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How Do You Get A 81 Yr Woman To Get Help When She Is In Strong Denial??

Question:

Mom has lived with my the past 5 years, along with my husband and now 7 and 5 yr. old. She has constant visual hallucinations, paranoia, seen a psychiatrist 2 times, told psychosis NOS? Symptoms have progressed to include swearing, talking to these people in our home at all hours, talking about child molestation in our basement, MOST of this goes on in front of my children. I can’t have her admitted, she has her normal moments when she is my old Mom. She will not go see a doctor nor take any medication BECAUSE don’t tell her there is anything wrong with her. She would go if there was. I have been passed on and on from her primary internal medicine doctor, to University programs, HOW do you get her help? I feel like I have no support. My children are scarred in our own home. We live near Chicago.

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Answer:

Your elderly mother has seen a psychiatrist twice and has been diagnosed with Psychosis NOS (Not Otherwise Specified). I assume that she has been prescribed anti psychotic medications. If this has not happened then she has to see a psychiatrist who specializes in geriatrics: the elderly.

You report that you mother will not be admitted to a hospital because she has lucid moments when she returns to her normal self. One of the things that you can do is call 911 when she is cursing in front of your children and acting in bizarre ways. When you call 911 it is important that you report that your mother is a mentally ill person. They will send an emergency medical crew along with the police who will examine her. Most crews will take your mother to the hospital emergency room if she is hallucinating in front of her. At the emergency room she will undergo further evaluation. If you accompany the ambulance or follow it to the hospital you can provide further information to the emergency medical doctors at the hospital. There, you can report the impact she is having on your family and insist that they take action. Your mother can be placed in a safe environment where she will be cared for.

Geriatric psychiatry is a specialty and there could be things that are going on inside of your mother’s brain that are causing her psychotic episodes, unless she has always been this way her whole life. If this behavior is recent then something is causing this to happen. Among the possible causes is what is called Multi Infarct experiences which cause her to hallucinate. In effect, the infarcts are tiny strokes that are not enough to immobilize her but, when they occur, cause symptoms of dementia that resemble Alzheimer’s disease. There is nothing much that can be done for this except what should be happening currently: anti psychotic medication at low doses due to her age.

If calling 911 does not result in your mother being hospitalized you can call Visiting Nurse Service. They have a Geriatric Emergency Service that will come to your home and evaluate your mother. They can make the necessary decisions to have your mother be safe or they can, after evaluating her, connect you with the community resources that you need. Call information to get their phone number in your community.

Finally, you need to learn your rights. Your mother is elderly and mentally ill and you have young children you need to protect. You may have the right to have her placed in a nursing home against her will based on the fact that she is living in your house and has become a management problem that endangers the family. Visiting Nurse Service can advise you about this or the social work department at the hospital in your community.

I know that these are difficult choices but you do not have many choices.

Best of luck.

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