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Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 5,849
Registered: ‎03-11-2010

Elderly Mom. What am I to do?

My mother is almost 92. She is mentally sharp as a tack but has cardiac problems and severe osteoarthritis. I live almost 5 hours away but visited Mom two weeks ago and things seemed under control even though she lives alone. Just this week she didn't feel well, weak and slightly dizzy. She only associates with neighbors her age and had one drive her to urgent care. She's feeling better now and will see her GP and her cardiologist within the next few days. My problem is my mother refuses to admit she needs help. She can afford the fees assiciated with special services but is too cheap to pay and refuses to let family pay. I offered to sign her up for grocery delivery, or meals on wheels, or other services that the county senior services people advised me about. I do not want to treat my mother like a child because she is a competent, albeit stubborn, adult. One of my daughters is going to send her groceries as a Mother's Day gift but that is not a longterm solution. If we were to send food again, Mom would not accept it...and yet she has no desire to cook anymore, is probably not getting adequate hydration or nutrition. She knows all this but refuses any and all suggestions and help. I don't want this to turn into an emergency. I'm leaving the country for two weeks in May and fear what may happen in my absence, but even telling my mother of my fears did not move her to give in at all. She simply answers that she's fine. Do I let her continue this way or aggressively impose my will and damage our relationship?
Regular Contributor
Posts: 236
Registered: ‎12-07-2010

Re: Elderly Mom. What am I to do?

Ok, she won't admit that she needs help. Have you tried asking her to do it because it would make you feel so much better and not feel all this worry? She would be helping you and giving you peace of mind. Maybe turn it around and ask her what she would want if she thought that you needed help.

Respected Contributor
Posts: 4,980
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: Elderly Mom. What am I to do?

As my grandmother slowly developed dementia she began to forget to eat and even to drink fluids.

Make sure she has some ready made meals in her home that she can make with little fuss. Think about what she likes, what she'll eat. Include snacks you know she'll munch on like cheese and crackers, fruit, etc. Maybe even prepackaged fruits and puddings the kids take in their lunch boxes. My grandmother preferred instant coffee as she aged. Simpler to make than putting the percolator on the stove.

Your mom is of a different generation where self sufficiency was seen as a virtue. If there is an agency in your area ask them how to best approach your mom to offer your help.

Super Contributor
Posts: 611
Registered: ‎03-10-2010

Re: Elderly Mom. What am I to do?

Even though I lived only 5 minutes from my 93 year old mom, I got her a Medic Alert necklace. I don't think that is the name- can't think what they are actually called, but you can press one for assistance if you fall or are in trouble.

I believe you must think ahead and have a plan ready for her because at 92, she is only going to get more frail. My mom was sharp too up until a month or so before she passed away. One night I went over to check on her and she had barricaded herself in her apartment and was terribly confused. I will always wonder if she had a stroke causing that. Things can change in an instant.

BTW, my mom had meals on wheels for quite a while. Unfortunately, the meals were not very good, although were nutrious. I am sure it all depends on where you live.

God bless you and your mom. It's so hard when they get old.

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 5,849
Registered: ‎03-11-2010

Re: Elderly Mom. What am I to do?

Thanks for the replies. Mom does have what I call the I've-fallen-and-I-can't-get-up pendant and she has used it twice already over the past two years, once when she fell over her vacuum cleaner and broke her shoulder in Jan 2012. She recovered and promised to get a cleaning person but after one visit she fired the woman because " She doesn't clean like I do." I will do more investigating of services to see if there is one that isn't an all-or-nothing-affair since those meal programs are all prepared and Mom rejects them as unnecessary. I talked to her about not waiting until she is in a dire physical situation before getting help, and I even used maternal guilt, as in how she's making me worry with her refusals, but all Mom says is she'll be fine. The denial is palpable.
Honored Contributor
Posts: 18,885
Registered: ‎10-04-2010

Re: Elderly Mom. What am I to do?

