Mother falsely accusing my brother of molestation.

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My mother is bedridden, has an in-home aid in the daytime and is using hospice at this point. My brother lives with her and cares for her at night, which in recent months means carrying her to the commode and cleaning up when she has an accident.

Yesterday she accused him of molesting her. She says he strips her of her nightgown when it isn't soiled just to see her naked, and when he cleans her, he touches her inappropriately. I do not in any way believe this is true. I think she is mortified that her son has to see her this way, and he probably is clumsy and quick to clean her and get her back into bed. I know she is misinterpreting everything as "inappropriate," and she's been confused about other things recently, as her condition deteriorates.

The problem is, our other brother believes it. He's demanded that my brother move out of the house and hired 24 hour care for our mother. This situation is poised to blow our family apart.

Tonight I spoke to my mother and she expressed confusion over what really happened and said that she's afraid she spoke hastily and may have done something terrible. Needless to say, my caretaker brother is horrified and has retreated with some other relatives, praying she comes to her senses.

Has anyone heard of such a scenario and does anyone have any advice??


I am a 24 hour a day caregiver for my step-mom and she has recently accused me of abuse (not sexual) so I only have empathy for your brother. It hurts to give so much and be accused falsely by someone that is so confused. Luckily I have a great deal of support and when the police and adult protective service heard of the allegation they didn't believe it either. Your problem is the brother that believes the allegation. How many times has he cleaned up your mom? It's a different story if he were the one doing the care work. best of luck. Maybe you can get your mom to tell him that she was wrong and everyone should apologize to your caregiving brother. He doesn't look at her like that or he wouldn't spend his time cleaning up poop.
June, if your brother is doing his job, then yes he did strip his mother, yes he did have to clean up her 'private parts' etc etc. How hard must it be for a grown son to have to see his own mother like that? If your mother has dementia, then I can see how she thought what was happening to her was abuse. So next time (if there is one) have your brother tell her what he's doing and why he's doing it. Maybe if he talks her thru it step by step, she'll realize it's ok. And have the brother that automatically is ready to throw his sibling under the bus, tell him to come over and explain how to do what his brother does, WITHOUT stripping her. I'd like to hear that explained.
What a hurtful situation. I wouldn't blame your brother if he didn't want to tend to her anymore. Your brother who believes the allegations ought to know better. You can tell him what your mother told you. Having a son clean her probably made her feel uncomfortable. As you wrote, it probably made him feel the same way. I don't even think Oedipus would have wanted to see his mother if it was like that. If being cleaned by men makes your mother uncomfortable, maybe having a hired female caregiver is an option, although I know it is expensive.
Junebug, what a sad situation!

Your mother is not the problem. Poor dear apparently has some cognition problems even if she does not officially have a diagnosis of dementia. Perhaps the anxiety of needing the kind of help she needed pushed her over the edge into a delusion. If she is now calmer and more realistic about what happened, I suggest helping her explain her mistake to the others she made the accusations to.

Your caregiving brother is not the problem. Poor guy was doing his best at a stressful and distasteful job. In the future he might be able to reduce some of the tension by talking Mother through what he is doing and why, as NancyH suggests. "I'll try to clean you up as thoroughly as I can, to prevent sore skin and possible urinary tract infections." If she is capable of cleaning the genital area herself, that may help, too. This is definitely NOT a criticism of him or a claim that the delusion was his fault. Just a way to perhaps improve future events.

Your other brother is the problem. Goodness! Is he mentally unstable? Does he have some cognitive impairments? Is he totally oblivious to elderly confusions? But OK, let's try to give him the benefit of the doubt and say he really does want what is best for mother and he's doing what he thinks is the right thing.

Would it help if he had a talk with Mother and she explained how confused she was and how sorry? Is there some outsider who could explain the facts of elderly confusion to him, such as her doctor or a social worker or the head of the caregiver agency? Because if he goes on in his belief that his brother has molested his mother I can't see much possibility for healing in this family.

Does Mother have the resources for 24-hour care? If so, that might not be a bad thing, greatly reducing the stress on other family members. In other words, even though it was done for a wrong reason, might this possibly be a right outcome?

If mother gets into another panic/delusion and accuses the hired caregiver of wrongdoing, what then?

