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Hello, looking for some advice. My grandmother is mentally ill, she has anorexia, trauma, ptsd... among other things. She often has body aches because of her anxiety; her body feels achy but when examined by doctors nobody has found anything ever over the past 30 years. She has been hospitalized several times for her anorexia and anxiety disorders. One of her ways of 'coping' is to buy supplements that she thinks her body needs and will stop the pain. She does not believe that the pains in her body are from anxiety and these other disorders (which they are), and she secretly purchases these VERY EXPENSIVE supplements from a woman in North Andover MA, who I have researched and is not even medically certified. I am looking into legal avenues to stop this. This woman has sold her THOUSANDS of dollars in supplements including (I am not kidding) snake oil. All of which she will use and then continue to feel sick. Instead of trying something else, she will try a new supplement. The entire family has spoken to her about this but she refuses to believe it. Has anyone had a similar experience or any advice? The amount of money she has spent is prohibitive, and I don't think she even knows what she is taking, so it could legitimately be causing issues. I brought it up to her doctor but the doctor was like 'I'm not about to stop her because she won't believe me otherwise' ?????? Am I crazy or shouldn't the doctor be concerned about ingesting anything that isn't food? Or prescribed?


She has HUNDREDS of bottles lying around her kitchen...none of these are cheap walmart multivitamins, they are all highly specialized and expensive. Examples are rose hips, echinacea, various oils, aluminum sulfate, calcium sulfate...I can't even begin to list I have already posted once about my grandparents situation and the advice I got was very good, so I am hoping someone might be able to help me here :)

Thank you everyone! I got some good advice....as an update I have been pursuing POA and Voluntary Conservatorship for her and my grandfathers finances. I have been able to convince my grandmother that she needs more care than I can provide her and we are looking into an independent living facility where she can make her own decisions but in a place where there are more people around to talk to and there are some more therapists available in that area then where we currently live. Her psychiatrist refused to treat her anymore as of this past friday. I felt he didn't really have any sympathy or understanding of her background so it was okay and I will be hopefully finding someone new who can better specialize in elder mental health. I also contacted a social worker and am looking into other Doctors for her :) I know this issue is definitely more about control than anything else and definitely took some/all of your advice!
Adrianna
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Llamalover47 May 28, 2021
hpandpn: Thank you for the update.
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Maybe a talk with her Dr (or an authority she trusts) and getting them to prescribe her a placebo with strong warning on label about not exceeding dose? Sometimes one has to find a way to get through psychologically rather than logically.
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Who is in charge if grandma? If it's grandma herself, then you've got a hard row to hoe.

Get an appt with whichever dr she has that she trusts. Call or msg the dr in advance that you need him/her to review all these supplements and her meds. Go with her and take every last bottle of these supplements with you and show them to the dr. Have the dr tell grandma what is ok sjd what is not ok. Some supplements are fine. Some are not good with certain meds and can interact making one sicker or making a script ineffective. Ask another family member to go also because it sounds like you need reinforcements or to hear for yourself that these are ok to take (family witness).
If the dr approves the supplements, ask what strength and when to take (combinations, etc.) for the most benefit. Sort the supplements with the dr into ok bag and not ok bag. Just get rid of not ok bag, as in it doesn't go back in the house with grandma.
Like most elders stuck in their ways, they can be agreeable at the visit and change their minds after they get home.

Not all supplements are bad, but too many, too much or the wrong ones can be a big problem. A dr should sort this out.

If grandma won't listen to the dr, then you've got to let it go unless you're the one dispensing the meds and supplements.

Best of luck to you.
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Dignity of Choice vs Duty of Care. Basically: Freedom vs Safety

The big questions are;
Is Grandmother competent to make her own medical treatment decisions?

Is Grandmother competent to make her own financial decisions?

If yes to both, she can make these decisions - including making BAD decisions 😣

In my opinion the anorexic elder, sadly, often fails to get proper medical attention & treatment. Get fobbed off too often as 'fussy eaters' & 'just anxious' despite serious mental health flags. Anorexia, & OCD can be about maintaining control. Add some experience of medicos not helping you & some paranoia & you get someone 'self-medicating' as your Grandmother is doing.

If the right fit, kindly, open-minded therapist could be located (& your Grandmother enticed to go) it could offer some much needed support for her.

I image she blocks any naggers out, so if you can stay on her side, she may keep trusting you, against the world.

