How do you deal with a parent who lies and lives in a fantasy world, but isn't diagnosed with dementia?

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My 89 year old mother constantly lies to me about her financials. She recently told me that she was charged $600 by her lawn care people to rake her lawn, when in reality the amount was for 6 months of lawn care, she told me she was charged $145 to have her driveway plowed once, which in reality was for three plowings. She is late paying her property taxes because the reality is
she spends about $650 per month on average on QVC purchases, and gives my schizophrenic sister around $600 per month in cash.
I confronted her on this and she had a meltdown and denied everything. I visited her for Christmas and brought her a white poinsettia, and an apple pie. She said to me that she gave me $120, and I gave her nothing.
I told her she should be spending her money on improving the safety of her home, and having someone come in to help her do her housework once or twice a week, rather than spending it on junk food from QVC - she buys lots of candied apples, and other very unhealthy processed food from them and ends up giving them away to people she barely knows.
She got extremely angry with me and told me she can do what ever she wants with her money and was planning on changing her will to write me out of it.
I have spent the last 4 years taking her to her doctor appointments and modifying her house to make it safer for her. I work very closely with the visiting nurses she been assigned during a bout of gout, leg infections, etc. She always fights with them, and accuses them of stealing from her.
She is completely incapable of acknowledging the things I've done for her. I am now choosing to stay away from her, because she only seems interested in telling lies, living in denial and fighting.
When I question her choices she always gets very mean.
Any suggestions?
Thanks!

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Ruggles

I read this and it was deja-vu. It really sounds like your mom has dementia. I went through much of the same thing. My mom's finances were a mess; she told me things that were not true (but she believed they were); she accused me of stealing, etc. etc. Unfortunately people with dementia are very delusional and the delusions are very real to them. No logic or reasoning in the world will make a difference.

Some people don't want to accept their shortcomings. That was my mom and it sounds like yours. She never accepted her dementia diagnosis.


I would recommend getting an assessment - don't tell her - she will refuse. The logic and reasoning are gone. Once you get the assessment - embrace the help of professionals out there. Does anyone have POA - sounds like her financials are a mess. The problem here are things are only going to get worse.

I went to a local hospital, had a geriatric assessment done and the social workers directed me in the right direction. Its very common with people that have personality disorders also get dementia.

Sorry, I wish you the best - its never easy.
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My mother used to be hooked on QVC. With that, and just a whole slew of mindless purchases, as well as the need to maintain an aging house, she ended up $36,000 in debt on credi cards. I completely understand what you're saying about her forming friendships with people like the mailman, and then being a b---- to other people. After I moved her out of her house and into a senior apartment, I got to know some of her old neighbors in our hometown and I thought they were really nice. My mother is nowhere near as mean or cruel as your mom, but she does lie a lot ("oh, I feel fine! There's nothing wrong"), which makes the whole caregiving thing a lot harder. I wish I could just walk away, as she does so many things that drive me nuts, but she needs me, so now I visit almost every day. My therapist that I was seeing about a year ago told me to separate from her as much as possible, but that was before mom broke her hip and had some other medical problems that got really serious. She's recovering now and doing pretty well, but I feel more depressed than ever.
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So she went to her GP yesterday, I did a conference call on the speaker phone because I couldn't be there. I asked her GP to explain the benefit of having a Geriatric Evaluation, when she the DR called me back she said my mother refuses to get one. She may have a urinary tract infection, which I've been told is often responsible for confusion in the elderly. The blood test should be back in the next day. I have to say, she is in a very highly agitated state over the last few months and goes from sobbing to screaming at the blink of an eye. I really would like to get her moved out of the house she lives in and into senior housing that is properly equipped with safety features. I just get the feeling something big/bad is about to happen.
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My mother lies all the time. She is in her 90's and has dementia. Sometimes she seems normal, and other times NOT! We're trying to let her stay in independent living because she said she would kill herself if we moved her. We do almost everything for her as she no longer can figure out (or bother with) running appliances, she doesn't take showers, barely cooks (or eats), and is constantly negative. As I said, she lies just like a three year old, trying to anticipate what answer would work best. If that answer doesn't get the desired response, she modifies it and lies again. Its so hard to mentally accept that the adult who used to tell you what to do is still in adult body, talking like an adult, but thinking like a child. It takes a lot of patience and reminding ourselves that she is not the same person.
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It does sound as though your mother has dementia, even if that hasn't been diagnosed. See if you can schedule her to get a neuropsychological evaluation done by a knowledgeable psychologist - my husband has been evaluated a few times at Mount Sinai Hospital where they have very experienced people doing the testing. If you mother does have dementia, it might be necessary for someone in the family to get power of attorney in order to handle her finances for her.
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Ruggles, I just nodded my head as I read what you wrote. I know the personality well because I live daily with it. I don't think there is any way to deal with this type personality other than distancing yourself from it either physically or emotionally. It is a very destructive personality type. Verbal abuse is an everyday thing and often bad things about their victims are invented out of the clear blue, intending only to put the victim in their place. They will even tell the victim that a lie they made up about them is true. If we were young children, it would just be called child abuse. However, when they are old, they hold the Age Card, which means that you are powerless to even talk about it with people. If you do talk about it, it makes you look worse than them.

