How do you care for someone with Dementia and Schizophrenia?

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My mom recently moved to an assisted living close to me. For the last 35 years, she has had periodic psychotic episodes that resulted in hospitalization - and all of them have involved religious thoughts and issues. Many of the episodes involved actions that were humiliating to her once she was stabilized. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia at that time (she was 50) and it is somewhat controlled by her meds. Now she has the added diagnosis of dementia.

She was raised in a cult-like religion that was guilt-based and still goes to that type theology like a moth to a flame. She feels that there is a list of requirements for salvation that she can never achieve, but constantly strives anyway. Logic does not work with her.

She moved to an assisted living closer to my brother several years ago, but he was not involved with her on a day-to-day basis and she would periodically spiral out of control until she landed in the hospital and then we would start the process again.

So we moved her here a few weeks ago and when we went through her belongings, every book was either a Bible or religious material and there were stacks and stacks of papers that she had typed or written "her story" and long explanations of her religious beliefs and scripture verses. Every CD and DVD was a sermon. We (my brother and I) were both grieved to see that and really know the depth of her agony. She had stacks and stacks of religious tracts and from experience, we knew that when she was headed for another psychotic episode, she would become frantic to "share the gospel" with everyone, passing out tracts, until she would lose sleep and lose her grip with reality, do something totally bizarre and public that could not be ignored and end up back in the hospital.

Prior to her move, I went to see her and realized that she was more withdrawn than I had ever seen her. Many of her possessions were missing and she was wearing mis-matched clothes - and she had always been meticulous about the way she looked. So we agreed that she should move closer to me so that I could help her. She was very excited about the new apartment and new furniture and new clothes, but she absolutely will not connect with any of the other residents at this new facility. The staff is wonderful and keep me informed, but all that she is interested in is her Bible and what someone's denomination may be. We take her shopping or take her to our house and even when her greatgrandchildren are visiting, she is not interested in anything that is going on.

She sits in a chair and naps or reads her Bible or copies Bible verses. She is now wearing me down to help her find a church. She is not interested in any of the other residents. I will her if she has met any of the other residents (I've been there when they've reached out to her) and she says things like, "If they won't talk to me, I won't talk to them." I know that she's already made a name for herself because according to the staff she's asking people if they are saved and what church they belong to and outside of that, cannot be engaged in conversation. Many of the residents without mental issues of their own are now avoiding her.

What do I do? Do I help her get to a church? If she can't even make conversation to a person next door, how will she cope in a new church?

How do I help her without losing my mind? I've tried reasoning with her and you can imagine how well that went. Today she told me that she was happy at the other assisted living because she had friends and a Sunday School class. Of course most of her friends were in the same shape mentally that she is or were tender-hearted toward her situation. A part of me desperately wants to say - it's her life, let her go - and another equally desperate part of me wants to protect her. But one thing is for sure, I've lost perspective.

Have any of you dealt with anything close to this? I did read the first few months of caregiving can be the hardest emotionally and I am clinging to that - that either I will figure it out or get used to it.

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Just a humerous note here - Dad went to "save" someone who was in last days of terminal illness . He proudly proclaimed to the man's adult daughter that he had prayed for her father and her father had accepted th Lord. When the daughter told Dad that her Dad had been saved several months earlier when the pastor came to visit, Dad responded, "Yes, but mine took."
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I think reading those books on religious masks and some books on spiritual abuse will help you see why they can't see beyond the F.O.G., i.e. Fear, Obligation and Guilt of the spiritual and mentally abusive religious system that they are in. There are cults who do this and there are cult like Christian groups who do this and there are Christian groups who are doing this, but it is done so smooth by wolves in sheep clothing like a Trojan Horse. The sad thing is that Christians lay back and take it instead of standing up to these people, but sometimes this is because that abusive person is their relative or they have to live around that person. Such namsy pamsy Christianity is not effective against spiritual and emotional terrorists in churches.
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I wish that she or her immediate family could acknowledge that they had been spiritually abused, but some of them will go to their graves believing that the only lack in that church was in themselves. It is very hard being on the outside and not understanding how someone can really and truly fall for what is going on in those situations.

