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Pensioner in the early stage of Dementia -Carers UK Forum

Pensioner in the early stage of Dementia

For issues specific to caring for someone with dementia.
I'm very sorry to say that my mother appears to be in the early stages of dementia. This is not a doctor's diagnosis but my own (and my brother's) based on her various symptoms, particuarly her deteriorating short term memory which is becoming particularly bad. She lives on her own in a bungalow, my father died a few years ago.

I've been concerned about her short term memory for some time and have spoken to her doctor a couple of times in the past few months, unfortunately though my mother (nearly 93 years old) is extremely stubborn and will not admit to there being a problem or even see her doctor to discuss the matter. She won't even discuss it with me or my brother.

I've just compiled a long letter to her doctor laying out all of my mother's symptoms and asking her what can be done. This will be posted on Monday. Maybe when my mother has her regular check-up next month her doctor can say or do something based on the evidence and, of course, do her own tests as required.

At the very least I feel like my mother should have a daily care visitor, somebody just to pop in and check on her for half an hour, carry out any minor jobs, check the fridge for out of date food, etc. Even if it's not dementia she would certainly benefit from some kind of help. I live over 100 miles away, my brother lives in America, so there is a limit to what we can practically do but I visit as often as I can, as does my brother.

However, mum won't even listen to the idea of a care visitor. She's a very private person and doesn't want anyone else to "know her business".

She's fiercely independent and still gets out and about a lot, regularly hopping on a bus to the nearest town, going shopping locally, etc.

However, her memory in particular is getting noticeably worse and her bungalow is getting messier as is her clothing with bits of dripped food, etc (she doesn't seem to notice or worry about mess and dirt these days, although she is still scrupulously clean when it comes to washing her hands). She does have an excellent house cleaner in once a fortnight which to my mind isn't enough, but I can't seem to persuade her to have a weekly clean of her bungalow.

My main dilemma is how to successfully put it to her that she needs a home care visitor - not only will it help her, but it will help my brother and I to stop worrying about her quite as much yet I just can't find a way to approach the subject without upset and refusal from mum. I try and sit down with her and gently mention the matter but then she gets upset and simply won't accept a daily care visitor.

I've made some enquiries about home care and have all of the details that I need, what it costs, who to employ, etc. I can instigate that immediately if only mum would approve the idea.

What can I do? How can I gently persuade her to accept this? I don't want to have to overly worry her or even suggest to her that she may eventually end up in a care home if things deteriorate further.

Perhaps I should wait and see if her doctor can instigate or suggest anything to mum based on my letter and mum's forthcoming checkup, but in case that doesn't work out I'm wondering what else I can do. At the moment I just want to get her to accept some kind of regular care, but that is proving impossible.

My mother does have a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare (and one for Property and Financial Affairs) so my brother and I can one day step in, but naturally only if mum becomes unable to make decisions for herself. She's not at that stage. I am though trying to make her life better right now, although because mum won't accept that there is a problem this makes things very difficult indeed. I'm worried that she'll one day set fire to her bungalow, hurt herself, eat some out of date food, not wash her hands properly and get a bad upset stomach, have a fall (yet she won't wear one of those emergency beepers around her neck), etc.

Can anyone advise please?

Or perhaps I am trying to be too controlling and over-worrying?

I'll also say that worrying over this is really getting to me - lately I seem to spend all day, every day thinking of my mother's issues, what may happen and how to deal with things. It's really getting to me and, as an IBS sufferer, it's making my IBS worse. I just feel that my hands are tied by my mother and it's incredibly frustrating. I just want to help her but she won't let me. How can I get her to accept a regular care visitor?

Sometimes it helps for a doctor or nurse to call in, on the pretext of it being a routine call to "their most senior patients". Let them see how mum is living.
That's a good idea, thanks for the suggestion.

I just wish that I could think of a way to suggest to her that she needs a local carer to pop in on her regularly (without the mere suggestion upsetting mum).
Is Mum the sort to want to help or teach others? Am thinking an appeal to her to help 'train' someone or perhaps 'befriend'a newcomer to the neighbourhood might at least mean you could get someone in the door once or twice a week. That someone would need to go along with the subterfuge but would of course be a Care Worker who would eventually be accepted.
Just a thought
Good luck
Thanks, that's an interesting idea. Not sure if mum would want to help or teach others in that regard, but I'll have a ponder.
Sometimes the line "Mum I know you don't need this but my brother and I worry so, yes it is silly of us, but it would make us much happier if we knew that you were getting some help in the house. It would also mean that when we come and see you we can do fun things, not spend time on chores..." The trick is to get someone she really likes. Is there a handy person who can do light bulbs and rubbish putting out (excuse to check fridge etc for out of date stuff, sweep up and wipe down sides) and the other "masculine" tasks (helping the vacuuming by moving chairs out the way, carrying shopping in and putting it away, getting things down from high shelves...). The focus then is not on her needing care but on the things you probably end up doing when you and your brother are there. My father was initially reluctant to have help but once he had met the carers his innate nosiness and love of a good chat (and I as daughter do not count as a chattee) overcame his objections. Now he looks forward to them being around.
I think that's a good approach, thanks for the tip. I'll see what I can do. :)
Ah, I had exactly that problem and I am afraid I only had limited success!

Like you, I wrote to the doctor and he agreed that he would invite mum for an "over 80s check-up". That got the ball rolling in getting a dementia diagnosis. The home carers was the next battle. Mum sacked them on a regular basis but I told her that I had paid them until the end of the month so we would wait until then. That never arrived of course. Again the carers were for my benefit, not because she needed them but to stop me worrying.

I convinced her to get a gardener because of MY bad back. This meant someone else I knew was visiting on a regular basis.

And yes, she "trained" the dementia sitters (she always hated them) for those old people who really needed them ;)

I failed to get her to go to a club "I lived through the war, no need to sing about it" but it was all an uphill battle. Sometimes I think the stubborness kept her going.

I wish you luck but feel that you too will have to be crafty! Anne x
Well done on your relative success - my mum at least has a gardener and a fortnightly cleaner, I just have to find the right way and right moment to persuade her to have a health care visitor. Craftiness and cunning appears to be in order. :)

I do hope that my letter to her doctor will also help.

Thanks for your reply.
Just a thought, but if your mum's short term memory is going, could you book the cleaner to come in at least once a week, if not twice, as your mum may not now remember she was only in so recently???!!!

Or, possibly, book a home carer/care worker, and say she is 'another cleaner' as the usual cleaner is 'on holiday' or has taken on another client, and 'sneak her in' that way???

It's a very tricky thing and you have my sympathy. THe one and only time I tried to get my MIL(400 miles away) to have someone in to cook supper for her, the second time she refused to let her in and sent her packing! Hey ho. (Sadly, it meant that in the end, she had to go into a care home - no alternative.) (Speaking of which, some of us here have found that the only way they got Mum to accept carers coming in was by saying that otherwise they would have to go into a care home - it was a lesser of two evils.)(You could say that the GP has 'ordered' them, and if she doesn't accept them he'll have her 'put away'???? Bit horrid, but it might work as a last resort, and it is for her own good and precisely to enable her to go on living in her own home!)