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She is always worried about food not being spoiled or past expiration date. We shop every week. She annoys me when I cook something for myself that she doesn't eat - worrying whether I cooked it long enough to be done. I get so frustrated and angry with her - I know it's over-reacting, but I can't seem to help myself. She has early dementia so that is part of the problem, but really this is the way she's been for years.

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You are all AWESOME caregivers!! This is a job none of us asked for, but we seem to be there for our family members...weather it is a wife, husband, parent, in-laws or grandparents... It is not by choice!! I hate it! And there really isn't anything we can do to make it good or better! One day at a time...no future, and no getting better! We all seem to be dealing with it in many different ways and it is very hard! By the end of the evening, I just want to put him (my husband) to bed and sit with a nice glass of wine. Temporary relaxing...but good at the time! We do have to take care of our selves, get someone to come into the house for a couple of hours to be with 'your person'....and GET OUT!! (For now, it is cheaper then Assisted Living) Eat right, get some exercise. Read a book, 'ONE WORD that will change your life'. My work for this year is RELEASE... I have posted notes in my special places to remind me. Try it. It's a temporary fix...but it does work each time you use!! Be strong! And take care of YOU first! If not, who will care for your loved one?....
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You can't. Stop trying. Find something you like to do and do it, preferably with someone babysitting Mom so she can't even make you overhear it.
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Have you heard of Dysfunctional Family Bingo? Keep track of the number of times your mother says "That can't be done. You'll get sick." The more times she says it, the more M&M's (or the bigger the cocktail) you can have. She will not change, but you can trick yourself into minding less. Just a suggestion.

Or answer, "Do you think so?" to whatever she says. Plan in advance with a canned response or a mental trick. I know, it IS maddening. Best wishes to you.
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Braida, thank you for the information from The Shriver Report. I looked it up and read what is available on line. I must find the book somewhere. Although frightening, it at least holds out some hope for future generations. I guess every generation has its burden to bear: the Great Depression for our grandparents, WWII for our parents. Is Alzheimer's the burden of our generation? Each successive generation bears the good and the bad that comes out of the lasts generations burdens. I hope and pray that we can save our children and grandchildren from the scars of this horrible disease and others like it such as Lewy Body Dementia. (If you're unfamiliar with it, please google or otherwise search for it online. You will be horrified. It is not as well known as AD, but is just as bad, if not worse.)
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Hi Donna, I am so sorry that you had such a hard childhood. I meant to say that in my last post. Having a parent with OCPD would be very hard. I commend you for taking your Mom in and making it work. I am glad you found some info about OCPD. When I read your post and saw that you got scolded for not doing things her way it just seemed so much like the OCPD trait. I learned about the personality disorder while researching about my own OCD. Both stink but are actually quite different . I wish you the best of luck with your Mom!!
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MishkaM, Thank you so much for your last post. I just read several articles about the differences between OCD and OCPD. You are right my mom's does sound more like OCPD. There are two of the traits mentioned for the OCPD she does not have: "an inability to get rid of items that no longer have value and a miserly spending style towards both you and others". In fact quiet the opposite. Other than those two traits she fits all of the others. Thanks for pointing this out. Understanding more about why she does what she does is so helpful in addressing the issues. Hopefully will help others as well.
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Thank-you , FedUpNow for your kind words. Good luck with all you do! You sure have a full plate. I give you kudos for all that you are able to handle!!
DonnaCG- it is possible your Mom does not have OCD but Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. -big difference, actually. The OCD person usually knows their thinking is flawed and hates it while the OCPD person thinks they are right and the world is wrong. If you google OCPD vrs. OCD it will explain the difference better than I can. I cannot imagine just being able to change with a firm hand. I wish that was all it took.
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I was mentally abused as a child by my mom's ocd. She would decide it was time to teach me to cook, clean, sew whatever...... I would try so hard but got scolded and punished because I was "half doing it" as she said. That was before any average person had ever heard of ocd.

I spent many years of my adult life feeling guilty before I figured out I was not a mean, disrespectful, lazy child who could not do anything right. I lived with so much guilt as an adult over the tantrums I threw and the arguments we had because I wouldn't just do it right. It was only in the 1980's or 90's when ocd hit the news that I knew it wasn't all my fault. No one could do it perfectly enough to satisfy her, not even herself. If I did get it almost right she would find a better way to fold the towels and I had to start the learning process all over again.

