How do you care for someone with Dementia and Schizophrenia?
My mom recently moved to an assisted living close to me. For the last 35 years, she has had periodic psychotic episodes that resulted in hospitalization - and all of them have involved religious thoughts and issues. Many of the episodes involved actions that were humiliating to her once she was stabilized. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia at that time (she was 50) and it is somewhat controlled by her meds. Now she has the added diagnosis of dementia.
She was raised in a cult-like religion that was guilt-based and still goes to that type theology like a moth to a flame. She feels that there is a list of requirements for salvation that she can never achieve, but constantly strives anyway. Logic does not work with her.
She moved to an assisted living closer to my brother several years ago, but he was not involved with her on a day-to-day basis and she would periodically spiral out of control until she landed in the hospital and then we would start the process again.
So we moved her here a few weeks ago and when we went through her belongings, every book was either a Bible or religious material and there were stacks and stacks of papers that she had typed or written "her story" and long explanations of her religious beliefs and scripture verses. Every CD and DVD was a sermon. We (my brother and I) were both grieved to see that and really know the depth of her agony. She had stacks and stacks of religious tracts and from experience, we knew that when she was headed for another psychotic episode, she would become frantic to "share the gospel" with everyone, passing out tracts, until she would lose sleep and lose her grip with reality, do something totally bizarre and public that could not be ignored and end up back in the hospital.
Prior to her move, I went to see her and realized that she was more withdrawn than I had ever seen her. Many of her possessions were missing and she was wearing mis-matched clothes - and she had always been meticulous about the way she looked. So we agreed that she should move closer to me so that I could help her. She was very excited about the new apartment and new furniture and new clothes, but she absolutely will not connect with any of the other residents at this new facility. The staff is wonderful and keep me informed, but all that she is interested in is her Bible and what someone's denomination may be. We take her shopping or take her to our house and even when her greatgrandchildren are visiting, she is not interested in anything that is going on.
She sits in a chair and naps or reads her Bible or copies Bible verses. She is now wearing me down to help her find a church. She is not interested in any of the other residents. I will her if she has met any of the other residents (I've been there when they've reached out to her) and she says things like, "If they won't talk to me, I won't talk to them." I know that she's already made a name for herself because according to the staff she's asking people if they are saved and what church they belong to and outside of that, cannot be engaged in conversation. Many of the residents without mental issues of their own are now avoiding her.
What do I do? Do I help her get to a church? If she can't even make conversation to a person next door, how will she cope in a new church?
How do I help her without losing my mind? I've tried reasoning with her and you can imagine how well that went. Today she told me that she was happy at the other assisted living because she had friends and a Sunday School class. Of course most of her friends were in the same shape mentally that she is or were tender-hearted toward her situation. A part of me desperately wants to say - it's her life, let her go - and another equally desperate part of me wants to protect her. But one thing is for sure, I've lost perspective.
Have any of you dealt with anything close to this? I did read the first few months of caregiving can be the hardest emotionally and I am clinging to that - that either I will figure it out or get used to it.