I've hung in there as long as I can, but I no longer know how to deal with my mom's dementia.

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My mom is 90 yrs. old. She still drives, lives alone, keeps an immaculate house, cooks, shops, and pays her bills but she has alienated almost every member of our family by accusing them of robbing her. In some cases, she has called the police and reported that certain family members broke into her house, etc. etc. I am the youngest of 4 children and the only one that lives nearby (within 30 minutes). I have a sister that's about 2 hrs away, but she is not able to provide much support - mom has accused all of her children of stealing her things, breaking in her house, cooking and stealing her food. This has been going on for about 4 or 5 years, and I have always been able to get her mind off these things, take her out to eat, shopping, to the dr's etc. She even comes in my shop and volunteers to work 2 or 3 days a week. She dusts, rearranges products, makes lunch, etc. Everyone is amazed at how well she does for her age and the crazy thing is that she acts very normal in front of people. But, most recently, her accusations have escalated to my family. My daughter has paid her cell phone bill for years, my son bought her a new car a few years ago and pays for her insurance and for her grass cutting. I pay her cable and phone bill. She lives on SS and a very small pension. It's just enough to keep her above the limit for qualifying for medicaid or SSI. Her house is paid off, so all she has to pay for is food, gas, electric, water, taxes, homeowner assoc fees and misc expenses, but she's always complaining about money. Well, her latest episode was a shocker. She was in my store and verbally attacked my daughter, accusing her of stealing an outfit (she had on) from her closet. She tried to explain that she gave it to her 2 or 3 yrs ago, but she hollered out "like hell I did". Needless to say, we just sat there in shock. I made the mistake of telling her that her dementia is what's causing her to act like this. Well......she really lost it then, said some hateful things to me, went out and slammed the door and said for us to stay the hell away from her. I've tried to call, stop by, etc. but she clearly wants nothing to do with me now. She told my sister that she's changing the locks on her door so I can't get in and implied that I've been "helping myself too" (but adds that I bring the stuff back when I'm done with it!) I'm at my wits end. Intellectually, I know something is going to have to be done soon, but I just don't want to be the one to do it, nor do I know what to do or at . Iwhat point it needs to be done. I convinced her last dr to put her on meds for dimentia but she quit taking it and said she doesn't have dimentia - I'm the one that started THAT rumor. She takes no other medications, but dr hops and says they're all out for the money and they're stupid and they don't know what they're doing. She has hypochondriatic tendencies, and has all of her life, but the only thing wrong with her, medically, is a constipation problem, which she calls "her blockage" and is convinced she has cancer and they're just missing it. She's such a difficult person to deal with. Right now, I'm backing off, but I know it's not good for her to not have any interactions with other people and could make her worse. She hates where she lives, has no friends and blames me for moving her here 6 yrs ago. She stuck a "for sale" sign in her window and says she's moving out of this damn hell hole, but has no idea where she's going. She refuses to consider any assisted living or nursing home options. She believes there is nothing wrong with her and if there was she will blow her brains out before she would ever go to a nursing home. (She has no gun, she's just talked this way for as long as I can remember) She's obviously had mental health issues forever, with periodic bouts with depression, but nothing very serious and I guess we all just overlooked them, but now that it's at a whole new level, I just don't know what to do. Suggestions will be appreciated.


