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New here-wondering what my first step should be?
Posted: Monday, November 18, 2019 9:40 PM
Joined: 11/18/2019
Posts: 2

My Mom is 90 and lives in her own house 2 states away.  She is doing ok except she has lost a lot of weight and has the occasional hallucination.  Once the police were called, and many times a sister that lives nearby rushed over there to check on things. The general MD said she has dementia and there is no medication that would likely help.  And the dementia usually advances rather quickly when it starts to manifest at this age.

We recently set up an in-home helper, but my Mom didn't like her and doesn't want help with anything.  We feel that she needs to continue with the home helper just to have someone checking on her.

And I don't know how well she is eating.

I've invited her to come live with me, but she doesn't want to leave her house.

So what were your first steps? And how do you convince a parent to do something they don't want to do? And long should she continue living alone?




Posted: Monday, November 18, 2019 10:33 PM
Joined: 2/6/2018
Posts: 285

Welcome. This group is an invaluable source of information, wisdom, and support. 

I had a similar situation with my Dad: diagnosed in his mid-80's, living out of state, and strongly communicating that he doesn't need or want help or to move etc. 

My first step was to get on a plane asap and arrive at my Dad's house unannounced so I could assess the situation myself. What I found was horrifying: much worse than what others, including family, had been telling me on the phone. Cooking, shopping, handling finances and bills, driving, household safety, taking medications correctly...these are all areas that your Mom may be struggling with right now and that may be jeopardizing her well being. (You may have already been in her home recently... I'm mentioning this just in case.) 

How long should your Mom continue to live alone? It sounds like she may be unsafe living alone right now. Losing a lot of weight, hallucinations, need for police and other emergency visits... that doesn't sound like "she is doing okay."  Her specific situation regarding all the areas listed above really dictates how much help she needs in the home and for what period of time (if any) she is safe being alone. A good doctor and thorough assessment (see below) can help guide you as well. 

How do you convince her to do something she doesn't want to do? You can't. Her judgement is impaired. The time of consulting with her on what SHE thinks she needs is gone. You, or whoever is going to take responsibility for her wellbeing going forward needs to make the decisions about the need for caregivers and where to live based on what is safe and appropriate for her. She will likely not agree but will adjust in time. There are lots of tips here on how to handle and communicate the changes. And if she hasn't already handled legal stuff, such as a POA, that will need to be addressed asap.

Finally, regarding the doctor's comment about medication. True, nothing is going to reverse or stop the progression but there are meds that could calm unpleasant symptoms and make your Mom more comfortable. I don't want to overwhelm you with so much to do and think about, but put on your list to get Mom set up with a doctor that specializes in geriatrics and is very familiar with dementia. Getting her established with a geriatric psychiatrist to confirm the diagnosis and to discuss meds that might be appropriate now or in the future would likely be worthwhile for you both. 

Others will respond with lots of good recommendations. 

King Boo
Posted: Tuesday, November 19, 2019 6:58 AM
Joined: 1/9/2012
Posts: 3252

The first step is to recognize and not lull yourself believing your Mom is doing OK as you state.

Loosing weight = inadequate nourishment, forgetting to eat, rotten food in fridge.  Needs care at meal times to moniter oral intake and eating amounts.

Hallucinations=dementia at least in the moderate to moderately severe stages.  Severely compromises the quality of her days, instills fear and anxiety.  Needs to see a Geriatric Psychiatrist familiar with dementia to assess medication to help improve quality of life and days, and care.  Decreased hallucinations equals easier caregiving.

Find another MD.  This one who says there are no medications to help is a generalist who should not be treating this population.  There are possible medications that can help plateau the disease at an earlier stage for improved quality of life.

Find out what you want to do for 24/7 care.  It will soon be here if it isn't already.  Must have multiple in home caregivers, or Adult Day care.  Check out area facilities for Memory Care and nursing homes ( a good one with both would be great for fluid care).  There will be no time in a crisis to research.

Talk to the nearby sister and offer to take care of MOm's financials and medical bills online so she can focus on facility research and patch together care.   

The time has come and gone - Mom can no longer live alone, that time is NOW.

Posted: Tuesday, November 19, 2019 7:06 AM
Joined: 7/1/2017
Posts: 137

KCBEAR everything that Star26 said is absolutely the truth and her roadmap is one you should follow.

The one thing you have to accept, and it is a hard one, is that there is no reasoning with your mother anymore. One of the hardest things about dementia is that loss of ability to reason with your loved one and your acceptance of that.  You will want to go there and check things out for yourself.  

I got "lucky", my mother had other issues happening at the same time and I was able to bring her to my house during one of those times and then told her the doctor said she couldn't go back and live by herself.  That also told me that we were farther down the road because she was fiercely independent and would never stay here like that otherwise.

Does anyone have power of attorney authority?  Is anyone on her bank accounts with her? I would go there and see what is happening and consult an elder law attorney as soon as you can.

I am so sorry you are in this position but know that you have found a great resource here for information and support.

Michael Ellenbogen
Posted: Tuesday, November 19, 2019 7:10 AM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 3168

The first thing I would do is get her to a new doctor who believes that drugs may help. They don’t work for all but it is shure worth the try. 

Posted: Tuesday, November 19, 2019 9:26 AM
Joined: 12/4/2011
Posts: 18482

You do need a Dr who is current. There are ever so many thing which would account for what you are seeing.

Two items are now on the top of your list. Diagnosis and legal matters including finances.

Education is going to be your key tool on this journey.

We will be here to share all that we know and to support you and you family. You are not alone!

Rescue mom
Posted: Tuesday, November 19, 2019 10:10 AM
Joined: 10/12/2018
Posts: 1495

Lost weight, hallucinations, emergency family visits AND police visits. I’m sorry, but this is not doing OK. Some people have said the hardest thing is that adult children have to become the parent. You don’t let a 3-year-old dictate how he lives or what he does, do you? That’s what’s going on now with your mom. Others have outlined good plans, but you are the one who has to do it. She probably won’t like it —at least at first—but now your responsibility is to keep her safe, including from herself.
Posted: Tuesday, November 19, 2019 12:42 PM
Joined: 11/18/2019
Posts: 2

Wow! Thank you all so much for your input.  I have shared your thoughts and ideas with my sisters and I'm taking this whole situation a lot more seriously.  We will come up with an action plan sooner rather than later.
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