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Mom expects me to entertain her and take her to get "out" of the facility. She wants to go shopping for clothes. She's 98 and uses a walker. It's becoming difficult and I have trouble saying no. Please help me!

It's your job to help mom adjust to the activities going on IN the ALF, not to waste the money being spent on rent at the ALF by taking her out of there for entertainment!

Call the Exec Director; make sure the Activities Director is knocking on your mother's door every day to encourage her to come OUT and join in the fun with the others playing bingo or doing whatever activity is going on at the moment. That's how they learn to mingle & make friends. Not by asking their son to take them out clothes shopping so they can look cuter than the other blue hairs! When my mother lived in AL, she was the ONLY resident out of 100 that had her hair dyed BLONDE every month! I kid you not! She had 15 pairs of shoes, about 40 tops and 20 pairs of slacks and a jewelry box SO overflowing it was ridiculous. She had to look better than the other ladies and had lipstick all over her teeth and eyebrows drawn in up to her hairline every day to prove it. She'd call me weekly saying she had NOTHING TO WEAR and especially needed NEW SHOES and I'd tell her she had way more than her 3 closets would even hold! The coat closet was being used for her extra outfits too!

So set down some boundaries right away. You will see her on X days for X amount of time. You will take her out to buy 'necessities' X times per month (or whatever YOU decide) and that's that. She will be forced to abide by YOUR schedule which, in turn, forces her to do something ELSE with her time which = mingling and making friends with the other residents. Then they can all hang out together and complain about the horrrrrrrrrrrrrible fooooooooood and gossip about the happenings at the ALF and who's drinking too much at happy hour and did you SEE Mildred flirting shamelessly with Ronald last night? How disgusting! :)

And don't let the Guilt Card weigh you down either listening to nonsense about how 'Do the best you can whenever you can because of her age your Mom’s time and ability could be short'............that will NOT help your stress level but add TO it. Your mother has lived a verrrrrry long life as it is at 98 and I'm quite sure you've done PLENTY for her already.

Best of luck to you setting down some boundaries for both of your sakes!
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cweissp Jun 14, 2021
As always good advise with a huge dose of humor!
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The answer is "no". Full stop. Decide for yourself what outings on what day you can be there for Mom. Tell her you will give her plenty of notice and that every few weeks you can take her shopping. Also tell her to give you ideas of things she needs that you can order on Amazon or another site. I do this for my bro's ex. We do not live in the same area and I cannot EVER take him shopping. Do remember Beattie's advice here "There will be no solutions as long as you are all the solutions". You have your own life. Unless Mom had you very late in her fertility years then you are no longer a young thing yourself, and have your own limitations. So just say "Sorry, I can't possibly do that; let me think of other options" and that's that. Then the perhaps once a month, lunch and Target or something. Good luck. No matter what age you have reach the word "No" is very useful. You will, if you have ALWAYS been there, be met with anger. I learned to say no in my mid 30s with the help of a psychologist. The reaction was swift and angry "But YOU are the ONLY ONE I can COUNT ON to DO these things". When you are met with this you need to be able to gentle say "I am so sorry; what I am telling you is that I can NO LONGER be counted on to do these things".
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Reply to AlvaDeer
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Lots of great advice here. In Assisted Living it is a great treat just to eat some different/old favorite foods and see something other than the same walls. When my father had problems walking, I would get him into my vehicle with help from the AL and then drive to entertaining places where he didn’t need to get out. I parked at a construction site and we sat in the vehicle and watched the activity, or stopped at a fast food restaurant and ate in the vehicle, an outdoor movie, a drive through fall color in the country. It gave him time away from the Assisted Living and time together and I did not have the challenge of getting him out of the vehicle and walking. A realtor brother took him along to his house showings where he sat in the vehicle and napped while the showing took place. My brother said he learned more about our father and connected better during those times together as our father reminisced than any other time in their lives.
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Jana37 Jun 14, 2021
That is a great idea! Places or just drives where they don't have to get out. Thanks!
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If your mom is in a trustworthy facility, then that's great! But you need to realize that you are not responsible for her happiness and are not her entertainment committee. Check the facility's offerings of activities and events and suggest she attend these (without you). Make excuses why you can't go yourself. Don't answer all her calls. Limit your time together to a once a week outing. You need to allow her to get used to the facility and meet people. You can contact admin and ask them if they can "invite" her personally to some of the facility events and maybe they'll even have someone take her. My mom is 92 and sort of needy in the same way, but she lives next door to me. I still work mostly full time. I just need to say no to her urgent need to go shopping or have me fix something in her home. That's just how it has to be for my sanity. Yours, too.
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Mamasmurf Jun 13, 2021
Thank you!! Thank you so much for your input. I have been feeling so guilty. Mom is in a wonderful facility where she has a lot to do, but seems to be "happy" to just sit and be bored. Thus she contributes to my guilt feelings. I really must distance myself from her. I'll keep working on it!! And I don't know how YOU manage living next door to your mom. Mine was 3 miles away and that was too close. She's closer than that now, but at least she's in good hands. Thank you again!!
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Oh yes…I get the stress! I told my Mom we will have 3 visits weekly.. Sunday for church and a few hours at my apartment with my kitty, another day to visit my apartment {or a restaurant} and have lunch and one day I visit her at the assisted living {for an 1 1/2 hr chat}. My brother calls her one day and has a short visit weekly… I encouraged my mom to do all activities and she now loves them. I bring her some favorite fruit weekly and I buy whatever she needs..it took a good 8 months but she now is settled and happy..I keep to our schedule and that helps her interact with the activities. Set some boundaries and keep to a schedule! Good Luck…p.s. My mom refused a phone in her room…she hates a cell phone..That helped a lot!
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MichelleWTX99 Jun 13, 2021
Hates a cell phone or has a cell phone?
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Its called assisted living for a reason.
It is not only to assist her but also to assist you in being able to maintain a quality of life balance and reduce your stress.
If you are going in every time she wants or expect you to, because she wants or expects you to then the only person who can change things is you.
Cut down the number of visits you make - for example if going in every day then change to every other day or weekdays only or some pattern that suits YOUR life.
She will never get involved with other people in the facility whilst she has you to entertain her, which is bad for both of you. You are getting stressed, and she is being deprived of other company.
She is in assisted living to help her make the most of her life - give her time to do so (yes she'll complain - of course she will, she has you running around putting her first all the time at the moment) but be firm half your life being the entertainment is more than enough when you have your own life and health to look after - if you become so stressed it makes you ill then you won't be going in at all. Don't let guilt or feelings or responsibility control your life take some of it back.
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MichelleWTX99 Jun 13, 2021
I needed this.
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I see your the son. And at an age you are either retired or planning on being. You want and need some time to yourself. You probably have been caring for Mom for a while. Now you have been able to place her in a very nice place where she is cared for.

