Should I go along with my mom's hallucinations, even if they cause me discomfort?

Follow
Share

My 75 year old mom (who lives on her own, about 6 hours away from me) has vivid and detailed auditory & visual hallucinations (mainly auditory). She is otherwise relatively ok (memory is decent, cooks, cleans, etc). When she experiences a stressful hallucination (for example my aunt and uncle in the house trying to get her to sign papers to sell the house or my cousin is threatening to kidnap her cat), I try to calm her down and then lead the conversation in a different direction, which generally works well. (note: the relatives live in Europe and are not visiting her. Also, fyi, she hasn't been diagnosed with anything as she refuses to go to the doctor - she hates doctors and medicine. She's not on any drugs and is physically very healthy).

One my last visit to see her a few weeks ago, I went up a few days before my fiancée so I could spend more time there. I slept in the guest room. On the day my fiancée was to arrive she suddenly told me that we couldn't sleep in the guest room because that is where Bob and Eric sleep and really it was Bob's room. Eric is my 10 year old second cousin and it seems Bob is her friend (sometimes called her husband) who is a nice, friendly guy and helps protect her from the mean relatives who harass her. Bob is completely made up - there is no real life equivalent of Bob (but at least he's a happy hallucinations - a friend). My mom said we (my fiancée and I) could either sleep on the floor in the livingroom on a mattress or in the basement spare room. We have slept in the livingroom before but stopped because sleeping on the floor hurts our backs. The basement is probably about 10oC (50oF) and we have no desire to sleep there. I suggested to her why don't Bob & Eric sleep in the basement and she said no, the guest room was their room. She got increasingly angry and insistent that we couldn't sleep in the guest room. I tried to explain why it was important that we sleep in a good bed but she wouldn't hear any of it. Each time I tried to give her alternatives for her "guests" she just kept saying no. She told me I was selfish. I decided I did not want to ask my fiancée to sleep on the floor or in the basement, so we ended up not staying there (a friend came and got me) and our trip was cut short (my fiancée knows all about her hallucinations). This was the first time her hallucinations have impacted a visit like this.

We are now planning on going to visit her over Canadian Thanksgiving (first weekend in October). I have no idea if she'll once again say we can't sleep in the guest room. If she does say that, I don't know how I should be handling the situation. Should I go along with her delusion/hallucinations and sleep either on the floor or in the basement??? I am not keen on this, as while I'm ok with going along with some of her hallucinations, I also feel like I have limits on how far I'm willing to take this. Or should I just go along with it to keep the peace? I'm an only child and I don't want to make the situation worse. Any advice would be appreciated.

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
11

Answers

Show:
I would second the suggestion about the UTI's. My Mom 90 and incontinent gets them and they add to her creative illusions. It seems your mother surrounds yourself with male illusions. My mom perks up around men. Does your boyfriend have the patience to lead her on a bit about things that could help the situation. He could, as suggested, "talk" to the guys and say they would not be coming until after your visit as they were off "fishing" or some other activity. After years of trying to get the truth to Mom to be revisited the next day with the illusion, you can make up some fun stories to get through the day. My grandmother, who died in 1986 and Mom is expecting to visit, is often traveling or staying with Mom's brother. My father, died in 1984 and brother 2000 and are often included in Mom's company. She is convinced they have a place in town. I also say they are hunting somewhere. None of it is easy or very fun. We have had some excellent caregivers and some far from excellent. Good luck.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Aren't you afraid to let her live alone? What if she thought someone told her to jump off a roof? I don't mean to be sarcastic, but this is very concerning. I hope you can her some help soon.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

I don't' know how the Canadian health system works but, is there a public health nurse that could come to her home while you are there to give a physical, take blood samples and a urine sample for analysis? My Mom suffers with chronic UTI's. I can always tell when she has one because of her "hallucinations" or personality changes (emotional outbursts, suspicious nature, trouble with memory). Try using the "Bob wants you to get checked out" tactic. I think it is important to get Mom checked out. Could be a vitamin B deficiency too.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

As frustrating as it is for the child, the adult parent will very often respond to advice/orders from another person outside the family, even a stranger to them who speaks/acts with authority. Many times I have been called in to do just that...even when the doctor could not get them to co-operate. Find that one person who will get the desired helpful response from your parent and add them to your team. It may even be the hair-dresser lady! Yes, it is galling and hurtful even...but this is one way that you can honor your parent and avoid emotional havoc to yourself. As time goes on, you will need all the emotional strength you can muster. So, take what help you safely can...and remember your own health!
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

You could try suggesting that Bob wants her to go to a doctor because he cares so much! Best of luck. ♥
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

ITA with you playing along with mom, and you've handled it really well even if she won't agree I also think that jeannegibbs may be on to something about mom disapproving because you are not married yet. Have you tried having a group discussion with Bob and Eric in you mom's presence? Have her call them into the room. If they've left, wait a while and act like they just came into the room, "Oh, hi gentlemen. Nice to see you. Are you still sure you don't mind letting us use your room? Thank you! That's sweet of you!"
:-)
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Does she not leave the house at all, and if so, is getting her to just get into the car the biggest hurdle in seeing a Dr? If she will get into a car, I'd be very tempted to make the appointment for early afternoon, take her to lunch and then "pop in" to a pre-arranged appointment on the way home. Even if you do get her to see the doctor, there is no guarantee she will be having or admit to the hallucinations in their presence... I think with my mom, she knows on some level that the "extra" people and animals she sees are not real, but they give her comfort, so she "believes" in them, but not when it puts her at risk of "being committed" -(I would never do that, but her generation thinks that way.)
It would be great if you could find a mental health professional who would make a house call; maybe someone from a social service or affiliated with a church or synagogue who could come and do an evaluation that would seem more like a friendly visit.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Thanks everyone for your replies. I know she needs to see a doctor. Any suggestions on how I can get her to go? Rational suggestions don't work - she 100% believes the things she sees and hears are real. Physically she's fine. I work in the medical field and have spoken with a friend who is a psychiatrist who basically told me there is very little I can do to "force" her to go. Unless she is a danger to herself or others (which she isn't) she won't be committed (not that that is the route I want to go!) and even if a doctor were to prescribe medication, the doctor couldn't force her to take it. She won't even take tylenol or vitamins.

I'm pretty well handling this on my own. I'm an only child, we don't have any family in Canada and my mom doesn't really have any friends (she never has, my parents weren't social people...) Any suggestions on how I can get her to see a doctor?

A hotel is definitely an option, although the closest one is ~45min away. She lives in a small rural town. But really my preference would be to stay there with her, as I want to spend as much time with her as I can....
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

You should first get her to see a dr to determine the cause of the hallucinations. If it is something that cannot be treated, i.e. is not going to get better, then just roll with it. You will drive yourself nuts trying to be rational with a person who is not. I'd get a hotel lined up and say you didn't want to put Bob out. But definately get her to see a dr.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Sounds familiar my nan has hallucinations too, but for her it is bacause she gets water/urinary tract infections and they can cause the elderly to see things that arent there. Maybe your mom has the same your should get her checked out.

Read more... https://www.agingcare.com/questions/elder-has-bladder-infection-149536.htm
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.