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Mom refuses to leave the house

I am looking for a solution to a challenge with my mom, 93, who lives with me, regarding her refusing to leave the house.... I read here on this forum someone else's experience with a parent who had isolated for several years, and how destructive that was on their personality and socializing. My mom focused her life completely for several years on her dying husband, and then after he was gone, she had enough home help that she never had to leave the house, and so she didn't, probably for 3 or 4 years.  She was not completely isolated socially, as my cousin, his wife and neighbors visited her regularly, at least several times a month.

 

So when she moved out of her home and moved in with me, I was unprepared for how she is. She has always been a very active and alive, healthy person -- at 85 she was still riding her bike to the store for groceries -- and now she is  practically agoraphobic.

 

What drives me around the bend is that she sits around and lays around all day with nothing to do except to ask me to do things for her like I'm her servant at times, and most of the time to complain about how old she is and saying oh, poor me, sigh, I am too old and feeble to do anytyhing. Meanwhile, every single medical person who has seen her says, "You are so healthy! I have clients in their 60s who are much worse off than you in terms of aging!"

 

PLUS, to make it even more annoying, if I trick her or push her into going out (sometimes I just spring it on her -- we're going out now, I'm not taking no for an answer!), she has a WONDERFUL TIME the second she is out the door and does not want to come home because she is having such a good time. The same thing happens when we go to the doctor, which is the one thing she will do willingly -- she wants to go out and do fun things all the rest of the day.

 

For anything else, including time with her grandaughter who she claims to love and who she lights up for every time she sees her naturally, It is tiring to fight with my mom for an hour to get her out the door, so sometimes I just treat her like a normal human and invite her normally. Tomorrow, me and my daughter and my mom were going to a community Christmas carol (indoors) that my daughter and I have gone to for 15 years and is important to us and my mom knows this, and then after my daughter's boyfriend's family invited us over for cake and coffee.

 

This evening she says, "nancy, I have something to tell you....." big pause for added drama. "I'm not up to going out tomorrow.." Sigh. "I am just not up to it. I don't feel well."

 

EVERY SINGLE **bleep** TIME she says the same thing. I TRY to just let her be a jerk, and sometimes I can succeed in letting it go and being peaceful about it. Tonight, though, I lost it -- "EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU GO OUT, YOU ALWAYS LOVE IT. THERE HAS NOT BEEN ONE TIME THAT HAS NOT BEEN TRUE! AND EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU PULL THE SAME STUNT. YOU PULL OUT YOUR VIOLIN AND START ACTING PITIFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!" and then I stomped off upstairs to my room and came here.

 

Part of the reason I get upset is when she never goes anywhere for weeks, I find her becoming awful to live with -- she becomes socially wierd -- like insisting she pee with the bathroom door open, and belching as loud as she can and refusing to say excuse me, or chewing with her mouth open and making awful noises. And if I ask her not to, she insists there's nothing wrong with it, or she's too weak and physically "can't" do it differently.

 

It would seem to me that this kind of thing would be relatively common in the elderly who leave their homes and into new circumstances. There must be someplace that can help us deal with it! I read in a book on eldercare that sometimes there are social workers at senior centers who can deal with stuff like this. Would a therapist help??? I mean, I am just about ready to get one for myself -- but I meant for her also, ha ha.

 

Anyone else have similar experience?? Any solutions that have worked for you??

 

Thanks so much.

 

Nancy

 

 

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Social Butterfly

To Nancy and others

I am 87 years old and I do not like to leave the house, I think I have earned the right not to. Nancy, like your Mother, I live with my daughter. At first your post rubbed me the wrong way and then I realized the real issue…. Is that you are scared  that she is getting old. That’s understandable but don’t make her
feel bad for getting old.

My mind is appropriate for my age. I don’t need or want to socialize. I did enough of that for years.

May I share the following things that help me: I have a computer and had a tutor come to get me started. I enjoy Facebook. It helps me keep in touch. I have an Echo for listening to books and my kind of music — many oldies. I watch movies on Netflix - I have my own room and join family for coffee news each morning. I watch TV programs like The View and CNN, closed captions help with hearing loss and of course large print.

I prepare my shopping list for my daughter to pick up when she shops. Gift giving for a large family is done on Amazon _ free shipping {:o). I bank on line. My Grandmother had none of these conveniences in her old age.

