I think my bipolar mom stopped taking her meds, please help!

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Please help. My mom is 77 years old. She has bipolar disorder with psychotic tendencies, OCD, anxiety, and depression. I have had general power of attorney for her for the last 16 years, and also have full health care directive.

I believe my mom has stopped taking her meds. She was calling me up to thirty times a day. Now she has stopped calling me altogether. When I call her (in a panic) she is so anxiety riddled I cannot talk to her because it stresses ME out. (I also have generalized anxiety disorder.)

Throughout my life, my mom was in and out of mental institutions and half way houses. Initially this was due to not having a correct diagnosis. Later it was because she would willfully stop taking her meds as a means to "punish" my father and I for not giving in to whatever she wanted. She would threaten to stop taking them, and used this as a means to get attention. She was terribly abusive to us us. It took me many years to forgive my neglectful, abusive mother. But I did manage to. My older sister never has and refuses to even call our mother on the phone.

My mother relies on me for almost everything. I pay her bills, buy, deliver and put away her groceries, take her to her doctor appointments (psychiatrist), and keep virtually everything in order as best I can.

I feel such incredible guilt because I am thoroughly fed up and so angry with her that I do not even want to see her right now. However, I am not willing to relinquish her care to a stranger. I think I may need some temporary help. Is this possible? Who would I go to? I have no family to help me, and not much money.

My mother will not listen to me or do anything I ask no matter how simple it would be for her to do. I do not trust her at all at the moment, because I think she has lied about taking her meds for well over a month. She's a very manipulative woman, and has been for years. She wants to remain in her home, so I bought her a Life Alert pendant. She refuses to wear it. I spent $4,000 for her to have hearing aids, but she refuses to wear them. She refuses to let me take her to a doctor for a routine checkup/physical which she is long overdue for.

My mom only wants to talk about what I must do for her, and gives no regard to my requests at all. I do not ask very much from her. All I've ever asked is that she take her meds, see doctors when I feel she needs to, wear her hearing aids and wear her Life Alert Pendant. My resentment is building quickly. I need to do something that shows her that this is not a game, and that refusal to take her meds will have unpleasant consequences.

I love her, but I am SO SO ANGRY. Please help,me. I am feeling so alone right now.I'm sitting here in tears not knowing what to do.
Thank you in advance for any advice you can give me.
PS..Please forgive me if my post if scattered and not well-written, I'm very distraught at the moment and cannot concentrate. Feeling so over-whelmed that it's almost incapacitating.

14 Comments

What an overwhelming load you are shouldering!

Does your mother have a case worker of some kind? What is her income source? Is she on Medicaid or any programs?

I'm sure you have learned enough about the disease to know that the inability to consider other people's needs goes with it. It is probably small consolation but her disregard of you is not personal and is not about you.

Could you have a consultation with her psychiatrist and see if he or she has any advise for you, especially regarding getting her to take her medicine? Does she have a therapist besides the psychiatrist?

Do you live close enough so that you could go over and watch her take her pills each day?

BiPolar Disorder is such a devastating disease. Science has come a long way in developing medication to ease the extremes, but many people won't take their medications. Even on medication the disease is terrible. Without anything to mitigate the worst symptoms it is pure hell.

I also suggest that you seek some counseling. You deserve all the support you can get!

In addition to what Jeanne recommended - I would contact Elder Services in your town. They can provide the support you need for yourself and your mother. This is just too much to handle alone. People with mental disorders who do not take their medications can be harmful to themselves and to others.

My mother was in a NH and I had all I could do to keep her out of the mental institution as that was the next step. She would not take her meds and it was a miracle that she finally did. So many people resist the medications that can give them a better life - and it is so difficult to be on the receiving end of it as you are.

Prior to my mother residing at a NH, Elder Services was a lifeline for me with suggestiongs and support - don't know what I would have done without their guidance and experience in these matters.

Hugs across the miles to you and hope you can get some help. Blessings to you and take care.
Thank you both for your help....I'm very glad I found this forum. I want to try to answer some of your questions,,....

