My mother refuses to use low vision aids and complains & manipulates others to do things for her. How do we handle her nastiness and inconsistent vision loss?

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My mother is 81 and was moved to rehab yesterday after her second hip surgery (after she fell). She has very poor vision from macular degeneration, and her doc told her, "no more driving." Her eye doc told her to use readers and magnifying tools (we have bought her many types, but she keeps "losing them"), but she complains that "they don't work." She rudely tells me, my sister, and healthcare help to do what we believe she could do herself if she would lift a finger to try. I think we are enabling her, and think we ought to simply say, "I will not do that, because that is something you can do if you put forth an effort to do so." I think she is still in denial of her vision loss (which did occur rather quickly), and will not take responsibility to avail herself of the vision aids. She becomes quite nasty when my sister and I try to help her help herself. She is non-compliant and even belligerent at times, condescending, narcissistic, histrionic, and has some mild dementia. We need helpful suggestions, please. She is able to somehow see well enough to text and call friends, and operate her beloved TV. Her vision loss is inconsistent; therefore, it is difficult to know when to help and when to be tough and tell her she has to figure it out on her own. We are dealing with a couple of other issues with her, but I thought I'd better start with this one. Please help.

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Debbio...thanks so glad I was maybe able to help a little. I hope they can help as it will not only help your Mom, but may make things easier for y'all.

Take care...my thoughts and prayers are with you and your Mom.
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Reply to Dusti22
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Dusti22, thank you SO MUCH for your very helpful insight and gentle guidance. I am going to ask Mom for her input as I call an entity called Spectrios (they help vision-impaired in numerous ways) for assistance.
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Hi Debbio... Sorry, know this is going to be a "book". I can see both sides here as I remember when I went totally blind with cataracts (literally) I was wearing contacts and glasses and found that the strength had to be gradually increased. Went to my eye doctor 03/2011 who told me that I had the start of cataracts and should not have to do anything about them for a couple of years. By May 2011 my vision was worse and by Sept of that year my vision had worsened to the point I could not drive. This was rough as I was main support for my honey and me so I had to catch a cab to and from my temporary job as an insurance adjuster. (I was 59 when the first symptoms showed up). By October I was on such limited vision I was having to use magnifiers and the strongest magnifying glass I could to read files (did this until the following year when I had my surgeries) and see the computer. My vision was so bad I could lay a dark object on our white countertops and had to use touch to find it as I could not see it. During that time our car stayed parked and we took a cab everywhere including to my honey's doctor appointments. How my honey put up with me was a miracle. (he was sweet as pie and patient back then) Luckily I have always seen and memorized things as pictures in my mind rather than word so I had a picture of how things were in our home, what the sidewalk at home and at work were like. This allowed me to navigate home to the cab and from the cab to work, do laundry and cook with my honey being my "eyes". I did learn one thing being blind, my sense of touch, smell, taste and instinct became so much stronger. A wonderful organization here in Texas helped me get the cataract surgery on both my eyes that I needed in May and June of 2012. I was blind for over 6 months! And being an animal portrait artist/illustrator besides an insurance adjuster, this was the most terrifying time of my life. My vision was well above 20/20 until recently (I had to use "cheaters" for closeup) when my vision started clouding again. I see my eye doctor tomorrow so I hope and pray it is something that can easily be fixed, but I will know then. Anyway, for those who have never had sight issues it is terrifying no matter a person's age.

Debbio...with this and your Mom's other issues it has to be scary for her and so frustrating and difficult for y'all. It is hard to tell how far her vision has deteriorated. Even though I went blind I was still able to use the remote and make calls on my phone though I could not have texted if I had to. Please understand, I am not on a "soap box" or fussing at you. As I said I can see both sides as I am full time caregiver to my honey (who can get difficult) of 30 years who trust me could make a saint cuss at times. Have you thought about getting a professional in who works with people who has vision issues and can help you Mom learn to deal with this disability. At here age it may be difficult to get her to cooperate though. But she might surprise you.