I feel for you and your family's situation in respect to your mother. It is sad to say but dementia can do very harmful things to a person and to family members. Most people who have dementia remembers mostly things that took place with them in the past. Since your mother was born, raised, and has grown up living with very serious depression periods, did your mother have parents who were not very loving and caring towards her? There may have been many unfortunate times when your mother had to give up "things" including food that were very important to her. This may be why your mother is always feeling that family members are stealing from her. There are things that happened to her in her past that make her feel people are taking things away from her.
It is wonderful that your mother's home has been completely paid off. There are not very many people who can say they have done thing. It doesn't sound like your mother has friends she can spend time with. It is very important for the elderly to live in a community where they may have friends they can communicate with. I have found that most elderly people who have dementia just feel they can't communicate with their family members. I guess they feel it may be a possible threat for them to do so. If they have other elderly people to talk with and can share their feelings about same health issues, they feel more secure in life.
Telling your mother that she needs to move to IL, AL or NH, is a very strong threat to her. Your mother knows what this all means. This would be a very big change in your mother's life. An elderly person needs to make this decision and move for themself. Unless an elderly person has reached the 4th level of dementia and is a serious threat to themself or to family members, I wouldn't suggest moving her to a Nursing Home. What I highly suggest is that you quickly do an Internet search for (Apartments for the Elderly), IL, and AL within your area. I would first take your mother to visit an (Apartment for the Elderly) and then to visit IL and AL. From what you have said, your mother might be very happy living in an "Apartment for the Elderly". After you have found a very nice and comfortable place that you feel your mother would like to move to, make arrangements with the Manager and take your mother there for a visit. You might could even tell your mother that one of the family members is thinking about moving there and you need her opinion. While you are both there, and you see that she is really impressed with it, ask her what she would think about living there? It is important that you make sure there is an active Social Room where your mother can see the elderly having a good time communicating with each other. True, you never know what might happen but the visit is worth a try. It is sad to say, but those of us who are experiencing the same issue as what you are experiencing with your mother, we the children all know that the parent(s) is living the last years of their life. You and your family have done a wonderful job in helping your mother. In a very loving way, your mother does need help in being moved to a facility that will be happy and safe for her to live.. Unless my own mother was found to be absolutely (crazy), harmful to herself and to people around her, and needed very strong meds to help her live out her life, I would never dream of placing my mother into a Nursing Home. This is another whole problem and situation in itself. You will know if and when the time comes to move your mother into a NH. Thank goodness your mother is not ready for a NH.
I know it is not easy for you or your family members to decide what is the best thing for you to do for your mother. Please go to God and tell him about your mother and ask for his guidance. He will hear you and help give you an answer. Unless you go to God and ask for His help, he doesn't know you need him. My thoughts, prayers, and love are with you and your mother and your family. I just believe in my heart and mind that a wonderful answer will come to you.
Hi caseyp,
You have described my 97 yr old father. He has all the same traits as your mother. I'm told all the time that it's my job to do everything for him. My only sibling, a brother moved 10 yrs. ago to another state close by. He only visits twice a year and calls usually once a week. He is no help at all. When he comes here all dressed up, he sits and visits like a guest. Never offers to fix or do anything. He constantly keeps looking at his watch. I resent the fact that he is so calm, cool and collected living his happy life, taking his morning walks on the beach at Ole Cape Cod. My father is difficult and has always had what he calls a 'short fuse.' In other words you don't cross him. He's basically spoiled, always doing and getting what he wants. Now that he's of advanced age and realizes he's failing he is more like a spoiled child with temper tantrums. He thinks he knows everything and won't listen to anyone, even though things he does go wrong. For my sanity I go out for a while every day. Either to a store, take a ride, visit my grandkids. However, then I feel guilty thinking I should have taken him with me, when in fact I need to get away from the whole 'house of doom' atmosphere. He still drives and I've told him many times to go to the senior center offering to take him. He says he doesn't want to be around all the old people (remember he's 97) . I think if he gave it a chance he would love it since he likes attention and to BS. I also told him he would probably know many of the seniors there. More and more he is depending on me for everything. His lady friend never invites him to dinner anymore and has backed off. She calls usually around 8:00 pm and I can hear him telling her all the stuff that goes on here and with the family. People I know call her the 'phone lady' because she is constantly on the phone. In my opnion I think she likes hearing everything and to gossip. When I ask him why she doesn't invite him to her home anymore he says isn't feeling well and he feels sorry for her. Here I am lugging all the groceries in, doing the laundry, cooking, cleaning, doctors visits and all the rest. Almost forgot his doctor prescribed medication for his behavior but he refused to take it. I know it isn't helping you with your situation other then the fact that we aren't alone in this. Think happy thoughts. :-)
my mom is only 76 and i learned through Christ to love her and my father who is 77. my father does not seem ill except he suffers with swolllen prostate. they have been divorced since 1983. my dad cheated on my mom. i have three brothers whom have all abandoned her and she never was close to me because of what my dad was doing to me as i grew to 16 and left home.i love them so much over these past few years it hurts to think how can i go on without them. although for many long years i would even try to kill them dealing with my past issues. my mom never helped me,infact i went to a foster home which was abusive so i ran away then ended up back home. even though this is long past,and yes even the hatred for my father is forgiven more so than towards my mother whom I care for in her own apartment.i am working out my forgiveness one day at a time. learning just to serve her with agape love as with my dad. she is now needing me is what i see but is waiting for my brothers to help at anytime-NOT going to happen.she has always loved them more than me. sometimes i would think she never loved me at all.
your answer of" what she remembers" in her past horrifies me to say the least for what she must be thinking of me. dear God help me to increase my love for my mom,especially if she lives past 100.I pray that we both are able and obedient to cast down and not entertain any wicked and unloving imagination,but, entertain all that is honorable,pure,lovely and of good report. :,(
casevp...I hear your frustrations. Experienced a lot of the same behavior with my mother who had early dementia, though not as extreme. A grandmother, aunt and in-laws and caregivers around them have also experienced these same hardships. You will hear many more details/stories from others here. What you describe is not unusual for seniors with dementia/alzheimers. There are no easy answers and I can't give you a "fix it". A positive in your situation is that you have siblings that have helped out and finances don't seem to be a problem.