Fast forward to 2010, Mom is a senior spoiled rotten by my father, me, my husband and all our children who have catered to her ocd all these years not understanding the monster we were enabling.

Both she and my Dad become ill requiring major surgery within a two week period. Trying to perform her rituals properly when she was not physically able nearly killed me for 3 or so months, until she could do it herself. a couple of years later my Dad is terminally ill and she tortures him until he dies worrying about his every hair in place, the bed covers had to be over him perfectly square, no creases or wrinkles,, a drop of tea on his gown, the poor man had to be changed immediately.... a piece of lint on his pillow whatever just pick, pick picking at him. The hospice folks begged her to stop and let him have peace and rest, but no way she going to let him die with a hair out of place!

Now the rest of the story. After Dad passed away she begged us to let her sell her house and come live with us. I told her repeatedly she would not be happy with us, that we could not live up to her housekeeping standards. She was afraid to live alone, she wanted me to have her savings not an assisted living on and on...... We finally gave in and she is with us now. It is far from a picnic she shadows me, is often negative and paranoid and has weird ideas, still plenty of ocd rituals regarding her hygiene, etc. When she got here she thought she could change my husband and me, we are not slobs, but far more relaxed about neatness and organization than she. However on many issues when we told her politely, but firmly "that is not the way we do it here" or "I prefer not to do it that way". She gave up, accepted it and remembered not to try and change that particular habit. Her negativity has also improved. Again soooooo far from a perfect situation but we learned she could control some of the craziness. I know that not all dementia or ocd folks can or will change so I do feel blessed for even small improvements. I guess you don't know if it will work until you try. Makes me sad that we didn't figure it out earlier. So many years were wasted, so much misery created as we catered to the ocd beast.
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My Mother is obsessive too and I think it's depression. She obsesses over cleanliness. I buy her lots of Lysol and plastic bags (Plastic bags are germ barriers). I do way more laundry than I need to, leave notes for her caregivers and I lie a lot. The doctor prescribed and antidepressant but she refuses to take it.

Fortunately she doesn't live with me, I know I couldn't take it. I just try and understand. She's always been somewhat obsessed, but it's gotten much worse as she gets older and more senile.
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PS TYPO: I am in awe of your courage, not coverage.
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Dear MishkaM, You certainly have paid your dues as a young child who's problems were ignored and then having to find the solutions yourself but you never gave up and you never quit looking. I am in awe of your coverage, and yes, your OCD. Not easy to live with, I am guessing. I can't begin to imagine what that is like. My mother-in-law's problems stem from an overactive thyroid that made her peripatetic and exhausting to be around. If she took care of your long haired, pure-bred dog, for example, you would come home to find she had shave it bald. Neighbors complained. People who worked with her threw shoes at her (she worked in a sneaker factory). She was always a willful child, growing up in WWII on her own as an only child whose mother worked long hours and wasn't married. She has a gigantic self-righteous, right-fighting attitude and she connives and manipulates to get her own way. She was finally put on some thyroid medication that brought her activities down to a dull roar but then the trauma of her WWII days took over and she refuses any kind of counseling to deal with those issues. I tried to get her a massage therapist so she would experience more touch but no one can get out of her way. She is a train coming down the track; the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train. So, when nothing I tried worked, I then stopped trying. No sense in going out on the Titanic for more ice. When the horse is dead, get off. I keep trying to remind people who keep hoping they will find the key to these problems that there is no solution. Save yourself finally. I learned this way to little far too late. Let go or be dragged. I am sorry you have struggled long and hard. I believe when you are this age, you will not be so resistant to care if offered.
((((( U ))))))) Your answer was very helpful to me.
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Trust me, I wouldn't have as much patience or fortitude if my mother were living with me. We have her in a fantastic memory-care residence and I know how lucky we are that we -- so far -- are managing the monthly cost (her house is on the market and please, dear Lord, let us sell it soon), which obviously is expensive. But it took a long time (and reading and research) for me to be able to deal with my mother without losing patience. For most people (including me), to live 24/7 with someone with dementia is soul-sucking and family-destroying. I have a husband and two kids and their needs would all come behind my mom's if she lived with us.
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Weeeell, I could be your Mom. *gulp. I totally understand irrataional thinking. If you hadn't said she was like this before I would not chime in like this but it sounds like she has OCD and dementia. ( it scares the cr*p out of me to think I could get worse with old age!!)
FedUpNow is right , IMO and wrong, IMO. I have had OCD since I can remember and my Mom ignored it and it was horrible. But I was just a kid. I have a diary from when I was 10 and in it I write across pages-" GOD HELP ME !!" . I had no idea why I could not stop thinking that the world was going to end and I did not know why I had to count corners of a room to be safe and say 50 prayers a night -actually a lot more because if my mind wondered for one second during a prayer I had to start all the way over. I was exhausted and terrified. And my Mom ignored it. I should have been taken to a psychiatrist. But it was on the late 70's and 80's who knows what they would have done.
I didn't know what was wrong with me until my freshman year roommate - a girl I had just met that year- came back from psych 101 and said -"I think you have OCD". We both looked at her textbook and -there it was!!!! I finally knew what was wrong with me!!! By then I was ,er, self medicating, with lots of beer-heck-it was college and sex, heck it was college and a lovely eating disorder I picked up as a teen. My irrational thinking was at a minimum but my lifestyle was not so healthy.
As an adult and a Mom and a wife I can no longer self medicate on booze and sex and vomit so I had to actually go to a therapist. And a psychiatrist. And after years of different drug tries I have found that Paxil works the best for me. And klonapan. It is not a perfect solution but it helps. I still have my moments of irrational thinking-usually around the holidays or after a stressful event- but I am trying.

