Question: My mom is 86 and has dementia along with Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) and depression. She complains that her leg hurts or is numb a lot. She does not want to get out of the house and wants to stay in her pyjamas all day. One of my siblings talks to her a little rough and demands she get dressed and get out. I on the other hand am a softy and do not want to upset my mom or demand that she do something she does not want to do. Can you please give me some guidance on what’s the best approach to take with my mom for her well being? I don't want to make her angry when she does not understand what is going on. I do know she does not like to be talked to ugly. My mom complains to me that my sibling talks to her in a bad and demanding tone. Please help me to do what is best for my mom. I am 65 years old and the oldest of my siblings. My siblings tell me I have to tell my mom what to do and not ask her what she wants to do. I appreciate any advice you can give me. Thanks for your help.
Dr. Amy: The best thing you can do for your mother is to make sure that she, you, and your siblings all clearly understand:
Perhaps you and your siblings can visit the doctor with your mother. When you all have a more complete understanding of this condition you will be better able to care for your mother. At the same time, it sounds like your family may need some help learning more effective and gentle ways to communicate. You mentioned that one of your siblings is “talking ugly” to your mother. I am not sure how severely your sibling is talking to your mother, but it is important for all of us to remember that verbal abuse is a form of elder abuse. A counsellor could help you with communication skills. Your local Area Agency on Aging can also recommend resources to help you.
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