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Mom won't cooperate when it's time for a doctor's appointment

Answered by David Troxel

August 21, 2014

I have been a live-in full time caregiver for my Mom for over three years. Unfortunately, she suffers from severe COPD, A-Fib, and CHD as well as Alzheimer’s, therefore she has a lot of doctor appointments. It has become more and more difficult to get her to these appointments due to her progressing AD behaviors—for example, refusing to take a bath, or feigning some kind of physical issue. I cannot convince her otherwise without her getting very agitated and hateful towards me. I have had to re-schedule her last four appointments! I would greatly appreciate your advice on this matter.

You have been doing a great job for your mother for many years, even as her physical condition deteriorates. Despite your loving care, it seems like your relationship is suffering—you are spending so much time telling her what she needs to do and in her own way she is pushing back.

I would encourage you to consider an important question. What would happen to your mother if you got sick or had a car accident or some other catastrophe? Who would provide the care? What setting would your mom live in? Doing this, even painful, exercise will help you realize that you cannot do it all alone and that you need a backup plan.

I encourage you to take the immediate step of hiring some in-home help to do some chores, support your mom’s personal care, or take her to appointments. Believe it or not, she may be nicer and more cooperative with visiting staff—and they will have been trained on how to work with someone with memory loss and confusion.

This may also be the time to look at residential care communities in your area and also to see if your mom may be eligible for hospice services. Hospice can provide a supportive safety net for you and your mom—if not now, later.

Thoughts and stories from others

  1. August 29, 2014 at 12:21 am
    Posted by Rachel Burk

    This is a great idea/answer, but what if your family cannot afford to hire anyone to help out and there is no way possible to afford a residential care community and also, even though Mom is combative towards daughter, she's also the only one Mom trusts (I am in the same situation as the lady who wrote this question).
  2. August 28, 2014 at 10:59 pm
    Posted by harris

    That was one of the most difficult things we had to deal with when caring for my mom. She had taken her cast off her broken wrist and I had to take her to emerg. to have it re-set. She refused to get out of the car, I tried everything and I was so afraid of hurting her wrist. A young couple came along and asked if I needed help. I was tearful as I explained the situation. They asked for her name and referred to her by name and asked her to go with them....she promptly got out of the car to go with them. Found out later some cabs take wheelchairs...it is the best way.
  3. August 28, 2014 at 04:06 pm
    Posted by Harry

    What if the reason that you are the caregiver is that you can't afford to hire someone to help?
  4. August 28, 2014 at 03:11 pm
    Posted by Patricia Foottit

    I have been there. My Mom (95) refused to bathe, brush teeth, etc. And really had to be coaxed to see a doctor. She lived with me for 10 years and over that time, our relationship really began to suffer. In the end, moving her into care was the only answer. She is cared for, bathed twice a week in a "Spa tub" which she loves, is well nourished - and the doctor sees her as often as staff think advisable. We also have a retired "angel" (personal support worker) who visits Mom at least twice a week (I go 3 times, my sister twice). It really was the best solution.

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