Mom's going down that slippery slope again.

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The last couple of months have been pretty good. My mother has let me take charge of her medicine and she has been pretty stable. Things are starting to change, though. We seem to be heading down the same slippery slope that lead to unbearable stress and financial loss that we faced last year. My mother has generalized anxiety disorder. She worries all the time that things around her are going to go wrong. I've been noticing an increase in her worrying lately. Today it started to get bad.

It may seem rather silly, but I know the damage her worries can do. Last year she started worrying about the water heater, so called an emergency repair person in the middle of the night. I woke up to a nightmare in the early morning. The repairman charged $2400+ to replace the water heater and spilled it all over the floor. He said he saw moisture and fungus in the crawl space, so needed to call a cleanup crew. I knew there was no moisture. I knew he hadn't even looked, because he was too fat to fit under the vent work. I try to stop her, but she was out of control. Final bill -- almost $10,000! After it was all over, she said that she was really stupid.

Things like this happen too often here. It always follow the same type path. She notices something wrong, gets on the phone to call someone when I'm not around, and by the time I figure out what is going on, we are in the middle of a catastrophe, and she won't listen to me. Then she realizes that she did something really foolish that caused stress and big money loss, gets really depressed, and starts wanting more sedatives.

This morning she was worried that the floor was wiggling, so she wants to call the foundation people. She also thinks there are cracks between the boards of the floor, letting toxic gas and little bugs get in. She thinks they are making her sick and making her skin itch. She also thinks the pecan trees in back are sick and we need to take them down -- they aren't even on our property. I had to stop her from calling the fire department. I told her it wasn't their job and they weren't out trees. She is worried that the central air is going to go out. She called the service people and scheduled an appointment. This is okay, since we get a free appointment each year and they are honest. She also knows something is wrong with me. She has even made up some things I am doing. I tell her she must have dreamed these things, since they didn't happen.

I can feel we are heading toward catastrophe, but I never know how to stop it. She worries and worries, then waits until I am not looking to put the catastrophe in motion. Right now I just wonder if it will be the floors or the trees or both. (I forgot to mention the attic that she has decided needs fixing.) I am bracing, waiting for the other shoe to drop. I keep saying everything is okay. Nothing needs to be fixed, but having been through it a few times in the past, I realize my words are ignored... until after the fact when she feels terrible about the mistakes made.

Personally I've wondered if she actually enjoys creating the drama and only regrets that the dramas set her back a lot of money. And, of course, it is me that has to deal with the messes being made. Thanks for listening. I hope for the best, but am getting ready for a rough ride.

15 Comments

You need to get financial POA in addition to your medical POA. My sister has it for my Mom, and it has saved a lot of Mom's money from being wasted on useless things. If you know the names of the service people she regularly uses, or is likely to call, make sure they know no work is to be done without your approval.
Thank you for the advice. My brother has the financial POA. It is the springing type, so would have to have the ruling of incapacitation. My brother is in TX and is totally uninvolved, so I don't know how much good he could do. My mother feels that males are cut out to be the managers and "attorneys." She still hasn't grasped the difference between POA and executor. She thinks POA goes into effect after she dies. I tell her, but she forgets. So I had my name added to her accounts to get around the troubles being caused by this. But still no POA. And to tell the truth, her words about it caused so much hurt and anger -- I was female and not to be trusted -- I don't want the POA. But that's another thread totally.
You may consider checking out ALFs in your area. Your Mom could have her own nice apartment, but no worries about imaginary problems with maintenance. She sounds 'incapacitated' already from the tone of your message. She 'forgets', sounds as if she is hallucinating, and acting very irresponsibly. Maybe she needs to see a geriatric psychiatric evaluation and a neurologist to be able to tell you exactly how incapacitated she is.
I guess one could say my mother is already in AL, with me as the assistant. She does have a touch of dementia. It isn't serious enough to cause alarm yet, but she does do some strange things. And her memory is terrible. I remember years ago when we would call old people like my mother senile. What I am hoping for her is that her mind holds out longer than her body does.

