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My mother is 74, recently lost my dad a year ago, moved to a senior living apartment and has rapidly progressed in her dementia since then. I want to help her but she calls me daily to tell me who all is doing her wrong, lying to her, stealing from her, stalking her, etc., etc. It is impossible to redirect the conversation for long. My sister in law is a geriatric nurse, lives close by and helps her with a lot of things. My mom tells each of us outlandish stories about each other, asks us not to tell the other and then worries sick that we have talked. After visiting her on Easter, she called me and was so furious she was hyperventilating. She said she could not find her medication and money and was convinced I stole it. No amount of reasoning with her worked. She told me she would call the police, slander me on social media, call CPS and tell them I am a "drug addict thief" so they will take my children, etc., etc. She was completely out of her mind. My sister in law then went to her house and found her medicine in her car. My mom swears I must have driven 2 hours to her house, broken into her car and put it back there. She called me 2 weeks later and apologized and said "someone else must have stolen it." She has told everyone that my husband is a "pervert" and that I steal from her. She tells everyone my brother stole her will to try to have it changed. She tells my brother outlandish things about me, then calls me and tells me HE said it. When I don't call her for a while, she calls me crying and says she misses me then I feel guilty. She says she is lonely and that I have always been her only true friend. This is my first time dealing with this and I am not sure how much is dementia, how much is mental illness, how much is delusional or conscious lies. I just don't know what to think. I hate talking to her without a witness anymore and I am so tired of the daily calls with the paranoid ideations. Earlier in the year when she accused me of stealing, I got very sick with an inflamed colon, which I have never had before. I am convinced it was from the stress. I have 3 small children and a full time job and just can't be there the way she expects. When I see people we both know, I always wonder what slanderous things she has told them about me and pray they don't believe it. I dread the phone calls and yet feel so guilty when she cries, says she misses me and that I am her only friend. I also don't want any regrets about what I should have done or how I should have responded. Has anyone else been through this and have any advice? I am finding it so hard to detach myself emotionally from this enough to not be hurt by all the lies. She has suffered from mental illness for years but it's like the dementia is exacerbating it all.

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She has always tried to triangulate family members and accused people of various things...full of drama. So it has been hard to see this as dementia. We all thought for a while that with the loss of my dad, she was just getting worse with her psychological issues. But we are seeing this worsening now as dementia. She is very forgetful now and can't seem to do simple tasks that she used to do. I am wondering so many things. Can a person have dementia for 25 or more years or was it mental illness before and dementia now? Does she know she is lying? Sometimes when she tells me an outlandish story I know isn't true then makes me swear not to tell the other person, then calls that person and tells them the same thing about me, making them swear not to tell me...I am thinking this is conscious and she knows what she is doing. Then when she calls me accusing me stealing and threatening to call the police, I think it's dementia. Her mother had early onset alzheimer's and that has always been my mother's greatest fear. Thus getting her to get evaluated is next to impossible. She refuses, won't answer the doctor's questions and becomes irate if anyone suggests it.
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BobbingWren Dec 29, 2018
Yes, declines can be a long time in coming and only those close to the situation will notice.

A mental decline will highlight existing instability and problems, making them dramatically obvious. A mild mental problem, or "quirk" can become a complete illness when the cognitive function that inhibited the problem is gone.

My mother is a multi-substance addict who has been in decline for 20 years as alcohol, benzodiazepines, opiates, amphetamines, cigarettes, and caffiene all come together to degrade her function and "caught up to her." She has damaged long term and short term memory, can't plan or track time, and has panic attacks if there is any conflict.

For me, it was observing a long and slow decline that only now has reached the point of being medically obvious alcohol related dementia. The mental decline started in her late 40s. I wished there were MRI scans so I could see the progress of the tiny voids in the brain this kind of dimentia creates, something concrete.

Early on, I got the brunt of it because she knew not to let people outside her family see how bad it was. I walked away from the situation. Only after her function was too low to allow her to hide the effects anymore was she generally recognized as demented.

My father believed for a long time that my mother was faking it all. Decline does not occur equally to all brain systems. Like a baby's systems do not develop at the same time (i.e., a baby learn to talk early and appear "developed" but still poop their pants and try to eat stuff off the floor) the functions in a declining adult will not decline all at the same rate. So if my mom could skillfully ruin his day then she must not have a mental problem, and being tricked by the car mechanic was her trying to "screw" dad over since it was "my money she is wasting". I saw my mom was actually so dull that she was an easy target for cheaters.

