Anyone had success in dealing with a hypochondriac / munchausen parent?

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90 yrs. old and when mom gets bored or not getting enough attention she comes up with a new ailment and another doctor visit on the horizon. She has cried wolf so many times I don't believe anything anymore but must humor her in the event that for once the ailment may be real. This has become such a vicious circle and I don't know how I can ever get her to be truthful.
She's been obsessive about the medical profession as far back as I can remember and it's only getting worse. Mom seems to have no conscience or inkling that what she is doing is wrong in any way. The docs have told me "there is no sign of dementia", but I'd like to know if she is a sociopath.
Mom is quite healthy for 90 and I have come to resent the fact that so many out there are really suffering while she imagines ailments to get attention. I find this truly repulsive and smacks in the face of everything I believe in.
My mother disgusts me and I am at a loss.

Answers 1 to 10 of 62
Have you done your research on Munchhausen syndrome? I know a little about it, but nothing helpful. If she hasn't got dementia, then put aside her age and look at this thing that has plagued her for all her life and see how other people have dealt with this. What a miserable way of life she must have foisted upon her family. Sorry.
Thanks for your concern. Yes I have researched munchausen & it's not pretty. Usually affects younger individuals....but she was younger when it started. Phsycho therapy on a 90 yr old can be out of the question, but I'll try to breach the subject. I belive the condition has been there so long that there is no turning back.
She's also a hoarder (so was dad) and seems to have few morals at all.
Of course mom thinks I'm the one that's unbalanced. I'm getting ready to agree with her after all these years dealing with her behavior.
Can I ever relate! My mother is 91, has some dementia and only talks about her "medical problems". She rarely see a doctor, and when she does I bring up a "problem" and she won't answer their questions. It is very hard to deal with, would love to find a support group.
Top Answer
castoff,

I have the same problem with my mother. I've never thought of the condtion as Munchausen's. I just figured it was a bid for attention or hypochondria. Her doctor doesn't want to see her anymore. Because she never has any problems.

I used to get upset when I started looking after her 8 years ago, but eventually I realized it was the same old stuff she has put out all my life. My mother is now 92. I figure that if she really has something bad happen like a stroke or heart attack it will be obvious and entirely different from her usual list of complaints. If she's not on the floor struggling to breathe, I ignore her. She can sure get dramatic and sometimes I get hooked but only for a few seconds.

I set my boundaries and stay away from her as much as possible. It's amazing how much she can do for herself when she really wants to.
I think we all have the same parent. When my husband told my mom that her self-centered focus on her health was making me sick she said I was a hateful daughter. My daughter-in-law advised me to disengage so I won't be dragged into the anxiety and darkness with her. She certainly has enough energy in the midst of these health crisis (five ER visits in the past 6 months for nothing) to berate me over the phone. Incidentally she was a physical and emotionally abusive parent to my sister and I and at age 89 nothing has changed except I'm old enough not to want to kill myself because I displeased her.
Don't kill yourself. It's a strong feeling I know. I get it sometimes.But it passes. It's part of the spell the evil ones put on us.

I practice disengagement like your sister-in-law suggested. It's the best way to not fuel my mother's evil. I even disengage in the emergency room. I take a book and read while she acts stupid.
I am amazed there are others out there like me. I am the youngest of 3 children. My sisters visit a few times a year. They do not want to be around my mother (76). She is sick all the time, goes to the doctor almost every week, complains about not being able to sleep at night (but sleeps during the day) and has nothing good to say to anyone except the middle child. She does nothing around the house, my dad does everything. He hardly speaks to her anymore. I think she overmedicates herself. Everyone else thinks its demetia. I think she is mean and is trying to manipulate others into pitying her. She went through 3 doctors in one year because they said nothing was wrong with her. Now she just lays on her sofa and appears to be stoned (from sleep medicaitons) when we visit her. I ask her questions about the past, about things that happened a few months ago, and about things that happened just a few days ago. She always answers correctly. She has also started with incontinence and loves to talk about it. She complains about falling but admitted that she slipped on the floor after wetting herself while trying to get to the toilet. We suggested adult diapers and she refused. I told her that if she liked falling, then don't wear the adult diapers. I want to find the truth for my family before my mother drives everyone crazy. Can anyone direct me to a website that addresses these issues? By the way, I think this site is our support.
I have some experience in this department. With my mother I have found the only thing that works is ignoring the repeated complaints about normal daily life and change the subject to something that she likes to do more than worry about the bump on her hand. This is difficult. Older adults in this situation have super powers when it comes to making every normal life event into an illness that needs another pill or another treatment. They often become very angry with family members who do not pay enough perceived attention to the current ailment. It is best, although difficult, not take this personally but keep trying to divert their attention. Use your “gut feeling” (intuition) to try to decipher what is real and what is not. I am a nurse and I have a difficult time determining what is real with my mother, because she is so close to me that impartiality has too many barriers. When in doubt seek medical help if you feel it is life threatening.

I noticed that my mother began this behavior when the empty nest syndrome was looming and it involved many surgeries and about 10 years before things started to seem like they were strange. It seems like along time, but mom was always a protected member of the family and I think that she wanted that to continue. Do not forget that it is their problem that affects you, it is not your problem. I took one step back and I feel that I can step back in when I see her, but I protect myself from the guilt and blame that comes from my mother when she feels that I have not provided her with enough sympathy.

Good luck.
Oh goodness we are all in the same boat.Amazing yet I have never discussed this with anyone else and anyone say yep that's my mother.My mother has hysterical paralysis.So far according to Mum is 79 and extremely healthy she has had 29 strokes that is over a period of 25 years before that she seems to have a life time history of suffering to get attention we think she learn't this behaviour from her father as a child.Mums Tongue is completely rolled over and she has had to learn to speak and walk I don't know how many times.Nearly all the doctors don't know what they are talking about according to Mum.Her Dr and specialist have explained to me that it is a very common problem and to separate myself and save myself Mum is 79 and rings me about 4 times everyday and" doesn't want to be a burden because I have my own life",yeah right.Mums last "stroke" was last April and she is still using a walker and having a lot of trouble with her speech one hand and foot are useless.Normally these incidents do not last this long but this time the Dr. in charge of her case confronted her with the truth and so did my brother and I after 3 months.Big mistake Mums GP says now she may never recover.This has screwed up my life and my families.My mother no longer speaks to my brother so I am stuck in the middle of them both.I live in fear of the phone ringing and am usually left a mess every time I have to see or speak with her.Mums huge hole of unhappiness can not be filled by me or anyone.It is so sad.Good luck everyone do what you have to to survive.Every possible test has been done to my Mother and she is in great health.Mum hasn't got anything good to say about anyone.Mum will not join any groups because she wont give anyone any money.So that is a bit of my story again good luck out there.
My elderly mother doesn't makeup medical issues, but she does exaggerate the ones that she has. The only time she shows any interest in life is when she has medical appointments. Staying at the hospital is such a delight for her like she is on vacation. She loves her doctors and consider's them her best friends. She has always had an obsession with the medical community so this is not something new. She literally thrives on medical attention. It is so frustrating to see her regard the medical world as her personal savior except for Psychiatrists, which I think she could benefit from. I am at a total loss at to why someone would desire that type of attention!

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