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Thread: Mom and her stuff

  1. #1
    Senior Member rosarugosa's Avatar
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    Mom and her stuff

    My mother has early Alzheimer's as I have mentioned. She lives alone about a mile away from me and still manages pretty well with some help from me and my sister. On Saturday morning, she took a fall down her front hall stairs. Luckily, she did not break a hip and only has a small fracture of the L-1 transverse process. She has a bit of pain but we are grateful she wasn't injured more severely. Her good friend invited her to recuperate at her house since everything is on one floor and she has a guest room, so Mom is there for the next week or two.
    In the meantime, I am spending as much time as possible at Mom's house cleaning, doing laundry, and a bit of stealth decluttering. I feel a twinge of guilt because I had earned her trust by never getting rid of stuff without her OK. I think it's different now because she has way too much stuff and clutter and that makes it harder for her to function, not to mention more likely to trip over crap. She has bad asthma and there are so many dust collecting things laying around. I tossed things like a pretty piece of ribbon here, a piece of tissue paper and a ziploc baggie there (no precious items by any means). I did lots of laundry and tossed things that were hopelessly stained. I got rid of about 30 - 50 pairs of socks (she still probably has 200 pairs). I founds lots of beautiful clothing stored away that she doesn't even know that she has. I want to get rid of her throw rugs as they are a falling hazard and bad for her asthma, but I didn't want to be too bold and I decided to discuss with her first.
    Her friend said I need to be more aggressive and not let Mom "boss me around." There is no way that she bosses me around, but I try not to be too heavy-handed out of respect for her as an adult woman who is going through difficult times both mentally and physically. I don't want to boss HER around. It's an interesting balancing act. Overall I feel good about what I've accomplished, but it's a never-ending struggle. It would actually be easier for me to just take over and do things my way, and I've been proud of myself for handling the situation with a bit more finesse.

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    Do you go with her to doctor's visits? If so, can you raise the subject of throw rugs/fall hazards there and that way it is per the doctor not you?

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    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yppej View Post
    Do you go with her to doctor's visits? If so, can you raise the subject of throw rugs/fall hazards there and that way it is per the doctor not you?
    Excellent question! Too many people who are fully alert complain afterwards that they can't quite remember everything that the consultation raised whether with MD, lawyer, bank or any other situation that needs to be addressed. You need to know in order to comply with her wishes and the professional advice given. We all hear the same words differently so getting clarification that what you are hearing is what is meant helps as well.
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

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    Senior Member rosarugosa's Avatar
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    Good idea! Sister or I are at all MD appointments. I think I'll broach the rugs with Mom since I can do that immediately. If she resists, we can discuss at next MD appointment. Mom is generally cooperative and knows we have her best interests at heart, but she does have her times of digging in her heels and being stubborn.
    She gives me a really hard time about doing laundry. She was always the most impeccable laundress ever, but now she seldom does laundry, to her exacting standards or otherwise. You know how you wear something and it's not really dirty, so you keep it out (maybe a little pile on a chair or something) to wear tomorrow or the next day? Now imagine that you have about 300 shirts and 150 pairs of pants, and you are kind of cycling through all of them, and they are not quite dirty. So you have a pile on the chair, clothes draped on the quilt rack, clothes piled on the bed in the next room, hanging from the light in the hall, bras on several doorknobs, and clothes hanging all along the canopy frame of the queen-sized bed in my former bedroom. A lot of these things have little stains (a drop of balsamic vinegar on the shirt is her "trademark stain"), so they need to be treated, and they wait for treatment indefinitely (which of course makes the stain harder to remove). I am a pretty fussy laundress myself, so I come pretty close to her standards. I reluctantly defer to her insistence that she will do her own laundry until it reaches a point where I just go tackle it. I am slowly getting a little more pushy with the laundry. When she is home I try to make it more of a collaborative effort and that seems to make her feel a bit better about it.
    It's kind of weird - wouldn't you love me to come over and meticulously do all your laundry for you?

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    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Yes you could come here and do my laundry!

    The trials of helping an elderly declining parent are tough. Sounds like you are negotiating that relationship well.

    I am getting some free aluminum foil (which from long frugal habit we never buy) Because my friend is bringing some to me probably at least two boxes. Her mother-in-law with dementia has stockpiled dozens of boxes of the stuff along with dozens of boxes of baggies. We used 15 boxes of the baggies yesterday when preparing lily bulbs for a sale.My friend was so so so happy to get rid of those baggies!

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    I wouldn't feel too guilty about "cleaning" up her place a bit. Like most of us, a needed change needs to feel like her our own idea and not something forced upon us. MIL's being sent to assisted living came after tripping over a throw rug that all of us tried to tell her was in a bad place. She broke her right wrist and was no longer able to function by herself. There are a lot of classes here for elders on preventing falls and maintaining balance. Anything like that where you live?

  7. #7
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rosarugosa View Post
    It's kind of weird - wouldn't you love me to come over and meticulously do all your laundry for you?
    Yes, I would!

    Putting myself in her place, maybe she's worried about the "waste" of energy--water, electricity, manpower in addition to feelings that if "I don't do it, it won't get done right."

    I know your mother is probably not alone in the sheer quantity of clothing she has... but wow. You are being such a good, compassionate daughter. Makes me happy about my recent downsize, and renews my commitment to stop accumulating.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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    Rosa, it's interesting to me that in retrospect, this is what my parents were doing with their clothing--there were clothes half dirty (or all dirty) absolutely everywhere, in at least three rooms.

    Honestly, it's the dementia. My mother's dementia chugged along very light for very long and then boom, suddenly, it got really bad--and the clothing was a sign.

    I think, if I had lived closer to my parents, I would have come in and changed it up. I would have thrown out the throw rugs and I would have thrown out clothing and gotten it down to a manageable amount, and I would have laundered it myself.

    The problem my parents had is that they could not recognize how they had gone down, and how it was just going to get worse.

    We were called in on a complete emergency basis, and we all lived very far away.

    If you are close by, then I would go ahead and get started on what you need to do to keep her safe and improve her quality of life. Clothes all over the place in various states of dirtiness (uncleanliness?) are a poor quality of life, as are having trip hazards in the home.

    Time is now, in my opinion. Get the doctor to tell her her daughter has to make changes in her environment for safety, if that would help.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Teacher Terry's Avatar
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    With that many clothes you could dispose of half and she wouldn’t know. Sorry your mom is having issues.

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    Have the doctor write out a prescription for removing things like area rugs, getting rid of dust catchers and cleaning clothes. That way if she "forgets" what he said the next week, you have the RX to support what needs to be done.

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