(((Hugs)))
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It has come to my attention that some supplements do work for some individuals. My error.
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NeedHelpWithMom May 23, 2021
Llama,

You said the key phrase. They work for ‘some’ people. I wish vitamin B12 would have helped my mom. It didn’t. Her doctor put her on them hoping that she would improve but they really didn’t help her.

I bought them for her because she followed her doctor’s instructions. They weren’t terribly expensive. Other supplements are very expensive. If they work, great! I don’t think people mind paying for something that works. When they don’t work, it’s a waste but I didn’t care that mom wanted to take them because the doctor felt that it would help her.

Eating right is equally important! I hear people say that they take supplements because they don’t eat properly. That’s foolish to me, to eat junk and then take vitamins. Our grandmothers were correct to cook from scratch. That’s how my mom cooked and how I cook. I never even tasted fast food as a kid. I never went out for pizza until I moved out! I never felt like I missed out on anything because mom and grandma were excellent cooks.

I splurge on certain products or brands if they are useful. I am practical in other areas, so as far as money goes, it all balances out.
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Please take the time to explore what supplements she is taking and what they're for. The fact that she's not buying them at Walmart, even though they're expensive, is a GOOD thing. I'm in the alternative health field and although there are unscrupulous people out there, most are legit and want to help. So find out what these supplements do, talk to the person selling them, ask questions. Just because it's alternative doesn't mean it's snake oil.
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Isthisrealyreal May 23, 2021
Exactly!
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Imho, as there is no proven benefit by ingesting supplements, your grandmother is wasting her money.
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Isthisrealyreal May 23, 2021
LL, generalizations about supplements is not correct. Even doctors prescribe them.

My 90 year old friend has pernicious anemia and her dr prescribes B12 oral supplements to keep her levels up.

So yes, they do have benefits.
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Is your mother competent?? If she is there is not much to do but perhaps try to convince her to move to less expensive supplement.

If she is not competent. Who has the POA? That person should send a registered letter letting the woman know that your mother is not competent and she should not accept an order from her. You might consider having an attorney send a cease and desist letter.
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If you know what you know and you see all the bottles, why on earth don't you just remove them? And her credit cards, etc. and make yourself POA? Don't let her do this no matter how she rants and raves. She will get over it.
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Isthisrealyreal May 23, 2021
You can't make yourself POA. Doesn't work that way.
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Sorry ... one last thing. In addition to losing our rights and losing control of everything in our lives, we also deal with the role reversal issue. That is very hard on all of us. At one time, we were the person taking care of our children, our spouse, etc. People came to us for help and advice. It gave us a purpose. The role reversal, where the children (or grandchildren) are the ones helping us and we're the ones leaning on them for help is hard to take too. It's hard to suddenly not be needed for anything. It's degrading. It's hard to lean on your kids when you're the parent. You don't feel like anyone values you or respects you. It's hard. Maybe this is filling a void for her. Perhaps try needing her for something. Maybe have her share a recipe with you. Or find something she can teach you. Give her a sense of value.
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A couple of thoughts ....
First thought .... You say the entire family has talked to her - I'm assuming you have all been against her buying and using supplements. First of all, can you imagine what that would feel like? Having the entire family against you and scolding you about something you're doing or not doing? It would feel alot like being ganged up on ... or bullying. Has anyone tried being on her side about it? Do you happen to know if she's really against prescription drugs. and for natural remedies? If she is, perhaps share that interest with her. Do some research and find out which supplements help her conditions. You might be able to influence what she purchases or doesn't purchase if she felt you were on her side.
My second thought - Is it possible that it's not about the supplements at all, but more about making online purchases? We've all heard about people who get addicted to buying things off the internet or infomercials. (My son's MIL has that problem. She has a garage and two bedrooms in her house stacked to the ceiling with boxes of things she ordered online or off infomercials. Most of which she has never even opened. It was the thrill of buying them. She didn't really need the things or really want them I guess. Just had to be shopping.) Is it possible that this could be what is going on with her? If so, it's an addiction thing. It very well could be the case. And that would require an entirely different approach. I don't have a clue how to address that - other than counselling.
Actually, I have another thought - it's posted in another reply. Maybe it's more about her way of dealing with losing control of so many aspects of her life. Personally, I think that is the most likely of all. And it definitely doesn't mean she is incompetent.
Best of luck. It's nice that you care about her.
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hpandpn May 27, 2021
It's definitely about control - it hasn't been until she has caused financial issues that we spoke with her. It's been 30 years of this and only the past year has anyone really tried to get a handle on it because of worry for their future living expenses. I've done a lot of research and some of the things she is taking can interact with her prescribed anti-anxiety meds and others are not meant to be taken at the doses that she is doing for her size...I have certainly tried to be on her side about it and feel somewhat helpless since she also has a problem with modern medicine.
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I'd be careful about being too eager to label your grandmother and take away her rights. It's hard for people (like us eventually) to start losing our rights and losing control over things in our life. One by one, they are taken away from us for one reason or another. Soon we're left wondering why we're even alive. Without having a purpose, we lose a sense of value in ourselves. That can drive a person mad. Perhaps she's clinging to one of the few things she has control over in her life. Perhaps find something else that she can still maintain control over. Maybe something that has already been taken away from her, that she might be able to handle after all. Even if it is just something minor - or something that you might think is helping her. A chore around the house or whatever. Maybe paying a certain bill each month. And you can still monitor it to make sure she's doing it right. But give her something. Maybe you can trade it for her need to purchase the supplements. If you take something away from her, replace it with something. She needs to have a reason to go on.
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Time for a reality check and for intervention. Your grandmother is no longer mentally competent and the "snake oil woman" is taking advantage for her financially.

