My bipolar mother with dementia refuses to be brought to a nursing home. What can we do?

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My mother has dementia and is bipolar. My husband and I are both sick and unable to care for her any longer. No other family members are willing to take her in. We have tried to get her into nursing homes but each time we try to do so, she threatens suicide. She is definitely a master manipulator. She has been this way all her life. She will then be sent to the psychiatric ward at our local hospital and she will literally have a standoff by locking herself inside the ambulance with the driver inside with her. She refuses to get off even when nurses come and try to talk to her. What can we do?

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Wash your hands of her.

You cannot force what she does (unless you become her guardian), but you certainly can decide what you can and will do. And you won't have her in your house any longer. You cannot care for her and the situation is not safe.

Call APS and tell them that you have been caring for your mother, but her impairments have become worse and your health is not good. You can no longer care for her in your home. You want to avoid the hard feelings of evicting her, but she must be removed.

I and I don't really mean abandon her forever. Once she is safely settled in an appropriate facility, you can establish relationships. You can be her loving daughter and son-in-law; you just can't be her caregiver.
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Dear Galaxy51,

This is a very tough situation. I know your mom's condition is hard to cope with. I wonder if her meds could be making her condition worse. I have to agree with Jeanne and let the health care workers handle her. Wait till she is settled before seeing her again. I know it will be hard, but I would try and step back till she is resettled.
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Don't be anywhere near the transport to psych when it happens-let them handle it.

What did happen when she locked herself in the ambulance? Were you there?
Did they just let a very ill woman walk?
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A suicide threat would automatically result in your mother being placed in a mental facility for observation. Call 911 and report her threats. You haven't mention her age and whether or not she's taking antipsychotic drugs. My mother is 92, bipolar and medicated but she still has manic episodes. There is no panacea and changing these meds for geriatric patients is risky business. Calling 911 may be your best chance of getting her into a facility. Once she's there you have to refuse to resume her care. She will remain hospitalized until she can be placed.
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I totally agree with what everyone else has said. Call APS and let them handle it. Since she will most likely have to be restrained and it won't be a pleasant scene, you and your husband need to leave when she is taken out of your home. It will be traumatic for all of you, but in the long run, it needs to be done.
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Excellent advice by everyone. I would just add to NOT listen to any of the other family members who are not willing to take her in (if they disagree that she needs a nursing home).
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When you talk to APS, tell them you'd like the state to take over her care and to be her guardian. No one can deal with her. When she threatens suicide for whatever reason, always call 911.
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You have a few options here. If she threatens suicide today, cal 911 and get her admitted. Then when they want to cut her loose, don't pick her up, calmly state that you are not, can't and won't take her into your home, it's not safe. You can call APS for guidance and get them on board but no matter what, she needs to leave and go to a safe place where she can be cared for. Don't be afraid to tell them that you and your husband have health problems that prevent the both of you from taking care of her any longer.
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OF COURSE she doesn't want to be in a NH. They won't put up with her manipulating.

My mother used the "suicide threat" as her main means of "keeping us in line" as kids. Of course now she's 88 and says she NEVER did such a thing...(sigh)....

Time for mom to find a new home. Living with threats, manipulation and anger is miserable. Next time she does this, call 911, tell them she's a danger to her and you don't feel safe either and let the hospital and authorities handle it. You could scope out some NH's on your own, that may help you be more prepared.

Refuse to bring her home. Period. She can refuse to go to the NH, but that's realistically where she belongs.

Be prepared for some mighty fireworks from her--but you deserve a life too. And she sounds fairly toxic. Hopefully the geriatric psych drs can get her on the right meds to help with the bipolar issues--the dementia? No help there, but if she's calmer and not screaming at people--that may be all you can hope for.
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Rhonda, group homes mostly likely won't take her, given her history and she is most likely well past those stages. There are good nursing homes out there and the mother's money is being used for her care. If Medicaid has to be involved, Medicaid has to be involved. HOW DARE YOU suggest that Galaxy and her husband take out a second mortgage to pay for the mother's care? Home health care is expensive to the point of disgusting. Unless Galaxy signs papers saying that she will pay the balance of what isn't covered by Medicaid, Medicaid will go after the mother's estate only. After that, Medicaid can go pound sand and can't touch Galaxy's money.
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