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Annie’s Mailbox: Dementia prevents desire to see doctor

Kathy Mitchell

Dear Annie: Eight years ago, I moved in with my parents to help care for them. My dad passed away shortly after. My mother has some minor health issues but can get around. Annie, as the years have passed, it has become a miserable existence. There are no visitors to our house. I’m sure the reason is Mom’s chronic complaints. According to her, there is nothing good in her life.

My only sibling lives several hours away. Other than regular phone calls and an occasional visit, there is no help. For the past few weeks, my mother has had a major health problem and she refuses to go to the doctor. I told her this has gone on long enough, and she needs to see the physician. I thought some “tough love” would convince her. Instead, she yelled at me and cursed me several times. That was terribly hurtful.

Although I think Mom is showing some small signs of mild dementia, she has it pretty much together. Even so, I cannot fix her health issues if she refuses to see her doctor. I am stressed beyond belief and at the end of my rope. I have tried counseling, and although it helped with the frustration, it doesn’t solve the ongoing problem. Can you offer me some advice? – Stressed Daughter

Dear Daughter: The “mild dementia” may be the reason Mom is so stubborn and belligerent toward you. Is your mother eligible to see a visiting nurse? Check out vnaa.org to find out how to get a trained professional to come to your home. If the nurse says Mom needs to see a physician, she may be more likely to listen, and it’s possible the nurse can contact Mom’s doctor directly. Then, please check out the Family Caregiver Alliance (caregiver.org). The site offers information for caregivers, and can help you find respite care for yourself.

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