First, my mother does not have anything aside from the initial medicare that she got when she was about 62. It doesn't pay for her prescriptions....I've paid out of pocket for those for these 16 years. I have tried to navigate the medicare maze myself but have found it next to impossible to understand any of it. I've tried asking people within the health care system to advise me of what they feel would be the best for her regarding coverage, etc, but I got the same reply from them all: they are not "allowed" to discuss it. (?) Have I just been talking to the wrong people?

My mom's source of income comes from my father. I took care of my dad until he passed away from brain cancer in 1997. After he left us, my mom began receiving monthly retirement and social security from his job. It amounts to about $2,000 a month, which has been sufficient to pay for her bills, food, medical expenses, and other things such as minor house repairs, taxes, and house insurance. When/If she gets ill, I am in serious trouble, as I don't see how I can stretch her money to cover anything more then I already do.

My mom has the same psychiatrist that I found for her over 20 years ago. He knows us like the back of his own hand. He has told me over the years that my mom will never change, and I think even he is resigned to my mom's stubborn attitude. My mom has been complaining to him for about two years now that she wants to discontinue her meds because they "make her itch". Neither the doctor or myself believe that the meds are the cause of that. She is on a cocktail of prozac, trazodone, and perphenazine. We've learned that she must have this particular combo as it has been the only recipe to keeping her out of the hospital. Any deviation from it has always led to disaster. For the past 16 years since my mom has been under my supervision, she has not needed to be hospitalized, but this record may soon change. I do live close enough to supervise her medication being taken, but I am not willing to do this. If my mom requires my doing this, then I simply give up. It feels like she takes over my entire life, and I just cannot bring myself to give her more. I don't think I have anything left to give.

I do have a much needed appointment to see the my psychiatrist (same one as my mom's) on Tuesday the 19th, and I will be talking to him about all of this then. I had to put off this appointment because my husband is not making enough money to support us and I have been so strapped for cash in my household that I hardly even eat anymore. Just can't afford it. My own health is going to hell, mostly due to stress. (I'm gonna sound like a whiner now, my apologies in advance..) I'm 42, years old. My health began to decline just after my 40th birthday. I had a particularly traumatic incident happen in my marriage. After this, I nose-dived. The doctors suspect I have Lupus and an additional underlying connective tissue disease, which I suspect could be Sjogren's Syndrome. I was told I was ANA+ 12 years ago, but my symptoms went into a kind of remission. Then the stress came, and WHAM, I have been terribly ill. The skin on my arms spontaneously bleeds when I am upset, my feet tingle, last year I had two seizures, I dropped to 96 lbs (but have managed to climb back up to 120. I was 175). My hair is breaking apart, my teeth look horrid, and my eyesight is diminished significantly. My thinking process is also effected. I cannot start and finish things like I once could. It is so frustrating to me that I usually end up in tears. Marriage is falling apart due to a complete disintegration of trust that I did not see coming. *SIGH*

Thank you so much for your support and kindness. I need this so much. One thing my mom has consistently "freaked out" about every year is the clocks in her home being changed forward or backward for DST. Yesterday, I got no phone call from her. She ALWAYS calls me and tells me I need to come change her clocks. (She does not want to learn how to do that for herself. Not because she's stupid, because I assure you, my mom is far from dumb..... she just doesn't see the need to bother herself with anything if she can get someone else to do it for her. At 77, she has never driven a car, wrote a check, or anything that most people do every day without thinking about it.)

