Mother Not Taking Medication - What to Do?

by Rita

Hi. Our mother is 85, strong-willed, spoiled, mean-tempered, and has the bad habit of running away from her problems with no regard as to whose life it affects.

For now, my brother (age 63) has her staying with him and his wife. I (age 62), have a toxic relationship with her and refuse to have her near me.

I have another brother that has mental-health issues, and a younger sister(age 59), that is caring for her 3 grandchildren and sick husband and cannot take her in. Our mother believes she has "all her faculties", and always finds faults where ever she goes to live/stay.

Then, she suddenly decides to move out without telling us. She runs away to avoid her problem, then calls my brother yelling at him, making furious demands. We believe she is not taking her medicine as she should be, and she needs to get properly diagnosed by a doctor.

How do we go about this task? It is just like fighting a raging bull. I refuse to be in the same building with her, because she is physically abusive to me and always has been since I was a child. Any suggestions?

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Sep 14, 2015
Difficult Situation 2
by: Anonymous

I am happy to hear I was of some help to you. I wanted to say that if/when you mention "doctor appointment" from time to time, your mom will probably say "no", and if she does, just let it go and mention it on another day, you may see her softening up.

I want to stress the importance of keeping things calm with your mother because when the person with a mental illness becomes stressed they feel threatened and it escalates their situation. I find it interesting that you said that your mother has "illusions".

I was suspicious that my son was having illusions and it was important for me to know the extent of his illusions, but he would not communicate this to me, I just got bits and pieces in great anger. This is why I needed to build a bridge of trust - little by little, day by day.

What I did was take him to a casino (something completely out of the ordinary - I know it sounds strange - somewhere where he could be out of his element and hopefully have fun, because he was suffering), my plan was to get him to open up to me, hopefully on the way home. My plan worked.

At first I noticed he could not handle all the noise in there, so we left after a half hour, but he did have fun. On the way home he started yelling, "Okay mom, do you want me to tell you what is going on??" Sure, I said. He yelled, "Everyone in the whole world is under my control, and I am so stressed!!!"

Now that is the short story. But, my response was (in short). "Gosh, that sounds stressful, how do you handle it all?" He had a voice in his head named Mike, and later on I would ask him how Mike was and he would tell me, of which it was always derogatory.

But, my point to you is this is how I built the trust. Because I did not react negatively, he was beginning to communicate a little more. Believe me, there was lots of verbal abuse, but I would never allow it if it was directed toward me, but as I listened and gained his trust, it became less and less.

I listened and validated "his reality". I listened because I wanted to know what was going on in his head. I now knew the depth of his mental state, because I had his trust, therefore; I was able to get him to the doctor, and I was able to measure his progress once on medication.

So, your mother has illusions, I wonder if there is a possibility that you can communicate in this same manner. Discuss her illusions with her - discuss the pros and cons of her leaving her apartment, ask her if there is a way you can help? Validate her reality, listen and give her affirmation - build the bridge? Just food for thought.

I do feel for you and what it is you are going through. God bless you.

Sep 14, 2015
Thank you.
by: Anonymous

Thank you for your information and wonderful suggestions. I deeply appreciate your sound advice., especially the 'not argue' with her.
Because she has illusions, she will no doubt try to run-away from her new apartment that is around the corner from where our older brother lives, he told me that he is anticipating her to eventually do this.

He told me that if our mother tells him she insists on leaving the apartment, he will stand firm and tell her "No." Plain and simple. None of us can bear to go through this repeating behavior of hers anymore. Thanks again for your compassionate words of wisdom and knowledge. Praying for you and your loved ones.

Sep 12, 2015
Difficult Situation
by: Anonymous

I am so sorry to hear this desperate challenge you have with your mother. It is difficult to know if your mother has a mental illness or Alzheimer's... from your post.

I have some experience with my son (40 yrs) who has a mental illness, then there is my mother (86) whom I believe has a mental illness sometimes, but then again she is 86. What I have done is to get myself in a NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness) group, they are all over the US - check it out.

