Mar 15, 2019
That's a very good point. I hadn't thought of it that way but it makes sense. Similar to her wanting to buy a pontoon boat. No way could she ever drive or park a boat, or even get on the thing.

It's sad, really. On some level they must know they are slipping mentally.

Does your mom live around you now? I too was long distance for many years, and now know lots of what I saw was early dementia too. I just didn't realize it at the time, and NEVER EVER wanted this to happen to her.
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Yes, sometimes my FIL does complain when we leave: "You're leaving so soon?" - but there is nothing to be done about his complaints because he's anxious and depressed all the time.

There is one tactic that worked well for me. It's getting a call on your cell-phone and it works something like this: Imaginary important call you need to answer - "Hello, yes, uh-huh, alright, I'll be right there" while simultaneously pointing to your phone "I've got to go now, mom. Love you" [kiss on the cheek and head to the door].

It's not easy at first but with practice you can do it. I felt awkward the first time I did it. I remember saying to myself "just keep walking...just keep talking". I thought for sure FIL would know I was lying (he didn't). I breathed a sigh of relief when I closed the door behind me. My heart was pounding. I felt relieved because I knew I had visited him.
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ExhaustedPiper Mar 15, 2019
I know what you mean. My mom is a chronic complainer too. And conversations are very one sided, repetitive and basically there is nothing enjoying about it. I know she can't help it, but that doesn't change the fact that it's hard to tolerate. But I feel so guilty if I don't see her pretty much every day. Keeping visits as short as I can is essential for my own mental health. I almost feel guilty saying that because I know some here have it so much worse, but this has been a massive shock to my system and life. I went from long distance, with several visits a year, to this.

I'm learning to be okay with lying so I can get time "off". In fact I just did it. I told her I would be gone for awhile with my husband going to look for garden supplies (which doesn't interest her) but in reality we are going out to lunch. If I told her the truth she would definitely try to come with us. Sorry not this time.
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You need to call the doctors office and explain that Mom has Dementia and that surgery could make the Dementia worse. Go ahead and allow the consult but ask that he turn her down. Then ur not the bad one. He can say at her age, going under for an unnecessary procedure is dangerous. And then there's the healing afterwards.

If Mom is having problems with the remote surprised she can use the phone. My Mom not being able to not use the remote and phone was a sign she need someone there 24/7. My Mom not long after forgetting how to use a remote, forgot a pan on the stove. I had a nephew living with her and found it. You may want to find alternatives now for Mom if she can afford it.
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ExhaustedPiper Mar 15, 2019
She sometimes has trouble with her phone. Before she moved here I would call and call and so much of the time my calls would go to voice mail. She always had an excuse, but I saw a definite pattern emerging. A couple calls, fine, it's in another room, whatever. But this became a constant, and I finally got very firm with her and said I needed to be able to reach her. I thought then that she was just being forgetful and even selfish because she knew I checked in often. Now that she's here I know it was the dementia. She can still use it though, and will make calls when she deems them important.

Funny thing is- she has me make most all of her doctors appointments, or any calls involving utilities or businesses. She claims she "can't talk" (blaming the old aphasia) but she didn't ask me to make the call to the plastic surgeon. Or her nail appointments. She is obsessed with getting her nails done every two weeks.

Every day I am amazed at how strange this disease can be. Before we went over last eve, she broke a glass shelf. I never could figure out how she broke it but she told me she cleaned it up. I asked her if she swept too using the vacuum. She said yes. Well when I went over I could see there were still glass shards so I cleaned it up again, and then said I was going to vacuum again to make sure it was all up. She told me she didn't have a vacuum. I got it out of the closet and said yeah, here it is.

Is it normal for people to go in and out of dementia spells?

Anyway, I don't think she is ready for a care home yet. At this stage she would absolutely refuse anyway and HATE me for even considering it. But down the road when she can no longer do ADLs that will change. I'm not feeding and changing diapers or staying with her 24/7.

I'm expecting a dementia diagnosis after she is seen by the neurologist, and then I think I will do what you suggested. I will tell the plastic surgeon about the dementia, and I will feel legally justified with the official diagnosis.
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Your mother should not be driving. Call her insurance company and make sure they know about her diagnosis. It's up to them if they want to insure her or not. If she loses coverage, sell the car and use that money to pay for alternate means of transportation.
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ExhaustedPiper Mar 15, 2019
Agree with you on the driving. This is one of the MANY reasons getting the diagnosis with this new neurologist is so important to me. I need to have important conversations with her but she will deny dementia until she sees the actual diagnosis. Good suggestion on calling the insurance company, I hadn't thought of that. I was already planning to call the DMV and do an anonymous report.