Sorry for the long post. Hope this maybe has given some insight. Another little tip...continue to set boundaries on her behaviors.
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"She is non-compliant and even belligerent at times, condescending, narcissistic, histrionic, and has some mild dementia."

I hope you can get her to stop driving as the dr told her.

idk but the way you describe her I feel for you, going to have a long road ahead.

my mom has MD too. shes been checked and its not progressing real fast. but I know she doesn't see as well as she used to.

maybe the readers and magnifying glasses will turn out to be the least of your troubles
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Reply to wally003
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freqflyer gives an excellent description of macular degeneration.

My Mom also has macular degeneration, but she is not able to get shots to slow down the progression of the disease. Mom can see shapes, but she cannot see details. She can see a Stop Sign (shape), but she cannot see the person standing beside the Stop Sign waiting to cross the street nor the car coming from the side street. Mom cannot read even LARGE PRINT magazines anymore. I have to read the newspapers to her (and cooking directions and recipes). I have had to put labels on the TV remote and on the microwave so that she can/could use those. She sits/sat to the side of the TV and looked at it from a 45 degree angle instead of straight on. (Added: Mom does NOT recognize me or her son or her grandchildren until we tell her who we am. She only know that someone is standing next to her or beside her.)

My Mom's eye doctor also told Mom to use magnifying glasses and my Dad (when he was alive) or I have bought several different versions--with and without lights, handheld and lamps, and Mom still complained that "the glasses didn't work." I have had to buy progressively stronger lens (2X to 3X to 4X to 5X to 6X magnification) and Mom see could not/can not see newspapers well enough to read. Mom complained that she could not see the "ENTIRE WORD or SENTENCE" when she was reading. It is a terrible disease as you have the ability to do all of these activities, BUT you can not SEE to do the activities. {My Mom is now in a Memory Care Unit due to Dementia and Major Depression with Delusions.}

Try "walking in your Mom's shoes". Buy a pair of cheap glasses and smear Vaseline heavily on the lens (especially on the center of the lens) and then try to read the newspaper or directions on cake boxes, try using the remote without looking at it, try writing without taking off the glasses, or try choosing clothes and getting dressed. Keep the lights turned OFF in the room and try to read or do crafts or cook or write in the slightly darkened room. Try to find something in the refrigerator without looking--by feel only. You may find that it isn't easy having macular degeneration.

You say that your Mom lost her vision "rather quickly". HOW would YOU FEEL if you lost your vision "Rather quickly"? Wouldn't you be in denial, upset, frustrated, frighten or even angry? And then the people around you are saying "I am not going to help you."--how would that make you feel? Maybe some of your Mom's behavior is her frustration and anger at having the disease.
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FF is right. My mom had it, too. She loved to read but couldn’ t any longer. She could only listen to the television. This coupled with dementia’s confusion made her life a living hell. She had the shots but they didn’t work.
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Reply to Ahmijoy
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Debbio, when it comes to macular degeneration, once the eye disease advances, there isn't anything to help the person see better except for surgery to keep the disease from getting worse, and more recently shots in the eyes which do help some people.

Remember, your Mom cannot see straight ahead, what she sees is a gray cloud... she can only see a very little out of the sides of her eyes. And she is right, the readers and magnifying tools don't work except for those who are just starting out with macular.

Put yourself into her shoes for a few minutes. Imagine not being able to use your cellphone or even a regular telephone because you can't see the buttons correctly. Not be able to read the newspaper except for one word at a time which is very exhausting. Not be able to watch TV as after awhile your eyes tire out. Cooking is very difficult, especially if others in the house keep moving things that you use on a regular basis. I would be pretty grumpy, too.

My own Mom had macular degeneration, and she did try to do as much as she could. But she wasn't deal with the added painful hip problems like your mother was. Dad was there to help push the buttons on the washer and dryer. Dad also helped the best he could in the kitchen. He learned not to move anything in the refrigerator as Mom had memorized where everything was. When I would come into the house, my Mom didn't recognize me until she heard my voice.

My advice, please understand what your Mom is going through. This isn't the retirement she had planned.
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