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Mom is fixating on dental issue. Super long story, seen 4 dentists, now back to original one. Asked me to go with her this week to check color of bridge, height of teeth and more. Now she thinks the dental receptionist may use her (mom's) insurance check for her personal vacation to Spain. Oh boy.


Her untreated OCD is making everyone frustrated and now some memory loss as well is causing arguments.


I understand I should agree more to calm her yet she says I said things I haven't said. Tried to get the neighbor to go with her to appointment because "you said you were working". Etc.


How do I support her when I disagree? If her teeth aren't PERFECT this week she is going to go berserk! (New bridge). When I say perfection isn't always an option she fires back that she isn't going to settle for less!


I need coping strategies and advice. She's a widow so my sister and I are it for support. We're trying to be "good daughters " but where do we draw the line???

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Do you think that she will go with you to a doctor's appointment? Perhaps, you could update her doctor on what is going on. I might explore a medication for anxiety/OCD. It's a sticky situation, because, if she keeps going to the dentist, she could spend tens of thousands of dollars on unnecessary dental work. If it can't be brought under control with her doctor and medication, I'd consult with an attorney about taking control of her finances. If she's just not competent to manage her own affairs, she may need someone to step in, though, she doesn't realize. See what's required, evidence needed, etc. Or, you could just let her run through most of her money. The delusion that she needs more care could still continue though.

I might get a mental list of things to say to her that are sure fire action stoppers. Like, if she says, I must get this redone immediately, I'd stall for time, and say, but, the doctor says to heal first. No need to rush into it. If she's critical, blame the light, the mirror, the angle. Praise how great they look and keep in mind, that people with delusions usually don't let go of that delusion. You may be wasting your time trying. Disagreeing with her, isn't likely to work. I might tip off the dentist, so they know what is going on. Mabye, they can give her an appointment far out in time to give you some time to get control of the situation.
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ByrdieLee Aug 27, 2018
Thank you for your response. I'm building a strategy for the dental appointment, :). But as we know, one fixation leads to another.
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Definitely talk to the dentist ahead of time. Having the dentist say, “this is the best we can get it... you’re done for “x” amount of time” she might be willing to accept that her frequent visits to the dentist are over. We tried with my dad who hyperfocused on getting his “drivers license” back. He went to the management office daily at his apartment complex, asking where to go. I took him (knowing he wasn’t going to get his license) to DMV and watched him fumble around cutting lines, thinking he was going to walk out with a license by “telling them his name and address,”
DMV said he needed a passport, (they didn’t know his out of state license was suspended for dementia) so, dad focused on “getting his passport” from his house 3 states away. After his visit with a new doctor in PA(he was sure he was going to just keep his dementia a secret and have a brand new doctor sign his form saying he’s good to drive!) the new doctor said “I’m agreeing that you should not be driving” I asked the doc to repeat it. I repeated the sentence to dad, who replied “but I feel fine”.... the doc rolled his eyes, and told him to follow up with a neurologist and cardiologist. What DAD heard was, “ a neurologist or cardiologist will clear you for driving!” Now, he’s fixated on seeing these two doctors and every day he asks about getting his license from “those other doctors” and making sure we have his passport! His OCD is out of control! When he gets something in his mind, he doesn’t take no for an answer. My next move is to video- record the doctor saying “you are NOT getting cleared for driving” and replaying it every time he brings it up- which is 30-50 times a week.
i should add he is taking Risperidone! It is NOT working at all! He’s just as agitated, OCD, moody, and demanding as ever! Maybe there’s other meds your mom could take?
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ByrdieLee Aug 28, 2018
Oh my gosh. I can so see my mother doing that someday. It's such a circle of distress! I'm dreading tomorrow's dental visit.

