Convincing my elderly mum to take care of herself isn’t easy

Years ago, my now 86-year-old mother said to me “Darling, never put me in a nursing home”. I’m blessed that

Years ago, my now 86-year-old mother said to me “Darling, never put me in a nursing home”. I’m blessed that she is still sound of mind and can walk well without a myriad of health issues. All in all, mum is doing well, but I can’t seem to convince her to stop eating 6 biscuits in a row, or chugging down coffee.

I’m torn because being in my 60s means I have my own health issues, and don’t have time to care for her or tell her wrong from right. But she’s adamant she doesn’t belong in a nursing home and doesn’t need care.

Mum had a fall last year, which ended up with her covered in bruises and scratches. She looked awful but, as is her stubborn way, she refused to clean her wounds or even get some aids to help her from falling. She said “I don’t need that crap!” and kept on going.

When I suggest that she needs to start caring about her diet, take care of scratches and cuts, and wear her glasses more, she will palm me off and say I’m worrying too much. Any suggestion that she needs to go to a nursing home or assisted facility sends her on a long winded rant of how she is perfectly able and can’t afford the place even if she wanted to.

I just want to make her see that if she is well and taking care of herself, I’ll be less inclined to say she might need to get some help, even if they do in-home care.

All of my friends and my partner lost their parents a number of years ago and so I don’t have anyone to ask about what to do. My mum insists she’s fine but constantly does things that are just showing me more and more that she needs help… help that I can’t provide.

How can I get it through her head that she can retain her independence in an aged care facility? Has anyone else run into this issue?

  1. Many, maybe even most, elderly people don’t want to go into a nursing home. Get them all the help you can to help them stay at home in familiar surroundings for as long as possible. If they miss living a few extra days, because of this it will have been worth it in most eyes.

    • I agree With Max Bell . Most elderly Don’t like the thought of a Nursing home. I worked in a few different Nursings homes, & most that still had memory did not want to be there. If at all possible keep them at home. Get in some help. There are some very nice people that would love to be a little help to some one. in exchange for a room.
      I am so glad I was able to keep my Mum home until she passed away . Only had a week in hospital She was full time care The last 12 Mths. However with the help of my husband We kept her home with us. It was 12 Mths to be proud of.

  2. My mum is 95, lives in her own and won’t move. I’ve had to try to accept that I can’t control her. Her care is no way good enough but she won’t accept any more. It’s role reversal. “The government steals your money” attitude. She’s tougher than me. It’s about me accepting that I’m not in control. I just do what I can to support her. I know it’s not good enough but it is what it is. For my peace of mind she has Vitalcall, meals on wheels means someone is checking on her each week day. I visit once or twice a week and call her every night. I have to accept that I can’t make her do anything she doesn’t want to. Good luck.

    • You have a very sensible attitude, both my parents have passed but I have friends in your situation and it’s not easy.

    • When we were having issues with our mum before she had 2 serious falls & had to go to a nursing home anyway, we arranged for ACAT (Aged Care Assessment Team) to assess her to see if she SHOULD be alone, & they said she definitely had some deterioration and should monitor her. Then as I said she had a serious fall where she had been on the floor for over 1/2 day before she could get to the phone to call for help. I also had Red Cross who used to call her every morning (& it was free) so we knew if she was up or not and if they could not get her an ambulance was called.
      Unfortunately once she had the serious falls she was not allowed to go back home alone again as ACAT assessed her and her mental situation deteriorated with dementia. She is in a fantastic place now& well cared for now.
      Once that was done & I had to clean out her flat I could not believe the food in the freezer was over 3yrs old in some cases. The whole place was filthy but she refused to let me get a cleaner for her. She refused to let me clean out her flat or fridge when II visited each week and I had not realised the scope of how she was NOT coping s I tried to respect her choice. Due to macular degeneration she couldn’t see it.
      It is not an easy path whichever way you go, but to bbe honest I am glad she is in the home now as she is monitored every day, well fed & clean. She has a room of her own with her own bathroom. She had another fall there & had to have her hip replaced. They look after her as she gets very disorientated.

    • It’s the hardest of times, the hardest decisions have to be made , reading Kay Eller’s thoughts could have been my own situation with my own Mother . There are no right decisions just know that you have done all you can

  3. Mum sounds like a great candidate for an assisted living facility and not a nursing home. You should consider places where she has immediate access to medical facilities but is able to have her own place. A nursing home is usualy for people who are not very mobile and who need round the clock nursing care. I don’t know if there are places like that where you live, though.

