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My mom is a vascular dementia resident in assisted living.She is 79 and I am one of the siblings that has a difficult time saying no.She is mobile and still wants to continue drinking and taking prescription pain pills. My dad died two years ago and she always ask me to take her to eat where she can order wine. She also buys little bottles of wine at the grocery when I take her shopping. She has type 1 diabetes. The assisted living home can't give her care when she drinks if they know she is drinking.. It isn't allowed. I have brought her the two little bottles when she begs me. I have been told to stop by my sister and other family members but I have a hard time not giving her what she wants. She had always been a drinker and pill popper. That is why she has some of the medical problems she has now.

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I would caution you against trying to interpret one study about the benefits of moderate drinking and applying them to your mother who has both diabetes and vascular dementia.

In the US, moderate drinking is not discouraged for people who are healthy and lead a healthy lifestyle including sufficient amounts of exercise. One drink per day is usually considered to be 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of spirits (hard liquor such as gin or whiskey). Each delivers about 12 to 14 grams of alcohol.

That said, you are not dealing with a healthy, active woman, which means that the health benefits likely are not outweighing the risks to her. Sometimes we have to put our big boy pants on and stop enabling our parents. Learn to say no.
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I guess this is going to be one of those days when, despite proofing my answer a few times before posting, I immediately think of something else just as soon as I hit "post comment."

I don't intend this to be critical, but in terms of why you enable her, you might even want to think about getting some professional input to address this issue.

Unfortunately, it's not just your mom's issue; it's yours as well.
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I think that before the wine can be taken away, there are some underlying issues to address:

1. Why your mother drinks;

2. Why you feel pressured/obligated (I'm using those terms even though there's really not a good word to express what you've written) to enable her;

3. What you can substitute, if anything, to help ease her off the drinking, and

4. Whether she should be going to Al Anon.


1. This is a question only family can explore and answer; it might not be a bad idea to discuss it with your siblings to see if you can get at the cause of your mother's drinking.

But you probably realize that if she's been drinking for years, and if it's been a coping mechanism, it's not going to change w/o professional intervention (such as Al Anon) even if the AL facility demands it.

If she has chronic issues that motivate her to use pain pills, address those to see if there are other ways of mitigating the pain - therapy, perhaps.

This is I think the hardest part of the issue you're facing.

2. This also could be based on a variety of issues - she's your mother, you're trying to take care of her, it's hard to challenge one's mother even when we are adults, or there could be other similar reasons. This I think is something you'll have to figure out for yourself, and if you can figure out the "why", then you can work on the "how" aspects.

3. You might try grape juice, or fruit juice or something that doesn't affect her diabetic status. This also could be a challenge; perhaps the AL facility has a dietician that can help you with this.

If your mother complains that it's just grape juice (or just "whatever"), tell her there's been legislation at the federal level mandating the decrease of alcohol levels in wine, so she won't be tasting that "punch" she used to get from wine.

You can tell her there's a shortage of grapes in France, Michigan or California, or there's a shortage of ingredients required to make wine. Do some research on how wine is made and come up with something plausible, but something she can't verify.

I believe Pam Stegma makes her own wine; perhaps she can suggest some critical ingredient that's suddenly become in short supply, something realistic that you can use as a fib with your mother. Maybe even a shortage of glass bottles!

4. This issue also turns on issues No. 1 and 2. Personally, I think it's wise and advisable. With pain meds and diabetes, mixing in wine is a volatile combination.
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Tell her no and blame it on the assisted living facility. Since she's always self-medicated and now has dementia giving her a reasonable explanation why she can't drink may not help. There are numerous reasons why she shouldn't be drinking but don't go into all of that, I don't think she'll care. Blaming in on the assisted living facility takes the burden of being the bad guy off your shoulders. If she continues to argue with you don't take her shopping when you go.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3225352/pdf/vhrm-7-685.pdf
This is a study showing protective benefits from alcohol in the elderly with vascular dementia ( even with diabetes).
Read it and see what you think. Perhaps discuss it with your moms dr.
The part about AL not serving her. What does that mean? Would she be in danger of being asked to leave?
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It sounds like she's jeopardizing her care at Assisted Living if she drinks. That reason alone is enough to stop buying her alcohol. If she gets kicked out of there, where would she go? If she was able to live on her own, I'd look at it differently. But she needs care and that care is dependent on her not drinking. Unless you want her to live with you, I think you need to think about her best interests and not just what her immediate want is. We all want things we can't have, that's just a part of life. And we all learn that you can't always get what you want (as the Rolling Stones said)...
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living to someone elses expectations isnt living at all . dying on your own terms is downright heroic in my opinion .
the old guy who trained me in masonry went thru something similar . he would take his mother in tennessee cheap cigarettes from indiana . his siblings were outraged . he wanted his mother to enjoy her life . the siblings wanted to push their own selfish views . old man holt didnt live in la la land . he was a realist in the here and now . tomorrow isnt a guarantee . not even for the delusional do gooders .
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