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Hello, I am new to this forum. My parents are both in their late 70's and still living in their home. My dad is the primary caregiver for my mom. My dad is mentally alert, very active and social. Mom, on the other hand, is a totally different story.


I'm posting this because I'm trying to help my dad find a solution for my mom. I wasn't sure which area to put this under, since there is not only the aspect of dementia, but the underlying mental illness present. For my dad, taking care of my mom is a full time job, and my dad is not really helping her. Dad is her enabler. She refuses to take any medication except for her Norcos, for the constant pain she's in. Now, she's in a lot of pain largely due to the lifetime of self neglect. For starters, she has never slept in a bed; she sleeps in a chair. (When I was a child, she slept on the floor. This is "normal " for her.)


She he also has stopped eating, except for a couple of Ensure shakes a day and maybe a cookie or small snack, but according to my dad, no real food. Her weight has plummeted from 105 (she's always been little) to 75 lbs. She looks like a concentration camp survivor. She stopped keeping up her appearance years ago, and hasn't combed her hair in over a year. She also refuses to wear undergarments and dress appropriately for the weather. You have to almost treat her like a child.


My mom's dr was going to set up for someone to come to their house and help out, but my mom called and cancelled the appointment as soon as she got home from the dr's office. She refuses to allow anyone in her home, for they would be "on to her". She doesn't want anyone there except my dad, ever.


My mom is and has always been more concerned with ruling the house and dictating her craziness than her own health and well being.


My mom has never been diagnosed with a mental illness (other than anxiety because she refuses any further psychiatric testing) but has struggled for most of her adult life, even before I was born (I'm 47). She has signs of what I believe to be schizophrenic behavior for decades. How she's managed to evade her doctors is a mystery.


Mom will turn the water on in the kitchen sink, and stand there splashing water all over herself, the floor, the counters, everywhere. Now, this is something that she's always done. Nothing new, except now, she's doing it sans clothing. In front of an open window, and putting on a show for people when they drive by, regardless of whether it's daylight or dark outside. And yes, neighbors have seen her and asked my dad about it.


Mom has has also started urinating outside in the grass, often in full view of the street. My dad tells me there's "nothing he can do". Again, he's told me that he's mentioned all of these things to her dr, but was told that unless she's hurting herself or someone else, there's nothing they can do.


Another thing she does is walk around the whole house, inspecting every corner, looking for bugs (there aren't any) She has always done this. She calls this behavior "checking". As a child I could never interrupt her when she was checking as it would agitate her and make her go on doing this behavior for hours, talking to herself and pointing to the ceiling, but there were never any bugs present.


Then, there are the water rituals. She will stand there for hours, running the faucet. I call it her birdbath. As a child, she'd even do this outside with the hose in the yard. Growing up wasn't easy, I have PTSD from childhood related trauma from living with her.


She even splashed herself recently at a doctors appointment, completely soaking her blouse. Her doctor didn't seem concerned, as mom had her quick cover up, like always.


Her drs wanted to test test for dementia, and she of course has refused. She runs the entire house and makes all of the decisions, as my dad is even afraid of her. Once she gets started screaming, she will go on for hours. She throws things at him. It's like a nightmare that won't end.

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How difficult! First question is about what your father actually wants and is willing to do. Is he ‘looking for a solution’, or is it just you? Intervention may be impossible if he doesn’t want to know. Hang on to your sanity in the meantime!
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Kas, welcome and ((((((hugs)))))).

Your mom's doctor is correct insofar as, if mom is not a danger to herself or others, she can't be remanded for an involuntary psychiatric hold. (often called a Baker Act; you might want to investigate what the rules for that exist in mom's state).

Does dad want help? Is dad willing to risk mom's wrath? If not, there's not much you can do, as you are not responsible for your mom's health or happiness.

Has dad asked for assistance? If so, I think your answer needs to be "dad, mom has a serious problem; until you get her some help with her mental health issues, there is nothing I can do to help".

Neighbors can help by calling in mom's indecent exposure to authorities; that actually might be the best way to get her into the system to get her some (involuntary) help.
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Not sure about the indecent exposure inside the house. And so many men piss outside that I think it might be difficult for authorities to get excited about a woman doing the same. Perhaps the referral might start things, but also might make things worse.
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Welcome to the forum! You will get much wisdom and help from its participants who have experience with challenges such as yours.

I'm so sorry for the predicament you and your father (and mother!) are in. I can't speak to the mental illness portion, but you could do what I did in getting her tested for dementia by her doctor: next appt make sure you go with her and as she is checking in at the receptionist's desk, discretely pass them a note requesting that her doc do a dementia test and also a UTI. Docs do this all the time and are happy to help. Then the results will be in her medical records. UTIs can create confusion and other personality changes in someone with a UTI but can be cleared up with antibiotics, if she takes them. I'm hoping someone reliable in your family has PoA for her? If not, try to accomplish this before she has a cognitive exam. I'm not sure your dad is the right person to advocate for her since he is cowed by her. Wishing you success and peace in your hearts as you attempt to help her to a better place in her life!
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Kas; I'm so sorry for your dilemma.

Your DAD is the one who needs help. As a father, he allowed this throughout your childhood? This is a longstanding pattern and one that will not be easily broken.

Do you think you can get your dad in to see a geriatric psychiatrist for evaluation of his mental status?
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Unfortunately, it appears that your father is as sick as your mother, and until he comes around nothing will change. From what you have described it appears that she is mentally ill and he is a big time enabler. And very codependent on her.

I can only recommend that it your father will stand up and be counted that he call 911 when she starts screaming, and have her placed in a mental ward and then refuse to take her back home, thus letting the state to get involved...although, I really doubt that your father has the back bone to do this and stand his ground.