It has been a strange last couple of days. Last night she was waxing her bedroom floor to seal the cracks between the boards. I've told her those aren't really cracks, but she doesn't take what I say seriously. I'm sure she thinks bugs and noxious stuff is coming up through those "cracks." Today I talked to her about how nerves can play tricks on people, making them feel like bugs are on them. I hope it registers with her. She hasn't mentioned the bugs and chemicals to me in a few days, but I have a feeling the thoughts are still there. In the past I just ignored her concerns that seemed off the wall. I thought that addressing them may help prevent the radical actions she has done in the past. All fingers crossed.
The truth about anxiety is it is irrational, yet all consuming. Chances are, no degree of your clear headed thinking can dissipate the fog of anxiety around her. Does she see a psychiatrist or take any anxiety medications? Has she ever undergone any cognitive behavioral therapy to learn coping skills for her anxiety? If the answer is "no" to all of those, she really should see someone. You can't really talk the anxiety out of someone, and trying to is only going to frustrate you more.
I have dealt with my fair share of family mental illness. My thoughts go out to you.
My mother has been on a benzodiazepine of some type since I was a child. She takes lorazepam now. I don't like her to take much of it, though, since it makes her worse. She gets very emotional and irrational. My mother has always refused any type of help with her anxiety beyond taking a pill. She doesn't believe me when I say that she can self soothe with certain behaviors. To her, her anxiety is special and nothing can tame it but a pill. As she has aged, the pills seem to exacerbate the problem more than help.
would it help for you to call on someone you can trust to come "look" at the house and make sure everything is ok? could you make her think that she called them? paying someone $100 for that might ease her mind and save you thousands in the long run....
Today we had someone to come out for the yearly service call on the central heat. He told us everything checked out fine. My mother's conclusion was that he had not looked well enough or surely he would have noticed something was wrong.

She has also been concerned about the amount of chlorine the water company is using. She called them the other day. They flushed the fire hydrant and we flushed the house. Still it didn't fix the problem. The neighbors said they didn't notice anything unusual. He conclusion was that it was only our house. I told her that I didn't notice anything unusual. Her conclusion was that it was only our house, because apparently I didn't count. :) She called them again a couple of days ago. I think they figured out she was just difficult. I told her that she was probably just sensitive, and that she couldn't expect the city to stop chlorinating the water because she was sensitive. We have bottled water, but this one is not going to die down, I have a feeling.

The house foundation company is coming out next week. They were scheduled already, so it isn't because a special call. Maybe I can get them to fix the cracks in the floor that exist in her mind. I can't do anything about the imaginary poison ivy that she keeps getting into. I've been trying to convince her that financial catastrophe is not in her immediate future, but it comes up fresh every day. She can't remember how much she has.

I told her that she just needs to worry about something. If there was nothing to worry about, she would invent it. She knows that is true. Still she convinces herself that her world around her is all crumbling. (I won't go into her thoughts on the attic right now.)
gosh, I thought my issues with my mom were bad but you seem to have me outweighed...sorry you are having to deal with that....the suggestion about alf would probably not help because she would then worry about something there...the caregivers taking stuff from her, etc. whatever you can do to have a MAN tell her things are ok, will probably be your best answer...remind her that it was a MAN who checked the house for the chlorine, etc.
When is the last time she saw a doctor? Have you told her doctor all this? I'm not making light of her condition but she sounds like a meth head, so maybe she has some sort of toxicity problem, UTI, other toxins, she should have a complete blood screening, and yes, i agree, let the men tell her that there are no problems. My mom used to make up lies, really terrible lies like I heard her once on the phone telling someone that my house was crawling with cockroaches, ukkk, I never had any type of insect problem in my home, I had to laugh. Keep good tabs on the phone, unplug it at night maybe.

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