Seek an attorney. Elder care speciality is good. You may need to do a guardianship. At 92, (dad's going on 90) she may require more than she lets on. They can do that. Do you have a Senior Center? Someone should be in charge for her needs. Esp since you're gone for 2 wks soon. Big burden of responsibility on you if alone. But take care of her needs and you're going to do better, even in your absence. They did for us, now it's our turn to do for them. Don't let her bamboozle you, even if she's strong-willed, you then won't have any regrets of "I should have done this or that". JMHO

Respected Contributor
Posts: 4,339
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: Elderly Mom. What am I to do?

My grandmother was this way, and we lived on the other side of the country.

She refused help. She said her friends would help her. But she was in her 90s and her friends were all in their late 80s and had their own.health issues.

We found out that she had an.illness that she didn't tell us about.

In the end, we had to get her a live in caregiver, she had no choice.

Looking back, I.think she just wanted to go on as long as possible on her own and then.pass away.

My grandmother was a great person, but a very stubborn person.

So all I can.say is do.the best you can. She's choosing the path she wants to be on at this point and there's not a lot you can do as long as she's still mentally acute.

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.--Marcus Tullius Cicero
Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 5,849
Registered: ‎03-11-2010

Re: Elderly Mom. What am I to do?

I achieved a great accomplishment today. After much cajoling, I convinced my mother to allow me to set up a grocery delivery service for her. I registered her and placed an order that will be delivered to her door. Thank goodness I found a $15-off coupon or the entire order could have been jeopardized. I gave my brother and my daughters the password so any of us can place her orders. If only my mother would take advantage of all the services out there for her, life would be safer for her and easier for me. Still, I feel I've made progress.
Respected Contributor
Posts: 4,398
Registered: ‎03-19-2010

Re: Elderly Mom. What am I to do?

On 5/1/2014 Marienkaefer2 said:

My grandmother was this way, and we lived on the other side of the country.

She refused help. She said her friends would help her. But she was in her 90s and her friends were all in their late 80s and had their own.health issues.

We found out that she had an.illness that she didn't tell us about.

In the end, we had to get her a live in caregiver, she had no choice.

Looking back, I.think she just wanted to go on as long as possible on her own and then.pass away.

My grandmother was a great person, but a very stubborn person.

So all I can.say is do.the best you can. She's choosing the path she wants to be on at this point and there's not a lot you can do as long as she's still mentally acute.

You are so right! My mom insisted on her choices and eventually I had to give up trying to help her. Needless to say it is a very stressful time!! Good luck.

Trusted Contributor
Posts: 3,874
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: Elderly Mom. What am I to do?

Congratulations on the progress you made today.........and a lot of us understand and feel your pain. My MIL is much like yours -- very stubborn and self-sufficient and reluctant to accept help. At this point she is nearly 97 and in a nursing home after spending several years in a senior apartment, three years in an assisted living, two years in another AL, and now finally (after multiple falls, breaking her pelvis and five ribs and no longer able to safely walk, bathe, visit the bathroom, etc. without help), is in a nursing home. She has outlived most of her money, and we have just gotten approved for Medicaid assistance for her to stay in the nursing home.

None of these moves came about until growing health and personal problems and illnesses or accidents forced changes. She was totally in denial about her declining abilities and growing needs. We barely stopped her from buying a multi-level condo with upstairs bedrooms when she was in her 80's. Taking her car keys when she could no longer safely drive was a major undertaking. We talked, coaxed, reasoned, argued -- but as she has become less able to function without help, we have repeatedly had to step in, move her, and "put" her in a series of situations where she could get adequate care. Several times we have moved her after hospitalizations or long convalescence periods following serious injuries or illnesses. Sadly, sometimes you have to wait till they "hit the wall" (or the floor!) and pick them up and take them to the next level of care. It would be so much easier and less traumatic if old people would be reasonable and accept the realities of aging and cooperate in making the changes that must be made -- but many don't. You have to do the best you can and take charge when safety and health become real issues.

If you can, enlist the help of other family members, her doctor, her pastor, family friends, and if need be an eldercare attorney to help move her along. It will be great if you can get her living will and medical directives set up and get a power of attorney so you can handle her affairs if she is suddenly incapacitated. I don't know what DH would have done if he didn't have POA for his mother, as she is now too frail to care for herself and too mentally confused to make decisions or handle her own affairs at all!