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  1. #1

    How do we persuade a defensive loved one to get help ..

    As a family we are becoming increasingly concerned about our mother (my step mother). Her behavior, response and approach to daily life is becoming more and more erratic, peculiar and at time unpleasant. Some of the things we have noticed include; inability to follow a conversation or commenting on a conversation that finished up to an hour before. Shouting something completely random and irrelevant in the middle of a conversation, dressing eccentrically, becoming stressed at very mundane and ordinary things like making dinner (dinner is always a microwave meal these days ) and although she still vacuums the lounge (the kitchen is filthy and the dust is building up around the house, she will not readily accept help) getting dressed is a major stress and she consults the calendar for everything, she forgets the names of usual people and places and often gets really unnecessarily angry at the slightest thing. She is 68. Alongside the worry for her we are also concerned about the stress that its having on our father. He is 77 and lives in a constant state of anxiety ,trying to keep the peace. She has lost a huge amount of weight but that has been checked by the doctor and he changed her medication but her behavior didn't change. She also had tests at the fall clinic as she fell four times in the space of two weeks but again nothing came of it. She came out of the clinic and said the doctors had said everything was fine. My dad has confronted her but she just walks away and we have also had the same response. Dad feels that if he approaches doctors etc behind her back there would be hell to pay if she found out so its easier to keep the peace. We have all spoken to dad about this but he is confused about how he can get her to the doctors for an assessment. She still drives but only locally, walks the dog but seldom goes out and seems to have lost all interest in venturing outside of the home. There seems to be a distinct lack of affection for the grandchildren and now even her own twin daughters. Sorry to ramble on but does anyone have any suggestions ? Are these behaviors linked to dementia/Alzheimer? can we persuade her to get the help she needs when she doesn't recognize or admit that something is wrong? Also how do we get support for dad? This situation is affecting his health too.

  2. #2
    Registered User Onlyme's Avatar
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    Apr 2010
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    Hi Laura and welcome to Talking Point.

    It does sounds as if your Step Mum needs help so I would suggest that a daily diary of strange events is kept. This can be sent to the Dr with a covering letter saying that you are concerns for her health and you realise he can't talk to you but could he call her in to see him on some pretext like an over 65 health check etc.

    Your father is going to need all the help he can get and if she does have dementia then things will not improve so he needs to start the ball rolling sooner rather than later.

    Lemony xx

    When life gives you lemons make lemonade.

  3. #3
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    Dec 2011
    Just because she says the doctors told her everything's fine, it doesn't mean that's the truth. Obviously they may have missed the kinds of things you list in your post, but maybe not. Thing is, unless one of you gets to talk to a doctor about her notes then you'll never know, and this is where the difficulties start kicking in. Even if the doctors have identified a problem, if she doesn't want to deal with it then they can't make her at this point. Also, due to confidentiality rules they can't start giving you (the family) information just because you're worried and asking for help.

    I agree with Onlyme that letting the GP know your concerns is a good first step. After that, I think it might be a good idea for mum AND dad to be invited for some over-65 check ups. I got my mum to the GP by telling her we were both going for a flu jab (another good white lie) and that allowed me to be there when the GP (primed by me during a previous visit) addressed the issues I'd flagged up. Also, very importantly, he slipped a question into the conversation on the lines of you don't mind if we talk in front of your daughter. He was charming and my mother compliant, and he was able to put on her notes that there was no problem with me being in the loop. Maybe strictly speaking lines were blurred a bit but by then it was obvious to him that my mother had a problem.

    To cut a long story short, none of that helped with getting my mum medicated or looked after because when push came to shove she refused everything. But it got her into the system and, due to having an excellent SW and CPN, I felt like I wasn't alone with the problems, even if all I was getting was advice. Thing is, you never know how things will pan out and some people will reject family trying to help but will accept strangers and/or authority figures doing the same, so anything is worth a try.

    The other things is her driving. If things are not all ok she might have to stop and this, by the sound of it, won't be easy if you, the family, try to tackle it. If, on the other hand, she's enough into the system for someone else to make that judgement then you're off the hook. It's a massively important issue, obviously, because even local driving will become too much for her at some point, if it hasn't already, if there is some kind of a dementia there, and she will become a danger, not just to herself.

