Best ways to deal with my mother who says No to everything

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by duf, Mar 21, 2015.

  1. duf

    duf Registered User

    Mar 21, 2015
    Hi - am after tips and tricks to best deal with Mum who has recently starting saying No to everything and in most cases refusing to move.
    She is in relatively good spirits but now moving her from one place to another can be hard work as she is quite firm in saying No and then either not helping to get out of her seat and fights off any help, or similarly you may be walking someone then she just stops and refuses to move.
    I have found not using questions helps and making it more a point of fact what we are going to do, as well as giving her a supporting hand up or along. But appreciate any other tips to better defuse these confrontations and get to a postive outcome more easily.

  2. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    I think you're on the right track with the whole "don't ask a question when the answer could be no" thing. That doesn't mean you can't offer a simple choice as in "would you like an apple or a pear?" or "would you like to wash your face or brush your teeth first?". The standing stock still and refusing to move issue is more difficult. I assume she doesn't have any pain issues? Perhaps she gets to a certain point, doesn't realise where she is or where she is going and freezes? Could it be fear?

    I don't know whether you have seen this but it has some helpful pointers

    Compassionate Communication with the Memory Impaired

    And welcome to Talking Point. :)
  3. Spamar

    Spamar Registered User

    Oct 5, 2013
    OH sometimes refuses to go to certain places, like come in from outside! I've found it takes skill ( or good luck) and often a few love lies. Try to think of something they want and suggest that. For instance if they are out, suggest we go in ( home, cafe whatever) and talk about it, it'll be warmer there.
    Don't dismiss the reason why they won't move, just work around it. OH one day refused to get out of someone's car, so we appealed to him that the car was needed to take get to next job, he would be better inside. It eventually worked!
    This is not a good explanation, I often go on gut instinct! But so far we have got him to go where he needs to be. I am lucky that he still has a few things ingrained, like people need to go to work, or go home.
    Good luck!
  4. duf

    duf Registered User

    Mar 21, 2015
    Thanks very much for your advice - I meant to say i tried it out when looking after Mum. We had a few stand offs but they lasted little time and often found the best method was linked to your guidance - more suggesting we do something or i would get away from any confrontation by going on to another topic which ended up with the same result.

    Thanks for your help.
  5. #5 DazeInOurLives, Mar 30, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2015
    The best way to help your mum in a truly bespoke, personalised way with this issue is to look at the Contented dementia trust for their resources. Nothing beats the very affordable course that they offer for families. The book on its own is nowhere near as meaningful.

    This will give you the ability to arm yourself with a bagful of bespoke, deeply personalised, respectful strategies to help your Mum. If understood and used correctly it is an exceptional way to help support a person with dementia, to help retain the essence of who they are, their self respect and for you to feel as though you are making a meaningful positive difference.

    It is the only method that explains how to do this in an absolutely individualised and tailor-made way for a loved one. In the 13+ years of caring for my parents with alzheimer's and 30 years of nursing, nothing I have come across comes anywhere near it.
  6. susy

    susy Registered User

    Jul 29, 2013
    North East
    I would guess along side the compassionate communication basically asking her closed questions is the way forward. Ask her questions basically with no oppertunity to say yes or no. It does take practice but it should help xx
  7. #7 DazeInOurLives, Mar 30, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2015
    Asking a person with dementia a question is always a risky and stressful business for them, be it an open question or a closed one. The stress of trying to recall the answer often leads to a knee jerk answer, responding as the person thinks they 'should'.

    Ask my Mum if she'd like a cup of tea and she will worry about what the 'correct' social response is, and possibly also worry about her she about to go in the car and so will need the loo etc - she will have no idea of what lies ahead, so 'no' is a safe response, even if she is parched. Also, she will actually have no clue if she is actually thirsty or not. Just a simple question like that can cause a mini internal panic which can interfere with decisions and the recall process.

    If you say on the other hand, "I'm just putting the kettle on", she knows immediately that it is socially acceptable to have a cup of tea and she'd not worry about her bladder in favour of sharing a cuppa with someone. She will answer spontaneous and honestly. So you can still find out if she wants a cup of tea without any question at all. It is really important not to question a person directly but use statements to find out their preferences. In no way does this remove choice for's about finding better ways of finding out.

    I used to ring my Mum every morning to ask her if she'd had her breakfast and her medication yet. As the words came out of my mouth I knew that it was pointless and that I would never get an accurate response. Once I started ringing 'for no reason' and mentioning that I was about to have my breakfast and medication, Mum would be able to respond in kind. I checked the authenticity of her answers in a variety of ways and discovered that if she replied to my statement, it was far more likely to be accurate than if I had asked her a direct question.

    Try it; it does take practice, but it pays off in spades. :)

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