How to deal with finding out there may be more skeletons in our family closet?

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Mom is 94 and has been in a Home for 3 years and is currently in the Alzheimer's Unit. I am an only child and have POA. She has always been a negative, bitter, verbally abusive drama queen. Since going through her private papers, I have found out her father committed suicide when I was 12. I was never told. She has always maintained that the Home is a front for a brothel and everyone, staff and residents alike, are "hooking up", even in her room. When hospitalized at one point, she asked me if there were bruises on her legs. I said no and asked why. She said, "John beats me. He thinks I like it." There is no "John" and she isn't being beaten. I am certain of this. Recently, she alluded to the fact that she had an affair with her married boss decades ago. My mother's ramblings, whether based in fact or not, are turning my stomach. I don't argue with her unless I just can't take it anymore. I avoid going to visit her and the staff must think I'm just an awful daughter. I leave the Home depressed and angry and my poor husband suffers for it. She's seen the psychiatrist at the home, and is on medication for anxiety. She's also become physical with other residents. I know that, since she's 94, I will not be dealing with this forever. I don't want to remember her like this for the rest of MY life. Counselling for me is not an option due to cost and lousy healthcare coverage. Thanks in advance for any advice!

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You're welcome! It's not always easy, but in later days, sometimes it's easier to laugh at it. :-)
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Susan, you made my day! Thank you for your answer. I'm sure it was difficult while you were living through it, but your retelling absolutely cracked me up! My mom is an actress who has been on stage in New York, and she remembers seeing me on stage as well. Her roommate, who carries a baby doll around 24/7, is also an actress with her own entourage. I'm so grateful to all of you for sharing your experiences with me! ❤️
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LOL Pam! You just reminded me of a lady that was in Dad's NH the first time he had to go in for rehab after a fall. She was one of those that no one can get close to - she would curse at you, spit at you, and if she had food in her mouth, chew it up and then spit THAT at you. She'd run into people on purpose with her rollator or wheelchair if she got the chance. (Not kidding - watched her do it a few times.)

They had music on occasion in the activities room, and on this occasion, one of the newer orderlies (a man) wanted to help boost the residents' spirits by dancing with them. At first, it was all fun as he whirled the ladies around in their wheelchairs and danced gently with those who could stand and walk. Then came this particular lady - the spitter. She demanded that he dance with her - so he did, not knowing what was coming next. She snuggled right up to him and started rocking back and forth - then she affected this horrified look and backed away from him, yelling (loudly!)..."YOU GOT A B*NER!!"

No more dancing after that one. I used to wonder if she had been a prostitute or burlesque dancer in her younger days!
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" skeletons "
reminds me of the timeless SNL skit of the antiques roadshow .
its probly on youtube and funny as hell .
the appraiser is studying a young couples - grandmothers - decorative snuff box . he surmises that back in the day the grandma was probably an opium addicted lady of the night . the young man becomes enraged that the appraiser has deemed his late grandmother a crack hor . the old appraiser coughs in his face a couple of times and corrects him . " no son , "opium hor"
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As for the past,, your mom is 94, suicide was considered a sin or something shameful back in the day ( still is for many today), so they may have been "hiding" it from you for that reason. If she had an affair,, it's long past now.Or maybe completely imaginary... Anyway at this point what can be done? It is hard to realize our parents are not perfect.. but it is what it is. And I agree with Pam's post,,they often take something they saw or read about and make it "real". My Dad was Walker Tx Ranger alot...LOL
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In the depths of dementia, some very interesting stories can be created. It also depends on what other medical situations they have going on (lack of oxygen to the brain can really do some wild stuff to their thought process) and what meds they're on.

My grandmother, who had severe dementia, claimed she was a CIA agent working for the FBI under President Bush and also a DEA agent. She once said she was coming to visit us - a drive of over 10 hours - and nothing my parents said could stop her. She disappeared for 2 weeks, during which time my parents were frantically looking for her and had the state police on the lookout all across the state. She turned up at my aunt's house, looking none the worse for wear and acting as if the trip had only taken the 10 hours that it would normally have taken. Not a clue of the furor she had caused. She spent the next 2 weeks between my aunt's house and my parents', sitting behind trees and hedges, spying on the neighbors, who she insisted were drug dealers. Now imagine you're the neighbors - you look out your windows and see an old lady, slouching behind a tree or shrub, blue felt fedora pulled down low over black sunglasses, chain-smoking and staring at your house while furiously making notes in a notepad and acting as though she's talking to someone on a 2-way radio (it was a transistor portable radio).

