My mother has always been mentally ill. She has always seen a psychiatrist and therapist but the only diagnosis they have ever given her is agoraphobia and panic disorder. There is much more to it than that but since she has never given anyone else permission to talk to her doctor or therapist, all they know is what she tells them. She is extremely paranoid, unforgiving and lies a lot. She might say or do something very rude or inappropriate to someone, then will immediately call everyone and tell them the other person said or did those things to her. She tells the story over and over and acts so offended, I think she believes it. She has never been able to tolerate my brother (her only son) but doted on me like I was her favorite. She makes up horrible, slanderous stories about my brother as excuses for why she can't stand him, when in actuality none of it is true. He finally quit calling or seeing her and she tells everyone she doesn't understand why he has abandoned her. And she truly DOESN'T understand. Most of her time is spent trying to keep us apart, even as kids. She wanted us to fight and if she thinks I have talked to him now, she sees it as a betrayal and threatens to change the will. No real explanation for why she hates him so. All of this was BEFORE dementia. Now it is much worse. It is hard to know how much of her behavior now is dementia and how much is her personality. The elaborate lies she tells and the way she covers them up can't possibly be the work of someone with dementia. For instance, she told her therapist for so long about how awful my brother treats her...then the therapist finally asked for a family session to get his side of the story. My mom called him and told him to be there for the appointment at 11:30 then told him if he doesn't show, she is done with him forever. However the appointment was actually at 9:30 so of course he didn't show and she cried to the therapist about being abandoned then told him he knew it was at 9:30 and is lying. (Even though he actually recorded her saying 11:30.) She calls and asks me to cover for a lie she plans to tell him and when I refuse, she becomes angry and once again threatens to change the will. She tells everyone that my dad left her a huge inheritance and her money hungry kids are fighting over it (which of course isn't true.) She then gets advice from well meaning people to go to a lawyer, which she does. I can't tell you how many people have turned their backs on my brother and me because of stories she tells. I'm sure I don't even know the half of it. She calls me several times a day, complaining that she is bored and lonely. She cries and tells me she misses me. Then I feel terribly guilty. But talking to her and being around her keeps my stomach tied up in knots. She asked my brother's ex wife (whom he hasn't spoken to in years and is a sore subject in his current marriage) to be her power of attorney to make life and death decisions for her. The ex wife agreed and she plans to see a lawyer to make it official. My mom told me this and asked me to swear not to tell my brother. As I see it, this is a way to still be able to cause drama for him even if she is incapacitated in a hospital bed. Could someone with dementia really think these elaborate things up? I know she has dementia now and sometimes can't keep the lies straight anymore but I just don't know how much of this is dementia and how much is just her. Talking to her about this does absolutely no good because she takes responsibility for nothing. I dread the phone calls. I sometimes tell her I am working when I actually have the day off just so I can avoid the drama for a day. Luckily I live 2 hours away. Any advice?

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I have an adult son (33) with schizophrenia (treated) and my father had Alzheimer’s. There are a lot of similarities in my opinion. It’s brain damage/ brain misfiring/ brain disease. Either way, you’ll never be free of what is or feels like drama. A lie to us may be truth to them. My humble advice is to get a counselor to help you sort out how to deal with your feelings. It’s hard to sort it out alone when your in the thick of it. I never ever understood how people could stop talking to a family member forever—until it happened to me. My father was so abusive and threatening it seriously affected my mental health. As his Alzheimer’s progressed. He had a wife to care for him so I just let him go.

Best of luck. You are not alone.
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Reply to Restlessremedy


I know what you mean. Some of the conduct is plain ole infuriating. It appears they know exactly what they're doing. Sometimes. It looks and feels like manipulation. Sometimes. Your mom sounds a lot like mine.

I had to just let it go and quit trying to differentiate personality-disordered thinking from dementia. I was using up too much energy trying to sort it out. Bottom line: Her brain is broken. I respond to all her poor behavior pretty much the same. Grey rock: Registering no emotion. Feeling it but not showing it. Don't argue, challenge, or correct. Sometimes they just want to get a rise out of you. Don't give her the satisfaction of eliciting shock, tears, disgust, annoyance or even happy emotions from you. Grey rock. No reward results in better behavior. They say you can't teach anything to someone with dementia, but for reasons I can't explain, "grey rock" has reduced (though not eliminated) some of the negative behavior.

When Mom persists in being obnoxious, I tell her I'll come back when she's "feeling better. " She doesn't like that! Though I can't explain it, boundaries work, even with dementia! And the best part is, the very act of taking up for yourself is good for you. You feel better, because in effect you've said, "You can't treat me this way."

This was a hard but life-changing lesson for me to learn. Best of luck to you!
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Reply to CantDance

First, you may not be able to talk to her therapist but you can write a letter telling him/her exactly what you wrote here. It may help the therapist understand the demographics a lot more. I have a feeling the therapist sees thru your Mom but a letter wouldn't hurt.

At this point, do you care about her money and...does she really have any. I would let the ex be assigned POA. One less thing you have to worry about. Then when Mom calls you tell her to call the ex who she has assigned her POA and everything that goes with it. Brother may feel that now Mom is getting what she deserves and so is the ex.

I feel for your brother. What a way to live as a child. Your Mom is toxic. If every time you are with her ur stomach turns in knots then don't be with her. Ex being POA maybe a blessing in disguise. I can set my phone up that callers not in my contacts go thru to VM without the phone even ringing. You can do this with Mom and choose when to call her back. Any time she wants something, "call Ex Mom, she is ur POA". By the way, if the lawyer drawing up the POA thinks Mom is incompetent, he will not draw it up.
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Reply to JoAnn29

Does it make any difference what is mental illness or dementia? Isn't it all the same one shape or another?

My mother has some mental illness and dementia, and like you, I tried to figure out how much was mental illness that she always had (whether I knew it or not) and how much was dementia. I came to the conclusion that it really doesn't matter! My mother does and say what she will. I have found that it is a waste of energy. However, I do find myself going back a few years ago and wonder if the things she had said about me and the things she has done was dementia, or the fact that she found an opportunity to hurt me because my dad was gone. Had her mental illness had a way of showing it's ugly head? But once again, does it matter! I think not!

I just chalk it all up to dementia and remind myself that her brain is broken and how she felt about me (which wasn't good most of my life) is how she feels and I have been in therapy long enough to come to realize that she can say, think, feel anyway she wants doesn't make it true!

Spend your energy on something more productive, or you will drive yourself crazy!

Yes, this is easier said than done and yes, I am still working on it!

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Reply to Shell38314

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