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I am starting to think my mom is mentally ill. My parents went into a terrible tailspin around the age of 70 that involved heavy drinking, prescription drug abuse, and a deterioration in their marriage. After spending about 5 years living a very isolated and negative lifestyle, dad developed signs of dementia and eventually had to be put into a care facility. I think dad was probably covering for mom's mental illness but once he was unable to do that, she has unravelled and now I've got a mess on my hands. She's been placed in a "senior behavioral health center" three times in less than 12 months. I think she's bipolar at best, schizophrenic at worst. NOT dementia, I'm sure of that. I'm her only outlet to the world, really, and it's terrifying to think she will continue to be a weight on me for the next 10-20 years. I might add that I believe my mom's "split personality" combined with verbal abuse of my father, contributed to his rapid cognitive decline.

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It's been going on for so long and is so complicated, I don't even know the answers for her well-being anymore. "Manic" is: she started writing a novel, will contact old friends and family members stating the "intent" to get together, she will straighten up her house (a little), be kind to my father (when she visits his memory care facility). Depressive is just that: drinking, she unplugs the phone (forcing me to drive over there to check up on her), stops taking care of the house or herself, speaks HORRIBLY to my father. Her voice even sounds different. I know from the first few words out of her mouth which one I am dealing with. She recently stopped seeing her therapist. She often makes her own decisions about her meds: stops taking something because she determines she no longer needs it, or doubles-up on the Benzo's just to make it through the day.
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So... they didn't investigate? They just thumped the tv to see if it would improve the picture?

What do her manic episodes look like? What form do they take?

God knows this is bloody miserable for you, but I'm actually looking at a different angle. Nobody can be dependent on one other person. You're thinking about how this is going to go for the next ten or twenty years. But... what if she's still around, but you're not? What's to become of her?

You matter too! I'd prefer to take that as a given. But the other important point is, that her best interests depend on her being all right even if you can't be there for her. And if that's the goal anyway... why not aim for it in the first place?
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The senior behavioral center adjusted her medications and sent her home after a week. She's on a lot of medications including Benzo's which keep her somewhat lethargic, fatigued and wobbly. She's now using a walker. She's only 77 but resembles someone much older. She refuses to discuss other living arrangements - she still lives in the house she shared with my father, which she is not really capable of maintaining. Since she's been back home, she fell again and transported to the hospital because she thought she broke her hip. She did not, they sent her home. That was her fifth ambulance transport in 15 months' time! She's a kook. I took her to a luncheon at my dad's memory care facility on Friday, and her response was to spend the weekend in the dumps as a result. Oh and she is drinking again....She's been waiting to die since she was in her late 60s, and I suppose the mindset is not changing.

Thanks everyone for the responses to my post!
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I've noticed that the alcohol messes with how much psych meds are needed.  I've seen two Bipolar ladies who'd had their meds adjusted to times they were drinking, and needing a readjustment time for meds in a hospital when they sobered up.  Drinking means her meds will not be working the way they should.  Can you tell her doctors?  What kind of long-term arrangements can be made for her?  Countrymouse is right on target.
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What was the outcome of her visits to the Senior Behavioural Centre (sorry autocorrect won't let me conform to US spelling, it's a regular nuisance!)? What investigations were done while she was there?
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((((((hugs))))) upstream My mother was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. Then she developed vascular dementia. She was placed in a geri psych hospital for abut 9 months under the care of a geriatric psychiatrist until she was medicated properly. After that she was placed in an ALF which specialized in people with dementia and mental illnesses. A couple of years later she was moved to an NH. She died there last December aged 106. I am 81. It's been a long haul and I had to detach and distance and continue living my own life to survive.
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Wow, 81 Golden, no wonder you have so much wisdom.  I get a lot from your posts.

Upstream, you have my heart and prayers for strength and a break.  The more you learn and share, the easier it will become.  Someone needs to know you can't care for her.  My aunt's 2nd trip to ER in 2 days got results when I said that I was incapable of transferring her, and this inability to walk right and think about what she was doing was new.  I said I am NOT taking her home this way.  Blessings on the staff, who heard me and kept her to see what I was talking about.  This was in Jan. (((HUGS)))
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I truly sympathise.

You said "and it's terrifying to think she will continue to be a weight on me for the next 10-20 years".

I imagine like an avalanche of pressure hanging above your head ready to crush & smother you? And caring for Dad & and also trying to keep a life for yourself.

Looking for support for yourself is a great start. The old "put your O2 on before helping anyone else"... Councelling, Social Worker, Doctor, just start getting help before it becomes overwhelming (if not already).

Then you can decide what & how much is possible for you to do yourself or arrange & how much to step back.

Very best wishes.
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Schedule your person for an evaluation with the PCP and ask for a referral to a psychologist or a psychiatrist.  After that, you will have diagnoses to determine the next step.  Get into counseling for yourself, join a support group, contact a social worker and see what agencies out there are available for your person and you.  Don't put it off any longer!  Check out NAMI as well.  I am into week #3 with them on a 12-week class that gives a bucket load of information on metal illness and how to deal with it.  Good luck!
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Upstream
This might be of interest to you. Anosognosia


https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Related-Conditions/Anosognosia
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You can learn a lot by attending Alanon meetings for yourself, no matter what her mental illness is labeled. You do not need to make the meetings a lifestyle, but
can you attend 3 times for the information you need to proceed?

You can also attend NAMI support groups on mental illness for the families of the mentally ill. A definitive diagnosis is best done by a psychiatrist. If she has been placed in a "senior behavioral health center", you can be sure she already has a diagnosis. You would need for her to provide " permission" for you to receive the
diagnosis, via HIPPA and Medical Poa. Your hands are tied if she refuses.

With more information, you will have the facts to be able to plan your escape, or to decide to support your mother through this dilemma.

Often, caregivers on this forum are advised that there may be a responsibility to get care for your loved one, but not to do the hands on caregiving yourself.
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Next time she is in a behavioral center tell them u feel she no longer can be alone. Tell them u have the care of ur Dad and cannot care for her or equiped to care for someone with Mental issues. Maybe the state can take over her care.
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Thank you both for your responses! Yes I have detached significantly due to the alcoholism, verbal abuse of my father and myself, and the fact that most interactions with her are extremely negative. She is heavily medicated and is often in a fog. A "good" day is emotionless. Unfortunately she lives within waking distance and moving my home is not an option for me. She refuses to leave her home although I don't think she should be living independently anymore.
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I agree with the above response. I am also dealing with somebody who has a BPD along with regular aging issues and the mental health issues are by far the hardest to contend with.
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Upstream
You have had a very hard time for a long time.
Somehow you have to detach emotionally. Maybe you already have to a degree?

If you have access to her funds, hire everything out. Try to limit your contact. Don’t enable or protect her too much from her acting out.

Continue to protect your dad, your DH and your health.

At some point you may choose to walk away. Do what you have to do for your own mental health. My experience is that the help you try to give doesn’t seem to help that much.

My understanding is that until she’s about 60 days sober you can’t truly diagnose.

Even though she does not have dementia now she is getting older and at some point she will have a life event that will render her unable to access the alcohol. At that time she might have a chance to sober up long enough to be treated for bipolar schizoaffective disorder or whatever it might be. There is medication that can help. Usually they stop taking it after they feel better and the cycle repeats but one can hope.
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