Ultimately your mother will do and won't do what she wants, including things that would help her, such as her meds, which could not only assist her but everyone around her as well. But, there's really nothing you can do if she refuses. This behavior is the last way/only way she has to be in control of her life...at least that is how she is reading it. She has a lot of confusion mentally, she can't explain it and/or is in denial, so she acts out.

So, if I were in your shoes, I would come to an understanding that you can't change her or her actions. Know that there will be decisions that will have to be made in the future that she won't like and will be tough on you. Get that in your head and prepare yourself and your siblings (have a family meeting?) for toughening of your skin. I would recommend to shift your concerns and guide for future actions towards, not only her, but the well being of others. Considering that, from what you've written, it sounds as though she won't allow you to help her, perhaps your top priority should be towards others. For instance, should she be driving?

Know that you will face perhaps the toughest decisions you have ever had to make. Things will get worse. Prepare yourself mentally...your siblings should too. (you guys need to be united, not second guess one another and rely on each other for support.) Part of the reason for this is so your conscience will be okay in the future after your mother has passed.

I think you need to switch from the rescue mode, and move towards the recovery mode. Good luck and I wish you and your family... peace.

Casey - your mom has dementia. Not likely Alz as she is 90 and knows who's who (your all a bunch of thieves, lol!) maybe Lewy Body or Frontotemporal.

