Paranoid 70 year old Mother? - AgingCare.com

Paranoid 70 year old Mother?

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Today the reality set in and I haven't stopped crying since. Not even 2 months ago I took my life saving to buy a Condo for my mother. She had been having a hard time being accepted by associations. The senior building's had long waiting lists. So i did what I had to keep her from being homeless. My mother has been accusing people of stealing from her and hearing loud vibrations for some time. I let myself believe that somehow having a place to herself would make her feel secure. We haven't been there 2 months and she already accused one neighbor of stealing and another for playing loud music below her. She now believes that there are holes in the attack that people come through to switch items in the condo. Im mortified of what may happen next. I don't know what to do. She refuses to see a doctor for this. I have no POA and Im scared that this will cause an issue with my HOA and we will be forced to sell. I can't remember the last time I've been this painfully scared. Overtime I think of what is in store I feel physically ill. Please help.

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Justashes, you treat the paranoia and delusions because if you don't it can erupt into actual physical aggression. It stresses to the point of health decline and/mental breakdown. Keep the patient comfortable, one step at a time.
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I think I have missed the point here and because it is important to me - please help. Why is being paranoid - thinking people is stealing from you, a reason to act on? My mom accuses everybody around her or stealing her clothes, her food from her cupboards, etc. She is in a wheelchair and cannot walk at all - but she will tell me that she has caught the lady taking care of them during the day, today busy steeling her sweets or handcream or what ever. She walked into the room just behind her and the lady did not expect her - so she has caught her "red handed!". She has asked her what she is doing and the lady said she thought is was OK for her to help herself or to use some cream, etc. And then she has told the lady - I do not use your cream, take your sweets, wear your clothes, so it is not right for your to do that to me! And then she did put it back and apologized. In the beginning I said - no she would not do that - she is a very beautiful lady and will never do that! But later just realised that it upsets her - we are not believing her and will rather believe a stranger. Now we looks very surprised and promise to look into it. When we get visitors, my dad must push her to their room so that she can close the door - "Not that I think they will take anything - but you know your dad's pills is on top of his bedside, and a child may take some which is very dangerous!"

I don't know if this is "paranoid" or just simply not something so severe. Because of the dementia, she cannot remember even our routine of washing and dressing her every morning. Some mornings, if I do not get to her room quick enough, I will find her in tears and very frustrated - she thought that we have left her alone and had forgot about her and she tried to get up to get her own clothes to help herself but firstly she could not get up and secondly she does not know where her clothes is.

Sometimes her accusing other people of stealing from her frustrates me but mostly we have learned to just looks surprised and promise to look into the case. My brother got divorced when my parents still stayed in a granny flat next to the main house. I think part of their problems were my moms accusations that my SIL are stealing from her - she would tell us - very loudly (that was her way to ensure that my SIL knew that she - my mom - knew about the missing stuff). And then my dad would get very upset and forced her to open the cupboards and search for whatever is was that she thought was missing. Most of the times they would have found it - not at the right place - but where ever she had put it - soap in the fridge, etc, a tray that was very special to her, they have found hidden in the caravan's porta potty! And then she would tell us that it was because she has told (who-ever) so loudly about it and my SIL has overheard her and has therefore returned the stolen things. Who would other wisely be so stupid to put her special tray in the porta potty!?

I suppose it might become a problem later - she sometimes thinks that she has made clothes that I am wearing! Did I made that? Did I knit that? Or she will ask if it is not her top that some one are wearing and normally she would accept the answer that it is not without getting upset. It is as if she trust that I will know - and my answer is OK for her.

Her situation to me is not dangerous or is it?
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Solo, have your Mom tested for an urinary tract infection [UTI] which can cause an elder to act like the way your Mom is acting. UTI's are a simple fix using antibiotics, unless it is a reoccurring issue.

Now the issue of getting your Mom to a doctor to be tested for a UTI, simple pee in a cup if she can handle that. Some times we have to fib by saying that if she doesn't go to the doctor at least twice a year she will lose her health insurance, then should would need to pay hundreds out of pocket.
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Solo, please don't think of Baker Act as "turning against her". In a hospital setting she can get proper titration of medications to alleviate her fears. Living in a state of paranoia is painful. Alleviate her pain.
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Jeanne gives excellent advice. One caveat, and it's a stinker: Once the neighbors know that Mom has dementia, they might decide that she's a risk they don't want to live adjacent to. Outbursts, confrontations, nuisance calls to the police, accidents with the stove, leaving a faucet running til something overflows, etc.