I tell you all this because if your Mom is truly OCD , please have some empathy. It is so hard! I agree though that giving in to her rants are not the best thing for her but try not to hate her for her faulty mind. My Mom hated my OCD- even before she knew what it was - she hated it and she would get so mad when I started to worry about something.

My advice is get your Mom on a SSRI drug with the help of a geriatric psychiatrist and some klonopin if able to take( be careful- it is an addictive drug).

As for your Mom worrying about food. For me, for some reason, I have certain people that I trust and if they say it is OK I feel better. One is a friend's husband who is a carpenter. I worry about chemicals in wood( irrational thinking, remember ) and I can ask my friend to ask her husband if he thinks my deck is safe and if he says "yes" I feel better because he knows the biz( this doesn't make sense- my rational mind knows this but my OCD mind doesn't -for some reason the OCD mind shuts up when my friends's husband tells me it is OK). So-you could see if by calling an expert in cooking- someone she trusts- and that someone says- "your pork is fine. " she will be OK. Have her talk with the expert. The expert can be anyone she believes. She won't trust you-you are too close to the situation. Don't take it personally. It is just that you are too close. An expert can be anyone from someone you know who cooks for a living to a hotline to a "friend" pretending to be a cooking expert.

BUT- as FedUPNow said- she may just transfer her anxiety to something else once this issue is laid to rest. That is really why you should go to a psychiatrist. And maybe a support group-for you. You might want to try and designate a special time for her to worry about things- like after breakfast and after dinner. For about 15 minutes each time Tell her -" now is the time to talk about what is bothering you." And when the 15 minutes are done say-"OK we are done with our worry session. I know what you are worried. NOW WE CAN LET IT GO until after dinner" . If she wants to keep worrying tell her that she has to wait until after dinner. Each time she says a worry tell her -"we are going to talk about that later". And when you do have your bi-daily sessions face her, look into her eyes and really listen. But only for the designated time. Each time she wants to worry about something tell her she has to wait until ( if it is late) after breakfast the next day or ( if it is early) until after dinner. I don't know how bad her dementia is-if her dementia is so severe that she cannot grasp time changing this won't work. And drugs are probably your only option. But you never know.

OCD is horrible - for everyone involved. I believe even Freud said he did not understand it.

Best wishes!!!!!