    It's a very difficult situation and I wish you luck with what your facing. There are no easy answers and I've found that with my mum it was, and is, often a case of doing what needs to be done, even if I have to lie or make her unhappy or angry.
    Last edited by Delphie; 01-02-2013 at 07:43 PM.

  4. #4
    New User
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    Feb 2013

    My Mum won't accept there is a problem either

    My Mum, just turned 78, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in October. We had been noticing increasing problems for the past few years and my sister, who has the same GP as Mum and Dad, had spoken to her doctor on a few occasions, and eventually she was assessed, although I'm sorry to say we had to use a bit of subterfuge. We noticed her asking things repeatedly, then forgetting quite major events and now most new things and conversations things don't seem to stick for very long.
    She also manages mostly relatively well day to day, not trouble dressing yet, although we have had big concerns over cooking (she insists on cooking with a deep fat fryer on the hob but poured water into the hot fat a week or so ago, luckily she was not hurt and Dad was there). We asked Dad to throw out the chip pan when she was not around, and just make an excuse that the handle broke or something. She would be annoyed , but safer, and although she would mention it a lot and moan, we think she would forget to replace it. He is frightened to upset her, which we can understand but think that safety comes first.
    A CPN has visited her twice and she was prescribed medication, but Mum 'lost' the prescription. She says she has no problem and even has suggested my sister and I want to put her away. Nothing could be further from the truth, but she won't here it. Mum looks after the finances and was always the one to sort things out and Dad didn't have to worry about anything. He is finding it hard to cope. If he tries to keep her right she gets angry with him and so he seems to given up.
    He is 79 and in very good health, as is my Mum otherwise. He just seems to stick his head in the sand. He also made a point of avoiding being around for the CPN visits, My sister and I would have been there if we had known he would not, and so we don't know what was said. He finds the idea of Mum not being in charge frightening I think.
    My sister and I are at our wits end. It's so frustrating, we want to help, but apart from picking up the pieces, how do we?
    It is also a great worry that Mum has always handled the money and we are really not too confident about her abilities now, Dad doesn't want to upset her, and she is becoming very tight with the finance. This seems to be a common thing.
    We did wonder if we were the only family whose loved one refused to believe they have a problem. We watched the ads on TV and they suggested that if you pointed out a problem and medical help was sought everyone would be happier. If only!

  5. #5
    Registered User
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    Feb 2010
    I think that this might need to be one of those softly softly approaches. Could you perhaps start with getting a diary and speak to your dad about writing down everything that is happening on a day to day basis. Make a note of what happened, how long it lasted, whether there was anything that might have caused it (maybe she was overly tired). Tell your dad that this record will help give the professionals a detailed account of what has been going on as and when his wife decides to seek some help or when someone steps in due to a crisis.

    When they are on their own one day could your dad have a conversation with her about planning for the future? He could tell her that he is going to arrange a Local Power of Attorney so that if he ever becomes ill, she can look out for him. Could he perhaps persuade her that they should both fill them out? There are two types of LPA, one for finance and estate and the other for health and welfare. There is also no problem with more than one person being listed either so maybe include you as an attorney too. This is the document that will get you official access to the doctors and gives them the ability to discuss things with you. Have a look on line as you can download the forms from there.

    The next step then might be to sit down with your dad and the diary and write a letter to the GP telling them what is going on. If nothing else, I would point out to your dad about her driving and how would they feel if she had an accident that injured other people, just because no one would speak to the doctor.

    Hope this has given you a few ideas of things that you could perhaps consider doing,


  6. #6


    Oh my goodness...I didn't realize how helpful this 'Talking Point' would be...I wrote last night and have had 4 replies already Thank you to you all, I feel so much more positive now knowing there are ways of getting the ball rolling and knowing that there really does seem to be a problem and that she is not just 'being difficult' but needs intervention now.. I'm now going to share all of your suggestions with my father, brother and sisters and hopefully we can get things moving....Thank you all once again!

  7. #7
    Registered User Beenie's Avatar
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    Jan 2013

    Hi Laura

    I just wanted to say I'm new here too and have found the same as you some great advice from reading threads from other people, but the best thing is knowing we are not alone


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