I Believe My Mother Is in the Early Stages of Alzheimer's, But I Can't Convince Her to Assign Her POA to Me.

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 09, 2016
Condrye asked...

My mother is 82 years old and I have noticed within the last 6 months that she repeats the same thing over and over...within minutes of each other. Also, her appearance has changed (not clean) and her home in general looks like she is unable to clean and put things away. After having two in-laws that had Alzheimer's I believe my Mom is in the early stages. I did call her doctcr's office and leave word of my concern but never got a call back.

My main concern is that my mother refuses to do a Power of Attorney for Health or Financial. I have tried for the past year to talk to her about this but she just refuses. Her Doctor's office has also told me that I cannot come to the office and just talk to the doctor without my Mother knowing that I have an appointment. I am at a loss as to what I need to do to make sure that my mom is taken care of. Please give me some advise. Really need some guidance as to

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a Caring.com senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

The truth is there may be very little you can do to get your mother to name you as agent in a power of attorney if she simply refuses to do it. My guess is that she's independent and headstrong and determined"”and this is not the first time she's rejected a person's well-intentioned advice. And is she's aware of the scary changes that seem to be threatening her, she may become even more headstrong.

Your best bet may be to have yet one more conversation about the POAs"”this time, focusing on her feelings about why she seems opposed to them. That may offer the best clues about how you can gently and nonjudgmentally overcome those feelings of reticence. If there's a particular barrier between you and your mother when it comes to this conversation, you might enlist the help of a close friend or relative to have the conversation with her, instead.

But know that if she steadfastly refuses, the time may simply come when other methods of care and supervision, such as a guardianship or conservatorship, will need to be put in place.

And that's a sadly familiar frustration you're up against with your mother's doctor. Some doctors will simply refuse to talk with anyone other than their own particular patients"”often hiding behind laws protecting patients' privacy. But I believe that the more compassionate souls are open to learning the more holistic picture of care"”which includes family concerns about an older person who may be struggling.

That bit of editorializing written, you may find medical help that you feel is more fitting if you can find a local geriatrician trained in dealing with older patients' conditions and concerns. Again, however, if your mother refuses to switch doctors"”many do because of loyalty, history, or just plain lack of alternatives"”there may be little you can do about this, either. You might suggest that she allow you to accompany her on the next visit, which would give you a better picture on whether her current doctor seems attuned to your mother's needs.

Here's a hard reality: When dealing with a stubborn individual, it sometimes takes some sort of catastrophe"”a fall, an accident, a friend's bad experience"”before that person will change his or her approach. In the meantime, perhaps encourage your mother to be around as many other people as she's willing"”as visitors and helpmates. The best thing you may be able to do while you're in this watchful state is to get as many pairs of eyes on her as often as possible"”even if they aren't always yours.