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New and Hoping for Advice on Where to Start
I'm new here and just looking for advice on where to start!
We have suspected my mom has had some kind of manic depressive disorder over the years that has been untreated. She refuses to go to a doctor to address these issues. She does occasionally go to the doctor for high blood pressure medicine. She will never let me accompany her. When I bring it up she tells me to stop asking because she thinks I think she is crazy. She is now 71 and I suspect she has dementia and that her mental state is deteriorating. She is saying that she hears and see people that live in the attic. She has stories of people stealing things, moving boxes, drilling holes in the walls, that she sees eyes in the air conditioning vents, and surveillance cameras/lights in the ceiling, and that “they” are watching her. I have visited and there is nothing to indicate there is anything or anyone there doing anything. She recently stated making phone calls to the police and they of course find nothing. She is also a hoarder, and her house is filled with boxes and unnecessary things that she has built up over the years. The police have said the calls will continue and will be the first of many. Her panicked calls to me have also increased. Today included a call that the ppl in the attic were after her. It is so heartbreaking and stressful.
She lives by herself now after my father passed away 9 years ago. She has been able to care for herself and drive and obtain groceries, etc. We have not been on the best of terms as she has had a foul mouth and has been difficult to get along with. I of course still care and love her, and wish to take care of her. I am at my wits end and just don’t know where to start with things for her. I have two very small kids that need me daily. My husband and I both work full-time, are a median income family that live in a small townhome with no room for her. We also do not think we can afford assisted living, and just don’t know where to start with caring for my mom as her mental state continues to deteriorate. Any thoughts, advice, input would be so appreciated.
Yeah, sounds like you're about to join the club no one wants to belong to -- family of someone with dementia. In this case maybe complicated by another mental health condition.
Where to start? Read these threads for the experiences of others who have walked in your shoes. You are actually ahead of the game in that the police are aware of her and may be your ally when things become impossible.
Your best and only option for care may be a skilled nursing facility which can accept Medicaid after your mother's existing assets have been spent down. Unfortunately, in most states, Assisted Living and Memory Care facilities do not accept Medicaid. Don't jeopardize your own retirement trying to care for her, and don't feel guilty about it. Call the Alz helpline for more specific information in your area.
Understand, you are not alone in this.
I think the first step is getting a diagnosis so you know what you're dealing with. It's possible that this is treatable.
If you know she has an upcoming appointment (or if you can tell a fib to get her to schedule one), maybe take this well written information you just posted in your first paragraph and put it in a letter to her doctor? You could add something like "My mother has paranoia about me accompanying her to medical visits or knowing much about her health. I understand you cannot discuss my mother's health information with me due to HIPAA but I felt it critical that you have this information in case she is not sharing it with you. I'm concerned about dementia and/or another psychiatric condition that needs to be treated. I am also very concerned about her continued ability to live alone and care for herself without help. If there is any general information or advice that you are able to share with me about how I should proceed, or if you are able to look into these symptoms and possibly talk to her about allowing you to inform me of any conditions you find, I would be much appreciative."
Are there any other family members that she would allow to accompany her to a medical visit?
This is just an idea for a "preliminary soft approach." Another option is talking to Adult Protective Services/The Office on Aging (Dept of Health Services) in her city. They can give you advice at the very least and can actually get directly involved if they feel it's warranted.
I am sorry, I think you are now part of this club. Sorry you are going through this. Use this message board, it has helped me a lot. My Dad was the same way, leave him alone. I waited for the crisis and it was a 911 call my Dad made saying he was lost and couldn’t find his house, but he was in his house, then he told the police children are in his house he can’t go in. The police notified APS, and DMV, which may have happened for your mom too. What I did is I got a copy of the police report. It cost me $5 and I got it, super simple. I was his daughter, even different last night, but they were fine with giving me a copy. I took the copy to my Dad’s Drs office and I left it for the Dr along with a note that I was very concerned about my Dad’s mental state. The office also made an appointment for me to bring my Dad in the next day. Getting my Dad to the Dr the next day was not easy at all. I just had to say they called me because they couldn’t reach you and you have to go in. I went with my Dad, he drove, and that was the last time he ever drove. I had to take his keys at the appointment, I had to remove the guns from his house, etc. APS did come to my Dad’s house and actually were very helpful. The lady gave me resources and answered a lot of my questions.
I would suspect the calls to the police have already alerted APS and DMV.
I am sorry you are on this journey. It’s exhausting and not fun, so vent away on this message board. You are not alone.
Interesting you should say that about bi-polar, because dementia can mimic those symptoms. The loss of impulse control can look a lot like the manic phases. We have a family friend who has been exhibiting some disturbing symptoms -- hoarding, loss of emotional control --and has been given bi-polar meds which he is refusing to take. Which may be a good thing because those things are not so good for early stsge dementia.
I am married to someone on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum (think Sheldon Cooper), and I have observed similarities in behavior with dementia also. The brain is a very complex organ.