It is totally possible to have someone who is manipulative and emotionally intelligent but is incapable of understanding basic cause and effect, such as running out of gas in their car, or eating food that always makes them sick and being confused why they are sick later.
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A therapist with experience in family dysfunction is helpful.

My mother is sure she will travel around the world with the dog I got her as a form of emotional support.

This is a great example delusion. My mother viciously tells me that she will train the dog to stay in new yards and she has is "all over" me in terms of animal care and behavior, and will turn the dog into a globe trotter, which I could never do.

This morning, mom got angry at the dog and refused to let it outside as though she was having an argument with a person, so I cleaned up a pile of poop.

These sorts of obvious delusions are constant and every delusion involves an attack as to why I am deficient, or the next nearest person is deficinet, or the dog is deficient.

The therepist helps me to figure out why I respond so strongly to what I know are the ramblings of a demented woman, the therepist also helps me keep on track toward my end game (i.e. mom no longer lives with me by the end of summer) so I don't get caught up in the day to day.

What benefited me the most is that I practice talking about these things. When relatives or friends are involved I can set the conversation direction and avoid compounding the hurt because I've already figured out what I need and I cam set boundaries about what is or is not okay from my support group.

Instead of accusatory "what did you do to upset her?" from my support group when I need to express what is happening, instead they now say "you are an angel, I couldn't deal with that." Having enough external validation to offset the demented attacks matters a lot.
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You just have to hope and pray these people have known Mom long enough they know its the mental illness and Dementia talking. Is Mom on any anxiety meds. If not, she may need something to help calm her. And I agree, she should not be driving. She should not be alone. I think she is past an AL. They are not equipped for mental illness. I think a NH is your only choice or a psychiatric facility to work on meds to help her.

If you get Mom to a facility, then lose the phone. She will need to adjust to her surroundings and not be calling all the time. I have a simple android but can set it not to ring thru calls that r not on my contact lists. The calls that aren't go to my voicemail where I can listen and delete. You need to block Moms calls or allow them to go to VM and deal with them later.
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Hi Jennmh,

I’m so sorry to hear this - with three small children you are in a tight “sandwich” as they say, helping people in multiple generations. If she thinks of you as her only friend that is her failure to establish a social network of her own, and not your fault or your problem to solve. It is really important for you and your brother and sister-in-law and any other siblings to stay on the same page. The fact that your mother talks smack about all of you to the others is incredibly toxic and harmful and a major challenge. Do everything you can to stay in open communication with them so that your relationships don’t deteriorate and you end up battling each other. Because you will all need your wits about you for what is to come. If your mom has suffered from mental illness and now dementia you know you cannot reason with her, and what she is saying has no basis in reality. I know it is VERY hard not to take it all personally, but you have to detach and also not worry about what others think. If you feel you have to say something to people you know just say “My mother is ill” and leave it at that. That part you cannot control. She may need an additional evaluation and to be placed in a facility with more care. I think you will get some great advice from others here. Good luck!!!
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Reply to janeinspain
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Welcome, and I’m sorry. 99% of the reason I put my mom in a skilled nursing facility was that she was extremely delusional and hallucinating. She had the whole menu. Urinary tract infections that left her nasty, mean and combative and eventually tied to the bed in the hospital. She hid things in her apartment from a man whom she SWORE was stalking her. (Apparently he thought she was a “hot babe” at the age of 85. Uh-huh. You betcha) And then she’d call 911 to report the things stolen. (At least the police officer was cute 😁)

The most important thing is to listen to her ravings with half an ear. You and Sis know they’re not true. Losing and/or not taking the medications concerns me, though. And if I understand correctly, she is driving? You may need to rethink that as well if sne is.

Since Sis is a Geriatric Nurse, have a heart to heart with her about possible alternative living arrangements for Mom. My mom lived independently in a Senior apartment as well. But, honestly, when she began acting as your mom is, I began planning for placement in a nursing home. Living with me was not an option. Not with her behaviors and personality. It became reality when she crashed big time with a UTI and the psychologist and social worker told me they felt she could no longer live on her own.

Understand that if this is dementia, it will only get worse. The anxiety attacks and everything else will just increase. There is no reverse gear on dementia. My mom’s facility was not one of these popular “resort” facilities. It was a Medicaid Facility and she got the best care I could hope for.

Good luck and come back often to keep us updated.
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