Yes, I sometimes annoy my daughter, as she does me. That’s life. I appreciate people letting me be me and not trying to control me. I would resent being taken to see Therapist. If I were depressed… medication helps that, otherwise what is to be fixed.
I live in pajamas and only have a couple “outside outfits”. My old wardrobe went to the Good Will for someone who needs it.I cut my own hair to avoid going to a hair dresser, I look ok. Nivea is my only “make up”. I wear ortho slippers and have one pair of shoe and boots. I have simplified my life… and loved ones support that.
Wouldn’t you like to be content doing the same? This is moving into old age with grace and contentment. Acceptance is love, I'm old and I’m not pressured to be anything els. 

 

 

AARP Expert


@mimi0000 wrote:

To Nancy and others

I am 87 years old and I do not like to leave the house, I think I have earned the right not to. Nancy, like your Mother, I live with my daughter. At first your post rubbed me the wrong way and then I realized the real issue…. Is that you are scared  that she is getting old. That’s understandable but don’t make her
feel bad for getting old.

My mind is appropriate for my age. I don’t need or want to socialize. I did enough of that for years.

May I share the following things that help me: I have a computer and had a tutor come to get me started. I enjoy Facebook. It helps me keep in touch. I have an Echo for listening to books and my kind of music — many oldies. I watch movies on Netflix - I have my own room and join family for coffee news each morning. I watch TV programs like The View and CNN, closed captions help with hearing loss and of course large print.

I prepare my shopping list for my daughter to pick up when she shops. Gift giving for a large family is done on Amazon _ free shipping {:o). I bank on line. My Grandmother had none of these conveniences in her old age.

Yes, I sometimes annoy my daughter, as she does me. That’s life. I appreciate people letting me be me and not trying to control me. I would resent being taken to see Therapist. If I were depressed… medication helps that, otherwise what is to be fixed.
I live in pajamas and only have a couple “outside outfits”. My old wardrobe went to the Good Will for someone who needs it.I cut my own hair to avoid going to a hair dresser, I look ok. Nivea is my only “make up”. I wear ortho slippers and have one pair of shoe and boots. I have simplified my life… and loved ones support that.
Wouldn’t you like to be content doing the same? This is moving into old age with grace and contentment. Acceptance is love, I'm old and I’m not pressured to be anything els. 

 

 


Hi Mimi!

I just want to say that you certainly have your life figured out! I am so glad to hear that there is a person like you, making your life work, with help from a loving family and some technology. You really can have a full and rich life right where you are. 

Of course you and your daughter sometimes irritate each other. That's to be expected. The fact that you share a home and each have your privacy as well as common areas, makes the most sense to me. Your daughter is lucky, and you are as well.

 

I hope to have a living arrangement like yours when i've given up the outside world. More power to you.

 

Jane

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I hope you do Jane.  Life is about doing what you can and adapting.  My only worry is living too long... right now I can manage.  Good luck to you.

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@mimi0000 wrote:

I hope you do Jane.  Life is about doing what you can and adapting.  My only worry is living too long... right now I can manage.  Good luck to you.


I once knew an amazing woman from my church; her name was Mrs. Walker. She'd been born to missionaries in china in, like, 1905 or something, and lived in DC. She would walk to our church, an Episcopal one, and it was about 2 miles long. She was tiny and bent over, and her name was apt: she walked and walked. She was over 100 years old when she finally passed. She would say, I've lived too long... Osteoporosis was a source of pain. i think she was relieved toward the end.

 

Have you got a living will, or a Five Wishes or something? You've probably taken care of all of that. But you are less likely to be 'kept alive' past your wishes if you don't make your wishes known. Just wondering. No need to invite the grim reaper over too soon. But on the other hand, no point in being tormented with tubes either. 

  

You're amazing. Do you live in Oregon? If so, I'd love to come visit.

Take care,

Jane

Contributor

Hi Nancy,

Check to see if you have a PACE program in your State/Area. The State has to qualify a person as needing Nursing home care it might be anoother option for you. I had my Mom in one until she passed in June 2014. We have those days when we just have to take a walk outside, clear our head and come back in and address the situation in a different way. But remember we are dealing with parents and loved ones that have been through a depression,Wars and have been independent.  The Parent has now become the child and it is hard for them to accept help.

Hope this helps a little.

bm6041

Regular Contributor

Wow. The PACE program sounds amazing -- soooo unfortunate there is none in my area!
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Thank you all for sharing your experiences and ideas!