Hopefully, somebody in the family has a power of attorney to take over grandma's financial decisions and medical decisions. If not -
1 - Contact a local lawyer that specializes in elder care or family care. He/She can guide you into next legal steps to take based on the laws where your grandma lives.
2 - Contact grandma's doctor for an evaluation for mental competence. Do not be surprised if the doctor makes referrals to a neurologist and/or geriatric psychiatrist.
3 - Be prepared to admit your grandmother for inpatient psych evaluation and treatment. Her anxiety needs to be addressed AND some of the "snake oil supplements" can be toxic. She will need medical treatment to get her mentally and physically into a better place of health.
4 - Grandmother probably can not live alone anymore. If she has a legal guardian appointed by the local courts, this person will make arrangements for placement into a full service residential facility. If a somebody has Powers of Attorney, this person should work with local resources to "place" grandmother into a situation where she is cared for and supervised 24/7.
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NeedHelpWithMom May 23, 2021
Yeah, if there is no proven evidence of a supplement working, it’s a scam. Some people go overboard with supplements. They buy into the hype!

Remember what P.T. Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Scammers count on gullible people buying their products so they can make lots of cash. The infomercials get to me! Geeeeeeeeez! If it sounds too good to be true, it generally is.

I wonder how many people have spent money on products to grow hair! Hahaha, I still see bald people everywhere I go!

Legitimate products will be backed up by the medical community.
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Truly, it all depends on the particular situation. My daughter takes probiotics for her Crohn’s disease. She still suffers and is in and out of the hospital with ulcers. She has been told that there is no cure for Crohn’s disease and her case is so severe that they may end up with a colostomy bag. It breaks my heart. She’s only in her 30’s!

She’s had numerous surgeries and may need more down the road. Her’s started off as ulcerative colitis and developed into Crohn’s disease. She does follow a specific diet for her condition to help control it.

My doctor has told me that she feels if I eat well, which I do, exercise as well, which I also do, that the only supplement needed is vitamin D. She said many people don’t have enough vitamin D. She said that excess vitamins are a waste and people are wasting money because they go down the toilet when we urinate.

I have friends that swear by melatonin and say that they sleep well with it and I know others who have tried it and say it doesn’t help them. So, who knows? All I know is that when people are suffering, they want relief.

Mom’s doc had her on vitamin B and her old doc had her on cod liver oil! She lived to 95. She had Parkinson’s disease.

My father went to a doctor that he referred to as a quack! LOL Daddy said that doctor went overboard with vitamins and supplements and that they were costing him a fortune and he didn’t feel any difference when taking them. Some of these doctors own supplement companies and make tons of money off of them. Daddy switched doctors and was told that he had been wasting money on unproven supplements. So, doctors don’t agree on this topic. I suppose that people have to decide for themselves what they want to do.

