How to deal with stubbornness?

Share your ideas about the practical side of caring.
Hi all.

I'm dealing with Mum a bit better lately because I'm trying new tactics - when she rants and has obsessive behaviour I try to make no comment or I distract her/change the subject because I believe it's attention seeking. I'm doing this in the hope that she might be like this less often, currently she's going on about stuff that happened ages ago and won't let it drop. In particular, her belief her neighbour stole from her several times last year. Every single time I see her she goes on about it yet the neighbour hasn't seen Mum in 8 months!

Now I'm looking for advice on how to deal with Mum's stubbornness. She's had an irritable eye for weeks, before that she had earache for weeks. but she won't allow me to call the doctor. I know I could just do it but I've done this before without her permission and he has had to speak to her before agreeing to coming out, then on the phone she managed to convince him she was fine and nothing was wrong, and he believed her over me!

She complains about her eye every time I speak to her, she keeps rubbing it. She has drops for dryness but they're not helping. There is a rapid access eye clinic at the local hospital but either a gp has to refer the patient for an emergency appointment or the patient has to go to A&e first. Eye health is a serious issue and I'm worried about her. But then is it partly attention seeking again? I said several times about ringing the doctor yesterday but she just brushed it aside. I bet she was enjoying seeing me fretting, I was getting very agitated. It makes me angry that she won't take health issues seriously and even more angry the GP insists she doesn't have dementia. He never witnesses her behaviour as she always acts 'normal' in front of him and everyone else.

Should I just ignore her complaining about her irritatable eye and hope it clears up, but keep a check on her to make sure it isn't looking sore? I get so frustrated sometimes that I feel like walking out and telling her I'm not going to see her anymore until she takes me seriously! I wrote her a letter a while ago about how I feel and things got better for a little while.
When she starts ranting, go and get your coat, say "I'm not listening. I really don't have time for this. Bye".

My mum also had obsessive behaviour, every time I tried to get rid of something I had to listen to it's "life story" where it came from, when how, how much it cost, etc. etc. I'd been taught not to be rude to mum, so I patiently listened when I had a million and one more pressing things to do at home.
Looking back on it, I wish I'd been brave and had a blazing row over her hoarding especially. 60 dining chairs, 10 dining tables, 10 sideboards, etc. etc. etc. It wasn't just her life she was wasting, it was mine too.
I always used to decorate one room every January, for years. Then when the parents became ill (all 4 within 6 miles) I just couldn't manage the decorating on top of everything else, so for 15 years, no redecoration. Now they've all gone, I look round my once pristine cottage and see jobs in all directions, and I'm 15 years older, not in good health.
It is one thing to help our parents with things they genuinely cannot manage to do, but we are not responsible for their past history, especially not for what a neighbour did. If neighbour stole from mum, that was because mum did not keep her stuff secure. Mum's problem, mum's responsibility, NOT YOURS!!
We can't change other people's behaviour, but we can change our own.
It's the same with the eye issue. Tell her NOT to raise the subject if she's not prepared to do anything about it!
Work out some standard phrase to say when she goes on about the eye verbally - such as 'You need to see the doctor, end of'' - then do NOT engage in any 'debate' or 'tirade' about it any more. Walk away or change the subject, or simply just repeat 'Like I say, you need to see the doctor'. You can keep repeating that ad infinitum.

If she's just rubbing at it, but not saying anything to you, ignore it.

In the end, it's her life, her choice. You could up the ante a bit in your standard phrase along the lines of 'You need to see the doctor. If you don't, you could lose your sight.'

In general, not 'engaging' with her obsessive behaviour is probably the best. It can be hard to teach ourselves to 'blank' things, but it can be done.


If she won't either do what you want her to do for her own good, or do what needs to be done in any situation, well, she takes the consequences of it.