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She want things to remain the same. What do I do? I’ve been taking care of my mother (83yrs old) for 3 years since my father died. She was diagnosed with dementia 2 ½” years ago. I reluctantly moved into her house to take care of her. I loved my apartment in the middle of town. Now I’m several miles from town, Ugh. At that time I noticed that the house was getting run down.. Peeling wallpaper, missing or broken baseboards, Stained cabinets & stained carpet, missing or broken kitchen light panels, and leak in the roof, now the porch needs repaired as the wood is cracked. The railing needs fixed as is a bit unstable…For three years, Every time I try to fix something, she has a “hissy fit” telling me “don’t touch, don’t change things that I’m not a man and I’m not supposed to do things like that. Well, I’m a woman and the daughter of a carpenter. I am certainly able to fix things, thanks to my father…Now, Its driving me nuts every time I see things that need to be fixed. I am going to just fix things and risk her ire (I’ve learned how to duck when thing go flying) I can’t stand it any longer. Any ideas how to pacify her? She has a tendency to get angry. Then she refuses to eat, bathe, talk, and she pouts and complains to EVERYONE when things don’t go her way for WEEKS. Even my grown children never acted like that.

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Yeah, but your children never had dementia. She has defects in her brain, poor thing, and she really can't fully control her behavior.

If her demented reason is that you are not a man so you can't do repairs, maybe you could pacify her by having a man do it. Do you have a friend or an associate who wouldn't mind going along with this drama? You introduce him to Mom as "the man I've hired to fix the leak in the roof." He gets on the ladder, looks around, and comes in to repeat what you've coached him to say. "Roberta, I'll need x bundles of roofing tile, a bucket of y, etc. If you can do the shopping for me I can give you a good discount." Then you take over the job, with him stopping by often enough for Mom to be aware he is there.

"Hire" someone to repair the cupboards. When she notices you doing the work explain that you are only doing what "Jack" instructed you to do. "Call" Jack once in a while to ask his advice.

In other words, if it calms Mom down to think there is a man behind the repairs, convince her there is a man behind them. A little more trouble for you, but the guys you enlist might get a kick out of it, and if it gives Mom some peace, why not?

The other issue, wanting things to remain the same, is also a condition of the dementia. Change is hard to adjust to. A fix to the roof will be easier in this regard than new wallpaper. Has Mom lived in this house a long time? Are there scrapbook or old photos you can look at with Mom? (This is often a pleasant passtime for people who have dementia.) Perhaps that will give you some openings. "Oh look, Mom! Remember when the kitchen had bright white cabinets? Let's get them fresh and bright again, just like when I was a little girl and you were teaching me to bake cookies!" The idea of "restoring" the house to its former glory MIGHT be more acceptable to her than "changing" the house so it isn't familiar any more.

You need to do what you need to do to maintain the house. I hope you can come up with some ways to help your mother accept this maintenance with a minimum of anguish.

Let us know how this goes. We learn from each other!
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