( sorry so long)
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Hey, FedUp, I most certainly didn't mean to suggest you, or anyone else in particular was inept. I only meant to say that some of us were inept some of the time because many of us are NOT in the professional caregiving business with all the shift reliefs, and equipment, etc. Your reminder to caregivers to give themselves respite and protection from burnout is well taken, and much needed. People talking and giving feedback can sometimes be taken as criticism that didn't mean to be that way. You were definitely not being judged inept or unsuitable by be. It was a "general" description that could apply to many of us in many instances, because we're only human beings doing the best we can, in a job we were never trained for. Kudos to you, FedUp. You work hard, I can tell. 17 years is a long duty. Don't take my words wrong or personally, because it wasn't meant that way. (Now where's the party? I need to party....am I invited?)
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PS I worked in neuro-ICU for 2 years after a year of pre-med. My decisions are more accurate and my care more consistent than you get in a hospital. I will not waste my precious resources (i.e. my last nerves) on idle chitchat blathering on about over or undercooked food to cope with an underlying depression that cannot be fixed. Grow up boys and girls or screw yourself on these wasted efforts. I have EARNED the right to tell the truth. I am a burned out, nay incinerated caregiver with NO respite or relief and more ca-ca to come. If I live long enough to keep caring for them.
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I am not an inept caregiver or unsuited to the task only because I refuse to drive a stake through my own heart to make dear Mother-in-Law happy. Caregivers have duties 24/7/365 without relief. There is no second or third shift to take over after we have spent a full day of feeding, bathing, changing beds, diapers, dispensing meds et al. If nurses had to work under these conditions, THEY would be judged inept or unfit, too! Because I DARE to remind other caregivers that THEY need respite and they NEED to protect themselves, these labels come out of the woodwork. Too bad no one else tells the truth here. I have 17 years of constant caregiving going on with no end in sight. I must be doing something right since I got stuck with all four parents, my in-laws and stepmother plus a half-dead husband. C'mon over where the party NEVER stops!
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Sorry, part of that above comment got repeated, and I didn't know how to go back and edit and remove that. Doesn't work like facebook, etc. Sorry about that. I'm technically challenged.
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This is again part of the Kool-Aid that if you drink enough of will kill you and then there will be nobody to endure the nonsense. Nothing you do will fix this. The sooner you get that, the better off you will be. Do not answer her back or try to argue her into believing you. She will not. She is not capable of doing so. Simply say, "I am not going to talk about that anymore. I have other problems." Or don't answer that query at all. Change the subject. What is ignored will go away. And if she gets hungry enough, she will eat. You can't get pigs to fly. That's why you need to save yourself from this endless barrage which is a generalized anxiety that is coming out on this particular issue. If it isn't this issue, it will be another one. You can't keep dangling at the end of this bungee cord that will only snap someday and leave you plunging to your death. Been there, done that. Telling the truth here.
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Scared states some valid comments. Check this out: "The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Takes on Alzheimer's interviewed caregivers of people with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia and found the average cost of care for an Alzheimer's patient is $56,800 per year. Sixty percent of that average cost — $34,500 per year — is covered by caregivers and the rest of the family themselves. The bulk of this is in the form of uncompensated care, but the out-of-pocket costs to the family add up — an average of $7,259 per year.

The family of a patient living independently or with an informal caregiver pays about $850 a year in related costs. But once that loved one is moved to a health care facility, the families' costs skyrocket to $20,535 per year, according to the Shriver Report. This money goes toward adult day care, nursing home, assisted living and paid caregivers such as companions and home health aides. And that care can go on for years — one-third of caregivers have been in their role for more than five years, says the report."
As Scared says, many people just aren't cut out to be caregivers. And yet they are forced into it, because the outrageous costs of caregiving facilities make them unaccessable to so many people. Therefore, many inept souls are out there struggling to do the best they can, feeling like failures, ruining their own heath, and engaging in a lose/lose situation. Pitiful, but true. :-/

