Can we get Mom to accept adult day care?

7 answers | Last updated: Oct 30, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My 85 year-old mother was diagnosed with Alzhiemer's Disease about two years ago. My dad and I are with her most of the time. Within the last month and a half she has had two serious falls. The first time she broke a vertebrae and had to have a procedure where they injected a cement type of material into the area. The second time she fell and dislocated her shoulder. She went to the hospital and then to rehab for physical therapy.

She is convinced that we are trying to put her away and can become violent at times. We are constantly reassuring her that this isn't the case. My brother can help calm her at times. Her doctor and our family agree that she goes to adult day care for three days a week just to give dad a break. She resents us terribly for that.

My mom and I have been best friends for a very long time, yet she blames me the most. I don't know how to approach this anymore. We talked to her about it before we made the final decision. At the time she said she understood and agreed to go. Now she thinks that dad and I are Satan in the flesh. I don't want her to be afraid. What can we say that will make her feel less threatened. We've explained that she leaves at 9am and is home by 2:45pm. We're at our wits end and don't know what to do anymore.

Expert Answers

A social worker and geriatric consultant who specializes in dementia care, Joyce Simard is based in Land O' Lakes, Florida, and in Prague. She is a well-known speaker and has written two books, one focusing on end-of-life care and the other, entitled The Magic Tape Recorder, explaining aging, memory loss, and how children can be helpers to their elders.

It sounds as if you are all doing your best to manage a difficult situation. Your mother is not making rational decisions because of her disease not because of anything you are doing. Adjusting to adult day care is difficult. Have you met with the staff at the day center and explained the problem. They might be able to enlist her to be a "volunteer" who is very valuable to them. Have them give her a task she can do easily then everyone, the family and staff reinforce how her volunteer services are needed. I'm not one to suggest medication but something to help with her anxiety may be beneficial. Perhaps an evaluation by a geriatric psychologist would help decide if medication is called for in this situation. She is fortunate to have such a caring family.

Community Answers

Below answered...

This the same situation my sister & I are going through.She insist that she will not leave home,& wants us to take her everywhere,but is never satisfied.He comes in one door & wants to go somewhere else.We take her out to eat where she wants to go..right away she'll say box it,let go to Walmart,payless,dollar general,walgreens,cvs,she does'nt stop.It's to the point she has no friends that want to see her,She does not like to mingle,or meet new people.We thought that maybe twice a week @a daycare center would help.We need help!

Emily m. answered...

Hello below,

Thank you for your comment. I'm sorry to hear about your situation. If you'd like, you can create your own Ask & Answer page.

Take care, Emily | Community Manager

Julianaleo answered...

I'm not to sure this is going to receive any rave reviews, in answer to the above - but here goes. It's helping me stay "real".

When a person has gotten to That Stage of not being reasonably able to take care of oneself, it becomes clear to me, that they also are not able to make reasonable assessments or decisions. Judgement calls, may be a thing of the past.

So, as much as you might want to respect their wishes...are you sure they will ever recieve any changes, in any manner but with 'resistance'? I mean...who's the Grown Up now?

I have been doing that same thing, up until a few weeks into the whole new 'dementia scenario' with my Mom...And yes, I am always the Bad Guy. It seems it is similar to the way you would have to treat a youngster - I have now become the Parent. Only difference is the child has to listen. Parents won't, don't, and still think you are the Kid.

So...all that explanation aside - Drastic times call for drastic measures - and for the sake of sanity, perhaps it's time for me to put on my Big Girl Pants and deal with a (fussy) parent in the manner that calls for getting results. First off, my mom doesn't even recall any angry words that get spoken in the heat of the why am I worried about the repercussions..(haha) It's not like she's going to Spank Me! for talking back. (I mean, really..what kid doesn't think about that from time to time...when dealing with thier aging Mom/Dad?)

And yes, it's the disease showing it's ugly little head...but rightfully, one has to keep their head and wits to know how to handle this; and sometimes it's not with Kid Gloves. My Mom fusses at me, and I do exactly what she did to me (as a kid)...I tell her to stop being so cantankerous, go to her room, or sit down and be quiet. And yes, I raise my voice!

If you want to spoil a parent - give them everything they want. Since when does discipline not work here? If I tell my Mom to stop something (like walking out in the street, for godsake)...would you not yell at them to stop???

I'm NOT talking about abusing anyone, beatings or slapping, spankings etc. - but there is a point to where a person who is caretaking, can not be mamby-pamby about this - and has to be the one to step up and do the dirty work. Outside of walking about from an impending argument - which I have had to do - there is a point where some kind of control has to be shown.

This is not a fun job - and mothers and daughters are not promised to be the best of friends. It's about taking care of another's well being, and sometimes it's not a nice place to be. Jules

Dataway answered...

I strongly urge you to read the book "The 36-hour day". It has helped me immensely. It helps you understand your parent and helps you give them the dignity they deserve. It is not their fault they have this disease.

They want love and understanding from you. You'll understand why they do things and how you can react and cope. There is no need to treat them like children; in fact that is one thing they hate. Don't talk down to them. They know when you are doing that. They react positively when you treat them as your parent.

Manito7o7 answered...

My mom is a bit beyond the point of even saying words and being very aggressive, but she was like this at one point. Sometimes she would come at my dad and me with her fists, point fingers at us angrily, accuse of us things, have delusions, among other things. I recommend that you just don't take her anger personally because, really, what's the point? She's going through a very frustrating experience, and you can't change that. What you can change is the way you perceive her emotions and reactions. I am 22 years old now, and I feel that my mom was pretty aggressive when I was 18-21. Her condition is getting worse, but it took me a while to understand that I can't change her. I can only accept and understand. What helped me in college was going to a counselor/ therapist at my school to talk about my problems. Honestly, it really helped me have more control over my thoughts and emotions because my counselor guided me through the unhealthy way in which I thought of myself. Basically, I blamed myself for a lot of things and felt like a bad daughter. If you cannot afford this, I hear that caregiver groups help. I studied a lot of psychology, and two of my classes (gerontology and abnormal psychology) discussed the issues of alzheimer's disease. Through this, I understand my mom more and what she is going through.

Now when she gets upset or angry I just say things like "ok mom", "i'm sorry mom for doing that", and "it's going to be ok"... things like that that are comforting. AGAIN, please do not feel sorry or that you really feel that you should be blamed. There is no point in feeling extremely guilty because we all know that you're doing the absolute best you can for you mom and family.

In all, I think the more you understand about you and your mom the better prepared you will be to address certain issues in your situation. Trust me, I know what you're going through. As I type this I am going through a difficult situation in caring for my mom. She's not in adult day care but I am doing research on how and where I can get assistance. By the way, I've read about people getting the 36 hour book. I just bought it on ebay for less than $5 used. It might be a good investment :]

Good luck and take care!

Laguna 1 answered...

Alzheimers is a very cruel disease, we know these Mom and Dad's were not like that at all...So very sad.....and yes, we do need compassion when helping them...and it does get very tiring on the caregiver...(you the Family).....put some of their favourite music on for with them.....Get them a colouring book....these all seem to help soothe them......I moved to Elk Grove from Canada...there I was a Red Cross driver and a companion sitter......I sure hope this feedback will help someone....I am also looking for this type of a position here........Thank you...and God Bless.....Love them dearly....and lots of hugs.......Barbara