I think control is the main thing. Telling lies and abusing others can help keep control. Just today I mentioned to my mother that it did not help her to say bad things to me. Her only response was that deserved it. Personally I know I am just a normal person that leans toward the good side. Anything she digs up to the contrary is just her personality. It is hard to live with, so you have my support in whatever you decide.
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Ruggles, it is important for your mother to be fully evaluated by a geriatric specialist, and possibly a geriatric psychiatrist. Even if she hasn't been diagnosed with dementia, she is exhibiting symptoms of cognitive decline that should be investigated. What may appear to be "lies" are more likely to be the result of her disorganized thinking and memory lapses. It is common for people with dementia to be accusatory toward the family members closest to them and to also form seemingly irrational attachments to strangers (such as delivery people). This is what makes them so highly vulnerable to exploitation and undue influence.
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Thanks for all the replies. The only people my mother speaks highly of are her mailman and the UPS man. She actually orders things for them and their family from QVC. She'll buy extremely pricey candied apples and dozens of frozen hot dogs and then give them to the delivery people. She can not form a close bound with anyone in her family. She had a male neighbor that looked out for her, we had a problem with an alleged pot grow house operation going on in the house next door, and he would constantly call the police on these people. These pot growers used to threaten my mother and scream verbal abuses at her. They were finally pressured into moving. My mother no longer talks to the protective neighbor as she has spun it into that he forced those nice people to sell their house. She always has a falling out with someone when they actually get too close to her and help improve situations. She's done this to me on numerous occasions, as well as my sister. She had a long term boyfriend, over 20 years, who she gradually became so nasty to that he stopped visiting her. When he died, she couldn't really care less, my sister was more of an emotional wreck over the whole deal. My therapist told me that she sounds like she has numerous personality disorders, two of them being Borderline Personality Disorder and the other depression.
I am keeping my distance from her. I call her every 3 days or so, try to keep it short and talk about health issues. I went from visiting every two weeks, to once a month, to now every 2- 3 months, as every visit turns into her accusing me of trying to put her in a home.
I own her house with my sister, we have a verbal agreement that she can live there rent free as long as she wants, as long as she maintains it.
I do extensive seasonal yard work, clean the gutters, change the storm windows, etc.. She always accuses me of doing nothing.
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Ruggles~If your mother has been like this all her life, then it probably is not dementia. What you are describing sound a lot like my mother who (before dementia) has a personality disorder. My mother's behavior all my life was that she was never wrong, it was always everyone else's fault, she was a victim, verbally, emotionally abusive, distrustful, suspicious, angry, bitter, accusing her family members falsely, unable to form close bonds with any of her family members, but yet she was completely different with people outside the family.
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Ruggles, then perhaps your mother's behavior is not dementia at all, just more of same. However even people with mental illness or disagreeable personalities can also get dementia so if there are new odd behaviors I'd keep an eye on them.

In the current situation it might be best for you to distance yourself.
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