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Normal dementia or manipulation?
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Normal dementia or manipulation?

This is a bit difficult to describe so please bear with me. My mother has some personality issues, has always been controlling, manipulative, angry and negative. That's her "norm." A couple of psychologists have listed her as having a personality disorder. Now that she's getting older I'm not sure what is mental decline in terms of forgetfulness and paranoia and what's just a ploy to get our attention.

She complains constantly about being in pain or having this health issue or another. Yet when I manage to get an appt. for her, she cancels it. She says she can't see anything very well but cancelled the eye appt. She complains about pain all over but has cancelled the rheumy appt. once and is considering canceling the next one. She misplaced her will several months ago, recently calls me almost every day in a panic about it, asks me over and over if I have it (I don't) but then when I mention going to a lawyer to get a new one made, she doesn't want to.

Yesterday we went over and she met us outside with the comment - OK, we're going to have it out right here and now. I had no idea what she was angry about. Turns out she couldn't find her wallet. I had taken her out the day before to buy a few things and I was almost positive she had it in the car. We spent 2 hours looking for it in the house, calling her credit card and bank people and fraud people. Miraculously she walked into a bedroom and found it under a stack of clothes. Had to call them all back.

This is probably an impossible question to answer but is there a way to tell what's true confusion (because I want to be helpful) and what's game playing? She is 84 and lives on her own. Refuses to move to assisted living.
4 Comments Post a Comment
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144586_tn?1284669764
There are many issues in play here, however one common factor in dealing with the enfeebled elderly is often the feeling of helplessness they have and this helplessness is self-treated by attempting to exercise control, often in very small ways, after others. This can involve orchestration of little dramas such as the one involving the credit card.  For example I have been involved with a half-dozen seniors that invariably "cancel their appointments" with physicians after I have made them. Being contrary-minded or obstinate is another way of making their impact known. For the most part, loved ones simply have to go along with this. It is very frightening to be old, feeble, have no authority any longer in the work environment, or the world at large, and not be able to partake in the ongoing process.
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187666_tn?1331176945
Thanks for the reply. I do my very best to allow her to make all her own decisions when I'm with her. She wants to get things done, I let her decide what we shall do first, second and so on. Does she want to make an appt? Would she like me to make the call? (she has trouble using the phone). I do think she should be seen by a doctor to find out what's going on physically (pain, lump on her spine, enlarged lump in her neck, etc.) so I get worried when she cancels the appt.

I recognize some drama when we're out and she shuffles along and asks me to read soup can labels. Yeah, it's for attention since she can read them at home. But I'm having a hard time knowing what should worry me and what should I ignore. I guess I'll have to let nature take its course. The day/night she goes wandering alone in the neighborhood will be a turning point. She's already been cheated by yard men and a neighbor. Just hope nothing horrid happens.
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566249_tn?1294661218
hi , I never commented before on this topic but you and I have way more in common than you might think. If you remember my email send me a message I wanted to tell you part of something but not on a public forum if you are interested to hear and perhaps is useful for you.
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187666_tn?1331176945
Hi Gardenia. I always love to hear from you and you're so excellent at staying in touch. I sent you a note but not a full message. I'll do that.  
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