I lived right up the road from my Mom's AL. Not 5 min away. I did check in almost everyday but no longer than 1/2 hour. My Mom was pretty much into her dementia so there was no longer any conversation. I would take my 3 yr old grandson along sometimes.

You really do need to allow her to acclimate herself to the new place. Like said check the activity board. Maybe go with her to a few, sometimes its entertainment which I enjoyed, to show her there are things to do. Her sitting and being miserable is her doing not yours. Moms AL had birthday parties all the time. Holiday parties and parties just to have a party.

I would go when an activity was going on. Go with her, get her settled and then say "well looks like ur busy now so I will pop by another day". She needs to realize you cannot be there everyday all day. That's the whole purpose of an AL, to give her something to do.
I would not have dinner with her often as suggested. Dining is another way residents interact with each other. Get to know each other. If you are there then she does not have to interact. Moms facility had Holiday dinners where families could join in so you will be given that opportunity.

You are now the adult, she is the child. Yes, she is your Mom but Dementia has changed the way she thinks and perceives things. She no longer can make good choices. As the Dementia progresses they get more and more childlike. Think of a 4 yr old, they want it all their way. They can be taught, Mom can't be. No reasoning, no empathy.
So, you need to set your boundries. Sorry Mom, I can no longer spend all day with you. I have things I need to do and you have things you can do here. I will visit or call you everyday.

I found that staff does try to get them involved. The activities director went to every door (only 39 residents in Moms AL) knocked, identified herself and reminded the resident it was time for an activity.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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I know exactly how you feel. Been there. The bottom line here is you have to grow a back bone. I say that with empathy because it took me a long time to do the same. If you are like me, you worked long and hard to get to retirement and although you love your mother, you deserve time for yourself without guilt. Make sure she is in the best situation possible and then put yourself first because no one else will......not even your mother!
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I know exactly how you feel. My mom is 92 and moved to a retirement home 8 months ago. I am fortunate that she is not a complainer. I know that she would move in with me in a heartbeat. As much as I love my mother I know that wouldn't work. I visit her every couple of days right now because they have curtailed most of the activities at the home because of Covid. I recently took her shopping for clothes. She also uses a walker and I agree with you that it isn't easy taking them out but I do it anyway. My mother was a wonderful mom to me and was always there for me when I needed her. I know how hard it is for her to lose her independence and struggle with constant pain and loss of mobility. If I think about it too much it saddens me to see how feeble she has become, knowing that I can't change it. I'm lucky that my mother is a very sociable person and I know she will join in activities when they resume. I am not an only child, I have one sibling, but due to his health issues, I have taken on most of the responsibility. My mother appreciates all I do for her and knows that I can't be there every day. It is essential that you set reasonable boundaries with your mom so you don't burn out. My mother is in a great facility where she is well cared for. It's our responsibility to ensure our parents are looked after but we are not responsible for their happiness. You have to make sure her needs are being made but you also are entitled to have a life of your own. In the end I know that I am doing the best I can and won't have any regrets when she's gone. Remember, set boundaries and don't feel guilty. I am sure you are also doing your best and you have to take care of yourself. Good luck!
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Reply to Impossible
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“I have trouble saying no”.

You MAY be making it more difficult for your mother to adjust comfortably to her new environment.

Assuming that her placement was determined by the the realization that she was no longer to live safely and productively in the world she had known before she was overtaken by the losses of old age, and also assuming that she was placed in the very best setting that could be found for her, you now have a responsibility TO HER to indicate that YOU have confidence in the decisions that have been lovingly made on her behalf.

Your stress? The ball is in your court. You have done everything that needs to be done.

You and she BOTH NEED SPACE. Popping in for a few minutes every few days lets you know how things are moving forward.

So spend enormous amounts of time there every day with full know.edge that neither of you benefit, OR develop a new, reasonably spaced schedule of visits and see how that works. Be sure to work on a comfort level in communicating with her care staff too. Nothing more comforting to the worried and weary.
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lkdrymom Jun 11, 2021
I have to agree. If you are spending a tremendous amount of time with her you are stopping her from becoming a part of her new community. She is in a safe place so there is no need to spend so much time with her unless you actually want to. Spend one day a week with her to do special things. Other than that a quick 30 minute visit some other time in the week is enough.
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