The HOA cannot discriminate against a health condition, per se. But unhappy neighbors can launch a campaign of targeted nitpicking. Challenging how many bags of garbage you put out and how they are sealed.....complaints that daytime caregiver is hogging a precious parking space.....a grievance alleging that overnight caretaker is an unauthorized resident.....etc. I sincerely hope this does not happen. But don't rule it out.

In the meantime, get Power Of Attorney ASAP. Tell whatever white lies are necessary to get Mom to a geriatric doctor plus psych & neuro evaluations. Start the Medicaid application now. (If you had to wholly finance her current home, her assets are pretty low already.) And actively research every alternative living situation for Mom.

Your current set-up is not sustainable. Dementia or not, miffed neighbors or not, this is taking a toll on you. If you do not take measures to preserve your sanity & health and keep a roof over your head, nobody wins.

Good luck to you. These years are hard. And, unfortunately, the key word is "decline." Mom will decline. Guaranteed. Good intentions won't stop it. Wishful thinking won't stop it. Self-immolation won't stop it.

Take care of yourself. This is not a throwaway phrase. Paradoxical as it sounds, it's the only way you'll be able to make productive decisions for Mom.
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Thank you for your responses. I have found some comport in the posts here, Knowing that others have faced these issues. I am learning all that I can about options and preparing myself mentally and emotionally to deal this issue. Cant say it has made dealing with this easier, but this test. This is apparently my new reality and I just have to face it head on. I will reach out to my new neighbors about the situation. I will also look into the Baker Act, but it sounds like something I will save as a last resort. She already believes that I am trying to have her committed and that people are trying to turn me against her. The last thing I want to do is reinforce that thinking. I am going to spend a few days with her and see if that helps her to be more comfortable while i look into doctors. This will make work more difficult, but i have very few options. Thank you again for your responses.
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" I let myself believe that somehow having a place to herself would make her feel secure." It is easy to see this as wishful thinking in retrospect, isn't it? I suppose at the time it must have made sense to you.

Your mother's behavior is totally irrational. If she has dementia the paranoia is stemming from damage to her brain. It won't be fixed by changes in her living situation, her diet, pleading, explanations, or talk therapy. She isn't paranoid because she is insecure. She is reacting to physical damage in her brain.

(Since she won't see a doctor I assume your profile statement that she has dementia is your observation, not a medical diagnosis. What you describe is certainly consistent with dementia, but there could be something else going on.)

I agree with Eyerishlass that Mom's neighbors should all know that she has dementia (a medical diagnosis would help) and that she is living in her own reality. I would tell the person she accused of stealing, "This behavior is part of Mom's dementia. I am so sorry she picked on you to accuse. I assure you that I in no way blame you, and I will make every effort to defend you to anyone else who might hear of this accusation. It is totally in her imagination."

I also agree with Pam and Babalou. Your Mom needs psychiatric evaluation. Since she refuses, the Baker Act may be your best bet.

Once you have a diagnosis and, let us hope, a treatment plan, then you can go about the challenging task of setting wishful thinking aside and dealing with the reality. Many persons with dementia (or other mental illness conditions) can and do live with family. Perhaps you and Mom can enjoy the condo for many years. If/when the time comes when that is no longer feasible and Mom has to go into a care center, then you can decide to keep or sell the condo. But that decision doesn't have to be immediate.

Once you get a diagnosis for Mom, start learning all you can about her condition. For example, if you had known that Mom has dementia and that accusations of stealing are VERY common in dementia, you would have been in a better position to make decisions for her -- right? So, get informed now.

Again, once you know Mom's medical diagnosis, you can seek out support groups of other caregivers who are dealing with similar issues.

I understand your being painfully scared! Just recognizing that a loved once has a damaged brain is extremely scary. That you have made financial commitments that may be impacted by this painful! My heart goes out to you.

But dementia isn't the end of the world. You will find ways to cope.

Get Mom evaluated. Let her neighbors know.
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So, to Baker Act someone is to get the person in for an involuntary psychiatric evaluation. In most states, you can request this. The patient can be held for 72 hours for evaluation.
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Baker Act her. If you don't, I'm afraid the police will.
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Get POA as fast as you can. Anytime we care for an elderly parent we should have POA.

Have you met your neighbors? Have they encountered your mom? The best defense might be a good offense. If you've met your neighbors or they've met your mom explain to them that your mom has dementia. You don't need to go into a huge history or tell stories, just let them know that your mom has dementia. This could account for her strange behavior your neighbors may witness. Be open and friendly and neighborly and maybe this way they'll cut you some slack if your mom causes a problem.
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