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!

Answers 1 to 10 of 17
Has your Mother been evaluated by her doctor? I know several people who were able to put a block on QVC and other channels that were causing financial problems for their elders.

It is hard when you cannot sit down and have an honest conversation about the real issues when dealing with the elderly.

Good luck!
Ruggles,

My MIL was like your mom. She would always tell lies and exaggerate. This is what made her dementia so hard for family members to agree on. A history of lying, poor housekeeping, and not really being very bright, add in show timing and you have the start of many family disagreements regarding whether or not she had dementia.

Sadly, her dementia had to become quite severe before she was properly evaluated. She could have injured herself or others during those years (she was driving!)

When her geriatric psych exam was done it also listed that separate from the dementia she has a "psychiatric disorder". Her sons and DILs had always agreed that she was some sort of sociopath (seriously). The woman has no conscience.

I think having an evaluation is important.
She may not yet be diagnosed with dementia, but she sure displays the symptoms -- especially if this is not the kind of behavior she has exhibited all her life. Confusion about finances is often the first thing family notices.

I don't blame you for distancing yourself, but arranging an evaluation for her and seeing her through that would be a kindness.
Ruggles,

After my father died my mother came to live with my husband & I. It was agreed long before his death that it would be better for her and I could keep a close eye on her health. The first week, my mother made a statement to my sister that started World War III saying "Let's face it...Lisa could steal me blind and I wouldn't know it!"

My sister immediately accused me of this and then she called EVERYONE in our family including, brothers, cousins, aunt, HER mother-in-law (who LOVES to gossip), sister-in-law, well you get the picture!

This little action by my mother has changed my life and relationship with my sister. It will NEVER be repaired and it's all because of dementia. I suggest you get family members on your side and have her evaluated. There are medicines for ALZ/Dementia that will help it not to progress as fast. She sounds depressed also. There are meds. for this too.

Money is ALWAYS a preoccupation with the elderly "will I have enough for the rest of my life?". My mother has this problem too. I do not talk to her about money anymore - it worries her and it's exhausting for me. I do have to say, she has always been tight with it.

Please try to stay sane...for your own health and I wish you all the luck in the world. Taking care of an elderly person with "head issues" is challenging. God Bless you - she needs you in her own warped way.
I forgot to add that she said to me after I questioned the miss-information that she said to me, "You're trying to put me in a nut house." - I had an evaluation with Masonic Care and she cancelled it without telling me. Masonic called me to let me know, she told them she had a conflicting appointment. When I questioned her as to why she cancelled it she told me she had a cold. So she basically refuses to have an evaluation. How does one force someone into evaluation on someone if they don't want it?
Top Answer
How? Trick them. Tell them they have an appointment for "a flu shot". Take them out to lunch and then to the clinic, but only tell them about the lunch. Have the clinic call them to come in for a "baseline" evaluation so we'll know what you are like when you are normal, in case you ever have problems." I'm serious. Do what it takes.

But even if you cannot get a diagnosis, I think you can assume that your mother has something wrong, and it probably is dementia. And then start learning how to deal with dementia and treat her accordingly. For example, don't argue with her. Don't correct her. Forget about reasoning with her.
Thanks Jeanne:
I do tend to try and correct and reason with her. And yes, it's results in an instant argument. The thing about her behavior is that she's been like this for mostly her entire life. I didn't realize to what extent her lying informed her entire reality until a few years back. She walks with a limp, that is very inconsistent. I was with her visiting my brother in the hospital. She was trailing behind me, as she does walk slower than I do, as we entered the hospital. The facade of the building was glass. I saw her approaching reflection behind me approaching the automatic doors - and she was walking without a limp! I stared at her for about a minute in disbelief. When she got into my sight, she started limping again. I confronted her on it, and she went into denial and all histrionic.
She also lies to her doctors. I sit in on her bi-annual cardiologist appointments. The doctor asked her if she had any issues recently relating to her congestive heart failure. She said no. A couple of months earlier she was being treated for infected legs due to severe edema caused by the CHF. I reminded her gently of this and she finally told her doctor about it.
It's basically like this on a daily basis, she has spent her entire life creating an alternative version of reality. When anyone cares enough to challenge her on it, she turns them into an adversary.
As a result she has very few people close to her. She didn't speak to her brother or sister, and didn't even attend their funerals.
The three separate visiting nurse associations she's been through for various health related crises she's had all told me that she doesn't show signs of dementia, as she is aware of what day it is, and is aware of her surroundings, and keeps herself clean.
They said she's just a extremely unreceptive and non complying person, and when they discharge her they bascially say they won't work with her again as she refuses to do anything they suggest that will help improve her quality of life.
End of rant.
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.
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.
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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