How to deal when Mom with mental illness who won't take her medication?

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My mom has dealt with mental illness (depression, anxiety and paranoia) for most of her life. but rarely takes medication for any of it. She and my dad still live in their house, and my dad has Alzheimer's, so she's taking care of both herself and him. Everything is completely overwhelming to her, and I just feel like it would be slightly better if she'd treat her mental issues (I realize caring for a spouse with Alzheimer's is overwhelming anyway, I really do. But it has got to be worse when you're doing it from such a bad position in the first place). Most recently, she decided my husband and I were somehow "using" her (we do nothing but help her, take to doctor appointments, arrange for their grass to be cut, go over to change light bulbs, etc. etc.), but somehow she got it in her head that we've been doing something - I don't know what - behind her back. I find that after a lifetime of this kind of thing, I am getting totally fed up with trying to be compassionate because I know it's the illness speaking, and not her. I also know that it's part of the illness that refuses to let her acknowledge it. At the same time, I don't know how to help someone who won't help herself, and I find myself getting more mad at her than anything else. Also - and just as importantly - I worry about my dad, because I know she's not taking care of him as well as he might need her to. Any advice? Anyone else have a situation like this? Is it possible to relieve the guilt of feeling mad at my mentally ill mother, or is it just guilt that has to be lived with?

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Gladimhere - thanks for the info. I'm starting to look into all the possibilities. It's a full-time job :-)
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MBFoster - so true. There are a million solutions to many of my mom's complaints, but she "can't" do any of them. And so the complaints go round and round. At one point I told her she should by all means give up her house if it meant getting care for her and my dad. She said, "Oh, sure! You just don't want the responsibility!" I don't know exactly which responsibility I was avoiding, there, but I hung up the phone without asking.
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One technique that sometimes works is to offer a choice; " mom, would you like me to order groceries sent over to your house or would you like for a cab to pick you up to take you shopping?". When the person says no I want you to take me, you say gently but firmly " no mom, that's not one of the choices I can offer today". You make it simple, concrete and FIRM. You don't get bogged down in a circular discussion. If it veers into " you don't love me" or "after all I've done for you" you excuse yourself and hang up.
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Melissa, is Dad's POA set up with you as successor if your Mom is not able to handle the task? If so, I would talk to their doctor about how they feel about that situation. If they think Mom is not capable ask for a letter stating so. Some POA's will require two doctors to concur so two letters are needed. Your mom will not like that very much but that is the reason for successors. You could then start looking for a suitable place for Dad.
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Just wanted to say thanks to Windyridge for permission to "turn off the guilt switch and the give a damn part of your brain occasionally." I've got an aging, permanently depressed and perpetually complaining mom. Like Melissa2215's mom, she made her own bed to a large extent.
When I talk with her, the less I sympathize, the more guilty I feel. If I am practical and point out routes to solutions, I somehow end up feeling beastly. It is so wearing.
I guess I'm learning that personal boundaries are like fences: you set them up, and that's great - but if people frequently try to push through or climb over them, they are going to require maintenance.
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Babalou - She won't accept help - they can't afford paid help, and she has pretty much rejected the free help she was getting through the VA. My dad does have a doctor and a nurse that go to the house to check him out, but other than that, she doesn't want strangers in her house because she feels they'll try to steal from her. And I don't know whether there could be dementia starting, but I know the meds issue has been forever. She says everyone else is wrong, she's the only sane one and therefore needs no meds. Sigh...
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Windyridge - Thanks so much for the answer - I know exactly what you mean on the pity parties. She's not speaking to me right now (because she thinks we're plotting against her), but usually it's a daily complaint session. And I totally get that she has plenty to complain about. But she refuses to realize that in a lot of ways, she's making her own bed. I do have POA, primary for my mom, secondary for my dad (2nd to Mom, of course). I'm trying to get prepared - the financial issues are pretty much summed up by saying, there are no finances. They have a house, and that's about all.
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It's also not YOUR fault! We are none of us perfect human beings, lol.

Would they accept some in-home help, paid for with their funds? My aunt (I'll with chf) was cared for by my mentally ill and demented uncle for many years. It was really only okay once they had CNAs coming in everyday to help my aunt.

I'm also wondering if your mom jihad developed dementia on top of her pre-existing condition. That might explain a lot; she might in reality, not be remembering to take her meds. Do you set up pill boxes for her?
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No easy answers for the guilt trip. My Mom has been dealing with severe depression her whole life. Now she's 84 in bad health and careing for my Dad with dementia. I've become pretty much immune to her depression and won't join in the pity parties. I think you have to learn to turn off the guilt switch and the give a damn part of your brain occasionally.

On a more practical note, things with your folks don't sound good now and are going to get much worse. To what extent are you prepared to deal with upcoming care, financial and legal issues. Do you have POA for them?
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Babalou - thank you so much for the answer, I think you are right on all counts. I'm looking into getting my dad out of there if I can (she probably won't agree - I do have POA for both, but she's the primary for him, so that might be a challenge). I don't know how to get help for her, without committing her - I've spoken to her doctor and she's prescribed medications, but Mom always has one reason or another for not taking them. I think my biggest problem with that is not being mad at my mother - I've had much experience with that - but being mad at someone with a mental illness. I continually tell myself and others - "it's not her fault, it's not her fault, it's not her fault." And I know it isn't. And that's why I feel guilty for being so fed up with the whole thing.
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