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At what point in a parent's decline is it appropriate to really start pushing things and doing things that will profoundly anger them? In the case of my mother she is an extremely proud independent woman who cannot admit that she is having trouble taking care of herself or even making proper decisions about going to the doctor. I am considering talking to her doctor behind her back, but if she figures it out - and she might, she's still smart - she will be extremely angry and possibly shut off communication with me. I do have permission to speak to the doctor but my mother gave it with the idea that I would talk to the doc in a crisis. Not that I would call up behind her back to "rat" on her about the things she lies to the doctor about and problems she won't admit even to herself. To me all this feels like it is about role-reversal, at what point do I say it's my job to be the adult and let the chips fall where they may?

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The extra info on your situation helps to understand your situation.Due to your health issues and mom's personality disorder, you really have your work cut out for you. Seems like you have things in order for now. Just keep at it as best you can and try to keep your cool with mom. No sense rocking the boat and making it worse. Keep talking to her doctor and see if you can't get her on your side in this matter. that would help you greatly. Sorry you are battling your own health issues too! Hope you can get mom some help so you can relax and get yourself better. Good luck!
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You sound really strong Purple! Dealing with a lot on both ends. But it's so good that your ex-dil is able to realize when she's getting out of control - my mother has never realized she has emotional illness. Still lucky grandson to have you!
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Yes - we do all we can to make his life as "normal" as possible. She really IS a good mother most of the time, and now that she is older she has learned when she is starting to veer out of control & she checks herself in to get balanced again...thank God for that. Not nearly as much drama as we have dealt with in the past - I think our grandson grounds her more than anyone else can. My son shares custody with her, but lives about 45 minutes away (we, on the other hand, live 10) so she knows that she can drop him off anytime she needs to. My mother doesn't understand any of this "weird" relationship we have - she feels that the DIL should just "behave herself" - she can't even BEGIN to fathom what we have been through with her or why we do what we do...I have given up trying to explain it. Soooo with my mother living here now & all her problems, and dealing with the other stuff with the DIL, I'm really surprised I haven't had a nervous breakdown myself yet! haha!
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Oh and wanted to add too that I'm so sorry your ex-DIL is borderline - I bet you are a lifeline for your grandson. It can be so hard on a child dealing with a parent with that disorder.
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Purple, you got it - this is exactly what I'm dealing with. I guess I should have put more about the personality disorder stuff at the beginning post, but it feels like it needs a novel just to give context, ya know? The planting seeds idea sounds like the way to go. Sometimes in my frustration I am just too direct with her - you need this, you need help with that, doing X puts you in danger.....saying those things does not work. And yes narcissism is in the picture too. Lots and lots of therapy for me over the years. The one thing my therapists didn't focus on that in hindsight was essential is that when one has a PD'd parent their upcoming old age is a train wreck waiting to happen for the adult child - they need to know this and be prepared. I wasn't. Still trying to figure out what to do....if my mother had normal mental health supporting her current old-age limitations would not be that difficult at all. Anyway, thanks again so much for your support!
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My ex daughter-in-law is a borderline, so I know EXACTLY what the black side is. If that is the same situation you are in, then you have my utmost sympathy. We walk a tightrope to stay on the white side for my grandson's sake, but sometimes you just have to do what you feel is right and hope she understands you are only concerned about her wellbeing. I know as a result of my ex DIL's manipulative behaviors, we have become experts at manipulation ourselves where she is concerned. Every suggestion must be seen by her to be "her" idea - if she feels you're trying to take control of anything she shuts us down, and then comes back with an altered version of what we were trying to suggest, but this time it's "her" suggestion and it's okay. It sounds so ridiculous to anyone who has never dealt with this disorder, but we play along, again, for our grandson's benefit. I guess the only suggestion I have now is to try planting seeds of suggestions while insisting you're only concerned about her and hope they root. If not, there really isn't much you can do but hope she gets help when she really needs it. Unfortunately narcissism and borderline go hand in hand, so she is most likely creating issues for your attention on the one hand, while pushing you away with the other. ugh.
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Thanks Purple, yep rock and hard place, devil and the deep blue sea. I do currently have permission to talk to this doctor, but this doctor is young and naive straight out of med school - I know this from someone else who sees her. This may literally be the first personality disordered sneaky older person she has ever treated, so I worry about how well she'll be able to shield that she talked to me or see through the lies. Once my mother knows that she may "split me black" if you know what that means and then my ability to help her at a distance will go to zero. Sometimes I am tempted to say she is deliberately creating this situation so it's okay whatever its results, but then I do still love her and don't want to have something awful have to happen before she can have any help.
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Personality disorder & your own health issues...answers probably would've been different if we had known that from the beginning...lol! ;) In that case, it seems you're between a rock and a hard spot no matter which direction you go. I would definitely call her doctor and voice your concerns - they're not going to rat you out - as her daughter, you're allowed to voice concerns & give the doctor information you have that you feel he/she should know. Just be aware that if your name is not on the HIPAA release, then her doctor will not be allowed to release any information about her to you.
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Purple, actually I can help her on a day-to-day basis by helping to set up services, interview and screen people to help her in her home with housecleaning and installing safety measures in the house. Setting up meals on wheels. She will allow NONE of these things even though I have offered many times. Currently for her to move close to me my own health and life situation would have to be much better than it is...longer term yes something has to be worked out.