 

Took mom to the primary care nurse practitioner and she agreed to double her anti-depressant dose. Also agreed it would be fine to take her to the gerontology specialist.  I found a doc on her insurance with good ratings online, and called today to get an appt -- they close at noon on Wed, will call tomorrow again.

 

God bless my mom, she can also be really open sometimes -- my daughter and I took her to get her hair cut and to the movies. She was very willing to do this, partly, I believe because she had 8 weeks of both PT and OT, which really increased her strength adn flexibility very visibly (she could only raise her hands level to her elbows before, now she can put her hands on her head!) and seeing those cheery people also really cheered her up.

 

I am an alternative health practitioner and did some tapping with her with EFT  (www.eftfree.net for more overall info) to release her fear and anxiety in going down the stairs.  God bless me, I forgot to tap on going UP the stairs! When she comes home and is tired (and I am so tired too!), she gets frozen on the stairs and it is really easy to strain her muscles -- she hurt her right foot and her whole right side leg and hip!!

 

It was swollen next day and she couldn't move her toes, so I took her to Urgent Care -- this time, I researched reviews of Urgent Care in the area and took her to a good one! not the stinky emergency room I took her to last time where the staff gave us about :30 seconds of care and made us wait 8 hours, even though we were visibly only one of two people there!

 

This Urgent Care was great and actually caring. The foot was not broken, thank God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So she is nursing her strained leg and hip with muscle rub and a heating pad. I am doing my best to detach and be calm, which is helping her stay calm also -- not positive, but at least calm.

 

The following day her leg gave out on her when she got out of bed and she fell on the floor -- but no specific further injuries resulted! I consider that sooo positive, and so does she. It is so easy to believe that once you break a bone (she has broken her pelvis, 3 yrs ago, and her collarbone, last year) the osteoporosis has set in and everything is completely fragile and easy to break -- that is just not true. Muscles really do count, too.

 

AND SHE DID LEAVE THE HOUSE! And she did have a really nice time -- I even got her a Closed Captions device at the movie and she was so happy she could understand it! (We went to see Paddington and she has a terrible time with accents.)

 

Also, the physical and occupational home therapists she really likes strongly recommended her to keep going and seek outpatient PT to continue to rebuild her strength (after she feels better), as that is the thing that will help her reduce falls and injuries. My mom has agreed to do that! I am also hoping to take her to a body-awareness healer that I see, to try to contact and release some of these fears or feelings that make her freeze.

 

It can be SOOOOO HARD to keep any kind of faith in positive movement when things look so gloomy, but I have seen it again and again -- it gets dark, and then there is dawn. I am very grateful for this progress.

 

Will keep you posted.

 

Bronze Conversationalist

Thank you for the update! Muscles make a HUGE difference. HUGE. And getting out, being stimulated by the outside world and movies and other people is also HUGE.

 

Way to go!!!

 

Jane

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always love to hear good/happy updates! Its progress and that is always a good thing

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Mine is bad too.  She only leaves the house to go to the grocery store and the doctor's office.  As a result, she is way out of step with how things are done and what people are like.  She will do something that ticks someone else off and then she runs home crying about the big bad world and saying she's never going to leave the house again.  She has a ton of "requirements" that must be met before she can leave the house, including (but not limited to): it can't be too hot, it can't be too cold, it can't be rainy and it can't be crowded.  She will make big plans for the holidays but then think nothing of cancelling at the last minute because she was too excited to sleep the night before and is now too tired to do anything.  Mine does the dramatic voice but also likes to hide things behind her back and then spring them on me.  She makes bracelets as a hobby and every time I go over to their house, here comes mom with a dozen or so bracelets that she's made, hidden behind her back, that she wants to show to me - one bracelet at a time.  If I can get her out of the house and she starts to have fun, then there is no stopping her and she will want to stay at a event or gathering for hours.      

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OMG, I so relate! Love your thorough description of the (crazy-making) behavior!
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Mine is bad too.  She only leaves the house to go to the grocery store and the doctor's office.  As a result, she is way out of step with how things are done and what people are like.  A

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My Mom is the same way. I am still learning to deal with it. Bless you.
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Thank you all again for your helpful replies. You have given me some good support and food for thought.

 

We are going to the foot doctor today, and will have some kind of outing afterwards. In the summer, I drove her around to look at nice gardens and she enjoyed that. Winter is a little tougher. Maybe coffee or hot chocolate at the new Dunkin Donuts....

