MIL with Paraphrenia

catgrrl70April 9, 2008

My husband and I need some advice. We are in our late 30s dealing with his ailing parents. The are only in their late 50s and do not want to give up their independence. We live 1/2 way across the country so dealing with their healthcare issues is becomming impossible.

We are working on helping them sell their home. This has been mostly encouragement and advice since they live in one of the worst markets in the U.S. and it's practically impossible to sell. There is no way for them to move without the house sold as my husband and I, nor can they, afford to pay a second mortgage or rent. Father-in-law has not been helpful in this matter although my Mother-in-law would fly out to us tomorrow if she could.

Health issues are many. FIL has a serious case of Lupus and is on dialysis 3x per week and has recently been placed on a kidney transplant list. MIL has heart problems and we fear now, has Paraphrenia (adult onset schizophrenia). Thus the immediate problem: we need to get her to a doctor to be diagnosed because quite a simple medication plan can help her immensely (she has audio and visual hallucinations of persecution which is now involving the police).

We plan on flying out to see them very soon. How do we get her to a doctor, with my husband accompanying her, if she doesn't want to go? She won't even tell us if she has a general practitioner. Is this even a choice we can make? All the information about Paraphrenia suggests being very honest with the patient and not 'tricking' them - but if my FIL is even ignoring the problem and contributing to her belief in her hallucinations, how can we even begin to help?

We are preparing for the fact that they will have to move in with us, unless we can find a state/low-income financed retirement apartment. There's simply no funds for any other type of care. My husband is also going to ask my FIL for power of attorney in case one or both of them is incapacitated.

This whole situation is snowballing so quickly and we are feeling very overwhelmed and under-prepared...

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henhilton

Wow. I understand why you feel overwhelmed. You might start by looking for resources such as an Area Agency on Aging in the location where they live. State or nonprofit organizations dedicated to assisting the elderly can offer some good support and advice.

Dealing with a parent who refuses to see a "head doctor" is heart-breaking. If you find a solution, be sure and let me know! When my brother and I became concerned about our mother years ago and kept encouraging her to see a neurologist, the results were pretty discouraging, I'm afraid. After months of anger over our appeals, Mom finally announced to me one day that she had gone to see a neurologist (just to shut us up, obviously). She wouldn't believe anything the doctor had told her, and also refused to even fill the prescriptions he had given her. And the whole fight to get her to go seems to have permanently damaged our relationship. I'm not even sure what the diagnosis was, since she made and attended the appointment in total secrecy.

A couple of years ago, Mom moved in with my husband and me. Her problems are obviously progressing, but we feel like there's no point in starting the whole argument about getting her to a doctor again. Unless I'm willing to become the "pill police," I know she wouldn't take any medication the doctor might prescribe, anyway. And forcing her to take meds she objects to would just make her angry and hostile toward me - and she's difficult enough to live with already!

I only mention this because it sounds like you won't get any help from your FIL, if he's contributing to her delusions, so who would make sure she takes any meds the doctor might prescribe?

If your MIL is having run-ins with the police because of her condition, be aware that Adult Protective Services will very likely become involved soon. That might not be a bad thing. It would certainly insure that she gets the help she needs.

Good luck. Know that you are not alone!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 12:07PM
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catgrrl70

Thank you.
My husband is going to call some agencies in their area for sure. He said the same thing you did regarding the police, and I find that funnily re-assuring. Maybe that will 'jolt' my FIL into reality. He's got so many problems of his own I can't imagine him beginning to care for MIL problems.

The benefit of them moving in is that I truly think it will help them, mentally and physically. They are nice people so we aren't afraid of them hating us. Well, my MIL may fight us about the paraphrenia but at least she takes her heart meds. We just have to figure something out in the meantime and constantly re-inforce the doctor visit.

One step at a time...now to get my husband to get to HIS doctor appointment (I told him I was not going to look after him as well!).

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 12:50PM
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mariend

Personally, I do not think they should move in with you. If they live in another state, and you do move them closer to you, make sure the insurance will be accepted, and if on medicade, that your state will accept them or give them new medicade cards. Do you have a social service person/ age on aging dept in your area? Please check first to do things legally to protect your family. Other than that you could end up being made to pay all their bills.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 3:22PM
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catgrrl70

Ok, thank you for that last bit of info. I'll check into it. Also just found out today that FIL was removed from transplant list due to active aggressive Lupus (not in remission). That is not a good thing to find out. We'll be heading to their home shortly to visit in any case.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 4:43PM
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petaloid

Regarding their house, consider the possibility of getting a property manager who would rent it out for a year or more.

That way there would be rental income which could help cover costs of other accomodations for your in-laws, and they could sell at a later time when the market might be better.

Your husband's idea of getting power of attorney is a good one. They are no longer able to make good decisions for themselves.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 9:42AM
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flyfish455

I have an 84 year old mother who I think has paraphrenia - she has lived by herself for 15 years - she sold some property last year and now she thinks someone is mad at her for selling the property - she thinks they're spying on her through her bedroom windows and taking pictures - she has blinds but she thinks they can see through the blinds - I put curtains over the blinds - that helped but when she gets up at night she thinks they are watching her - pretty sad really - she's even thinking of hiring a detective - don't know what to do - any suggestions - thanks

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 12:55AM
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pfllh

I believe a psychologist would have to answer your questions. I don't believe others can really understand your situation unless they have had similar circumstances.
Can you talk to her doctor? Do you have power of attorney where the doctor can discuss her medical needs?
Is there a single relative that could live with her? Perhaps with someone there she would feel more safe.
I do wish you the best as it must be very hard on you.
Lynn

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 2:56AM
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jkom51

Wow, my heart goes out to you - it all sounds overwhelming. What a burden to take up in your 30's - you are winning karma points for dealing with the struggle.

Can't give you any advice, but your example serves to reiterate why it is absolutely crucial for everyone to have a healthcare power of attorney document, no matter how 'young' you think you are.

In your case, you would need to see and pay for an elder care attorney. With your FIL's permission you could apply to the court to become guardian for your MIL, but be aware that doing so from a distance would be even more difficult than normal.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 2:11PM
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