new member introduction


Registered User
Mar 1, 2008
I have just joined after searching for some support following a trying day ! I am new to caring as very sadly my father in law died a fortnight ago, and had done a good job of sheltering us from the extent of my mother in laws decline. We were aware of her memory problems, and my husband actually instigated a GP visit and subsequent investigations a year ago. But boy ! we had no idea how bad things had become until of course her mainstay has gone. This will probably be a familiar story and I am hoping to get information and support from you experienced members.


Registered User
Mar 7, 2004
Hello helbo, warm welcome to TP.

Unfortunately yours is a familiar story with some of our members.

If you have anything specific you need to know, please ask away.

Sometimes just reading the various posts can answer your queries for you. Take care now.


Registered User
Jun 29, 2007
North Wales
Hello Helbo,

There's lot of comfort here on TP. No matter what the problem is someone will help.

We all know where you are coming from and will try to offer help.

Hope you soon begin to understand the problems your MIL faces as AZ and dementia is so different for every sufferer.

Best wishes,


Registered User
Mar 1, 2008
Thanks. One of the questions I wanted to ask is that we have started writing things down in a notebook so that she can read who is doing what and who is visiting next. However she reads all the stuff from the pages before that has happened and been dealt with and thinks its all still to do. Do you think this is making it worse? When she went in the kitchen today I started taking the old pages out to throw away but she 'caught' me and started fishing them out of the bin and going through them again. Do you end up doing things sneakily ? Also, is it best to remove things from the house, as in out of sight out of mind, or leave them for her to repeatedly sift bills and letters etc. When I got there this morning she had a letter from the council which I took away to deal with, and wrote it in her book. I've had 4 phone calls from her, my mothers had one and my brother in law who did the teatime visit was nattered to death about it until he rang me too.It feels sneaky just to whisk things away and hope she forgets about it.

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
Hello Helbo,

I would try to ensure your MIL`s life is as uncluttered as possible. However sneaky it seems you will be helping her. Just be sure she does not see you remove things from the house.

I know it sounds underhand, but you are doing it for her, not for yourself, and that`s the difference.

If you feel she can cope with the notebook, why don`t you put a large cross on each page of completed tasks, so she knows they have been done.

It`s a matter of trial and error really, before you find a system that works. And if you find a system that works, you can congratulate yourself.


Registered User
Mar 1, 2008
Thanks for that. We are certainly on a steep learning curve ! Unfortunately her house is the most cluttered ever, and any need for a document involves sifting through stuff going back years, but she is at the resistant to change stage. She went mad at my husband for bringing his half-fare bus pass home to show me his teenage photo. He is 15 on the pass, and 41 now ! And that is a fraction of the stuff she's saved. She won't allow anything to be thrown away or moved. I think if I started putting things in my bag an alarm would go off somewhere!


Registered User
Jul 10, 2006
south lanarkshire
Can you involve someone else.

Could your husband for example take Mum out to tea or shopping-- whatever-- then you could try to make some headway into the clutter.

If your MIL is like my mum, she will never notice that anything is missing.

I had this problem a few years ago with my parents. If I even threw away an envelope, mum freaked, but there were so many bills unpaid and things outstanding, I just had to do it and the above suggestion is the way I handled it.

I found that sometimes, the important things had been binned, but the junk mail was preserved, maybe because, junk mail is colourful, with sometimes nice pictures:)

Hope you can find a solution, take care



Registered User
Feb 17, 2008
We have the same problem but in chocolate and sweets as well as letters while I take her out my dad is going through things, he is finding all sorts even pension giro's not cashed, sweets that are 2yrs out of date and moldy chocolate, we are slowly getting ride of it and she hasn't noticed.

you have to be sneaky to be kind other wise it upsets so much it isn't worth it.


Registered User
Aug 21, 2007
Hi Helbo and welcome to TP

I had a similar problem with Dad, not with clutter, he was used to an RAF life so we had big clearouts every so often, but with receiving mail. Just getting 'official' letters distressed him to the point where it was making him ill because he couldn't understand them, and if they in any way mentioned money which they inevitably did he was horrendous - down, depressed and just couldn't grasp what things were. Sitting down and explaining what it was and that there was nothing to worry about calmed him for approximately 5 minutes until he forgot all about the explanation and off we'd go again.

Before I got POA I rang some of the service providers (without his knowledge because he would have been angry) who agreed to send his statements and things c/o my address which helped enormously - although he'd got direct debits for everything of course the statements were still going to his house. Some companies wouldn't do it but at least I'd halved the problem and he never seemed to realise that bill statements had stopped turning up.

