My aging mother has paranoid delusions after a stroke. What do I do? - AgingCare.com

My aging mother has paranoid delusions after a stroke. What do I do?

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Hello, my mom is 67 years old and has had 3 mini strokes. The first TIA I believe occurred approximately around age 60 however there is no solid confirmation of the exact time, it's just a guess based on behaviour changes that were noticed around that time. At the time my brother was getting married and my mom started exhibiting some very strange and out of character behaviour however we had no idea at the time what was going on with her. The 2nd TIA was during a vacation at which time she took a very hard fall. She said she tripped. But many odd and concerning things were noticed after this as well and it wasn't until months later and many conversations with others about it that I figured out what was going on. I talked to her about this and encouraged her to see a doctor at which time it was confirmed she definitely had 2 mini strokes. Over the years she has become extremely paranoid. For me, it was difficult to know what was going on and who to believe. My mom became very accusatory of my brother around a number of subjects, one being the claim that he stole money from her that he promised to invest. To me this seemed out of character for him to do something like this however I was never there to see the interactions when these things "happened". Consequently my mom later cut my brother out of her life and her will. I was still unsure who to believe because I had seen my brother react very strongly towards my mom on many occasions as well, but also now believe this was partially because these confrontations and strange behaviours were becoming an embarrassment to him around his new wife and her family. I thought with the termination of their relationship (which I DID try for a year to talk her out of) would at least bring some peace. But I have since come to realize that my mom is suffering from paranoid delusions. She absolutely believes that my brother is spying on her, trying to get her money, have her thrown into a home etc. This may not sound crazy to some since there are people that would do this to a senior and initially I trusted her and took steps to help protect her. But the accusations get worse and worse with time. She has stated that my brother's wife, who is a nurse, is trying to access my mom's health information so that they can plot to have her put away in a home. She has stated that she is sure my brother put a tracking device in the wheels on her car. She has stated that my brother sent his (also elderly) father-in-law to follow her and spy on her because she ran into him twice in stores that she was in. She has stated that my brother (who also lives 2 hours away from her) is recording her phone calls and that she knows for certain this is true because she saw a van parked outside her house and looked in the window and saw what she believes was a large recording device on the front seat. She says there was a wire she found outside her home that "later disappeared" after she called the police about the van outside her home. And most recently she visited me and parked her car a block away and when asked why she told me that during a previous visit she got into her car and realized that the odometer had 3000 more kms on it then the day before. I clarified what she was saying by asking if she believed someone got into her car, drove it around for 3000 kms and re-parked it in the same spot and she told me no. She believed someone with a computer (implying my brother) had connected to her car and changed the odometer remotely, either that or the dealership had rolled back the odometer at some point and it had just jumped forward again. She confirmed this was all possible on google. She also believes my brother faked his cancer. All of this is getting so confusing and exhaustive for me. I don't know what to do anymore. I sometimes forget that these things are stroke related because she can seem totally herself in every other way and it can sometimes be months between mention of these paranoid accusations. They used to sound almost believable but now they just get worse with time. Recently she admitted to me that she had the 3rd mini stroke in which she was unable to speak. But says her doctor said it was just a "blip" and she is fine. She also had calcification of a heart valve which she claims is also drastically improved since she started taking supplements for it. However, she waited until a year later to tell me about either of these things. We had a trip planned together and she didn't want me to cancel the trip so she hid this from me. She has also mentioned selling her house because she believes it is close to the return of Jesus Christ and the end of the world and she thinks she needs to prepare. I try to go along with some of her discussions but discourage anything drastic by saying things like "it could be another 50 years before Jesus returns so you'd better wait". I don't know what to do anymore. It's getting bad. Help! What do I do??