Same thing with CBD. Some say it helps and others don’t find it does.
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Take her and a bag of all the supplements to a pain management doctor. Let him talk to her about the fraud involved with online-quackery. Maybe he can prescribe something that might actually help with her pain issues.
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Your mother may have fibromyalgia. I have that and the symptoms are severe fatigue, anxiety and severe body pain. There are no supplements that can treat it, but there are medications that can help. Some of those medications are antidepressants and maybe they could help in other ways. Try talking to your mother's doctor again. If they wouldn't help you, could you switch to another doctor or go to a rheumotologist or neurologist? Those doctors may take a look at her. Has she been tested for Alzheimer's disease? If she has it you maybe able to try to get control over her finances. It's so sad there are people who take advantage of the elderly. I wish you luck in finding help. It's so hard being a caregiver and watching your mother throw her money away to people like that.
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hpandpn May 27, 2021
She is actually prescribed anti-depressants because this was a possibility, but wasn't really amenable to taking them, and it has been hard to find a psychiatrist that will take her.
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Unless you have control of her money, you won't be able to do anything..

You could try to find and dispose if her Credit Cards..

you could try to retrieve the next order and Return It as she might be on some kind of Automatic Schedule..

Have her try CBD Oil.
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hpandpn May 27, 2021
I have confiscated some of her cards and am pursuing power of attorney/voluntary conservatorship, she has CBD oil lol, almost ANYTHING you could possibly think of she has and has tried.
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Contact Elder Services and report her as "An Elder at Risk". Her health and her finances are being exploited. This may fall into Elder Abuse despite she making the calls but it well may be due to the exploitation. The social worker who will investigate does NOT reveal who made the report. As a home health nurse for years, I've made many of these reports and by not sharing that it was the home health agency, we were able to maintain our relationship and care.

I had one patient PT was seeing for falls and I had to see due to the confusing and large number of catalogue medications she was taking. Under Medicare, I had to document them all. It took me TWO days and over 3 hours. She was spending over $350/mo. I researched the ingredients of many and found massive interactions with her prescribed meds and each other. Dangerous!
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Beatty May 23, 2021
Wish every Home Nurse was as switched on as you!

My relative started a little OTC pain med habit after some dental work. Aides encouraged her to use when required. But then assisted her to buy more IN BULK to save her money. Also doubling up as 2 brands (but same active ingredients). I noticed Jaundice when visiting & finally found the reason.
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There are such great answers here, so I'll try to not duplicate. Rose hips, echinacea, and oils are standard offerings at any pharmacy/grocery store and can be helpful when taken as directed. So no need to get from an overpriced source. Go local!

If she is still a good eater who enjoys food, then most if not all nutrition can be gotten from food. There are online practitioners who espouse kitchen food benefits. There are so many excellent ones, and if your mom understands how this works, she might gradually begin to see how wonderful her body can operate when given the proper whole foods, without any price tag or directions and instructions. A consultation with a dietician? Would Medicare pay for that I wonder, if ordered by a doctor.
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Isthisrealyreal May 23, 2021
Yes, Medicare will pay for a dietitian if a doctor orders it.

My dads addressed the whole nutritional issue from food and drink to supplements. I found it helpful to know what vitamins and herbal supplements would improve his quality of life.
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In regards to Grandma 1954's response: be careful altering mail, credit card/banking. If you are not POA, it would be illegal to take these actions.
If you feel your loved one isn't capable, you need to go to court and have her declared incompetent.
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hpandpn May 27, 2021
yes we are going through that currently
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I wonder what you found out about the North Andover lady. Is she a naturopath, functional medicine practitioner, integrated health specialist? I can't imagine any of those professionals recommending actual snake oil.
Contrary to popular myth, nutritional supplements are regulated, but not by the FDA (which does designate what things are Generally Recognized as Safe [GRAS]).

Why does your grandmother reject the anxiety diagnosis? I appreciate GardenArtist's suggestion to get her to a local alternative health specialist since she doesn't seem to trust conventional physicians. An integrative health physician is the best of both worlds - a licensed MD with extensive training in nutraceuticals and treating the whole person - mental, physical, environmental, and genetic.

Good health doesn't HAVE to be a money pit.
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jacobsonbob May 23, 2021
Several years ago, I moved to the same area where my sister and BIL live. The latter two had a PCP who held a PhD in pharmacology in addition to his MD, and provided excellent care. Unfortunately, this doctor changed various aspects of his practice (I think it was something about if or what insurance he would take), so I never had the opportunity to be his patient, and my sister and BIL had to find a new PCP as well.
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I think you've inadvertently hit on a brilliant acid test for Alzheimer's. Shall we agree amongst ourselves that if a person is capable of going onto somebody else's profile page on an online forum and editing that person's profile to exclude Alzheimer's, she probably doesn't have Alzheimer's?

