lenzeme Asked July 2011

Why is my mother-in-law striking out against the only people in her life that care for her? She has driven everyone away.

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My 82 year old mother-in-law is driving ME insane! In November of 2010, we made the decision to stop being the caregivers for her; she has dementia, won't seek treatment and her nurse practioner (she won't see a physician) is not capable of treating her condition. He recognizes it, but really ignores it.

Since we stopped being her caregivers, she has caused nothing but problems. Threatening to sue us for "trying to make her think she is crazy" or call the police for taking a can opener (one that broke years ago). She has, for the past 10 years or so, accused everyone of wanting her money-(she has none). The only asset she has is her home...and in 1997, she was afraid that she would develop dementia like her mother, so she transferred her home into my husbands name. She then accused him of only taking care of her for her house. SO, after meeting with a counselor and adult protective services, he signed the house back over to her-(I think my husband was trying to show her that he loved her, NOT her house). Did I mention that her other son, David, is a convicted sexual predator and is playing the "nothing is wrong with you, can I have money" game.

Anyway, NOW, she is accusing us of taking more than $3000 from her checking account! We have never had a POA, access to her account, or anything to do with her checking account. I am so very sick of all the drama. We have gone to Human Services, we have talked to a counselor, what else can we do? I know, its the dementia, but it feels like she is trying to destroy our lives.

My poor husband feels so guility that he is not protecting her from David, but she continues to make these accusations-(she even went into our 23 year old son's employer and told his supervisor that he was a "horrible" person). Why is she striking out against the only people in her life that honestly care about her? She has driven everyone else away-(her other grandchildren, her niece, and now us!).