Eddie, battle of wills - yes! Absolutely, and if I were to say to her what you suggested her anger would be so huge she might literally cut me out of her life. Then I won't be able to help her at all. That's why it is such a big deal of when I cross the line (like talk to the doc) to do things that will set her off. She has a personality disorder and has never been one who yields to another - no matter what the cost to her or those who love her.

Deefer, yes if I were able to be there and evaluate in person it would make a big difference but I'm dealing with serious health issues of my own right now. I literally could not make the trip there in my current condition so I'm trying to do what I can from a distance. My relative there isn't able/willing to do any hands on caregiving but I do trust her assessment of what's going on. Right now my mother is still able to live independently but struggles with mobility and balance, also judgment issues....I think she could be okay at home a bit longer if she had some regular in-home help (which she so far refuses).
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@fairydust - Ok - with that much distance between you, there won't be a "role reversal", as you aren't there to help lift any of the burden off of her on a daily basis. Your mom is hanging on tooth and nail to maintain control because she has to - if she gives up control to someone who is "many states away", where does that leave her when she needs you & you're not there? I think it's unrealistic to expect that from her at this point. Have you considered asking her to move closer to you?
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FD:

I don't think it's about reversing roles, but about a battle of wills that so far you're losing.

Instead of talking to the doc, be straight up with your mother and tell her what you told us: [Mom, I love you dearly but you're] "an extremely proud independent woman who cannot admit that she is having trouble taking care of herself or even making proper decisions about going to the doctor." If she gets under your skin again, don't say she's stubborn as a mule no matter how tempted you are to do so. It'll just make things worse.

Be ready to cite situations when this has happened, as she'll try to flip the script on you. If she doesn't budge, share your concerns with the doctor in her presence.
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Fairydust, Are you concerned about you mom's physical health or mental health? When is the last time you actually spent some time with her?
If it's memory loss you are concerned with, do you get updates from the family member that sees your mom? Are you worried by phone conversations you have with her?
I'm sure you have read this here somewhere else, but I will tell you my experience with my mom. She has Parkinsons and dementia and I have been caring for her full time for 5 years now. I have 6 sibs and none of us new how bad she had gotten memory wise, and I live in the apartment right next to her, my entire life! When someone first realizes they are having memory issues, they find their own ways of covering it up. By the time we realize what's going on, finances are usually a big issue as it is very hard for them to keep up with bills etc. They don't want your help because they don't want to lose control, but the main reason is that they know things are already messed up and they don't want you to know.
What I'm trying to say is you need to take some time and go stay with your mom to evaluate what is really going on. You can't rely on second hand info because your mom will be very crafty about making things look normal on the outside. If your instincts about mom and her doctor are right, then maybe she should not be living alone anymore.
Your mom's behavior as you describe it, sounds like the typical beginnings of dementia. Come up with an excuse to stay with her for a week and check her bills, etc. and talk to her doctor. Observe well and see what you need to see for your own peace of mind. Good luck!
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Thanks Purplesushi, love your avatar. Thanks for sharing your experience too but same issue as before I'm not local so I can't go in person. Right now my mother is holding on to control of everything as hard as she can, that's part of the problem really. I've offered many times to help her find paid help for homemaking assistance and the like but she puts up massive amounts of resistance and evasions.
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Hi Nancy, thank for your reply. You helped me realize I left out a couple of important details. I'm an only child living many states away so I can't go to the visit with her. There is one relative in the city with my mother but my mother won't allow her to come to the doctor visit with her. I do think your idea of talking to the doctor with her would solve some of my concerns but alas I can't do it!
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I go to all of my mom's doctor appointments with her - mostly because she can't hear worth a darn & there has to be a "good" set of ears there, but also because that's my chance to ask questions. I'll say things like "my mom and i were wondering if....." "I was asking Mom about ____ the other day - can you clarify something for me?" etc. - that way she can be part of the conversation if she wants to be also. It's funny - she tells her sisters that I go with her because I think of questions she doesn't think of...not because she can't hear/understand what the doctor is saying half the time (but "there's nothing wrong" with her hearing...haha) She has signed all of the HIPAA forms that allow them to release information to me - sometimes I tell her I talked to them, sometimes I don't - it depends on what the subject is. My mom knows she can't keep track of everything anymore - she just has too darn many doctors, medications & appointments to keep straight and she gets confused on details now. I know what you mean about role-reversal though, and in my case it just sort of "happened" once I started taking responsibility for more and more things as time has gone on. She has started acting more and more like a child in some regards also - it's a really strange dynamic to be sure. I always say that when my 3 kids were all under the age of 5, it was easier than putting up with my Mom now - at least I could tell the kids "i don't care if you don't want ___ for dinner - that's what we're having", etc. & I can't do that with my Mom. I don't think there's ever a point where you have to come out & tell your Mom that a role reversal is going to occur...I think it's just a natural shift that happens once she learns to give up control of certain things.
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Fairydust, I'm all for talking to her doctor, but not behind her back. Make sure you go with her to all her dr appts so when you go the next time, voice your concerns to him IN FRONT OF HER. I do that when I go with my mother-in-law to all her doctor appts. I think there's no sense of hiding what's happening to her, especially to the one person who could actually do something helpful for her. She won't like it I assure you, but at least you'll get it out there as to what you're seeing, then she can't lie to him anymore. Also, make sure you have it all written down so you don't forget or get flustered when you start talking. I just tell my m-i-l 'I'm going to talk to the doctor about you now". I've been doing that for so long now, that she doesn't put up a fuss (much). ha
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