Today I am going to get the one prescription I do believe she continues to take, her perphenazine. I have transferred all her meds to a Walgreen's, because they accept a prescription discount card that saves a good amount of money. I'm going to go over to her house, and will be recording the visit on my tablet to show the Doctor on Tuesday (video and/or audio). Depending on what I observe, I will probably bring in an outsider on my next visit, shortly thereafter. My mother is ADAMANTLY OPPOSED to having strangers in her house. She refuses to have anyone in her home who is there to "judge" her way of doing things and this is when she becomes very hostile.
If I go there by myself, my mom will attempt to manipulate me, lie to me, guilt trip me, and pull every trick in the book to get me to allow things to continue down this wrong way street. I am bringing my husband with me. (Not my first choice, but he is all I have at the moment.) Having him there will help remind me that this will not be a "social call", but more like a "getting down to business" meeting. I'm going to try to make her see that I am not screwing around here. When my dad passed away, I told my mom immediately and with great conviction that I am NOT my dad. She knew what I was saying. I told her that I will not put up with the crap she put my dad through. She knows I inherited one thing from her, and that thing does not work in her favor: I, too, am stubborn like a bulldog. I'm every bit as stubborn as she is. In some ways I may even be worse. The last time I spoke with her on the phone, my mother let it slip that she was not taking her prozac. She didn't meant to divulge this, but I caught her up. She tried to back peddle, but the proverbial cat was out of the proverbial bag and it suddenly made sense to me what she's been doing. I told her at that time that I was done. I calmly told her that if she wanted to go against the doctors instructions and ignore my wishes, that this spelled the end for me. I told her she could stop taking the meds. I also told her what she can expect to happen: I will enjoy a much needed vacation from all that I have been doing for her and begin to concentrate on ME again, and she could enjoy herself at whatever court-ordered mental health facility that a judge mandates she go to. I made it clear that I would not be visiting her there. I said I would give up my power of attorney and have a guardianship set up for her. She will have to answer to a complete stranger, as I will no longer be dealing with this since I cannot trust her. I told her that this will be the only option she has given me. She either medicates, or we are done. There is no other way.

I know that the way I communicate with my mom may seem shocking to some people, or disrespectful. I don't enjoy taking this approach with her. The thing is, my mom does not hear anything else. If I show the slightest sign of weakness my mother will see and POUNCE upon it, and use if for all it's worth for as long as she can. The way I have been using the "tough love" approach with my mom is the sole reason why she has stayed out of a hospital setting for such a long length of time. I am the only one in her life who has ever stood up to her and refused to play her games.

I will let you all know what happens. Thank you so much for your kindness and for helping me stay focused. I found websites last night along with phone numbers I can and will use to get more help.

I hope I can tell you all something positive when I next post, and not anything remotely close to the scenario I told my mom about.

XO

You need to take care of yourself first! Please, please promise you will do this.
You definitely need some outside help; this is too much to manage -- remember you are her daughter; but NOT A SKILLED CAREGIVER WITH THE EXPERTISE NEEDED for her mental health needs. Since you share her psychiatrist; he likely can't share her info with you; but he knows your needs/limitations and should do what he can to help you.

Before your next appt; document your observations, concerns about your mom, her situation, and her taking care of herself IN WRITING and send to him in advance of your appt or her appt for that matter so he can review.

Ask him his advice for next steps.

Set boundaries. Realize and give yourself permission to let go of this responsibility. The care skills needed to manage your mom are much greater than you can provide now and certainly more than you can do in the future.

Go to your local Senior Services Center and talk to someone there and get their advice. Likely they will suggest Adult Protective Services involvement. Your other resort, is to call her local police (call the non-emergency number) and tell them you haven't been able to get in touch with her and you want them to stop by the house and make sure everything is okay. They can do so; if she is having a psychotic episode, then they can take her to hospital.

Good luck and hugs. Take care of you first! Your mom may continue down the path to destroy herself; but don't let her destroy you or your marriage and family -- and this stress surely will. She may survive; but you may not.
Angels19, your tough love does not sound disrespectful to me. There is someone with bi-polar disorder in my family and I understand what you mean about this being the only kind of message that gets through.

You should NOT be paying for her medications out of pocket. I know what you mean about how complicated Medicare can be. Walgreens has a service to explain your options to you. Take advantage of it!

It is possible that your mother would be eligible for Medicaid at this time. My husband's income was over the limit for qualifying but he was accepted anyway and simply had a monthly deductible ("spend down") to pay for services. It sounds like Mother may be headed to placement if she won't take her medications, so getting Medicaid in place is a good idea. If it turns out she can manage at home a while longer, Medicaid also has a program for some in-home help. Of course, she'd have to be willing to accept some help, but cross that bridge when/if she comes to it.

Once again, hugs to you. Take care of yourself!

Hi everyone. I wanted to update you all on what happened yesterday. I went over to my moms as planned.And I found out something that I'm not soon to forget, (at least I HOPE not.)