This is the same woman who told a very long, involved story about criminals breaking into the house and cooking food, then washing and hiding her favorite pan - to justify the fact that she had misplaced the pan. She drove nails through the window frames into the sills to prevent the windows from being opened, quadruple-locked the attic door and put a padlock on the freezer. She also had an entire kitchen's worth of silverware, rolling pins, knives and other utensils under her mattress - not sure how the heck she slept on it.

My ex-husband's father was another story. He suffered from anoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain) due to cancer, emphysema and COPD from a lifetime of smoking. When the anoxia really kicked into high gear, I was his favorite target. He told me I was a prostitute, that I had married his son for his money (yeah right! I actually spoke back on that one and told him that was like saying I married him for his big you-know-what...), that I wanted nothing but money...and best of all, that I had put a spell on his wife and made her not listen to him anymore. He actually insisted one time that I take the spell off her so she would listen to him and obey him again. (There was no spell. She just got tired of his crap after a lifetime of abuse and started standing up for herself!) To appease him, I went out to the kitchen, where my MIL was sitting, and called her name. When she looked at me, I went, "BOOGA BOOGA!!" - which just about shocked her out of her shoes. LOL I told her I was taking the spell off - she just laughed. Went back and told FIL I'd taken the spell off and he said we were ok again. I have to look back at these things and laugh now, because there's not much else you can do - but it sure doesn't seem too funny when you're going through it - I definitely know that first hand.

Overall, we have to remember that to them, these delusions are VERY real - and quite likely very frightening and disconcerting. I know my own mother is edging into the middle range of dementia now, and she's frightened, depressed and unhappy. She knows she is losing her memory, can't take care of herself, and that she is in the nursing home - as she puts it - "for the duration". I can only imagine how frightening it must be to think you "know" something, only to have someone keep telling you that you don't, or that you're not remembering it correctly, or that you can't do things you think you can do - like walking.

I would take anything said with a grain of salt, unless you can find proof or have suspicions that it might be true. Talk with relatives of other residents if you're at all concerned, but it sounds like you know what she's saying isn't true. Talk with the staff and the psychiatrist at the facility to get a better grasp on how to handle her delusions so that you can have more pleasant visits with her. Unfortunately, there may be little they can do to stop her having the delusions. Medications only go so far to help with that - she may slow down some with it, but may never completely stop, even if medicated for it.
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Dementia can tell some pretty wild stories. I would not take any of them as having factual content. Often they repeat things they have seen on TV as if they were personal experiences.
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As her POA, I might discuss whether her medications are adequate. You might review her behavior with the staff of the Memory Care and discuss with her doctor. Adjusting the meds might make a difference.

Still, if you are being damaged and upset by visiting, then I think it's understandable if you stop going. You can still ensure that she is being well cared for. It's not for the staff to make judgments about your decisions and habits. They don't know the whole story.

If you do decide to visit, why not direct the conversation to more positive things. Take props with you that might amuse or distract her so the negative stores that bother you may be avoided. I normally take my cousin her favorite treats and beverage. I take her favorite body spray to put on her. I also take photos, pictures of things she likes and I am upbeat and try to engage her things about the nice lady down the hall or pretty pictures in the room or the wonderful smell coming from the kitchen. She's not one to be negative anymore, but I still do it from habit. And that she doesn't initiate conversations any longer.

And if she still talks about things that upset you, assure her that it has been taken care of and that everything is okay. Maybe the assurances will comfort her until this phase passes.
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Hugemom, I can just imaged how rattled you are after visiting your Mom. When my Mom [98] was in long-term-care, she would tell "stories" that were over the top, none of which were true, but that was the dementia talking, not her. My Mom passed six months ago but I can still remember things she had said, and like you, that is NOT want I want to remember :P

As for counseling, I am still trying to find someone to talk to who takes Medicare. How surprised I was to learn how many therapists who came highly recommended don't take Medicare nor certain secondary insurances... good heavens, how many of us can pay out of pocket $150 per session. Especially now with seniors taking care of much older seniors.
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