Your grandmother does not respect your opinion. That must be frustrating and hurtful, but the sooner you get used to it the sooner you will stop expecting her to listen to you and thus avoid a lot of the frustration.

As a potentially useful and/or interesting exercise, you could line up her supplements, take a picture of the collection, and go with it (and preferably her) to a reputable pharmacist to ask for professional feedback on what she's taking. A pharmacist could probably cost it for her, too, and tell her how much money she is literally pouring down the toilet every day.
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lealonnie1 May 19, 2021
HA! Love it! :)
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If she is just anxious, you need to let them live their lives and stop treating them like you are their boss.

They can do whatever they want with their money, whether you agree or not.
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Isthisrealyreal mentions that in your profile you say grandma has Alzheimer's. I do not see where it states that, it may be in another post you made. But if she does have dementia of any type she should not be able to make a credit card transaction.
Someone should be in charge of her finances. Put a Freeze on her credit card so she can not use it.
If she is buying these on line you might want to put parental control on her computer as well so that she can not get to certain sites.
You might also want to do a "change of mail address form" and have all the mail directed to your house. That way you can sort through the stuff you want to keep from her. The other "harmless" stuff you can put in her mail box if you want. Or just keep it and you start paying bills and keeping an eye on what comes and goes.
Does she live alone? or is someone with her that is more responsible?
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Isthisrealyreal May 19, 2021
She went in and changed her profile after I posted answers. It said Alzheimer's/dementia, anxiety and stroke.

Now it just says anxiety and other.
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Of course all this stuff is nonsense, and NO supplements are approved by the FDA; they are completely unregulated and for the most part washed out of our system. But, like RealyReal, I think that you are dealing with a larger problem here in that your grandmother may not be competent to handle her own finances at this time. If no one has POA, or she is uncooperative in all this, there may be no way to protect her, as, in general, guardianship isn't given for someone with mental illness. I am assuming you spoke with her, but as is the case with most, argument just puts someone more solidly in their own corner. Hope someone has other advice that might help you.
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Isthisrealyreal May 19, 2021
I find it interesting that you say ALL of this stuff is nonsense and you personally take a D-mannose supplement and tell others how beneficial it is. Hmm?
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You say in your profile that grandma has Alzheimer's/dementia and stroke. These are brain injuries and that means that you can not reason with her.

Can you find cheaper alternatives to the expensive herbs and supplements?

I use natural medicine and nobody will ever convince me that I do not benefit from them. You don't know if they help her or not, unless you stop all of them. Which I wouldn't recommend doing without the assistance of a holistic doctor.

She could be doing harm by mixing things, so I recommend that you do what garden artists recommends and be proactive in her care.
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Try a little bit of a different kind of support and intervention.    Research holistic practitioners in your area, and do as much vetting as you can, asking for, e.g., number of years in practice, educational training and degrees, examples of how various issues would be treated.

Then take GM for an appointment, and stay with her during the entire time.   

Venturing out of the traditional medical practice area can be a challenge though; you have to verify the credentials and honesty of the practitioner, which it seems as though the current provider is not a candidate.

I had the best advice from a local hospital chain, well known, and in fact had its own program from which my sister graduated and became an RN.  The hospital has its own greenhouse which provides organic food for its patients, and a market for the public once a week.   

You can check out Henry Ford Hospital at this link:
https://www.henryford.com/locations/west-bloomfield

Henry Ford Greenhouse:
https://www.henryford.com/locations/west-bloomfield/greenhouse

Classes and events
https://www.henryford.com/calendar

The complex is so much different from a traditional medical complex.   The "pharmacy" has a variety of natural remedies, the salon sells a salve which I've bought for years and is wonderful for various aches and pains.    The hospital has also been active in providing COVID 19 vaccines through community reach out (although it's not alone in this area to be a vaccine provider).

I think the basic reason why people gravitate away from traditional medicine is b/c of the overuse of drugs and the sometimes unnecessary use of expensive products as opposed to basic common sense.   An example is the assumption that older people need assistance for basic functions.    One PCP tried to convince us that my father needed a bunch of expensive stuff for everyday use.  I told him what we used instead - basic good foods tailored to the specific issues for which the PCP felt it necessary to spend more money.

This is one of the major reasons why I have so much contempt for these types of PCPs, although I realize not all of them are like that.   I did find one who was great; she never recommended anything beyond basic tests.  We also found a cardiologist who took the same approach, prescribing cardiac meds only for conditions that couldn't be addressed by natural remedies.
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