My son is having a hard time caring for my mother who is anxious, confused and accusatory.

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My mother is trying to stay living independently after recovering from falling and breaking her hip. She had some sort of psychotic episode that we think led to her falling. Now back at home, we are able to leave her some of the time with an "alert" pendant, and an automated and monitored medication dispenser. She, of course, hates that any sort of monitoring need to happen, but is somewhat willing to accept it as long as it means that she doesn't have to have a "Babysitter" (provided by her 4 adult children and her oldest grandson - who is my son). She started to develop syncope, which doctors in hospital think is due to a sensitivity to Atenolol, so her dose has been cut in half. So far, 48 hours of no dizziness being reported. My question - she's started to verbally attack my son - accusing him of treating her disrespectfully, not wanting him to stay with her, etc. She has exhibited obvious delerium, anxiety, and confusion very recently; so those type of remarks are usually easy to overlook. However, these last few "attacks" are said with a great deal of lucidity, and seem to be truthfull from my son's perspective. He is extraordinarily hurt, as you can imagine - he's 19 and is studying for an emt exam. He's been at her house the entire time she was hospitalized to care for the house, clean it, and care for her animals. He helped to stay with her when she first came home, so she didn't have to accept VNA "strangers". So this kind of new(ish) behavior directed to him is very hard for any of us to take, but especially him. My question - has anyone else had a similar situation happen, and how did you cope with it? I'm recommending that my son get some help from a support group, and perhaps talk to her social worker...


I don't think that this level of care is what your mom needs; this level of verbal abuse is not good for anyone who has a loving relationship with a relative; additionally, if your mother accuses your son of abusing her (and that is where this is leading), it may interfere with his being able to be licensed in some fields. I would start to research AL and NH options immediately.
My father did this to me for awhile. I believe it is very tough for anyelderly person in the situation of breaking a hip, losing their independence, and feeling helpless. As a result they lash out...and usually at who ever is nearest at hand...and that person may be the relative caretaker (ie; son, daughter, relative).

If possible professional nursing should be hired and put into place with the caretaker relative taking a secondary role or least until the situation stabilizes
Does she have a professional counselor she can talk to? Does the family? Does she have a history of depression and/or anxiety? Her fall could certainly bring on depression and anxiety. Perhaps talk therapy and/or meds can help.
Um, for your son being 19 and trying to study for school - this is definitely something he does NOT need. Your whole family doesn't need it. You may need to consider assisted living, or if she's that bad, a retirement home. That way, she can get the level of care she requires by professionals.
I work with seniors and see this frequently- tell your son to remember that your mom is hurting over loss and changes in her life, and SHE is having a hard time dealing with it. While the statements may be true (I can't tell you how many times I've been called fat- and yeah, I could lose a few pounds...) I always step back and remind myself that the statement isn't about me, it's about the person lashing out against what's happening to them. That could be physically not feeling well, emotional upset at loss or pending loss of independence, or medical condition like delirium or confusion. Just because they are "lucid" doesn't mean their brain is fully functioning- the "filter" is one of the first things to be affected by many types of illness (not just dementia), and under normal circumstances the person wouldn't say those things.
Tell your son to breathe and remember it's not about him. He's doing a beautiful thing and when all is said and done he will be able to put this time in perspective. That being said, it shouldn't lie on his shoulders- caregiver burnout is real and if he needs a break to concentrate on school- the rest of the family needs to help with that.
I also helped with my Grandmom when I was in college- when she finally had to go to a nursing home, I would walk in to find items around the door that she threw at people (no dementia- just frustrated and bedbound). I just had to listen to her frustrations and let her vent, and try to understand where it came from.- Not easy, but worth it!
This has to be devastating to your son who obivousley would not be there if he didn't love her. He is 19 years old and studying to be EMT and needs to be focusing on school. I commend his compassion. I'm sure your mom does not want to say these mean things, but feeling trapped having a lot of limitations. I believe that talking to social services and you can explain the circumstances. There would be options you and your family can discuss. I know guilt plays a part on a family,but maybe a NH or AL might be an option that could be discussed. God Bless. Your son sounds like an extraordinary young man.
Your son sounds like a wonderful young man. 19 is far too young to have this level of responsibility. As his mother, you should take the lead in locating a support group for all of you and talking to her social worker. Your son is planning for his future and needs your support in staying focused on that. At 19, he does not have your life experience yet. This treatment is difficult for even adults to handle.

Reduce the number of hours he spends caregiving and bring in outside help if you need to. Even if she balks. Don't sacrifice your son's mental health and future for your mom's. Good luck.
I am currently caring for an elderly couple and they acuse every person that walks in the door of stealing their food, clothes, keys, wallet, pens,... It get's really frustrating trying to convince them that it's not true. They accuse me of hiding their keys, credit cards,... I do have a hard time with that. It is so hurtful when you've been caring and doing so much for these people. I do agree with ba8alou, and your son should stop being around the abuse and accusations because it could interfere with getting his emt license. There are many other elderly people that he will be able to help and they will be grateful. He shouldn't feel bad about moving on, it sounds as though you have a lot of other help and he can concentrate on finishing his education/certifications and be a great help to many people when he is finished. He needs to stay encouraged and move forward. Good luck to him!
The only answer is assisted living as I have often noted that being around others besides a family member improves the elders outlook on life. Do not be surprised if your mother continues to lash out at family when they visit and then after you all leave, she is fine. This behavior is passive/active anger at life itself.
At 19 he is too young to have the responsibilty. Of course people vary, but EMT courses are hard and THAT alone is enough on his plate, he should be concentrating on himself at this point. I am 54 and it is hard enough for me to mod my emotions and I am not studying for anything. The only thing he should be at this point is a VISITOR. Just my opinion

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