They really do hear something completely different when told something. And how can we "prove" otherwise??
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This isn't OCD. I have (diagnosed) OCD. I am a checker. Some times it can take me several HOURS to get out of the house because I have to check the door to see if it is locked. I know it is, (I KNOW IT IS) but what if I was mistaken? What if it didn't close it properly, What if what if what if what if what if what if what if what if what if....
It makes me miserable. I know it's stupid. (I KNOW IT'S STUPID. I CAN'T HELP IT. I won't argue with you it's stupid. I KNOW IT IS.) My beloved husband tells me my brain is trying to kill me. It surely feels that way. Celexa helps.
I suspect what up with your mom is a dementia thing. It is a way to take control of her life.
Have you tried telling her no? Or how close to perfection (perfection being a Platonic Ideal and is unobtainable) is she willing to be. What stopped my mom from continuing with her denture desire was showing her the bills. she also just didn't recognize her dentures as "her" teeth. She knew they were dentures, but the dentures looked different from what she had seen for the past 80 years. I told her they looked better than the set she was born with.
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My 92 year old dad gets fixated on stuff too. Can't let anything go and perish the thought something happens on a Saturday and he can't get whatever it is resolved until Monday. Things that you or I can just 'let go', he absolutely cannot. However, since he started on Seroquel last spring, these episodes have greatly reduced.
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ByrdieLee Aug 28, 2018
Hmmm, I'll look into that med. I can relate!
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My mother's always had OCD tendencies, but now it's worse. She gets fixated on things, and makes herself (and anyone who has to listen to it) miserable.

My way of coping is to limit contact.
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ByrdieLee Aug 28, 2018
Ugh, I can understand where you're coming from. It is beyond my skill set, lol
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Ai yi yi!! Been where you are! So how did the dental appointment go? I took my dad to get new dentures and then he refused to wear them. Last month we took him to a specialist who did a temporary reline so his dentures would stay in and then we would bring him back in a week for the permanent reline. Well in a matter of two days, dad removed the temporary reline!! So that’s it! No more denture appointments as he just can not not adjust to changes as is common in dementia.
I call the obsessive thinking behavior "taking the record off the shelf and playing it". They get fixated on a thought or idea and it wears a groove in the brain and plays over and over. My dad is on Celexa which does help with obsessive thoughts so you might ask the doctor to try it. However you need to know how to talk to mom because explaining and reasoning sadly doesn’t work. I recommend a thin book written by a psychologist who counsels children of difficult parents. It’s on amazon and called Learning to Love Hard to Love Parents by Paul Chafetz. He has tips on what to say. I also have recorded things to prove otherwise to my dad. The voice memo feature on my phone has recorded doctor conversations and mine with dad.
Yes, you are good daughters and it’s hard to take when they live in a fantasy world and accus you of things. Know you are doing your best and learn these strategies over coping. Bless you!
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I have been there with my Mom and now my mother in law. MIL fixates on an old waffle iron she foisted on us that we don't have time or desire to use. Every day she hammers on about this thing and bugs us to use it. She is still able to cook a bit but makes dinners for 10 people though it is just my husband and I coming for dinner. Then she demands we take the rest home and eat it all week. My refrigerator cannot hold all this food and we can certainly buy our own food and not eat the same thing 6 days in a row. She also collects every plastic container she can get her hands on. My husband went to open an upper cupboard in her kitchen and a ton of plastic containers rained down upon his head. I know this is the beginning of fixating and it will get worse. It seems one has to deal with each fixation as it comes and try to work it out...exhausting.
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I had the same issue with my mother. All the advice to re-direct was useless;she was determined to fixate. Ultimately medication did help some. Psychotropic meds are highly individualized in both type and dose. Thankfully there are different types and dosages available. If the first one/dose tried is not working it is important to communicate that to the doc so something else can be tried. Sometimes she is still fixated and I just have try to find answers she will accept in the moment (e.g. “Huh. I’m stumped. I really can’t explain that one for you.” “I’m so sorry, it must really be frustrating.”, etc.). It’s such a difficult journey, with new challenges at every phase. You are indeed doing the best you can. Know that and surround yourself with support, such as what you find here. Wishing you comfort and strength along the way.
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"As noted above, I ask docs to repeat things until it's clear that Mom has processed them and tape them to replay as necessary. I have a doctorate in health communication, but that's not good enough for mom. :)"

Oh, Teri, I can empathize. I would do the same as you, except that I'm not even allowed back into the examining rooms anymore. It's been 1.5 years now. My mother got annoyed that the doctors talk to me and not her. She can't hear and so didn't hear what they were saying.

So be it. I'm just the Dummy Driver Daughter, and know nothing. My mother is the All Knowing Elder Wizard about All Things. Or so she thinks!
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I do find that my mom responds to and believes things from the various docs (including dentists) much more than she believes things from me (or my reports of what docs say). As noted above, I ask docs to repeat things until it's clear that Mom has processed them and tape them to replay as necessary. I have a doctorate in health communication, but that's not good enough for mom. :)

I told Mom tonight that the neurologist wanted an MRI of her brain and her response was, "MY brain???" Like, who else's brain would he want to study???? Oh, my.....
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