  4. I would agree with Merryn wholeheartedly. You just have to accept their ways. Fighting with them is very stressful for you more so. So just get as many Carer assistance as she’s entitled to and meals assistance. My mother is so fussy with her meals we have found one of her caters can cook food she likes and so she does her a big portion of something every fortnight and freezes. I visit her and on my visits I take her some food she likes. I think the key is to communicate with the organization that employs the carers so you can direct them as often your mother would forget to tell them what she needs. Mine needs a walking stick but she’s determined not to have one. She has had several falls! I have learnt to let go. It’s very frustrating but you can’t force them! And yes there’s not much thanks in the end too. Good luck!

    • the packages in Victoria also send out Occupational Therapy who will assist with walking sticks and frames at a very low cost also will supply recliner chairs that stand them up.

    • I would tell her if she doesn’t use a frame the next fall may see her in hospital then rehab for months with broken hip.
      The truth is best sometimes unless they have dementia then waste of time.

  5. With the government trying to keep the elderly & disabled in their own homes rather than moving them to a care facility there is a lot of funded help out there. Get them as much as they need to be able to live alone & if you are not happy with the service change to another one. I am lucky my mum has a great attitude regarding nursing homes if & when she needs one as she insists she will not be a burden on us. Good luck to those of you if your parents think otherwise & remember you will be walking in their shoes one day.

    • Aha Lorraine but thats what they all say until its time for them to go to nursing home, then the attitude changed

    • Its very sad when parents think that they are a burden on us .They gave us life raised us so we should do all that we can to help them when they need us the most .

    • Ursula sorry that is how things went for your mum. Mine is 87, living in a small village atmosphere & has just been assessed to get help at home on her own inniative. She has a nursing home picked out if ever she needs to move on. Vicki yes I agree the word burden in not nice. But I have a disabled sister that can’t look after mum & my son is an aquired brain injured person so my hands are full. I think she meant for herself that she wanted to get herself organised & for that I think she is a pretty wise woman.

  6. Prior to entering into any care facility your mother will need to have an Aged Care Assessment. Have you had her assessed? You can arrange via her doctor for an Aged Care Assessment which will indicate if she requires a care facility or is capable with HACC assistance or perhaps none to stay in her home. My parents were 96 before they went into residential care only because dad had a fall. Dad tolerated this move far better than my mother, she felt trapped and had lost her independence. Prior to dad’s fall and a long term stay in hospital they coped well and were very capable of looking after themselves. My dad got meals on wheels as he liked his food whereas mum would have what she felt like on the day. Living nearby I was able to help with shopping, medical visits etc which allowed them to live their twilight years the way they wanted.

    • Yes, that is good advice. You need an Aged Care Assessment. Your mum will probably be assessed as low care. You can then choose an in-home care provider who will work out the best way to assist your mum. For example, with my parents RSL Care came around three days a week. One day they shopped in the morning from a list provided by my parents and cooked a weeks worth of meals in the afternoon and froze them. On another day they cleaned. On another day they took them out to doctors or shopping etc. This was flexible and changed as their needs changed – eg if they needed showering or wound dressing after a fall. They were wonderful. Dad was reluctant at first but soon came to enjoy the visits. Eventually they were both assessed as high care and they were placed in a nursing home in adjoining rooms with a bathroom in the middle. Both rooms opened on to a grassy garden area. It was like a small flat as they slept in one room and used the other as s sitting room. They got all the care they needed and many visitors. I was the one that organised all this. The main thing is to communicate well with the care providers and parents. My parents were both assessed as high care at the same time. I could not find a suitable aged care facility at first which suited them both, which we could afford, so I hired a lady who found exactly what we wanted. Family could not have provided the care and attention my parents received from the on site nurses and staff. It’s been a long learning curve!

  7. My Mum wasn’t coping when living unassisted. She couldn’t manage her medications, her diet or her hygiene. It wasn’t until she had a collapse overnight and was found in the morning, that she kind of agreed to go to assisted living. It was so the best thing for her. She maintained some control, was still independent from us her children, and really had a comfortable life. She passed away in August and we are so grateful that she had such great care. She was visited all the time and none of us could have looked after her physical comfort as well as at her care home.

  8. I just moved in & did a AIN in aged care so I can look after her – she is 83 almost totally blind and has osteoporosis – she has had a fall breaking her wrist

  9. When your Mother gives you advice regarding your life style choices just how seriously do you take it onboard? Start from there.

  10. i want my parents to stay home but everytime i try and get a little more help they fight me. it is so frustrating

  11. Check the nursing homes out first.. there r some realy nice ones but there r some crap ones also.. beware of the crappy ones

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