 

I am now realizing that I have a strength in not being willing to write my mother off because I know how vital she is.... My weakness, though, is admitting to myself that she is really 93 and she has the large mental challenges that she has -- she is very prone to just giving up and being depressed, because she is so used to being super healthy.

 

She is now on a small dose of anti-depressants, which I can see has helped a small bit. On Monday, we go to the doctor and I will give an update and request a higher dose.

 

My mom has also requested to see a gerontologist. I believe she wants to see someone who understands aging. I will ask her regular doc if she would be OK with that. The gerontologist apparently deals with depression and helps with family issues around memory loss/dementia -- though, of course, what is on everyone's mind these days is Alzheimer's, which according to my research my mom doesn't have.. I am a bit afraid to go there, though, as I don't want the doc to tell my mom that she has "dementia" -- which I understand is also the catchall term used for memory loss -- so that my mom has another reason to feel sorry for herself and give up.

 

Anyone have any ideas about gerontologists??

 

Thank you.

Nancy

Bronze Conversationalist

Hi Nancy!  Gerontologists & Geriatricians. Oh how i wish there were so many more of them than there are. Oy. And geriatric psychiatrists. Way  more of those, too, please. Whomever is order new doctors, i hope they hear me...

 

To find a geriatrics care provider, try here: http://www.healthinaging.org/find-a-geriatrics-healthcare-professional/

 

Good for your mother for requesting this. Smart woman! BTW, geriatricians care for older people. Gerontologists study older people. The words get used interchangeably.

 

Good luck tomorrow (Monday, 1/5, right?) at the doc. She might feel a little bit defensive. All older people in their 90s experience some "cognitive decline" but that doesn't mean your mother's life is not worth living. So much loss involved in simply getting out of bed and moving through the day. I hope your mother can find some purpose, some joy in the midst of the decline. She is lucky to have you as a daughter, that's for sure.

 

jane

 

 

Bronze Conversationalist

Hi Nancy. I'm really glad you vented. Of course you're not a raving control freak. You sound very generous, creative, and discliplined in your efforts to do what is best for your mother. Moving her in with you is a very loving act. 

 

Yes you do need to keep up with your respite care of yourself. No question about that. Please do. 🙂

 

As i read your first post, i am relieved that she enjoys going out to the doctor, and it seems to me that you can take her natural willingness to do that escursion and tag other ones onto it, as it sounds like you have done. Get her hair done? Go visit someone else so that SHE's the visitor instead of always the visited? Is there some place she used to go to that would perk her up, like a cafe, or a museum that has a nice cafe in it, or a garden (come spring.) It rained here Christmas Eve, too: a damper for sure. But she tried and so did you. 

 

At 93, some odd behavior is bound to come up. Maybe a little dementia is happening? She probably doesn't get much exercise. If a nice day happens (like down here in washington dc it was in the upper 50s one day before christmas), take her out for a walk around the block. It might take a long 30 minutes, but it will do her and her brain some good, and yours, too. 

 

You could look into what is free in your community for elders by checking out www.eldercare.gov and typing in your zip code. At the bare minimum, you'll find an agency who's purpose it is to provide services to people over 60 (which might include you as well??)  You'll find a social worker who may be really busy but might really enjoy sitting down with you during an appointment to hear you out and then suggest activities that the city/ county does that your mom might benefit from. Events at a senior center, for example, to celebrate Valentine's Day, say. A free meal program. Day trips. Maybe the social worker has time to make a home visit and get to know your mom a little bit. In DC, there are geriatric care managers assigned to each agency that serves older adults, and they do home visits. Couldn't hurt. 

 

I'm a geriatric care manager and social worker. I'm thinking that you'd enjoy a caregivers support group once in a while. I substitute for the leader of one every few months, and the one i help with is free, meets monthly in an assisted living residence, and is full of adult children, and a couple of spouses, of older people who are struggling with something. I see the relief spread over the faces as caregivers realize they aren't alone. Or their situation isn't so bad! 

 

Intersan has wise words, and i echo the idea of maybe some counseling for yourself. Even just one session to affirm what you're doing and hear you out, might help. You don't want to put your life completely on hold, not that you are, but... there is life out there for you, too. What does this next chapter in your life involve? And what will you dream of doing when she's gone?

