My mom functions adequately day-to-day. She's 76, divorced a long time ago, and lives alone. She pays her bills, walks her dog, and goes to the store when she needs food. But, she's shown an acute loss of her grasp on reality over the past 6 months or so. For instance, she said somebody jumped over her town home fence and stole a single, 20 yr old, dirty rod iron chair from her porch. Not both chairs, just one. Then, people were breaking in through one of her windows and stealing one or two knick-knacks from her house, but leaving things like purse, jewelry etc. The window is blocked off by a hanging plant fence and clearly hasn't been disturbed in ages. Recently, my husband brought my mom to her property in central Texas where she hadn't been in about a decade. That caused a landslide of unbelievable accusations against her neighbor there, my husband, the contractors my husband had work on the ranch road, and several others. She claims one or all of them dumped trash on her property, stole the water pipes from the well to the home, stole the gate to the property, and took a lot of other things that just don't survive central TX weather well when not kept up for more than 10 years. I talked to family members who have used the property to hunt, and my own memory of spending a lot of time there growing up, and gave my mom a clear explanation for everything she accused people of. She wants none of it and told me to file police reports. When I declined, she starts calling me hurtful names and becomes impenetrable. Finally, my husband sat with contractors at her town home while they installed a new air conditioner and furnace. When it was all done, she swore they ripped her off and did things to her house just to make her miserable. Completely untrue. She then won't answer the phone for days at a time forcing me to drive 30 minutes to her house to make sure she's safe. There are many more, daily instances like these, but you have a good flavor for my problems now. I'm at my wits end and don't know what to do. She absolutely will not go see a doctor because she thinks she's fine and everyone else is out to get her. How do I bridge that gap and get her help? Anything you folks that have gone through something like this can offer is much appreciated. Thanks.

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I should tell her to file her own police reports. Feel free, mother!

I bet she won't. I bet she knows, inside, how that would go. That's why she hasn't already done it.

She is feeling angry and alienated and insecure. Being close to her, you get it in the neck from her most, and that's horrible for you.

How is she physically?

Does she have much in the way of a friendship circle? Anyone who lives nearby you could talk to?
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Countrymouse

Get her tested for a UTI
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Reply to MicheleBor

The angry paranoia struck my grandmother very early (71) in her tangled path of dementia, and your mother’s behavior sounds very similar to hers.

Absolutely rule out the physical questions, and have a plan ready to assess her basic cognitive/emotional landscape if she is cleared of other issues.

This worked for me- I invited a “friend” to visit my LO who was actually a geriatric trained psychiatric physician’s assistant. By deftly questioning and listening, she was able to determine LO’s need for medication, and her general level of cognitive/memory failure.

Safety is always the greatest concern, so if you see any potential threats to her physical welfare, you will need to rule them out. A psychiatric evaluation will also help you to make -lans for supervision, and how you should proceed when/if/what kind of supports she will need.

Many of us have been where you are now. You may feel guilty, overwhelmed, indecisive. “Explanation” is presently useless to soothing her and distressing and exhausting to you, so don’t try. Defer, say you’ll tell (someone), whatever simple answer helps her to remain peaceful if even for a short time.

Adopt a forgiving stance for the insults. They are part of whatever is causing her problem, not about you.
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Reply to AnnReid

My Dad was just like that.

I finally refused to do anything for him....while he was around to see me do it.... so, he would rant at me, but once he was asleep...I would go and fix whatever it was that he broke.

if he knew I even looked at something I would be blamed for whatever he did to it. For example, I had to make an emergency trip out East so my daughter came and stayed with them. Second morning I get a call from my Dad..yelling at me because my daughter locked him in the house! He knew she had a key..therefore it was her fault the door would not open. He had put the deadbolt on and didn’t remember that and couldn’t figure out how to unlock anything.....insisted she locked him in even after I explained to him that all the locks were on his side of the door.
that ended with calling out the fire department to remove the back door to get in. Once I was back...that night I removed the chains and deadbolts.

he was always messing something up and demanding that I fix it because I caused it.

tell her you will figure it out, and then wait till it passes.
just wait ... fix it when you can do it privately. And try to ignore the tirade
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Reply to Katiekate

Mom needs a good physical. There are other things that can cause things like this. UTI for one and diabetes for another. Thyroid can do a number on the body too.
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Reply to JoAnn29

Hello HelpWMyMom, the first thing that needs to get sorted out is IF you are actually able to help your mom. Do you (or anyone in your family) have durable Power of Attorney assigned to you from her? If so, this person needs to be involved in any help for your mom moving forward. If you are sure that no one has PoA, that is a very different discussion. So, let us know about the PoA.

In the meantime, you should discount that she has a "fixable" issue: an untreated UTI can mimic or worsen dementia symptoms and antibiotics is the remedy. Or maybe she is off meds or taking something she shouldn't. This is very common if she has short-term memory issues. But someone must go with her to the doc appt and sit in the mtg with her. Getting her there will be the biggest hurdle. Many on this forum use "therapeutic fibs" to move things forward with resistant LOs. You can tell your mom anything you think will get her to go, like: "Medicare requires it this year" or "the county wants everyone checked for coronavirus". If you can get her to a doc have a pre-written note in hand to discretely give to staff that says, "Exhibiting odd behavior, please check for UTI and give cognitive exam". They will gladly do this for you. This is how I got my MIL checked. One of those 2 tests will point you in a direction. Also have the doc ask about meds she is prescribed.

If I were you I would plan on making time in your schedule to spend time at her home. While there and she's not in the same room, look around for other signs: unopened mail, checkbook register not fully filled out; excessive cc expenditures; house and pet looking dirty, unkept or neglected. Look for medications (prescriptions, OTC sleep aids, etc). Look in her fridge for signs she is eating and no food it rotting. This will give you good insight into whether you need to stay there until you have an answer for her behavior and also a short-term solution. Also do not get sucked into her paranoia. Just play along for now in any way that keeps her calm and trusting you. Seventy-five is not that old, so it is completely possible she has some other medical issue that is not dementia, so don't let the docs blow you off if she doesn't have a UTI, cognitive decline or medication problem. If you get this far come back for more suggestions and support. You are definitely not the first person to have this experience with a parent!
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Reply to Geaton777

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