As for writing things down, I gave up because same as your mum in law, he'd just get confused about which version he was reading. I resorted to a white board in the end which he hated with a vengeance because it 'proved' that he wasn't coping but at least things on it were current and could be changed every day. Eventually he stopped reading it anyway, he was unable to follow even simple instructions but I'd got POA by then. I just used to draw smiley faces on it for him!

Yes you do have to be sneaky but at least it stops the distress.

Oh, chocolate and sweets Heartbroken, yes that aswell. Even little piles of sweets stashed actually inside his socks, for the life of me I can't understand why! And medication hidden away in the shed.

AJay xxx


Registered User
Jun 3, 2005
Hello Helbo

Welcome to the twilight world, we would all rather not be here but welcome anyway.

Although every individual & their journey through dementia is different, it sounds as though your MiL and my Mum are at a similar stage. Mum can still read things, but not relate them 'spatially' if that's the right word.

I used to cut out the large MONDAY, TUESDAY etc. from the TV guide pages & pin the appropriate one to the arm of her chair each day, but very soon she didn't 'see' them at all and they just became a source of irritation to ME when she sat there & asked me :)mad: 20 times an hour!) "what day is it?" without looking at it. Sometimes you just have to recognise when something which DID help is no longer useful, & give up on it.

I deal with all mail & bills and have done so for some years, even before her official diagnosis of AD, but she still has flashes of independence &/or stubbornness when she wants to see (for instance) her bank statement, but then gets distressed because she can't make head nor tail of it any longer. I usually try to get to the post first to filter what she sees (I have EPA) as that results in less stress & anxiety all round.

I too used to use a large desk diary to try & keep Mum informed of forthcoming appointments etc., but like your MiL she got muddled. Now I write down only what will happen today on a single large sheet of paper, and stick it on the door between her sitting room & the kitchen (most frequently used & easily seen). If I have to go out to somewhere that I can't take her with me, I leave a note saying when I shall be back (allow leeway for delays!) If the day is to be uneventful, there is still a note saying "No appointments or visitors today" so that there is always something in that place on the door; theory being she will not forget (yet) where to look for information if she needs to. Of course, this is easy for me to maintain as I have moved in with her, and can change it after she's gone to bed without an argument about it!

Yes, you DO undoubtedly have to be 'sneaky' to try & maintain a peaceful life. It's very similar to coping with the "terrible twos" period with a small child. Use distraction rather than argument, bribery rather than enforcement, whatever it takes within reason.

And yes, it IS a steep learning curve. More so, I would imagine, for a daughter-in-law than for a daughter. More power to your elbow.


Registered User
Feb 17, 2006
She went mad at my husband for bringing his half-fare bus pass home to show me his teenage photo. He is 15 on the pass, and 41 now ! And that is a fraction of the stuff she's saved.
My mother would also do that to me
after my father pass away I had to clear her clutter away , I remember the draws of paper work , Junk mail letter . all childhood photo of myself and my children . she let me sort out all her paper work , but would not let me take any photos she go mad, if I took any away to show my children , all I can think of that it must of represented some security blanket to her , as she must of felt like she was losing the grip in her mind for the hear now, but her memory of the past where clear more real to her when she saw those photos .

my father in law died a fortnight ago, and had done a good job of sheltering us from the extent of my mother in laws decline
I always wonder that , as I never really notice that much different in my mother mental heath when my father was alive. I never forget the last word my father said to me before he died . he mimic to me pointing his finger to his forehead then to mum saying "she gone Mad " I said to my father don't be cruel , while mum shouted at him . 3 days later a heart attack killed him but God the shock of my father passing away gave her a real decline in her mental health , just like your husband I had to seek out professional help to find out what was happening to my mother , but it took me a year half for anyone to listen to me .

've had 4 phone calls from her, my mothers had one and my brother in law who did the teatime visit was nattered to death about it until he rang me too.It feels sneaky just to whisk things away and hope she forgets about it.

That does make me smile as my mother would natter me to death on the phone .

Now my mother can't read . but can still tall the time , she been waking up from 4 am asking me the time and every hour after 4 am . so the other morning I had to take the clock of the wall stick it at the end of her bed and a chair holding it in place as it an old plastic gan father clock my father gave me .

I ask her this morning how you know what time it is ? she said I sleep so good last night knowing what time it is and so did I !
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