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Thank you Barb. It's difficult. I'm 41, and never imagined having to deal with these things at my age and my mom's age of only 67. I also certainly never imagined I'd have to deal with it all on my own either. :( I will check out the book you recommended. Maybe it will give me some idea on how to move forward with all of this. My mom's thinking seems normal in every other way. She has some problems with memory but it's not extreme at this point, more like repeating stories and sometimes losing things. The paranoia is by far the worst and I'm terrified it will turn on me as well and pretty soon she will have no one to look out for her well-being. I sure hope that book has some good advice.
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Another thing; if you can, get hold of a book called "On Being Mortal" by Atul Gawunde. He's a very wise doctor, talking about children caring for parents and end of life care.

The big takeaway for me was that sometimes there is a BIG difference between keeping our parents safe and keeping our parents happy. A parent with impaired judgement may not be happy about being remanded to a mental health facility, but she will be safe from harm there.

You are in tough, unenviable shoes, dear. I wish you peace and all good things; please come back and tell us how this is working out. We learn so much from each other.
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Eternity, I'm so sorry that youre9going through this. It feels o me that the kind of help your mom needs is bigger than what you can give her.

I think you need to get her doctor involved because there needs to be a professional assessment of how much danger your mother poses to herself and others. From there, actions may need to be taken.
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Thanks, I will do this. I just hope he doesn't disclose anything to her because my mom has been isolating herself more and more from other people due to unfounded suspicions has has of people. I thought she was doing a bit better since she hadn't mentioned anything that sounded paranoid for quite some time, but she seems to go for long periods of time before mentioning things perhaps because she is keeping them secret for awhile until she can "prove" them as "real" which she often uses the internet and reads all kinds of conspiracy websites etc. I also know she will flat out refuse medications as she believes the right natural supplements can help her with everything and that medications are poison so even if the doctor knows he won't be able to convince her to take anything for it, that I know for sure. But I want someone to know because my biggest concern is she will cut herself off from everyone and no one will know how she is doing anymore.
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You need permission to GET information from the doctor. But you can and SHOULD get the doctor information about your mom's delusions.

There are Meds that help with these symptoms. Your mom's doctor needs to know what her symptoms are.

You can tell him/her that your mom is suspicious of you and could they please bring this up in a " I was just wondering about..."
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Hi Barb, My mom let me come to her doctor with her once and that was it. After that she became even more paranoid that I was going to share the information the doctor gave with my brother or at the very least let it slip what the doctor's name is which would make it easier for my brother's wife to access her medical records. At one time she sent me an email accusing me of conspiring WITH my brother to get her locked away. It took a lot for me to convince her otherwise and "regain" her trust, despite having done nothing to actually lose it. I am worried she will end up cutting everyone off as she also talks suspiciously about her own brothers as well. My mom was very abused by my father for many years so I believe her mistrust of men comes from that but this is extending way beyond that. I am worried that her doctor may tell her I wrote him and then her suspicions will in her mind be confirmed and I will get cut off too. I don't think I will be able to convince her to let me speak with her doctor again. FYI I am in Canada- not sure what is allowed where you are from but here you have to have written permission for a doctor to release medical information, or be with the patient and have the patient's verbal permission at the time you are with them. Also, my mom lives alone, 2 hours away from me as well. I stopped in once several years ago because I was driving past her town, and she suspiciously yelled "Who's there?" after I knocked many times and I told her it was me and she peaked out the window. She came to the door but refused to allow me inside and so I told her to come out then and we'd go for lunch. She later accused me of coming there just to spy on her so I could report back to my brother. I haven't gone back since to her home because it is very clear she thinks I am there to spy, so when I visit her town we meet somewhere in town, not at her place. Most times she comes to my home to visit.
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Um, do you go with her to doctor appointments?

You need to write her doctor a short, bulleted, point by point (but concise) summary of the changes you have noticed in your mother's mental status. Make an appointment for mom to go to the doctor and make sure that a copy of your letter gets to the doctor BEFORE the appointment. Bring a copy of it with you just in case s/he hasn't gotten it.

It sounds as though your mom may have developed Vascular Dementia as a result of her strokes/TIAs. YOU need to hear what the doctor is telling mom about what she needs and you need to let the DOCTOR know what mom is telling you.

Good luck!
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