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I was just wondering something, and hoping you all could give me your advice. My mom (79, with moderate stage dementia) more often then not cries and asks me for help doing ADL's.

Part of me wants to step in and assist her with these basic things. It hurts me to refuse her. However, I've been warned against "babying" her, and have been told that I should encourage her to do as much on her own as she possibly can.

When I do not help her, she does manage to complete her task (getting dressed, for example.) But she does seem to be suffering, and as I said, it hurts to do nothing.

My question is, when do you think I should step-in? Am I doing the right thing by continuing to have her try to do these things on her own?
Thank you for helping.
XO

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Everyone has given helpful answers. Proceed with caution because you don't want to do things for her that she can do for herself. However, if she's confused, you may want to give her a little help and let her finish. Balance. That's the key.

You do want to be prepared to move into providing more help in the future in whatever form will be needed so make sure the legal papers such POA for both health and finances plus any other legal papers your mother's estate attorney may suggest are in place.

You seem to have excellent instincts. Please let us know how you are doing and keep tapping into this wonderful community for experienced comments, suggestions, advice and sympathy.
Remember to take care of yourself, as well.
Carol
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It would be very interesting to have a Nanny Cam that records her "suffering" when you are not around. You may be quite surprised at how spry she becomes when no one is there to perform for. She may be limited or she may be playing you like a fiddle. There's only one way to find out.
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Crying can also be a part of the dementia. I've experience it with my aunts and now my mother. They get you all upset and then they move on while you're left feeling worried and guilty. I've learned not to react because I do want my mother to stay as independent as possible. She takes longer to do things, but can still do them. She complains, but when I offer to do something for her, she refuses and does it herself. Regular self-care and house chores help to fill their day, keep their brains stimulated, and their bodies moving. You will know when to step in and offer help and/or get some in-home care.
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Proceed With caution is right..she may not realize what she is doing due to her perception of things.She may cry that she needs your help yet when you are not around she is perfectly able to perform tasks.I have had patients that claimed up and down ,one side and the other that they could not walk..yet when no one was around ..amazingly they made their way to the bathroom and back...so proceed with caution and let her do what she can when she will..dementia can interfere with perceptions...if you catch her in the act ,she may not respond the way you would like,she may get angry and defensive ..just let her do what she can when she wants,encourage her to do as much as she can despite her actions when you are not around.Offer praise that she can do so much on her own..she may start to show you what she can do..take care and good luck..this is hard.
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Your mother is almost 80 yrs old. She will need more help in the future with or without dementia (a much over used term --stuck on almost every elder in your mother's age bracket by medical professionals). I would try to encourage her to do as much as she can on her own. Realize as the person ages everything takes lots more time to complete as it used to. If some things of daily living are taking too much time for her, see if you can get clothing that is easier for her to manage. I would try to streamline the "activities" that are taking too much out of her. I would make sure she is able to safely bath herself as a fall in the bathroom can be deadly.

I would lose contact with whoever said not to "baby" her. This person wants to control rather than assist the elder. The elder is not an baby, they have lived a full life and they are merely dealing with the frustrations of their bodies not responding like they did in the prime of their life. Too often medical professionals treat the elder as someone who is not worthy of their effort. I would let your knowledge of your mother, your ability to simplify her tasks of daily living be your guide. Also with an elder, they have good and bad days, days when they can do more and days they can do less--just part of the aging process.
Good luck.
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My MIL lived with us for four years. I helped her in and out of the shower daily for three of those years. I laid out her clothes, but she dressed independently. It was my feeling that she should continue to do as much as possible for herself so as not to lose her abilities altogether. Wound care began to take a great deal of time, so we cut down to showering 3 times weekly, and got had an aide to assist with bathing, dressing, and grooming on those days. (I still did the wound care.) The aides did not have the time to allow her to dress independently. On interim days, dressing became increasingly difficult for my MIL as she began to lose her skills and physical stamina. One day I came into the room and she had put on her mastectomy bra with the "breasts" protruding off her back! I began helping with the bra, but still encouraged her to do as much as she could do by herself. It's a slippery slope when you begin taking over more and more responsibilities. I also thinks independence promotes more self-confidence and self-esteem.
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It's a delicate balance. Why she needs to be as independent as she is able, she also needs to know she is loved. Help her a little, praise her abilities, encourage her independence. Know some days they need more help than others. Trust your gut, you know your Mom's needs better than anyone.
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Perhaps some of her angst is that she's afraid she'll fall and/or struggles to get things done and/or it tires her. How about a compromise. You are there to observe, assist/guide her, and provide security as SHE actually does the task.
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Just be careful. I've lived with a 79 yr old man with parkinson and dementia and he is a good con artist. When ppl are around he pretends he is helpless only if a beautiful woman is around he can run a marathon. He constantly wants to be served like a king and treats some women he knows like slaves and sex objects. He does not dare try that on me cause he knows better. He steals when he goes out and says if he gets caught he will blame it on his illness. I've had to tell him the next time he does I will notify the manager of the store. Yes I'm sympathetic to his illness but I know he also using it to walk all over ppl without a care if it hurts them or not. So my advice don't let her bring you down cause they will
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Lots of good advice - and oh yes it's amazing what goes on when you're not looking! - but in the end only you, being right there, can judge what she can manage if she tries. Encourage her to do it on her own; if she's struggling prompt or help her; if it's becoming humiliating for her then do it for her. Just don't set her up to fail. And allow for good days/bad days - sometimes my mother weeps silently because I haven't wrung her face flannel out for her; other times I get my head bitten off for tucking her chair under her at the table (it's an old-fashioned hardwood dining chair, not light).
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