My mom is mid 90's and your description of your mom is mine. It is not going to get better but only more intense and ugly imho. If you or one of your siblings is DPOA and MPOA and you all united in where she needs to be for her long term health and safety, you can move her. If there is no POA's done, then you really are going to have an uphill battle royale with her and go the guardianship route with an attorney or wait till she breaks a hip or worse and goes into the hospital and from there to a NH.I am DPOA for my mom and I forced her to move from her home into IL - as DPOA I could do this. She could not function at home alone, we had done the home health agency route too (she would lock the door, tell them to leave early, etc so they couldn't work as she didn't need them). I got her to have meal delivery and she went to a senior center X2 week with a van pickup.It seemed to be OK but looking back a lot of this was a show she would do for us when we or others would visit. The last straw was coming to visit unexpected and literally getting thrown back by gas fumes when we opened the kitchen door. Gas had been running for hours, there she was in her room watching TV. Oblivious. It was the stove's fault too. Then when my son went to open the other back door to get the gas fumes out, couldn't as the roof had an awning beam down and it was stuck AND the key was broken in the door. Again not her fault as a burglar did it. Put her on a couple of IL lists that afternoon and moved her in a couple of months later. She was major PO'd, threatened to de-POA me, was going to take a cab back to her house….etc. It needed to be done. What was priceless was when I called her the 3rd day at IL she didn't have time to talk with me as she had to get downstairs to the van that was doing a shopping trip to Steinmart. She did IL for a few years - she is very highly functioning as she has Lewy Body dementia - and now in NH. On retrospect my mom had dementia related paranoia, issues with language and difficulty with familiar tasks since 2005. To this very day on a good day, she appears lucid, knows who people are, can carry on conversations, can get dressed and potty on her own most of the time, she is totally ambulatory with just a walker. She’s in her mid 90’s too. But if you talk with her past the 2 – 3 minute conversation most people do with the elderly, it is totally scary……animals who appear in the corner, gypsy children who live in the building, amputee roommate stole her TV, poison in the rice, she had her period..... With my mom, who probably has Lewy Body Dementia, misplacing things was/is a big issue. When she was in IL, she would hide stuff in flashlights, then go into a fury that she had been robbed and would call the police and file reports. Her paranoia got to the point where she called a nephew to take her to the bank so she could withdraw all her money as “they were trying to become her”. She would cut off the tops of empty Kleenex boxes and nest them within each other BUT she would hide “important” stuff within the layers. Then when she couldn’t find the $, travelers checks or family picture, she would call the police. When she went to lunch or an activity, “they” would go to her apt (when she was in IL) or to her room (at the LTC she is in now) and would use it as an office or hold meetings there because her room has the “special light”. Spooky! Mom totally believes this is happening. There is no way to convince her that it is a “false belief”. This is so common. With her being in a NH and having her med's regulated, it is alot less intense for her and she is safe. Is she happy...??.. well no but then my mom hasn't ever been the happy type. My point is that none of this is easy but you have to go with your gut feeling on what is best in the long haul for your mom and stick with your plan. Good luck & keep a sense of humor.
It is so hard for them to give up that independence. But the dementia clouds the thoughts. Do the police know she isn't thinking clearly? I had an officer spend about 1/2 an hour with her. He asked the right questions and was ever so sweet to her. She showed him her room and remarked on the furniture (it was her dads) he said does looking at it comfort you? How did it get here? Someone cares a lot. She got very quiet. He came out in the living room and said "bless you", "we deal with this everyday." I felt better and I think she did too.
Sounds like my mom. No good answers for you. I haven't moved her -- but have discussed with her ad nauseum. This only makes her worse and the accusations, theiving, used to be directed at my brother, but now to my family and neighbors as well -- we are all out to get her. Drs have been no help; she has stopped taking dementia and Alz meds. I'm sitting tight and waiting for a precipitating event. Not easy, full of guilt....but anyway; Hugs to you -- you are not alone. Just explain to your family "that the accusations are just the disease and not to take personnally" then have a good laugh over them.
Dear Caseyp,
Wow, you are going through so much that it overwhelms me by just reading all that you wrote!! I totally 100% agree what Waddel1 said. There are no easy answers here that will totally satisfy your Mom. Sounds like no matter what you do or where she goes she will be unhappy and find anything to complain about or accuse. I also agree that you and your siblings come together NOW and make solid plans on what to do should this or that happen and write it all down for all of you. Every one of you should know what the others' responsibility is and agree on how to handle Mom when the time comes. When that time comes, Mom should not have a say in what happens because you and your siblings are doing what is best for her--she will never know what is best for her and will argue with you forever if the power is not with you and your siblings---where it should be. Things change rapidly when one has an elder that has dementia and you do not want to be caught off guard when they do happen. And they will....when you least expect it. If you don't come together with your siblings and make solid plans now, confusion and chaos can develop, arguments will happen, resentments rise to the surface...only to name a few. Do not let the confusion and chaos be between your siblings, all of you will anchor one another and be the strong force to do what is right and good for Mom. You will never satisfy your Mom, but you and your siblings must all agree on what to do when confusion and chaos does happen [and they will] when Mom becomes worse. I know this is easy for me to say, but my siblings and I did just this---we came together with our financial advisor and made all the decisions before everything hit the fan, so to speak - financially and medically. My Mom has dementia too and used to accuse us of putting her things someplace else, hiding them, or taking her things....although not as heavy as your Mom. So I understand where you are coming from.
Please have that sit down with your siblings and make solid plans that you all agree upon about your Mom's future now....all the "what ifs, and contingency plans, etc"......
Thank you everyone for your comments. It does help to hear from people who are going through similar circumstances. I do have POA and my siblings will not disagree with whatever has to be done. I've been telling them for 4 or 5 yrs that she has dementia, but they always thought a lot of her behavior is just that old people can't filter out their true feelings. Now that my mom is turning against me, I think they finally realize that she is truly mentally ill. They get so angry at the things she says and I continuously have to remind them that she is not responsible for her behavior and that she truly believes the things she is saying. It's just so hard. My sisters are coming for a visit at the end of the week and both are saying they will visit her but they're not staying long because they can't take it. I told them they have to go, because she isn't speaking to me. So....we'll see how this goes. She has a best friend (since elementary school) that lives about an hour away and she would go visit her fairly often, but her last few visits have been horrible. She was so hateful to her friend and told her she wouldn't be back. She told me that her friend has Alzheimers and she can't deal with it any longer. I tried to appeal to her softer side, but I don't think she has one anymore. She lives right next door to the community center in a retirement community and refuses to participate in anything, says hateful things about her neighbors and is not interested in making any friends, which really bothers me because I know it's not good for her to stay alone with no interaction with people, but no one wants to be around her anymore. What a sad way to end your life. We know that she won't be able to stay alone forever, but dread what's to come. Thanks again.
Yes, caseypjj, my siblings at first did not believe me when I told them that something is wrong with Mom. It took several months of me trying to convince them, it was very frustrating. Only when sis actually saw how Mom acted several times and especially when she had to stay here for one week with Mom [cause I went to San Fran] did she finally realize what I go thru every day. She went crazy and said that she couldn't do what I do, couldn't handle it, and that I needed caregiver help and that's when I hired people to help me out.
That's not your siblings fault. Not many people are suited to care for parents with dementia. Getting mad at Mom is wrong. Your Mom has a disease that will get worse. Would they get angry with someone dying of cancer or kidney failure or a brain tumor? Absolutely not! Your Mom cannot help the way she is and the things she says. They should just let her comments roll off their backs and not take Mom seriously--that is the only way to go and not allow Mom to drive you insane. Believe me, its not personal, although I definately know how hard it is not to take it personally. You have a rough road ahead of you but it makes me happy that you and your siblings all get along well. That is so very important and critical in this stage of your Mom's life. You are truly blessed by God to be able to do what you do and still have the patience, compassion, love, and kindness to do it. Fantastic job!!! God Bless you and your family.

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