Is my Mom's 'paranoia' negligible or of concern? - AgingCare.com

Is my Mom's 'paranoia' negligible or of concern?

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My mother is 81, widowed 15 months (my father committed suicide), and is now living in a new state near my two brothers, in a beautiful independent living 'cottage' in a senior retirement place with all levels of care available. She is very sharp in many quarters, still reads novels, drives, and can hold a great conversation with anyone of any walk of life. Lately though, she makes comments that people are taking things that make no sense, such as the cleaning ladies possibly taking her (oddball) collection of cards, notes, etc, or someone is using her perfumes (which have evaporated over many years to dark stickiness), or drinking her scotch (which she doesn't drink), or even using her car at night. She is intelligent and sensible enough to know that it makes no sense that people would do these things, but cannot be disabused of these ideas. I've teased a little about people sneaking in, having a scotch, tarting themselves up with her perfume and writing their thank-you notes, and she laughs, but i'm not making headway. My brothers are a little more heavy handed, and she gets annoyed or angry. She was having some issues like this before my dad died, and she still holds to the idea that he gave a LARGE amount of money away without telling her (not really possible looking at records). So far these are not affecting her daily life, though she has mentioned people being in the house at night, 'but i lock my bedroom door.' She is generally very healthy, a little COPD, not too bad, gets vitamin B shots, and she is taking Ambien to sleep since my father's death. One of my brothers acts like she is 'losing it,' and the other says she's totally fine. I'm 3000 miles away. We talk a lot, and i visit quarterly. If anyone has any insight, I'd love to hear it. She doesn't fit Alzheimer profiles at all.

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If your mother is seriously talking about people coming into her home and night and using her things, she is NOT "fine." Something is wrong. It may well be the drugs and that should be investigated. Or it may be the beginning signs of something else. She doesn't need to be whisked off to a care center, but she does need to be observed and her doctor does need to be aware of this behavior. I am glad to hear that she is doing so well in adjusting to widowhood. That is a big adjustment, and it can cause some strange behaviors -- but not, I think, paranoid delusions. Does she have a primary care doctor in her new location? If she needs to establish a new PCP I suggest seeing a geriatrician.
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I think you are right to question the Ambien. It can do weird things to you, PLUS, just this past week there were news stories about drug dosages for women. Most tests have been done on men and they've found that women need different doses. Ambien was specifically mentioned, and women should have half the dosage for men. Discuss this with the doctor.
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I feel like i left out too much to mom's credit here... she has adjusted remarkably to all the changes of the last year. She still travels with friends, has visitors to the house, and is beginning to make friends at the new place (they are all fairly well-to-do, educated, well-traveled folk themselves). She only takes Ambien (i am somewhat suspicious of this med), Spiriva for the COPD, and vitamin B shots. And as for my brothers, they are playing out the roles they always have: eternal optimist and eternal pessimist. :) Thank you for the responses. I am glad to begin the planning of putting some of this into action.
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Hard to say without knowing what meds she is on, but I would certainly not want her driving anymore if she is delusional. She will act differently with every child, but here two of you have noticed changes and you should report those to the MD. Make sure the one who lives closest has a DPOA and Health Care Proxy.
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Sheesh that's kinda how it starts. My mom started saying things like this 15 years ago and shes just now 79, will be 80 soon and dad's been gone for 26 years. I was the one away, only by a couple of hundred miles and my mom still lives on her own. I talked to her multiple times a week and thought there was something wrong and my brother thought I was imagining things. When I'd come for a visit it didnt get better. I'm gonna say you'll probably need to have a family meeting because reality is probably somewhere in the middle bewteen losing it and totally fine.
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