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Help! Mom is murdering the house plants!


Question: My mother, age 77, lives with me and she has early dementia. She seems to have a compulsion to "prune" my wife's plants. Pruning is the nice term. Murdering would be more appropriate. She likes to cut the coupons out of the Sunday paper as well. I'm trying to think of activities that will stimulate her as well as keep my wife's plants alive. She is incontinent and she has neuropathy in her feet, so I'm not sure an adult daycare is the answer. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Dr. Amy: Part of the stress of being a family caregiver--over and above the long hours and the demands on you physically and emotionally-- is the energy it takes trying to balance everyone's needs. It's a sign of love that you are trying to make sure that both your mom and your wife are happy. I encourage you to check with the adult day care centres in your area, as they may very well be able to take your mom. Adult day cares frequently care for people with a wide variety of conditions. Many are designed for people with dementia, so don’t give up on this idea.

Since your mother enjoys cutting things, I wonder what you think of buying her some plants of her own? You don’t want to buy expensive or delicate plants, of course. Look for large, inexpensive plants that you don’t mind seeing her destroy. Hopefully, this will meet your mom’s needs as well as your wife’s desire to preserve her plants! You might also consider getting her cut out books and a stack of old news papers and magazines. If there are more meaningful things she likes to do, like puzzles or painting, you could try that too. If not, just cutting things you no longer need is harmless. You might also ask your mother if she would help with household tasks like dusting and folding laundry. It could be that she is simply looking to keep busy, and these might be simple enough and can help.

I wonder if other readers have experienced this and have tips or stories to share?

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. September 26, 2014 at 9:30 am | Posted by MARIE

    Folding linens, towels and such, re-doing the drawer where the utensils are kept. spoons forks knives sometimes dishes and storage containers. These are things I have used in the past especially sundowners. hope this helps.


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