My mother is still living by herself. I have noticed some word difficulty with my mother and some forgetfulness. When I discuss this with my siblings all they say is, "glad it's your problem," or they do not believe what I see.
Q: My mother is still living by herself. I call her daily, help her with her finances, have her over for visits, prepare meals for her during the week so she can just reheat home-cooked meals, take her to doctor's appointments and have her connected with the senior center in town. I have noticed some word difficulty with my mother and some forgetfulness. When I discuss this with my siblings all they say is, "glad it's your problem," or they do not believe what I see. My siblings only talk with our mother by phone and do not visit often. How can I convince them otherwise?
A: Most likely you will not be able to convince your siblings of your mother's need for help. First of all, your siblings do not want to accept that their mother is getting older. In their eyes they want to believe their mother is there for them, as that allows them to continue to feel like a child.
Secondly, your siblings have clearly stated, it seems, that they do not want to be involved in taking care of their mother. They have absolved themselves of all responsibilities, which may go back to them wanting to continue to feel like a child. Parents rescue and help their children, and perhaps your siblings need to be rescued and cannot even imagine the day their mother will not be there for them emotionally or financially.
Ask your siblings for a meeting to discuss your mother's needs. If they choose to meet, explain the day-to-day routine. If they choose not to meet with you, then you have tried everything you can. Continue to update your siblings but there is nothing more you can do. Your mother is lucky to have you.
Q: My husband has dementia, and with the weather warmer and the sun brighter he is opening the door and taking steps outside. I worry that he may go for a walk and get lost. How can I keep him safe?
A: This is very important, because your husband will attempt to go outside and may become lost. Here is a list of a few things you can do:
- Purchase alarms or loud bells for the doors. This way when your husband opens a door a loud sound goes off alerting someone in the home.
- Label his clothes with his name in case he has difficulty giving his name out (this may happen if he becomes nervous or upset).
- Cover door knobs to make turning them more difficult.
- Keep a current picture of your husband in the house.
- With a Q-tip, swab the inside of his cheek in his mouth. Put the Q-tip in a plastic bag and place the bag in the freezer. This would provide the police with a DNA sample (if necessary).
- Change locks on the door. Use a double bolt with a key, but remember to keep the key available in case of an emergency.
- Camouflage the doors by painting them the same color as the walls or cover doors with curtains.
- Contact the Alzheimer's Association. They have an initiative called the Safe Return Program. They can send you information on this program and make additional suggestions.
ElderCare Resource Services is a partnership of geriatric nurses and social workers that helps families to investigate, assess and recommend medical and non-medical care and resources for seniors.
Send questions to SeniorSavvy@ElderCareResources.com or ElderCare Resources Inc., 29 Gano Road, Marlborough, MA 01752.