 

Let us know what you try that works, how you're doing, etc. We all learn from each other!  It's deep mid winter and quicker than we know it, it will be thawing and sprouting. Caregiving is for the long haul. You are providing an enormous service for your dear mother. She is one lucky woman. Let's see how it goes. 

 

BTW, whenever my mother burped, she would say "Ralph" at the same time. Gross, but hysterical!

 

Jane

Honored Social Butterfly


@nm1949 wrote:

 Would a therapist help??? I mean, I am just about ready to get one for myself -- but I meant for her also, ha ha.

 

Anyone else have similar experience?? Any solutions that have worked for you??

  

Nancy

 

Hi, Nancy.   I know you made this statement somewhat in jest, but I suggest you think seriously about doing just that.

 

You asked if anyone has had this situation, well I've had many situations in which people did not do what I thought they should, even though I thought it would be good for them and I was very frustrated and annoyed.

 

I'll admit that I first thought a therapist would help me find a new way to "help" them, but what I learned was something totally different.  I was unable to change them but I could change my reaction to it and be much more peaceful in my life and perhaps gain some understanding as to what was behind my reactions and theirs.

 

I can't speak for your mother but I know I have become much less willing to leave the comfort of my home as I've gotten older and I'm nowhere the age of your mother.  I'm lucky in that I live alone and I have the freedom to do pretty much as I want and for that I'm grateful.  It would be very difficult for me to be living with someone else who wanted to get me out of my comfort zone.

 

I can hear your frustation and I hope you find some help in your situation.

Regular Contributor

Thank you for your replies.  I felt much calmer after sharing and venting.

 

I apologized to her the next day for speaking sarcastically, and I told her I would really prefer if she comes with us on Christmas Eve but of course she doesn't have to.... She got dressed and tried to come, but it was raining and she walks so slowly she was really wet by the time she got to the car -- that was too much for her, and she tearily wanted to go back in, so my daughter and I helped her back in and she was perfectly happy staying at home.

 

We don't have money for senior day care, but I am still going to find some kind of senior activities to at least tell her about that perhaps she would enjoy.

 

I also feel I need more respite time, and am going to try to take more again -- I was taking regular breaks each day, but kind of slacked off, and wow, does that frustration build up.

 

I wrote that post when I was maximally upset, perhaps not a good idea, as you probably got the impression I'm some kind of raving control nut.... I really am not.

 

Thanks again. Looking forward to more perspectives also.

 

 

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Periodic Contributor

Just an FYI, we got my MIL into an adult daycare in town on a grant provided by the government. You should look into it. She swore she wasn't going and now she can't wait to go. Good luck!
Bronze Conversationalist


@kw4418 wrote:
Just an FYI, we got my MIL into an adult daycare in town on a grant provided by the government. You should look into it. She swore she wasn't going and now she can't wait to go. Good luck!

Hey, kw, would you mind sharing how you got that grant? I'm sure there are many others in this caregiver group that would love to follow the same steps you took for your mother in law. Thanks for writing. How encouraging~!

 

jane

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I know that you love your mother very much, and it's difficult to see her at this stage in life. She may feel that it's just too much for her to leave or that she requires too much help to get her places. However, I understand your need for respite care. I know how frustrating it was, at times, to attend to my mother when she was in the nursing home, but I can only imagine how difficult it is for you. I know that not having the ability to pay to hire someone is a problem so that you can just get a few hours away. Do you belong to a church? However, a social service agency, if you live in a city, might suggest some solutions. On the other hand, unless she's demanding, she might just be happy to stay in her room with her TV on. I noticed that many residents did this in the nursing home as they just didn't have any desire to socialize. I truly hope you find some answers. 

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I don't know what your income is, but some cities have seniors day care centers where they give the elderly, like your mother, a few hours of simple activities. If she's stubborn, though, at age 93 there's not much you can do to take her out of the house. It's best to provide her with a comfortable room, a TV and a cell phone if she can use it. At this age, they develop very strange behaviors and attitudes as I've seen it in nursing homes. My mother was in a nursing home for 8 years and then died at age 91. During the last 2 years, she became fearful that no one would be there to put her to bed or to get her up, to take her to meals or take care of her colostomy. She was in an excellent nursing home, but she complained when she didn't get immediate help. Even taking her outside on the patio on a nice day worried her that she wouldn't be able to get back in. It might be good to talk to a social worker, but I doubt that therapy is the answer. 

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