How do you Decide if your Elderly Parent is Mentally Ill?

by Crazy Issues
(MA)

Not everyone has a mother who has now become a sweet old lady.

My mother has always seemed schizophrenic to me.

She used to beat my blind sister, and when the sister got married, mom turned to me, taking every opportunity to manipulate me, humiliate, and beat me and it was never related to my own behavior. I had no concept of myself that I could have or should have my own needs, no guidance on what I should do with my life or anything.

I was seen as the family slave really: clean the house, prepare meals, and take care of my siblings while the parents worked. Both my parents came here fleeing from Nazis and their families were murdered. Many Jewish baby boomers may have had dysfunctional families from the war.

When I was a teen, my mother got caught having an affair with someone (who happened to be an alcoholic). My parents divorced. I ran away from home, my mother had a nervous breakdown. Shortly after the breakdown, she tried to commit suicide.

Finally, she got some professional counseling but it was only a short time and she never did her all emotional homework. Neither did Dad. Dad remarried and had a better relationship though. Lucky for me, his second family is now taking care of he and his wife.

Mom went on to date men, live with one man then another. I later befriended her and we had a decent relationship for about 20 years.

Now she is in her 90s and I am her caretaker. My siblings are either unable or uncaring to help.
Sometimes mom and I have a good time and other times I am back to feeling beaten, although she doesn't hit me. The relationship is fragile and very hard terrain to negotiate for both of us.

It's hard to sort out which craziness is Elder crazy (borne of valid fears, or overblown fears), and which is the unfinished spiritual and emotional homework. Hard to pick up which pieces are mine, which are hers.

What can I do to help or do I just let her run the show because to try to do anything else, say anything, set a boundary, or even try to talk a full sentence is mostly impossible with her.

Where do I turn for education and emotional counseling for she and I? How do I get her to a counselor if she doesn't want to go?
What kind of counselor do we need? Who pays? Does medicare pay? Where do I find the help?

Thanks so much.

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What about Hospice?
by: Anonymous

Can you use Hospice as a respite for yourself? I don't need that yet but I heard that Hospice will help the caregiver as much as the elderly.

You don't pay anything, but your insurance does. I don't know more about it but maybe some other people can chime in.

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OFS: Opportunities for Sainthood and your Own Ways of Coping
by: Crazy Issues

How do you keep on caring for the parent who was not the ideal mother or father when you were young or who is becoming demented or verbally abusive now as they depend on you for their survival? Thanks for your notes of concern and reactions by the way!

There is a lot of love still there so I would not think of walking away. I laugh and think: this is an OFS: opportunities for sainthood. Most days I reflect: I think I failed that test today.

Another day I think: go me, that was a nice way to reinforce considerate behavior. I see the parent is trying to show me their love. Last week: did I make an effort to curb my tongue and show patience?

Another time: did I set a boundary and stand up for myself in a firm way without losing my inner peace? How am I taking care of myself today?

Tell me, other caregivers: what kinds of thoughts help you? How does one give, forgive, and learn to be strong and not let things crumble in yourself?

How do you manage your own anger and resentment? Where did you find a good counselor? Do support groups really help or are they pity parties?

I am going to have a psychotherapist on a TV show to discuss caregiver mental health issues. Can you all send me some ideas to interview her with?
Thanks.

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Reply to Parent who is Mentally Ill
by: Gloria

How on Earth can you forgive a woman like that, she doesn't deserve a daughter like you, the way she treated you was despicable and yet you care for her, most would have walked away.

You are in need of counseling far more so than your mother, maybe they could help you stand up for yourself, lets face it she needs you far more than you need her.

Whatever life you have left try and make it for yourself, your mother has consumed you both in body and soul.

You make excuses for her behaviour, I appreciate that your mother went through an appalling time the worse in the history of mankind, but that does not excuse her for beating your blind sister, and treating you with such contempt.

I`m sorry that I cannot give you advice the only thing I can say is `God bless you' but I would try if I were you to think more about yourself and tell your siblings how you feel, maybe they could help you, but remember it`s your life and you are your own person.

Gloria

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Hang in There ~
by: Anonymous

I first want to comment on the mention of Medicare... I am going through similar circumstances....and the services in my area for help with my Mother, is not covered by Medicare or her secondary insurance. They are covered by Medicaid....yet she does not qualify. It has discouraged me greatly.

I think you may be able to find counseling with a church. Or synagogue. I did find a counselor that way...but what I really need is what they call, Respite Care. That is almost impossible to find w/o having the money in pocket to pay, or Medicaid. I have neither.

Do you have anyone that can relieve you for a few hrs a day or even a weekend. You need breaks to renew your spirit. And to recharge your batteries.

However, I think it's best to just let her be. You cannot change her behaviour so just try to let it roll off your back. Maybe playing music will help as well. I put on instrumental music for play most of the day....it helps to calm her and me.

There is one thing I can do for you, and that is pray. I will be praying for you and your Mother. Being the main Caregiver takes a lot out of you.

And when other family members are not willing to help,it is just even harder. I understand what you are going through somewhat.

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