Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

72 yr old Mom lives with us, needs help

Hi, I am new to the forum. My mom(72F) moved in with my husband (46M) and I (54M) around 12 years ago in a suburban metro area of Florida. Prior to that, she was living in Ohio and had been hospitalized multiple times and diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder: Bipolar Type. At that time, she was living with my grandparents. Her symptoms started later in life around age 49 when my parents were still together and living in TN after moving there from OH 4 years prior. She believed people were harassing her in TN so that is why she left my father and moved back to OH to live with her parents. Following her hospitalizations in OH, she never followed through with treatment and denies anything is wrong with her. During this time my grandfather passed away leaving only my mom and my grandmother at my grandmothers house. One day my grandmother had fallen and was unable to get up and my mom did nothing to help. My grandmother was eventually placed in assisted living and my mom was hospitalized and assigned a temporary guardian. That is when family pushed me to do something, so when she was stable I moved her to FL to stay with us.

The first year or so was rough, and she once again refused to take medication. And one day she got so bad that I decided I needed to call the Crisis Line. The next day, 2 ladies came and convinced her to work with me to see a Dr. She then started on Risperidone which worked very well and she had no more delusions. The only problem is the med caused side effects of tremors. She was given something for the side effects but eventually, Medicare did not cover it anymore due to fall risk for her age. So later the Dr switch her to Abilify 10mg. But she still showed signs of tremors, so about 3 years ago, she lowered to 5mg.

Now this year, after 10 years or so of everything going ok and doing well, she started having delusions again. I faxed her Dr a letter giving all the new symptoms I had observed. And 4 weeks ago at her 3 mo appt (by phone only due to covid), I jumped on the call. The Dr asked her to take 2 5mg tablets for 2 weeks and then to call her(the Dr). So she did that, but now claims she does not need 10mg and will only take 5mg and made her next appt for January. So for the past 4 weeks she seemed ok until yesterday and now she back to being agitated and delusional. I was hoping things would be ok until January appointment, but that is not the case now.

So now I don’t know how to best handle this. I told her she needs to call the Dr and adjust medications or she needs to leave. (I recently started a new job and my husband is battling alcohol addiction, so my plate is full with other issues & hard to deal with all this at the same time). However, honestly, I don’t think she could live on her own successfully. When I first moved her here, I asked a lawyer about guardianship, and he said it would be very difficult because FL has strict criteria so I did not pursue it. It seems she does not meet the criteria for involuntary commitment (Baker Act in FL). Guardianship seems like along shot. So if she continues to refuse proper treatment, what other options do I have besides asking her to leave?

Hi and welcome to the forum. I think people might be able to help you more if you could explain your mother’s current financial situation.

Thanks. Forgot to mention those details. She gets ~$1000 from SS as her income. And has maybe ~$400k in savings which makes some meager interest. She recently bought a car, after not driving for the last 12 years. So she has been having me go with her to practice driving on Sunday evenings when the traffic is light. She seems intimidated by the traffic and claims she is more comfortable with the roads from our rural hometown in OH. Her car insurance recently sent her a notice of cancellation due to credit issues (I’m thinking she has no credit because she was also recently denied a credit card). She does not currently have a cell phone or know how to operate one. Nor does she know how to use a computer. She is physically in decent shape and has no issues with mobility & such. 5 years ago we purchased a new construction home with an attached in law suite with her own kitchenette, living room, bath, bedroom, washer/dryer. So she takes care of her own groceries and laundry (although we have been driving her to the store for her shopping, appointments, etc). We asked her to contribute $500/mo to cover the extra cost of the larger home w/ her own space, which she has been doing.

Also, I will mention I have only one other sibling, a year younger than me, who lives in CA. He has same condition as my mom but was diagnosed in his mid/late 20’s after being arrested and was court ordered into treatment. He has been gainfully employed and has seen a Dr own his own since then, but I think has stopped his AP med and occasionally takes some anxiety medication. Nonetheless, he is not in a good position to assist.

Your mom has her own separate living quarters in your home. Does she not stay there? You mentioned agitation - can you prevent her from entering your part of the home? She sounds like she doesn’t need a great deal of help except maybe her money and bills need overseeing?

My son got very agitated from the Abilify .

Are you thinking the Abilify is causing the agitation issue for @mson ’s mom?

Just to clarify, agitation is just part of the issue. Last weekend, my husband and I were going to his sisters for a birthday gathering & she cracked open her door as we were heading out and ask if we were bringing food. After I responded no, she angrily said you told me you were bringing food (I did not). Then she said “something bad is going to happen” and then shut her door. Later she said she heard from the grapevine that we want to put her in diapers and in critical condition. When I explained who specifically told her that, she just said “through the grapevine”. She thinks I put “electronics” in her ceiling. She also thinks my husband is being paid by billionaires to be “in on it”. She said all the people who harassed her in TN and OH are now here in FL and they have airplanes and control the lights. Her delusions cause her to be agitated because she thinks she being persecuted. In this state, she will sometimes walks around the neighborhood looking around very suspiciously.

All this was last weekend, but this week she has been relatively calm and talking normally for the most part. It is just very unpredictable.

As for the Ability, I think the dosage is too low to maintain a therapeutic level & is not the cause of the agitation. She has been on it for 4-5 years and no issue until this year.

Also, we think she has been drinking a lot of caffeinated beverages, so maybe that’s playing some part in the increased symptoms, along with the low dosage of Abilify.