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Hello,


My mother is 65 and has always had mental illness -- specifically OCD and dementia. She has also always been extremely controlling, manipulative, stubborn, sneaky, narcissistic, and majorly obsessive. Around summertime she started losing her short-term memory. Now she is very far gone and can't remember what's going on from one moment to another, but to make matters much worse, she has become extraordinarily belligerent and verbally abusive, as well as so obsessive that my dad, who somehow never divorced her, storms out of their house screaming and cursing every night when he's had enough. She'll call his cell phone repeatedly while he's gone for a drive to cool off; once she left 39 voicemails in an hour.


I moved to their home state to assess the situation and help out, and I actually feel helpless. My dad is like her hostage and lives in fear of her. I have blocked all her numbers and email because she contacts me obsessively. She will ride him until he caves and calls me, every day. He has no control over her.


From morning till night, she obsesses over the same things every day -- the shadow above her upper lip and the discoloration on her chest from years of eczema. She'll keep my dad in the bathroom for hours looking at and if he tries to leave, she screams at him. It sounds like Linda Blair in the Excorcist. She keeps her doctor's appointments -- about 4 per month -- written on FIVE separate lists all taped on the same wall. She goes over them obsessively for hours every day and forces my dad to do so with her. When he tries to escape or shut her down, she follows him around the house insulting him, cursing at him, and threatening him.


She is tearing my entire family apart, and my brother has a baby on the way. My main concerns are protecting my father from having a heart attack from stress, and protecting the unborn baby and his parents from her aggressive, relentless, nonstop insanity.


The problem I'm having is that I cannot, for the life of me, get anyone to understand how dire the situation is. When we take her to the neurologist, he does MRIs and tells us he doesn't see anything significant. He ups her dose of antidepressant and sends us on our way. Finally I took him aside and told him the extent of the problem, and he said he is sorry but there is no easy solution. He said she probably has dementia and it has made her mental illness flare up to the point of complete insanity, literally. But she puts on a show in front of him.


I have considered calling mobile crisis, but I fear she will put on a show for them and they will not take her in for an inpatient psychiatric evaluation. Her neurologist even advises against it. He says, lets try medication first and if it doesn't work we'll look into having her put in a facility. It'll be a slow process, he said.


Meanwhile my dad calls me in desperation every day. He loses his temper with her and has no sense of protecting me or my brother (we are adults, but still). He says, I am between a rock and a hard place here. But the truth is he simply does not know how to stand up to her. She is literally 100 pounds but she has such evil and venom inside of her, and she has spent a lifetime emasculating and brow-beating him.


What on Earth can I do to get her the emergency care she needs? To get someone to understand how dire and relentless this problem is and to intervene? We are all living in a private hell, daily. Does anyone have any advice? Thank you so much in advance!

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Listen to Barb.

Your mother is 65. She has not 'always' had dementia, although she is not too young to be developing it now. It sounds as if she and your father have always had a tempestuous marriage; it sounds as if she - though aren't we all, more or less - was a highly unsatisfactory parent; it sounds as if she thrives on drama.

But you are not responsible for her personality or her mental health, nor for your father's decisions, nor for their dysfunctional relationship. And the reason you cannot be responsible for them is that you have no power, no authority, no influence over these things. To that extent your brother is right: butt out.

Your father should not be unloading on you. He should be seeking help for himself and his marriage, if he wants to preserve either of them. He is in an abusive relationship: if he behaved towards your mother as she does towards him, would anyone be trying to keep them together? But that's his choice, and he has consistently made the choice to stay with her. Admirable, really, in its way. Faithful, certainly. Possibly misguided and futile - but let's hope not, eh.

Give your father contact names and numbers for crisis organisations. Then start turning your phone off at night. That is also more or less the routine you should follow for every other way in which the two of them drag you in to their marriage. Sympathise, research resources for them, encourage your father to think actively and constructively about where he wants his/their future to go. But accept that you can't do it for him, and don't get sucked in to being either a punchbag or ammunition for both of them.

The key word Barb used was "enabling." Your father is your mother's co-dependent; he enables your mother's behaviour. Now you are doing the same for him. Stop it, and you could be taking the first step to changing this incredibly destructive dynamic.
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Solutions, have you considered seeing a therapist and talking over this situation? I AM NOT SUGGESTING that you are the problem here. Far from it. But to an outsider, it's quite clear that you have a very troubled family situation and you are being used, pawn-like, in a proxy battle between your parents.

For the sake of your own sanity, I'd get some outside perspective on this (from someone with more training than us, lol!)
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Solutions, a geriatric psychiatrist is different from the Freudian type. Geri psychs don't generally do any therapy. They work with medications to find the right balance that will work for a person. What they do is try to bring the brain chemistry in line to improve the quality of life. It would be so nice if she would agree to work with one to see if they can find ways to make her feel better. I know the family would love it if they could.
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My dear, years of family dysfunction don't get swept away in a day. Your brother is clearly still trying to placate mom and keep the peace.

I think in your shoes, I'd tell Dad to put on his big boy pants and stop complaining or take action.