I found the books on Amazon. I have the book Toxic Faith, but it does not address mental illness - and again it was more from the clergy perspective. Very interesting though.
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Those are two rather hard to find books and no one seems to want to touch this with the exception of a book, Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership by McIntosh, Gary L. & Samuel D. Rima, Sr. That book is focused more on clergy in the following areas.
i. The Compulsive Leader
ii. The Narcissistic Leader
iii. The Paranoid Leader
iv. The Codependent Leader
v. The Passive-Aggressive Leader

Another book, Weiser, Conrad Healers: Harmed & Harmful, goes deeper but again is focused on clergy. What caught my attention was his statement that it appears we have more with borderline personality disorder going becoming clergy than before.

What your mother experienced was spiritual abuse. There are several books on this.
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THANK YOU! I have never heard of these books. I will order them immediately. I thought I had done an exhaustive search online, but obviously, I had not.
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Ed is on target with his comment about psychological issues hiding behind religious masks. There are only two books written on this subject. Oates, Wayne. Behind the Masks: Personality Disorders in Religious Behavior. and Pate, C. Marvin Sheryl Lynn Pate's Behind the Masks: Personality Disorders in the Church.
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Leslee, I'm so sorry! I think your solution is perfect and very kind. Thank you for responding to me. Until this site, I wondered if we were all alone in this situation.

Unfortunately for us, Mom is still determined to get to a church and told me yesterday that she has managed to get a ride to a church in the area with 5K people. She won't talk to anyone about anything, but somehow she has managed to find someone to give her a ride to church? I have to remember that I have a life going on and she has nothing to do 24x7 except to figure out how to get what she wants - which is to get to church. But it still surprises me that she comes out of her shell enough to manage this.

I've talked with her psychologist about this and I guess I will let it continue until there is another incident. At the psychologist's suggestion, I have ordered a medical alert bracelet with my name and number on it as an emergency contact Seriously, she cannot find her way to the bathroom in my home 15 minutes after she was just there. So I cannot imagine how she will manage this.

I hope that she will feel overwhelmed at the sheer size of this church and decide on her own not to return. She went to a different church last week (again, figured out how to get there), but said she wouldn't go back because they had drums in the service (too contemporary).

I'm trying to back off and not do battle with her on this. It was agonizing to me and I'm not going to win. Maybe it will be like driving - if she gets herself into a situation and gets scared, she will willingly give it up. (Sure. Right. And this will be right after "world peace".) :)

Please keep me posted on your dad.
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My Dad - diagnosed with alzheimers and schizophrenia in '08 at age 85 - is very much like your mom. Church quit being a good idea when he began to tesify (extensively) every Sunday that God had told him that the earth was a prison planet and we were here to be trained so that when we die, we'll be sent to other planets to be warriors and take over the planets for God. Dad's belief in God is still strong, but the specifics of what he believes have gotten tangled in the schizophrenia. It's worked best to keep him out of public worship and let a pastor who is familar with the futility of challenging Dad's mental-illness-inspired beliefs hold "private services" with him - makes Dad feel special and chosen and still in touch with God without subjecting others to a forceful testimony of false doctrine.
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Elizabeth,
Sometimes God provides the balance in our lives Himself.
Sounds like your grandson is the joy balance for you. I'm so glad you have him to shake things up.
Our human experience....laughter & tears.
Grateful to God in all.
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I struggled when I first brought Mom to live with me even though I had been through Alzheimer's with Daddy and Mom has been heading down that path for years. It was the first time, though, that I was with her 24x7 and actually saw everything. Whew!

Over time, I am adjusting (and MiaMadre's comments have helped A LOT) and I do my best now to keep a straight face when Mom is acting like my 2 year old grandson. Just the other day it was so funny! I was telling her that we needed to change her Depends and put on fresh socks and she started running (as much as you can run at 94) around her room saying loudly, "La la la la la la la..." It was like a child with their fingers in their ears when they don't want to hear you! I did everything I could to keep a straight face!

So the good news, ElizabethGrace, is that at some point, you will find that peace and acceptance of her as she is now and you'll find that new way to love her for who she is. It is a journey, and don't be surprised when you slip along the way, but you'll get there.
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