How can I help my mother handle seeing my brother, her former verbal and emotional abuser?

Follow
Share

My parents are both in their late 80s. My father has long standing vascular dementia from multiple TIAs, Parkinson's, and paranoid personality disorder. My brother alienated my father from my mother (his wife of 60+years) and other siblings and then started verbally abusing my mother when she would not agree to sign deeds. It escalated to the point where he blocked her in a corner, stood over her yelling (he's nearly a foot taller), and told her she couldn't leave the corner until she signed the checks or insurance papers like he told her too. Mom would call her other children and sometimes the police to come rescue her from my brother. She could not throw him out because my father would always state he wanted him there.


According to my brother, the only problem is my mother doesn't "mind" well enough and other siblings are sticking their nose in. When he filed for conservatorship, asking to set aside her POA choices (a different sibling and I), she moved in with me and was found competent. Mom has MCI and her short term memory is pretty bad but she decided a couple of decades back that she never wanted my brother having any say in her affairs. Plan has always been for Mom to move in with me after my father died (his health has generally been worse than hers) and the situation with my brother only made that happen sooner. Mom appears very content living with me, doctor agrees getting out of the stressful environment has helped her a lot. She is back to her "normal" self again (not the stressed out version of the past few years), reads books, takes walks, socializes when we go out or someone comes in, does some chores around the house because she wants to be useful, interacts and plays with the great grandchildren that are around almost daily.


There's only one real problem. My brother demanded to talk with my mother after she moved in. I would inform my mother my brother was on the line wanting to talk with her (with the phone down where he could hear the question and answer) and she would state she had nothing to say to him (she was very angry with him over trying to gain conservatorship). One day my brother shows up at house demanding to talk with Mom. I tell him through the door he needs to leave. He sees Mom through the window and walks up to the window, knocks on it, then uses his finger to gesture she needs to come to him while he yells "come out here right now". He wouldn't leave until I had called the sheriff's office. The lawyer I used in fighting the conservatorship called his lawyer and brother hasn't been back. Since this incident more than a year ago Mom has what I can only call anxiety episodes whenever my brother is around or she thinks he might be. We live next door to another family member and my brother visits there occasionally - every month or so. He doesn't try to approach my home, but Mom can see him from my house. While my brother is around and sometimes for days afterwards, she checks that the doors are locked every few minutes, cannot read or watch TV without getting up and checking out the windows, doesn't sleep well at night, etc. I tell her that he's not going to come back down to the house and bother us, that the doors are locked and he can't get in, that we can call the sheriff again if I'm wrong and he does head our way.


What else can I do to help her?

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Find Care & Housing
6

Answers

Show:
If I am understanding this correctly, the problem is not how to keep your brother away from Mother, but how to ease Mother's anxiety. Brother has not attempted to visit for a year, even though he is in the neighborhood. I don't think you need to do more than keep the doors locked and to have the sheriff on speed dial.

But poor Mother is anxious. As BB says, anxiety is not uncommon in MCI, even when there is no specific cause. I wouldn't completely discount the possibility of look for some mental health counselor for your Mother, for PTSD. Is she on any medications for the anxiety? Does her doctor know that in spite of the improvements she has made, she is now dealing with this issue?

It sounds like you are being very pro-active in your mother's care. She is lucky to have you.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Interesting position by the attorney, who raises the issue of violence escalation if a PPO or TRO were issued. I wonder what percentage that is of all the PPOs or TROs are that were issued.

I don't wish to be cruel or frighten you, but that kind of violence can occur w/o a PPO.

I also realized something when reading your update that I didn't see earlier: husband and son both harass, are mean to, and disrespectful of your mother.

Two males in one family; perhaps son subconsciously imitates the father. Or perhaps the son grew up seeing your father mistreat your mother and accepted it as a norm.

It wouldn't be the first time that abuse was a learned behavior.

I don't really have any other suggestions other than perhaps upgrading the security in your house, including with alarms and cameras from all angles.
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

My lawyer - who met my brother during the conservatorship process - advises against a restraining order because he thinks that would be an escalation. He states he has had three clients shot in over 35 years of family law practice and all three were after the restraining order was served. The lawyer also thinks my brother shows signs of an injustice collector - he may know a few things I don't since he has a psychology undergraduate degree and probably knows more about how my brother was verbally abusive to his lawyer than I (just know he yelled and cussed her).