That's all I've got, so sorry about this terrible situation.
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This is a very difficult situation, because not only is your dad enabling your mom, you say you have ptsd from growing up with her. All three of you are locked in a painful dynamic - all three of you need support of different kinds.

I've never worked with any agencies on aging, but it sounds like something that might help you come up with ideas.

Obviously, too, therapy for you to support you through this is a must.

I'm so sorry this is happening. Take care of yourself and best of luck finding the resources and support you need.
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Good Lord, I am so sorry for what you've been through and are continuing to go through all these years. My mother was a lunatic while I was growing up and my father enabled her as well. She wasn't nearly as bad as your mother is, behaviorally, but I still have issues as a result of growing up in mother's crazy house, as I call it. Sigh. I wish I had some fabulous pearls of wisdom for you, but I don't. If your father doesn't see an issue here, how can things change? HE is the one to put his foot down and say ENOUGH, get her in for evaluation by a geriatric psychiatrist, and go from there. But that's doubtful at this point, since her behavior is his norm. Honestly, my father had no idea what to do with my mother, so he just let her do her thing at the expense of my mental health AND his mental health! He passed away in 2015 and she says she never loved him anyway and certainly doesn't miss him, after 68 years of marriage. Nice, huh?

Anyway, you may have to wait until your mother does something to hurt herself, get taken to the hospital, and THEN she'll get evaluated.

I have to tell you.............my whole life mother has accused me of 'being against her'!!!!!!!!! I so hate that statement, I'm sure you understand and dislike it yourself. Sigh. A true mess.

I'm sending you a hug and my very best wishes that this all somehow works out alright.
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Kas, likely the "help" that dad is looking for is not on offer, like an immediate cure to this longstanding problem without mom knowing about it and without her castigating him. Very often, husbands will do ANYTHING to keep the peace, including endangering their own health.

If dad was out of the picture, what would happen to mom? You would be able to report her to APS as a person unable to care for herself. They would arrange for emergency guardianship and send her for a geriatric psych evaluation, get her on meds and place her in a facility. Neither he nor you will have any say in where she's placed.

If dad doesnt have dementia, can he be made to understand that either he can take action or the State will, eventually?

Might that that prod him into taking action?
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Kas810 Jan 2020
I think he's wanted to get her to the emergency room so that she'd have a chance at getting an evaluation, but she caught on and refused to go. She thinks everyone is out to get her and take over. Her dr's office has told my dad that if she's really bad, take her to the e.r, but mom will only go to the clinic.

I've tried to tell him that he needs to step up and take control or the state will sooner or later, and she will not be living with me. He is doing exactly what you said, anything to keep the peace and keep her quiet.
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Kas, my cousin in OK was Baker Acted in her 80s just because she was found wandering outside in the neighborhood at night. She turned out to have been over medicated, but they did pick her up and keep her awhile. I should think peeing outside, and maybe even flashing from the window could be a good reason....
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Kas810 Jan 2020
I will have to look into this and see if this (Baker Act) is available in IL where we live. It just seems so odd to me that my mom can go in to her dr appointments looking the way she does and not raise any eyebrows. She also quit seeing her family right before the holidays and won't accept any visitors, yet on a good day, she will have my dad drive her to the store. I am mortified that she goes out in public like this, and also sad that she doesn't care if complete strangers laugh at her, yet she's too embarrassed to have any of her family see her at all. It makes no sense.
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So sorry you are going through this.
Has APS ever come to your house, based upon the neglected state of a patient with dementia, who may need to be placed for her own safety?

Looks like Dad is running interference, maybe he is stuck with the status quo.???

Maybe your family needs an intervention?
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https://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/someone-i-know-is-in-crisis
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Beatty Jan 2020
Excellent resource.

It will be crucial for the OP to protect herself from the fallout of this crises.
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Kas810, baker acted is just the name of the Florida law that allows people to be taken in on a mental health hold. Most states don’t call it “baker acted” they call it something else. In my state it’s called a 5150 hold. In some states it’s just called a psychiatric hold. Every state has an involuntary commitment hold law, in your state it’s 405 ICLS 5. Your mom can be taken i in on a mental health hold as long ass she meets the criteria in your state.
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I am so sorry you’ve had to grow up like this and continue to deal with her mental health issues. I hope you’re getting some help/support and caring for yourself. This can be very overwhelming.

Quick question...did you say she is taking Norco? Not sure I read that correctly.
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Kas810 Jan 2020
Hi Sarahk60,

My mom has a prescription for Norco tablets for chronic pain which she takes around the clock. She has bad osteoporosis, and she has had multiple falls; she's a fall risk and refuses to use a walker and wear proper shoes--she wears cheap dollar store flip flops (which offer no support and are bad for feet) year round, even in the snow.

It can be very overwhelming at times dealing with her, as she doesn't see that she's sick. She thinks that WE are the problem and that we just won't let her be, and that we are out to get her and take HER (not their) house. I've had to take a step back because of the stress. I'm trying to be there for my dad as much as I can, but it is beyond frustrating to tell him something and it goes in one ear and out the other. It is useless trying to reason with my mom, it's like arguing with a toddler.

My dad's main focus lately has been trying to "patch things up" between my mom and I, as he "doesn't want her to die unloved". I wrestle with part of me still caring about her, (in light of all of the abuse from her growing up) and part of me just wanting to let her die.

I do have a good support system with my husband and children, if not for them it would be even more difficult.
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Kas, read this. It may shed some light, for dad and for you.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anosognosia

https://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/key-issues/anosognosia
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