weekend open thread - April 20-21, 2024 (2024)

My friend has a mother like this. Lots of issues and zero ability to adapt or adjust. She grins and bears it but she is one of the most patient people I know and even she is beginning to crack with frustration at times. Her mom says all the doctors are lying, that she is doing her exercise and nothing is working (she i snot doing them), she refuses to go to the cultural community center to socialize, refuses to get a substantial hobby or make friends. It’s all too “hard” or some other lacking excuse short of admitting “I don’t want to.” I have stubborn & frustrating parents, but her mom takes the cake. I have some thoughts on stuff that might help:

> She is becoming wheelchair bound and was in a rehab place for a while, and, well, has no plan.

This is the physical problem. It’s objective for the most part. You can think of it as that. She has steps she needs to do to prevent this or ease the transition into a wheelchair. There isn’t confusion here — either she can follow a plan to get mobility back to some manageable baseline or she will need to prep her home for a life in a wheelchair.

> It becomes too much for me when I go there and I get sidetracked with all of the physical aspects of the house then am too exhausted to deal with them.

Be systematic. When you look at everything and think “gotta get it done now now now” it’s like someone pouring a load of bricks into your backpack. Add the bricks — and yes, they’re still bricks — one-by-one. What is most important? The stairs so she can get up easier? Lowering the cabinets so she doesn’t have to reach? What “major” project have cheap workarounds (i.e., if you need to lower the cabinets, can you come up with some on the counter solution?) If the house is messy or something on those lines, do not be shy to hire someone to clean it. Focus on the things that you actually need to do vs the things you could do so you may as well. Outsource as much as you can afford. Otherwise, triage by “needed this yesterday” to “will need to do soon” to “will need in the future.”

> But now I’m seeing she lacks planning and resiliency.

You’re likely right but also she’s an emotional person and this is hard on her. Denying the future is normal for people with limb loss, mobility loss, hearing loss, sight loss. I do think a support group (the rehab facility or hospital may have one — I know my hospital has one for vision loss) for this — if she’s amendable — might be a good place for her to cry with others and hear other people’s stories. I don’t know your mother but she may benefit from seeing others in the same situation to be able to project herself into it and visualize her reality. Right now, she relies on you a lot, I think, both emotionally and physically. It’s time to outsource part of the emotional support.

You may have to sit her down for a planning session, if not. Write it down. Tell her clearly what you can and cannot do for her and what she needs to do to avoid a worse case (i.e., sell the home and go to a nursing home).

> I have no clue what to do or say to get her motivated and trying to walk around and to get some therapy and improve.

Is she responsive when someone goes with her? You can do it or hire a home health aide once or twice a week to just go outside and walk with her. Getting someone motivated is hard — it’s better to spend time getting them into a routine. I nagged my mom every day to go to the gym and I nag her when she doesn’t go. She got into a habit after me going with her, going regularly, and to avoid being nagged at. Put on your WORST micromanager hat for this, if you think it will work.

> My mother was always emotional but it was in a good way, until recently.

This, through the whole thing, stuck out to me. Especially regarding the cheating — I am not this emotional, it’s so foreign to me. Someone cheats on me, they’re out of my mind after I get my anger and hurt and betrayal out. But there are some people who remember hurt like it was yesterday. Have you ever talked through this with her? Not trying to tell her it’s 27 years ago, not to get her to get over it, but telling her something like “I’m proud to have you as my mom, no matter what dad did” and “this is how I felt when I found out” or “you survived dad cheating, this is a piece of cake in comparison”? I find that people who hold onto things are holding onto them until they hear some magic words no one has told them…I only assume those words are comfort they didn’t get in real time. People always offer anger on behalf, but rarely praise.

All that to say, you can support her but twist that support into a call to action rather than using it as an encouragement to be complacent. I think the key to getting her motivated is using her emotionality and extreme sentiment to your advantage.

weekend open thread - April 20-21, 2024 (2024)


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