The appointment is March 26 and it can't come soon enough.
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I agree with Countrymouse - "go along with enthusiastic discussions but Do Nothing".

You cannot reason with your mother because her brain is damaged. Your husband can explain the remote control to your mother as much as his patience will endure but nothing will stick because she has dementia. We go through this with my FIL but in his case, it's his cell phone and CD player that have him flummoxed. We try to redirect him but he's obsessed with both of those gadgets. It wears us out.

We keep our visits short now. 20-minutes for a quick check-in and 45-minutes on days he's not so bad. I've found that not making a big production of leaving is key: "Now I've got to be on way and continue my errands. Love you." Kiss on the cheek and out the door.
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ExhaustedPiper Mar 15, 2019
Does your FIL complain when you want to leave? My mom does, especially if my husband isn't there to hear it because he's already ahead of me.

She was pissed I left after three hours last night. That alone triggers me. I don't really want to be there AT ALL, given I see her all the time, but it's never enough.
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Maybe you could cancel the appointment for her?
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ExhaustedPiper Mar 15, 2019
I don't think that would be a good idea, because then she would still go, expecting it to happen. That's not something I would do behind her back. The only thing (so far) that I do "behind her back" is talking to the neurology staff prior to her upcoming appointment.

I just have to be firm with her on this, as hard as it is due to our old dynamics.
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Do you want to go with her to the appointment? You could look the surgeon hard in the eye and make pointed references to your mother's dementia diagnosis and questionable ability to consent. He may suddenly decide she'd do better to hold off awhile.

Or, you can sit on your hands. Don't argue about fetching her back and forth, just don't do it. When she says 'I need a ride on [date]' you say 'uh-huh.' When she says 'so you'll pick me up, right?' you say 'no, I can't possibly, I'm afraid.' Don't apologise, don't explain, just no. She'll throw a fit. Is that worse than your condoning totally unnecessary cosmetic surgery?

Or, if the risks are indeed minimal and you are confident that your mother does in fact know what she's letting herself in for - quite pointlessly, I agree with you, but then I tend to think cosmetic surgery is idiotic anyway, with rare exceptions - is letting her enjoy wasting her money an option?
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ExhaustedPiper Mar 15, 2019
Thanks Country. I'm not going to go with her to the consult she scheduled. The doctor will have to be a complete idiot not to see her deficits. I also plan to tell her ahead of time I don't agree with this and I'm not taking her to have it done.

Maybe I'll tell her to call my do-nothing sister to come into town and take her? Man I'm feeling pissy today. I need to get out for a walk.
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Hey, if she can still drive, but needs someone to drive her home, just say no.

So, she's mad. Would that be a new thing?

If she's got the wherewithal to make it happen, more power to her. Just don't participate.
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ExhaustedPiper Mar 15, 2019
That's what I'm going to do Barb-- refuse to participate. It's one thing to take her to necessary appointments, which I do. But this is ridiculous.

She would need someone to drive her home. She's assuming I will do it. She will find out very soon that I am not. But what gets to me more than anything is not the inconvenience of it, but the insanity of the decision.

And yes she will be livid. That's been her MO my whole life. If I don't do as she demands, she gets very mean and nasty. In the past this would trigger me so much. In fact I often complied just to avoid her wrath. But I just can't be that way anymore. But man those old buttons she can still push amaze me.

Thanks for the support. This forum has turned into a life line for me. Vast majority on here are incredible so thank you.
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If she forgot about the remote instructions after one minute, what are the odds she's going to succeed in making a meaningful appointment about cosmetic surgery?

Unless there is an actual medical problem, and Barb makes an excellent point about checking there isn't one, wouldn't it be better to go along with enthusiastic discussions but Do Nothing?
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ExhaustedPiper Mar 15, 2019
She already made the appointment. And it's not for cataracts, she already had that done a few years ago and her vision is good. It's purely cosmetic and totally unnecessary. There is nothing wrong with the way her eyes look.

I'm at that weird place with my mom where her executive functioning is clearly going down hill, but she is still able to drive, make phone calls, and is as stubborn as a mule, even when it doesn't make sense.
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Is she talking about cataract surgery?
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