How do I get mental health help for my elderly mother? - AgingCare.com

How do I get mental health help for my elderly mother?

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I am a polio survivor and very strong-willed, now responsible for an 87 year old mother, who has always been negative, depressed and fatalistic. I have overcome a lot in my life and do not have patience for her, although I do feel empathetic toward her because she is lonely and isolated. She has always been an introvert, depressed and felt sorry for herself. She was an only child. I have one brother who lives an hour away. My mother and I do not see eye to eye on anything. She mocks me for continuing to do things for myself and being strong willed. The more I try to help her stay independent the more she tells me that I am crazy for being strong-willed. She has always let everyone do everything for her (my grandmother, my dad) and now she expects me to do it. I am finding that I resent her weakness more and more although I understand that she is old and frail. She takes one pill a day for blood pressure issues. She does not have any life-threatening illness right now. She does not think she is mentally impaired but I see the decline in cognitive abilities.We have reached the point of it not being healthy for her or for me, for me to be the main caretaker. She is not financially able to hire private pay home health care or outside help. My brother is not too interested in helping and he lives too far to help on a daily basis. She is an extremely weak minded individual who never found the strength to go to the hospital with me (her mother did it for her) when I had surgeries for 18 years, beginning at age 8 months old; however, now I am expected to take care of her. She is and always has been a total "victim" - everyone hurts her and now she is lashing out at me because she feels "safe" in being sarcastic - she knows I am strong enough to take it, but honestly, I am beginning to resent her. I want to take a step back and let someone else do it but she has no money. I see her 3-4 times per week but it is getting to where every time I depart she is on the verge of tears, or is in tears saying "you just don't like me because I am weak." It is partially true as I have no patience with a person who puts forth no effort. Where do I go for assistance to make sure she is safe and taken care of?

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True mental health improvement requires long term therapy, self insight and a willingness and desire to improve. Chances are poor that someone that did not engage in mental health improvements as an adult would want to do so as an elderly person.

Mom is what she is and shall remain so. Use your boundaries for your own mental health.
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No one is responsible for the emotional needs of another person. It is a choice you make to play that game; a serious game that will destroy you and your family. Small towns usually have many activities for the elderly and she needs to get involved and leave you alone.

Be sure she has your brothers' phone numbers and let her know to call them for assistance, say for the next two weeks. Mom will adjust and you can start taking control of your life again.

Good luck!
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I have a 92 year old Mom who still drives and goes to lunch most days in the small town where she lives. I am the only daughter and the youngest. Since my Dad's passing she has depended on me a lot for her emotional support. My brothers try to help out but when she needs something she calls me first. Talking on the phone is frustrating because her hearing is not good even with hearing aides in both ears. I feel very torn between a full time job a new husband and her constant need for my companionship. If I stay away for more than a week she will become angry and distraught and call me crying that she must see me more often. If I tell her I'm working 50-60 hours a week and the time I have available I'm cleaning cooking for the two step kids and doing the laundry. She tries to manipulate me into feeling guilty for not attending to her emotional needs, telling me I'm the only one she wants to see or that makes her loneliness go away. Should I feel responsible for her emotional needs?
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My opinion about this is that you need to take your mom to a neuropsychiatrist for a full neurological/ psychiatric/ psychological workup. You are looking at your moms behavior as an extension of what it's always been. But at 87 years old there are undoubtedly physiological changes including most probably some dementia they have crept into her being. These problems only become more magnified with age. You can look at her behavior and say well she's always been that way, but it may help you to realize but she's got a disease process going on, and once she gets a professional evaluation with the recommendation that may include placement, you can be more comfortable not making this decision on your own or if its out of some long term anger about her treatment of you when you were a child. Obviously a lot of your character building came from her mother, your grandmother. You can honor your grandmother by making sure you do the right thing by her daughter (your mother), but that doesn't mean the need do any longer give up your life for her or to feel like you need to step in to be her full time caregiver, which would probably be inappropriate considering your feelings from past family dynamics. Neither you know your mother need to expect either one of you to change your beliefs, your only real obligation is to make sure your mom is safe and properly cared for. Then you can take care of yourself, oversee your moms care and visit when you're comfortable.
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Yours and sunflos mom sound much like mine! Except my mom is only 71 and showing these behaviors. She also neglected me, mostly mentally, emotionally, where she has been verbally abusive of my sisters. Since our father passed 4 years ago, she expects us to fill in for everything. She wont even call a dr. Unless i push the issue. And, i also have a lifelong disease she has never cared about. She didnt bother guiding my disabled sister in life so i am now her guardian as well as mom to my own 3. But none of this seems to matter much to mom, she expects things done for in spite of this.
Best of luck, i admire you, and empathize.
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You probably need to set some boundaries and limit the visits. She might need greater skilled care in the long term so researching your options now is a good idea. Check with your local council on aging or visit local senior center. They will have a director who can give you some resources and offer some help. She might qualify for a dr or mental health professional who takes Medicare and can evaluate mom.

It is hard, sounds like she is dependent on you and only comfortable with you for meeting her needs...including you being her only social outlet which isn't fair. I'm in that boat although long distant. I'm my moms only social interaction and she refuses to do anything on her own or go out with others or to senior center etc. I'm frustrated because I know outside social interactions are important to being happy and emotional health. But she won't engage unless I'm present and refuses other seniors friends attempts to get her to socialize. Now she has no friends.

I finally set boundaries and remind myself I'm not responsible for her entertainment and social interaction. I've provided options, arranged for people to call and come over and she has refused or cut them off. She tells me how lonely she is and all the people who's children live with them or take care of them. I've let go of the guilt and don't let her guilt me anymore.

I hope you can do the same. You have a life to live too and deserve to do so. Your only obligation is to make sure she is safe and healthy -- of which she has to be cooperative and meet you halfway.
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Over the years, your Mom has taught you to be strong and to spoil her. You are now very close to burnout and need to save YOURSELF. Do not allow more insults, simply tell her she is insulting and you are going home. Reducing you to rubble makes her feel in control. You are obviously a strong person to have overcome so much in your life. Sometimes staying strong means walking away from a fight instead of engaging in one.
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You area agency on aging (eldercare dot gov to search) can refer you to mental health services with experience or specialization in geriatric care. They will also have information about other support and benefit programs.
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We don't get to choose our family. We don't always like them. But accepting them is often the best way. With help you may find a way of having your mother get the care she needs without having to be the "whipping boy." Don't feel guilty about it or angry at her. When I face this I tell myself "you cannot expect someone without legs to walk." Your Mom has no emotional legs. But she cannot do to you anything you do not allow. I had a friend who would tell herself and visualize "a duck just lets it roll off their back." Make up your own mantra that helps you cope.
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Dear Sgreene, you ask how to get mental health services for you mom. Most places in the us have psychiatrists who specialize in geriatrics; depression can be treated in the elderly, but it takes knowhow to select the correct medication and dosage. Now, and PLEASE don't take this the wrong way, you strong will and attitude of I can do this has served you well up until now in other parts of your life.But with regard to your relationship with your mom, some adjustment on YOUR part might be neccesary, and probably not easily come to without some therapy yourself. I speak from experience. Be well, thoughts are with you.
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