I would also quit enabling this dysfunctional situation and move out. From a distance, call APS and have them intervene
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I just offer hugs. I have dementia mother 94 and her situation is dire and for 6 yrs I have fought every dr, emergency room, behavioral center, APS, etc to get my mom placed in residential care. She has been diagnosed with dementia. I can't tell you what it will take to get her help or have dad move to safety.

Basically, dad has the power to place her in residential care as spouse. Children have no rights and don't count on your DPOA. My parents lawyer wrote a worthless springing one which leaves you helpless when a parent can showstop like your mom.

Be strong, help dad understand his resources and care options for mom and you step away and stop propping them up by rescuing dad.

Document all your observations and keep a running diary, then annually mail to her dr and ask they keep as part of her record.

Good luck. I've had none with my mom even living in fire dept documented unsafe conditions.
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Thanks, all. Katiekate, I hear you. I want to take him away. I am so worried about him. But my brother keeps chastising me that I'm making things worse whenever I try to take drastic action. His preferred method is avoidance. He buries his head in work and focuses on his family. I am single and able to take on the responsibilities, but essentially my brother keeps telling me to pipe down. Even though he fully acknowledges she has gone off the deep end. He says he is reticent to help because he is generally resentful about her because she was a terrible mother, and there is no love there. I have agreed to his wishes to wait until after his baby is born to "start drama."

Christine8 you're on point. She is scheduled for a cognitive assessment on April 11, but it's just that no one is taking any immediate action or treating this as the medical emergency it is. Not even doctors. It is like I'm living in the Twilight Zone. But then when my father loses his cool every night, he calls or texts me cursing and losing his mind (no, we were never shielded from anything; even as kids we were thrust into the middle of their fights). I tell him, if you are not willing or able to be completely forthcoming with the doctors and help me get her the help she needs, you may not complain to me. He's fine freaking out when she pushes him to his breaking point, but when we're at the doctor, he acts like a scared hostage.

It's really quite a crazy situation.
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And a doctor should not say he thinks it might be dementia and send you away , he needs to put your mum forward for a mental health assessment , it could be dementia as many behavioural problems arise with this but it seems the ocd is out of control and she needs help with that too, but it could be a decline in her mental health which needs someone to investigate , even though you say your mum has always been difficult, just remember that if it is dementia with proper care and medication and monitoring her behaviour could settle a bit also she may not be deliberately trying to be like this
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I work with people with mental health problems and dementia
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I work with people with mental health problems and denenti
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Go get your Dad and take him away.

Let mom scream. The more nuts she gets...ok. Call the EMTs and have her taken to the ER. But, remove him asap. His life is in danger. She is going over the edge one day and he must not be there.

Honestly, bringing all this to a head is a good idea anyway...but get Dad out of harms way!
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Thank you! JessieBelle, a geriatric psychiatrist sounds like a great idea. She will go kicking and screaming though, and she is far too stubborn to be honest with any sort of therapist. She would insist everything is fine and there is absolutely nothing wrong with her, and she would become belligerent if we suggested otherwise. We would have to sit in there as a family and talk about her in front of her, and what she would do -- which is what she did when I talked to the neurologist frankly in front of her, is put her coat and start threatening to walk out. She will completely disengage and become irate. We will have to hold our ground. It will be ugly.
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One thing you said grabbed me -- that the doctor upped her dosage of antidepressant. To me it sounds like your mother may already be manic. Many antidepressants would make the mania worse. I have a feeling that your mother would be well served by having a complete evaluation of her medications after a psychiatrist diagnoses her correctly. I don't know what is wrong with your mother, but someone who does know may be able to help. I know it would make life a lot easier for everyone if the right medications were found.

I wish we had a magic wand we could wave over people with mental disorders to make it all go away. The only thing I can think of is a good psychiatrist. If there is dementia, a geriatric psychiatrist would be the way to go. Good luck!
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I understand your frustration, and the truth of the matter is it will not get better. Medication may slow the dementia down a little and if she is on meds for her mental health it may control it a little, but this will be a never ending illness as a provider I would suggest looking into getting her some help in a 24 hour care facility.
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I'm getting such resistance from my family about the 911 idea. My brother feels it would make a scene and we would have to deal with her hysterics. And I thought I replied but I don't see it here -- I am telling my father constantly to walk out on her and leave her to feel her true dependence on him. He can escape the abuse by coming to live with me, but he is so brow-beaten he is scared to leave.

My brother is asking if we can at least wait until after the baby is born and after Easter before calling 911 or mobile crisis.
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I also endorse the advice from your other thread: call 911 and have her taken to the hospital. Dad should then refuse to take her home.

Even if it means having a guardian appointed by the state, it seems like that would be a good outcome, yes?
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Has mom had a full metabolic workup -- perhaps by a geriatrician?

Look, if she's deemed competent, perhaps dad should step away and get his own place. Let her crash and burn. It may be the only way to get the authorities to step in.

You can call the Area Agency on Aging and ask for a needs assessment. They might have some advice.
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