In trying to get help for my son (who did not want to take medication or go to the doctor), I found "all the cards" are on his side, as he is over the age of 18, of which your mother is, but I learned a lot through NAMI in how to get around this.

First, it is important that your brother build a bridge of trust with your mother, this is essential. So, if your mother says (for instance), "look the sky is red!" He is not to say, "No, the sky is blue!" Just listen and agree, as our goal is to build that bridge and get her to the doctor.

If, your mother becomes verbally abusive and attacking him directly, it is okay for him to say something calmly like, "I will not talk to you when you are verbally attacking me, call me when you have calmed down then hang up". But, if she is just rambling angrily, I would suggest he just listen and take note at that time - build the bridge, gain her trust.

Gaining her trust will take time and can be quite challenging for the caregiver, but it is most important. Never tell your mother in anger, that she has a mental problem etc. - never mention anything like that.

Second, keep a paper trail - journal her behavior on a daily basis with the date. Third, mention from time to time (hopefully when things a calm)about making doctor appointment for check-up, but again, never mention mental health issues.

You might mention, when was the last time you had your eyes checked, or a physical?... or whatever the need may be, but never mention psychiatrist or mental health, the focus is to gain her trust.

Fourth, if you can get her to agree to go to the doctor (any doctor), it will be quite helpful for the caretaker to compose a note with a list of the behaviors you have observed - a history of possibly not taking her medications and/or the medications she is supposed to be on - let the doctor know in a note what you would say in person, as we know you cannot say this in person, as your mother would never allow it.

Make sure you relay to doctor in the note to "keep this confidential. You will then deliver this note to the doctor the day before the appointment without your mother's knowledge.

My son has schizophrenia, but would only admit to mood swings. So I just showed my concern for him, made a doctor appointment for him and I dropped off a note with my observations before the appointment.

This "note" made a world of difference - I explained in the note, what my son couldn't/wouldn't communicate. Now, the biggest problem I had as I noticed my son to have a desperate problem, was the fact that my son was over the age of 18 and many doctor's office I called said, "Sorry, your son has to call us, he is over 18". Big problem.

I persevered and I was able to get him help, he is doing great now on his medications. I treated my son in the same manner I have suggested with your mother - because it was not easy.

I used this same "note" trick with my mother who was just eating Vicodin and I wrote a note stating to the doc that my mother was addicted and to stop prescribing the pills to her and it worked quite well.

Is your brother your mother's POA? I believe he would have much more leverage if he was. My sister-in-law has a mother with schizophrenia and my in-law knows when her mother is not taking her medications and her mother will not go to doc either.

My in-law has called her doctors, but the bottom line is her mother has to go in, but she will not go, so my in-law stays away from about a week or more, doesn't answer her calls and her mother always comes around to taking her medications again.

You do not have to put up with abuse, you have to set your boundaries and stick to them. I know this suggestion may sound a bit "out there", but your bro may want to show up at your mothers door with some flowers (something completely out of the ordinary) to change the whole tone - gain the trust.

Dealing with someone with a mental illness can be challenging, but it is important to listen and learn a new way to communicate with them and gain their trust.

What I did immediately with my son, when I felt he had schizophrenia was I went to library and checked out a book and learned about the subject, maybe if you suspect what your mother's problem is, you can do the same.

There are many books on how to communicate and relate to a person with a mental illness. This is a something that cannot be fixed overnight, it is a process, that is why I am in a NAMI group - so I can gain new tools on how to cope with situations that arise as time goes on.

I am my mother's POA and her caregiver and I want to say to you, that is has helped me greatly to have the support of my siblings, that is what has kept me going.

So being that your brother sounds like he "is the one", I would encourage you to give him all the support as I see that you are by writing this post, it is a great help - stick together! Best of luck to you all and contact me again, if I can be of more help.

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