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mums has dementia, her sister is paranoid and is emotionally abusive-what to do

(10 Posts)
amarcord Tue 20-Oct-15 12:53:07

Not sure where to start on this one but desparately need advice from those of you with more experience with dementia.

My parents live overseas and my mum is in the early stages of dementia. She can function in a basic way, as in being able to dress and wash herself, but for everything else depends on my 85 yo dad, who has a range of his own physical problems.

Now, they could just about cope as they are if my mum's older sister, was not interfering in ways which are very damaging to both my mum and dad. My aunt seems to be experiencing paranoia, but is not mentally ill enough to get attention from the mental health services. She is emotionally abusive towards mum by first, calling her many times every day, telling her off for pretending to have dementia (Alzheimers) and saying that it's all down to her poor management of high BP, and that it's my dad who is trying to make her 'crazy'. The aunt then goes off on long rants about her own neighbours who are all apparently out to rob or poison her, and other regular paranoid rant. After every telephone conversation, my mum appears aggitated and worried for her sister. She occassionally turns up to my mum's house, uninvited and shouts at my dad for not looking after my mum. Obviously, this causes him distress, and with his heart condition and other issues, it's making him ill.

The problem is that my mum forgets all the arguments, and calls her sister regularly, out of a habit she had many years ago when she felt responsible about this poor sister who has no one to look after her.

All this is driving me and my dad insane! If mum had her wits about her she would have cut her sister off ages ago and called the doctors, but for now, she just keeps putting her self in a very upsetting situation.

The last straw was the the other day, when I travelled to visited them, and took my mum to stay with her sister for a couple of hours so that my aunt would not be coming around to ours and fight with dad. When I returned, I found my mum completely disoriented and unable to walk, as if she was drunk. My aunt justified her state by saying that she took my mum's BP and as it was a bit high, she gave her half a BP tablet. I have a suspicion that she gave my mum a tranquilizer, as I know that's what my aunt does for her own BP. Needless to say, I was raging angry, but said nothing to my aunt and just took mum home. Thankfully, mum was fine after she slept for 16 hours, which again confirms my suspicions about the tablets.

So after this long long story, what would you do? how to keep the aunt at a distance so as to stop her from making both my mum and dad feel worse? How to get my mum to stop calling her sister so obsessively, without causing hurt? And shall I now call my aunt to tell her that giving my mum medication was totally unacceptable- and hope she backs off? Or tell her to back off?

Any tips greatly appreciated.

TarkaDarling Tue 20-Oct-15 12:57:26

oh love, how stressful for you all flowers

If you were in the UK, I'd be advising a referral to social services as your mum is a vulnerable person being abused (even if her sister does believe she's doing the right thing for her).

Is this an option for you?

AllChangeLife Tue 20-Oct-15 12:58:30

I don't have experience I'm afraid, hope someone comes along that can help more. However my first instinct would be to call adult social care team and tell them the situation and tell them your aunt is becoming a risk to herself and others. Tell them what is happening. Good luck x

amarcord Tue 20-Oct-15 13:05:16

Thank you so much TarkeDarling and AllChangeLife- moved to tears to get such quick and helpful responses! You are both suggesting social services, which really makes sense! I don't know the system there very well but have ways of finding out. So perhaps it's best if I don't call my aunt- that might just set her off.

TarkaDarling Tue 20-Oct-15 16:20:14

Let us know how you get on and keep posting if you want to - there's lots of people around with good advice.

amarcord Wed 21-Oct-15 16:56:31

thank you Tarka. I've spoken with social services as well as with my aunt's GP. It's disappointing that none of them feel there is enough ground to do anything because there is no real crisis. So I'm not sure what to do next... I'm now in the process of getting a carer to come in for a few hours each day, paid privately, and was thinking of letting her as a 'third party' keep an eye on my mum's phone conversations with aunt and intervene if there are signs of mum's agitation. Also, if mum insists on visiting sister, then that the visit is supervised by the carer. My dad can't do it because the sister thinks he's trying to get rid of mum by sending her to a lunatic assylum...

It seems that the mental health teams/ss - the whole lot- can only intervene when someone gets very hurt- no thoughts of prevention....

Any suggestions? Many many thanks

TarkaDarling Wed 21-Oct-15 20:36:25

oh dear, I'm sorry to hear that.

Would you feel comfortable telling us which country they are in? Someone may be able to offer suggestions.

amarcord Thu 22-Oct-15 15:05:07

Tarka, they are in a small East European country- I'd better not tell you so as not to out myself! I do have quite a few people there to consult on the services as it's my country of origin, but it seems that when it comes to issues such as safeguarding, the country is not terribly advanced unfortunately. The way the social services seem to be working is geared towards 'more serious' issues, ie if someone's at risk of burning their house down or knifing a neighbour. I guess they are more focused on physical abuse or potential risk rather than emotional one, especially in cases where the abuser is a relative.

As for my situation, I'm an only child and live in the UK, have a job, DH and DCs, the youngest still in primary. It's hard to be dealing with the elderly parents from a distance, as I'm sure many people here know.

So for now, I think I need to find a way of reducing the contact between my mum and aunt, and to ensure that the aunt is not turning up at mum and dad's house to cause arguments. Even if it means screening the calls from the aunt, or switching off the phone for the afternoon- I just don't think my mum should be allowed to speak every day for two to three hours to her sister who leaves her in tears, only for the call to be made again an hour later- by MY MUM- for more upset!
I can't think of many things worse than dementia...

Thank you for listening , really value the help.

TarkaDarling Fri 23-Oct-15 10:12:53

ah ok, so it's a completely different system from over here - blimey that is tough amarcord.

I think switching off the phone is a good start to reduce contact. Do you think your mum will accept that? It sounds like your mum and your sister as so intertwined it's going to be difficult to get her to back off.

Have you seen Alzheimers's Society website? They have practical advice which might help make things easier for your dad.

amarcord Fri 23-Oct-15 15:30:28

Thank you Tarka- not sure if mum would accept switching off the phone unless we tell her porkies that the phone is out of order temporarily. Dad can switch it off after the first conversation of the day with the aunt, so at least they have spoken once but then no more.

Will still have to figure out how to stop the aunt from coming around. If she turns up it would be extremely hard not to let her in. I was thinking of calling her from here and asking her calmly not to go to my parents' house as my mum finds it upsetting when there are arguments with dad. She might accept it that way- will have to try, but there are no guarantees.

Will read the Alzheimers society in more detail, thank you for pointing it out.
Many thanks for listening!

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