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obsessing about leaves
Posted: Wednesday, November 24, 2021 3:11 PM
Joined: 10/26/2021
Posts: 18

My MIL has always liked her lawn kept raked and mowed.  We have a neighbor do it and he does a great job.  Lately she has become obsessed about her leaves on her yard.  We are not talking about that many - the lawn has been gone over 3 times.  My LO just came home to say he walked into MIL house and she was crying and pointing to the yard and saying she didn't know what she was going to do about all those leaves. There were leaves, but not many.  She blames a neighbor and said she was going to call him.  My LO told her she couldn't do that and ended up angry with her because this isn't a new thing.  She has always been particular about her yard, but the crying, yelling, saying she's going to call someone is all new.  What would cause that and how do you get someone's attention off something like this when she can see the yard from any room? My SIL got upset because she heard it from MIL about 3 times and told her maybe she should go to AL so she didn't have to deal with a house and yard.  Thought that was a little extreme.  Anyone have advice on this?  Thank you.
wyoming daughter
Posted: Wednesday, November 24, 2021 5:25 PM
Joined: 3/26/2020
Posts: 51

Hi MarLee92 - maybe if there aren't that many leaves, and if MIL is physically able, she join you and/or someone in picking up the leaves.  I wonder if the messiness of leaves laying about is hard for her.  I know my mom used to have to have everything "just so, in it's own place, pointing the right direction" because it helped her keep her mind straight.  If that isn't possible, maybe agree with her that yes, those leaves look very messy out there but the weatherman said the wind is suppose to blow tomorrow so that will take care of those leaves.   At any rate, at the worst, cleaning up a few leaves should be easy enough to ease her mind?
Posted: Wednesday, November 24, 2021 8:53 PM
Joined: 8/22/2020
Posts: 1698

MarLee, I'm sorry you're dealing with this-obsessions are so hard because they don't respond to rational solutions. I can understand why your SIL got exasperated! My fear would be that there's not going to be an easy answer. Would that there were a way to have her not see them, but that's probably impractical too. Is she on any anti-anxiety meds? Just wondering if the underlying anxiety is what needs to be addressed. Good luck-
Posted: Wednesday, November 24, 2021 9:14 PM
Joined: 9/21/2017
Posts: 1020

Not being able to process when it is right to call the generous neighbor and how many leaves really are a problem probably means MIL is getting close to MC versus AL.

If there is no medical condition, like a silent UTI going on then maybe the siblings will be able to face a decision *has* to be made about their mom. Hopefully the documents are in place.

Facing the condition and taking action won't be easy but this dragging it out can be dangerous for MIL and grinds at the adult children and their families, as you well know. Good luck.

Posted: Thursday, November 25, 2021 7:27 AM
Joined: 3/6/2017
Posts: 3109


Having read your profile and this post, it sounds as if your MIL needs to either move in with a family member or move to a MCF (sorry, the AL cruise sailed without her).

The behavior you are describing is likely driven by anxiety and being unable to engage in activities which previously structured her day. This fixation with a neighbor thing isn't unusual in dementia-world; it actually comes up a lot. It can lead to real problems. Sometimes verbal and physical attacks on neighbors leads to a PWD becoming ostracized which costs you an emergency contact. Police and APS have been involved when a PWD mixes it up with neighbors and family isn't seen as proactive. Occasionally a PWD barges into a neighbor's house and is mistaken for an intruder with tragic consequences. 

Given that your DH and his siblings seem to have their collective heads in the sand about their mom and dementia in general, there doesn't seem to be much you can do. In your shoes, I might make a Plan B for when the feces hit the fan, but otherwise it seems your hands are tied.

mommyandme (m&m)
Posted: Thursday, November 25, 2021 1:55 PM
Joined: 2/16/2020
Posts: 273

My thoughts went to emotions. For many, transitions in seasons and/or changes in the weather trigger people in different ways.  The smells, warmth or cold, etc… may bring on giddiness or dread.  Could the leaves be a reminder of something or a feeling in her past?  

My mom definitely also had the obsessive thoughts on things out of place.  That has diminished significantly as she progresses.  

Her reaction to plants without leaves (ugly sticks to her) was a bit frustrating.  Can’t explain nature’s prep for the winter season. She has always placed looks ahead of other things, takes me back to my childhood baggage (hate it when that happens).  Since she’s on her second fall season here I’m not hearing the same complaints about the sight of the bushes outside her picture window.  Yay! but bitter sweet of course.  

I can only say, try to be patient, things will change. Some for the better, but probably just replaced with a new problem.  Maybe have her sit outside while a pick up lawn mower does its job so she can watch the process? 

So sorry. 

Posted: Friday, November 26, 2021 1:51 PM
Joined: 1/1/2021
Posts: 146

I agree with other posters about the possible need for a move. In the meantime, I wonder if curtains could be installed 1/3 of the way down the windows so you can keep them pulled and block the view of the yard while avoiding that closed-in feeling and letting in the daylight.
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