The bulk of that average $34,500 cost — $27,200 — is uncompensated caregiving that helps 70 percent of dementia patients live in the community, rather than in a costly nursing home or assisted living facility. Family members are helping with bathing, feeding and housekeeping, and half of all caregivers have invited a loved one to come and live with them. The remaining 20 percent of patients living in the community are living with a spouse, independently or in another arrangement.
this out:
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Yes, good answer about the cooking show. But if you don't have time to do that (it's fun, but could be more time involved than you have) you could take the part about the timer, and just say, "now this pork chop needs to be cooked for so many minutes, so I'm just going to set the timer to make sure it's cooked properly!") Just make it up. She hopefully will buy it. But your one comment I can totally relate to: "I get so frustrated and angry. I know it's over-reacting, but I can't help myself." I find myself in the same situation so many times. I have to keep saying to myself (almost like a mantra) keep calm....don't react...don't lose it....take it easy.) It kinda helps. Probably the same premise as counting to ten. Because my Mom obsesses like crazy! And I agree, it just seems to get worse. So we have to come up w/ calming tactics or we'd be losing it all the time. So, as Christina says, Bon appetit! Just let your Mom's obsessive comments go in one ear and out the other. Keep smiling. That's what I do alot. And have a glass of wine as you cook. That helps too!!
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I wish I had the patience and fortitude of Maria. Not everyone is cut out to be a caregiver, but we have to learn, often by mistakes which hurt everyone. Can't feel guilty about that, either, because we aren't healthcare professionals and some of us are just not wired to handle this. I think it's ridiculous that so many believe we should just learn to cope with this disease like it's normal and OK. It isn't. It's a disease...it destroys the patient and unless you find a way to deal with it, it will destroy the caregiver, too. Why no one will extend the help to us at a reasonable cost is beyond me. They have closed the mental institutions and put these poor souls out on the street to deal with a world they cannot understand or expect their unqualified family to deal with it. Doesn't sound like a plan to me. This problem is so widespread but the government fat cats just close their eyes to the dilemma we are facing. If it happens in their family, they have FREE, upscale medical care that WE are paying for via our taxes. That is just wrong. I thought this was supposed to be a government by the people, FOR the people...not just a select few.
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Sit down with her and watch a cooking show together. Maybe Ina Garten. She explains how long to cook something and at what degree. Have Mom write down the directions. Fix the meal together and set the oven and the timer for exactly what Ina said. How could it not be done?
I'm sure you are a great cook, but whenever she doubts it, tell her you're following the directions of so and so. If she starts to distrust Ina, then switch to Giada or the one with the weird bleached hair.
It's going to get much worse, and I hope you can eventually place her in a memory care home. You must be strong and pick your battles, forget the minor annoyances.
Bon appetit!! I had to say that:) xo
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In my experience with my mother, I have found that when she feels safe and secure, when she has a set routine and activities, her agitation and delusions are kept at bay. My mother has always been a paranoid, obsessive-compulsive type, and those traits became intensified as her dementia grew (we didn't even know it was dementia; we just thought it was Mom, because she'd always been that way to a degree). Once I learned more about dementia care and as my mother's issues grew worse, I became more adept at handling her quirks. Some things you will have to let go and others you will learn how to alleviate her anxiety. Try various approaches and see how they work. Perhaps when she worries about your meal not being cooked enough, you can leave hers on the stove for another few minutes. Maybe you could use a Sharpie to mark when certain foods are opened and let her know that certain foods are good for XX length of time after opening (print out something from a government or university web site and post it on the fridge to show her). I'm throwing out a few approaches here -- try different ones and see what sticks. I have found that when they are obsessing about something, it's because they are fearful because they can't remember. Help your mom to remember in a loving, kind way and that may go along way to alleviating her anxiety. Try to remember she can't help it; it's a brain disease causing her to act this way (even though it's still in keeping with her earlier, nondiseased persona).
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Klonopin has helped my mom's excessive worrying tremendously, also a visit once a month from a geriatric psychiatrist.
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obsessive behavior is my pet peeve. i think all you can do is try to downplay their concerns and change the subject. does it work? hell no. tomorrow it will be the same crap.. the us and uk governments are considering changes to food exp dates because theyre being misused to get idiots to throw out good food and buy more. according to the fda, if a food item smells good eat it. my mom likes to read drug data sheets then obsess for days over seizures that a freakin rhesus monkey had. its enough to drive ya nuts..
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