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CaraMia Jul 2011
Pardon me for misspelling your name, Lenzeme.
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CaraMia Jul 2011
Lenzeme, sounds like you have researched all your options and are limited in what you can do without your mother-in-law's cooperation for the time being. You may want to check on her a couple of times weekly, let adult protective services know about her other son's criminal background and his desire to get money from her. That may change the sense of urgency for APS to step in. They should have a hotline you can call to report your concerns even anonymously. If nothing else, they can also keep an eye on the situation. Your husband was smart to transfer her home back to her name when she started complaining. I wouldn't worry about her accusing you of taking $3,000 from her account because you will easily be able to prove that you do not have access to her bank account. Don't abandon her completely, but take a step back for your husband's sanity and yours. Good luck in a no-win situation, Lezeme.
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Givingup Jul 2011
wuvs - I agree with you that positive overcomes negative and I'd add that I love my mother and have made numerous sacrifices to take care of her, to include paying for caregivers, her food, cable, etc. and foregoing time with friends and my spouse, However, I realized after getting physically ill from devoting my every minute to my mother's care was not healthy and that I had to set some limits on how much I could do because regardless of how much I did, she was verbally and emotionally abusive and putting myself in her path was self-destructive. It's amazing to me how once I set some limits on her behavior, similarly to how a mother would set limits on a teenager who yells and screams, I was able to change the dynamic despite her dementia. In other words, she realized I wasn't going to tolerate it. I expect that like many of the experiences mentioned on this site that my situation is very different than yours and others and what works for me wouldn't work for you, and that we each have our own path and must determine our own direction for how to best deal with all the challenges we are confronting in this journey. But I am a Christian and I am following God's leading down this rocky road. I commend your dedication and determination to care for your mom despite the naysayers and hindrances you have encountered.
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Givingup Your screen name should be revised to "Givingupisnotanoption"
After my Mom's diagnosis My focus became her wellbeing. I was told you can't do it repetedly by my family. Who for the record, had no other solution but to hinder my actions to deal with the problem. Noone wanted the job but, only had useless answers and negative complaints instead of helpful constructive actions or words. I found out the hard way, but I did find out...Actions speak louder than words with family and my Mom. A pure soul cannot be weakened or overruled by harsh words or ill intent. Food for thought!
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Givingup Jul 2011
Lenzeme - I've been in the same situation in which my mother who has dementia but is also mentally ill (bipolar disorder, narcissistic personality disorder) has said horrible things about me to caregivers, neighbors, medical staff, etc. I mean HORRIBLE - accused me of stealing her medication, pushing her down, and other lies and it has been extremely challenging, to say the least. My situation with her is fairly recent since she was managing fairly well until she went into the hospital for an infection, and upon release from the hospital she refused to go to the nursing center. So we've had a rough past month but I've learned alot on this site and here is how I'm handling it now - I LIMIT CONTACT. I have caregivers in place and I call her each day, usually twice to check in and since I've backed off, she is treating me more respectfully. If/when she becomes hostile or agitated and lashes out at me, I simply change the subject and if she continues, I either get up to leave or tell her I have to go - have another call coming in. In other words, I'm in control, not her. I experienced the guilt, etc. and then realized for what? Why feel guilty for doing everything and more to help her? The other side of your issue related to your brother-in-law is more difficult since he is manipulating her and it doesn't seem there is much you can do other than monitor the situation as best as possible and then report him to law enforcement if he is stealing from her. I would expect he'd be on probation so you could also contact his probation officer if this is the case. But recognizing my limitations was what has helped me the most. We can't control everything going on but we can certainly control how we react or don't react to it by not allowing the toxic effects of these people's personalities and illnesses to infect our souls.
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195Austin Jul 2011
Iam glad that as a hairstylist you took the time to work with the person and not just refuse to do their hair-you may have seen red flags before the family-these elders are very good at hiding things.
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This subject is very common general speaking. I had experience for many years as a hairstylist with customers who were showing signs of dementia, although I did not know why or what dementia was all I knew was... in order to get through the time as a proffesional I needed to go with the flow. This experience at the job prepared me mentally like a crash course for dealing with my Mom when she got dementia. I am in no way saying that a 1or 2 hour client/hairdresser relationship was equal to parent/child caregiver relationship. As I am naturally a "people person personality" I had to do whatever it took to get the job done. This is NOT easy for alot of personalities to cope with. You basically have to let what is said go in one ear and out the next, a demented personality is ever changing as well, so what works today may not work tommorrow. With all that said... I came to realize that if you are a loved child before dementia and your care is good.... it is to the demented person a threat of losing independance. It's all a fight to test your love and security. Look at it this way if you were to yell at a person who was really robbing you, would he stand there and dispute, no he'd just run off with the goods. Not giving a SH--!! So it's pointless to argue with the robber. On one hand they know you care cause you don't give up and on the other hand they know deep inside your the one that will take whatever nasty words they can dish out because no matter what they do or say your still giving them attention. "Your being played so to speak." A parent/child bond is much deeper than vocal. They feel they are the parent. This role is comfortable, normal. Put yourself in the parent role and your child comes to you and starts digging into your business takes over your daily needs and bosses you around. How would you react, if in your mind you are the one in charge of all of this than in a mass confusion you no longer have control your child does. I am not saying you should not take care of your parent with dementia you need to react differently maybe to do what it takes to get results. Take it as a compliment if your the bad guy... this means you care to them. It's hard but the more you smile and act like you don't care the more they want you to help. Or just agree with whatever the criminal act is. I stole all my Mom's clothes (she thinks). So I say now when she says this, OMG I did! I will return them and when I bring her new clothes, I tell her here are the clothes I stole, the police made me return them. She says OH OK than you didn't have to do that I don't need clothes. I can't understand but that logic works. Act helpless like you need a parent not that they need a caregiver. Once you get that communication going, trusting you may get easier. If diagnosis hasn't been resolved yet. Diagnosis is a must so they can be properly treated. In a dementia case the meds are not to be trusted to be taken by them. A trusted careiver needs to be on that job. Then still they have to be closely whatched while taking them ditching is an issue. They can be very sneaky and clever! They may not remember lunch but will remember how to trick you. After this is in order it maybe alot easier to deal with paper work and other issues. If going to the doctor is still a struggle seek a behavioral health hospital. Danger is an issue if someone is not mentally stable. If a person is mentally unstable and dosen't agree to seeking help this a reason for involantary inpatient behavioral health notify police in most cases if they don't trust anyone the will tust police and they should know what to do. Let me aware you not every hospital has a facilty as this. Regular hospitals do not know how to hand it or cannot. Good Luck!!!
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195Austin Jul 2011
Lenzeme I am so sorry for you. My husband was abusive to me and I was the only one to put up with him-he had no friends to speak of who would bother with him-when my health was impacted greatly by caring for him I had to make the decision to have him placed-I did not deserve to be treated like he was treating me-he died before the paperwork was done. While he was home I had to leave his space and just not engage him in conversation-I know what you are going through and if you can when she starts ranting go into another room if you can. Social service in your county should be helping you-I would see an elder lawyer and seek his or her advice. since the house is back in her name if she is placed the facility will consider that an asset for her.
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jeannegibbs Jul 2011
I agree, lenzeme. Pltrickey has some really good advice -- it just doesn't happen to apply to your situation.
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lenzeme Jul 2011
Obviously, you did not read my initial post. The only sibling to "trade-off" care to is a convicted sexual molester who is taking financial advantage of her illness. Yes, she is sick; yes, she is probably scared. BUT, just like you would treat a child, sometimes you have to say enough is enough. I would never allow our children to treat either my husband or myself the way that she has treated us.

I am glad your experience was one that you can look back on with fond memories. This women did not give her son (my husband) 18 years. She adopted him and he lived with his grandmother. My mother in law has always told us that she adopted my husband for her mother.

I, too, come from a family that hangs tough, but this is not representative of my husbands family and certainly not representative of his mother.
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