Although I have taken Mom out when my brother is expected or had other people at my house (usually her siblings or her other children) that doesn't always work because he's not always predictable or comes with too short of a notice. Mom likes to visit others or eat out but will often choose to stay home for any kind of errand these days - "just bring back a milkshake for me". If I tell her we're leaving because my brother is headed our way, she leaves pronto but keeps looking for him a couple of days after we get home (why can't short term memory problems work out better here?).

I admit I have not sought treatment or medication for her because I thought it might be difficult with Mom's short term memory issues. Mom had some general anxiety behaviors when she first moved in, but they disappeared after a few weeks. The last few years Mom cared for Dad, he yelled and cussed her throughout the day, wouldn't eat meals with her, didn't want her to go anywhere, and then my brother got on her case daily too. She was stressed out and her doctor advised her to leave but she wouldn't leave my father until things got really ugly with my brother. Mom's MCI, short term memory, weight, blood pressure all got markedly better after she moved in here (doctor and extended family opinions not just my own). Maybe I can find someone that works with MCI and PTSD. I just hate not being able to protect her in my home - she deserves to at least have peace in her final years.

BTW - my brother has told extended family he understands why Mom wouldn't want to come back home - taking care of Dad 24/7 is proving to be a bit difficult. Everyone else thinks Dad should be in AL but that would mean turning over his monthly income to the facility.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

I will tell you from experience with my mom that MCI often results in free-floating anxiety. Your mom has good reason to be anxious about your brother, but it could well be that even in his absence, she would be anxio9about about something else.

Above, you have gotten good advice about how to deal with this specific situation. I would encourage you to also talk to mom's doctor about her anxity, or even better, identify a geriatric psychiatrist can do a work up of this issue.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

There's a history of abuse, documented by when the Sheriff came and/or any other times police were called. Presumably it's also noted in her medical files. You might want to get copies, then:

Contact (a) Johnson City PD or (b) county sheriff's office and ask how to get a PPO (Personal Protection Order) or restraining order, as Rebecca suggests. I think this is the best solution. If he violates terms of the order, you should call the police immediately and he can be arrested.

Think carefully what kind of restraints you want; if he visits someone next door, you might have to craft the request in such a way that it doesn't prohibit him from visiting next door, but it does prohibit him from entering on your property.

You can ask for restraint from calling, e-mailing, writing, visiting, and anything else you can think of. A judge will determine ex-parte whether or not to grant the order, and which restraints to apply, and have a law enforcement officer serve it.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Wow... I'm so sorry.

Is there any way that family member near you can let you know when your brother/her son will be coming to visit? Perhaps you could take your mother out of the house so that she doesn't see his vehicle or his person at all? I know that's inconvenient, but I have to imagine the fallout every month due to your mother seeing him nearby is also very inconvenient. I can't even imagine the stress and fear it causes her, and to you and your family as well.

My legal professional side has to tell you to document his visits with dates/times, and your mother's reactions to the same. You may need that documentation at some later date if your brother tries to get conservatorship again. And it never hurts to have your facts documented.

I don't know if some sort of therapy might help your mother? I'm in legal, not psychology or psychiatry, but your mother experienced serious trauma and abuse at his hands, and I wouldn't be surprised if PTSD of some form might be in play here. Maybe some professional help to allow her to process and have another person tell her she's safe could help?

Finally, and back to the legal, I don't know if it would be worth it (and in most cases, it often doesn't help) to talk to your attorney and explain what is happening and if a restraining order either for your property or for you and your mother would be of any use. Again, it's just a piece of paper and not much protection necessarily, but maybe it would help your mother knowing that he legally can't come near her. I've not worked in criminal law in 13 years, and there may not be enough going on right now to justify it, but it's a potential idea - if not now, then later if more issues arise.

Best of luck, and again, I'm so sorry that you and your mother are dealing with this toxic sibling/son.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Related
Questions