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My mother began having paranoia about a year ago. She thinks everyone is out to get her. She thought her work agency was canceling her hair appointments and intercepting her mail just to make her life miserable. She thinks people are plotting against her at social events and now she thinks her own children are out to get her. No matter what we say she won't believe us. She is fully functional living with my dad and doing day to day activities but her mind is a mess. It's making me and my siblings very sad and sometimes angry. What should I do if she refuses to go to a doctor or take meds? Could it be dementia? I'm even worried she might have a brain tumor. Any advice?

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Kathy - my mother has had Borderline Personality Disorder all her life and also has been pretty functional up until recently. She managed her own meds until a year ago and she is 102 now, but she did start getting paranoid about a year ago, and also started making mistakes with her money - forgetting PIN number, losing money. Also her short term memory is worse. She benefitted from taking an antipsychotic, but then refused to take it which eventually resulted in her being placed in a geriatric psychiatric hospital where she has been tested up the ying yang, and found to have vascular dementia. They convinced her to take the antipsychotic, thankfully, and she is much better and will be placed in a mental health facility.

Aging combined with mental illness is no fun. Going through this the past couple of years has been bad. Mother moved from one MD to another and was very suspicions too. It was when she was hospitalized for trying to fly across the country alone aged 100 that the geriatrician and psychiatrist got the picture and got her to agree to visits from a community mental health team. I am in Canada so it works a little differently here. As her paranoia worsened they saw it and eventually she was hospitalized. It was h*ll on wheels for a while. Get professionals involved and get her evaluated. Good luck.
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Sunnygirl- Well my mother has had pretty bad social anxiety her entire life. For as long as I can remember she was always over analyzing everything people said and looking into their facial expressions too much. It just started to get really weird over the past year. She even thought her work agency was recording everything she said in her own house. That's when I really freaked out. Not sure if the anxiety is turning into paranoid personality disorder. I think my dad might be in denial, so no I'm not entirely sure if she's fully functioning. I'm just basing it off of occasional visits to the house and what my dad and siblings have said. My dad wanted her to see a psychologist but gave up because she's so stubborn. After that he began to make excuses for her. I think I'm going to try to figure out a way to get her to a doctor. She's always pretty concerned about her heart and cholesterol so maybe we can convince her to get a check up and give the doctor a heads up. Could they figure out what's wrong with her without her picking up on it? She's even suspicious of doctors and gets incredibly angry if anyone says she's paranoid.
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Well, somebody is competent until they are proven not to be. You have to get mom into a doctor's office and have them do a cognitive evaluation on her. That is a short and easy test that you can't fake your way through. They need to test her blood for any deficiencies, test her urine for an infection, look for over/under medicating herself and start to rule out causes.

I told my mom she had to go to the doctor to make sure she was getting all the benefits from the government she was supposed to get. You have to pick a story that appeals to your mom's nature.

Paranoia can come from existing mental illness and dementia. There is medication to help it be less of a bother. But mom has to see a doc - and I suggest a geriatrician over a GP - to get other sources ruled out.
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Addition to previous post. I'm not sure what you can do legally if she isn't a danger to herself or others or if she is fully functioning. You can't force her to see a doctor or take any treatment if she is considered competent.
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It could be a number of things that are causing this behavior. Does she have any mental health issues in her background? Did this happen gradually or suddenly? What does your dad say about it? Does he think she's in need of care?

Have you or your dad suggested she see a medical doctor? There are a number of ways that people convince family members to see a doctor. Some say it's needed for health insurance, for vaccination updates or mold was found in the house and they have to be tested. Some say they have an appointment and want them to come for moral support. Basically, whatever works. Make sure you fill the doctor in on what she's doing. This could be mental, medical, infection or some reaction to medication. It's difficult to say.

If she refuses to go to the doctor, then it would be up to her husband or whoever she named as health care power of attorney to act on her behalf. If she still refuses, then your options may be limited to legal measures and asking for guardianship.

I notice you say she is fully functioning in the home. Why do you believe this? Is your father being forthright? I just find that suspicious with all the other behavior. He could be minimizing the situation. I would keep my eyes open for that possibility. Would he tell you if she wasn't functioning at home?
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