I think sometimes as caregivers, we may tend to let our worries overpower us and sometimes this can lead to a bad call. Although it is true that my mom is not doing anywhere near as good as she could be, I was wrong to jump to conclusions without cementing the facts in place first.

My mom has told me that she HAS been calling me on the phone, and she HAS been taking her meds. Her urgency that I believe this struck me the other day, and I felt I needed to look into the validity of those claims, because WHAT IF she WAN'T LYING? Well, I now know she was telling the truth about the phone. I picked it up from her coffee table and dialed my cell phone, which I had in my handbag. I did not ring. I got a recording about the call being unable to be placed. I found out that the problem was on MY END, and I fixed this as soon as I got home. In light of that, I have to give my mom the benefit of the doubt when says she's taking her meds. I looked at all three bottles, and they do look like they are being taken.

I had a surprisingly productive talk with my mom after that, which began with my sincere apology. I explained to her why I was so very upset, and told her that I will always take care of her and help her to live life as she wants (in her home, independently) as long as it is safe for her to do so. I told her that in order for me to do this, I absolutely REQUIRE certain things from HER as well. But only THREE things, and they are very easy to do:

(At this point, I whipped out a pen and scratch pad and wrote down those three acts that I needed from her which were...)

1. Take your three meds as the labels says to, every day.
2. Wear your Life Alert pendant every day. (Told her she could take it off at night but to keep it beside her on the bed within reach.)
3. Wear her hearing aids every day. I explained she had to do this not only so she could hear me when we talk on the phone, but because I need her to be aware of her surroundings. (My mom lives in a high crime area and even though I installed "the mother of all home security systems" in her house, I still worry.)

Believe it or not, she did two of the tree right there in front of me.
I brought groceries to her today, and she has the pendant ON and her hearing aids were IN.

(Pausing, as I breathe a huge sigh of relief.)

I'm very lucky, and believe me I KNOW it. My mom's anxiety level is severely high, and this (as I told her) is a problem that needs to be addressed. I told her that she will likely need an adjustment in her medication. A dosage increase. (Exactly what she does not want.) I told her it had to be done, and that she had to comply with it. I also pointed out that their would be a benefit to her in that she will feel tremendously BETTER once the meds are in her at a dosage that she needs.

My mom's meds haven't been changed in years. After over 16 years of the same meds at the same dosages, I would think her body has grown very used to things and we just need to kick it up a notch. I'm hoping that things will fall into place after this. We always run the risk of my mom becoming defiant after she sees we have REALLY changed things around, and simply stops the meds as a result. She's done that in the past. But I feel I have to take the risk, because her life is a terribly unhappy one the way it is now, and this cannot continue. She cries, is frantic, "wrings" her hands, and has a very desperate way about her. I hate it because she must be suffering and it hurts me to see her this way.

XO
Thanks for the update!
Hi all, I have a similar issue. My mom is 53 and she is supposed to be treated for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. She refuses to take any drugs. After all those abusive 15 years now, I don't know what to do.
Hello! I am new to this board. I was doing some research on bipolar, my mother is 54, living on her own, bipolar and also has nocturnal seizures. After several years of battling with her, she finally agreed to start therapy, and get on medication for both the bipolar and nocturnal seizures. Along with traditional therapy, she is also recieving specific treatment for PTSD. She grew up in an extremely abusive home, and was also extremely anusive towatds me in my childhood. I am now 34, she relies on me for everything when it comes to socializing (im her only friend), caretaking/decision making when she is manic, help with her work when she is in a downswing, companionship, parent. I am raising my mother. Yesterday she told me she stopped taking her meds for her bipolar, and i let her have it, i was brutally honest and just laid it out for her where i was coming from. Her response was that she isnt going back on the meds, and if i want to withdraw from her because if it, she respects that. How do i not take that personal? How do i not take any of it personal? The saddest thing is is i am a psych major, i know how bipolar is, i dont take it personal with other people i know who have it, but when it comes to her, it just is devastating. I am at such a loss at this moment. Any advice?
Syringa, she is daring you to take control of your own life. She wants to see you buckle and give in, allowing her to maintain control of you. Your safe option is to really back off, do not continue to enable a controlling personality. Your safety and sanity come first.

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