This whole situation is so terribly sad. I'm so sorry you are dealing with it.
Why not insist that your other brother come and spend at least one night a week taking care of his Mother. A little first hand experience is the best teacher and eye opener.
Momskeeper ---YES! Way to go every time.
We had something similar with my Grandmother when she was in a nursing home and it scared us to bits. She was absolutely convinced that she was being molested. She had very vivid language to describe what was going on and we were so concerned. Thankfully, her doctor, who visited her nearly every other day (he was a personal friend) assured us that nothing of the sort was happening.
He offered some possible reasons why she might be saying these things:
- she may have been molested in her youth and these memories might be re-surfacing now that she is once again in a helpless situation (in my grandmother's case this may have been the case)
- she may be confusing the care required and administered by staff as a violation (we gave strict instructions for her to receive personal care only from other women (something the staff already did so we didn't need to ask)
- she may have been having drug and/or dehydration related hallucinations (they monitored her fluid intake more carefully and changed one of her meds )
- she may have just wanted desperately to "get out" of her situation and was imagining that the charge of rape might get her "out".... which of course anyone might feel sympathy about. She had been a vibrant, active woman all her life and this was her worst fear ( having to be in a nursing home)

We were really torn apart by these reports because it adds a layer of huge emotional complexity to the situation where the caregivers and family feel even more of the negative feelings that they may already be feeling having to do with guilt and worry. No one wants to add betrayal and abandonment into that mix but that is what we were worried we were doing to Grandma, and we were horrified that this might possibly be happening. But the doctor reassured us, said there was no bruising and absolutely no evidence. We tried and tried to get Grandma to see that she was safe and nothing like this was happening...but it took a very long time before she stopped saying these things....and even then, she twisted it one more time by saying she "forgave us" for putting her thru the rapes ! It was the worst thing I have ever been thru, emotionally. It was very hard as a family to find our way thru this but eventually we got to accept that she was in fact safe and fine, just confused and possibly remembering a time when she had been abused, but there was nothing more we could do.

I'm wondering if embarrassment on both parties part is partially causing the situation. It is an exceptional son who can do this for his Mother and your brother is to be commended for all that he does do for your Mom. You might consider asking a home health care professional to come for a visit to assess the situation. Is there any way to hire a night-time female assistant who can give your brother and mother a respite? If not, perhaps your family is at the point where you may need to consider the next step in your Mum's difficult as that may be for all.

Best wishes for you all
As moms memory was failing, my son lived downstairs in her home. He bought her food, fixed it and ate with her. But she started misplacing things an accused him of stealing. It broke his heart. One day he scooped her up and brought her to me, where she has been, going on four years. All the things that she accused him of taken have been found. Now she hides everything and I am the culprit. But it is all okay as she continues her decline, a very sad thing.
June bug, YOu and your caregiving brother have my utmost empathy. YOu have gotten some excellent suggestions here, and I would echo them. Having your other brother do some caregiving, or even having a conversation about what the specifics of physical care for a person who can no longer attend to their own hygiene looks like, (and how a caregiver is supposed to keep mom clean without seeing her parts, and assisting with hygiene that she is not capable of doing on her own). Perhaps asking the question, "when mom wet/soiled herself, how should Brother have cleaned her up without seeing her body, touching her at all, triggering embarrassment? What should he have done differently in that situation?" I have been caregiver for my husband in those situations, and I assure you, it is the least sexual of experiences, requiring enormous compassion, patience, and trust. What is sexual about changing dirty underwear? And yet, it's understandable that Mom was triggered.
Everyone in this situation needs empathy: Mom, Caregiving brother, and Protective brother. No one is intending harm. If the care can (financially) remain in a paid caregiver's hands, that will take some of the charge out of it, but if that's not an option, Protective brother really needs to come to a place of understanding the nature of both caregiving, and being cared for, and the issues that arise within that.
Wishing you ALL the best.
What a horrible situation for everyone. If I was the caregiver brother, I would not want to be responsible for her care any more. It is a very nasty charge, and made more so by the other brother believing it. I suspect your mother is confused - perhaps one of the reasons ACsniece has listed. I do hope it is being cleared up, that other brother has come to his senses, and that caregiver brother is healing from this. Do let us know how it turns out. A female caregiver would seem to be that answer.

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