My mother, 87, recently began making ridiculous demands trying to get me to come to her apartment.

About 2 months ago, she called and demanded that I get up there right away to organize things on her key holder. She claimed that I'd put all kinds of extra keys on it and now it was so full of duplicates that she couldn't find what she needed.

I had noticed the extra keys months ago. But never said anything because it would have just caused a big fight. My mother has extra keys for her apartment mailbox, extra keys for a car she no longer owns, extra keys for the locked bin in the apartment's storage area, etc. And, just for the record, I never put any of the keys there. My mom had the duplicates made (for no reason).

I told her that I wasn't going to go up there just to organize her keys. That it was something that she could do herself and all she had to do was to put the key holder on her kitchen table, remove everything and sort through the keys, put the duplicates in a baggie and put the baggie in the 2nd bedroom of her apartment in case she lost a key and needed one of the duplicates. My mom went ballistic, but I stood my ground.

Just before Thanksgiving, I called her to verify the time I'd pick her up Thanksgiving Day to take her to lunch. After we agreed on a time, my mother informed me that I was taking her shopping after we ate. I told her that would be impossible as I had to get home to finish my outdoor Christmas decorations so I could turn them on for the first time that afternoon. My mother went on and on about how I'd told her the week before, that I'd be taking her shopping after we ate. I never said this, have never taken her shopping on Thanksgiving Day and reminded her of my outdoor light tradition.

My mother got very agitated saying things like I didn't care about her, that I never do anything for her and then started listing all of the things that she HAD TO BUY when I took her shopping. She finished by saying, "I don't know why I even bother with you! You're never around when I need you."

I told her I wasn't going to discuss this with her, said good-bye and hung up.

About 20 minutes later, my mom called me and said she'd found someone to take her shopping the next day so we wouldn't have to go shopping after lunch on Thanksgiving. Then she sheepishly asked if I was still going to take her to lunch? I told her I'd be there at the agreed upon time and we'd go to eat at the restaurant she'd chosen.

I'll interject here that I take my mother shopping about every 3 weeks. Between times, she calls a lady who lives nearby who takes her.

About two weeks ago, my mother called here demanding that I get up there right away so I could pack up and mail some Christmas gifts to my niece and nephew. I reminded her that I would be taking her shopping in 3 days and would get the gifts then and mail them for her. That wasn't good enough! I had to do it NOW! I said that I'd be there on Thursday and would get the gifts then and that I wasn't making a special trip just to mail those gifts. Again, I got the "You're never around when I need you" comment. I told her I'd see her on Thursday and said good-bye.

Two days ago, my mom called and, again, demanded that I get up there NOW! I had to take her to a grocery store 20 miles away because she had to mail a package. When I told her I couldn't come because I was busy, she ignored me and went through her whole demand again. I repeated that I couldn't come up there and that she'd either have to find someone else to take her or she'd have to wait until Monday and give the package to the mailman (along with some money to pay for the postage.)

This started a whole barrage of statements such as I'd told her I would come up and mail the package for her, there was no one else who could help her (she claimed she'd already asked several ladies in the apartment she lives in) and if the package didn't go out that minute, it would never get to her friend before Christmas. I repeated that I wasn't going to drive her all the way to the store just to mail a package (would be 50 miles one way) when she could mail it at her local post office today. My mom was beside herself. She tried to lay the guilt trip on me, but I didn't bite. When she couldn't get me to agree to take her, she swore, said good-bye and hung up.

My mother has a hired helper who comes once a week to clean, assist with bathing, running errands, etc. So, there are others who can do these things for her.

I've spoken to her doctor about this behavior and his reply was, "Your mother is her own person, she can do as she wishes." So, he's no help whatsoever.

She hasn't started taking any new medications and was just at the doctor for a check-up about a month ago.

I'm at my wits end!

Any suggestions?

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I would ask for a neurological evaluation. Mom is losing her ability to reason. I agree about the anxiety thing too.
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Thanks to all of you for your suggestions and comments. I appreciate them a lot.

I'll try contacting her doctor again after the holidays.

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays to everyone!
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What you are doing is perfect. Sadly her demands probably won't go away but may diminish since you refuse to jump.

My father would call me at work and insist I HAD to see him "insert various reason" today! I would decline and say maybe in a few days. He would be beside himself over the 'emergency du jour" and I just had to see him today. I found that every time I put him off the emergency would resolve itself. At least your mother isn't pulling the "i need to see you one last time before I die. The end is near!". You'd think he hadn't seen me in months (instead of days). And so far the end has not come despite him claiming it was on its way at least 100 times. I make sure I remind him of that fact each and every time he claims the end is near.

Just keep doing what you are doing and stay strong.
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What was checked at the check up?

Your mother appears to be experiencing quite extreme anxiety over tasks and schedules that used until recently to be routine for her, nothing she couldn't take in her stride. That is a marked change and warrants investigation. Me, I'd go back to the GP, put it to him in those terms and ask him whether he agrees that a closer evaluation of how she is feeling and, if she can be persuaded to agree, how she is performing cognitively would be the way to go.
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It sounds like your mom has some level of dementia or cognitive impairment. She can't understand different levels of priority, she has lost her problem-solving ability, and her memory is going. My mom had that too, but it showed up in different ways. She lost her initiative to get anything done. She forgot what I told her and what she said to me. She couldn't remember things from one day (or minute) to the next. I doubt your mom is doing this on purpose, I think her brain is screwed up and causing her behavior. The key thing is the perfect example. It isn't rational for her to think you added a bunch of keys to her keychain or to expect you to immediately come to fix her keys.

If your mom regularly seems agitated (which it sounds like from your description), you might consider getting her to a geriatric doctor to see about some medication to reduce her level of agitation over these things that are pretty small in importance. It sounds like her regular doctor won't be of any help. If this continues or gets worse, you may need to get her evaluated further for cognitive decline.
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